I. Meaning & Morphology (الصرف و اللغة)
1. 'الّرُسُل' (Al-Rusul)
The word 'الّرُسُل' (Al-Rusul) is a plural of 'الّرَسُوْل' (Al-Rasul). As pointed out by Ghamidi (note 12), the word has two connotations: one as a common Arabic word and the other as a term having a specific meaning. As a common Arabic word, it means a 'messenger'. So the Rusul of the Almighty can be His angels and His Prophets since both bear His message.
Here are some usages of Rusul in the Qur'an as a common Arabic word signifying angels and prophets:
i. Signifying Angels:
إِنَّهُ لَقَوْلُ رَسُولٍ كَرِيمٍ (19:18)
This is the word of a gracious and mighty messenger. (81:19)
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ جَاعِلِ الْمَلَائِكَةِ رُسُلًا أُولِي أَجْنِحَةٍ مَّثْنَى وَثُلَاثَ وَرُبَاعَ (1:35)
Praise be to God, Creator of the heavens and the earth! He sends forth the angels as His messengers, with two, three or four pairs of wings. (35:1)
اللَّهُ يَصْطَفِي مِنَ الْمَلَائِكَةِ رُسُلًا وَمِنَ النَّاسِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ بَصِيرٌ (75:22)
God chooses messengers from the angels and from men. Indeed, God hears all and observes all. (22:75)
ii. Signifying Prophets:
آمَنَ الرَّسُولُ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مِن رَّبِّهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ كُلٌّ آمَنَ بِاللّهِ وَمَلآئِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ (285:2)
The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him by his Lord, and so do the faithful. They all believe in God and His angels, His scriptures, and His Prophets. (2:285)
يَا مَعْشَرَ الْجِنِّ وَالإِنسِ أَلَمْ يَأْتِكُمْ رُسُلٌ مِّنكُمْ يَقُصُّونَ عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتِي وَيُنذِرُونَكُمْ لِقَاء يَوْمِكُمْ (130:6)
Then He will say: 'Jinn and men! Did there not come to you Prophets of your own who proclaimed to you My revelations and warned you of this day?' (6:130)
يَا بَنِي آدَمَ إِمَّا يَأْتِيَنَّكُمْ رُسُلٌ مِّنكُمْ يَقُصُّونَ عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتِي فَمَنِ اتَّقَى وَأَصْلَحَ فَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ (35:7)
Children of Adam, when Prophets of your own come to proclaim to you My revelations, those that take warning and mend their ways will have nothing to fear or to regret. (7:35)
As a term of the Qur'an, the word Rasul signifies a cadre among the Prophets (Anbiya) of Allah. The difference between a Prophet (Nabi) and a Rasul is that the latter decides the fate of his nation in this world. The righteous are rewarded and wrong doers punished. The Qur'an says:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحَادُّونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ فِي الأَذَلِّينَكَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَأَغْلِبَنَّ أَنَا وَرُسُلِي إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ(58 :20-1)
Indeed, those who show hostility to Allah and His Rasul are bound to be humiliated. The Almighty has ordained that I and my Rusul shall always triumph. (58:20-1)
In other words, the direct addressees of a Rasul cannot triumph over him, and they must be the losers in the end. This humiliation has various forms. In most cases, the addressees are destroyed in their capacity as a nation if they deny their respective Rusul. Take, for example, the case of Muhammad (sws). His opponents among the Idolaters of Arabia were destroyed by the swords of the Muslim believers until at the conquest of Makkah, the remaining accepted faith. In the case of Moses (sws), the Israelites never denied him. The Pharaoh and his followers however did. Therefore, they were destroyed. In the case of Jesus (sws), the humiliation of the Jews has taken the form of servitude to the Christians till the day of Judgment as referred to by 3:55 and 59:3. The 'A%d, nation of the Rasul Hud (sws), the Thamud nation of the Rasul Salih (sws) as well as the nations of Noah (sws), and Lot (sws) and Shu'ayb (sws) were destroyed through natural calamities when they denied their respective Rusul as is mentioned in the various surahs of theQur'an. In this regard, Surah Qamar can be referred to since it summarizes the fate of the nations who denied their respective Rasul.
II Syntax & Declensions & (النحو و الاعراب)
1. The Apodosis (Jawab) of 'وَلَمَّا جَاءهُمْ كِتَابٌ مِّنْ عِندِ اللّهِ'
Consider the verse:
وَلَمَّا جَاءهُمْ كِتَابٌ مِّنْ عِندِ اللّهِ مُصَدِّقٌ لِّمَا مَعَهُمْ وَكَانُواْ مِن قَبْلُ يَسْتَفْتِحُونَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ فَلَمَّا جَاءهُم مَّا عَرَفُواْ كَفَرُواْ بِهِ( 2 :89)
It is evident from Ghamidi's translation of this verse that the underlined portion forms the apodosis of the prodosis 'وَلَمَّا جَاءهُمْ كِتَابٌ مِّنْ عِندِ اللّهِ'. Since the words 'وَلَمَّا جَاءهُمْ ' occur at a considerable distance from its apodosis, they are repeated in the later part of the verse viz 'فَلَمَّا جَاءهُم' right before the apodosis.
