Surah Al-Ma’idah Ayat 48 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 48
And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations away from what has come to you of the truth. To each of you We prescribed a law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ.
To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute;
Then We revealed the Book to you (O Muhammad!) with Truth, confirming whatever of the Book was revealed before, and protecting and guarding over it. Judge, then, in the affairs of men in accordance with the Law that Allah has revealed, and do not follow their desires in disregard of the Truth which has come to you. For each of you We have appointed a Law and a way of life. And had Allah so willed, He would surely have made you one single community; instead, (He gave each of you a Law and a way of life) in order to test you by what He gave you. Vie, then, one with another in good works. Unto Allah is the return of all of you; and He will then make you understand the truth concerning the matters on which you disagreed.
And We have sent down to you (O Muhammad SAW) the Book (this Quran) in truth, confirming the Scripture that came before it and Mohayminan (trustworthy in highness and a witness) over it (old Scriptures). So judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging away from the truth that has come to you. To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way. If Allah willed, He would have made you one nation, but that (He) may test you in what He has given you; so strive as in a race in good deeds. The return of you (all) is to Allah; then He will inform you about that in which you used to differ.
And unto thee have We revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watcher over it. So judge between them by that which Allah hath revealed, and follow not their desires away from the truth which hath come unto thee. For each We have appointed a divine law and a traced-out way. Had Allah willed He could have made you one community. But that He may try you by that which He hath given you (He hath made you as ye are). So vie one with another in good works. Unto Allah ye will all return, and He will then inform you of that wherein ye differ.
And We have sent down to you the Book with the Truth, sincerely verifying whatever of the Book that was before it, (Literally: between its two hands) and Supremely Hegemonic over it. So judge between them according to what Allah has sent down, and do not ever follow their prejudices away from the Truth that has come to you. To every one of you We have made a legislation and a program. And if Allah had so decided, He would indeed have made you one nation; but (He did not) that He may try you in what He has brought you. So race with each other in the charitable (deeds); to Allah will be your return, altogether; so He will fully inform you of that wherein you used to differ.
We 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.
Quran 5 Verse 48 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Al-Ma’idah ayat 48, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(5:48) Then We revealed the Book to you (O Muhammad!) with Truth, confirming whatever of the Book was revealed before, and protecting and guarding over it. Judge, then, in the affairs of men in accordance with the Law that Allah has revealed, and do not follow their desires in disregard of the Truth which has come to you. For each of you We have appointed a Law and a way of life. And had Allah so willed, He would surely have made you one single community; instead, (He gave each of you a Law and a way of life) in order to test you by what He gave you. Vie, then, one with another in good works. Unto Allah is the return of all of you; and He will then make you understand the truth concerning the matters on which you disagreed.
78. This points to a fact of major significance. It could also have been said that the Qur’an confirms all those parts of the earlier divine books which are still extant in their true and original form. But the sense has been conveyed by employing the word ‘the Book’ rather than ‘the previous Books’. This expression reveals that the Qur’an and all those Books sent down by God at various times and in different languages in reality constitute one and the same Book. Their Author is one and the same; their aim and purpose are the same; their teaching is the same; and the knowledge which they seek to impart to mankind is the same. The difference between these Books lies in their modes of expression, and this was necessarily so since they were addressed to different audiences. It is, therefore, not merely that these divine books support rather than contradict each other but that they are actually different editions of one and the same book – ‘the Book’.
79. In Arabic, haymana, yuhayminu, hayamanah signify ‘to protect, to witness, to keep trust, to back and to support’. The expression ‘haymana al-rajul al-shay’ means that the man protected and guarded the thing. Likewise, ‘haymana al-ta’ir alafirdkhih’ means that the bird took its young ones under the protection of its wings. Once ‘Umar said to the people: ‘Inni da’in fa hayminu’ (‘I am praying; support me by saying amen’). To say that the Qur’an is muhaymin of al-kitab means that it preserves all the true teachings of the earlier divine books; that it has secured them from loss. The Qur’an also confirms those Books in that the contents of the Qur’an testify to the truth of those parts which are indeed from God. The Qur’an is, further, a witness over those Books in the sense that, with its help, the elements which embody true revelations from God can be distinguished from the accretions which have corrupted them. Whatever in these Books accords with the Qur’an is from God, and whatever is not in conformity with it is from human beings.
