Allah directed His believing servants to believe in what He sent down to them through His Messenger Muhammad and in what was revealed to the previous Prophets in general. Some Prophets Allah mentioned by name, while He did not mention the names of many others. Allah directed the believers to refrain from differentiating between the Prophets and to believe in them all. They should avoid imitating whomever Allah described as,
﴿وَيُرِيدُونَ أَن يُفَرِّقُواْ بَيْنَ اللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَيقُولُونَ نُؤْمِنُ بِبَعْضٍ وَنَكْفُرُ بِبَعْضٍ وَيُرِيدُونَ أَن يَتَّخِذُواْ بَيْنَ ذَلِكَ سَبِيلاًأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْكَـفِرُونَ حَقّاً﴾
(And wish to make distinction between Allah and His Messengers (by believing in Allah and disbelieving in His Messengers) saying, "We believe in some but reject others,'' and wish to adopt a way in between. They are in truth disbelievers) (4:150-151).
Al-Bukhari narrated that Abu Hurayrah said, "The People of the Book used to read the Torah in Hebrew and translate it into Arabic for the Muslims. The Messenger of Allah said,
«لَا تُصَدِّقُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ وَلَا تُكَذِّبُوهُمْ وقُولُوا: آمَنَّا بِاللهِ وَمَا أُنْزل إِلَيْنَا»
(Do not believe the People of the Book, nor reject what they say. Rather, say, `We believe in Allah and in what was sent down to us.)''
Also, Muslim, Abu Dawud and An-Nasa'i recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "Mostly, the Messenger of Allah used to recite,
﴿ءَامَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا﴾
(We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us) (2: 136), and,
﴿ءَامَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَاشْهَدْ بِأَنَّا مُسْلِمُونَ﴾
(We believe in Allah, and bear witness that we are Muslims (i.e. we submit to Allah)) (3:52) during the two (voluntary) Rak`at before Fajr.''
Abu Al-`Aliyah, Ar-Rabi` and Qatadah said, "Al-Asbat are the twelve sons of Jacob, and each one of them had an Ummah of people from his descendants. This is why they were called Al-Asbat.'' Al-Khalil bin Ahmad and others said, "Al-Asbat among the Children of Israel are just like the tribes among the Children of Isma`il.'' This means that the Asbat are the various tribes of the Children of Israel, among whom Allah sent several Prophets. Moses said to the Children of Israel,
﴿اذْكُرُواْ نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ جَعَلَ فِيكُمْ أَنْبِيَآءَ وَجَعَلَكُمْ مُّلُوكاً﴾
(Remember the favor of Allah to you: when He made Prophets among you, made you kings) (5:20). Also, Allah said,
﴿وَقَطَّعْنَـهُمُ اثْنَتَىْ عَشْرَةَ أَسْبَاطًا﴾
(And We divided them into twelve tribes) (7:160).
Al-Qurtubi said, "Sibt is the group of people or a tribe all belonging to the same ancestors.''
Qatadah said, "Allah commanded the believers to believe in Him and in all His Books and Messengers. '' Also, Sulayman bin Habib said, "We were commanded to believe in the (original) Torah and Injil, but not to implement them.''
﴿فَإِنْ ءَامَنُواْ بِمِثْلِ مَآ ءَامَنتُمْ بِهِ فَقَدِ اهْتَدَواْ وَّإِنْ تَوَلَّوْاْ فَإِنَّمَا هُمْ فِى شِقَاقٍ فَسَيَكْفِيكَهُمُ اللَّهُ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ - صِبْغَةَ اللَّهِ وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ اللَّهِ صِبْغَةً وَنَحْنُ لَهُ عَـبِدونَ ﴾
(137. So if they believe in the like of that which you believe then they are rightly guided; but if they turn away, then they are only in opposition. So Allah will suffice for you against them. And He is the Hearer, the Knower.) (138. Our Sibghah (religion) is ﴾the Sibghah of Allah (Islam) and which Sibghah can be better than Allah's And we are His worshippers.)
Allah said, if they, the disbelievers among the People of the Book and other disbelievers, believe in all of Allah's Books and Messengers and do not differentiate between any of them,
(then they are rightly guided) meaning, they would acquire the truth and be directed to it.
