Surah An-Nisa Ayat 153 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 153
The People of the Scripture ask you to bring down to them a book from the heaven. But they had asked of Moses [even] greater than that and said, “Show us Allah outright,” so the thunderbolt struck them for their wrongdoing. Then they took the calf [for worship] after clear evidences had come to them, and We pardoned that. And We gave Moses a clear authority.
The people of the Book ask thee to cause a book to descend to them from heaven: Indeed they asked Moses for an even greater (miracle), for they said: “Show us Allah in public,” but they were dazed for their presumption, with thunder and lightning. Yet they worshipped the calf even after clear signs had come to them; even so we forgave them; and gave Moses manifest proofs of authority.
The People of the Book now ask of you to have a Book come down on them from heaven; indeed they asked of Moses even greater things than this, for they said: ‘Make us see Allah with our own eyes’ – whereupon the thunderbolt suddenly smote them for their wickedness. Then they took to worshipping the calf after clear signs had come to them. Still, We forgave them, and conferred a manifest commandment upon Moses,
The people of the Scripture (Jews) ask you to cause a book to descend upon them from heaven. Indeed they asked Musa (Moses) for even greater than that, when they said: “Show us Allah in public,” but they were struck with thunder clap and lightning for their wickedness. Then they worshipped the calf even after clear proofs, evidences, and signs had come to them. (Even) so We forgave them. And We gave Musa (Moses) a clear proof of authority.
The people of the Scripture ask of thee that thou shouldst cause an (actual) Book to descend upon them from heaven. They asked a greater thing of Moses aforetime, for they said: Show us Allah plainly. The storm of lightning seized them for their wickedness. Then (even) after that) they chose the calf (for worship) after clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty) had come unto them. And We forgave them that! And We bestowed on Moses evident authority.
The population of the Book (Or: Family of the Book, i.e., the Jews and Christians) ask you to (keep) (Moses) bringing down upon them a Book from the heaven; yet they already asked Mûsa far greater than that; So they said, “Show us Allah openly.” Then the stunning (thunderbolt) took them for their injustice. Thereafter they took to themselves the Calf, even after the supreme evidences came to them, yet We were clement (towards them) for that, and We brought Ms’a an evident all-binding authority.
The People of the Book demand that you [Prophet] make a book physically come down to them from heaven, but they demanded even more than that of Moses when they said, ‘Show us God face to face,’ and were struck by the thunderbolt for their presumption. Even after clear revelations had come down to them, they took the calf as an object of worship, yet We pardoned this, and gave Moses clear authority;
Quran 4 Verse 153 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah An-Nisa ayat 153, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(4:153) The People of the Book now ask of you to have a Book come down on them from heaven; indeed they asked of Moses even greater things than this, for they said: ‘Make us see Allah with our own eyes’ – whereupon the thunderbolt suddenly smote them for their wickedness. Then they took to worshipping the calf after clear signs had come to them. Still, We forgave them, and conferred a manifest commandment upon Moses,
181. One of the odd demands which the Jews of Madina made to the Prophet (peace be on him) was that if he wanted them to accept his claim to prophethood he should have them either witness a book descending from the heavens or that each one of them should receive a writ from on high, confirming Muhammad’s prophethood and the absolute necessity of believing in him.
182. The purpose here is not to describe the details of any particular event, but merely to mention, in brief, the crimes of the Jews. Hence passing references are made to the main incidents in the national history of the Jews. The particular event referred to has been mentioned earlier in Surah al-Baqarah. (See Towards Understanding the Qur’an, vol. I, (Surah 2: 55; also n. 71.)
183. ‘Clear signs’ refer here to the signs which people had constantly witnessed from the time of Moses’ appointment to his prophetic office, to the drowning of Pharaoh and the deliverance of the Israelites out of Egypt. It is clear that He Who had secured the deliverance of the Israelites from the clutches of the powerful Egyptian empire was not the calf, but God, the Lord of the Universe. One is simply staggered at the overpowering predisposition of the Jews to error, as evidenced by the fact that at that very juncture in their history when they had experienced the most illustrious signs of God’s power and grace they bowed down before the image of the calf, rather than before God, their Benefactor.
