Al-Maidah · Juz 6 · Qur'an Tafseer

Background of the Revelation of Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 51

Reporting from Ikrimah, Ibn Jareer has said that this ayah was revealed in the background of a particular event. After the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam had settled in Madina, he had entered into a treaty with Jews and Christians living nearby which required that they would neither fight against Muslims nor help any other tribe at war with them, rather, they would join Muslims to fight against them.

Similarly, Muslims will not fight them nor help anyone against them, rather, would defend them against the aggressors. For some time, both parties kept adhering to the treaty. But, the Jews could not observe the terms of the treaty any longer because of their conspiratorial nature and anti-Islam temperament. They made a secret deal with the pagans of Makkah against Muslims and wrote them a letter inviting them to their fortress.

When the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam came to know about this conspiracy, he dispatched a posse of Mujahideen to confront them. These Jews from Banu Qurazyzah were, on the one hand, conspiring with the disbelievers of Makkah, while on the other, having infiltrated among Muslims, they had succeeded in making pacts of friendship with many of them. This was their front of spying for the disbelievers of Makkah against Muslims.

Revealed thereupon was this ayah which stopped Muslims from indulging in deep friendship with Jews and Christians, so that they could be deprived of having access to sensitive information about Muslims.

At that time some companions including Ubadah ibn Samit, openly announced the cancellation of their treaty obligations as well as their support for abandonment of any close friendship in the future. As for the hypocrites who had their pragmatic relationship with Muslims, or people whose hearts had yet to taste the sweetness of genuine faith, they apprehended dangers in breaking relationships with Jews and Christians lest the conspiracy hatched by the disbelievers and the Jews succeeded and Muslims were overpowered in which case it would be necessary that they keep their relationships balanced both ways to avoid any problems for them later on. It was on this basis that Abdullah ibn Ubaiyy ibn Salul had said that he saw danger in cutting off relationship with these people and, therefore, he cannot do that. Revealed thereupon was the ayah 52

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2 thoughts on “Background of the Revelation of Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 51

  1. prior to this it has been said in 5:5 that muslim man can mary to any girl who has devine book….would it be considered effective as this verse is the older one to 5:51…..or it lost its effect after the revelation of 5:51
    please rply

    1. Asalaam o Alaykum wa rahmatullah,

      In the explanation of Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 5, it has been mentioned:

      Abdullah Ibn `Umar used to advise against marrying Christian women saying, “I do not know of a worse case of Shirk than her saying that Eesa is her lord, while Allah said [in Surah al-Baqarah ayah 221],

      وَلاَ تَنْكِحُواْ الْمُشْرِكَـتِ حَتَّى يُؤْمِنَّ
      “And do not marry idolatresses till they believe.”

      From this we conclude that while it was permissible to marry chaste women from Ahlul-Kitab, the sahabahs took precaution. Today, the Ulema believe since they have altered the Books so much and changed the Shariah of Allah therefore it is not recommended to marry them. Muslims should marry Muslim women and strengthen their own Ummah. However, in case a Christian woman decides to revert to Islam and marry a Muslim man, the man can do so.

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