“We Have Made Some of the Prophets Exceed Others”: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says in surah al-Israa’:

وَلَقَدْ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَ النَّبِيِّينَ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۖ وَآتَيْنَا دَاوُودَ زَبُورًا

And We have made some of the prophets exceed others. And we gave Dawud the Zaboor. [17:55]

In part of his famous book of tafsir, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote:

ـ ( ولقد فضلنا بعض النبيين ) ، كما قال ( تلك الرسل فضلنا بعضهم على بعض منهم من كلم الله ورفع بعضهم درجات ) [ البقرة 253 . ـ

وَلَقَدْ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَ النَّبِيِّينَ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ

And We have made some of the prophets exceed others

This is like what He said:

تِلْكَ الرُّسُلُ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۘ مِّنْهُم مَّن كَلَّمَ اللَّـهُ ۖ وَرَفَعَ بَعْضَهُمْ دَرَجَاتٍ

Those messengers – some of them We caused to exceed others. Among them were those to whom Allah spoke, and He raised some of them in degree. [2:253]

وهذا لا ينافي ما ثبت في الصحيحين عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال لا تفضلوا بين الأنبياء ؛ فإن المراد من ذلك هو التفضيل بمجرد التشهي والعصبية ، لا بمقتضى الدليل فإنه إذا دل الدليل على شيء وجب اتباعه ولا خلاف أن الرسل أفضل من بقية الأنبياء وأن أولي العزم منهم أفضلهم وهم الخمسة المذكورون نصا في آيتين من القرآن في سورة الأحزاب ( وإذ أخذنا من النبيين ميثاقهم ومنك ومن نوح وإبراهيم وموسى وعيسى ابن مريم ) [ الأحزاب 7 ] [ ص: 88 ] ، وفي الشورى في قوله : ( شرع لكم من الدين ما وصى به نوحا والذي أوحينا إليك وما وصينا به إبراهيم وموسى وعيسى أن أقيموا الدين ولا تتفرقوا فيه ) [ الشورى 13 . ولا خلاف أن محمدا صلى الله عليه وسلم أفضلهم ثم بعده إبراهيم ثم موسى على المشهور وقد بسطنا هذا بدلائله في غير هذا الموضع والله الموفق ـ

And this does not contradict what has been authentically transmitted from the Prophet in both al-Bukhari and Muslim that he said:

Do not make distinctions among the prophets

because the intended meaning in this case was making distinctions merely according to one’s wishes or on the basis of partisanship rather than in accordance with any textual evidence. But whatever a textual evidence proves, then one must follow that.

And there is no difference of opinion on the fact that the messengers are better than the rest of the prophets, or that those of them who are the Uloo al-‘Azm are the best of them. And those are five in number, having been mentioned explicitly in two places in the Qur’an: once in surah al-Ahzab:

وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِنَ النَّبِيِّينَ مِيثَاقَهُمْ وَمِنكَ وَمِن نُّوحٍ وَإِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ

And mention when We took from the prophets their covenant and from you and from Nuh and Ibrahim and Moosaa and ‘Eesaa, the son of Maryam [33:7]

and again in surah al-Shooraa when He said:

شَرَعَ لَكُم مِّنَ الدِّينِ مَا وَصَّىٰ بِهِ نُوحًا وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ وَمَا وَصَّيْنَا بِهِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ ۖ أَنْ أَقِيمُوا الدِّينَ وَلَا تَتَفَرَّقُوا فِيهِ

He has ordained for you of religion what He enjoined upon Nuh and that which We have revealed to you and what We enjoined upon Ibrahim and Moosaa and ‘Eesaa – to establish the religion and not be divided therein. [42:13]

And there is no differing on the fact that Muhammad is the best of them, and then after him Ibrahim and then Moosaa according to the most well-known position. We have already discussed this topic at length along with its evidences in more than one place, and Allah is the granter of success.

وقوله : ( وآتينا داود زبورا ) تنبيه على فضله وشرفه ـ

And Allah’s statement:

وَآتَيْنَا دَاوُودَ زَبُورًا

And we gave Dawud the Zaboor.

serves to alert us to his virtue and merit.

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 5/88]

See also: Those Messengers whom Allah Raised in Degree: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: “Those messengers, We have given precedence to some over others”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: Belief in the Messengers in brief: Tafsir al-Sa’di

One thought on ““We Have Made Some of the Prophets Exceed Others”: Tafsir ibn Kathir

  1. Pingback: Those Messengers whom Allah Raised in Degree: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

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