Thursday, January 27, 2011

Surah Al Mai'dah

Al Maidah means : The Food. The essence of the Surah is of course, Food. What is allowed, what is not? And how one partakes of it. It comprises of 120 verses/ ayats.

Ayat 1 -O you who have believed, fulfill [all] contracts. Lawful for you are the animals of grazing livestock except for that which is recited to you [in this Qur'an] - hunting not being permitted while you are in the state of ihram. Indeed, Allah ordains what He intends.
The verse begins with the command to fulfill all contracts and promises made. Then goes on to explain that only animals which graze on grass or plants are lawful for a Muslim and that hunting is not allowed during Ihraam. Ihraam is the state you’re in while on pilgrimage (after donning the white cloth called ‘ihraam’, see pic)

Ayat 2 -
O you who have believed, do not violate the rites of Allah or [the sanctity of] the sacred month or [neglect the marking of] the sacrificial animals and garlanding [them] or [violate the safety of] those coming to the Sacred House seeking bounty from their Lord and [His] approval. But when you come out of ihram, then [you may] hunt. And do not let the hatred of a people for having obstructed you from al-Masjid al-Haram lead you to transgress. And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.
Here it is clear that acts of garlanding animals while sacrificing them is not permissible.
Ayat 3 - Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah , and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a head-long fall or by the goring of horns, and those from which a wild animal has eaten, except what you [are able to] slaughter [before its death], and those which are sacrificed on stone altars, and [prohibited is] that you seek decision through divining arrows. That is grave disobedience. This day those who disbelieve have despaired of [defeating] your religion; so fear them not, but fear Me. This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. But whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin - then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
Prohibited food as explained above:
Meat of dead animals, Blood, Swine (pigs), animals killed by strangling of a violent blow, or which dies of injury due to horns, what is killed by wild animals, those sacrificed on stone altars, or killed by arrows. But animals hunted by your trained hunting animals, which you eventually sacrifice in the prescribed way (halaal) is acceptable. But again, if one is compelled to eat something out of sheer hunger (in a survival situation), something not prescribed for a believer, then there is no sin on him as Allah knows whats in our hearts.

Many of non-Muslims must have heard the word Halaal in context to food. ‘Halaal’ simply means – 'lawful' (permissible), while ‘Haraam’ means ‘unlawful’. Halaal food means food which is not prohibited as per Quran. There is prescribed way to slaughter an animal in Islam and this method has also been proven to be the best method scientifically also. It causes least pain to animal and almost entire blood is oozed out from animal, which is good for human intake also. To read in detail about the Islamic way of slaughtering animals (and its scientific authentication), you may check this link :

Ayat 4 - They ask you, [O Muhammad], what has been made lawful for them. Say, "Lawful for you are [all] good foods and [game caught by] what you have trained of hunting animals which you train as Allah has taught you. So eat of what they catch for you, and mention the name of Allah upon it, and fear Allah ." Indeed, Allah is swift in account.

What foods are lawful for a believing Muslim and whom can a Muslim man marry ?
Ayat 5 - This day [all] good foods have been made lawful, and the food of those who were given the Scripture is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you, when you have given them their due compensation, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse or taking [secret] lovers. And whoever denies the faith - his work has become worthless, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.

This ayat states that a Muslim man can marry a chaste, practicising woman from a Muslim, Christian or Jew (those who have been given the Scriptures before you) by giving them their full marriage right and gift (mahr). For those who do not know, Mahr is a monetary gift given to a woman by her husband at the time of marriage. This is defined in Surah An Nisa (Ayat 4) as below :
4: 4 And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr (obligatory bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart, but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful).

Also listing some related Ayats from Surah An Nisa related to 'Mahr', including right of woman to marry the man whom she likes (not forcing someone to marry you):
4 : 19 O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them in order to take [back] part of what you gave them unless they commit a clear immorality. And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them - perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.

A Mahr given to a woman cannot be taken back, even on ending the marriage.
4: 20 But if you want to replace one wife with another and you have given one of them a great amount [in gifts], do not take [back] from it anything. Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin?

Coming back to Surah Al Maidah ...
Ayat 6 speaks about ablution (wuzu) to be performed before offering prayers
Ayat 6 : O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of janabah, then purify yourselves. But if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and do not find water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and hands with it. Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful.

Janabah here speaks of the state of impurity. If water is not available, while travelling and one needs to clean self, then clean soil can also be used to cleanse the face and hands. ‘Intention’ (neeyat) is a very important part of Islam. The intention in your heart (whether you speak aloud about it or silently say it in your heart) before doing an act is very important. Whether we offer namaaz, charity or any other good deed or activity, the person’s intention behind it is taken into account by Allah. God can see in your hearts and knows what is in it. So our intentions should be good for HIM to ease things for you and help you earn your rewards. Also the above ayat clearly states that in exceptional cases, Allah understands your problem and wants to ease things for us, so will even cause clean soil to cleanse us in case of emergencies. Also, if our intention is to show off while doing charity, you may gain its rewards only in this world and for what it is intended, hereafter you may not gain from it or its reward may be diminished. Allah knows best.

