Surah Al-Ma’idah Ayat 106-120

{106. O you who believe! When death approaches any of you, and you make a bequest, then take the testimony of two just men of your own folk or two others from outside, if you are traveling through the land and the calamity of death befalls you. Detain them both after the Salah (the prayer), (then) if you are in doubt (about their truthfulness), let them both swear by Allah (saying): “We wish not for any worldly gain in this, even though he (the beneficiary) be our near relative. We shall not hide the testimony of Allah, for then indeed we should be of the sinful.”

107. If it then becomes known that these two had been guilty of sin, let two others stand forth in their places, nearest in kin from among those who claim a lawful right. Let them swear by Allah (saying): “We affirm that our testimony is truer than that of both of them, and that we have not trespassed (the truth), for then indeed we should be of the wrongdoers.”

108. That should make it closer (to the fact) that their testimony would be in its true nature and shape, or else they would fear that (other) oaths would be admitted after their oaths. And have Taqwa of Allah and listen (with obedience to Him). And Allah guides not the rebellious people.}

Testimony of Two Just Witnesses for the Final Will and Testament

This honorable Ayah contains a glorious ruling from Allah. Allah’s statement, “O you who believe! When death approaches any of you, and you make a bequest, then take the testimony of two…” meaning that there should be two witnesses in such cases, “just men…” thus, describing them as just, “of your own folk” Muslims. “or two others from outside” non-Muslims, meaning the People of the Book, according to Ibn Abbas as Ibn Abi Hatim recorded. (Ibn Abu Hatim 12:1229)

Allah said next, “if you are traveling through the land” on a journey, “and the calamity of death befalls you.” These are two conditions that permit using non- Muslims from among the Dhimmis for witnesses when there are no Muslims present: When one is traveling and needs to write a will, as Sharih Al-Qadi said. Ibn Jarir recorded that Sharih said, “The witness of the Jews and Christians is not allowed except while traveling, and even then only to witness the dictation of the will.” (At-Tabari 11:163,164) Allah’s statement, “Detain them both after the Salah (the prayer)” refers to the Asr prayer, according to Al- Awfi who reported it from Ibn Abbas. (At-Tabari 11:172) This is the same explanation reported from Said bin Jubayr, Ibrahim An-Nakhai, Qatadah, Ikrimah and Muhammad bin Sirin. As for Az-Zuhri, he said that they are detained after Muslim prayer (i.e., in congregation). (At-Tabari 11:174) Therefore, these two witnesses will be detained after a congregational prayer, “let them both swear by Allah if you are in doubt.” meaning, if you are in doubt that they might have committed treachery or theft, then they should swear by Allah, “We wish not in this” in our vows, according to Muqatil bin Hayyan, “for any worldly gain” of this soon to end life, “even though he be our near relative.” meaning, if the beneficiary be our near relative, we will still not compromise on the truth. “We shall not hide the testimony of Allah” thus stating that the testimony is Allah’s, as a way of respecting it and valuing its significance, “for then indeed we should be of the sinful.” if we distort the testimony, change, alter or hide it entirely. Allah said next, “If it then becomes known that these two had been guilty of sin…” if the two witnesses were found to have cheated or stolen from the money that the will is being written about, “let two others stand forth in their places, nearest in kin from among those who claim a lawful right.”

This Ayah indicates that if the two witnesses were found to have committed treachery, then two of the nearest rightful inheritors should stand for witness in their place, “Let them swear by Allah (saying): “We affirm that our testimony is truer than that of both of them…” Meaning, our testimony that they have cheated is more truthful than the testimony that they have offered, “and that we have not trespassed (the truth),” when we accused them of treachery, “for then indeed we should be of the wrongdoers.” if we had lied about them.

