|Pickthall||Yusuf Ali||Shakir||Sher Ali||Rashad Khalifa|
|There is not one of the People of the Scripture but will believe in him before his death, and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them -||And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgment he will be a witness against them;-||And there is not one of the followers of the Book but most certainly believes in this before his death, and on the day of resurrection he (Isa) shall be a witness against them.||And there is none among the People of the Book but will continue to believe in it before his death; and on the Day of Resurrection, he (Jesus) shall be a witness against them.||Everyone among the people of the scripture was required to believe in him before his death. On the Day of Resurrection, he will be a witness against them.|
Yusuf Ali gives this interpretation in his commentary note 665:
Note 664 on Surah 4:158 is maybe a helpful background to the above note, since in 665 he only talks on the basis of what he just stated is the generally accepted Muslim view:
In a mailing list discussion, one Muslim claimed this clearly states that all People of the Book will believe in Jesus before his (future) death. This seems to be grammatically possible. Several translators seem to follow this understanding and their translations say something to the effect that "everyone from the People of the Book will (certainly) believe in him ...". However, why would Jesus be a "witness against them" when they believe in him? Should he not be a witness against those who do NOT believe in him?
Rashad Khalifa is the odd one out who transfers this into the past tense (was required to believe), while all others see this either present or future. Khalifa circumvents the problem by inserting the word "required" which is not in the Arabic.
The main question so far seems to be whether the emphatic form means "certainty of fact in the future" (will believe) or "duty for everyone" (required, must believe). But there are more opinions on the meaning of this verse...
In response to Yusuf Ali's translation of this verse, an Ahmadiyya gave me the following explanation regarding their interpretation of this verse:
Besides the Arabic pronoun used does not here mean *him* but *it*, because the incident being referred to in the preceeding verse is to Jesus's a.s. alleged death on the cross, so the correct translation (with my explanation in brackets) will be:
This Ahmadiyya interpretation gets rid of some problems but substitutes it for others.
The way this is now translated and interpreted by the Ahmadiyya, it says that ALL the people of the Book, Jews and Christians, will continue to believe the death of Jesus on the Cross. But Muslims tell us that there have been thousands (or even millions) of Jews and Christians who converted to Islam, and consequently they do no longer believe in this death on the Cross. Does that not mean the Qur'an is wrong, according to the interpretation given above? Isn't the Ahmadiyya translation only removing one problem by substituting it with another interpretation, equally wrong on the factual level?
Is there any interpretation of this verse that is consistent with the rest of Islamic theology (whether the Sunni or the Ahmadiyya version) and the facts of life that some Christians and Christians do convert to orthodox Islam, some to Ahmadiyya Islam and believe exactly as these movments tell, and most of them continue to believe in the revelation given by God in the Bible?
Whatever this verse means, the facts will contradict any theory which understands it in a way such that all of them will continue not to believe, or all of them will believe. This is certainly a challenge to the "none ... but" construction in the aya which makes a statement that supposedly holds without exception.
At the following link you will find a number of further articles examining the Qur'anic passage and Muslim traditions on the Crucifixion which we would like to recommend reading as well. Based on the above and those further articles...
Conclusion: The one and only passage in the Qur'an dealing with the issue of the Crucifixion is extremely vague and riddled with problems of its own. How then can it be the bases for rejection of the very clear meaning of the passion narratives in the Gospels?
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