Sura Al-Maidah (Tafseer-ul-Maariful Quran), Part-59

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The Qur'an : Custodian of Torah and Injil
In the fifth (48) and the sixth (49) verse, the address is to the Holy prophet (SM) saying that to him Allah has revealed the Qur'an which confirms the Torah and Injil, Books previous to it, and is their custodian as well. This is because, after the people of the Torah altered the Torah and the people of InjIl made changes in the Injil, it was the Qur'an alone which turned out tob the kind of overseer and protector which exposed the alterations made by them, lit up truth and reality in their proper perspective. Even today, the true teachings of the Torah and Injil still survive through the Qur'an while those who inherited them and those who claim to follow them have disfigured them to the extent that it has become impossible to distinguish truth from untruth. Towards the end of the verse, the Holy Prophet has been given the same instruction as was given to the people of the Torah and the people of the Injll, that is, all orders and judgements given by him should be according to injunctions revealed by Allah, and that he should see through the ploy of these people who intend to have him decide matters according to their wishes and take his guard against their evil plans. There was a particular reason for saying what was said. Some Jewish religious scholars came to the Holy Prophet (SM). They told him that they were religious leaders among the Jews. If they became Muslims, the rest of them would become Muslims too. But, there was a condition to it. They said that they had a legal dispute with his people. They would bring that case to him. If, in this case, he were to decide in their favour, they would embrace Islam. Thereupon, Almighty Allah gave him the word of caution that he should never decide against considerations of equity and justice and the Law revealed by Allah because of the offer to become Muslims made by these people a proposition which was not for him to worry about.

The Wisdom behind Partial Difference in
Shari'ahs of Prophets
Besides other elements of guidance, this verse carries an answer to a basic question of principle. The question is: When all prophets have been sent by Allah, and all Books and Shari'ahs come from Him, why do they differ and why do a coming Book and Shari'ah abrogate the outgoing Shari'ah and Book? The answer has been given in this verse along with its wisdom: لِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مِنكُمْ شِرْعَةً وَمِنْهَاجًا ۚ وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَـٰكِن لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكُمْ ۖ فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ

For each of you, We have made a way and a method. And had Allah willed, He would have made a single community of people, but (He did not), so that He may test you in what He has given to you. Strive,then, to excel each other in good deeds.

To explain this in other words, it can be said that Allah has made for every section among human beings a particular Shari'ah and particular method of doing things in which, despite common principles, there are expedient differences in subsidiary injunctions. Had Allah so willed, it would have not been at all difficult for Him to make all human beings one community with only one Book and one Shari'ah for everyone. But, Allah Almighty did not prefer to do so for He intended to test people. He wanted to see who gets to know the reality of 'Ibadah (worship) and stays alert to receive and respond positively to whatever command comes for them. It may be a new Book or a new Shari'ah. They will be ready to accept and follow that, no matter how dear the previous Shari'ah and Book may be to them and no matter how hard its abandoning may be on them because of its grip on them as their ancestral religion. But, such people with their awakened sense of belonging to their ultimate master, always stay tuned to the next Divine call, and always ready to obey. At the other end of this trial shall obviously be those who fail to see this essential reality of obedience, who take to a particular Shari'ah and Book as closed objectives of life giving it the uncompromising status of ancestral religion as a result of which they choose not to pay any attention to any Divine command.

Great wisdom lies in this difference among Shari'ahs. This is the channel through which every section of the human community of any time is taught the reality behind genuine 'Ibadah (worship) and the reality behind human servitude to God. The message given is that the reality of' Ibadah (acts of worship) lies in being an 'Abd, a servant, and in obeying and following which does not depend on Salah, Sawm, Hajj, zakah or Dhikr of Allah or Tilawah of the Qur'an nor are these acts of worship an end by themselves. Instead of that, they all have one single purpose behind them: Obedience to the Command of Allah. This is the reason why times during which Salah is prohibited, offering Salah at those times does not bring any reward. On the contrary, it becomes a source of sin. During the days of the two 'Ids, the 'Idul-F'itr and the Idul - Adha , when fasting is forbidden, it becomes a sin to fast a t that time. Other than the ninth of the month of Dhil-Hijjah, gathering in the plain of 'Arafat on any day or month to pray and worship is no reward-worthy act while on the ninth of Dhil-Hijjah, this is the greatest 'Ibadah on the plain of 'Arafat. The same rule applies to all other acts of worship. Done when asked to do, they are 'Ibadah. But, when they are stopped at a certain limit, they too become Haram, unlawful and impermissible. Ignorant people are usually not aware of this reality. '1badat which become their habit, rather, national customs which they get used to as if they were 'Ibadat, then, they would ignore even open commands from Allah and His Messenger. This is from where sprout the seeds of innovations and deviations (Bid'at and Muhaddathat) in established religion which, with the passage of time, become attached to it as if they were a part of it while they are not. This has been the major cause of alterations in past Shari'ahs and Books. By sending different Books and Sharl'ahs to different prophets, Allah Jalla Sha'nuhu has taught human beings the lesson that they should not take one mode of action or one mode of worship as their primary objective. They should, instead, become obedient servants of Allah in it: most desirable sense on the strength of which they should be able to instantly leave what they were doing earlier, as and when asked to do so. And, conversely, they should immediately be ready to do whatever they are asked to do.

Other than this, yet another wisdom behind this difference in Shari'ahs is that since tempers and tastes of human beings from every period and section of the world are different, the variation in the time frame affects human disposition considerably. If subsidiary injunctions were to be made identical for everyone, human beings would be in deep trouble. Therefore, it was the dictate of Divine wisdom that appropriate change be made in subsidiary injunctions with due consideration of the response patterns of the people of different tastes and times. Here, the religious terminology of Abrogator (Nasikh) and Abrogated (Mansukh) does not mean that the Law Giver did not know conditions before and gave one law and when new circumstances prevailed it was abrogated or the earlier law was promulgated by mistake or lack of attention but was changed on later recollection. This is not the way it is. The Nasikh and Mansukh are just like the prescription of a doctor or physician where a change in medicines appears gradually since the doctor or physician knows in advance that a certain symptom will show up in the patient after he or she has used the initially prescribed medicine for three days which then will be the time to prescribe a certain other medicine. So, when he cancels his earlier prescription and replaces it with a new one, it will not be correct to say that the previous prescription was wrong and for that reason it was cancelled. Instead, the truth of the matter is that this very prescription was correct and necessary for use during the initial days of sickness and under later conditions, the same second prescription is correct and necessary.

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