Surah al-Ma'idah (The Table) 5 : 44
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had submitted (to Allah)
for those who
and the Rabbis
and the scholars
they were entrusted
and they were
but fear Me
(for) a price
(are) the disbelievers
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
Numerous references in the Qur’ān show that early religions, some of which might have been addressed to small communities, contained all three mutually complementary aspects in a fashion suitable to that particular community’s stage of development. At this point, such complementarity in the three major religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is outlined, starting with the Torah: “Indeed, it is We who revealed the Torah, containing guidance and light.”
As revealed by God, the Torah was the Book providing guidance for the Children of Israel, lighting up the way they should follow in life in order to lead them to God’s pleasure. It contained the essence of monotheistic faith, and a variety of worship rituals, as well as a code of law: “By it did the prophets, who had surrendered themselves to God, judge among the Jews, and so did the divines and the rabbis: [they gave judgement] in accordance with what had been entrusted to their care of God’s Book and to which they themselves were witnesses.”
God revealed the Torah to provide guidance and light not only for hearts and consciences with the faith and rituals it outlined, but also to provide guidance and light generated by the code of law which regulated practical life and protected it in accordance with God’s system. The Prophets who had submitted themselves totally to God in absolute and complete dedication and who made no claim whatsoever to any attribute of Divinity, used to judge among the Jews on its basis. It was the law given to that particular community. So did the divines and rabbis, i.e. the Jewish scholars and judges, because they had been assigned the task of making sure that God’s law was implemented and they were required to be witnesses to its truth. They would fulfil this task through organizing their own lives in accordance with the directives and laws of the Torah and through implementing its laws within their communities.
Before finishing its reference to the Torah, the Qur’ān addresses the Muslim community with regard to judgements in accordance with revelations in general and the opposition people may show to such judgements. It also outlines the duty of everyone entrusted with the implementation of God’s law and the punishment incurred by neglecting this duty: “So, have no fear of men but fear Me; and do not barter away My revelations for a paltry price. Those who do not judge in accordance with what God has revealed are indeed unbelievers.”
God knows that enforcing His revealed law will be met with opposition in every period of time and in every community. Some people will not easily submit to it. Those who have power, tyrants and despots, and those who claim authority by right of inheritance will put up stiff resistance to it, because they realise that its enforcement will deprive them of the mask of Godhead they wear and acknowledge Godhead as totally belonging to God alone. This is done through depriving them of their claimed authority to legislate and to judge in accordance with their legislation. Resistance will also be put up by those whose material interests can only be served through exploitation and injustice. God’s just law will never endorse their unjust interests. Similarly, there will always be opposition to the implementation of God’s law by those who pursue their vain desires and wanton caprice. A Divine religion will always require them to purify themselves from such evil, and will eventually punish indulgence in them. Further opposition will be put up by other quarters who dislike to see goodness, righteousness and justice flourish.
As God knows that opposition to His law will come from all these quarters, and that those to whose care His message is entrusted must face up to this opposition and make all the necessary sacrifices for its sake, He addresses them in these words: “Have no fear of men but fear Me.” No fear of tyrants, exploiters or deluded masses should deter them from implementing God’s law. It is God alone that they should fear, because fearing Him dispels all other fear.
God also knows that some of those who are charged with the safekeeping and implementation of God’s law may find worldly temptations too strong to resist. As they realise that people with power or money and those who seek all types of pleasure oppose God’s legislation, they may flatter them in order to gain something of the riches and pleasures of this world. Professional clerics in all generations have yielded to such temptation, as did some Jewish rabbis. God addresses all those, saying to them: “Do not barter away My revelations for a paltry price.” That is the price they may get in return for their silence or for their distortion of God’s revelations or for issuing doubtful rulings. Indeed, every price offered is paltry, even if it includes all that is in this world. How could it be described otherwise when it is no more than a position, a salary, a title and a petty interest for which faith is bartered away and Hell is purchased?
