Surat al-Baqara

‘The Specific after the General: A Tafsir of al-Baqara Verse 98.’

“Mentioning the Specific after the General:

A Tafsir of al-Baqara Verse 98”


Shaykh `Ata’ Ibn Khalil (may Allah protect him) in his commentary on surat al-Baqara, verse 98 says:

“And after that, Allah clearly mentions to the Jews that Mika’il and Jibril are from the Angels and so whoever bears enmity towards one, bears enmity towards the other and as a consequence, bears enmity to all Angels. And whoever shows enmity towards Allah, His Messengers as well as His Angles, is a disbeliever: {And Allah will be an enemy to the disbelievers}. The preposition {whoever} is conditional (shartiyya) and its apodosis (jawab) is: {And Allah will be an enemy to the disbelievers}, i.e. whoever is an enemy of Allah…then tell him Allah is an enemy to the disbelievers. Allah mentions Jibril and Mika’il after mentioning the class of angels even though both are also angels as an example of mentioning the specific after the general (dhikr al-khass ba`d al-`amm) in order to indicate utter importance of both [in rank]”[1]


  • Balagha aspect: one of the rhetorical techniques used in the Qur’an is mentioning a general class of something followed by a specific instance of that general class. Such a technique is often used for the following aims: 1) to exalt something; 2) to highlight the importance of something; 3) to differentiate the qualities of something and 4) to emphasise something. Imam al-Zarkashi gives many examples of this from the Qur’an of which two is mentioned below:

“And another example is His saying: {and let there be groups from among you that call to the Good and command the right and forbid the wrong [3:104]} because commanding and forbidding (amr wa nahy)} falls under calling to the Good.[2] And another example is His saying: {and those who believe and do good actions and believe in what was revealed to Muhammad [47:2]} intending the greatness of the Prophet (saw) and what was revealed to him because belief will not be complete except through belief in him […] and His saying: {and those who believe in the unseen matters [2:3]} which is general. And even though the verse {belief in the Hereafter of which they have conviction [2:4]) includes belief in the unseen matters, it has been specified in order to rebuke the statement of the polytheists where they said {there is nothing more to our mortal life except that we live and die [45:24]}. Thus, their being specified for belief in the Hereafter is a form of praising them…”[3]

ومنه قوله تعالى : ولتكن منكم أمة يدعون إلى الخير ويأمرون بالمعروف وينهون عن المنكر ) آل عمران : 104 ) إذ الأمر والنهي من جملة الدعاء إلى الخيروقوله تعالى : والذين آمنوا وعملوا الصالحات وآمنوا بما نزل على محمد ) محمد : 2 ) والقصد تفضيل النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – وما نزل عليه إذ لا يتم الإيمان إلا به وقوله : الذين يؤمنون بالغيب ) البقرة : 3 ) فهذا عام وبالآخرة هم يوقنون )البقرة : 4 ) وإن كان الإيمان بالغيب يشملها، ولكن خصها لإنكار المشركين لها في قولهم ما هي إلا حياتنا الدنيا نموت ونحيا ) الجاثية : 24 ) فكان في تخصيصهم بذلك مدح لهم 


[1] See `Ata’ Ibn Khalil, al-Taysir fi Usul al-Tafsir, pp.116. cf. also al-Misbah al-Munir fi Tahdhib Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Eng. tr.), pp.307-309.

[2] See

[3] al-Zarkashi, al-Burhan fi `Ulum al-Qur’an, 3:47-48.

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