Surah al-Ma'idah (The Table) 5 : 41

۞ يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلرَّسُولُ لَا يَحْزُنكَ ٱلَّذِينَ يُسَٰرِعُونَ فِى ٱلْكُفْرِ مِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ قَالُوٓا۟ ءَامَنَّا بِأَفْوَٰهِهِمْ وَلَمْ تُؤْمِن قُلُوبُهُمْ ۛ وَمِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ هَادُوا۟ ۛ سَمَّٰعُونَ لِلْكَذِبِ سَمَّٰعُونَ لِقَوْمٍ ءَاخَرِينَ لَمْ يَأْتُوكَ ۖ يُحَرِّفُونَ ٱلْكَلِمَ مِنۢ بَعْدِ مَوَاضِعِهِۦ ۖ يَقُولُونَ إِنْ أُوتِيتُمْ هَٰذَا فَخُذُوهُ وَإِن لَّمْ تُؤْتَوْهُ فَٱحْذَرُوا۟ ۚ وَمَن يُرِدِ ٱللَّهُ فِتْنَتَهُۥ فَلَن تَمْلِكَ لَهُۥ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ شَيْـًٔا ۚ أُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ ٱلَّذِينَ لَمْ يُرِدِ ٱللَّهُ أَن يُطَهِّرَ قُلُوبَهُمْ ۚ لَهُمْ فِى ٱلدُّنْيَا خِزْىٌ ۖ وَلَهُمْ فِى ٱلْءَاخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ


 Muhsin Khan
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
O Messenger, do not grieve for those who rush into disbelief - those who say, "We believe" with their mouths, but their hearts believe not, and from among the Jews. [They are] avid listeners to falsehood, listening to other people who have not come to you. They distort words beyond their [proper] places [i.e., usages], saying "If you are given this, take it; but if you are not given it, then beware." And he for whom Allāh intends fitnah - never will you possess [power to do] for him a thing against Allāh. Those are the ones for whom Allāh does not intend to purify their hearts. For them in this world is disgrace, and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.

Qur'an Dictionary

Click word/image to view Qur'an Dictionary
Word Arabic word


grieve you
those who

[the] disbelief

those who
We believe
with their mouths

their hearts

those who
(are) Jews
They (are) listeners
to falsehood
(and) listeners
for people

come to you
They distort
the words

their context

you are given

[so] take it


you are given it
then beware

his trial

will you have power



(are) the ones

will intend

He purifies
their hearts


the world
(is) disgrace


the Hereafter
(is) a punishment

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

It is apparently clear that these verses were revealed in the early years after the Prophet’s settlement in Madinah where the Jews were part of its community. This means that they were revealed sometime before the attack on Madinah by the confederate tribes, and before severe punishment was inflicted on the Jewish tribe of Qurayżah, or even much earlier. Most probably they were revealed when the two Jewish tribes of al-Nađīr and Qaynuqā` were still in Madinah. The first of these two tribes were evacuated from Madinah after the Battle of Uĥud in the third year of the Islamic calendar and the Qaynuqā were evacuated even before that. In that early period, the Jews concocted many of their tricks and manoeuvres, and the hypocrites received much support from them. Both groups plunged headlong into disbelief, even though the hypocrites might have claimed by word of mouth that they were believers. Their actions grieved the Prophet and caused him much distress.

God (limitless is He in His glory) consoles His Messenger (peace be upon him) and comforts him. He exposes to the Muslim community the truth about those who plunge headlong into disbelief, as did some of the Jews and the hypocrites. He directs His Messenger to the line of action he should adopt with them when they come to him for arbitration, after explaining to the Prophet what plots they have concocted before coming to him.,

`We believe’, while their hearts do not believe. Among the Jews are some who eagerly listen to falsehood, eagerly listen to other people who have not come to you. They tamper with words out of their context, and say, If such-and-such (a precept] is given you, accept it; but if you are not given it, then be on your guard.” Some reports suggest that these verses speak of a group of Jews who committed certain sins including adultery and theft, which carry specific punishments outlined in the Torah. The Jews, however, at least in the first place, had established different punishments, because they did not want to enforce the provisions of the Torah on those of them who were in power. They later wanted to waive these punishments of the Torah in all cases. They replaced them with other punishments, as has been done by those who claim to be Muslims these days. When some of them committed these sins at the time of the Prophet, they thought to seek his judgement. If he judged according to the lesser punishments, which they had legislated, they would enforce them and justify their action to God by saying that they had enforced the verdict of His Messenger. If he judged that they should be punished according to the Torah, they would refuse his judgement. They, thus, sent some of their people to seek his ruling. This, then, explains their statement, “If such-and-such la precept] is given you, accept it; but if you are not given it, then be on your guard.”

They had indeed gone that far in playing games with God’s law and in being dishonest in their dealings with God and His Messenger (peace be upon him). This is a stage which can be reached by any people who, having received Divine revelation, have long ignored their duties. In such a situation hearts are hardened and the light of faith is stifled. Evasion of the laws and duties of their faith becomes the goal for which means are sought and rulings and justifications are found. Does this not apply today to those who claim to be Muslims and who say with their mouths, ‘We believe’, while their hearts do not believe.”?

Do they not seek rulings to evade their religious duties, rather than carry them out? Do they not occasionally try to pay lip service to religion so that it may approve and endorse their desires? If religion insists on the word of the truth and the ruling of justice, they have no need for it: They say: “If such-and-such (a precept] is given you, accept it; but if you are not given it, then be on your guard.” The two situations are identical. Perhaps God has given us such an account of the history of the Children of Israel, so that future generations may be forewarned of the slips that lie along their way.

God (glorified be He) says to His Messenger with regard to those who rush into disbelief and those conspirators who engage in such schemes that he should not be grieved by such people’s actions. They seek to create confusion and they will fall victim to it, while he [i.e. God’s Messenger] himself has no say in the matter and cannot help them through their test when they have brought confusion upon themselves: “If God wants to put anyone to test, you shall not be able to avail him anything against God.” Such people have sunk their hearts into impurity, so God is unwilling to purify them: “Such are the ones whose hearts God is not willing to purify.” He will cause them to suffer ignominy in this life and grievous suffering in the Hereafter: “They will have disgrace in this world, and awesome suffering in the life to come.” He tells the Prophet not to worry about them, and not to be grieved by their disbelief. Their fate is sealed.

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.

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