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Sequence of the Verses
This is the third Section of Surah al-Ma'idah. Here, Allah Almighty has asked the Jews, the Christians and the Muslims to pay heed to a particular injunction of the creed they all share as being the three communities attached to the Prophetic Tradition. Appearing in different contexts through verses which have gone earlier, this is the serious matter of acting against the pledges given to Almighty Allah and that of changes, alterations and false interpretations made in injunctions sent to them something which had become a chronic compulsion of habit with the Jews and Christians.
In the first two verses (44,45) of this Section, addressing the people of the Torah, Almighty Allah has warned them on this crookedness and about the sad end it will bring. With it, as a corollary, some congruent injunctions pertaining to Qisas (Even Retaliation) have also been mentioned for the Jewish conspiracy described in the previous verses was related to Qisas which the people of the tribe of Banu Nadir did not like to be even and because of which they had compelled their weaker rivals, the Banu Qurayzah, to be content with lesser blood money as compared to themselves. Thus, in these two verses, the Jews have been given a stern warning against imposing their own law contrary to the Law sent down by Almighty Allah and those who do that have been classed as Kafir (disbelievers) and Zaim (unjust).
After that, the third (46) and the fourth (47) verses are addressed to Christians. They too have been warned against enforcing a law of their own contrary to the Law sent by Allah. And those who do that have been classed as contumacious and disobedient.
Finally, in the fifth (48) and sixth (49) verses, addressing the Holy Prophet (SM), Muslims have been instructed that they should take precautions to stay immune from the disease which had afflicted the people of the Book lest they too, God forbid, were to start changing through misinterpretations the injunctions and laws given by Almighty Allah goaded by greed for money and recognition, or stoop to the haughtier level of making and enforcing a self-made law of their own contrary to His Law.
Also stated here subsequently is an important matter of principle which posits that all prophets, may peace be upon them all, adhered to the same faith and way as far as believing in and obeying Allah is concerned. But, every prophet was given, as wisdom demanded, a Shari'ah or Way or Code, appropriate to the nature and need of his time and in which many subsidiary injunctions differ. Thus, as pointed out here, the very Sharyah given to a prophet was the wisest choice for that time of the prophet and during which following it was obligatory. When abrogated and replaced by another Shari'ah, the later, then became what was wise and expedient at its time, the following of which also became equally obligatory. That there is a unique element of wisdom in the phenomena of alternation and variation in the systems of Shari'ah is a point which has also been made here.
In the first verse of the set of verses appearing above, by saying: إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَا التَّوْرَاةَ فِيهَا هُدًى وَنُورٌ(Surely We have sent down the Torah, having guidance and light therein), the hint given is that the abrogation of the Shari'ah of Torah at that point of time is not because of any shortcoming of the Torah itself but it has been done rather because of the need to change injunctions with the change of time. Otherwise, the Torah too is a Book revealed by the same Revealer. It has rules of guidance for the Bani Isra'il and it also has a special light which moves their hearts spiritually.
After that it was said: يَحْكُمُ بِهَا النَّبِيُّونَ الَّذِينَ أَسْلَمُوا لِلَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالرَّبَّانِيُّونَ وَالْأَحْبَارُ that is, 'We had revealed the Torah so that, until its Shari'ah has not been abrogated, all incoming prophets and their deputies, the men of Allah and the 'Ulama shall all decide and rule in accordance with this Torah making it the working law of their time.' The deputies of the prophets, may peace be upon them all, have been mentioned in two categories 'Rabbaniyyun' and 'Ahbar.'The word, 'Rabbaniyy' is attributed to 'Rabb' and means 'Man of Allah.' As for 'Ahbar', it is the plural form of Hibr which, in the Jewish terminology, used to stand for 'Alim (roughly, a scholar of religious sciences). It is obvious that for one to be a Man of Allah one has to have the knowledge of the necessary injunctions of Almighty Allah, otherwise deed sans knowledge is not possible - and no one can become a Man of Allah without obeying Divine injunctions and acting in accordance with them. Similarly, an 'Alim is, in the sight, of Allah, one whose deeds in life are a mirror of his knowledge, otherwise
an 'nim who, despite his knowledge of Divine injunctions, does not fulfill his binding religious obligations by doing what is required of him nor shows any concern for his failure to do so, is worse than an ignorant person in the sight of Allah. The outcome is that every Man of Allah is an 'Alim and every 'Alim is a Man of Allah (or should be, in principle). But, at this place, by mentioning both separately, a notice of caution has been given no doubt, knowledge is necessary for a Man of Allah and deed, for an 'Alim but, one gets to be identified with his dominant activity or colour (of the rainbow he follows in his path of obedience to Allah) and that becomes the name he is called with. A person who mostly devotes himself to 'Ibadat (acts of worship), A'mal (deeds) and the Dhikr of Allah (remembrance) and acquires religious knowledge sufficient for his needs, he is called a Rabbaniyy or Man of Allah. This, in our contemporary usage, is given names like Shaykh, Murshid, Pir and a good many others. As for the person who acquires the highest practical expertise available in religious sciences, and devotes himself to the mission of teaching and training people in the rules of the Shari'ah, and fulfills the obligations of discharging what is Fard, Wajib and Sunnah al-Mu'akkadah but is unable to spend any more time in performing Nafl 'Ibadat (voluntary acts of worship) he is called 'Hibr' or 'mim.