Meanings of the words Yahood, Nasaara and Saabi’oon: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Imam al-Baghawi offers some linguistic definitions and benefits in his tafsir of surah al-Baqarah [2:62] by writing:

 ـ ( إن الذين آمنوا والذين هادوا ) يعني اليهود سموا به لقولهم إنا هدنا إليك أي ملنا إليك وقيل لأنهم هادوا أي تابوا عن عبادة العجل وقيل لأنهم مالوا عن دين الإسلام وعن دين موسى عليه السلام وقال أبو عمرو بن العلاء : لأنهم يتهودون أي يتحركون عند قراءة التوراة ويقولون : إن السماوات والأرض تحركت حين آتى الله موسى التوراة . ـ

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا

Verily! Those who believe and those who haadoo … [2:62]

meaning, the Yahood (Jews). They were called by that due to their statement

إِنَّا هُدْنَا إِلَيْكَ

indeed, we have hudnaa to You. [7:156]

meaning, we have turned to You.

And some say that they are called that because they haadoo [reconciled] – i.e. repented – from their calf-worship.

Some others say they are called that because they turned away from the religion of Islam and from the religion of Moosaa (peace be upon him).

Abu ‘Amr ibn al-‘Alaa’ said they are called that because they yatahawwadoon – meaning they rock and sway when they are reciting the Tawrah and because they say that the heavens and the earth shook when Allah gave Moosaa the Tawrah.

ـ ( والنصارى ) سموا به لقول الحواريين : نحن أنصار الله ، وقال مقاتل : لأنهم نزلوا قرية يقال لها ناصرة وقيل لاعتزائهم إلى نصرة وهي قرية كان ينزلها عيسى عليه السلام . ـ


… and the Nasaaraa … [2:62]

they were called that due to the statement of the Hawaarioon:

نَحْنُ أَنصَارُ اللَّـهِ

We are the Ansaar (helpers) of Allah [3:52, 61:14]

Muqaatil said they are called that because they were sent down to a village which was called Naasirah.

Some others said they were called that due to their tracing themselves back to Nasirah, which is a village to which ‘Eesaa was sent.

ـ ( والصابئين ) قرأ أهل المدينة : والصابين والصابون بترك الهمزة والباقون بالهمزة وأصله الخروج ، يقال صبأ فلان أي خرج من دين إلى دين آخر وصبأت النجوم إذا خرجت من مطالعها وصبأ ناب البعير إذا خرج فهؤلاء سموا به لخروجهم من دين إلى دين قال عمر وابن عباس : هم قوم من أهل الكتاب قال عمر رضي الله عنه ذبائحهم ذبائح أهل الكتاب وقال ابن عباس : لا تحل ذبائحهم ولا مناكحتهم وقال مجاهد : هم قبيلة نحو الشام بين اليهود والمجوس وقال الكلبي : هم قوم بين اليهود والنصارى يحلقون أوساط رءوسهم ويجبون مذاكيرهم وقال قتادة : قوم يقرءون الزبور ويعبدون الملائكة ويصلون إلى الكعبة ويقرون بالله تعالى أخذوا من كل دين شيئا قال عبد العزيز بن يحيى : انقرضوا . [ ص: 103 ] ـ


… and the Saabi’een … [2:62]

The reciters of al-Madinah recite it as:


and the Saabeen

omitting the letter hamzah, while the rest of the reciters maintain the hamzah. And root meaning of the word is: coming out. One might say “so-and-so saba’a“, meaning so-and-so came out of one religion into another. You could also say, “the stars saba’at” when they emerge and become visible in the sky, or “the camel’s canine teeth saba’a” when they come out. So these people were named as such due to their coming out of one religion into another.

‘Umar and ibn ‘Abbaas said that these people were a group of the Ahl al-Kitaab. ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said that their slaughtered meat falls into the same category as the slaughtered meat of the Ahl al-Kitaab, while ibn ‘Abbaas said, “It is not permissible to eat their slaughtered meat or marry their women.”

Mujaahid said that they were a tribe from the area of Greater Syria somewhere between the Jews and the Zoroastrians.

al-Kalbi said, “They are a people between the Jews and the Christians. They shave the middle of their heads and circumcise their males.”

Qataadah said, “They are a people who recite the Zaboor, worship angels, and pray towards the Ka’bah. They believe in Allah and take a little something from every religion.”

‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Yahya said, “They no longer exist.”

[Tafsir al-Baghawi 1/104]

See also: The Qur’an, the Tawrah and the Injeel: Tafsir ibn Kathir

See also: Did Fir’awn claim divinity, or worship other gods?: al-Shawkaani, al-Qurtubi, & al-Baghawi

See also: Why Allah began listing the prophets with Nuh: Tafsir al-Baghawi


2 thoughts on “Meanings of the words Yahood, Nasaara and Saabi’oon: Tafsir al-Baghawi

  1. Pingback: The Qur’an, the Tawrah and the Injeel: Tafsir ibn Kathir | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: The Jews Say the Christians Have Nothing to Stand on …: Tafsir ibn Kathir | Tulayhah

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