Surah al-Ma'idah (The Table) 5 : 89
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
This verse that follows, which refers to oaths and their atonement, appears to have been revealed in order to deal with such cases when people make an oath in order to solemnise their abstention from something permissible, as was done by those Companions of the Prophet. The Qur’ān also makes it clear that it is not up to human beings to declare things forbidden or permissible. That authority belongs to God, in whom those Companions of the Prophet believed. This Qur’ānic verse also deals with all vows of abstention from doing something good or vows to undertake something evil. Whenever it is clear to a person who has made an oath that breaking it is better and more conducive to earning God’s pleasure, he should break it and atone for it in one of the methods defined by this Qur’ānic verse.
An alternative is to free a person from slavery, but it is not specified here whether that slave should be a believer. Hence, scholars have different views concerning this point, but we will not discuss the details of these views. “He who cannot afford any of these shall fast three days instead.” It is only when a person is unable to meet the requirements of any of the above types of atonement that he may atone for his broken oath by fasting. Again, scholars have varying views with regard to whether these three days must be consecutive or not. Our own approach in this commentary is not to discuss such varying views or to evaluate them. Anyone who wishes to study them may do so by referring to books of fiqh which discuss them in detail. All views of scholars are in agreement on the essential purpose of the atonement, namely, attaching proper value to the breached contract and giving proper respect to oaths which are pledges or forms of contracts which God has ordered to be honoured. Hence, if anyone of us makes an oath and finds out subsequently that it is better, from the Islamic point of view, to do otherwise, he both breaks his oath and atones for it. The same applies if he makes an oath which he has no authority to make, such as an oath of prohibition or permissibility of a particular thing. In this case, he breaks the oath and atones for it.
God makes it plain that what He has made lawful is wholesome and what He has forbidden is foul. Hence, it is not for people to choose something different from what God has chosen for them, for two basic reasons: firstly, the authority to forbid or make lawful belongs to God alone. Any violation of that is a transgression which displeases God and contradicts faith. Secondly, God makes lawful only what is good and wholesome. Therefore, people may not forbid themselves such wholesome things that are beneficial to them and to life in general. A human being’s knowledge of life and of himself cannot be matched with God’s knowledge who combines perfect wisdom with absolute knowledge. Since God has made these things lawful, then they must be good and wholesome. God’s knowledge is perfect, based on absolute certainty. Hence we say: had God known that these matters were foul or evil, He would have spared His servants their consequences. Had He known that abstention from them would be better, He would not have made them lawful.
This religion has been revealed so that it brings about goodness in human life and achieves perfect balance and complete harmony between all aspects of human life. It does not overlook any natural human need, nor does it suppress any constructive human activity within appropriate limits. Hence, Islam denounces monastic aestheticism because it amounts to a suppression of nature and an impediment to the development of life. Similarly, Islam speaks out against the forbidding of wholesome lawful things, because these help the development of life. It must be remembered that God has created this life so that it may flourish and develop in accordance with the constitution He has laid down for it. Monastic aestheticism and the forbidding of wholesome things come into direct conflict with God’s method for human life because they bring life to a stop at a certain point under the pretext of seeking something more sublime. It should be stated here that attaining the sublime is feasible within the system God has laid down and made easy through its compatibility with human nature.
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.