The following is based on a translation of Dr Fadhel al Samarrai’s Tafseer of Surah Saff. The Christians should listen to the words of the noble prophet Jesus son of Mary who informs them of the coming of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ who in the bible is called Ahmed, which is translated in to English as “the one who praises” or “the praised one” or “comforter”.
وَإِذ قالَ عيسَى ابنُ مَريَمَ يا بَني إِسرائيلَ إِنّي رَسولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيكُم مُصَدِّقًا لِما بَينَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ التَّوراةِ وَمُبَشِّرًا بِرَسولٍ يَأتي مِن بَعدِي اسمُهُ أَحمَدُ ۖ فَلَمّا جاءَهُم بِالبَيِّناتِ قالوا هٰذا سِحرٌ مُبينٌ
And when ‘Isa son of Maryam said, ‘Oh Tribe of Israel, I am the Messenger of Allah to you, confirming the Torah which came before me and giving you the good news of a Messenger after me whose name is Ahmad.’ When he brought them the Clear Signs, they said, ‘This is obvious magic.’
(Surah Saff, verse 6)
Isa (Jesus) was attributed to his mother to indicate that he is not the son of Allah as the Christians say. Isa said: يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ ‘Oh Tribe of Israel’ and he did not say ‘Oh my people’ like Musa (as) said because Isa is not related to them. This is because lineage is linked to the man from a people. In other words, his father is from them and this not the case with Isa (as) since he has no father. It did not appear once in the Qur’an that Isa called them with ‘Oh my people’. Also, Musa (as) did not refer to them as ‘Oh Tribe of Israel’ since the Tribe of Israel are his people. The lineage to Isa’s mother paved the way for not calling them with ‘Oh my people’, because it is not correct that he is linked to his mother and then say to them ‘Oh my people’ as mentioned in Al Kasshaf:
“And it was said, he (Isa) said only: يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ ‘Oh Tribe of Israel’, and he did not say ‘Oh my people’ like Musa (as) said, because his lineage is not from them, in order that they become his people.”
Isa (as) said: إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّـهِ إِلَيْكُم ‘indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you’. So his message was specifically for them just as Musa (as) indicated earlier that his message was only for Banu Israel.
Isa (as) saying مُّصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ ‘confirming the Torah which came before me’ confirms the prophethood of Musa (as), and Isa’s saying وَمُبَشِّرًا بِرَسُولٍ يَأْتِي مِن بَعْدِي اسْمُهُ أَحْمَدُ ‘and giving you the good news of a Messenger after me whose name is Ahmad,’ gives clad tidings of the final prophet our master Muhammad ﷺ, one of his names being Ahmed.
The words مُّصَدِّقًا (confirming) and مُبَشِّرًا (good news) came in the mansoob (accusative) state as circumstantial adverbs, and they did not come in the marfoo (nominative) state as additional predicates, and this is to indicate what Isa (as) was sent with. That is because مُّصَدِّقًا and وَمُبَشِّرًا are two circumstantial adverbs and their governing agent is رَسُولُ اللَّـهِ Therefore this indicates that these two are from the matters of the Message Isa was sent with. If Isa (as) said to them in the marfoo (nominative) state then that would not give the benefit of clarity, rather it would inform that he said that from himself.
Isa (as) said: مِن بَعْدِي ‘after me’ and he did not say بَعْدِي to indicate that between them i.e. Isa (as) and Muhammad ﷺ there will be no prophet. This is because the preposition مِن gives the meaning of initiation of purpose and goal for far distance. Whereas for بَعْدِ without مِن the meaning maybe near distance and far distance.
فَلَمّا جاءَهُم بِالبَيِّناتِ قالوا هٰذا سِحرٌ مُبينٌ
When he brought them the Clear Signs, they said, ‘This is obvious magic.’
This sentence is possibly referring to Isa (as). In other words, he brought them evidences indicating the truthfulness of his message and his glad tidings, and it is the miracles which he was supported with such as bringing the dead back to life and curing the lepers and other things from the signs, so ‘they said this is obvious magic.’
This sentence could also be referring to Muhammad ﷺ. In other words, Muhammad ﷺ brought them evidences indicating his truthfulness and that he was the glad tidings, so ‘they said this is obvious magic.’
In any case both of them were accused of clear magic when clear evidences were presented.
Allah (swt) says:
وَإِذْ كَفَفْتُ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ عَنكَ إِذْ جِئْتَهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ فَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْهُمْ إِنْ هَـٰذَا إِلَّا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ
and when I held back the tribe of Israel from you, when you brought them the Clear Signs and those of them who were kafir said, “This is nothing but obvious magic”
And He (swt) says about Muhammad ﷺ:
وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِلْحَقِّ لَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ إِنْ هَـٰذَا إِلَّا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ
Those who are kafir say to the truth when it comes to them, ‘This is nothing but obvious magic.’
Also He (swt) said regarding Muhammad ﷺ:
بَلْ عَجِبْتَ وَيَسْخَرُونَ وَإِذَا ذُكِّرُوا لَا يَذْكُرُونَ وَإِذَا رَأَوْا آيَةً يَسْتَسْخِرُونَ وَقَالُوا إِنْ هَـٰذَا إِلَّا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ
No wonder you are surprised as they laugh with scorn! When they are reminded they do not pay heed. When they see a Sign they only laugh with scorn. They say, ‘This is just obvious magic.
It came in Tafseer Al Kabeer regarding Allah’s (swt) saying: فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ‘But when he came to them with clear evidences’, it was said this is Isa and it was said this is Muhammad.
It came in Bahrul Al Muheet: It is apparent that the nominative pronoun in جَاءَهُم refers to Isa (as) because the discussion is about him and it was also said it refers to Ahmed.
Indeed three peoples were mentioned in the previous verses of Sura Saff.
1- those who believe from the nation of Muhammad ﷺ and it is His (swt) saying: يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُ
2- the nation of Musa
3- those who disbelieved, whether they were from those Isa (as) was sent to or those who Muhammad ﷺ was sent to.
Their respective mentioning was according to their level of faith and obedience. So foremost (nation of Muhammad ﷺ, they were the most virtuous and obedient to Allah, then the people of Musa, then those who disbelieved.
In addition to this sequence, the order is also suitable to the opening of the sura and that Allah’s saying: سَبَّحَ لِلَّـهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ‘Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth exalts Allah’. This is because after mentioning those who exalt in the heavens and the earth are those who exalt Him in the earth obediently and willingly and they are the believers in Muhammad ﷺ and they are the majority who exalt Him. They exalt Allah in their prayers and their prostration and in other situations.
Then the sura moved to other people who do lesser exaltation and are farthest away from obedience and they are the people of Musa. Then those who disobeyed and fabricated lies against Allah and: قَالُوا هَـٰذَا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ ‘they said this is obvious magic’. So it started it with the most obedient of groups and worshipers, followed by those who are nearest to them in obedience. Then those who are the furthest from obedience to Allah (swt). And Allah knows best.