Again, we are reminded that God is The One and above having any relations. He can create and destroy whom He wishes. He was neither born nor will die. He was and will be.

Ayat 17 - They have certainly disbelieved who say that Allah is Christ, the son of Mary. Say, "Then who could prevent Allah at all if He had intended to destroy Christ, the son of Mary, or his mother or everyone on the earth?" And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them. He creates what He wills, and Allah is over all things competent.

Ayat 18 - But the Jews and the Christians say, "We are the children of Allah and His beloved." Say, "Then why does He punish you for your sins?" Rather, you are human beings from among those He has created. He forgives whom He wills, and He punishes whom He wills. And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them, and to Him is the [final] destination
Here, we are told that no one is above the other. All of us are human beings (mere mortals). He above everything.

Ayat 19 - O People of the Scripture, there has come to you Our Messenger to make clear to you [the religion] after a period [of suspension] of messengers, lest you say, "There came not to us any bringer of good tidings or a warner." But there has come to you a bringer of good tidings and a warner. And Allah is over all things competent.
Here, Our Messenger refers to our beloved Prophet Mohammed.

Here, through Quran, Mohammed (PBUH), is asked to recite the story of Moses, where he advised his people to enter the Holy Land promised by God, but they refused by giving excuses and God eventually cursed them for disobeying His command. This is explained through Ayats 20 to Ayat 26
Ayat 20- And [mention, O Muhammad], when Moses said to his people, "O my people, remember the favor of Allah upon you when He appointed among you prophets and made you possessors and gave you that which He had not given anyone among the worlds.

Ayat 21 - O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you and do not turn back [from fighting in Allah 's cause] and [thus] become losers."

Ayat 22 - They said, "O Moses, indeed within it is a people of tyrannical strength, and indeed, we will never enter it until they leave it; but if they leave it, then we will enter."
Ayat 23 - Said two men from those who feared [to disobey] upon whom Allah had bestowed favor, "Enter upon them through the gate, for when you have entered it, you will be predominant. And upon Allah rely, if you should be believers."

Ayat 24 - They said, "O Moses, indeed we will not enter it, ever, as long as they are within it; so go, you and your Lord, and fight. Indeed, we are remaining right here."

Ayat 25 - [Moses] said, "My Lord, indeed I do not possess except myself and my brother, so part us from the defiantly disobedient people."

Ayat 26 - [ Allah ] said, "Then indeed, it is forbidden to them for forty years [in which] they will wander throughout the land. So do not grieve over the defiantly disobedient people."

Then the Surah goes on to relate the story of the sons of Adam, wherein one son sinned by killing his own brother and later repented (Ayat 27 to Ayat 31).

Ayat 27 -And recite to them the story of Adam's two sons, in truth, when they both offered a sacrifice [to Allah ], and it was accepted from one of them but was not accepted from the other. Said [the latter], "I will surely kill you." Said [the former], "Indeed, Allah only accepts from the righteous [who fear Him].

Ayat 28 - If you should raise your hand against me to kill me - I shall not raise my hand against you to kill you. Indeed, I fear Allah , Lord of the worlds.

Ayat 29 - Indeed I want you to obtain [thereby] my sin and your sin so you will be among the companions of the Fire. And that is the recompense of wrongdoers."

Ayat 30 - And his soul permitted to him the murder of his brother, so he killed him and became among the losers.

Ayat 31 - Then Allah sent a crow searching in the ground to show him how to hide the disgrace of his brother. He said, "O woe to me! Have I failed to be like this crow and hide the body of my brother?" And he became of the regretful.

(This is where from where the burial practice was started. Prior to this, no death had probably occurred, as they were from amongst the sons of the first Man and Prophet of Allah- Adam PBUH. Also earlier men used to live for several hundred years)

Ayat 32 - Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land - it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.
A soul for a soul means – capital punishment for murder of another (which is allowed). But this justice is left to the kin of the murdered. But again, it is upto them to forgive the other as an act of charity. This is mentioned in detailed in Ayat 45.

So, with the exception of mischief mongers and murderers, if one kills an innocent person, it is as if he had slain entire mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as if he has saved entire mankind. Here is a lesson for those kill in the name of religion. When mass killing is done, so many innocents and Allah’s loved ones too lose their lives. By doing this, the doer only brings the wrath of Allah on himself. And saving a life is the regarded as a great act comparing it with saving humanity. Through several Hadeeths, we are told that even the simple act of removing an obstacle (stone, branch, thorn or anything which may cause harm to a traveller) from the road is considered the highest act of charity.

Punishment for stealing :
Ayat 38 -[As for] the thief, the male and the female, amputate their hands in recompense for what they committed as a deterrent [punishment] from Allah . And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.
This is usually highlighted by many non-Muslims as barbaric, but read what the immediate verse states.
Ayat 39 - But whoever repents after his wrongdoing and reforms, indeed, Allah will turn to him in forgiveness. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

In the next Ayat, sending of the Torah as guidance of the people is stated. But here is also a warning for those who modify the religious texts for their own personal things or justify their own acts :
Ayat 44 - Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to Allah ] judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allah , and they were witnesses thereto. So do not fear the people but fear Me, and do not exchange My verses for a small price. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed - then it is those who are the disbelievers.