This is the oath of the heirs, and preference is to be given to their saying. Just as in the case with the oath of relative of a murdered person if he attempts to tarnish the case of the murdered person. So his family takes an oath in defense of his honor. This is discussed in the studies of the oaths in the books of Ahkam. Allah’s statement, “That should make it closer (to the fact) that their testimony would be in its true nature and shape (and thus accepted)” means, the ruling requiring the two Dhimmi witnesses to swear, if there is a doubt that they were not truthful, might compel them to admit to the testimony in its true form. Allah’s statement, “or else they would fear that (other) oaths would be admitted after their oaths.” means, requiring them to swear by Allah might encourage them to admit to the true testimony because they respect swearing by Allah and they glorify and revere Him. They also fear exposure if the heirs of the deceased are required to swear instead of them. In this case, the heirs would swear and earn the rightful inheritance that the two witnesses failed to declare. This is why Allah said, “or else they would fear that (other) oaths would be admitted after their oaths.” then, “And have Taqwa of Allah” in all of your affairs, “and listen.” and obey, “And Allah guides not the rebellious people.” who do not obey Him or follow His Law.

 

 {109. On the Day when Allah will gather the Messengers together and say to them: “What was the response you received (from men to your teaching)?” They will say: “We have no knowledge, verily, only You are the Knower of all that is hidden.”}

The Messengers Will be Asked About Their Nations

Allah states that on the Day of Resurrection, He will ask the Messengers about how their nations, to whom He sent them, answered and responded to their teachings. Allah said in other Ayat, “Then surely, We shall question those (people) to whom it (the Book) was sent and verily, We shall question the Messengers.” (7:6), and, “So, by your Lord, We shall certainly call all of them to account. For all that they used to do.” (15:92-93). The statement of the Messengers here, “We have no knowledge” is the result of the horror of that Day, according to Mujahid, Al-Hasan Al-Basri and As-Suddi. (At-Tabari 11:210) Abdur-Razzaq narrated that Ath-Thawri said that Al-Amash said that Mujahid said about the Ayah, “On the Day when Allah will gather the Messengers together and say to them: “What was the response you received?” They will become afraid and reply,“We have no knowledge. ..” (Abdur-Razzaq 1:201)

Ibn Jarir (At-tabari 11:210) and Ibn Abi Hatim also recorded this explanation. Ali bin Abi Talhah said that Ibn Abbas commented on the Ayah, “On the Day when Allah will gather the Messengers together and say to them: “What was the response you received (from men to your teaching)?” They will say: “We have no knowledge, verily, only You are the Knower of all that is hidden.” “They will say to the Lord, Most Honored, ‘We have no knowledge beyond what we know, and even that, You have more knowledge of them than us.” (At-Tabari 11:211) This response is out of respect before the Lord, Most Honored, and it means, we have no knowledge compared to Your encompassing knowledge. Therefore, our knowledge only grasped the visible behavior of these people, not the secrets of their hearts. You are the Knower of everything, Who has encompassing knowledge of all things, and our knowledge compared to Your knowledge is similar to not having any knowledge at all, for “only You are the Knower of all that is hidden.”

 

{110. (Remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): “O Isa, son of Maryam! Remember My favor to you and to your mother when I supported you with Ruh-il-Qudus [Jibril] so that you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and when I taught you the Book, the Hikmah, the Tawrah and the Injil; and when you made out of the clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My permission, and you breathed into it, and it became a bird by My permission, and you healed those born blind, and the lepers by My permission, and when you brought forth the dead by My permission; and when I restrained the Children of Israel from you since you came unto them with clear proofs, and the disbelievers among them said: ‘This is nothing but evident magic.”’

111. “And when I Awhaytu [put in the hearts of] Al- Hawariyyin to believe in Me and My Messenger, they said: ‘We believe. And bear witness that we are Muslims.”}

Reminding Isa of the Favors that Allah Granted him

Allah mentions how He blessed His servant and Messenger, Isa, son of Maryam, and the miracles and extraordinary acts He granted him. Allah said, “Remember My favor to you” when I created you from your mother, without male intervention, and made you a sign and clear proof of My perfect power over all things. “And to your mother” when I made you testify to her chastity and you thus absolved her from the sin that the unjust, ignorant liars accused her of, “when I supported you with Ruh- il-Qudus” the angel Jibril, and made you a Prophet, calling to Allah in the cradle and manhood. I made you speak in the cradle, and you testified that your mother was free from any immoral behavior, and you proclaimed that you worship Me. You also conveyed the news of My Message and invited them to worship Me. “so that you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity” Meaning you called the people to Allah in childhood and in maturity.

