Sura Al-Maidah (Tafseer-ul-Maariful Quran), Part-76

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The Sad End of Bani Isra'il
Mentioned in the second verse (78) is the sad end of those from the Bani Isra'il who were involved in this error of excess and deficiency. On them fell the curse of Allah Almighty. Firstly, it came through the tongue of Sayyidna Dawud عليه السلام as a result of which they were transformed into swines. Then, this curse fell upon them through the tongue of Sayyidna 'Isa عليه السلام the temporal effect of which was that they were transformed into monkeys. Some commentators have pointed out that the reference to the curse mentioned here as coming through only two prophets is because the context so requires. But, the fact is that the casting of curse on them began with Sayyidna Musa عليه السلام and ended at the Last among Prophets (SM). Thus, the curse which overtook those, who were hostile to prophets or were guilty of acting excessively by making prophets sharers in Divine attributes, was wished verbally by four prophets one after the other.

In the last two verses (80,81), the cultivation of deep friendship with disbelievers has been prohibited as its outcome is disasterous. It may also be indicative of the possibility that the deviation of Bani Isra'il was a result of their close friendly collaboration with disbelievers which may have affected their ways adversely and finally became the cause of their fall into the abyss.

Verses 82 - 86
[٨٢]لَتَجِدَنَّ أَشَدَّ النَّاسِ عَدَاوَةً لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الْيَهُودَ وَالَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا ۖ وَلَتَجِدَنَّ أَقْرَبَهُم مَّوَدَّةً لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّا نَصَارَىٰ ۚ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ مِنْهُمْ قِسِّيسِينَ وَرُهْبَانًا وَأَنَّهُمْ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ

[٨٣]وَإِذَا سَمِعُوا مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ تَرَىٰ أَعْيُنَهُمْ تَفِيضُ مِنَ الدَّمْعِ مِمَّا عَرَفُوا مِنَ الْحَقِّ ۖ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا آمَنَّا فَاكْتُبْنَا مَعَ الشَّاهِدِينَ

[٨٤]وَمَا لَنَا لَا نُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَمَا جَاءَنَا مِنَ الْحَقِّ وَنَطْمَعُ أَن يُدْخِلَنَا رَبُّنَا مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الصَّالِحِينَ

[٨٥]فَأَثَابَهُمُ اللَّهُ بِمَا قَالُوا جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۚ وَذَ‌ٰلِكَ جَزَاءُ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

[٨٦]وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَكَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا أُولَـٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ الْجَحِيمِ

You will certainly find that the most hostile people against the believers are the Jews and the ones who ascribe partners to Allah. And you will certainly find that the closest of them in friendship with the believers are those who say, "We are Christians." That is because among them there are priests and monks and because they are not arrogant. [82] And when they hear what has been sent down to the Messenger,you will see their eyes overflowing with tears on what they have recognized from the truth. They say, "Our Lord, we have come to believe. So, write us down along with those who bear witness. 1831 And what excuse do we have if we do not believe in Allah and in what has come to us from the truth, while we hope that our Lord will admit us in the company of the righteous people?" [84]

So,Allah has awarded them, because of what they said, gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they shall live for ever. And that is the reward of the good in deeds. [85] And those who disbelieved and denied Our signs, they are the people of the Fire. [18]

Sequence of Verses
Mentioned earlier was the friendliness of Jews with disbelievers.

Mentioned now is their hostility towards Muslims in tandem with the disbelievers which was the real cause of that friendship (the enemy of my enemy is my friend!). And since the Qur'an upholds justice universally, it has not counted everyone even among Jews and Christians as being in the same lot. Whoever among them had some good quality, that was acknowledged openly for example, the presence of a particular group among the Christians which did not have the kind of prejudice the Jews were known for, and the statement about the Christians who had responded heartily to the call of truth and for which they were considered worthy of the best of praise and reward. This particular group was that of the Christians of Ethiopea who did nothing which could cause problems for Muslims who had migrated to Ethiopea from their home in Makkah, before the Hijrah to Madinah. Any Christian, other than them, who is like them, shall also be legally counted as one of them. As for those who had accepted the truth, they are the King of Ethiopea, Najashi (Negus) and his courtiers who wept on hearing the Qur'iin in their own country and embraced Islam. After that, a deputation of thirty men from there came to the Holy Prophet (SM) who recited the Qur'an to them which they heard in tears and took their Shahgdah as Muslims. This is the Cause or Background of the revelation of this verse.

Commentary
Some Votaries of the Truth among the People of the Book Mentioned in these verses are those among the people of the Book who, had no feelings of malice or enmity for Muslims because of their goodliness and tilt towards truth. But, people of such quality like Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn Salam were very rare, rather almost nonexistant among the Jews. Speaking comparatively, there were more such people among the Christians. Specially so, during the blessed period of the Holy Prophet (SM) there was a large number of such people in Ethiopea which included King Najashi and his civil servants. For this reason, when the Muslims of Makkah al-Mukarramah were fed up with being continually oppressed by the Quraysh, the Holy Prophet (SM) advised them to migrate to Ethiopea saying that he had heard that the King of Ethiopea himself was no oppressor of people, nor did he allow anyone to oppress others, therefore, Muslims should go there for some time.

Following this advice, the first group of eleven persons started their journey towards Ethiopea. Included in the group were Sayyidna 'Uthman ibn 'Affan and Sayyidah Ruqaiyyah, his respected wife and the daughter of the Holy Prophet (SM). After that, a large caravan of Muslims comprising of eighty two men in addition to women, led by Sayyidna Ja'far ibn Abi Talib reached Ethiopea. Received there nicely and gently by the King and his people, they started living there in peace.

But, the wrath of the Quraysh of Makkah knew no bounds. They could not bear by the idea that Muslims persecuted by them could live in peace in some other country. This they did not wish to allow. They sent a deputation of their men, with gifts as customary, to the King of Ethiopea with the request that he should expel Muslims from his country. But, the King of Ethiopea decided to first investigate into the matter. He talked to sayyidna Ja'far ibn Abi Talib and his companions about Islam and its Prophet. When he heard about the life of the Holy Prophet (SM) and the teachings of Islam, he found these true to the prophecy of Sayyidna 'Isa عليه السلام and Injil which contained the glad tidings of the coming of the Last of the Prophets, Sayyidna Muhammad al-Mustafa (SM) a brief outline of his teachings, and his physical features as well as those of his Companions (for ready identification). Impressed with and convinced by what he found out, he returned the gifts brought by the Quraysh deputation telling them plainly that he could never order such people to leave his country.

The Effect of Sayyidna Ja'far's Presentation on Najashi
Sayyidna Ja'far had succeeded in presenting a brief but very comprehensive portrayal of Islam and its teachings in the court of Najishi, the King of Ethiopea. Then, there was their very stay (as Muslim role models) in Ethiopea which had generated not only in his heart but in the hearts of his officials and common people genuine feelings for Islam and its Prophet. Consequently, when the Holy Prophet (SM) migrated to Madinah al-Tayyibah and the news that they were comfortable and at peace there reached Ethiopea, the immigrating guests of the country decided to go "to Madinah. Then, Najashi, the King of Ethiopea sent with them a deputation of leading scholars and missionaries from among his co-religionists to present his compliments before the Holy prophet (SM). This group was comprised of seventy persons, out of which, there were sixty from Ethiopea itself, and eight from Syria.

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