80. This is a parenthetical phrase, the purpose of which is to elucidate a question which is likely to arise in the mind of the reader who has read the above section and might feel uneasy. The question is: Why do the religious laws propounded by the various Prophets differ in matters of detail even though the Prophets and their Books preach one and the same religion (din) and even confirm and support each other? Why is it that in regard to the prescribed forms of worship, the regulations concerning what is permitted and what is prohibited, and the detailed legal regulations governing the social and collective life, there is some disagreement among the various laws propounded by the different Prophets and the divine Books?
81. This constitutes a detailed answer to the above question (see n. 80). It consists of the following points:
(1) It is a mistake to think that variations in religious laws result from a difference of source. It is God Himself Who altered the legal prescriptions to suit different nations at different times and in different circumstances.
(2) It was indeed possible, by divising one legal code for all human beings, for all men to have been made into one nation (ummah). But one of the many benevolent considerations keeping the religious laws of various Prophets different from one another was that God wanted this difference to become a means of testing people. Those who understand true religion, who have grasped its spirit and essence, and who are aware of the true importance of the different legal prescriptions, always recognize the Truth and accept it whatever its form. They have no hesitation in accepting the new ordinances of God in place of the old ones, in contrast to those who are not conversant with the spirit of true religion and who seem to identify it with a specific body of legal minutiae. Such people have overlaid God-given principles with their own legal deductions, and have sub sequently fossilized this entire amalgam, seeking to preserve it in its entirety. They have grown so attached to it that, in order to preserve it, they spurn every directive which subsequently comes to them from God. In order to distinguish the people of the first category from those of the second God made the legal prescriptions of the various Prophets vary.
(3) The real purpose of all the divine religious laws is the attainment of goodness and righteousness. This purpose can be achieved only when a man obeys whatever commandment he receives from God at a particular time. The proper mode of conduct for people who keep their eyes fixed on this true purpose is to strive for God’s good pleasure rather than quarrel about differences in the legal prescriptions of the various Prophets.
(4) The differences which have arisen because of the unjustified rigidity, prejudice, obduracy and erroneous attitudes of the human mind can be finally settled neither in the debating hall nor on the battlefield. The final judgement will be made by God Himself. Then the reality of everything will be fully uncovered, and it will be clear how much truth and falsehood underlay the squabbles which whole lives were wasted over.
48. And We have sent down to you the Book (this Qur’an) in truth, confirming the Scripture that came before it and Muhayminan over it (old Scriptures). So judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging away from the truth that has come to you. To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way. If Allah willed, He would have made you one nation, but that (He) may test you in what He has given you; so compete in good deeds. The return of you (all) is to Allah; then He will inform you about that in which you used to differ. 49. And so judge between them by what Allah has revealed and follow not their vain desires, but beware of them lest they turn you far away from some of that which Allah has sent down to you. And if they turn away, then know that Allah’s will is to punish them for some sins of theirs. And truly, most men are rebellious. 50. Do they then seek the judgement of (the days of) ignorance And who is better in judgement than Allah for a people who have firm faith.
