Surah Al-Ma’idah >> Currently viewing Surah Al-Ma’idah Ayat 12 (5:12)

Surah Al-Ma’idah Ayat 12 in Arabic Text

وَلَقَدْ أَخَذَ ٱللَّهُ مِيثَـٰقَ بَنِىٓ إِسْرَٰٓءِيلَ وَبَعَثْنَا مِنْهُمُ ٱثْنَىْ عَشَرَ نَقِيبًۭا ۖ وَقَالَ ٱللَّهُ إِنِّى مَعَكُمْ ۖ لَئِنْ أَقَمْتُمُ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتَيْتُمُ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَءَامَنتُم بِرُسُلِى وَعَزَّرْتُمُوهُمْ وَأَقْرَضْتُمُ ٱللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًۭا لَّأُكَفِّرَنَّ عَنكُمْ سَيِّـَٔاتِكُمْ وَلَأُدْخِلَنَّكُمْ جَنَّـٰتٍۢ تَجْرِى مِن تَحْتِهَا ٱلْأَنْهَـٰرُ ۚ فَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ مِنكُمْ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ سَوَآءَ ٱلسَّبِيلِ
Wa laqad akhazal laahu meesaaqa Banee Israaa’eela wa ba’asnaa minhumus nai ‘ashara naqeebanw wa qaalal laahu innee ma’akum la’in aqamtumus Salaata wa aataitumuz Zakaata wa aamantum bi Rusulee wa’azzartumoohum wa aqradtumul laaha qardan hasanal la ukaffiranna ‘ankum saiyiaatikum wa la udkhilan nakum Jannaatin tajree min tahtihal anhaar; faman kafara ba’da zaalika minkum faqad dalla sawaaa’as Sabeel

English Translation

Here you can read various translations of verse 12

Sahih International
And Allah had already taken a covenant from the Children of Israel, and We delegated from among them twelve leaders. And Allah said, “I am with you. If you establish prayer and give zakah and believe in My messengers and support them and loan Allah a goodly loan, I will surely remove from you your misdeeds and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow. But whoever of you disbelieves after that has certainly strayed from the soundness of the way.”

Yusuf Ali
Allah did aforetime take a covenant from the Children of Israel, and we appointed twelve captains among them. And Allah said: “I am with you: if ye (but) establish regular prayers, practise regular charity, believe in my messengers, honour and assist them, and loan to Allah a beautiful loan, verily I will wipe out from you your evils, and admit you to gardens with rivers flowing beneath; but if any of you, after this, resisteth faith, he hath truly wandered from the path or rectitude.”

Abul Ala Maududi
Surely Allah took a covenant with the Children of Israel, and We raised up from them twelve of their leaders, and Allah said: ‘Behold, I am with you; if you establish Prayer and pay Zakah and believe in My Prophets and help them, and lend Allah a good loan, I will certainly efface from you your evil deeds, and will surely cause you to enter the Gardens beneath which rivers flow. Whosoever of you disbelieves thereafter has indeed gone astray from the right way.

Muhsin Khan
Indeed Allah took the covenant from the Children of Israel (Jews), and We appointed twelve leaders among them. And Allah said: “I am with you if you perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) and give Zakat and believe in My Messengers; honour and assist them, and lend to Allah a good loan. Verily, I will remit your sins and admit you to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise). But if any of you after this, disbelieved, he has indeed gone astray from the Straight Path.”

Pickthall
Allah made a covenant of old with the Children of Israel and We raised among them twelve chieftains, and Allah said: Lo! I am with you. If ye establish worship and pay the poor-due, and believe in My messengers and support them, and lend unto Allah a kindly loan, surely I shall remit your sins, and surely I shall bring you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow. Whoso among you disbelieveth after this will go astray from a plain road.

Dr. Ghali
And indeed Allah already took compact with the Seeds (Or: sons) of , Israel) and We sent forth among them twelve chieftains. And Allah said, “Surely I am with you, indeed in case you keep up the prayer, and bring the Zakat, (i.e., pay the poor-dues) and believe in My Messengers, and rally to them in assistance, and lend to Allah a fair loan, indeed I will definitely expiate for you your odious deeds, and indeed I will definitely cause you to enter Gardens from beneath which Rivers run. So whoever of you disbelieves after that, then he has already erred away from the level way.

