Surah Al-Ma’idah Ayat 103 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 103
Allah has not appointed [such innovations as] bahirah or sa’ibah or wasilah or ham. But those who disbelieve invent falsehood about Allah, and most of them do not reason.
It was not Allah who instituted (superstitions like those of) a slit-ear she-camel, or a she-camel let loose for free pasture, or idol sacrifices for twin-births in animals, or stallion-camels freed from work: It is blasphemers who invent a lie against Allah; but most of them lack wisdom.
Allah has neither appointed (cattle devoted to idols such as) Bahirah, Sa’ibah, Wasilah nor Ham; but those who disbelieve forge lies against Allah and of them most have no understanding (and therefore succumb to such superstitions).
Allah has not instituted things like Bahirah (a she-camel whose milk was spared for the idols and nobody was allowed to milk it) or a Sa’ibah (a she-camel let loose for free pasture for their false gods, e.g. idols, etc., and nothing was allowed to be carried on it), or a Wasilah (a she-camel set free for idols because it has given birth to a she-camel at its first delivery and then again gives birth to a she-camel at its second delivery) or a Ham (a stallion-camel freed from work for their idols, after it had finished a number of copulations assigned for it, all these animals were liberated in honour of idols as practised by pagan Arabs in the pre-Islamic period). But those who disbelieve invent lies against Allah, and most of them have no understanding.
Allah hath not appointed anything in the nature of a Bahirah or a Sa’ibah or a Wasilah or a Hami, but those who disbelieve invent a lie against Allah. Most of them have no sense.
In no way has Allah appointed (anything) as a Bahîrah or a Sa⊃ ibah, or a Wasilah or a Ham; (3) but the ones who have disbelieved fabricate against Allah lies, and most of them do not consider.
God did not institute the dedication of such things as bahira, saiba, wasila, or ham to idols; but the disbelievers invent lies about God. Most of them do not use reason:
Quran 5 Verse 103 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Al-Ma’idah ayat 103, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(5:103) Allah has neither appointed (cattle devoted to idols such as) Bahirah, Sa’ibah, Wasilah nor Ham;but those who disbelieve forge lies against Allah and of them most have no understanding (and therefore succumb to such superstitions).
118. Just as, in the Indian subcontinent, cows, oxen and goats are set free after being consecrated either to God or to some idol or shrine or to some saintly person, and just as people consider it prohibited either to put them to work, to slaughter them or to derive any other kind of benefit from them, so the Arabs of the Jahiliyah period also let loose certain animals after consecrating them. Such animals were variously named.
Bahirah was the name of a female camel which had already borne five young, the last of which was a male. The practice was to slit the ear of such a camel and then let her loose. Thereafter no one could ride her, use her milk, slaughter her or shear her hair. She was entitled to graze and drink water wherever she liked.
Sa’ibah was the name of either a male or female camel which had been let loose after consecration as a mark of gratitude in fulfilment of a vow taken for either the recovery from some ailment or delivery from some danger. In the same way the female camel which had borne ten times, and each time a female, was also let loose.
Wasilah. If the first kid born to a goat was a male, it was slaughtered in the name of the deities; but if it was a female, it was kept by the owners for themselves. If twins were born and one of them was a male and the other a female goat, the male was not slaughtered but rather let loose in the name of the deities. This male goat was called wasilah.
Ham. If the young of camels in the second degree of descent had become worthy of riding they were let loose. Likewise, if ten offspring had been borne by a female camel she was also let loose, and called ham.
103. Allah has not instituted things like Bahirah or a Sa’ibah or a Wasilah or a Ham. But those who disbelieve invent lies against Allah, and most of them have no understanding. 104. And when it is said to them: “Come to what Allah has revealed and unto the Messenger.” They say: “Enough for us is that which we found our fathers following,” even though their fathers had no knowledge whatsoever and no guidance.
