Sura Al-Maidah (Tafseer-ul-Maariful Quran), Part-31

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Now, returning back to the pledge taken from the Bani Isra'il, it will be recalled that Allah had made the twelve chiefs from their twelve tribes responsible for them and to them He said: اني معكم(I am with you). It means if they fulfilled the pledge themselves and resolved to make others do the same, Divine support shall be with them. After that, the verse enumerates some articles of this pledge, then refers to the breach of trust committed by the Bani Isra'il and the subsequent punishment that descended upon them.

Thus, the sentence: اني معكم  (I am with you) which appears before I mentioning the articles of the pledge is there to tell two things. Firstly, if they stood by the pledge, Divine support will be with them which they would witness on every step they take. Secondly, they must realize that Allah is with them everywhere, all the time. He is watching over this pledge. Nothing that they intend, think, plan and do will remain outside the reach of His knowledge. He sees and hears what they conceal and He is also aware of their intentions and plans. They cannot escape His grip by breaking the pledge. Then come the articles of the pledge, the first being 'the establishment of Salah' followed by 'the paying of Zakah properly.' This tells us that the people of Sayyidna Musa عليه السلام were also obligated with the duties of Salah and Zakah much before Islam. Other Qur'anic hints and authentic reports prove that these duties were not peculiar to Bani Isra'il alone. In fact, they have been enjoined by every prophet and every Shari'ah.

The third article of the pledge is that they should believe in all prophets and messengers sent by Allah and help them achieve their objective of spreading true guidance. Since many messengers were to come to the Bani Isra'il, they were the ones particularly charged to do this. Though, the status of basic 'Iman or faith comes ahead of actual acts such as Salah and Zakah, yet, in this pledge, what was to be actually done was what was placed first. Prophets and messengers who were to come, would be coming later. Since the matter of believing in them and helping them in their mission was to happen later, that part was placed later in the text.

The fourth article of the pledge is: اقرضتم الله قرضا حسنا ( ... and advance to Allah a goodly loan ...). "Qardan Hasana" (a goodly loan) means that it should be with absolute sincerity without any worldly expediency behind it. When spending in the way of Allah, one should spend what one holds dear never trying to get away by giving out of the spare, the extra and the worthless. Spending in the way of Allah has been expressed as 'the giving of loan' because the return of a loan is taken as due legally, customarily and morally. So, one should spend in the way of Allah believing that it will be returned definitely.

Since the obligatory Zakah has already been mentioned at its place, the introduction of Qard Hasan here indicates that it is referring to sadaqat and Khayrat (charities) other than Zakah. It also tells us that Muslims are not done with all financial responsibilities by simply paying off the Z a k a due on them. There are other financial rights to be fulfilled,such as, making a Masjid where needed. When governments do not initiate or support religious education for children and adults, the responsibility of establishing and running institutions devoted to imparting religious education rests on none but Muslims themselves. The difference between the two is that Zakah is Fard 'Ayn (absolute obligation on every individual) while the kind of charities mentioned above are Fard Kifayah (an obligation of sufficiency as explained below).

Fard Kifayah means: should some individuals or a group from the Muslim community take care of such needs, other Muslims are released from the burden of responsibility; and, should no one come forward to do so, everyone becomes a sinner. How terrible are the circumstances in which schools for religious education are operating in our time is known and braved by only those who have made it a mission of their lives to keep serving their Faith through these institutions of religious learning. As for paying Zakah, Muslims know that it is an obligation on them. It is strange that, despite this knowledge, there are very few who pay their Zakah and there are still fewer who take the trouble of paying the full Zakah due on them after a full accounting. And even those who rarely pay out the full amount of Zakah due on them, think that they have done all they were supposed to do and that there is nothing more due on them. Go to them about some urgent need of a Masjid and they will come up with Zakah money. The same thing happens with religious institutions they too hardly get any financial support other than Zakah. Although, these are duties, other than Zakah, which Muslims have to fulfill this has been made clear in this verse of the Qur'an and in many other verses similar to it.

Towards the end of the verse, after enumerating the articles of the pledge, it was also clarified that the fulfillment of the pledge on their part will be amply rewarded, even their past sins will be forgiven and they will have the eternal comfort and security of Paradise. But, finally they were given to understand that should any of them elect to ignore such clear statements and go on to the limits of rejection and rebellion, they should know that they have left the straight path only to their self-appointed ruin.

Verses 13- 14
[١٣]فَبِمَا نَقْضِهِم مِّيثَاقَهُمْ لَعَنَّاهُمْ وَجَعَلْنَا قُلُوبَهُمْ قَاسِيَةً ۖ يُحَرِّفُونَ الْكَلِمَ عَن مَّوَاضِعِهِ ۙ وَنَسُوا حَظًّا مِّمَّا ذُكِّرُوا بِهِ ۚ وَلَا تَزَالُ تَطَّلِعُ عَلَىٰ خَائِنَةٍ مِّنْهُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِّنْهُمْ ۖ فَاعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَاصْفَحْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

[١٤]وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّا نَصَارَىٰ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَهُمْ فَنَسُوا حَظًّا مِّمَّا ذُكِّرُوا بِهِ فَأَغْرَيْنَا بَيْنَهُمُ الْعَدَاوَةَ وَالْبَغْضَاءَ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ ۚ وَسَوْفَ يُنَبِّئُهُمُ اللَّهُ بِمَا كَانُوا يَصْنَعُونَ

So, because they broke their pledge, We cursed them and made their hearts hardened. They move words away from their places, and they have overlooked a good deal of the Advice they were given. And every now and then you come accross a certain treachery from them all but a few. So, forgive them and forego. Indeed, Allah loves the good-in-deed.[13] And from those who say, 'We are Christians," We took a pledge. So, they have overlooked a good deal of the Advice they were given. So, We had them stuck with enmity and malice among them right through the Day of Doom. And Allah shall tell them what they were doing. [14]

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