Abdel Haleem
God took a pledge from the Children of Israel. We made twelve leaders arise among them, and God said, ‘I am with you: if you keep up the prayer, pay the prescribed alms, believe in My messengers and support them, and lend God a good loan, I will wipe out your sins and admit you into Gardens graced with flowing streams. Any of you who now ignore this [pledge] will be far from the right path.’

Quran 5 Verse 12 Explanation

For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Al-Ma’idah ayat 12, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.

Ala-Maududi

(5:12) Surely Allah took a covenant with the Children of Israel, and We raised up from them twelve of their leaders,[31] and Allah said: ‘Behold, I am with you; if you establish Prayer and pay Zakah and believe in My Prophets and help them,[32] and lend Allah a good loan,[33] I will certainly efface from you your evil deeds,[34] and will surely cause you to enter the Gardens beneath which rivers flow. Whosoever of you disbelieves thereafter has indeed gone astray from the right way.[35]


31. The word naqib in Arabic denotes supervisor and censor. There were twelve tribes among the Israelites and each tribe was required to appoint one of its members as a naqib, to look after their affairs and try to prevent them from becoming victims of irreligiousness and moral corruption. Although the Book of Numbers in the Bible does mention these twelve men, it does not seem to convey the sense of their being religious and moral mentors, as the term naqib employed by the Qur’an does. The Bible simply mentions them as the chiefs and dignitaries of their tribes.

32. The assurance of God’s support is made conditional upon their continuous response to the call of God and for support of His Prophets.

33. This expression signifies spending one’s wealth for the sake of God. Since God has promised to return to man every penny that he spends in His way along with His reward, which will be several-fold, the Qur’an characterizes this spending as a loan to God. This spending is considered a loan provided it is a ‘good loan’, that is, provided the money spent in the cause of God has been acquired by legitimate means and has been spent in accordance with the laws of God and with sincerity and earnestness.

34. To efface someone’s evil deeds signifies two things. First, that if a man decides to follow the Straight Path and strives to follow God’s directives in both thought and action his soul will be purged of many evils and his way of life will gradually become free of corruption. Second, if, in spite of this reform, weaknesses still persist in a man’s life he is assured that God will not punish him and will have his failing erased from his record. For God is not too exacting over trivial errors, providing a man has sincerely accepted the basic guidance and reformed his character.

35. That is, they once found the ‘right way’ and then allowed it to be lost and thus put themselves on the road to perdition. We have translated the Qur’anic expression ‘sawa’ al-sabil’ as the ‘right way’ for the sake of brevity. A better rendering could be, ‘the highroad of balance and moderation’, but even this would fail to bring out the meaning fully.

In order to grasp the full significance of what is being said here one should bear in mind that in himself man constitutes a microcosm of society. He has innumerable powers and potentialities, myriad desires, feelings and inclinations, and a host of divergent urges. Social life consists of a huge network of complex relationships, and with the growth of civilization and culture the complexity of these relationships increases. There is also a rich fund of resources in the world and there are countless possibilities for their utilization; as a result, man is confronted with a plethora of choices and problems.

The fact that man has inherent limitations means that he is incapable of viewing in one sweep and in a balanced way the entire span of existence. Hence, man is in no position to prescribe for his kind a judicious way of life – a way of life wherein justice is done to all his powers and capacities; in which a wholesome balance is maintained between all his inherent potentialities; in which all his urges are given their due; in which his two-fold need for inner satisfaction and external self-realization is fully met; in which various aspects of human life are taken into proper consideration, giving birth to an integrated scheme with a built-in capacity to harmonize the multifarious strains and stresses of social life; in which material resources are fully exploited in the best interests of both the individual and society and within the framework of equity, justice and righteousness. When man takes upon himself the task of prescribing the guidelines for his life and becomes his own law-maker, his mind tends to become preoccupied with one specific aspect of human life, with one of the numerous demands of his nature, with one of the myriad problems calling for solution. His mental involvement is liable to be so intense that he adopts – consciously or otherwise – an unjust attitude towards all the other aspects, requirements and problems of human life. Consequently, when such opinions are imposed, the balance which ought to prevail in man’s life is disrupted and he begins to swing either towards one extreme or the other. Gradually, this deviation assumes intolerable proportions. A reaction sets in, and justice is demanded for the neglected aspects of human life. Still, human life remains deprived of justice. The reason for this failure is that man’s reaction to imbalance is itself devoid of balance. The new dispensation in turn persists in excessive preoccupation with either one specific aspect, problem or requirement of human life at the expense of all the others. Thus human life is denied judicious and balanced progress. Man continues to stumble hither and thither; from one form of self-destruction to another. All courses of life charted by man himself are winding and crooked. They move in the wrong direction, reach the wrong end and then turn back in another wrong direction.

