We mentioned last week some of the unbelievers' arguments about Jesus, when they claimed that their idols, which they believed to be representations of the angels, had better claims to be worshipped than him, a human being. We explained that they were simply entering into futile polemics. Another possible interpretation of the statement, Who is better: our deities or he? is supported by the general drift of the verses referring to their legend about the angels. What they meant is that their worship of the angels is better than the Christians' worship of Jesus, because the angels are closer to God in their nature and descent. Exalted is God above all that they allege. Thus, the statement, They cite him only to challenge you. They are contentious people', serves as a reply to Ibn Al-Zibaari as suggested earlier. Moreover, it means that their citing of what the Christians worship is invalid, because it deviates from the truth of God's oneness. It is not right to compare one deviation from the truth with another; they are all false. This interpretation is reasonable.
Hence, the surah makes the following comment: He was but a servant of Ours whom We had favored and made an example to the Children of Israel. He was no deity to be worshipped, even though some Christians deviated from the true path and did worship him. He was only a favored servant of God, and no blame attaches to him for the fact that people worshipped him. God granted him favors so that he would be an example for the Children of Israel to follow. However, they forgot the lesson and went astray.
The surah discusses the Arabs' legend about the angels, making it clear that they are part of God's creation. Had God willed, He would have made the angels succeed them on earth, or He would have transformed some people into angels to succeed them: Had it been Our will, We could have made you angels, succeeding one another on earth. (Verse 60) All questions of creation are determined by God; whatever He wills to create will surely come into existence. None of His creation has any relation to Him other than that of a created being with its Creator, a servant with its Master.
Another statement about Jesus reminds them of the Last Hour which they denied: He is a portent of the Last Hour. Have no doubt about it, but follow Me: this is a straight path. Let not Satan debar you; for he is your sworn enemy. A number of the Prophet's statements speak of Jesus' second coming, a short time before the Last Hour. This is perhaps what is indicated in the statement: He is a portent of the Last Hour.' It means that he informs of its approach. Abu Hurayrah quotes the Prophet as saying: By Him who holds my soul in His hand, the son of Mary is about to come back among you, serving as a just arbiter. He will break the cross, kill the pig and abolish tribute money. Wealth will be so abundant that no one will accept money. Indeed one prostration before God will be better than this whole world and all that it contains. (Related by Malik, Al-Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Dawood.) Jabir quotes the Prophet as saying: A group of my community will ever continue to fight, holding on to the truth, until the Day of Judgment. Jesus, son of Mary, will then come down and their commander will say to him: Come and lead us in prayer.' He will reply: No. Some of you lead others.' This is just an aspect of honor God has granted to this community. (Related by Muslim.)
All this belongs to the realm beyond our perception. We are informed of it by the Prophet who tells the truth and references to it are given in the Qur'an. No human being has any say in this other than what has been stated in these two sources. He is a portent of the Last Hour. Have no doubt about it, but follow Me: this is a straight path.
They had strong doubts about the coming of the Last Hour, but the Qur'an calls on them to be certain of it. Likewise, they steered away from guidance and the Qur'an urges them, through God's Messenger, to follow him along the straight path which ensures that its travellers will not go astray. It makes it clear to them that their deviation is only the result of their following Satan when they would be better advised to follow God's Messenger: Let not Satan debar you; for he is your sworn enemy. The Qur'an always reminds people of the on-going battle between them and Satan that has been raging since the time of Adam, their first father, and the first encounter in heaven. No one can be more heedless than one who knows that a watchful, sworn enemy is deliberately waiting for a chance to attack him and yet does not take care to protect himself. On the contrary, he moves closer to the determined enemy and even follows his lead.
Islam places man in the midst of this ever-raging battle with Satan. It assigns to him gains that are beyond anyone's imagination, should he be victorious. Likewise, his loss, should he be defeated, is beyond anyone's reckoning. Thus, Islam steers man's fighting ability to this on-going battle which asserts the humanity of man, giving him his special position among the rest of creatures. Thus, the highest aim for man on earth is to achieve victory against his enemy, Satan. Once he does, he overcomes evil and wickedness and establishes firm roots of goodness and purity.