(In reference to Jesus (AS) & Christianity)
Adapted from the tafseer by Farhat Hashmi (www.alhudapk.com)
SURAH AL MAIDAH: (Translation by Yusuf Ali)
005.076 : Say: “Will ye worship, besides Allah, something which hath no power either to harm or benefit you? But Allah, – He it is that heareth and knoweth all things.”
005.077 : Say: “O people of the Book! Exceed not in your religion the bounds (of what is proper), trespassing beyond the truth, nor follow the vain desires of people who went wrong in times gone by, – who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the even way”.
Prohibition of Shirk: a rhetorical question: (i.e. How could we be so stupid as to worship something that is inert in its power)
In this ayah (5:76) Allah SWT gives Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) the examples of cultures that came before him and how they worshiped things, people and ideas that could neither benefit them not harm (punish) them, and i.e. they were inert in their power. The cultures before us gave these inert things the power of God thus committing shirk.
Excess in Religion (Stay in the middle)
He (SWT) follows with instructions to be neither excessive nor minimal in the practice of our deen.
What are the examples of excessive?
* Praying 24/7 & ignoring our daily responsibilities
* Fasting every day,
* Become a groupie to a religious personality
* Adoring a televangelist or a pious personality
* The most extreme being: Promoting Jesus (AS) a Prophet of Allah to the status of God, or His son (Astighfirullah)
* Ulemas (learned people of deen) given the status of Saints
* Reverence of the Quran to the extent of paralyzing action. E.g. “I can’t read it in case I make a mistake”
* Excessive taharah spending a lot of hours and water and time to perform simple taharah,
What are examples of minimizing?
* Disrespecting the elders, and the educated people in Deen because if they are given a lot of respect this might lead to excessive elevation of their status.
* Not extending the muslim greeting of salaam, as the other might get an inflated ego
* Not helping someone who is working for the sake of our Deen, incase he might think he is too good or I might elevate his status.
The Quran is a guide for everyone and for all times
The Quran is a guide for people of all levels and types of intellect and the Sunnah is a living example of how to implement the teachings of Allah in our life irrespective of level of education or intelligence. In the life of some of us there will be times when we neither understand nor agree with something said in the Quran. (Astighfirullah)
Allah SWT warns Prophet Muhammad by giving examples of the people in the past and commands muslims: “ nor follow the vain desires of people who went wrong in times gone by”:
What are vain desires (Hawa)? Hawa is defined as those desires of the ego that defy Allah’s commandment.
Who are the people who went wrong in times gone by?
Here the reference is about the Greeks (Unani). (As per Farhat Hashmi’s tafseer and Maulana Maudoodi’s tafseer):
When Christianity spread out of the land of Palestine into Egypt and Greece its teachings encountered civilizations with ancient cultures and philosophies. When Christianity was brought to these cultures, it was accepted in most of its tenets, but those things that either did not appeal to the intellectual elite or were in contradiction to their ancient philosophies were debated in the halls of the intelligentsia and a compromise was reached.
Putting their stamp on Christianity.
The elite intellectualized Christianity and stamped it with their own brand of philosophies. They presented this modified version to the masses as a religion encompassing their ancient traditions with Christianity as taught by Jesus (AS) the Prophet of Allah. Coming from the intellectual elite of Unaan (Greeks) it was accepted readily by the masses who were well entrenched in the ancient philosophies.
The evolution of the concept of Trinity:
This concept evolved from the quarters of the Greek (Unaani) intelligentsia in an attempt to marry the ancient philosophies and views on life with Christianity as preached by Christ(Jesus (AS) the prophet of Allah see earlier ayahs of Surah Al Maidah).
The concept of the world or worldview as contemplated by the intellectual elite in these civilizations particularly the Greek philosophers was based on three things:
1. Existence (Wujood)
2. Life (Hayat)
3. Knowledge (ilm)
Perhaps it was a challenge for those civilizations to accept the concept of One God and give up their philosophies and those aspects that attributed the world to be dominated by the above three philosophies.
Thus the concept of trinity evolved to absorb the above three philosophies into the religion of Allah brought to them by the followers of Jesus (AS) a Prophet of Allah,
Thus Existence was embedded into “the father”, Life was imbued into “the Son” and knowledge came from “the Holy ghost” This satisfied the elite intelligentsia who held a sway over the minds and education of the masses, as well as the people who had brought Christianity to these cultures.
There were sections of the Christian faith that did not appeal to or could not be explained in the light of the ancient philosophies. These sections were then modulated to suit the Greek philosophies and were thus accepted by the masses that looked up to the elite.
Why does Allah SWT give examples from the earlier times?
It is so that current generations may learn from the errors of the past generations and not repeat them. Here the example is in reference to the Nasara (Christians):
The examples given in the Quran regarding the behavior of the Bani Israel and the Nasara are not to demonize them or to elevate the Ummah of Rasool Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) in any manner but to serve as examples of mistakes made by past civilizations and these examples are to serve as a warning for muslims not to repeat them.
What scenarios and ego types lead to mistakes?
Allah SWT also explains in the Quran what are the reasons that lead to these mistakes (Excessive reliance on the intellectual elite instead of following the Quran & and the sunnah).
We as muslims are not to look at the people of the past who made mistakes with glee or with a sense of superiority but with fear & humility and supplication to prevent us from going down the same path.
The guidance in these ayahs 5:76-77 which are flanked by ayahs with the story of Jesus AS) and Mary (AS) is to provide an illustration of what can happen to us if we follow our Hawa, and to prevent the repetition of the same mistakes by this new generation of the Ummah of RasoolAllah (peace and blessings be upon him).
The Lessons from these Ayahs:
1. Do not use other philosophies, or treatises of human thought to change the Quran. The Quran is for all times and for all people here and to come.
2. The Quran is the criteria and the validation for all the past events & Books
3. For Emaan we have to uphold the Quran as truth and believe in the entire Quran, not in bits and pieces that we like (i.e. what our intellectual ego (Hawa) likes), whether we agree with it intellectually or not.
4. As a muslim we believe that the Quran supercedes all human knowledge.
Human knowledge is finite and comes from research and research changes from day to day. Thus it varies with time and experience. Every one cannot understand everything all the time.
What to do if human knowledge collides with the knowledge in the Quran and the Shariah?
We as muslims believe the Quran & Shariah as the final truth.
Dua/supplicaiton: May Allah forgive my mistakes. If any good comes from this article it is from Him (SWT), and if there are any errors they are mine and I seek Istighfaar for them.
May Allah accept my effort to present the tafseer of these ayahs as I understood it from my review.