Nothing is more wicked than treachery by a person who is in a position of trust and nothing is more vile than the distortion of facts by a witness. Those who are given the title “religious men” do commit such treachery and distortion. They remain idle when they are called upon to work for the implementation of God’s revelation and they lift words out of their context in order to please those in power at the expense of God’s revelation.
In a most decisive and definitive statement, God tells us: “Those who do not judge in accordance with what God has revealed are indeed unbelievers.” The generality of this statement makes it absolutely unrestricted to time or place. The ruling is definitive and applicable to everyone who does not judge according to God’s revelations, regardless of where and in which period he lives.
2. Linguistic Analysis[ edit ]
4. Miscellaneous Information[ edit ]
5. Connected/Related Ayat[ edit ]
6. Frequency of the word[ edit ]
7. Period of Revelation[ edit ]
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[ edit ]
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 Islam 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 Islamic 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[ edit ]
- The Messenger of Allah [saw] said,
يَا مَعْشَرَ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ خَمْسٌ إِذَا ابْتُلِيتُمْ بِهِنَّ وَأَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ أَنْ تُدْرِكُوهُنَّ لَمْ تَظْهَرِ الْفَاحِشَةُ فِي قَوْمٍ قَطُّ حَتَّى يُعْلِنُوا بِهَا إِلاَّ فَشَا فِيهِمُ الطَّاعُونُ وَالأَوْجَاعُ الَّتِي لَمْ تَكُنْ مَضَتْ فِي أَسْلاَفِهِمُ الَّذِينَ مَضَوْا . وَلَمْ يَنْقُصُوا الْمِكْيَالَ وَالْمِيزَانَ إِلاَّ أُخِذُوا بِالسِّنِينَ وَشِدَّةِ الْمَؤُنَةِ وَجَوْرِ السُّلْطَانِ عَلَيْهِمْ . وَلَمْ يَمْنَعُوا زَكَاةَ أَمْوَالِهِمْ إِلاَّ مُنِعُوا الْقَطْرَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ وَلَوْلاَ الْبَهَائِمُ لَمْ يُمْطَرُوا وَلَمْ يَنْقُضُوا عَهْدَ اللَّهِ وَعَهْدَ رَسُولِهِ إِلاَّ سَلَّطَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ عَدُوًّا مِنْ غَيْرِهِمْ فَأَخَذُوا بَعْضَ مَا فِي أَيْدِيهِمْ . وَمَا لَمْ تَحْكُمْ أَئِمَّتُهُمْ بِكِتَابِ اللَّهِ وَيَتَخَيَّرُوا مِمَّا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ إِلاَّ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ بَأْسَهُمْ بَيْنَهُمْ
“O Muhajirun, there are five things with which you will be tested, and I seek refuge with Allah lest you live to see them: Immorality never appears among a people to such an extent that they commit it openly, but plagues and diseases that were never known among the predecessors will spread among them. They do not cheat in weights and measures but they will be stricken with famine, severe calamity and the oppression of their rulers. They do not withhold the Zakah of their wealth, but rain will be withheld from the sky, and were it not for the animals, no rain would fall on them. They do not break their covenant with Allah and His Messenger, but Allah will enable their enemies to overpower them and take some of what is in their hands. Unless their leaders rule according to the Book of Allah and seek all good from that which Allah has revealed, Allah will cause them to fight one another.” [Ibn Majah no. 4019 - صحيح [Sahih]
The Prophet Muhammad [saw] said, يقالُ لِصاحِبِ القرآنِ : اقرأْ و ارْتَقِ ، و رَتِّلْ كما كُنْتَ تُرَتِّلُ في الدنيا ، فإنَّ مَنْزِلَتَكَ عندَ آخِرِ آيَةٍ [ كُنْتَ ] تَقْرَأُ بِها“It shall be said to the Companion of the Qur’ān, ‘Recite [of what you have memorized] and rise up, recite [melodiously] as you would recite in the world. For indeed your rank shall be at the last Ayah [verse] you recite.” [Tirmidhee no. 2914 - حسن [Hasan]