And the word Tukallim means invited, because his speaking to people while a child is nothing strange by itself. Allah’s statement, “And when I taught you the Book and the Hikmah” the power of writing and understanding, “and the Tawrah” which was revealed to Musa, son of Imran, who spoke to Allah directly. Allah’s statement, “and when you made out of the clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My permission,” means: ‘you shaped it in the figure of a bird by My permission, and it became a bird with My permission, after you blew into it’. Then, it became a flying bird with a soul by Allah’s permission. Allah said; “and you healed those born blind, and the lepers by My permission” This was explained before in Surah Al Imran (chapter 3) and we do not need to repeat it here. Allah’s statement, “And when you brought forth the dead by My permission,” meaning, you called them and they rose from their graves by Allah’s leave, power, intent and will. Allah said next, “and when I restrained the Children of Israel from you since you came unto them with clear proofs, and the disbelievers among them said: “This is nothing but evident magic.” Meaning: ‘remember My favor, when I stopped the Children of Israel from harming you, when you brought them the clear proofs and evidence, testifying to your prophethood and Message from Me to them. They rejected you and accused you of being a magician and tried to kill you by crucifixion, but I saved you, raised you to Me, purified you from their vulgarity and protected you from their harm.’

The wording of this Ayah indicates that Isa will be reminded of these favors on the Day of Resurrection. Allah used the past tense in these Ayat indicating that it is a forgone matter that will certainly occur. This Ayah also contains some of the secrets of the Unseen that Allah revealed to His Messenger Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Allah said, “And when I (Allah) Awhaytu Al-Hawariyyin to believe in Me and My Messenger.”

This is also a reminder of Allah’s favor on Isa, by making discples and companions for him. It is also said that Awhaytu in the Ayah means, ‘inspired’, just as in another Ayah, Allah said; “And We inspired the mother of Musa (saying): Suckle him…” (28:7). Allah said in other Ayat, “And your Lord Awha (inspired) the bee, saying: “Take habitations in the mountains and in the trees and in what they erect. Then, eat of all fruits, and follow the ways of your Lord made easy (for you).” (16:68-69)

Al-Hasan Al-Basri commented about the Hawariyyun, “Allah inspired them”, while As-Suddi said, “He put in their hearts,” and the Hawariyyun said, “We believe. And bear witness that we are Muslims.”

 

{112. (Remember) when Al-Hawariyun said: “O Isa, son of Maryam! Can your Lord send down to us a Ma’idah from heaven?” Isa said: “Have Taqwa of Allah, if you are indeed believers.”

113. They said: “We wish to eat thereof and to be stronger in faith, and to know that you have indeed told us the truth and that we ourselves be its witnesses. ”

114. Isa, son of Maryam, said: “O Allah, our Lord! Send us from heaven a table spread (with food) that there may be for us – for the first and the last of us – a festival and a sign from You; and provide us sustenance, for You are the Best of sustainers.”

115. Allah said: “I am going to send it down unto you, but if any of you after that disbelieves, then I will punish him with a torment such as I have not inflicted on anyone among the Alamin.”}

 

Sending Down the Ma’idah

This is the story of the Ma’idah, the name of which this Surah bears, Surat Al-Ma’idah. This is also among the favors that Allah granted His servant and Messenger, Isa, accepting his request to send the Ma’idah down, and doing so as clear proof and unequivocal evidence. Allah said, “(Remember) when Al-Hawaryun said…” the disciples of Isa said, “O Isa, son of Maryam! Can your Lord send down to us a Ma’idah from heaven”

The Ma’idah is the table that has food on it. Some scholars said that the disciples requested this table because they were poor and deprived. So they asked Isa to supplicate to Allah to send a table of food down to them that they could eat from every day and thus be more able to perform the acts of worship. “Isa said: “Have Taqwa of Allah, if you are indeed believers.”