III. Style & Eloquence (الاساليب و البلاغة)
1. Elision of an Incomplete Verb in 2:89
As pointed out by Ghamidi (note 16), there occurs an elision of an incomplete verb (الفعل الناقص) in the expression 'وَفَرِيقاً تَقْتُلُونَ'. Thus the translation is not 'you are killing a group'; it is 'you have been killing a group'. Such an elision is customary in eloquent Arabic. In the Qur'an, this occurs at a number of times. Here are some examples are:
In 'قَدْ نَرَى تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاء فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا (144:2)', the sense is 'قَدْ كُنَّا نَرَى'.
Similarly, in 'وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِ (25:21)', the sense is 'إِلَّا كُنَّا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِ'.
2. Elision of a Preposition before 'أَنْ'
The elision of a preposition before 'أَنْ' is another common feature of classical Arabic. As pointed out by Ghamidi(note 23),there is an elision of the particle 'عَلَى' before the word 'أَن' in the expression'بَغْياً أَن يُنَزِّلُ اللّهُ' of verse 2:90.
Some more examples of elision of a preposition before 'أَنْ' are:
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِي حَآجَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ فِي رِبِّهِ أَنْ آتَاهُ اللّهُ الْمُلْكَ (258:2)
That is 'بِاَنْآتَاهُ اللّهُ '
إِنَّا نَطْمَعُ أَن يَغْفِرَ لَنَا رَبُّنَا خَطَايَانَا أَن كُنَّا أَوَّلَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (51:26)
That is 'لِاَنْ كُنَّا أَوَّلَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ '
3. Brevity in 2:97-8
One of the prominent features of Qur'anic Arabic is brevity. A minimum number of words are used to drive home a point. What is implied and understood is seldom stated. Verses 2:97-8 present a perfect example of this feature. While pointing out the implications of various clauses of this verse, Imam Farahi writes:
(من كان عدوا الله و ملائكة و رسله و جبريل و ميكال فان الله عدو للكافرين) دل علي أن عداوة الملائكة من عداوة الله ، و على أن عداوة الملائكة كفر ، و علي أن جبريل و ميكال من الملائكة و الرسل ، وعلى أن جبريل و ميكال من كبار الملائكه و الرسل. وعلى أن الرسل من نوع الملائكة ، وعلى أن العداوة بالرسل من الآدميين ، من نوع العداوة بالرسل من نوع الملائكة ، وعلى أن اليهود كانوا أعدا. لجبريل وميكال ، وعلى أنهم عدو الله. وكل ذلك مفهوم من نظم الكلام.
This verse bears witness that enmity with the angels is enmity with God and that enmity with the angels is disbelief and that Gabriel and Michael are God's angels and messengers and occupy a high status among them and that Messengers [of God] are like His angels and that enmity with Messengers among men is like enmity with Messengers among the angels and that the Jews are the enemies of Gabriel and Michael and that they are enemies of God. All this is evident from the coherence in this set of verses.1
IV. Exegesis and Explanation (الشرح و التفسير)
1. Shedding Blood of the Allies
At the time of the revelation of the Qur'an, the different tribes of the Jews were the allies of the various tribes of the Ansar. For example, the Jewish tribes of Banu Qaynuqa' and Banu Nadir were the allies of the Aws tribe and the Banu Qurayzah were the allies of the Khazraj tribe. The Aws and the Khazraj tribes would often be at war with one another. The Jews would take part in these battles and would slay their brethren or have them exiled. They would then feign sympathy for their brethren by liberating them through ransom when they would come to them as captives.
2. Enmity with Gabriel
The Jews considered Gabriel to be their enemy and Michael to be their friend. The Qur'an here has thus emphasized that just as a person who is the enemy of Gabriel is the enemy of God and His Prophets, similarly he is also the enemy of Michael because God and all His angels are on one side.
Their view about Michael is evident from the following excerpt:
At that time the great Michael, the great prince who protects your people will rise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people – everyone whose name is found written in the book – will be delivered. (Daniel, 12:1)
V. Scriptures and Testaments (العهود والصحف)
Here are some biblical parallels to the Qur'anic verses of this section.
1. 'لاَ تَعْبُدُونَ إِلاَّ اللّهَ' (Worship none but God …(2:83))
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (Deuteronomy, 6:4)
Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you. (Deuteronomy, 6:13-14)
2. 'وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَاناً' (Be kind to your parents … (2:83)
Honour your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you. (Deuteronomy, 5:16)
Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus, 20:12)
3. 'وَالْمَسَاكِينِ' (Show kindness to the poor … (2:83))
There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. (Deuteronomy 15:11)
4. 'وَآتُواْ الزَّكَاةَ' (And pay the Zakah (2:83))
When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. Then say to the LORD your God: 'I have removed from my house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, according to all you commanded. I have not turned aside from your commands nor have I forgotten any of them. I have not eaten any of the sacred portion while I was in mourning, nor have I removed any of it while I was unclean, nor have I offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the LORD my God; I have done everything you commanded me. (Deuteronomy, 26:12-14)
At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. (Deuteronomy, 14:28-29)
5. لاَ تَسْفِكُونَ دِمَاءكُمْ'' (Do not shed blood … 2:84)
Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed. (Deuteronomy, 19:10)