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5:41-43 They change the words from their (right) times and places

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 O Messenger! let not those grieve thee, who race each other into unbelief: (whether it be) among those who say “We believe” with their lips but whose hearts have no faith; or it be among the Jews,- men who will listen to any lie,- will listen even to others who have never so much as come to thee. They change the words from their (right) times and places: they say, “If ye are given this, take it, but if not, beware!” If any one’s trial is intended by Allah, thou hast no authority in the least for him against Allah. For such – it is not Allah’s will to purify their hearts. For them there is disgrace in this world, and in the Hereafter a heavy punishment.

(They are fond of) listening to falsehood, of devouring anything forbidden. If they do come to thee, either judge between them, or decline to interfere. If thou decline, they cannot hurt thee in the least. If thou judge, judge in equity between them. For Allah loveth those who judge in equity.

But why do they come to thee for decision, when they have (their own) law before them?- therein is the (plain) command of Allah; yet even after that, they would turn away. For they are not (really) People of Faith.


Mention has already been made of the fact that Jews were living in Madinah
for a long time prior to the advent of the Holy Prophet pl-y «le aI le. When the
Holy Prophet pl+s ale ai le arrived in Madinah, they refused to accept him
despite knowing that he was the true messenger of Allah as described in their
scriptures. Besides a few of them, they ceaselessly plotted against him and
opposed him on every front. With them were the Hypocrite (Mundfiqin) who
posed as Muslims but were disbelievers (Kuffar) by heart.


Like the Shari‘ah of Islam, the Torah also contained the injunction that a
married adulterer be stoned to death (called “Rajm’). The Jews, however,
concealed this law. During the time of the Holy Prophet privy ale ail be, a married
Jewish lady committed adultery. The Jews decided to approach the Holy Prophet
(S) to issue a verdict with regard to her since they felt that he would
pass a lighter penalty because his Shari’ah was more lenient than theirs. They
also thought that in this way they would be able to offer an excuse to Allah that they had acted on the verdict of His messenger. [Abu Dawid v. 2 p.255]

According to a narration in “Ma’alimut Tanzil’(v. 2 p.36) a leading
personality amongst the Jews of Khaybar committed adultery with a certain
woman. Both were married and were to be stoned to death according to the
Torah.. The Jews were reluctant to enforce this law since he was one of their
leaders, so they decided to refer the matter to the Holy Prophet (S)
since his book (the Qur’an) did not contain the law of rajm.

Consequently, they sent a message to the Jewish tribe of Bani Quraizah in
Madinah telling them to seek a verdict from the Holy Prophet (S) with
regard to the adultery of a married man and woman. They also made it clear to
them to accept the verdict of lashing, but to reject one of rajm (Stoned to death).
The Jews of the Bani Quraizah told them that the Holy Prophet (S)
would pass the verdict that they most feared.

The leader of the Jews then approached the Holy Prophet(S) and
requested him to pass judgement.

The Holy Prophet (S) first asked them whether they were
prepared to accept his verdict. When they agreed to do so, the Holy Prophet (S) ruled that rajm be enforced. They refused to accept the verdict.

Jibr’il (AS) appeared before the Holy Prophet (S) and
instructed him to allow a Jew by the name of Ibn Suriya to mediate. Ibn Suriya
was a one-eyed scholar of the Jews. The Holy Prophet (S) summoned
Ibn Suriya and asked the Jews whether they recognised him. They replied by
saying that none on earth was more learned of the injunctions of the Torah than
he. They also agreed when the Holy Prophet (S) told them that Ibn
Suriya would issue the verdict about the matter on hand.

The Holy Prophet (S) then turned to Ibn Suriya and said, “I want
you to swear on oath by that Allah besides whom there is no other deity. By Him
Who revealed the Torah to Sayyidina Musa (AS), who rescued you from
Egypt and split the ocean for you. By Him Who shaded you with the clouds and
provided Manna and Salwa to you. Do you find in the Torah the injunction that a
married adulterer is to be stoned to death?”

