Al-Maidah · Juz 6 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 26

Forbidding the Jews from Entering the Holy Land for Forty Years

Now Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala replies to Prophet Musa’s du’a. He says,

قَالَ فَإِنَّهَا مُحَرَّمَةٌ عَلَيْهِمْ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً يَتِيهُونَ فِى الاٌّرْضِ

“Therefore it is forbidden to them for forty years; in distraction they will wander through the land.”

When Musa supplicated against the Jews for refusing to fight in Jihad, Allah forbade them from entering the land for forty years. They wandered about lost in the land of At-Tih, unable to find their way out.

The land of Syria was forbidden for them for forty years. They could not go anywhere even if they wanted to. This was the Qadr of Allah. They could neither enter Syria nor return to Egypt. Instead, they were detained in the wilderness.

For punishments that come from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala who needs the police and their handcuffs or the high and strong walls and iron-gates of prisons? When He intends to detain anyone, He needs none of these formal arrangements. He can put one under arrest even on grounds open from all sides.

This open land area located between Egypt and Bayt-ul-Muqadas was really small, yet they could not find their way out. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala had detained a large group of people [approx. 600,000 people] in a small open land for forty years. They would keep walking the entire day in hopes of some exit only to discover that they have been walking in circles. They would return to exactly the same spot from where they started.

The mufasireen have stated the punishment of Allah is in proportion to their evil deeds. Since the Bani Israel had said, “We are sitting right here”, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala detained them right at that place for forty years. [Maroof-ul-Qur’an]

They wandered in the land for forty years, during which Musa and Haroon died, as well as everyone above forty years of age. When the forty years ended, Yuwsha assumed their leadership and later conquered Jerusalem. When Yuwsha was reminded that the day was Friday and the sun was about to set, while they were still attacking Jerusalem, he feared that the Sabbath might begin. Therefore, he said to the sun, “I am commanded and you are commanded.” Allah made the sun stop setting and the Jews conquered Jerusalem and found wealth unseen before. They wanted to let the fire consume the booty, but the fire would not do that. Yuwsha said, “Some of you have committed theft from the booty.” So he summoned the twelve leaders of the twelve tribes and took the pledge from them. Then, the hand of one of them became stuck to the hand of Yuwsha and Yuwsha said, “You committed the theft, so bring it forth.” So, that man brought a cow’s head made of gold with two eyes made of precious stones and a set of teeth made of pearls. When Yuwsha added it to the booty, the fire consumed it, as they were prohibited to keep the booty.” There is evidence supporting all of this in the saheeh. [Tafseer ibn Katheer]

Allah Comforts Musa

Comforting Musa aalyhi salaam Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said

فَلاَ تَأْسَ عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْفَـسِقِينَ

“So do not grieve for the rebellious people.”

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said: Do not feel sorrow or sadness over My judgment against them, for they deserve such judgment.

This story chastises the Jews, exposes their defiance of Allah and His Messenger, and their refusal to obey the order for Jihad. They were weak and could not bear the thought of fighting their enemy, being patient, and enduring this way. This occurred although they had the Messenger of Allah and the one whom He spoke to among them, the best of Allah’s creation that time. Their Prophet promised them triumph and victory against their enemies. They also witnessed the torment and punishment of drowning with which Allah punished their enemy Fir`awn and his soldiers, so that their eyes were pleased and comforted.

All this did not happen too long ago, yet they refused to perform Jihad against people who had less than a tenth of the power and strength than the people of Egypt had. Therefore, the evil works of the Jews were exposed to everyone, and the exposure was such an enormous one that the night, or the tail, can never cover its tracks. They were also blinded by their ignorance and transgression. Thus, they became hated by Allah, and they became His enemies. Yet, they claim that they are Allah’s children and His loved ones!


– When a person refuses to take even one step then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala deprives him completely. And when a person makes an attempt then Allah will make him successful. He may not see the success immediately but he will be successful. When a person tries Allah makes ways for him.

– One should neither feel pity for nor side with the fasiq. He deserves the punishment. Yes you will be hurt if it’s one of your loved ones but when you have advised them, tried to stop them and they don’t listen, do not grieve when they face the punishment.


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