Isa answered them by saying, ‘Have Taqwa of Allah! And do not ask for this, for it may become a trial for you, but trust in Allah for your provisions, if you are truly believers. ”They said: “We wish to eat thereof.” we need to eat from it, ”and to be stronger in faith” when we witness it descending from heaven as sustenance for us, ”and to know that you have indeed told us the truth” of your Message and our faith in you increases and also our knowledge, ”and that we ourselves be its witnesses.” testifying that it is a sign from Allah, as proof and evidence that you are a Prophet, and attesting to the truth of what you brought us, ”Isa, son of Maryam, said: “O Allah, our Lord! Send us from heaven a table spread (with food) that there may be for us – for the first and the last of us – a festival…”

As-Suddi commented that the Ayah means, “We will take that day on which the table was sent down as a day of celebration, that we and those who come after us would consider sacred.” (At-Tabari 11:225) Sufyan Ath-Thawri said that it means, “A day of prayer.” (At-Tabari 1:225) ”and a sign from You.” proving that You are able to do all things and to accept my supplication, so that they accept what I convey to them from You, ”and provide us sustenance” a delicious food from You that does not require any effort or hardship, “For You are the Best of sustainers.” Allah said: “I am going to send it down unto you, but if any of you after that disbelieves…” by denying this sign and defying its implication, O Isa, “then I will punish him with a torment such as I have not inflicted on anyone among the Alamin.” among the people of your time. Allah said in similar Ayat, “And on the Day when the Hour will be established (it will be said to the angels): “Cause Fir’awn’s people to enter the severest torment!” (40:46), and, “Verily, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire.” (4:145) Ibn Jarir said that Abdullah bin Amr said, “Those who will receive the severest torment on the Day of Resurrection are three: The hypocrites, those from the people of Al-Ma’idah who disbelieved in it, and the people of Firawn.” (At-Tabari 11:233)

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn Abbas said, “They said to Isa, son of Maryam, ‘Supplicate to Allah to send down to us from heaven, a table spread with food.’ He also said, ‘So the angels brought the table down containing seven fish and seven pieces of bread and placed it before them. So the last group of people ate as the first group did.” (At-Tabari 5:132) Ibn Jarir recorded that Ishaq bin Abdullah said that the table was sent down to Isa son of Maryam having seven pieces of bread and seven fish, and they ate from it as much as they wished. But when some of them stole food from it, saying, “It might not come down tomorrow,” the table ascended. (At-Tabari 5:134)

These statements testify that the table was sent down to the Children of Israel during the time of Isa, son of Maryam, as a result of Allah’s accepting his supplication to Him. The apparent wording of this Ayah also states so, “Allah said: “I am going to send it down to you…” (5:115)

{116. And (remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): “O Isa, son of Maryam! Did you say unto men: ‘Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah?”’ He will say: “Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it. You know what is in my inner self though I do not know what is in Yours, truly, You, only You, are the Knower of all that is hidden and unseen.”

117. “Never did I say to them ought except what You (Allah) did command me to say: ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.’ And I was a witness over them while I dwelled amongst them, but when You took me [up], You were the Watcher over them, and You are a Witness to all things.”

118. “If You punish them, they are Your servants, and if You forgive them, verily You, only You are the Almighty, the All-Wise.”}

 

Isa Rejects Shirk and Affirms Tawhid

Allah will also speak to His servant and Messenger, Isa son of Maryam, peace be upon him, saying to him on the Day of Resurrection in the presence of those who worshipped Isa and his mother as gods besides Allah, “O Isa, son of Maryam! Did you say unto men: ‘Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah?”

This is a threat and a warning to Christians, chastising them in public, as Qatadah and others said, and Qatadah mentioned this Ayah as evidence, “This is a Day on which the truthful will profit from their truth.” (5:119) Allah’s statement, “Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say)…” contains Allah’s direction for Isa to utter the perfect answer. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, “Isa will be taught his argument in reply to what Allah will ask him, “And (remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): “O Isa, son of Maryam! Did you say unto men: ‘Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah” (5:116).”

