Surah al-Ma’idah deals with the following topics:
1. Commandments and Instructions about the Religious, Cultural and Political Life of the Muslims:
In this connection, a code of ceremonial rules concerning the journey for Hajj has been prescribed; the observance of strict respect for the emblems of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has been enjoined; and any kind of obstruction or interference with the pilgrims to the Ka’abah has been prohibited.
Definite rules and regulations have been laid down for what is lawful and unlawful in the matter of food, and self-imposed foolish restrictions of the pre-Islamic age have been abolished. Permission has been given to take food with the people of the Book and to marry their women. Rules and regulations for the performance of wudhu, bath and purification and tayammum have been prescribed.
Punishment for rebellion, disturbance of peace and theft have been specified. Drinking and gambling have absolutely been made unlawful. Expiation for the breaking of oath has been laid down and a few more things have been added to the law of evidence.
2. Admonition to the Muslims:
Now that the Muslims had become a ruling body, it was feared that power might corrupt them. At this period of great trial, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala had admonished them over and over again to stick to justice and to guard against the wrong behavior of their predecessors, the people of the Book. They have been enjoined to remain steadfast to the Covenant of obedience to Allah and His Messenger, and to observe strictly their commands and prohibitions in order to save themselves from the evil consequences which befell the Jews and the Christians who had violated them. They have been instructed to observe the dictates of the Qur’an in the conduct of all their affairs and warned against hypocrisy.
3. Admonition to the Jews and the Christians:
As the power of the Jews had been totally weakened and almost all their habitations in north Arabia had come under the rule of the Muslims, they have been warned again about their wrong attitude and invited to follow the Right Way. At the same time a detailed invitation has also been extended to the Christians. The errors of their creeds have been clearly pointed out and they have been admonished to accept the guidance of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Incidentally, it may be noted that no direct invitation has been made to the Zoroastrians and idolaters living in the adjoining countries, because there was no need for a separate address for them as their condition had already been covered by the addresses to the mushrik [idolaters] Arabs.