Surah al-Ma'idah (The Table) 5 : 66

وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ أَقَامُوا۟ ٱلتَّوْرَىٰةَ وَٱلْإِنجِيلَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِم مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ لَأَكَلُوا۟ مِن فَوْقِهِمْ وَمِن تَحْتِ أَرْجُلِهِم ۚ مِّنْهُمْ أُمَّةٌ مُّقْتَصِدَةٌ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ سَآءَ مَا يَعْمَلُونَ


 Muhsin Khan
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
And if only they upheld [the law of] the Torah, the Gospel, and what has been revealed to them from their Lord [i.e., the Qur’ān], they would have consumed [provision] from above them and from beneath their feet. Among them are a moderate [i.e., acceptable] community, but many of them - evil is that which they do.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

These two verses then tell us that to believe and to be God-fearing, to implement God’s law in human life ensures more than the reward of the Hereafter, which is certainly the better and longer-lasting reward. To take such a course also ensures a healthy type of life and a good reward in this present world in the shape of prosperity and affluence. This is described in a tangible form, bringing the meaning of affluence before our eyes: “They would indeed be given abundance from above and from beneath.” This shows that ensuring a good reward in the Hereafter does not have a special way, separate or independent from that which ensures a good, prosperous life in this world. It is the same way, giving the best results in both this life and the life to come. If it is abandoned, then life in this world becomes corrupt and the life to come is lost. This single way is that of faith, being God-fearing and implementing Divine law.

This approach is not merely a spiritual one, concerned only with beliefs. It is also a code for practical human life, the implementation of which, together with a strong faith and fear of God, ensure a good, prosperous and affluent life. All people will enjoy this abundance and its fair distribution. The code of living that is formulated by faith does not make religion a substitute for this world. Nor does it make happiness in the Hereafter a substitute for happiness in this life. Nor does it set one way for heaven and one for earth. It is sad that this principle has been clouded in people’s minds and thoughts.

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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  • On the authority of Ziyad ibn Lubayd the Prophet [saw] said,
    وعن زياد بن لبيد قال ذكر النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم شيئا فقال : “ ذاك عند أوان ذهاب العلم “ قلت : يا رسول الله وكيف يذهب العلم ونحن نقرأ القرآن ونقرئه أبناءنا ويقرؤه أبناؤنا أبناءهم إلى يوم القيامة قال : “ ثكلتك أمك زياد إن كنت لأراك من أفقه رجل بالمدينة أوليس هذه اليهود والنصارى يقرءون التوراة والإنجيل لا يعملون بشيء مما فيهما
    ‘….and knowledge will go [or disappear].’ He said, ‘O Messenger of Allah how will knowledge leave [disappear] whilst we read the Qur’ān and our children read the Qur’ān and they will make their children read it till the Day of Judgement.’ He [saw] said, ‘May your Mother loose you I thought your one of the men of understanding of Madinah. Don’t you see these Jews and Christians reading their Torah and Gospel but they don’t practice anything of it.’ [Ibn Majah no. 4048 - صحيح [Sahih]

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12. External Links

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