The Qur’an says:
Verily, those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messengers and wish to make distinction between Allah and His Messengers saying, “We believe in some but reject others,” and wish to adopt a way in between. (4:150)
Can you please explain the exact meaning of two terms mentioned in this Ayah: 1) Making distinction between the Allah and His Messengers; and 2) Adopting a way in-between?
Before explaining the meaning of the two stated phrases, it is necessary to keep in mind that the referred verse is a part of some of the comments and criticisms of the Qur’an on the attitude of most of the Israelites of the time of the Prophet (pbuh), who were persistent in their rejection of the Prophet (pbuh), even after it had become obvious to them that Muhammad (pbuh) was, in fact, a true messenger of God. One such point of criticism of the Qur’an on the Arab Israelites was with reference to their belief that they were only obliged to believe in those prophets of God, who were from among the Israelites themselves. On the basis of this belief, these Israelites were persistent, even after their rejection of the Prophet (pbuh) to be considered “true believers”. It was this belief of the Arab Israelites on which the Qur’an has made a comment in the referred verse.
Keeping the foregoing clarification in perspective, let us now take a look at the two phrases:
As for the first phrase, i.e. “make a distinction between Allah and His messengers” is clarified by the verse itself by recording the statement of these rejecters: “We believe in some but reject others”. That is, the phrase “make a distinction between Allah and His messengers” implies to create a difference (with reference to belief) between the various revelations and the various prophets of God.
It should be noted that the verse has clarified in the beginning that such an attitude of creating distinction between the various revelations and the various prophets of God is clear rejection in the eyes of God. The attitude required by God is to believe in all His prophets and all His revelations, irrespective of their race, lineage or nationality. Thus, the Qur’an has mentioned the creed of the true believers as:
آمَنَ الرَّسُولُ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مِن رَّبِّهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ ۚ كُلٌّ آمَنَ بِاللَّـهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّن رُّسُلِهِ
The Prophet believes in what has been revealed upon him and so do the [true] believers. Each of them [truly] believes in God, [all] His angels, [all of] His books and [all of] His messengers. [They declare:] We do not create any distinction between any of His messengers.
As for the second phrase, that is “they wish to adopt a way in-between” is a comment on the motives and intentions of these Israelites in proposing their aforementioned belief, according to which, they were obliged to believe only in those prophets, who were from among the Israelites themselves. The Qur’an has pointed out that by proposing this belief these Israelites desire to find a path that is in-between the path of the true believers – who believe in all the revelations and in all the prophets of God – and the clear rejecters – as these Israelites claimed belief in some of the prophets of God. Nevertheless, as has been stated earlier, the Qur’an has also refused to accept this stand of these Israelites and has declared it to imply rejection of God and all His messengers.
I hope this helps.
April 30, 2002