Allah mentioned the Tawrah that He sent down to His Prophet Musa, the one whom He spoke directly to, praising it, commanding that it should be implemented, before it was abrogated. Allah then mentioned the Injil, praised it and commanded its people to adhere to it and follow it, as we stated. He next mentioned the Glorious Qur’an that He sent down to His honorable servant and Messenger. Allah said,
(And We have sent down to you the Book in truth…) meaning, with the truth that, no doubt, is coming from Allah,
(confirming the Scripture that came before it) meaning, the Divinely Revealed Books that praised the Qur’an and mentioned that it would be sent down from Allah to His servant and Messenger Muhammad . The Qur’an was revealed as was foretold in the previous Scriptures. This fact increased faith in the previous Scriptures for the sincere who have knowledge of these Scriptures, those who adhered to Allah’s commands and Laws and believed in His Messengers. Allah said,
(Say: “Believe in it or do not believe (in it). Verily, those who were given knowledge before it, when it is recited to them, fall down on their faces in humble prostration.” And they say: “Glory be to our Lord! Truly, the promise of our Lord must be fulfilled.”) meaning that they say, the promise of our Lord, concerning the coming of Muhammad by the words of His previous Messengers, will certainly be fulfilled. Allah’s statement,
(and Muhayminan over it) means entrusted over it, according to Sufyan Ath-Thawri who narrated it from Abu Ishaq from At-Tamimi from Ibn `Abbas. `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said, “Muhaymin is, `the Trustworthy’. Allah says that the Qur’an is trustworthy over every Divine Book that preceded it.” This was reported from `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Mujahid, Muhammad bin Ka`b, `Atiyyah, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, `Ata’ Al-Khurasani, As-Suddi and Ibn Zayd. Ibn Jarir said, “The Qur’an is trustworthy over the Books that preceded it. Therefore, whatever in these previous Books conforms to the Qur’an is true, and whatever disagrees with the Qur’an is false.” Al-Walibi said that Ibn `Abbas said that Muhayminan means, `Witness’. Mujahid, Qatadah and As-Suddi said the same. Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas said that Muhayminan means, `dominant over the previous Scriptures’. These meanings are similar, as the word Muhaymin includes them all. Consequently, the Qur’an is trustworthy, a witness, and dominant over every Scripture that preceded it. This Glorious Book, which Allah revealed as the Last and Final Book, is the most encompassing, glorious and perfect Book of all times. The Qur’an includes all the good aspects of previous Scriptures and even more, which no previous Scripture ever contained. This is why Allah made it trustworthy, a witness and dominant over all Scriptures. Allah promised that He will protect the Qur’an and swore by His Most Honorable Self,
(Verily, We, it is We Who have sent down the Dhikr and surely, We will guard it (from corruption).) Allah said,
(So judge between them by what Allah has revealed.) The Ayah commands: O Muhammad! Rule between the people, Arabs and non-Arabs, lettered and unlettered, by what Allah has revealed to you in this Glorious Book and what it approves of for you from the Law of the previous Prophets, as Ibn Jarir said. Ibn Abi Hatim reported that Ibn `Abbas said, “The Prophet had the choice to judge between them or to turn away from them and refer them to their own Law. Then this Ayah was revealed,
(So judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and follow not their vain desires. ..) and he was commanded to judge between them by our Book.”. Allah’s statement
(and follow not their vain desires…) This means the ideas they promote, because of which they turned away from what Allah revealed to His Messengers. This is why Allah said,
(And follow not their vain desires, diverging away from the truth that has come to you.) The Ayah commands: Do not diverge from the truth that Allah has ordained for you, to the vain desires of these miserable, ignorant people. Allah’s statement,
(To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way.)
(To each among you, We have prescribed a law) Shir`at meaning, a clear path, as Ibn Abi Hatim recorded from Ibn `Abbas.
