Surah al-Ma'idah (The Table) 5 : 112

إِذْ قَالَ ٱلْحَوَارِيُّونَ يَٰعِيسَى ٱبْنَ مَرْيَمَ هَلْ يَسْتَطِيعُ رَبُّكَ أَن يُنَزِّلَ عَلَيْنَا مَآئِدَةً مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ ۖ قَالَ ٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
[And remember] when the disciples said, "O Jesus, Son of Mary, can your Lord send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven? [Jesus] said, "Fear Allāh, if you should be Believers."

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

The majority of early scholars, however, agree that it was sent down, because God said: “I am sending it down to you.” God’s promise always comes true. We, therefore, take only what the Qur’ān has stated concerning the Repast. Thus, God reminds Jesus, son of Mary, of His favours when he stands in front of his people on the Day of Judgement, with all creatures looking on: “The disciples said: Jesus, son of Mary! Can your Lord send down to us a repast from heaven?’“

The disciples, the closest to Jesus of all his followers, were aware that he was a human being, born to Mary. They address him according to his status, which they knew very well. They knew that he was neither a son of God nor a deity, but a servant of God. They also knew that it was his Lord who accomplished all those miraculous events through him. He himself could not do any of them by his own initiative. Hence, when they requested a further miracle, they did not ask him to accomplish it himself, because they were aware that he could not do so. Their question was: “Jesus, son of Mary! Can your Lord send down to us a repast from heaven?”

Interpretations vary as to the nature of their question. How is it that they would use such a form of question when they had already declared their belief in God and asked Jesus to witness their submission to Him? One interpretation of their question is that it did not seek to know God’s ability, but rather whether He would give them the repast. Another view considers the question to mean, “would your Lord respond to you if you were to request Him to send down a repast?” Other interpretations are also given. Be that as it may, Jesus warned them against asking for miracles, because believers do not ask for them: “He answered: ‘Fear God, if you are truly believers.’“

2. Linguistic Analysis

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Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *


3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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The theme of this Surah indicates and traditions support it, that it was revealed after the treaty of Hudaibiyah at the end of 6 A.H. or in the beginning of 7 A.H.

The Prophet set out along with 1400 Muslims to Makkah in 6 A.H. to perform Umrah (the lesser pilgrimage). Even though it was against all the ancient religious traditions of Arabia – the Quraysh prevented them. After a fair amount of negotiation,  a treaty was concluded at Hudaibiyah according to which it was agreed that he would be allowed to perform Umrah the following year. This is why the introductory verses deal with with the pilgrimage to Makkah and the same theme has been resumed in v. 101-104. The other topics of this Surah also appear to belong to the same period. [REF: Mawdudi]

8. Reasons for Revelation

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The general attitude towards the Muslims had now changed since the revelation of the previous Surahs 3: Al-Imran (Family of Imran) and Surah 4: An-Nisa (The Women)

Islam had become a force and the Islamic State had extended to Najd on the east, to the Red Sea on the west, to Syria on the north, and to Makkah on the south. The set-back which the Muslims had suffered at Uhud had not broken their determination. It had rather spurred them to action. As a result of their continuous struggle and unparalleled sacrifices the power of the surrounding clans within a radius of 200 miles or so had been subdued. The conspiracies of the Jewish tribes -  which had always threatened Madinah -  were totally removed and the Jews in other parts of the Arabian Peninsula (Hijaz) had become tributaries of the State of Madinah. The last effort of the Quraysh to suppress Islam had been thwarted in the Battle of the Ditch. After this it had become quite obvious to the Arabs that no power could suppress the Islamic movement.

Islam was no longer merely a creed which ruled over the minds and hearts of the people but had also become a State which dominated over every aspect of the life of the people who lived within its boundaries. This had enabled the Muslims to live their lives without any hindrance in accordance with their beliefs.

Another development had also taken place during this period. The Muslim state had developed in accordance with the principles of Islam and this was quite distinct from all other civilisations in all its details. It identified the Muslims clearly from the non-Muslims in their moral, social and cultural behaviour. Mosques had been built in all territories, prayer had been established and a leader (Imam) for every habitation and clan had been appointed. The Islamic civil and criminal laws had been formulated in detail and were being enforced through the Islamic courts. New and reformed ways of trade and commerce had taken the place of the old ones. The Islamic laws of marriage and divorce, of the segregation of the sexes, of the punishment for adultery and slander and the like had cast the social life of the Muslims in a special mould. Their social behaviour, their conversation, their dress, their very mode of living, their culture etc., had taken a definite shape of its own. As a result of all these changes, the non-Muslims could not expect that the Muslims would ever return to their former ways. Before the treaty of Hudaibiyah, the Muslims were so engaged in their struggle with the non-Muslim Quraysh that had little time to propagate their message. This was resolved by what was apparently a defeat but in reality a victory at Hudaibiyah. This gave the Muslims not only peace in their own territory but also respite to spread their message in the surrounding territories. Accordingly, the Prophet addressed letters to the chiefs of Arabia, the rulers of Persia, Egypt and the Roman Empire inviting them to Islam. At the same time the missionaries of Islam spread among the clans and tribes and invited them to accept the Divine Way of God. These were the circumstances at the time when al- Ma’idah was revealed.

