Surah Al-Anbiya Ayat 63 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 63
He said, “Rather, this – the largest of them – did it, so ask them, if they should [be able to] speak.”
He said: “Nay, this was done by – this is their biggest one! ask them, if they can speak intelligently!”
He answered: “Rather it was this supreme one who has done it. So ask them, if they can speak.”
[Ibrahim (Abraham)] said: “Nay, this one, the biggest of them (idols) did it. Ask them, if they can speak!”
He said: But this, their chief hath done it. So question them, if they can speak.
He said, “No indeed, it was this great one of them that performed it; so, ask them in case they (can) pronounce (a word).”
He said, ‘No, it was done by the biggest of them- this one. Ask them, if they can talk.’
Quran 21 Verse 63 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Al-Anbiya ayat 63, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(21:63) He answered: “Rather it was this supreme one who has done it. So ask them, if they can speak.”
60. The very sentence, “So ask them, if they can speak”, is a clear proof that it was not a lie when Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) said: “But this has done it, biggest of them, this one”. What he intended by this was to make them realize and confess that their idols were helpless because they could do nothing to protect themselves and could not even speak. It is clear that when a person poses an unreal question for the sake of argument in order to bring home the fact that the position taken by the other party is untenable, it cannot be considered as a lie; firstly, because the speaker himself never intended it to be a lie, and secondly, because the addressees also knew that it was not a lie.
The foregoing remarks have been necessitated because of a tradition that Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) told three lies in his life, of which one is the above mentioned event. The second lie is contained in SUrah As-Saffaat, Ayat 89: I am indisposed, and the third lie is not contained in the Quran but in the Bible that he declared his wife to be his sister. (Gen. 12:12,13, 18;19). It is a pity that this tradition has given rise to two divergent opinions. The orthodox traditionalists actually believe that Prophet Abraham told these lies just because an authentic tradition says so. They do not consider that it is far better to discard the tradition according to which a Prophet is accused of being a liar. On the other hand, those who are against the traditions, discard all of them just because this solitary tradition, which has been reported as authentic by Bukhari and Muslim, is unreliable on the very face of it. Obviously it needs no elaborate arguments to prove that all the traditions cannot be discarded just because one or a few of them are unreliable. As regards the upholders of the first opinion, they have gone to the other extreme and think that a tradition can be discarded in spite of the authenticity of its reporters for cogent reasons. They do this without reference to the contents of the tradition itself. But if the text of the tradition itself clearly shows that such a thing could not have been said by the Prophet (peace be upon him), there is no reason to insist that it should be accepted as authentic merely because its reporters are authentic.
This, tradition is unreliable for other reasons also. As has already been shown, the first lie is no lie at all. As regards the second lie, “I am indisposed”; it cannot be considered as a lie unless it is proved beyond doubt that Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) was perfectly healthy at that time, and the text does not testify this. As regards the third lie, the event stated in the Bible in chapter 12 of Genesis is absurd on the face of it. When Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) went to Egypt with his wife Sarah, he was, according to the Bible itself, 75 years old and his wife was 65. Therefore the very age of Sarah is a clear proof that she could not be a fair woman to look upon to force Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) to pose that she was his sister in order to save his life. The tradition under discussion, which accuses Prophet Abraham to be guilty of telling a lie, has accordingly no basis at all and cannot be taken as reliable in spite of its authentic reporters.
The tafsir of Surah Anbiya verse 63 by Ibn Kathir is unavailable here.
Please refer to Surah Anbiya ayat 57 which provides the complete commentary from verse 57 through 63.
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