Question: In the Qur’an, it mentions that the followers of Jesus (upon whom be peace) were made “above the disbelievers” (3: 55) and made “dominant” (61: 14)
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Thank you for your important question.
The verses in question are as follows:
‘[Mention] when Allah said, ‘O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection’ (Qur’an, 3: 55).
‘And a faction of the Children of Israel believed and a faction disbelieved. So We supported those who believed against their enemy, and they became dominant’ (Qur’an, 61: 14).
Regarding the first verse (3: 55), Baydawi mentions that “those who follow you” refers to the Christians who followed Jesus (upon whom be peace) and then, with the coming of Islam, the Muslims (Tafsir al Baydawi).
The idea that it means solely the Muslims is cited by Alusi as the position of many of the Early Muslims (Ruh al Maani, Alusi).
Qurtubi adds another possibility, namely that it means those who will follow Jesus when he returns. These followers will be both politically and religiously “superior” to those who disbelieve (Jami Ahkam al Quran, Qurtubi).
Regarding the second verse (61: 14), Qurtubi and Alusi mention that the “dominance” refers to the political power enjoyed by the Muslims (Jami Ahkam al Quran, Qurtubi; Ruh al Maani, Alusi). Another position that they both mention is that the “support” and “dominance” referred to did apply to the Christians but it happened later on by Allah sending the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). Yet another position mentioned by both Qurtubi and Alusi is that their “dominance” was not political, but theological: they were theologically dominant in that the Apostles had clear proofs against the Jewish community.
Baydawi and Ibn Ashur opine that Allah has always given the Christians the political upper hand over the Jews (Tafsir al Baydawi; al Tahrir wa al Tanwir, Ibn Ashur).
These are [all authoritative opinions. The safest position in my humble opinion is that the “superiority” and “dominance” of “those who follow you” applies to the Muslims who follow Jesus (upon whom be peace) at the end of time. This is because we know that they are genuinely following him, and truly politically “dominant”. And Allah knows best.
I pray this helps.
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language