98. Al-Baiyyinah (The Clear Evidence)
Revealed in Madīnah and consisting of eight verses, the sūrah takes its name from the word, Al-Baiyyinah or al-bayyinah (the clear evidence), in the first verse. It draws attention to the fact that God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, is the clear evidence for the truth of the Message that he brought, and that the unbelievers among both the polytheists and the People of the Book denied him and Islam, even when they had clearly witnessed the truth of this evidence. So, people have been divided into two main groups: those who believe and do good, righteous deeds; and those who reject belief.
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
1. Those who persistently disbelieve (in the Qur’ān and God’s Messenger) from among the People of the Book and the polytheists would not abandon (the way they were expected to follow and so believe in the Qur’ān and the Messenger) until there had come to them the Clear Evidence:1
2. A Messenger from God,2 reciting and conveying (to them teachings absolutely free from any falsehood) from purified pages (which only those cleansed of material and spiritual impurities may touch),3
3. In which are right, ever-true ordinances (concerning belief, thought, and action).
4. Those who were given the Book before did not split into parties until after the Clear Evidence (of the truth) came to them.
5. But they were not enjoined anything other than that they should worship God, sincere in faith in Him and practicing the Religion purely for His sake, as people of pure faith; and establish the Prayer in accordance with its conditions; and pay the Prescribed Purifying Alms. And that is the upright, ever-true Religion.4
6. Surely those who disbelieve (after the Clear Evidence has come to them) –from among the People of the Book and from among the polytheists– will be in the fire of Hell a seed of which unbelief bears,5 abiding therein. They are the worst of creatures.
7. And those who believe and do good, righteous deeds – they are the best of creatures.
8. Their reward is with their Lord: Gardens of perpetual bliss through which rivers flow, abiding therein forever. God is well-pleased with them, and they are well-pleased with Him. That is for him who stands in awe of his Lord.
1. The polytheists who rejected God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and the Message he brought well knew that he was a truthful one, and that what he claimed was true. They were also saying that if a Messenger came to them, they would believe in him wholeheartedly, and so they were expected to believe in him and his Message. But when the Messenger came, despite his being a clear Evidence for both himself and the Message he brought, the unbelievers went back on their words, and rejected him for selfish reasons, such as tribal rivalry, obstinacy, conceit, and fear of losing their interests; therefore, they deserved eternal Divine condemnation. Just like them, those who rejected Islam and God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, from among the People of the Book – the Jews and Christians – also preferred unbelief for base reasons such as jealousy, rivalry, racist considerations, and the like, although they had been waiting for a Prophet to come whose signs they found in their Books, and they knew well that Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was that Prophet.
The verse also indicates that unbelief in Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, means for the People of the Book unbelief in their own Books.
2. God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, is one of the two greatest and clearest proofs for the truth of Islam, the other being the Qur’ān. His absolute truthfulness and trustworthiness; his pure personality distinguished by the most noble and praiseworthy virtues; his conquest of minds and hearts despite his being unlettered; his formation of a community called al-Ashāb (the Companions), composed of the most virtuous people in history after the Prophets; his foundation of a state from tribes that had been trapped in unending feuds; his changing the path of human history in so short a time as 23 years; his sermons, sayings, prayers, and the criteria he established for the best individual and collective life; his being loved by his Companions and all the succeeding generations of his community to the extent that they have willingly sacrificed themselves for his way; his laying the foundations of the most magnificent civilization in history, which raised numerous scholars, scientists, saints, statesmen, commanders, and literary people; his predictions, none of which have been contradicted over time – all these and many other aspects of his life, person, achievements, and mission decisively show that God’s Messenger, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, is one of two greatest and most comprehensive proofs for both himself, his own Messengership, and the Message he brought from God.
3. The purity of the pages on which the Qur’ān is written comes from the purity of the Qur’ān. So the Qur’ān can only be touched by those purified from material and spiritual impurities. That is, unbelievers, polytheists, and believers in need of ritual purity, cannot touch it. Also see sūrah 56: 79, note 16.
4. This summarizes God’s Religion, which He conveyed through all His Messengers. This Religion is Islam. For the last two verses, also see 3: 19, note 4.
5. Said Nursi remarks: “Belief bears the seed of what, in effect, a Tuba tree of Paradise, whereas unbelief contains the seed of a Zaqqum tree of Hell.” (The Words, “the 2nd Word)