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Friday, 21 July 2017
 

Surat Al-Mai’da -5- Medinian –Ayats 120 – Section – Four – Verses 31-43

((Hadith Sharif: A/ Narrated Anas Ibn Malik: The Prophet [PPBUH] said:” The biggest of Al-Kabair {the greatest sins} are: (1) to join others as partners in worship with God, (2) to murder a human being, (3) to be undutiful to one’s parents, and (4) to make a false statement”. Or said: “to give a false witness”.          B/ 1- Narrated Abdullah bin Umar: The Prophet [PPBUH] said:” None (no human being) is killed or murdered (unjustly), but a part of the responsibility of the crime is laid on the first son of Adam who invented the tradition of killing (murdering) on the earth. C/ Narrated Abdullah bin Umar: The Prophet [PPBUH] said: “After me, (i.e. after my death) do not become disbelievers by striking (cutting) the necks of one another”.  Sahih Al-Bukhary.  

COMMENTARY:

(Verse 31)-(a)( Saw’ata =سوءة) – means corpse, with a suggestion of nakedness and shame in two senses: (1) the sense of being exposed without burial, and (2) the sense of being insulted by being violently deprived by the unwarranted murder of the soul which inhabited it, the soul too of a brother. (b) The thought at last came home to the murderer. It was dreadful indeed to slay any one, the more so as he was a brother, and an innocent righteous brother! But worse still, the murderer had not even the decency to bury the corpse, and of this simple duty he was reminded by a raven (crow) - a black bird usually held in contempt! His regret was on that account. That was not true repentance. 

(Verse 32)- The story of Cain is referred to in a few graphic details in order to tell the story of Israel. Israel rebelled against God, slew and insulted righteous men who did them no harm, but on the contrary came in all humility. When God withdrew His favor from Israel because of its sins and bestowed it on a brother nation, the jealousy of Israel plunged it deeper into sin. To kill or seek to kill an individual because he represents an ideal is to kill all who uphold the ideal. On the other hand, to save an individual life in the same circumstances is to save a whole community. What could be stronger condemnation of individual; assassination or revenge?                                          

(Verses 33-34)- (a) For the double crime of treason against the State, combined with treason against God, as shown by overt crimes, four alternative punishments are mentioned, any one of which is to be applied according to circumstances, i.e. execution (cutting off the head), crucifixion, maiming, or exile. These were features of the Criminal Law then and for centuries afterwards, except that tortures such as “hanging, drawing, and quartering” in English Law, and piercing of eyes and leaving the unfortunate victim exposed to a tropical sun, which was practiced Arabia, and all such tortures were abolished. In any case sincere repentance before it was too late was recognized as ground for mercy.(b) It is understood to mean the right hand and the left foot.

(Verses 35-36-37)- (a) Al-Taqwa=التقوى= devoutness-piety: here too might be translated “fear of God”, but the very next clause shows that “fear of God” does not “fear” in the ordinary sense, which would make you avoid the object of fear. On the contrary the “Fear of God” is the intense desire to avoid everything that is against His Will and Law. It is in fact duty to God, for we are told to seek ardently the means by which we may approach Him, and that can only be done by striving with might and for His Cause. (b) “Prosper” in the spiritual sense -for that is all that matters- as the life of this world is brief and fleeting, and of small account as against Eternity.

(Verses 38-39)- Here we touch upon jurisprudence.  The Canon Law jurists are not unanimous as the value of the property stolen, which would involve the penalty of the cutting off of the hand. The majority hold that petty thefts are exempt from this punishment. The general opinion is that only one hand should be cut off for the first theft, on the principle that: “if thy hand or thy foot offends thee, cut them, and cast them from thee” (Matt. xviii. 8). Apparently in the age of Jesus thieves were crucified (Matt. xxvii. 38).

(Verse 40)- Punishment really does not belong to mortals, but to God alone. Only –in order to keep civil society together- and protect innocent people from crime, certain principles are laid down on which people can build up their criminal law. But we must always remember that God not only punishes but forgives, and forgiveness is the attributes which is more prominently placed before us. It is not our wisdom that can really define the bounds of forgiveness or punishment, but His Will or Plan, which is the true standard of righteousness and justice.

(Verse 41)- (a) two classes of men are meant, i.e. the Hypocrites and the Jews. For both of them Al-Mustafa [PPBUH] labored earnestly and assiduously, and it must have been a cause of great grief and disappointment to him that some among them showed so much insincerity, cunning, and hardness of heart. These are types not yet extinct. (b) There were men among the Jews who were eager to catch up any lie against the Apostle. They had their ears open even to tales from people who had never so much as to come near to the Apostle. If we understand “for” instead of “to” before “others” {for the Arabic word would bear both meanings), the sense will be: They are keen listeners or spies for any lies they can catch; and they will act as spies for others (their Rabbis, etc.) who are in the background but to whom they carry false tales. (b) See verse 13: the addition of the words {Min ba’di=من بعد) here suggest the change of the words from their right times as well as places. They did not deal honestly with their Law, and misapplied it, by distorting the meaning. Or it may be that as tale-bearers they distorted the meaning by misrepresenting the context.

(Verse 42)- (a) devouring anything forbidden:  both in a literal and in figurative sense; in the figurative sense it would be: the taking of usury or bribes, or taking undue advantage of people’s weak position or their own fiduciary powers to add to their own wealth. (b) Where it is merely a trick to catch out the unwary, a just man may honorably decline to interfere in a cause submitted to him, as also in case where the parties are not honestly desirous of justice, but each hopes that some partially will be shown to it.

(Verse 43)- This is a searching question as to the motive of the Jews in bringing their cases for decision to the Apostle. They came either: (1) to ridicule whatever he said, or (2) to deceive him as to facts and snatch a favorable decision which was against equity. If their own Law did not suit their selfish interests, they sometimes twisted it. But Muhammad Al-Mustafa [PPBUH] was always inflexible in his justice.