Ibn Suriya admitted, “Yes! I swear by the Being by Whom you have asked
me to swear that the injunction of rajm is present in the Torah. If I had not the
fear of lying and of burning due to changing the laws of the Torah, I would never
have admitted to it.” The Holy Prophet (S) asked them since when had
they adopted this practice of circumnavigating the law of Allah. Ibn Suriya
replied that whenever a noble person committed adultery, the Jews would ignore
it and not enforce the penalty. However, when another person did so, he would
be punished. “In this way,” he said, “adultery was rife among the noble people.”
He continued, “It once occurred that the son of our king’s uncle committed
adultery and was not stoned. Later a common person also conmitted this vile act
and, when we wanted to stone him, his family protested saying that they will not
hand him over for execution until the king’s cousin was stoned. It was then
decided that a standard form of punishment be meted to one and all. We then
resolved that the married adulterer be lashed forty lashes with a rope covered in his face was then blackened and he was paraded throughout the streets
riding on a donkey while sitting with his face towards the back of the animal.”

The Jews disliked that this had now surfaced and Ibn Suriya said, “I would .
have never said this if I did not have the fear that the Torah would be defiled.”

Thereafter the Holy Prophet (S) had the guilty couple stoned near
the Masjid and submitted to Allah saying, “O Allah I am the first to revive Your
injunction that was stifled by the Jews.” On this occasion Allah revealed the
above verses.

Allah says, “O messenger (S), let not those people depress you who
hasten in disbelief of such who say with their. mouths, ‘We believe!’ but their hearts do
not believe. And of such who are from the Jews, eagerly hearkening to lies…” te.
Listening to the words of the Holy Prophet so that they may
attribute such things to him that he never said.

“….and eagerly listening for another nation that have not come to you (to pass
news to them).” ie. They spy for others, referring to the Bani Quraizah spying for
the Jews of Khaibar.

Sayyidina Abdullah bin Umar (RA), narrates that the Jews once came to
the Holy Prophet (S) mentioning that a Jewish man and woman had
committed adultery. The Holy Prophet (S) asked them what was
written in the Torah with regard to stoning (rajm). They said that the Torah
stated that these people should be disgraced and lashed. Sayyidina Abdullah bin
Salam, (RA) (who was a learned Jewish scholar before accepting Islam)
interrupted by saying, “You are lying! Most certainly, the verse of rajm is written
in the Torah. Bring the Torah!” When they brought the Torah and opened it, the
person reciting therefrom placed his hand over the verse containing mention of
stoning (rajm) and read only what was before and after it.

Sayyidina Abdullah Bin Salam (RA) told him to lift his hand,
whereupon the verse of rajm was made evident. The person then admitted that
the verse was present and the adulterers were stoned to death.


‘ “They change words from their places…” They altered the law of rajm (stoning)
and replaced it with an easier law. Even when they came to the Holy Prophet
(S) they were reluctant to practise Allah’s law and sought some
leniency from him.

“and say, ‘If you receive this order then accept it and if you do not receive it,
then avoid it.” They wanted a concession in the law and were not prepared to
accept a verdict that was not appealing to them. When a person resolves to
remain upon disbelief (kufr) and hastens to it, Allah will not guide him.

Regarding these people Allah continues, “Whomsoever Allah desires to cast
” into strife, you shall never be able to assist him against Allah. These are the ones whose
hearts Allah does not intend to purify. For them shall be humiliation in this world and an
awful punishment in the Akhirah (Hereafter).”
Surah Al-Maidah 5: 41-43 79 Anwar-ul-Bayan (vy. 3)


“Eager listeners to lies, ardent devourers of the unlawful!”

Commentators mention that this verse refers to the Jewish authorities, who
accepted bribes from people and eagerly listened only to one side of the story,
passing judgement in favour of those who bribed them. They paid no heed to the
person who had not bribed them irrespective of how oppressed he may be.

