Lo! We sent unto them two [apostles], and they gave the lie to both; and so We strengthened [the two] with a third; and thereupon they said: "Behold, we have been sent unto you [by God]!"10
As is usual with such passages, the commentators advance various speculations as to the "identity" of the town and the apostles. Since, however, the story is clearly described as a parable, it must be understood as such and not as an historical narrative. It seems to me that we have here an allegory of the three great monotheistic religions, successively propounded by Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, and embodying, essentially, the same spiritual truths. The "township" (qaryah) mentioned in the parable represents, I think, the common cultural environment within which these three religions appeared. The apostles of the first two are said to have been sent "together", implying that the teachings of both were - and are - anchored in one and the same scripture, the Old Testament of the Bible. When, in the course of time, their impact proved insufficient to mould the ethical attitude of the people or peoples concerned, God "strengthened" them by means of His final message, conveyed to the world by the third and last of the apostles, Muhammad.