153. The People of the Scripture (Jews) ask you to cause a book to descend upon them from heaven. Indeed, they asked Musa for even greater than that, when they said: “Show us Allah in public,” but they were struck with a bolt of lightning for their wickedness. Then they worshipped the calf even after Al-Bayyinat had come to them. (Even) so We forgave them. And We gave Musa a clear proof of authority. 154. And for their covenant, We raised over them the mount and (on the other occasion) We said: “Enter the gate prostrating (or bowing) with humility;” and We commanded them: “Transgress not on the Sabbath (Saturday).” And We took from them a firm covenant.
Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi, As-Suddi and Qatadah said that the Jews asked the Messenger of Allah to cause a book to come down to them from heaven, just as the Tawrah was sent down to Musa. Ibn Jurayj said that the Jews asked the Messenger to cause books to come down to them addressed to so-and-so among them, testifying to the truth of what he was sent with. The Jews only asked for this because of their stubbornness, defiance, rejection and disbelief. The disbelievers of Quraysh also asked for similar things from the Prophet, as is mentioned in Surat Al-Isra’,
(And they say: “We shall not believe in you, until you cause a spring to gush forth from the earth for us;) (17:90) Allah said,
(Indeed, they asked Musa for even greater than that, when they said, “Show us Allah in public,” but they were struck with a bolt of lightning for their wickedness.) injustice, transgression, defiance and rebellion. This part was explained in Surat Al-Baqarah,
(And (remember) when you said: “O Musa! We shall never believe in you until we see Allah plainly.” But you were struck by a bolt of lightning while you were looking. Then We raised you up after your death, so that you might be grateful.) (2:55,56) Allah’s statement,
(Then they worshipped the calf even after Al-Bayyinat had come to them.) meaning, after they witnessed the tremendous miracles and unequivocal proofs at the hand of Musa in Egypt. They also witnessed the demise of their enemy, Fir`awn and his soldiers, when they all drowned in the sea. Yet soon after, when they passed by a people who were worshipping idols, they said to Musa,
(Make for us a god as they have gods.) Allah explains the story of the Jews worshipping the calf in Surat Al-A`raf (7) and Surah Ta Ha (20) after Musa went to meet with his Lord. When Musa returned, Allah decreed that in order for the Jews to earn accepted repentance, then those who did not worship the calf would have to kill those who worshipped it. They complied with this command, and Allah resurrected them afterwards. Allah said here,
((Even) so We forgave them. And We gave Musa a clear proof of authority. ) Allah then said,
(And for their covenant, We raised over them the mount,) This was when they refrained from implementing the rulings of the Tawrah and refused what Musa brought them from Allah. So Allah raised the mountain above their heads and they were ordered to prostrate, which they did. Even so, they were looking above when they were prostrating for fear that the mountain might fall on them,
(And (remember) when We raised the mountain over them as if it had been a canopy, and they thought that it was going to fall on them. (We said): “Hold firmly to what We have given you.”) Allah then said,
(and We said, “Enter the gate prostrating (or bowing) with humility;”) meaning that they also defied this command in word and action. They were commanded to enter Bayt Al-Quds (in Jerusalem) while bowing and saying “Hittah”, meaning: `O Allah! take from us our sin of abandoning Jihad.’ This was the cause of their wandering in the desert of Tih for forty years. Yet, they entered the House while crawling on their rear ends and saying `Hintah (a wheat grain) in Sha`rah (the hair)’.
(and We commanded them, “Transgress not the Sabbath (Saturday).”) meaning, We commanded them to honor the Sabbath and honor what Allah prohibited them on that day.
t(And We took from them a firm covenant.) meaning, strong covenant. They rebelled, transgressed and committed what Allah prohibited by using deceit and trickery, as is mentioned in Surat Al-A`raf (7),
(And ask them about the town that was by the sea.)
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