Among these numerous ways – all false – there is just one way that lies exactly in the middle. This way alone does full justice to all of man’s various potentialities and urges, to all his instincts and predispositions, to all the multifarious claims of both the body and the spirit; in short, to all aspects of his life. In this way there is no crookedness; it is the one course of life in which nothing is given either too much consideration or too little, and nothing suffers inequity and injustice. Man’s very nature thirsts for such a way, and the succession of revolts against false ways of life is merely a manifestation of his constant quest for this right and straight way. Left to himself, man is incapable of charting this way. It is God alone Who can direct him to it; and indeed the Prophets were sent for this very purpose.

The Qur’an designates this way as sawa al-sabil (‘the right way’) in the present verse and elsewhere as al-sirat al-mustaqim (‘the straight way’). (See Towards Understanding the Qur’an, vol. I, (Surah 1, verse 5, and n. 8.) This is the road which goes amidst the countless winding and crooked paths of life; the road which leads man, disregarding all the curved and crooked paths, straight on to his success, right from this world to the Hereafter. Whoever goes along it enjoys rectitude in this world and success and felicity in the Next, but whoever loses this road is bound to become a victim of false beliefs and false ways of conduct and thus comes to have a wrong orientation in life. This will lead him to Hell, where all bent and crooked paths end. The following illustrates man’s dilemma.

In modern times some philosophers have been so impressed by this constant swinging in human life, from one extreme to another, as to have mistakenly argued that the dialectical process is the natural course of human life. They conclude, therefore, that the only way for human life to progress is that a thesis should first swing it in one direction, and then an antithesis swing it in the opposite direction, after which there will emerge a synthesis which constitutes the course of human progress. These curved lines from one extreme to the other do not indicate the correct course of human progress. Rather they represent the tragic stumblings which again and again obstruct the true progress of human life. Every extreme thesis sets life on a certain course and continues to pull it in that direction for some time. When human life is thus thrown off its ‘right course’ the result is that certain realities of life – which had not received their due – rise up in revolt, and this revolt often assumes the form of an antithesis. This revolt begins to pull life in the opposite direction. As the ‘right way’ is approached the conflicting ideas – the thesis and antithesis – begin to effect some kind of mutual compromise, leading to the emergence of a synthesis. This synthesis comprises many elements conducive to the good of mankind. But since societies which do not submit to the guidance of the Prophets are deprived both of the signposts that might indicate the ‘right way’ and of faith to help steady man’s feet thereon this synthesis does not permit human life to maintain the golden mean. Its momentum is so powerful that it once more pushes life to the opposite extreme. At this point, certain realities are once again denied their due, with the result that another antithesis emerges in reaction to the iniquities of the earlier ideology. Had the light of the Qur’an been available to these short-sighted philosophers, and had they been able to perceive the ‘right way’ envisaged by the Qur’an, they would have realized that this was the true course of human progress.

Ibn-Kathir

12. Indeed, Allah took the covenant from the Children of Israel (Jews), and We appointed twelve leaders among them. And Allah said: “I am with you if you perform the Salah and give the Zakah and believe in My Messengers; honor and assist them, and lend to Allah a good loan, verily, I will remit your sins and admit you to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise). But if any of you after this, disbelieved, he has indeed gone astray from the straight way.” 13. So, because of their breach of their covenant, We cursed them and made their hearts grow hard. They changed the words from their (right) places and have abandoned a good part of the Message that was sent to them. And you will not cease to discover deceit in them, except a few of them. But forgive them and overlook (their misdeeds). Verily, Allah loves the doers of good. 14. And from those who call themselves Christians, We took their covenant, but they have abandoned a good part of the Message that was sent to them. So We planted amongst them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection; and Allah will inform them of what they used to do.


