Allah (al-Ilaah, Eloh-im), the Sublime and Exalted, said in his final revelation to mankind, establishing the truth about Jesus, the Messenger (peace be upon him):
يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لاَ تَغْلُواْ فِي دِينِكُمْ وَلاَ تَقُولُواْ عَلَى اللّهِ إِلاَّ الْحَقِّ إِنَّمَا الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُ أَلْقَاهَا إِلَى مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌ مِّنْهُ فَآمِنُواْ بِاللّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَلاَ تَقُولُواْ ثَلاَثَةٌ انتَهُواْ خَيْرًا لَّكُمْ إِنَّمَا اللّهُ إِلَـهٌ وَاحِدٌ سُبْحَانَهُ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَات وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ وَكَفَى بِاللّهِ وَكِيلاً
- O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, nor say of Allah aught but the truth. The Messiah Eesaa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word (through which He created him), (a Word) which He bestowed on Maryam (Mary) and a spirit (Rooh) created by Him.
So, believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not: “Three (trinity)!” Cease! (it is) better for you. For Allah is (the only) God (worthy of worship), Glory be to Him (Far Exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is All-Sufficient as a Disposer of affairs. (An-Nisa 4:171)
This verse was revealed in relation to various factions of the Christians (Ya’qubiyyah, Nestoriyyah, Malikaaniyyah, Marqoosiyyah), and they had various sayings, so some said, “Jesus is Allah”, others said, “He is the son of Allah” and others said, “He is the third of three.”
Allah, the Exalted is saying:
O people of the Gospel, do not exceed the true belief in your religion, and do not exaggerate and say of Allah except the truth. Do not claim a son and wife for Him, for Eesaa (Jesus) the son of Maryam (Mary) was no more than a Messenger like many other Messengers, he was sent with the ultimate truth, which is submitting to Allah alone without any partners, a truth that is witnessed to by all the signs in creation,
and which the innate disposition and natural instinct of every person recognizes, provided it has not been corrupted (through nurturing upon false religion). So, Jesus is the Messenger of Allah. And likewise, He is the Word of Allah, with the meaning that he was created through a Word spoken by Allah which is “Be!” (Not that he, Jesus, in his essence, is the actual Word of Allah) and with this Word, Jibril was sent, and Jibril breathed into Maryam (peace be upon her) from the Spirit of Allah,
the Spirit is a created entity, not something that is from Allah’s essence, but the word Rooh (Spirit) is used to refer to a created entity, and the Rooh (Spirit) was also breathed into Adam (peace be upon Him) – and none knows the reality of this Rooh save Allah – so this Rooh (Spirit) was breathed into Maryam (peace be upon her) by Jibril, so Jesus is the Spirit of Allah, in this sense, in that he was created through Allah’s sending of the Rooh (Spirit) with Jibril and the breathing of this spirit into Maryam (peace be upon her).
This is the truth, so believe in it, and believe in this truth regarding Jesus, Son of Mary, and submit to Allah alone, and worship Him alone, and shun the worship of all other deities including Jesus and his mother Mary, for they were mere mortals, who ate and drank, and Allah chooses whomever He wills for Prophethood. And do not say “There are three (deities)”, for there is only one deity in truth.
For you have unjustly raised him (Jesus) from the station of Prophethood and Messengership to one of Lordship (Rububiyyah), yet Jesus and his mother Mary are mere mortals, they eat and drink and walk the earth, and they own and control nothing of the heavens and earth, save that Allah gave miracles to Jesus as a sign of his prophethood and as a evidence to Banee Israa’eel (Children of Israel) that he is indeed sent by Allah.
So if you desist from saying this statement of “Three” it is better for you, because this is the way of deliverance, to believe in the unicity of Allah, His sole right to be worshipped, He is sanctified and too sublime that He should have a son, rather to Him belongs the heavens and the earth, so everything is under His dominion, and everything is subservient to Him and sufficient is He alone as a disposer of all affairs.
Just as this verse was revealed to correct the exaggeration (ghuluww) of the Christians, it was also revealed to correct the belittlement and rejection of the Jews of the Messiah Jesus and so in this verse Allah establishes that Jesus is the Messenger of Allah, the Word of Allah, and the Spirit of Allah (as explained above). And with this Allah, the Exalted has established the truth for the People of the Book, both Jews and Christians.
Allah knows Best.
- Tafsir al-Tabari, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Baghawi
- Tafsir Al-Sa’dee Tafsir al-Muyassar