Sura Al-Maidah (Tafseer-ul-Maariful Quran), Part-78

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Then, in Surah al-Baqarah, it is said: لَّا يُؤَاخِذُكُمُ اللَّهُ بِاللَّغْوِ فِي أَيْمَانِكُمْ وَلَـٰكِن يُؤَاخِذُكُم بِمَا كَسَبَتْ قُلُوبُكُمْ (And Allah does not hold you accountable for what is not countable from among your oaths, but holds you accountable for what your hearts have designed - 2:225). Here, 'Laghw' (what is not countable) means an oath which slips out from one's tongue without intention or volition, or an oath one takes about something assuming it to be true while it turns out to be false actually. Then, mentioned in contrast, is the other oath in which an intentional lie has been told. This is known as Yamin Ghamus explained earlier. Therefore, as for Yamin Laghw, it brings no sin, according to this verse instead, what brings sin is Yamin Ghamus where the lie is intentional. Thus, the sin mentioned in the verse from Surah al-Baqarah refers to the sin one shall incur in the Hereafter for disobeying the Divine injunction. And in the present verse of Surah al-Ma'idah, the injunction concerns the present life of the world, where Kaffarah (expiation) is required. The outcome is that Allah does not hold you accountable for what is not countable in your oaths, that is, does not make it obligatory for you to make amends for them by paying Kaffarah (expiation). Instead, Kaffarah is made necessary against the particular oath which has been accomplished about doing or not doing something in the future and then, it has been broken. After that, the details of how Kaffarah has to be given is described in the following words: فَكَفَّارَتُهُ إِطْعَامُ عَشَرَةِ مَسَاكِينَ مِنْ أَوْسَطِ مَا تُطْعِمُونَ أَهْلِيكُمْ أَوْ كِسْوَتُهُمْ أَوْ تَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍ (89) .Three options have been given here which one may choose at one's discretion: (a)feed ten poor persons two average meals, or (b) clothe ten poor persons (sufficient to give them proper cover, such as, a garment for the lower body and another for the upper), or (c) free a slave (if in possession).

Said immediately after is : فَمَن لَّمْ يَجِدْ فَصِيَامُ ثَلَاثَةِ أَيَّامٍ (And whoever finds none shall fast for three days). It means if some breaker of such an oath does not have the ability to bear the cost of this financial expiation (Kaffarah), that is, one who does not have the means to feed ten poor persons, or clothe them, or free a slave, then, his or her Kaffarah is to fast for three days. In some narrations, for the fasts mentioned at this place in the text, the command is said to be that of 'three consecutive days.' Therefore, according to Imam Abu Hanifah and some other Imams, it is necessary that the three fasts against the Kaffarah (expiation) of Oath should be consecutive.

In this verse, the first word used in connection with the Kaffarah of Oath is: "It'am" which, according to Arabic usage, could either mean 'feed' or 'give food' to someone. Therefore, as determined by the Fuqaha (Muslim Jurists), may the mercy of Allah be upon them, the sense of the verse is that the person giving Kaffarah can choose either of the two options. He can invite ten poor persons and feed them; or, he can give the food in their possession (literally in milkiyat or ownership). But, in the first situation, it is necessary that he should feed ten poor persons two meals of the day to their fill and satisfaction from the average food he usually eats with his family at home. And in the second situation, he should give to each of the ten poor persons at the rate of one Fitrah per person, that is, 13/4 kilograms of wheat, or its cost in cash. He can go by any one of the three he likes. But, fasting can be sufficient only when one does not have the ability to take any of the three options.

Paying Kaffarah, before Oath is Broken, is not Valid
Towards the end of the verse, the need to observe caution has been commanded about two things. The first one appears in: ذَ‌ٰلِكَ كَفَّارَةُ أَيْمَانِكُمْ إِذَا حَلَفْتُمْ (that is expiation for your oaths when you have sworn). According to Imam Abu Hanifah and other Imams, it means: When you give a sworn statement about doing or not doing something in the future following which occurs its violation then, its Kaffarah is what has been mentioned above. The essence of the statement is that the Kaffarah should be given after the oath has broken. A Kaffarah given before the breaking of the oath will not be valid. The reason is that the cause which makes Kaffarah necessary lies in the breaking of the oath. As long as the oath does not break, Kaffarah just does not become necessary. As there is no Salah before its time, and there is no Ramadan fast before the month of Ramadan, so it is with the Kaffarah of Oath which cannot be given before the oath breaks.