The Arabic word used for the “unlawful” in this verse is “suht’, which
actually means to uproot something totally. It is also used for bribery because
justice and equity are completely uprooted from the judicial system when
bribery is rife. The Holy Prophet (S) said, “Allah has cursed the one
who gives a bribe, the one who, accepts it and the one who acts as a medium
between the two.” [Mishkat p. 326]

Although bribery is Unlawful (Haram) for all, it is especially forbidden for
judges and magistrates since it will cause them to pass oppressive verdicts,
resulting in grievous consequences in both worlds.


Sayyidina Amr bin Al As (RA), reports that the Holy Prophet (S) said, “The nation among whom fornication is rife shall be afflicted by
droughts. The nation among whom bribery is rife shall be afflicted with fear.”
[Mishkat p. 313]

Sayyidina Ibn Abbas (RA), is reported to have stated, “The nation among
whom corruption is rife will be inflicted with fear and the people among whom
fornication is rampant shall have excessive deaths. Sustenance shall be straitened
of those who cheat in weight and measurement and murder shall become the
order of the day for those people who judge unjustly. Their enemy shall
overpower people who breach trusts.”

Muslims should ponder deeply about these words. Much of this has
afflicted people of the past and can be witnessed even today.


Bribery is not confined to paying a judge to issue a verdict in one’s favour.
Bribery entails accepting payment for something that is one’s binding
responsibility or for which one is being paid. An example is a person employed
in a court (not an oppressive one since working there is not permissible). He
cannot accept remuneration for doing anything that is already part of his job,
since he is being paid.

A magistrate is bound to judge with equity and therefore cannot accept
payment from any of the opposing parties. If he accepts a bribe and passes
judgement in favour of the bribing party, he will be guilty of oppression and
even his normal salary will be Unlawful (Haram) for him since he had not
discharged the responsibility for which he is being paid.

People hasten to give gifts to those who are appointed to positions of
authority. These are not gifts, but bribes because a reciprocal favour is desired
thereby. It is for this reason that the jurists have mentioned that a magistrate may
accept gifts only from those people from whom he had been receiving gifts prior
to his appointment as magistrate. What others give is regarded as bribes.

Sayyidina Umar bin Abdul Aziz «le i a, was presented with a gift from
one of his close associates during his reign as caliph (Khalifa). He told the courier
slave to return the gift. When the slave aliercated that even the Holy Prophet .J-
prey tele a accepted gifts, the caliph (Khalifa) replied, “Those were gifts to the Holy
Prophet ,L-) ale a! lL», but are bribes for us today.” [Tarikhul Khulafa]

Lesson: The wealth that is given (besides the dowry) when a proposal for
marriage is presented is a considered to be a bribe. It will also be a bribe to pay
someone to intercede for something. It is also considered a bribe to pay an officer
who works in a court.

“If they come to you [O Muhammad (L-y le i Le] then judge between them or
ignore them. If you ignore them they cannot harm you in the least.”

The Holy Prophet (S) had the option initially when the Jews were
not considered to be “Dhimmis” but merely agreed with the Muslims that they
would assist the Muslims in war. It will be Compulsory (Wajib) to judge between
Dhimmis who request judgement. This will be discussed later under the verse,
“Judge between them by what Allah has revealed to you and do not follow their whims”
(verse 48 of this Surah).


“If you judge, then judge between them with equity. Verily Allah loves the just
ones.” This instruction is clear and has passed on numerous occasions.

“How can they seek judgement from you when they have with them the Torah,
wherein is Allah ‘s order and thereafter they turn away? These people are not believers.”
Their only objective in coming to the Holy Prophet -l- «le ai Le was that they
receive a lighter verdict and they were never prepared to accept anything else.

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Madani, Muhammad. Anwar ul Bayan. (vol. 3 surah 5 verses 41-43).

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