Ayat 45 - And We ordained for them therein a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds is legal retribution. But whoever gives [up his right as] charity, it is an expiation for him. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed - then it is those who are the wrongdoers.
This is the Ayat I was referring to earlier, which clearly defines Crinimal Law for murder or any other physical harm. Like we say, ‘An eye for an eye...’ Rest is self explanatory.

Ayat 46 - And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous.

Ayat 47 - And let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed - then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient.
The above 2 ayats are self-explanatory.

Ayat 57 - O you who have believed, take not those who have taken your religion in ridicule and amusement among the ones who were given the Scripture before you nor the disbelievers as allies. And fear Allah , if you should [truly] be believers.
Ayat 58 - And when you call to prayer, they take it in ridicule and amusement. That is because they are a people who do not use reason
Notice that here Quran tells us to keep away from people who make fun of your religion and ridicule it. But it doesn’t state anywhere to harm or hurt them.

Those who follow the earlier Scriptures correctly are also among the favoured.
Ayat 69 - Indeed, those who have believed [in Prophet Muhammad] and those [before Him] who were Jews or Sabeans or Christians - those [among them] who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness - no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.

With reference to calling Jesus as God and referring to Him as Three...
Ayat 72 - They have certainly disbelieved who say, " Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary" while the Messiah has said, "O Children of Israel, worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord." Indeed, he who associates others with Allah - Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers.

Ayat 73 - They have certainly disbelieved who say, " Allah is the third of three." And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment.

Ayat 74 - So will they not repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Jesus, the Messenger of God just like our beloved Prophet Muhammed....
Ayat 75 - The Messiah, son of Mary, was but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him. And his mother was a supporter of truth. They both used to eat food. Look how We make clear to them the signs; then look how they are deluded.

Keeping a Promise / Oath and compensation if it is broken –
Ayat 89 - Allah will not impose blame upon you for what is meaningless in your oaths, but He will impose blame upon you for [breaking] what you intended of oaths. So its expiation is the feeding of ten needy people from the average of that which you feed your [own] families or clothing them or the freeing of a slave. But whoever cannot find [or afford it] - then a fast of three days [is required]. That is the expiation for oaths when you have sworn. But guard your oaths. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be grateful.

Though a way of compensating for broken oaths or promises is mentioned, it is stressed that Oaths should be guarded and not broken as that is better for us.

Prohibition from intoxicants and gambling –
Ayat 91 - Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?

Sea Food allowed even if on Pilgrimage –
Ayat 92 -Lawful to you is game from the sea and its food as provision for you and the travelers, but forbidden to you is game from the land as long as you are in the state of ihram. And fear Allah to whom you will be gathered.

About the power of various miracles bestowed on Jesus by Allah –
Ayat 110 -[The Day] when Allah will say, "O Jesus, Son of Mary, remember My favor upon you and upon your mother when I supported you with the Pure Spirit and you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and [remember] when I taught you writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and when you designed from clay [what was] like the form of a bird with My permission, then you breathed into it, and it became a bird with My permission; and you healed the blind and the leper with My permission; and when you brought forth the dead with My permission; and when I restrained the Children of Israel from [killing] you when you came to them with clear proofs and those who disbelieved among them said, "This is not but obvious magic."

Ayat 111 - And [remember] when I inspired to the disciples, "Believe in Me and in My messenger Jesus." They said, "We have believed, so bear witness that indeed we are Muslims [in submission to Allah ]."

Coming back to the essence of the Chapter, Food, we are narrated another incident from the life of Jesus PBUH. This however is in continuation of Ayat 110 and 111, (when Allah will question Jesus on the Day of Judgement)

Ayat 112 - [And remember] when the disciples said, "O Jesus, Son of Mary, can your Lord send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven? [Jesus] said," Fear Allah , if you should be believers."
Ayat 113 - They said, "We wish to eat from it and let our hearts be reassured and know that you have been truthful to us and be among its witnesses."

There is no clarity whether this refers to The Last Supper of Bible, though it could be a possibility.
Ayat 114 - Said Jesus, the son of Mary, "O Allah , our Lord, send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven to be for us a festival for the first of us and the last of us and a sign from You. And provide for us, and You are the best of providers."

Ayat 115 - Allah said, "Indeed, I will sent it down to you, but whoever disbelieves afterwards from among you - then indeed will I punish him with a punishment by which I have not punished anyone among the worlds."

Again the highlight is on Allah being the Supreme and devoid of relations and continues with the questions that will be asked to Jesus by Allah on the Day of Judgement...

Ayat 116- And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, "O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, 'Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah ?'" He will say, "Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen.

Ayat 117 - I said not to them except what You commanded me - to worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness.

Ayat 118 - If You should punish them - indeed they are Your servants; but if You forgive them - indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.

Ayat 119 - Allah will say, "This is the Day when the truthful will benefit from their truthfulness." For them are gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever, Allah being pleased with them, and they with Him. That is the great attainment.

Ayat 120 - To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is within them. And He is over all things competent.

Jazaakallah Khair
Translation credit : Saheeh International

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