Sura Al-Maidah (Tafseer-ul-Maariful Quran), Part-66

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Consideration of the Addressee : A Principle of Da'wah The condition of a people who were under the curse and wrath of Allah has been introduced through a similitude in the next verse (60)

which begins with : قل هل انبئكم Should I (not) tell you ...I In fact, this condition applied to these very addressees. The occasion demanded that they should have been the ones to be directly charged with the blame. But, the Qur'an has changed the mode of direct. address into the form of a similitude (to show consideration). This shows us a distinctive method of Da'wah (Call) as used by prophets, that is, never say things in a manner which makes the addressees angry.

Verses 62 - 63
[٦٢]وَتَرَىٰ كَثِيرًا مِّنْهُمْ يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ وَأَكْلِهِمُ السُّحْتَ ۚ لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

[٦٣]لَوْلَا يَنْهَاهُمُ الرَّبَّانِيُّونَ وَالْأَحْبَارُ عَن قَوْلِهِمُ الْإِثْمَ وَأَكْلِهِمُ السُّحْتَ ۚ لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُوا يَصْنَعُونَ

And you see many of them racing towards sin, and aggression, and their eating of the unlawful. Indeed, evil is what they have been doing. [62]

Why do the Men of the Lord and the Men of Knowledge not forbid them from their saying of the sinful and eating of the unlawful? Indeed, evil is what they have been doing. [63]

Commentary
The Moral Loss of Jews
In the first verse (62) cited above, mentioned there is the moral depravation and self-destructive attitude of many Jews so that people who know that may take a lesson and stay away from such deeds, as well as from causes that lead to them.

Though, this was generally the condition of Jews, but they also had some good people among them. It is to exclude them that the Qur'an has used the word: كَثِيرًا 'kathiran' (many). As for aggression and eating of the unlawful, these are though included under the sense of 'sin, yet they have been particularly mentioned, distinctly, in order to lay emphasis on the ruin these two kinds of sins bring on one and all. (Al-Bahr Al-Muhit)

According to Ruh al-Ma'ani, by using the expression 'racing towards sin' about these people, the Holy Qur'an has given the hint that they are chronic subjects of these evil traits and the evil deeds they do have become fixed habits with them, so ingrained that they (automatically) move in that direction, even without intention.

This tells us that a good or bad deed when done many times repeatedly becomes a part and parcel of the inmost being of a person, almost a skill or drive or a fixed habit, after which, there remains no exertion or hesitation in doing what one does. This was the limit reached by Jews in pursuing their evil traits. To highlight it, it was said: يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْإِثْمِ (They race towards sin). The same thing applies to prophets and men of Allah in the case of their good traits. About them too, the Holy Qur'an has used the same expression when it says: يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ (They race towards good deeds - 3:114).

The Correction of Deeds
Of those who have laid the greatest emphasis on the correction of deeds, the foremost are the respected Sufis (spiritual masters) and the men of Allah. These blessed souls have deduced from these very sayings of the Qur'an the significant principle that all human deeds, good or bad, really come from ingrained habits and morals which ultimately become man's second nature. Therefore, when they wish to check, modify or dilute the recurrence of evil deeds, they keep these ingrained habits in sight. Thus, when they correct these, all deeds that issue forth start coming out right. Let us take the example of a person whose heart is overwhelmingly filled with greed for worldly acquisitions. As a result of this greed, he takes bribes, and devours income from interest, and if, given the opportunity, things could also reach the limits of theft and robbery. Instead of correcting these crimes separately, the spiritual masters use one masterly prescription which could cause the very foundation of these crimes razed to the ground - and that is the realization of the mortality of the world and the poisoned nature of its luxuries.

Similarly, if someone suffers from over weaning pride or arrogance or anger, and he belittles or insults others, or quarrels with friends and neighbours, theie blessed souls will use the same prescription, the prescription with ingredients of the concern for the life-to-come and the fear of ultimate accountability before Almighty Allah. Once these ,tart remaining in sight actively, such evil behaviour patterns die out automatically.

In short, this Qur'anic indicator tells us that man has some inpained traits which become his second nature. If these ingrained traits tilt towards good, good deeds issue forth on their own. Similarly, if the ingrained traits are evil, man starts running towards evil deeds automatically. To achieve a total correction of behaviour, the correction of these ingrained traits is necessary.

Are religious leaders responsible for the
deeds of common people?
In the second verse (63), the Shaykhs and 'Alims among the Jews have been sternly warned as to why would they not stop such people from evil deeds. At this place in the Qur'an, two words have been used. The first word is: رَّبَّانِيُّونَ'Rabbaniyyun',which means Men of Allah, that is, those who are intensely devoted to acts of worship and abstain from worldly temptations commonly known as Derwish, Pir or Shaykh. The second word used is 'Ahbar.' Religious scholars among Jews are called 'Ahbar.' This tells us that the real responsibility of the Qur'anic injunction of Al-Amr bil-Ma'ruf (bidding the Fair) and Nahy Anil-Munkar (forbidding the Unfair) falls on these two groups, that is, on the Shaykhs and 'Alims. However, some commentators have said that 'Rabbaniyyun' refers to 'Ulama who have been appointed by Government and are fully authorized, while Ahbar means the 'Ulama in general. Taken in that sense, the responsibility of stopping people from committing crimes comes to fall on government officials and 'Ulama both. Incidentally, this has been further clarified in some other verses as well.

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