Sūrat al-Mā’idah

Sūrah No. 5, Revealed in Madīnah, 120 verses.

According to some narrations the entire Sūrah was reveled at one time, after the farewell pilgrimage of the Prophet a. All reports agree that it was the last detailed chapter which was revealed to the Messenger of Allah a near the end of his life.

The Sūrah takes its name from the miraculous table spread with food mentioned in verses 112-115.

According to ‘Allāmah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī that the general theme of this Sūrah is to call the people to fulfill the covenants and to uphold the valid agreements whatever they might be. It shows that Allah has made it His practice to deal with mercy and lighten the burden of those who guard themselves against evil and believe, and then again guard themselves against evil and do good work. On the contrary, He deals harshly with those who commit outrage, exceed the limit and

overstep the bounds (Al-Mīzān, 9:215).

Merits of reciting the Sūrah

Whoever recites Sūrah al-Mā’idah every Thursday his faith will not be covered by injustice, and he will never associate anything with Allah -Imam Muhammad al-Bāqir (a) (Tafsīr Majma’ul Bayān)

Sūrat al-Ma’idah was revealed all at one time and was escorted by seventy thousand angels. Imam Ja ‘far al-Sādiq (a) (Tafsīr Majma’ul-Bayān)

General synopsis of contents

1) Laws regarding pilgrimage, food, hunting, ritual purity, etc.

2) Leadership after the Prophet a

3) Day of Judgement

4) Justice and fulfilling of pledges.

5) Relations between the Muslims and the people of the Book.

Selected Lessons

1) Islam as brought by the Holy Prophet a is the most complete and perfect religion

(verse 3)

2) The ruling on wudhū and tayammum (verse 6)

3) Dislike of people should not make you unfair to them (verse 8)

4) All human beings are creatures of Allah, and no-one can claim to be His children

(verse 18)

5) Whoever takes one life is as if he has killed all of mankind, and whoever saves one

life is as if he has saved all of mankind (v. 32)

6) The true guardian after Allah and the Prophet a is the one who has faith and

gives charity while in rukū’ – a reference to Imam Ali (a). (v. 55)

7) Believers cannot take those who mock their religion as friends (v. 57)

8) The Prophet a was told to deliver a message that was so important that had he not

done so it would be like he had not communicated God’s message – a reference to

the event of Ghadīr (v. 67)

9) Prophet ‘Īsā (a) had told his people do not take any partners for God (v. 72)

10) Receptive hearts shed tears upon hearing the truth from God (v. 83)

11) Enjoy the lawful and good things God has blessed the world with (v. 88)

12) The abundance of wrong in society should not deceive us (v. 100)

13) The miracles of Prophet ‘Īsā (a) were all by the permission of Allah (v. 110)

14) Prophet ‘Īsā (a) did not tell his people to take himself and his mother as gods

(vv. 116-117)

Important Messages

1) Slaughtering an animal for meat must be according to the command of the Creator.

2) Divine leadership perfects religion.

3) Announcement of Imam Ali (a) as the successor of the Prophet a was the

completion of blessings.

4) Cleanliness and purification are part of faith.

5) Justice and fairness must be consistent habits, not one-time occurrences.

6) Before giving people the commands of Allah show them His kindness and love.

7) The ultimate victory is for those who accept the guardianship of Allah, the

Prophet a and the Ahlul Bayt (a).

8) The actions of human beings influence nature and the system in existence.

9) Every sin is the starting point of another sin unless it is followed by repentance.

10) Humble and receptive hearts become transformed when they listen to the truth.

11) The laws of Islam for the individual are linked to the benefit and progress of


12) Shaytān misleads human beings through weapons like addictive substances and


13) Encouragement and warnings must go together for training behaviour.

14) One of the most important subjects addressed in the Quran is the Day of

Judgment. Conviction in that is crucial for spiritual perfection.

15) One of the blessings for Divine leaders was the loyalty of close companions.

16) Conviction of the heart is a higher stage than belief of the heart.

17) Those who reach conviction have a heavier responsibility and are more


Suggested verses for reflection and memorization.

1) 5:2 – Cooperate in piety and God-wariness, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression, 

2) 5:35 – O you who believe! be careful of your duty to Allah and seek means of nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may be successful.

3) 5:55 – Your guardian is only Allah, His Apostle, and the faithful who maintain the prayer and give the zakat while bowing down

4) 5:74 – Will they not repent to Allah and plead to Him for forgiveness? Yet Allah is all-forgiving, all-merciful.

5) 5:92 – And obey Allah and obey the Apostle, and beware; but if you turn your backs, then know that Our Apostle’s duty is only to communicate in clear terms

6) 5:98 – Know that Allah is severe in retribution, and that Allah is all-forgiving, all-merciful.

7) 5:105 – O you who have faith! Take care of your own souls. He who strays cannot hurt you if you are guided. To Allah will be the return of you all, whereat He will inform you concerning what you used to do.

Activities for self-study

1) Read verses 21-25. What do these verses show about the attitude of the people of Prophet Musa (a)?

2) Write out the story of the two sons of Prophet Adam (a) as narrated in verses 27- 31. Illustrate the story. What lessons do we learn from it?

3) What are the qualities of the believers mentioned in verse 54?

4) What are the tactics of shaytān as outlines in verses 90-91?

5) Write out the story of the disciples of the Prophet ‘Īsā (a) and the request for a table from Heaven (verses 112-115). Why did the disciples ask for this miracle?