Cursing the People of the Book for Breaking the Covenant

Allah commanded His believing servants to fullfil the promises and pledges that He took from them and which they gave His servant and Messenger, Muhammad, peace be upon him. Allah also commanded them to stand for the truth and give correct testimony. He also reminded them of the obvious and subtle favors of the truth and guidance that He granted them. Next, Allah informed them of the pledges and promises that He took from the People of the Book, who were before them, the Jews and Christians. When they broke these promises and covenants, Allah cursed them as a consequence and expelled them from His grace and mercy. He also sealed their hearts from receiving guidance and the religion of truth, beneficial knowledge and righteous actions. Allah said,

﴿وَلَقَدْ أَخَذَ اللَّهُ مِيثَـقَ بَنِى إِسْرَءِيلَ وَبَعَثْنَا مِنهُمُ اثْنَىْ عَشَرَ نَقِيباً﴾

(Indeed Allah took the covenant from the Children of Israel and We appointed twelve leaders among them.) These twelve people were leaders who gave the pledge to Allah to listen and obey Allah, His Messenger and His Book on behalf of their tribes. Muhammad bin Ishaq and Ibn `Abbas said that this occurred when Musa went to fight the mighty enemy (in Palestine), and Allah commanded him to choose a leader from every tribe.

The Leaders of Ansar on the Night of `Aqabah

Likewise, when the Messenger of Allah took the pledge from the Ansar in the `Aqabah area, there were twelve leaders from the Ansar. There were three men from the tribe of Aws: Usayd bin Al-Hudayr, Sa`d bin Khaythamah and Rifa`ah bin `Abdul-Mundhir, or Abu Al-Haytham bin At-Tayhan. There were nine people from the tribe of Khazraj: Abu Umamah As`ad bin Zurarah, Sa`d bin Ar-Rabi`, `Abdullah bin Rawahah, Rafi` bin Malik bin Al-`Ajlan, Al-Bara’ bin Ma`rur, `Ubadah bin As-Samit, Sa`d bin `Ubadah, `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Haram and Al-Mundhir bin `Umar bin Khunays. Ka`b bin Malik mentioned these men in his poem, as recorded by Ibn Ishaq.On that night, these men were the leaders or representatives of their tribes by the command of the Prophet . They gave the pledge and promise of allegiance and obedience to the Prophet on behalf of their people. Allah said,

﴿وَقَالَ اللَّهُ إِنِّى مَعَكُمْ﴾

(And Allah said, “I am with you…) with My protection, support and aid,

﴿لَئِنْ أَقَمْتُمُ الصَّلوةَ وَءَاتَيْتُمْ الزَّكَوةَ وَءَامَنتُمْ بِرُسُلِى﴾

(if you perform the Salah and give the Zakah and believe in My Messengers;) concerning what they bring you of the revelation,

﴿وَعَزَّرْتُمُوهُمْ﴾

(honor and assist them…) and support them on the truth,

﴿وَأَقْرَضْتُمُ اللَّهَ قَرْضاً حَسَناً﴾

(and lend to Allah a good loan…) by spending in His cause, seeking to please Him.

﴿لأُكَفِّرَنَّ عَنْكُمْ سَيِّئَـتِكُمْ﴾

(verily, I will remit your sins) and errors, I will erase them, cover them, and will not punish you for them,

﴿وَلأدْخِلَنَّكُمْ جَنَّـتٍ تَجْرِى مِن تَحْتِهَا الاٌّنْهَـرُ﴾

(and admit you to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise).) thus, protecting you from what you fear and granting you what you seek.

