Surah al-Ma'idah (The Table) 5 : 95

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لَا تَقْتُلُوا۟ ٱلصَّيْدَ وَأَنتُمْ حُرُمٌ ۚ وَمَن قَتَلَهُۥ مِنكُم مُّتَعَمِّدًا فَجَزَآءٌ مِّثْلُ مَا قَتَلَ مِنَ ٱلنَّعَمِ يَحْكُمُ بِهِۦ ذَوَا عَدْلٍ مِّنكُمْ هَدْيًۢا بَٰلِغَ ٱلْكَعْبَةِ أَوْ كَفَّٰرَةٌ طَعَامُ مَسَٰكِينَ أَوْ عَدْلُ ذَٰلِكَ صِيَامًا لِّيَذُوقَ وَبَالَ أَمْرِهِۦ ۗ عَفَا ٱللَّهُ عَمَّا سَلَفَ ۚ وَمَنْ عَادَ فَيَنتَقِمُ ٱللَّهُ مِنْهُ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ ذُو ٱنتِقَامٍ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
O you who have believed, do not kill game while you are in the state of ihrām. And whoever of you kills it intentionally - the penalty is an equivalent from sacrificial animals to what he killed, as judged by two just men among you as an offering [to Allāh] delivered to the Ka’bāh, or an expiation: the feeding of needy people or the equivalent of that in fasting, that he may taste the consequence of his matter [i.e., deed]. Allāh has pardoned what is past; but whoever returns [to violation], then Allāh will take retribution from him. And Allāh is Exalted in Might and Owner of Retribution.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

The prohibition applies to killing game deliberately when a person is in the state of consecration, or iĥrām. If a game animal is killed by accident, the person in consecration neither incurs a sin nor has to give any compensation. For deliberate killing, the compensation is an offering of cattle or other animals equivalent to the game he has killed. Thus, if a person in consecration kills a deer, the compensation may be an offering of a sheep or a goat; for a camel, a cow or an ox is appropriate; for an ostrich or a giraffe or a similarly large animal, a camel may be offered; for a rabbit or a cat the offering may be a rabbit. What has no equivalent among animals however, an offering of its cash value is acceptable in compensation.

The verse states the purpose of this compensation: “So that he may taste the evil consequences of his deeds.” The requirement of compensation implies punishment. The offence is a breach of a strict prohibition. Hence, it cannot be left unpunished. However, God makes it clear that He has forgiven offences of the past, but He threatens those who do not desist from committing such violations with severe punishment: “God has forgiven what is past; but whoever repeats his offence, God will inflict His retribution on him. God is Almighty, Lord of retribution.” Thus, if the killer of game wants to boast of his hunting ability by killing game animals which God wants to enjoy security in the vicinity where all are secure, he should know that it is God who is almighty and who exacts retribution.

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 (Verses 95- 96)

The Purpose of the Trial
 
The trial of providing easy game at the time when it was prohibited to kill during the period of consecration, or iĥrām, was one of the numerous tests that the Muslim community successfully passed. The care God took of this Muslim community and its education is reflected in such tests. In this particular incident, God tells the believers of the purpose beyond His test: “So that God may mark out those who truly fear Him in their hearts.” (Verse 94) Being truly God-fearing, or fearing Him in one’s heart, is the solid basis on which faith is established in a person’s conscience. It mould’s one’s behaviour and it is the essence of putting man’s vicegerency on earth into practice.
 
Human beings do not see God, but they feel His presence in their hearts when they truly believe in Him. To them, He is beyond the reach of all their faculties of perception, but their hearts know and fear Him. The certainty of this great truth in a firm, unshakeable belief in God, and achieving, without seeing Him or feeling His presence with our senses, a strength of belief equal, if not superior, to that based on one’s senses is something great indeed. A believer declares that “there is no deity other than God” without having seen Him. To have such belief is indicative of a huge step forward towards a superior level of humanity that taps man’s natural faculties and makes the best use of all his natural abilities. This represents a great departure away from the realm of animal existence that cannot look up to anything beyond its immediate perception. On the other hand, when man bars his soul from looking up to what lies beyond the reach of his faculties of perception and confines his feelings to the material world surrounding him, he shuts down his superior faculties and lingers permanently in his material and sensual world.
 
