The Jews say, 'Ezra ('Uzair) is a son of God,' and the Christians say, 'The Messiah is a son of God.' Such the sayings in their mouths. They resemble the saying of the infidels of old! God do battle with them!1 How are they misguided!

1 Rodwell translates these words as 'God do battle with them;' Palmer as 'God fought them;' Sale as 'May God resist them'. The opinion of the commentators is much the same, for Shah Wali Ullah Muhaddath translates them by لعنت كرد ايشان را خدا — 'God cursed them.' Ibn 'Abbas says لعنهم الله — 'God cursed them.' Husain says لعنت كناد خداى بر ايشان — 'May God curse them.'
The Khalasatu't-Tafasir also has
هلاك كرى ا كو الله — May God destroy them.'
Baidawi gives the following explanation:—
دعاء عليه بالاهلاك فان من قاتلة الله هللت او تعجّب من شناعة قولهم
'A prayer for their destruction for he whom God fights against is destroyed, or astonishment at the odiousness of their sayings.'
Nadhir Ahmad in his Urdu translation of the Qur'an says:
خدا ان كو غارت كرى — 'May God make havoc of them.' Shaikh 'Abdu'l-Qadir's Urdu translation has مارذالى ان كو الله —'May God kill them.' Ahmad Shah translates the words thus:—'May God kill them'— الله ان كو مارى
'Ali is reported to have said it means 'curse them.' Zamakhshari's comment on these words is: 'they deserve to have this saying applied to them out of amazement at their abominable language.'
Zamakhshari was a Mu'tazili, and his view is generally adopted by Muslims of broader views. To them the words mean 'May God confound them' or some such term; but the sterner view is common.
The words in the Qur'an are literally:
قَاتَلَهُمُ اللهُ 'kill them.' All this is not in accordance with the kindly tone of a passage in the fifth Sura:—
Thou wilt find the nearest in love to those who believe to be those who say, 'We are Christians.' This is, because there are amongst them priests and monks, and because they are not proud. Sura Al-Ma'idah (v) 85.
It must, however, be borne in mind that these words are followed by a verse showing the readiness of these Christians to embrace Islam—
And when they hear what hath been revealed to the Prophet, you will see their eyes gush with tears at what they recognize as truth therein; and they will say, 'O our Lord, we believe, write us down with those who bear witness.' Sura Al-Ma'idah (v) 86.
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They take their teachers and their monks and their Messiah, son of Mary, for lords besides God1 though bidden to worship one God only. There is no god but He. Far from His glory be what they associate with Him.

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In any case, these two verses, just quoted in this note, do not deal with the general subject of the relation of Muslims to Christians, and are limited in their application. Again, they do not express the matured and final feelings of the Prophet, for though they occur in the latest Sura of all, the fifth, they themselves belong to the earlier period. They are antecedent to the fiercer verses of the ninth Sura quoted in the text. As a proof of this, we find that the commentator Husain says that they refer to seventy persons sent to Muhammad by Najashi, the king of Abyssinia, who had shown great kindness to the Meccan refugees. (Ante, p. 30.) This was about the seventh year of the Hijra. So, assuming that these Christians did not come till this late period, it was still some two years before the stricter order in Sura Al-Ma'idah (v) 56, absolutely prohibiting friendship with Jews or Christians, was given, and this is the final word on the subject:—

O Believers take not the Jews or Christians as friends. If any one of you taketh them for his friends, he surely is one of them! God will not guide the evil-doer. Sura Al-Ma'idah (v) 56.

Husain says that the Prophet read the Sura YaSin (xxxvi) to these Christian visitors, who were delighted and said to one another, 'What perfect similarity it has to that which came to Jesus.' They then accepted Islam.

احكام اسلام وايمان قبول كردة با يكديكر كفتند كة قران جة مشابهت تمام دارد يانجة بر عيسىا نازل شدة
Tafsir-i-Husaini, vol. i, p. 155.
اِتَّخَذُوا اَحْبَارَهُمْ وَرُهْبَانَهُمْ اَرْبَابًا مِنْ دُوْنِ اللهِ
Husain translates this passage of the Qur'an by,
فرا كرفتند يهود ونصارى علماى شود را وعُباد خود را خديان
The Jews and Christians take their learned and pious men to be gods.' The word اَرْبَابًا is here the plural of رَبَّ . It is an allusion to the word (ربى ) Rabbi, used by the Jews and Christians of their priests, but in Arabic of God only. See Rodwell's Qur'an, p. 616 ; Palmer's Qur'an, vol. i, p. 177.
There was no harm in a Jew's calling a learned man or a religious leader a rabbi, but Muhammad made a blunder and altogether mistook the meaning of the word. This is accounted for by his ignorance of Hebrew. But another difficulty arises, for, it is not, according to the orthodox view of inspiration, Muhammad who speaks in the Qur'an, but God through him. It seems clear that this verse overthrows the idea of the verbal, or wahi inspiration of the Qur'an.