Al-Bukhari recorded that Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib said, “The Bahirah is a female camel whose milk was spared for the idols and no one was allowed to milk it. The Sa’ibah is a female camel let loose for free pasture for the idols, and nothing was allowed to be carried on it. Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(I saw `Amr bin `Amir Al-Khuza`i pulling his intestines behind him in the Fire, and he was the first to start the practice of Sa’ibah.) As for the Wasilah, it is a female camel set free for the idols, because it had given birth to a she-camel in its first delivery and then another she-camel at its second delivery. They used to set such camel free if she gave birth to two females without a male between them. As for the Ham, it is a male camel which would be freed from work for the idols, after it had finished a number of copulations assigned for it. The male camel freed from work in this case is called a Hami.” Muslim and An-Nasa’i recorded this Hadith. Imam Ahmad recorded that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said that the Prophet said,
(The first to start the practice of Sa’ibah and worshipping idols was Abu Khuza`ah, `Amr bin `Amir. I saw him pulling his intestines behind him in the Fire.) The `Amr mentioned in the above Hadith is the son of Luhay bin Qam`ah, one of the chiefs of the tribe of Khuza`ah who were the caretakers of the House of Allah after the tribe of Jurhum, (and before the Prophet’s tribe, Quraysh). He was the first to change the religion of Ibrahim (Al-Khalil in Makkah) bringing idol worshipping to the area of Hijaz (Western Arabia). He also called the foolish people to worship idols and offer sacrifices to them and started these ignorant rituals concerning the animals as well as other rituals of Jahiliyyah. Allah said in Surat Al-An`am,
(And they assign to Allah a share of the tilth and cattle which He has created…)﴿3:136﴾. As for the Bahirah, `Ali bin Abi Talhah said that Ibn `Abbas said, “It is the female camel that has given delivery five times. After that, they looked at the fifth delivery, if it were a male, they would slaughter it and give it to the men only and not the women. If it were a female, they would cut off its ears and proclaim, `This is a Bahirah (no one is allowed to milk it).”’ As-Suddi and others mentioned a similar statement. As for the Sa’ibah, Mujahid said that it is for sheep, and mentioned a similar meaning as for Bahirah. He said that it delivers six females and then a male, female or two males, and that they then would slaughter it (the newly born sheep) and feed its meat to the men, but not to the woman. Muhammad bin Ishaq said that the Sa’ibah is the female camel that delivers ten females, without giving birth to a single male between them. They would then set it free and no one was allowed to ride it, cut its wool or milk it, except for a guest. Abu Rawq said, “The Sa’ibah was made as such when one goes out for some of his affairs and succeeds in whatever he intended to do. So he would designate a Sa’ibah from his property, a female camel or another type, and would set it free for the idols (in appreciation for his success). Then, whatever this camel gave birth to was set free for the idols too.” As-Suddi said, “When one’s affair was successful, or if he was cured from an illness, or if his wealth increased, he would set some of his wealth free for the idols. Those who would try to acquire any of the Sa’ibah property were punished in this world.” As for the Wasilah, `Ali bin Abi Talhah said that Ibn `Abbas said, “It is the sheep that gives birth seven times, if she gives birth to a male or a female stillborn at its seventh delivery, the men, but not the women, would eat from it. If she gave birth to a female, or a female and a male, they would set them free, proclaiming (about the male in this case), His sister Wasalat (literally, `connected him to being forbidden on us’).” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this statement. `Abdur-Razzaq narrated that Ma`mar said that Az-Zuhri said that Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib said that,
