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Sura 16
Aya 124
إِنَّما جُعِلَ السَّبتُ عَلَى الَّذينَ اختَلَفوا فيهِ ۚ وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَيَحكُمُ بَينَهُم يَومَ القِيامَةِ فيما كانوا فيهِ يَختَلِفونَ

Muhammad Asad

[and know that the observance of] the Sabbath was ordained only for those who came to hold divergent views about him;1 but, verily, God will judge between them on Resurrection Day with regard to all on which they were wont to differ.2
  • I.e., about Abraham. The implication is that the majority of the Jews had deviated from the true creed of Abraham (which is the meaning of the phrase, "those who came to hold divergent views about him") inasmuch as most of them became convinced that they were "God's chosen people" simply because of their physical descent from that great Prophet: an assumption which obviously runs counter to every truly religious principle. As the Qur'an repeatedly points out, this spiritual arrogance was punished by God's imposition ou the children of Israel - and on them alone - of all manner of severe restrictions and rituals, of which the obligation to refrain from all work and even travel on the Sabbath was one. In its widest implication, this passage is meant to stress the fact that all God-imposed rituals are only a means towards the achievement of spiritual discipline, and never a religious goal in themselves.
  • I.e., He will judge between those who are convinced of their ultimate salvation on the basis of their alleged status of "God's chosen people", and those who believe in man's individual responsibility before God: and thus the discourse returns to the problem of God-consciousness and righteous living.