Surah Al-Anbiya Ayat 3 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 3
With their hearts distracted. And those who do wrong conceal their private conversation, [saying], “Is this [Prophet] except a human being like you? So would you approach magic while you are aware [of it]?”
Their hearts toying as with trifles. The wrong-doers conceal their private counsels, (saying), “Is this (one) more than a man like yourselves? Will ye go to witchcraft with your eyes open?”
their hearts being set on other concerns. The wrong-doers whisper to one another: “This person is no more than a mortal like yourselves. Will you, then, be enchanted by sorcery while you see?”
With their hearts occupied (with evil things) those who do wrong, conceal their private counsels, (saying): “Is this (Muhammad SAW) more than a human being like you? Will you submit to magic while you see it?”
With hearts preoccupied. And they confer in secret. The wrong-doers say: Is this other than a mortal like you? Will ye then succumb to magic when ye see (it)?
Diverted (are) their hearts. The ones who do injustice confer in secret among themselves, “Is this nothing except a mortal like yourselves? Will you then take to sorcery while you are beholding?” (i.e., with your eyes wide open).
with frivolous hearts. The evildoers conferred in secret: ‘Is this man anything but a mortal like yourselves? Are you going to fall under his spell with your eyes wide open?’
Quran 21 Verse 3 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Al-Anbiya ayat 3, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(21:3) their hearts being set on other concerns. The wrong-doers whisper to one another: “This person is no more than a mortal like yourselves. Will you, then, be enchanted by sorcery while you see?”
5. This may also be translated as: What, are you then being ensnared by his magic?
The disbelievers, who were the chiefs of Makkah, whispered to one another to this effect: Anyhow this man cannot be a Prophet because he is a human being like us and eats and drinks and has wife and children like us. We see nothing unusual about him that might distinguish him from us and make him worthy of the office of Prophethood. We, however, admit that there is some magic in his talk and personality. That is why anyone who listens to him or goes near Him is charmed. Therefore, the best thing for you is not to listen to him at all, nor go near him, for listening to him or going near him will only be involving yourselves intentionally in his snare.
The reason why they accused the Prophet (peace be upon him) of practicing magic was that even his antagonists were charmed by his personality when they met him. Muhammad bin Ishaq (152 A.H.) says: Once Utbah bin Rabiah, the father-in-law of Abu Sufyan, said to the chiefs that he wanted to see Muhammad and give him counsel. They said: We have full confidence in you. You may go and have a talk with him. Accordingly, he went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: Dear nephew, you know that you were held in great honor here before this and you belong to a noble family. Why have you then brought this affliction to your people? You have caused discard among them. You consider your people to be fools. You speak ill of their religion and deities, and you declare their deceased forefathers to be disbelievers. My dear nephew, if your object is to become a rich man, we can give you so much wealth that you will become the richest man among us. If you are seeking a high rank, we will make you our chief, even our king, if you so like. But if you are suffering from a mental illness which makes you see illusions, we will have you treated by the best physicians. He went on talking in this strain and the Prophet (peace be upon him) remained silent. When he was done talking, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Abul Walid, have you had your say or do you want to say anything more? He replied that he had said what he had to say. Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Now listen to me. And he began to recite Surah Ha-Mim-Sajdah after Bismillah and Utbah listened to him as if he had been charmed. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to (Ayat 38), he fell down in prostration. Then raising his head, he said: O Abul Walid, I have said whatever I had to say, and you have heard it. Now I have nothing more to say. After this Utbah walked back towards the chiefs who perceived him to be a changed man and remarked: By God, his face shows that he is not the same man that he was when he went from here. When he came to them, they asked: What has been the result of your mission? He answered: By God, today I have heard a thing the like of which I had never heard before. By Allah! It is not poetry nor sorcery nor divination. O people of Quraish, I advise you to leave him to himself. From what I have heard from him, I conclude that his message is going to bring about a great revolution here. If the Arabs overcome him, you will stand absolved from the charge of murdering your own brother, and if he overpowers the Arabs, his sovereignty will be your own sovereignty and his honor your own honor. The people answered: By God, you too, O Abul Walid, have been charmed by him. To this he replied: I have expressed my opinion. Now it is for you to accept or reject it. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. I, pp. 313-314). Baihaqi, in his narration of the above event, makes this addition: When the Prophet (peace be upon him) recited (Ayat 13): If they turn away from your message, say to them, I have warned you of the coming of a thunderbolt like the thunderbolt that visited the Aad and the Thamud, Utbah placed his hand on the mouth of the Prophet (peace be upon him), saying: For God’s sake, have mercy on your own people.
In this connection, ibn Ishaq has cited another event. Once a man from the clan of Arash came to Makkah with some camels and Abu Jahl bought them. When he demanded their price, he put him off by lame excuses. At last the man came to the Sanctuary of the Kabah and began to bewail publicly the dishonesty of Abu Jahl. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was also sitting in a corner of the Sanctuary. The chiefs of the Quraish said to the man: We cannot help you in any way in this matter; look, there is a man sitting: go to him and he will get you your money. Accordingly, the Arashi went towards the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the chiefs began to whisper jokingly: Today there will be great fun. When the man expressed his complaint before the Prophet (peace be upon him), he at once stood up and accompanied him to the house of Abu Jahl, followed by an informer of the chiefs. The Prophet (peace be upon him) knocked at Abu Jahl’s door, who asked from inside: Who is there? He answered: Muhammad. Hearing this, he at once came out and the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him: Pay this man his dues. Abu Jahl went in without uttering a word, brought the price of the camels and paid the man. At this the informer ran back to the Quraish and told them the whole story and said: By God, today I have seen something which I had never seen before. When Abu Jahl came out, Muhammad asked him to pay the dues, and he obeyed him as if he were spell bound. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, pp. 29-30).
It was this charm of the personality, character and words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) which these people considered to be the effects of charm and warned the people not to go near him for fear of his magic.
The tafsir of Surah Anbiya verse 3 by Ibn Kathir is unavailable here.
Please refer to Surah Anbiya ayat 1 which provides the complete commentary from verse 2 through 6.
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