(Or a Wasilah) “It is the female camel that gives delivery to a female and then another female at its second delivery. They would call such a camel a Wasilah, proclaiming that she has Wasalat (connected) between two females without giving birth to a male between them. So they used to cut off the ears of the Wasilah and let it roam free to pasture for their idols.” A similar explanation was reported from Imam Malik bin Anas. Muhammad bin Ishaq said, “The Wasilah sheep is the ewe that gives birth to ten females in five deliveries, giving birth to two females at each delivery. This sheep would be called Wasilah and would be set free. Whatever this sheep delivers afterwards, male or female, would be given to the men, but not the women, but if it delivers a stillborn, men and women would share it!” As for the Ham, Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas said, “If a man’s camel performs ten copulations, they would call him a Ham, `So set him free.,” Similar was reported from Abu Rawq and Qatadah. `Ali bin Abi Talhah said that Ibn `Abbas said, “The Ham is the male camel whose offspring gave birth to their own offspring; they would then proclaim, `This camel has Hama (protected) its back.’ Therefore, they would not carry anything on this male camel, cut his wool, prevent him from grazing wherever he likes or drinking from any pool, even if the pool did not belong to its owner.” Ibn Wahb said, “I heard Malik saying, `As for the Ham, it is the male camel who is assigned a certain number of copulations, and when having finished what was assigned to him, would have peacock feathers placed on him and be set free.”’ Other opinions were also mentioned to explain this Ayah. There is a Hadith on this subject that Ibn Abi Hatim collected from Abu Ishaq As-Subay`i from Al-Ahwas Al-Jushami from his father Malik bin Nadlah who said, “I came to the Prophet wearing old clothes. So he said to me,
(Do you have any property) I said, `Yes.’ He asked,
(What type) I said, `All types; camels, sheep, horses and slaves.’ He said,
(If Allah gives you wealth, then let it show on you.) He then asked,
(Do your camels deliver calves that have full ears) I said, `Yes, and do camels give birth but to whole calves’ He said,
(Do you take the knife and cut off the ears of some of them saying, `This is a Bahirah,’ and tear the ears of some of them and proclaim, `This is Sacred’) I said, `Yes.’ He said,
(Then do not do that, for all the wealth that Allah has given you is allowed for you.) Then he said;
(Allah has not instituted things like Bahirah or a Sa’ibah or a Wasilah or a Ham. ) As for the Bahirah, it is the animal whose ears were cut, one would not allow his wife, daughters, or any of his household to benefit from its wool, hair or milk. But, if it died, they would share it. As for the Sa’ibah, they used to set it free for their idols and announce this fact in the vicinity of the idols. As for the Wasilah, it is the sheep that gives birth to six offspring. When she delivered for the seventh time, they would cut its ears and horns, saying, `It has Wasalat (connected deliveries),’ and they would not slaughter it, hit it or prevent it from drinking from any pool.” This Hadith was narrated with the addition of the explanation of these words in it. In another narration for this Hadith from Abu Ishaq from Abu Al-Ahwas, `Awf bin Malik used his own words (i.e., he explained these words not as a part of the Hadith itself) and this is more sound. Imam Ahmad recorded this Hadith from Sufyan bin `Uyaynah, from Abu Az-Za`ra’ `Amr bin `Amr, from his uncle Abu Al-Ahwas `Awf bin Malik bin Nadlah from his father, Malik bin Nadlah. This narration also does not contain the explanation of Bahirah, Ham etc., that is added to the Hadith above, and Allah knows best. Allah’s statement,
(But those who disbelieve invent lies against Allah, and most of them have no understanding.) means, Allah did not legislate these invented rituals and He does not consider them acts of obedience. Rather, it is the idolators who made them into rituals and acts of worship that they used to draw near to Allah. But they did not and will not help them to draw near to Him, rather, these innovations will only harm them.
(And when it is said to them: “Come to what Allah has revealed and to the Messenger.” They say: “Enough for us is that which we found our fathers following,”) imeaning, if they are called to Allah’s religion, Law and commandments and to avoiding what He prohibited, they say, `The ways and practices that we found our fathers and forefathers following are good enough for us. ` Allah said,
(even though their fathers had no knowledge whatsoever…) That is, even though their fathers did not understand or recognize the truth or find its way. Therefore, who would follow their forefathers, except those who are even more ignorant and misguided than they were
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