Tafsir of Ayah 114 of Surah Al-Baqarah

Q 4: What is the Tafsir (explanation) of Allah’s saying (the meanings of which are translated as): And who are more unjust than those who forbid that Allâh’s Name be glorified and mentioned much (i.e. prayers and invocations, etc.) in Allâh’s mosques and strive for their ruin? ?

A: Scholars are of two opinions regarding those who are being referred to in the Ayah (Qur’anic verse): The first opinion: They are the Christians, Nebuchadnezzar or both of them. The Ayah means that no one dares to attack and violate the Sanctities of Allah’s Religion and no one is fearless of Allah more than the Christians and Nebuchadnezzar, who forbade the people from worshiping Allah in (Part No. 4; Page No. 344)  Al-Aqsa Mosque, from establishing prayers, and from studying, and frequenting it. Those unjust people sought to ruin Bayt Al-Maqdis and threw dirt in it to repel people from visiting it and performing acts of worship there. All this was due to their severe enmity toward the Jews. This opinion was adopted by Ibn Jarir Al-Tabary, as the previous and following Ayahs talk about the Jews and the Christians and their mutual enmity. The second opinion: The Ayah was revealed regarding the Mushriks (those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) of Makkah who refused in the year of Al-Hudaybiyah to allow the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and his Sahabah (Companions) to enter Al-Masjid Al-Haram (the Sacred Mosque in Makkah). Thus, the Ayah means that no one dares to attack and violate the Sanctities of Allah (Exalted be He) more than the Mushriks of Makkah and anyone who supports them, as they forbade the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and his Sahabah during the year of Al-Hudaybiyah from entering Al-Masjid Al-Haram. They did so out of pride and haughtiness and due to their desire to destroy it. If at all possible they wished to ruin it by performing their pagan worship and preventing any act of worshipping Allah alone, such as Salah (prayer), Tawaf (circumambulation around the Ka‘bah), Hajj, and ‘Umrah (lesser pilgrimage). Preventing those who deserve most to enter Al-Masjid Al-Haram, who are most entitled to perform their rituals and acts of worship, and are the best caretakers of it, is a far greater form of destruction than just knocking it down. It implied halting all the lawful rituals that are offered in the greatest and the first mosque appointed for mankind on earth, even though this is the aim of building it. This opinion is adopted by Ibn Kathir who found supporting proofs in the reasons of the Ayah’s revelation and in the Words of Allah (Exalted be He): And why should not Allâh punish them while they hinder (men) from Al-Masjid-Al-Harâm, and they are not its guardians? None can be its guardians except Al-Muttaqûn (the pious - See V.2:2), but most of them know not. (Part No. 4; Page No. 345) Allah (Exalted be He) also says: It is not for the Mushrikûn (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allâh), to maintain the Mosques of Allâh (i.e. to pray and worship Allâh therein, to look after their cleanliness and their building,), while they witness against their ownselves of disbelief. The works of such are in vain and in Fire shall they abide. The Mosques of Allâh shall be maintained only by those who believe in Allâh and the Last Day, perform As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât), and give Zakât and fear none but Allâh. It is they who are on true guidance. There is further proof cited by Ibn Kathir to support this opinion. However, the meaning of the Ayah is general, since consideration is given to the generality of the wording, not to the specific occurrence that resulted in the revelation of the Ayah. It thus stands as stern censure and severe threatening to whoever prevents anyone from entering any of the Islamic places of worship and performing there the acts of worship that have been ordained by Allah (Exalted be He).