Hence, God makes this quality of fearing Him in our hearts the crucial point of this test, making it clear to the believers so that they are able to use all their powers to achieve it. God certainly knows, initially, who fears Him in his heart, but He does not hold people to account on the basis of His initial knowledge. They are accountable only for what they actually do, which God also knows on the basis of its taking place.
 
“Whoever transgresses after all this will have grievous suffering.” (Verse 94) Man is thus told of the trial to which he is being put. He is informed of its purpose and warned against yielding to temptation. All means of success have been given to him. Hence, should he transgress after all this, it is only fair that he should be made to endure grievous suffering. This is his own choice.
 
Details of the atonement for violation are then given. This starts with a firm prohibition and ends with a second warning: “Believers, kill no game while you are on pilgrimage. Whoever of you kills game by design shall make amends in cattle equivalent to what he has killed, adjudged by two persons of probity among you, to be brought as an offering to the Ka`bah; or else he may atone for his sin by feeding needy persons, or by its equivalent in fasting, so that he may taste the evil consequences of his deeds. God has forgiven what is past; but whoever repeats his offence, God will inflict His retribution on him. God is
Almighty, Lord of retribution.” (Verse 95)

 
The prohibition applies to killing game deliberately when a person is in the state of consecration, or iĥrām. If a game animal is killed by accident, the person in consecration neither incurs a sin nor has to give any compensation. For deliberate killing, the compensation is an offering of cattle or other animals equivalent to the game he has killed. Thus, if a person in consecration kills a deer, the compensation may be an offering of a sheep or a goat; for a camel, a cow or an ox is appropriate; for an ostrich or a giraffe or a similarly large animal, a camel may be offered; for a rabbit or a cat the offering may be a rabbit. What has no equivalent among animals however, an offering of its cash value is acceptable in compensation.
 
The compensation is adjudged by two Muslim men of probity. Should they rule that a particular type of animal be slaughtered, that animal is set loose until it reaches the Ka (bah where it is slaughtered and given to the poor to eat. If such an animal is not available, the arbiters may rule that the compensation be given in the form of food given to the poor, provided that its quantity is equivalent to the value of either the animal to be slaughtered or the game animal killed. If the offender who has to make this compensation cannot afford this, he should fast a number of days to be decided as fair compensation. To do so, the value of the animal is first estimated, then the number of poor people that could be fed by this amount is determined. He fasts one day for every poor person. As for how much money is sufficient to feed one poor person, this is a matter on which scholars have differed. However, it cannot be a fixed sum, as it differs according to place, time and conditions.
 
The verse states the purpose of this compensation: “So that he may taste the evil consequences of his deeds.” (Verse 95) The requirement of compensation implies punishment. The offence is a breach of a strict prohibition. Hence, it cannot be left unpunished. However, God makes it clear that He has forgiven offences of the past, but He threatens those who do not desist from committing such violations with severe punishment: “God has forgiven what is past; but whoever repeats his offence, God will inflict His retribution on him. God is Almighty, Lord of retribution.” (Verse 95) Thus, if the killer of game wants to boast of his hunting ability by killing game animals which God wants to enjoy security in the vicinity where all are secure, he should know that it is God who is almighty and who exacts retribution.
 
All this applies to hunting on land. Fishing, on the other hand, is permissible in all situations: “Lawful to you is all water game, and whatever food the sea brings forth, as a provision for you and for travellers.” (Verse 96) This means that all types of water animals are permissible to catch and use for food whether a person is in the state of consecration or not. With this mention of the permissibility of water-game and food from the sea, the verse restates the prohibition of killing game on land during consecration: “However you are forbidden land-game as long as you are in the state of consecration [or iĥrām].” (Verse 96)
 
All scholars are unanimous that killing animal game is forbidden for any person in consecration. However, scholars have differing views as to the permissibility of eating game, should the animal be killed by another person who is not in consecration. Moreover, scholars disagree as to the referent of the term “game” as used in this verse: does it apply only to animals that are normally pursued as game; or does the prohibition apply to all animals, including those which are not normally considered game and are not referred to as game.
 
These rules of permissibility and prohibition are concluded with a statement that appeals to the believers’ sense of fearing God and reminds us of the Day of Judgement and the reckoning We will then have to face: “Be conscious of God, to whom you shall all be gathered.” (Verse 96)


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