(but if they turn away) from truth to falsehood after proof had been presented to them,
﴿فَإِنَّمَا هُمْ فِى شِقَاقٍ فَسَيَكْفِيكَهُمُ اللَّهُ﴾
(then they are only in opposition. So Allah will suffice you against them) meaning, Allah will aid the believers against them,
﴿وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ﴾
(And He is the Hearer, the Knower). Allah said,
(The Sibghah of Allah). Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas commented, "The religion of Allah.'' This Tafsir was also reported of Mujahid, Abu Al-`Aliyah, `Ikrimah, Ibrahim, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, `Abdullah bin Kathir, `Atiyah Al-`Awfi, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, As-Suddi and other scholars. The Ayah,
(Allah's Fitrah (i.e. Allah's Islamic Monotheism)) (30:30) directs Muslims to, "Hold to it.''
﴿قُلْ أَتُحَآجُّونَنَا فِى اللَّهِ وَهُوَ رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّكُمْ وَلَنَآ أَعْمَـلُنَا وَلَكُمْ أَعْمَـلُكُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُخْلِصُونَ - أَمْ تَقُولُونَ إِنَّ إِبْرَهِيمَ وَإِسْمَـعِيلَ وَإِسْحَــقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالأَسْبَاطَ كَانُواْ هُودًا أَوْ نَصَارَى قُلْ ءَأَنتُمْ أَعْلَمُ أَمِ اللَّهُ وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنْ كَتَمَ شَهَـدَةً عِندَهُ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَـفِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُم مَّا كَسَبْتُم وَلاَ تُسْـَلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴾
(139. Say (O Muhammad to the Jews and Christians), "Dispute you with us about Allah while He is our Lord and your Lord And we are to be rewarded for our deeds and you for your deeds. And we are sincere to Him (i.e. we worship Him alone and none else, and we obey His orders).'') (140. Or say you that Ibrahim, Isma`il, Ishaq, Ya`qub and Al-Asbat, were Jews or Christians Say, "Do you know better or does Allah And who is more unjust than he who conceals the testimony he has from Allah And Allah is not unaware of what you do.'') (141. That was a nation who has passed away. They shall receive the reward of what they earned, and you of what you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do.)
Allah directed His Prophet to pre-empt the arguments with the idolators:
﴿قُلْ أَتُحَآجُّونَنَا فِى اللَّهِ﴾
(Say (O Muhammad to the Jews and Christians), "Dispute you with us about Allah) meaning, "Do you dispute with us regarding the Oneness of Allah, obedience and submission to Him and in avoiding His prohibitions,
﴿وَهُوَ رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّكُمْ﴾
(while He is our Lord and your Lord) meaning, He has full control over us and you, and deserves the worship alone without partners.
﴿وَلَنَآ أَعْمَـلُنَا وَلَكُمْ أَعْمَـلُكُمْ﴾
(And we are to be rewarded for our deeds and you for your deeds.) meaning, we disown you and what you worship, just as you disown us. Allah said in another Ayah,
﴿وَإِن كَذَّبُوكَ فَقُل لِّى عَمَلِى وَلَكُمْ عَمَلُكُمْ أَنتُمْ بَرِيئُونَ مِمَّآ أَعْمَلُ وَأَنَاْ بَرِىءٌ مِّمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ ﴾
(And if they belie you, say: "For me are my deeds and for you are your deeds! You are innocent of what I do, and I am innocent of what you do!'') (10:41), and,
﴿فَإنْ حَآجُّوكَ فَقُلْ أَسْلَمْتُ وَجْهِىَ للَّهِ وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِ﴾
(So if they dispute with you (Muhammad ) say: "I have submitted myself to Allah (in Islam), and (so have) those who follow me'') (3:20). Allah said about Ibrahim,
﴿وَحَآجَّهُ قَوْمُهُ قَالَ أَتُحَاجُّونِّى فِى اللَّهِ﴾
(His people disputed with him. He said: "Do you dispute with me concerning Allah'') (6:80), and,
﴿أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِى حَآجَّ إِبْرَهِيمَ فِى رِبِّهِ﴾
(Have you not looked at him who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord (Allah)) (2:258). He said in this honorable Ayah,
﴿وَلَنَآ أَعْمَـلُنَا وَلَكُمْ أَعْمَـلُكُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُخْلِصُونَ﴾
(And we are to be rewarded for our deeds and you for your deeds. And we are sincere to Him.) meaning, "We disown you just as you disown us,''
﴿وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُخْلِصُونَ﴾
(And we are sincere to Him), in worship and submission.