(If Allah willed, He would have made you one nation.) This is a general proclamation to all nations informing them of Allah’s mighty ability. If Allah wills, He would make all mankind follow one religion and one Law, that would never be abrogated. Allah decided that every Prophet would have his own distinct law that is later abrogated partially or totally with the law of a latter Prophet. Later on, all previous laws were abrogated by the Law that Allah sent with Muhammad , His servant and Messenger, whom Allah sent to the people of earth as the Final Prophet. Allah said,
(If Allah willed, He would have made you one nation, but that (He) may test you in what He has given you.) This Ayah means, Allah has instituted different laws to test His servants’ obedience to what He legislates for them, thus, He rewards or punishes them according to their actions and what they intend. `Abdullah bin Kathir said that the Ayah,
(In what He has given you.) means, of the Book. Next, Allah encouraged rushing to perform good deeds,
(so strive as in a race in good deeds.) which are obedience to Allah, following His Law that abrogated the laws that came before it, and believing in His Book, the Qur’an, which is the Final Book that He revealed. Allah said next,
(The return of you (all) is to Allah;) Therefore, O people, your return and final destination is to Allah on the Day of Resurrection,
(then He will inform you about that in which you used to differ.) Allah will inform you about the truth in which you used to differ and will reward the sincere, as compensation for their sincerity, and will punish the disbelieving, rebellious people who rejected the truth and deviated from it to other paths, without proof or evidence to justify their actions. Rather, they have rejected the clear evidences, unequivocal proofs and established signs. Ad-Dahhak said that,
(So strive as in a race in good deeds.)is directed at the Ummah of Muhammad , but the first view is more apparent. Allah’s statement,
(And so judge between them by what Allah has revealed and follow not their vain desires,) emphasizes this command and forbids ignoring it. Allah said next,
(but beware of them lest they turn you far away from some of that which Allah has sent down to you. ) meaning; beware of the Jews, your enemies, lest they distort the truth for you in what they convey to you. Therefore, do not be deceived by them, for they are liars, treacherous and disbelievers.
(And if they turn away,) from the judgement that you pass in their disputes, and they defy Allah’s Law,
(then know that Allah’s will is to punish them for some sins of theirs.) meaning, know that this will occur according to the decree of Allah, and because out of His wisdom they have deviated from the truth, and because of their previous sins.
(And truly, most men are rebellious.) Therefore, the majority of humans are disobedient to their Lord, defiant of the truth and deviate away from it. Allah said in other Ayat,
(And most people will not believe even if you desire it eagerly,) and,
(And if you obey most of those on the earth they will mislead you far away from Allah’s path.) Muhammad bin Ishaq reported that Ibn `Abbas said, “Ka`b bin Asad, Ibn Saluba, `Abdullah bin Surya and Shas bin Qays said to each other, `Let us go to Muhammad to try and misguide him from his religion.’ So they went to the Prophet and said, `O Muhammad! You know that we are the scholars, noblemen and chiefs of the Jews. If we follow you, the Jews will follow suit and will not contradict us. But, there is enmity between us and some of our people, so we will refer to you for judgement in this matter, and you should rule in our favor against them and we will believe in you.’ The Messenger of Allah refused the offer and Allah sent down these Ayat about them,
(And so judge between them by what Allah has revealed and follow not their vain desires, but beware of them lest they turn you far away from some of that which Allah has sent down to you.) until,
(for a people who have firm faith.)” Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this Hadith. Allah continues,
(Do they then seek the judgement of (the days of) ignorance And who is better in judgement than Allah for a people who have firm faith) Allah criticizes those who ignore Allah’s commandments, which include every type of righteous good thing and prohibit every type of evil, but they refer instead to opinions, desires and customs that people themselves invented, all of which have no basis in Allah’s religion. During the time of Jahiliyyah, the people used to abide by the misguidance and ignorance that they invented by sheer opinion and lusts. The Tatar (Mongols) abided by the law that they inherited from their king Genghis Khan who wrote Al-Yasiq, for them. This book contains some rulings that were derived from various religions, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Many of these rulings were derived from his own opinion and desires. Later on, these rulings became the followed law among his children, preferring them to the Law of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger . Therefore, whoever does this, he is a disbeliever who deserves to be fought against, until he reverts to Allah’s and His Messenger’s decisions, so that no law, minor or major, is referred to except by His Law. Allah said,
(Do they then seek the judgement of (the days of) ignorance) meaning, they desire and want this and ignore Allah’s judgement,
(And who is better in judgement than Allah for a people who have firm faith) Who is more just in decision than Allah for those who comprehend Allah’s Law, believe in Him, who are certain that Allah is the best among those who give decisions and that He is more merciful with His creation than the mother with her own child Allah has perfect knowledge of everything, is able to do all things, and He is just in all matters. Al-Hafiz Abu Al-Qasim At-Tabarani recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(The most hated person to Allah is the Muslim who seeks the ways of the days of ignorance and he who seeks to shed the blood of a person without justification.) Al-Bukhari recorded Abu Al-Yaman narrating a similar Hadith, with some addition.
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