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Sura 5
Aya 1

Chapter 5

The Tableal-Māʾidah ( المائدة )

120 verses • revealed at Medinan

»The surah that mentions the story of The Table from Heaven that God sent down at the request of the Disciples to be a clear sign to them of the unambiguous truth that Jesus was, indeed, the awaited Messiah and Prophet of God. It takes its name from “the table” (al-māʾidah) mentioned in verse 112 ff. A central theme of this surah is the regulation of lawful and unlawful food, obedience to which is part of the pledge between God and the believers (verse 1 ff. and verse 87 ff.). Part of the surah concerns hunting for food during the pilgrimage and respect for the rites of pilgrimage. God had also taken pledges from the Jews and Christians and the section between verse 13 and verse 86 deals with what these two communities did to their pledges, and with their relationships with the Muslims. The passage from verse 109 ff. deals with the afterlife and the verdict of the messengers on the behaviour of their respective communities. Jesus, in particular, is given prominence here: mention is made of the feast for which his disciples asked him to pray to God, which gives the surah its title, and of his renunciation of any claim to divinity.«

The surah is also known as The Feast, The Heavenly Food, The Repast, The Table-spread

بِسمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحمٰنِ الرَّحيمِ

Muhammad Asad: In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace:

يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنوا أَوفوا بِالعُقودِ ۚ أُحِلَّت لَكُم بَهيمَةُ الأَنعامِ إِلّا ما يُتلىٰ عَلَيكُم غَيرَ مُحِلِّي الصَّيدِ وَأَنتُم حُرُمٌ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَحكُمُ ما يُريدُ

Muhammad Asad

ACCORDING to all the available evidence, this surah constitutes one of the last sections of the Qur'an revealed to the Prophet. The consensus of opinion places it in the period of his Farewell Pilgrimage, in the year 10 H. It takes its title from the request for a "repast from heaven" made by the disciples of Jesus (verse 112), and from Jesus' prayer in this connection (verse 114). The surah begins with a call to the believers to fulfil their spiritual and social responsibilities, and ends with a reminder, of man's utter dependence on God, whose is "the dominion over the heavens and the earth and all that they contain". Being one of the last revelations vouchsafed to the Prophet, it lays down a series of ordinances relating to religious rites and to various social obligations; but, at the same time, it warns the followers of the Qur'an not to enlarge the area of divine ordinances by means of subjective deduction (verse 101), since this might make it difficult for them to act in accordance with God's Law, and might ultimately lead them to denying the truth of revelation as such (verse 102). They are also warned not to take the Jews and the Christians for their "allies" in the moral sense of the word: that is, not to imitate their way of life and their social concepts at the expense of the principles of Islam (verses 51 ff.). This latter warning is necessitated by the fact, repeatedly stressed in this surah, that both the Jews and the Christians have abandoned and corrupted the truths conveyed to them by their prophets, and thus no longer adhere to the genuine, original message of the Bible (verse 68). In particular, the Jews are taken to task for having become "blind and deaf [of heart]" (verses 70-71, and passim), and the Christians, for having deified Jesus in clear contravention of his own God-inspired teachings (verses 72-77 and 116-118). Addressing the various religious communities, the Qur'an states in verse 48: "Unto every one of you have We appointed a [different] law and way of life .... Vie, then, with one another in doing good works!" And once again, all true believers - of whatever persuasion - are assured that "all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds - no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve" (verse 69). The crowning statement of the whole surah is found in verse 3, which was revealed to the Prophet shortly before his death: "Today have I perfected your religious law for you, and have bestowed upon you the full measure of My blessings, and willed that self-surrender unto Me (al-islam) shall be your religion."
O YOU who have attained to faith! Be true to your covenants!1 Lawful to you is the [flesh of every] beast that feeds on plants, save what is mentioned to you [hereinafter]2:but you are not allowed to hunt while you are in the state of pilgrimage. Behold, God ordains in accordance with His will.3
  • The term 'aqd ("covenant") denotes a solemn undertaking or engagement involving more than one party. According to Raghib, the covenants referred to in this verse "are of three kinds: the covenants between God and man [i.e., man's obligations towards God], between man and his own soul, and between the individual and his fellow-men" - thus embracing the entire area of man's moral and social responsibilities.
  • I.e., in verse 3. Literally, the expression bahimat al-an'am could be translated as "a beast of the cattle"; but since this would obviously be a needless tautology, many commentators incline to the view that what is meant here is "any beast which resembles [domesticated] cattle - insofar as it feeds on plants and is not a beast of prey" (Razi; also Lisan al-'Arab, art. na'ma). I have adopted this convincing interpretation in my rendering of the above phrase.
  • Lit., "whatever He wills" or "deems fit": i.e., in accordance with a plan of which He alone has full knowledge. Regarding the prohibition of hunting while on pilgrimage, see verses 94-96 of this surah.