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The Qurʾan What is This? A current English-language version of the Qur'an, published in 2004
Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

5. The Feast (41 – 66)

41Messenger, do not be grieved by those who race to surpass one another in disbelief—those who say with their mouths, ‘We believe,’ but have no faith in their hearts, and the Jews who listen eagerly to lies and to those who have not even met you, who distort the meanings of [revealed] words and say [to each other], ‘If you are given this ruling, accept it, but if you are not, then beware!’b According to most interpreters, this refers to a case where an eminent Jewish man and woman committed adultery. The Jewish community did not want to apply the biblical penalty of stoning, so they sent representatives to the Prophet to ask for a ruling, saying, ‘If he orders you to apply lashing accept it, but if he orders stoning, do not accept it’ (Razi).—if God intends some people to be so misguided, you will be powerless against God on their behalf. These are the ones whose hearts God does not intend to cleanse—a disgrace for them in this world, and then a heavy punishment in the Hereafter—42they listen eagerly to lies and consume what is unlawful. If they come to you [Prophet] for judgement, you can either judge between them, or decline—if you decline, they will not harm you in any way, but if you do judge between them, judge justly: God loves the just—43but why do they come to you for judgement when they have the Torah with God's judgement, and even then still turn away? These are not believers. 44We revealed the Torah with guidance and light, and the prophets, who had submitted to God, judged according to it for the Jews. So did the rabbis and the scholars in accordance with that part of God's Scripture which they were entrusted to preserve, and to which they were witnesses. So [rabbis and scholars] do not fear people, fear Me; do not barter away My messages for a small price; those who do not judge according to what God has sent down are rejecting [God's teachings]. 45In the Torah We prescribed for them a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, an equal wound for a wound: if anyone forgoes this out of charity, it will serve as atonement for his bad deeds. Those who do not judge according to what God has revealed are doing grave wrong.

46We sent Jesus, son of Mary, in their footsteps, to confirm the Torah that had been sent before him: We gave him the Gospel with guidance, light, and confirmation of the Torah already revealed— a guide and lesson for those who take heed of God. 47So let the followers of the Gospel judge according to what God has sent down in it. Those who do not judge according to what God has revealed are lawbreakers.

48We sent to you [Muhammad] the Scripture with the truth, confirming the Scriptures that came before it, and with final authority over them: so judge between them according to what God has sent down. Do not follow their whims, which deviate from the truth that has come to you. We have assigned a law and a path to each of you. If God had so willed, He would have made you one community, but He wanted to test you through that which He has given you, so race to do good: you will all return to God and He will make clear to you the matters you differed about. 49So [Prophet] judge between them according to what God has sent down. Do not follow their whims, and take good care that they do not tempt you away from any of what God has sent down to you. If they turn away, remember that God intends to punish them for some of the sins they have committed: a great many people are lawbreakers. 50Do they want judgement according to the time of pagan ignorance? Is there any better judge than God for those of firm faith?

51You who believe, do not take the Jews and Christians as allies:a i.e. those who are against the Muslim camp, as is clear from the following verses, up to 59. ‘Do not turn to them as allies in preference to the Muslims’ (see 4: 144).they are allies only to each other. Anyone who takes them as an ally becomes one of them—God does not guide such wrongdoers—52yet you [Prophet] will see the perverse at heart rushing to them for protection, saying, ‘We are afraid fortune may turn against us.’ But God may well bring about a triumph or some other event of His own making: then they will rue the secrets they harboured in their hearts, 53and the believers will say, ‘Are these the men who swore by God using their strongest oaths that they were with you?’ All they did was in vain: they have lost everything.

54You who believe, if any of you go back on your faith,b What is intended in this context is ‘by taking them as allies’. God will soon replace you with people He loves and who love Him, people who are humble towards the believers, hard on the disbelievers, and who strive in God's way without fearing anyone's reproach. Such is God's favour. He grants it to whoever He will. God has endless bounty and knowledge. 55Your true allies are God, His Messenger, and the believers—those who keep up the prayer, pay the prescribed alms, and bow down in worship. 56Those who turn for protection to God, His Messenger, and the believers [are God's party]: God's party is sure to triumph.

57You who believe, do not take as allies those who ridicule your religion and make fun of it—whether people who were given the Scripture before you, or disbelievers—and be mindful of God if you are true believers. 58When you make the call to prayer, they ridicule it and make fun of it: this is because they are people who do not reason. 59Say [Prophet], ‘People of the Book, do you resent us for any reason other than the fact that we believe in God, in what has been sent down to us, and in what was sent before us, while most of you are disobedient?’ 60Say, ‘Shall I tell you who deserves a worse punishment from God than [the one you wish upon] us? Those God distanced from Himself, was angry with, and condemned as apes and pigs,a Tabari (in his commentary on 2: 65) regards this as metaphorical in the sense of ‘like apes, pigs’. Compare the metaphorical use of ‘blind, deaf, dumb’—2: 18; 5: 71; 8: 22; 43: 40; etc. and those who worship idols: they are worse in rank and have strayed further from the right path.

61When they come to you [believers], they say, ‘We believe,’ but they come disbelieving and leave disbelieving—God knows best what they are hiding. 62You [Prophet] see many of them rushing into sin and hostility and consuming what is unlawful. How evil their practices are! 63Why do their rabbis and scholars not forbid them to speak sinfully and consume what is unlawful? How evil their deeds are! 64The Jews have said, ‘God is tight-fisted,’ but it is they who are tight-fisted, and they are rejected for what they have said. Truly, God's hands are open wide: He gives as He pleases. What has been sent down to you from your Lord is sure to increase insolence and defiance in many of them. We have sown enmity and hatred amongst them till the Day of Resurrection. Whenever they kindle the fire of war, God will put it out. They try to spread corruption in the land, but God does not love those who corrupt. 65If only the People of the Book would believe and be mindful of God, We would take away their sins and bring them into the Gardens of Delight. 66If they had upheld the Torah and the Gospel and what was sent down to them from their Lord, they would have been given abundance from above and from below: some of them are on the right course, but many of them do evil.

Notes:

b According to most interpreters, this refers to a case where an eminent Jewish man and woman committed adultery. The Jewish community did not want to apply the biblical penalty of stoning, so they sent representatives to the Prophet to ask for a ruling, saying, ‘If he orders you to apply lashing accept it, but if he orders stoning, do not accept it’ (Razi).

a i.e. those who are against the Muslim camp, as is clear from the following verses, up to 59. ‘Do not turn to them as allies in preference to the Muslims’ (see 4: 144).

b What is intended in this context is ‘by taking them as allies’.

a Tabari (in his commentary on 2: 65) regards this as metaphorical in the sense of ‘like apes, pigs’. Compare the metaphorical use of ‘blind, deaf, dumb’—2: 18; 5: 71; 8: 22; 43: 40; etc.

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