Allah then criticized them in the claim that Ibrahim, the Prophets who came after him and the Asbat were following their religion, whether Judaism or Christianity. Allah said,
﴿قُلْ ءَأَنتُمْ أَعْلَمُ أَمِ اللَّهُ﴾
(Say, "Do you know better or does Allah'') meaning, Allah has the best knowledge and He stated that they were neither Jews, nor Christians. Similarly, Allah said in the Ayah,
﴿مَا كَانَ إِبْرَهِيمُ يَهُودِيًّا وَلاَ نَصْرَانِيًّا وَلَكِن كَانَ حَنِيفًا مُّسْلِمًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ ﴾
(Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a true Muslim Hanifa (to worship none but Allah alone) and he was not of Al-Mushrikin) (3:67) and the following Ayat. Allah also said,
﴿وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنْ كَتَمَ شَهَـدَةً عِندَهُ مِنَ اللَّهِ﴾
And who is more unjust than he who conceals the testimony he has from Alla0h؟ )2:140(. Al-Hلasan Al-Basلri said, They used to recite the Book of Alla0h He sent to them that stated that the true religion is Isla0m and that Muhلammad is the Messenger of Alla0h. Their Book also stated that Ibra0h0m, Isma0 0l, Ishلa0q, Ya qu0b and the tribes were neither Jews, nor Christians. They testified to these facts, yet hid them from the people. Alla0h s statement,
﴿وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَـفِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ﴾
(And Allah is not unaware of what you do), is a threat and a warning that His knowledge encompasses every one's deeds, and He shall award each accordingly. Allah then said,
﴿تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ﴾
(That was a nation who has passed away.) meaning, existed before you,
﴿لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُم مَّا كَسَبْتُم﴾
(They shall receive the reward of what they earned, and you of what you earn.) meaning, they bear their deeds while you bear yours,
﴿وَلاَ تُسْـَلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ﴾
(And you will not be asked of what they used to do) meaning, the fact that you are their relatives will not suffice, unless you imitate their good deeds. Further, do not be deceived by the fact that you are their descendants, unless you imitate them in obeying Allah's orders and following His Messengers who were sent as warners and bearers of good news. Indeed, whoever disbelieves in even one Prophet, will have disbelieved in all the Messengers, especially if one disbelieves in the master and Final Messenger from Allah, the Lord of the worlds, to all mankind and the Jinns. May Allah's peace and blessings be on Muhammad and the rest of Allah's Prophets.
﴿سَيَقُولُ السُّفَهَآءُ مِنَ النَّاسِ مَا وَلَّـهُمْ عَن قِبْلَتِهِمُ الَّتِى كَانُواْ عَلَيْهَا قُل لّلَّهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ يَهْدِى مَن يَشَآءُ إِلَى صِرَطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ - وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَـكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَآءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الْقِبْلَةَ الَّتِى كُنتَ عَلَيْهَآ إِلاَّ لِنَعْلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَى عَقِبَيْهِ وَإِن كَانَتْ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلاَّ عَلَى الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللَّهُ وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَـنَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ ﴾
(142. The fools (idolators, hypocrites, and Jews) among the people will say: "What has turned them (Muslims) from their Qiblah ﴿prayer direction (towards Jerusalem)﴾ to which they used to face in prayer.'' Say (O Muhammad ): "To Allah belong both, east and the west. He guides whom He wills to the straight way.'') (143. Thus We have made you ﴿true Muslims ـ real believers of Islamic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah (legal ways)﴾, a Wasat (just and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad ) be a witness over you. And We made the Qiblah which you used to face, only to test those who followed the Messenger (Muhammad ) from those who would turn on their heels (i.e., disobey the Messenger). Indeed it was great (heavy, difficult) except for those whom Allah guided. And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost (i.e., your prayers offered towards Jerusalem). Truly, Allah is full of kindness, the Most Merciful towards mankind.)