Abu Hurayrah then narrated that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said that Allah taught Isa to say, “Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say)…” (Ibn Abi Hatim 4:1253)

Isa’s statement, “Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it.” means, had I said it, You, my Lord, would have known it, for nothing escapes Your knowledge. Rather, I have not said these words nor did the thought even cross my mind, this why he said, “You know what is in my inner self though I do not know what is in Yours, truly, You, only You, are the Knower of all that is hidden and unseen. Never did I say to them ought except what You (Allah) did command me to say…” and convey, “Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” I only called them to what You sent me with and commanded me to convey to them, “Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord” and this is what I conveyed to them, “And I was a witness over them while I dwelled amongst them” I was a witness over what they did when I was amongst them, “but when You took me [up], You were the Watcher over them, and You are a Witness to all things.”

Abu Dawud At-Tayalisi recorded that Ibn Abbas said, “The Messenger of Allah stood up once and gave us a speech in which he said,

“O people! You will be gathered to Allah while barefooted, naked and uncircumcised; As We began the first creation, We shall repeat it.” The first among the creation who will be covered with clothes will be Ibrahim. Some men from my Ummah will be brought and taken to the left ”to the Fire” and I will yell, ‘They are my followers!’ It will be said, ‘You do not know what they innvovated after you (in religion).’ So I will say just as the righteous servant (Isa) said, ”And I was a witness over them while I dwelled amongst them, but when You took me [up], You were the Watcher over them, and You are a Witness to all things. If You punish them, they are Your servants, and if You forgive them, verily You, only You are the Almighty, the All- Wise.” It will further be said, ‘These people kept reverting back on their heels after you left them.” (Musnad At-Tayalisi no.343)

Al-Bukhari (Fath Al-Bari 8:135) also recorded this Hadith in the explanation of this Ayah.

Allah said; ”If You punish them, they are Your servants, and if You forgive them, verily You, only You are the Almighty, the All-Wise.” All matters refer back to Allah, for He does what He Wills and none can question Him about what He does, while He will question them. This Ayah also shows the crime of the Christians who invented a lie against Allah and His Messenger, thus making a rival, wife and son for Allah. Allah is glorified in that He is far above what they attribute to Him. So this Ayah (5:118) has tremendous value and delivers unique news.

 

{119. Allah will say: “This is a Day on which the truthful will profit from their truth: Theirs are Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise) – they shall abide therein forever. Allah is pleased with them and they with Him. That is the great success.

120. To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is therein, and He is able to do all things.}

 

Only Truth will be of Benefit on the Day of Resurrection

Allah answers His servant and Messenger Isa, son of Maryam, after he disowns the disbelieving Christians who lied about Allah and His Messenger, and when Isa refers their end to the will of his Lord, ”This is a Day on which the truthful will profit from their truth.” Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn Abbas commented, “This is the Day when Tawhid will benefit those who believed in it.” “Theirs are Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise) – they shall abide therein forever.” and they will never be removed from it, “Allah is pleased with them and they with Him.” 

“But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of Allah.” (9:72)

We will mention the Hadiths about this Ayah (9:72) later on. Allah’s statement, “That is the great success.” means, this is the great success, other than which there is no greater success. Allah said in another Ayat, “For the like of this let the workers work.” (37:61), and,  “And for this let (all) those strive who want to strive.” (83:26) Allah’s statement, “To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is therein, and He is able to do all things.” means, He created everything, owns everything, controls the affairs of everything and is able to do all things. Therefore, everything and everyone are in His domain and under His power and will. There is none like Him, nor is there rival, ancestor, son, or wife for Him, nor a lord or god besides Him. Ibn Wahb said that he heard Huyay bin Abdullah saying that Abu Abdur-Rahman Al-Habli said that Abdullah bin Amr said, “The last revealed Surah was Surat Al-Ma’idah.” (At-Tirmidhi no.3063)

Ibn Kathir Tafsir (Abridged) Vol 3 Pages 289-308

This ends the Tafsir of Surah Al-Ma’idah la hawlah wa la quwatta illah billah.

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