By Guest Shaykh Uwais Namazi Nadwi
The story of al-Ma’idah:
Prophet Isa was asked by his disciples to ask Allah to descend a meal from Heaven. Prophet Isa was rebellious at first questioning their faith but the disciples reassured him that this was not due to the weakness of their Imaan but was intended at further strengthening it. This is similar to the incident of Abraham which is mentioned in Surah Baqarah ayat 260 where he asked Allah to show him how he bought the deceased back to life. Allah asked Abraham: Do you not believe? To which Abraham replied: Of course I do, but just to make my heart at peace.
It was this “peace” that the disciples were asking for, or so it is said. Imam Zamakhshari in his Kashaaf however, holds a slightly alternate opinion, they were never true believers and the Quran supports this by its narrative. He also cites both possibilities, through narrations, of its descent. One Opinion is that it never descended because they felt scared after they heard Allah’s warning:
Allah said, “I am going to send it down to you; but whoever among you disbelieves after that, I shall give him such a punishment as I shall not give to anyone else in all the worlds.”
Hasan al-Basari would say: It did not descend. If it would have, they would have made a celebration till the day of Judgement.
This is a weak opinion since other narrations assert the opposite. It did descend and then they disbelieved and BROKE THE COVENANT, so they were transformed into monkeys and swine; they devolved after they evolved.
There are various narrations describing the food ranging from fish to meat and bread. Much of its contents are irrelevant but what matters is that they broke the covenant and that caused their damnation.
Abdullah ibn Amr would say: The harshest torment will be given to: 1) the Hypocrites 2) The people of al-Ma’ida 3) Pharaoh’s progeny.
The surah then concludes by proving us with an incident that is yet to happen. Allah will call upon Prophet I’sa and ask him whether he taught his followers to take him and his Mother as God. Let the Quran speak for itself:
And when Allah said, “O ‘Īsā, son of Maryam, did you say to the people: ‘Take me and my mother as gods beside Allah?” He said, “Pure are You, it does not behoove me to say what is not right for me. Had I said it, You would have known it. You know what is in my heart, and I do not know what is in Your’s. You alone have full knowledge of all that is unseen.
I have not said to them anything but what You have ordered me to say, that is, ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord’ and I was a witness over them as long as I was with them. But when You recalled me, You were the One watching over them. You are a witness over everything
If You punish them, they are Your slaves after all, but if You forgive them, You are the Mighty, the Wise.”
Allah will say, “This is a day on which the truth of the truthful shall benefit them. For them there are gardens beneath which rivers flow, where they will live forever. Allah is well-pleased with them and they are well-pleased with Him. That is the great achievement
To Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and of whatever lies therein, and He is powerful over everything.
Allah has spoken the truth.