After that comes the second note of caution: وَاحْفَظُوا أَيْمَانَكُمْ (And take care of your oaths). In this sense of guarding an oath it would mean: If you have sworn to something, then do not break your oath without a legal or physical necessity. Some other respected scholars have said that it means that one should not hasten to give a sworn statement. One should guard and protect one's oath, as if kept in reserve. Unless it be under severe compulsion, one should not take oaths casually. (Mazhari).

Verses 90 - 92
[٩٠]يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِّنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

[٩١]إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَن يُوقِعَ بَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةَ وَالْبَغْضَاءَ فِي الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ وَيَصُدَّكُمْ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَعَنِ الصَّلَاةِ ۖ فَهَلْ أَنتُم مُّنتَهُونَ

[٩٢]وَأَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَاحْذَرُوا ۚ فَإِن تَوَلَّيْتُمْ فَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا عَلَىٰ رَسُولِنَا الْبَلَاغُ الْمُبِينُ

O those who believe, the truth is that wine, gambling, altar-stones and divining arrows are filth, a work of Satan. Therefore, refrain from it, so that you may be successful. [90] The Satan wants nothing but to plant enmity and malice between you through wine and gambling, and to prevent you from the remembrance of Allah and from the Salah. Would you, then, abstain? [91] Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and be careful. If you still turn back, be sure that the duty of Our Messenger is only to convey the Message clearly. [92]

Linkage of Verses
Earlier, considered abandonment of Halal things was prohibited.
Prohibited now is the use of some Haram things.

Commentary
Creation of the Universe is for the Benefit of Human Beings
Through these verses, the purpose is to tell that the Master of the Universe has created it to serve human beings. Everything in it has been appointed to take care of their wishes. They are the served ones in this Universe. There is only one restriction placed on them: Do not transgress the limits set by Allah when you benefit from what He has created. Abstaining from good and lawful things made Halal for you is mannerlessness and ingratitude; and the contravention of what has been prohibited in a certain form is disobedience and rebellion. A servant of Allah must make use of what has been created for him or her following the instructions of the Creator and Master. This is the 'abdiyyah (the state of being a slave of Allah, which requires total submission to as related to Allah which is the highest possible achievement human beings can look forward to).

The first verse (90) describes the prohibition of four things: (1) Drinking, (2) Gambling, (3) Idols and (4) Divining Arrows. Another verse on this subject in almost similar words has appeared in Surah al-Baqarah as well Ma'ariful-Qur'an, Volume I, Verse 2:219, Pages 539-553). There too, as here, these four things have been called "Rijs"(filth). In the Arabic language, the word "Rijs" refers to something foul, which is disgusting for human taste. All four things mentioned here are, for anyone with commonsense and good taste, repulsive and disgusting.

An Explanation of "Al-Azlam"
One of the four things is Azlam which is the plural of Zalam. Azlam is the name of the arrows which were used to draw lots in gambling, an Arab practice at that time. The custom was that ten people would get together as partners and slaughter a camel. Then, rather than distribute ten equal shares from the meat to each participant, they had a way of gambling with the exercise. They had ten arrows, out of which they would pick out seven and mark them out with signs indicating the number of some shares on each some arrow would have one, others would have two or three. The three remaining arrows were kept blank. They would put all these arrows in the quiver and give it a good shake. Then, for every participant, they would draw out one arrow from the quiver. If the arrow so drawn had a certain number of shares marked on it, the recepient of the arrow became deserving of that many shares. Whoever drew a blank arrow in his name would remain deprived of a share. This is similar to many kinds of lottery-based games and enterprises common today. Drawing lots in this manner is Qimar or gambling which is Haram according to the Qur'an.

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