9. Relevant Hadith

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10. Wiki Forum

Comments in this section are statements made by general users – these are not necessarily explanations of the Ayah – rather a place to share personal thoughts and stories…

11. Tafsir Zone

 

Overview (Verse 112)

Favours Granted to Jesus’s Followers
 

In addition to the favours bestowed on Jesus and his mother, the sūrah relates some of the favours God granted to his followers, and the miracles with which God supported him, as seen by his disciples.
 
The disciples said: “Jesus, son of Mary! Can your Lord send down to us a repast from heaven?” He answered: “Fear God, if you are truly believers.” Said they: “We desire to eat of it, so that our hearts are reassured and that we know that you have spoken the truth to us, and that we may be witness of it.” “God, our Lord,” said Jesus, son of Mary, “send down upon us a repast from heaven: it shall be an ever- recurring feast for us — for the first and the last of us — and a sign from You. And provide us our sustenance, for You are the best provider” God replied: ‘I am sending it down to you. But whoever of you disbelieves after this, I shall inflict on him suffering the like of which I have not inflicted on anyone in the world.” (Verses 112-115)
 
This dialogue reveals to us something about Jesus’s people, and the elite among them, i.e. his disciples. What we find is that they differed greatly from our own Prophet’s Companions. Those were the disciples inspired by God to believe in Him and His Messenger, Jesus, son of Mary. They did so and called on Jesus to witness the fact of their faith. Yet even after all the miracles they saw Jesus performing, they still requested another miracle so as to reassure themselves about his truthfulness and to bear witness about it to those who would succeed them.
 
Muĥammad’s Companions, on the other hand, never asked him for a single miracle after they had accepted the faith and submitted themselves to God. Their hearts were full of faith, once they had experienced the happiness and joy of it. They believed God’s Messenger and asked him for no more proof of the truth of his message. They testified to his truthfulness with no miracle shown to them other than the Qur’ān.
 
Such is the wide gulf between Jesus’s disciples and Muĥammad’s Companions (peace be upon them both). Theirs are two widely different levels; yet both have submitted to God, and both are accepted by Him, if He so pleases. But their levels remain wide apart.
 
The story of the Repast, as told in the Qur’ān, is not mentioned in Christian Scriptures. It is not reported in the Gospels written long after Jesus. Thus, they cannot be taken as a reliable statement of the truth revealed by God Almighty. These Gospels are only reports by saints of the story of Jesus. They are not the text of the Gospel, or the Injīl that God revealed to Jesus.
 
However, these books include a different report on the Repast. In 15: 32 of Matthew, the following report is given: “Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?’ Jesus asked them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ They said, ‘Seven, and a few small fish.’ Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowd. And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children.” Similar reports are given in other Gospels.
 
Some scholars of the generation following the Prophet’s Companions, i.e. Tābi`īn, like Mujāhid and al-Ĥasan, believe that the Repast was not sent down. They say that when the disciples were afraid at hearing God’s statement, “I am sending it down to you. But whoever of you disbelieves after this, I shall inflict on him suffering the like of which I have not inflicted on anyone in the world.” (Verse 115), they no longer asked for it to be granted.
 
In his commentary on the Qur’ān, Ibn Kathīr quotes several statements by scholars. He quotes Mujāhid as saying: “This was merely a parable given by God, but nothing was sent down.” Another quotation by Mujāhid says: “They were offered a table full of food, but they refused it when they were told that they would be severely punished should they disbelieve. They did not want to have anything to do with it.” Al-Ĥasan also expresses the view that it was not sent down. He is reported to have said: “When the disciples were told, ‘Whoever of you disbelieves after this, I shall inflict on him suffering the like of which I have not inflicted on anyone in the world,’ they said, ‘We have no need for it.’ Thus, it was not sent down.”
 
The majority of early scholars, however, agree that it was sent down, because God said: “I am sending it down to you.” God’s promise always comes true. We, therefore, take only what the Qur’ān has stated concerning the Repast.
 
Thus, God reminds Jesus, son of Mary, of His favours when he stands in front of his people on the Day of Judgement, with all creatures looking on: “The disciples said: Jesus, son of Mary! Can your Lord send down to us a repast from heaven?’“ (Verse 112) The disciples, the closest to Jesus of all his followers, were aware that he was a human being, born to Mary. They address him according to his status, which they knew very well. They knew that he was neither a son of God nor a deity, but a servant of God. They also knew that it was his Lord who accomplished all those miraculous events through him. He himself could not do any of them by his own initiative. Hence, when they requested a further miracle, they did not ask him to accomplish it himself, because they were aware that he could not do so. Their question was: “Jesus, son of Mary! Can your Lord send down to us a repast from heaven?” (Verse 112)
 

Interpretations vary as to the nature of their question. How is it that they would use such a form of question when they had already declared their belief in God and asked Jesus to witness their submission to Him? One interpretation of their question is that it did not seek to know God’s ability, but rather whether He would give them the repast. Another view considers the question to mean, “would your Lord respond to you if you were to request Him to send down a repast?” Other interpretations are also given.
 


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