An explanation of chapter 8 verse 55

Allah says in chapter 8 verse 55 of the Quran that,
Pickthall: Lo! the worst of beasts in Allah's sight are the ungrateful who will not believe.
Yusuf Ali: For the worst of beasts in the sight of Allah are those who reject Him: They will not believe.
Shakir: Surely the vilest of animals in Allah's sight are those who disbelieve, then they would not believe.

Allah - the god of islam expresses profound hatred toward disbelievers in Quran and this hatred is based on people's freedom of choice i.e. not believing in allah and his signs. Every now and then Allah threatens kafirs with hellfire and shows how much he hates Kafirs (disbelievers).

Let's explain the context of the verse 55 which actually starts from PREVIOUS verse that one has to read to understand the whole context. Read verse 54 to 58here with all the different translations. We can see, verse 54 describes how the Pharaohs disbelieved in the signs of allah and allah punished them.

How did Allah punish the Pharaoh and their people? By destroying them and drowning them into the sea. Why?...because they disbelieved in allah. So allah had to punish them simply because they disbelieved in allah's signs? Well, YES!! Because Allah says in the next verse: INDEED Kafirs (disbelievers) are the worst creatures in the sight of allah as they disbelieved and will never believe in allah.

Read the word by word translation of verse 54, 55 and 56.

Now this next verse 56 where allah says, those with whom you made covenant and they break covenant, they do not fear allah. This "those people" in historical context, is indicating the jewish tribe of Banu Quraiza. According to islamic tradition, Muhammad made a treaty with the tribe but they broke it (really?). So Allah commanded Muhammad to punish them severely. Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir described it as "Striking hard against those who disbelieve and break the covenants".

Some muslims try to argue that this later verse 56 restrict the worst creature label given in verse 55 in an attempt to make Quran look good and reasonable. However this appears to be a manipulation. There is nothing in verse 56 to restrict the previous label. The label is for all disbelievers. Now this verse is talking about those people with whom You (Muhammad) had treaties but break treaties, they do not fear allah. According to muslim apologists' logic, those kafirs who do not break treaties...they fear allah then?
Alladhina(Those who) is a masculine plural relative pronoun which relates to the people with whom Muhammad had treaties, not those who are worst creatures.

This "those who" could also mean that, kafirs always break treaties because they don't fear allah. Overall, only Disbelievers or both the Disbelievers and Treaty breakers are the worst creatures.

There are other verses where Allah again calls disbelievers the worst creatures and vile beasts. In verse 22 of the same chapter allah declares the disbelievers as deaf, dumb people who do not understand and calls them worst of beasts. Ibn Kathir was kind enough to explain the meaning for us. Another verse 6 in chapter 98, once again allah calls the disbelievers worst creatures. Note emphasis on those who disbelieved
Indeed, they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the worst of creatures.

Allah's prophet Muhammad was equally interested to use the label "worst creature" for various other people.
  1. Christians who decorate their church with nice pictures, Muhammad accused them of worshipping grave and called them worst creatures. Sahih Bukhari, book 23, Hadith number 425.
  2. Those people who don't understand Quran or take the Quran seriously, they are worst of creatures. Sahih Muslim, Book 5, Hadith 2335.

Read this article written by Abul Kasem on the topic.
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