Breaking the Covenant

Allah said,

﴿فَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ مِنْكُمْ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ سَوَآءَ السَّبِيلِ﴾

(But if any of you after this, disbelieved, he has indeed gone astray from the straight way.) Therefore, those who break this covenant, even though they pledged and vowed to keep it, yet, they broke it and denied it ever existed, they have avoided the clear path and deviated from the path of guidance to the path of misguidance. Allah then mentioned the punishment that befell those who broke His covenant and the pledge they gave Him,

﴿فَبِمَا نَقْضِهِم مِّيثَـقَهُمْ لَعنَّـهُمْ﴾

(So because of their breach of their covenant, We cursed them…) Allah states, because of their breaking the promise that We took from them, We cursed them, deviated them away from the truth, and expelled them from guidance,

﴿وَجَعَلْنَا قُلُوبَهُمْ قَاسِيَةً﴾

(and made their hearts grow hard…) and they do not heed any word of advice that they hear, because of the hardness of their hearts.

﴿يُحَرِّفُونَ الْكَلِمَ عَن مَّوَاضِعِهِ﴾

(They change the words from their (right) places…) Since their comprehension became corrupt, they behaved treacherously with Allah’s Ayat, altering His Book from its apparent meanings which He sent down, and distorting its indications. They attributed to Allah what He did not say, and we seek refuge with Allah from such behavior.

﴿وَنَسُواْ حَظَّا مِّمَّا ذُكِرُواْ بِهِ﴾

(and have abandoned a good part of the Message that was sent to them.) by not implementing it and by ignoring it. Allah said next,

﴿وَلاَ تَزَالُ تَطَّلِعُ عَلَى خَآئِنَةٍ مِّنْهُمْ﴾

(And you will not cease to discover deceit in them,) such as their plots and treachery against you, O Muhammad, and your Companions. Mujahid said that this Ayah refers to their plot to kill the Messenger of Allah .

﴿فَاعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَاصْفَحْ﴾

(But forgive them, and overlook (their misdeeds).) This, indeed, is the ultimate victory and triumph. Some of the Salaf said, “You would never treat those who disobey Allah with you better than obeying Allah with them.” This way, their hearts will gather around the truth and Allah might lead them to the right guidance. This is why Allah said,

﴿إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ﴾

(Verily, Allah loves the doers of good.) Therefore, forgive those who err against you. Qatadah said that this Ayah was abrogated with Allah’s statement,

﴿قَـتِلُواْ الَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَلاَ بِالْيَوْمِ الاٌّخِرِ﴾

(Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day).

The Christians Also Broke their Covenant with Allah and the Repercussion of this Behavior

Allah said,

﴿وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ قَالُواْ إِنَّا نَصَـرَى أَخَذْنَا مِيثَـقَهُمْ﴾

(And from those who call themselves Christians, We took their covenant,) Meaning: `From those who call themselves Christians and followers of `Isa, son of Maryam, while in fact they are not as they claim. We took from them the covenant and pledges that they would follow the Prophet , aid him, honor him and follow his footsteps.’ And that they would believe in every Prophet whom Allah sends to the people of the earth. They imitated the Jews and broke the promises and the pledges. This is why Allah said,

﴿فَنَسُواْ حَظّاً مِّمَّا ذُكِرُواْ بِهِ فَأَغْرَيْنَا بَيْنَهُمُ الْعَدَاوَةَ وَالْبَغْضَآءَ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَـمَةِ﴾

(but they have abandoned a good part of the Message that was sent to them. So We planted amongst them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection;) Meaning: `We planted enmity and hatred between them, and they will remain like this until the Day of Resurrection.’ Indeed, the numerous Christian sects have always been enemies and adversaries of each other, accusing each other of heresy and cursing each other. Each sect among them excommunicates the other sects and does not allow them entrance to their places of worship. The Monarchist sect accuses the Jacobite sect of heresy, and such is the case with the Nestorians and the Arians. Each sect among them will continue to accuse the other of disbelief and heresy in this life and on the Day when the Witnesses will come forth. Allah then said,

﴿وَسَوْفَ يُنَبِّئُهُمُ اللَّهُ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَصْنَعُونَ﴾

(and Allah will inform them of what they used to do.) warning and threatening the Christians because of their lies against Allah and His Messenger and their false claims about Allah, hallowed be He above what they say about Him. The Christians attribute a companion and a son to Allah, while He is the One and Only, the All-Sufficient, Who neither begets nor was He begotten, and there is none like unto Him.

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