The Messiah was only a Messenger and his mother was a ṣiddīqah: Tafsir al-Sa’di

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐌𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐚𝐡 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐚 𝐌𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐬̣𝐢𝐝𝐝𝐢̄𝐪𝐚𝐡: 𝐓𝐚𝐟𝐬𝐢𝐫 𝐚𝐥-𝐒𝐚’𝐝𝐢

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


Allah mentions in surah al-Maa’idah:

مَّا الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ وَأُمُّهُ صِدِّيقَةٌ ۖ كَانَا يَأْكُلَانِ الطَّعَامَ ۗ انظُرْ كَيْفَ نُبَيِّنُ لَهُمُ الْآيَاتِ ثُمَّ انظُرْ أَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ

The Messiah, son of Mary, was not but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him. And his mother was a iddīqah. They both used to eat food. Look how We make clear to them the signs; then look how they are deluded. [5:75]

Imam al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, writes the following commentary on this ayah:

ثم ذكر حقيقة المسيح وأُمِّه، الذي هو الحق، فقال: { مَا الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ ْ} أي: هذا غايته ومنتهى أمره، أنه من عباد الله المرسلين، الذين ليس لهم من الأمر ولا من التشريع، إلا ما أرسلهم به الله، وهو من جنس الرسل قبله، لا مزية له عليهم تخرجه عن البشرية إلى مرتبة الربوبية.

Then He mentioned the reality about the Messiah and his mother, which is the truth, so He said, “The Messiah, son of Mary, was not but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him” – meaning this is the limit and the extent of his condition, that he is one of the slaves of Allah sent as a messenger, for whom belongs neither the power to command or divinely legislate matter except for that which Allah sent them with.

He is from the same category of messengers as those before him; there is no special privilege conferred on him which would remove him from humanity unto a level of lordship.

{ وَأُمَّهُ ْ} مريم { صِدِّيقَةٌ ْ} أي: هذا أيضا غايتها، أن كانت من الصديقين الذين هم أعلى الخلق رتبة بعد الأنبياء. والصديقية، هي العلم النافع المثمر لليقين، والعمل الصالح. .

And his mother” Maryam “was a iddīqah” -meaning that this is also the extent of her condition, that she was one of the iddīqūn, those who are the highest rank of creation after the anbiyaa’. And al-iddīqiyyah is beneficial knowledge which produces yaqeen (certainty) and righteous actions.

وهذا دليل على أن مريم لم تكن نبية، بل أعلى أحوالها الصديقية، وكفى بذلك فضلا وشرفا. وكذلك سائر النساء لم يكن منهن نبية، لأن الله تعالى جعل النبوة في أكمل الصنفين، في الرجال كما قال تعالى: { وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ إِلَّا رِجَالًا نُّوحِي إِلَيْهِمْ ْ} فإذا كان عيسى عليه السلام من جنس الأنبياء والرسل من قبله، وأمه صديقة، فلأي شيء اتخذهما النصارى إلهين مع الله؟

And this is a proof that Maryam is not a nabiyyah (female prophet); rather, her highest status is al-Ṣiddīqiyyah, and that is sufficient as a blessing and honor. And similarly with the rest of the women, none of them is a female prophet, because Allah the Exalted made prophethood to be among the more complete gender, among the men as He said,

“And We sent not before you (as Messengers) any but men, whom We inspired” [12:109]. So then ‘Eesaa (‘alaihis salaam) was from the same category of the prophets and messengers before him, and his mother was a ṣiddīqah. So then for what reason have (some of) the Christians taken them as two gods alongside Allah?

وقوله: { كَانَا يَأْكُلَانِ الطَّعَامَ ْ} دليل ظاهر على أنهما عبدان فقيران، محتاجان كما يحتاج بنو آدم إلى الطعام والشراب، فلو كانا إلهين لاستغنيا عن الطعام والشراب، ولم يحتاجا إلى شيء، فإن الإله هو الغني الحميد. ولما بين تعالى البرهان قال: { انظُرْ كَيْفَ نُبَيِّنُ لَهُمُ الْآيَاتِ ْ} الموضحة للحق، الكاشفة لليقين، ومع هذا لا تفيد فيهم شيئا، بل لا يزالون على إفكهم وكذبهم وافترائهم، وذلك ظلم وعناد منهم

And His statement, “They both used to eat food” is clear proof that they both were slaves and in need (of Allah), both having need just as (the rest of) the children of Adam have need for food and drink. So if they were both gods then there would be free of any need for food and drink and they would not need anything, for verily a god is free of need and deserving of praise.

So Allah clarifies the evidence when He said, “Look how We make clear to them the signs” – a clarifying of the truth, illuminating it with certainty, and nothing can stand up against this. But still they remain upon their slander and lies and fabrications, and that is injustice and stubborn arrogance on their part.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 265]

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See also: “Had Allah willed to take a son…”: Tafsir al-Sa’di and Tafsir ibn Kathir

See also: A reply to those who say, “If Allah can do anything, why can He not have a son?”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Two disbelieving women and two believing women: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The story of ‘Eesaa, his mother, Zakariyyah and Yahya – Imam al-Sa’di

See also: A Point of Benefit regarding Truthfulness: Imam al-Sa’di