Had the People of the Book Adhered to their Book, They Would Have Acquired the Good of this Life and the Hereafter
In this ayah, the Jews have been admonished that they have not derived any benefit from the Books that were sent nor have they benefited from the teachings of the Prophets.
وَلَوْ أَنَّ أَهْلَ الْكِتَـبِ ءَامَنُواْ وَاتَّقَوْاْ لَكَفَّرْنَا عَنْهُمْ سَيِّئَـتِهِمْ وَلاٌّدْخَلْنَـهُمْ جَنَّـتِ النَّعِيمِ
And if only the People of the Scripture had believed and had Taqwa, We would indeed have expiated for them their sins and admitted them to Gardens of pleasure (in Paradise).
They recognized the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam, as one recognizes their own sons yet they denied him. They had greed for status and worldly power in their hearts. Therefore, they ignored the teachings. If they have believed in the Torah and the Injeel, and feared Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, He would have expiated their sins and admitted them to gardens full of bliss.
In this ayah, emaan and taqwa have been mentioned together. This indicates that when a person’s emaan is correct or when he is a person of strong emaan then only his actions will correct as well. A person cannot have taqwa of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala if his emaan is weak. Emaan is that which is hidden in the heart, but taqwa is evident through our actions. A person will stay away from the prohibited and remain steadfast in the good when he has taqwa.
The word naeem means content of the heart as well as physical comfort.
Tafseer Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 66
In ayah 66, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is commanding them to uphold the Torah, the Injeel and the Qur’an revealed after them.
وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ أَقَامُواْ التَّوْرَاةَ وَالإِنجِيلَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيهِمْ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ لاّكَلُواْ مِن فَوْقِهِمْ وَمِن تَحْتِ أَرْجُلِهِم مِّنْهُمْ أُمَّةٌ مُّقْتَصِدَةٌ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ سَآءَ مَا يَعْمَلُونَ
And if only they had acted according to the Torah, the Injeel, and what has (now) been sent down to them from their Lord (the Qur’an), they would surely have gotten provision from above them and from underneath their feet. And among them is a Muqtasid Ummah, but for most of them; evil is their work.
The word iqamah means to establish, and to make something stand upright and straight. Had the Jews adhered to the Books sent their way, without any alterations or changes, these Books would have directed them to follow the truth and implement the revelation that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala sent Muhammad sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam with. These Books testify to the Prophet’s truth and command that he must be followed.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala states that then they would have received tremendous provision from above them and below their feet; meaning from everywhere; pouring forth. This could be rain from the sky that provokes crops and animals to grow on the earth.
From among them are people who are balanced. They are moderate. They implement the Torah and Injeel. They neither increase the commands nor neglect them. They don’t go to extremes. They do what they are supposed to do. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in Surah al-A’raf ayah 159,
وَمِن قَوْمِ مُوسَى أُمَّةٌ يَهْدُونَ بِالْحَقِّ وَبِهِ يَعْدِلُونَ
And of the people of Musa there is a community who lead (the men) with truth and establish justice therewith.
But most of them are evil.
– We learn that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is not biased against anyone. No matter what crimes a person has committed if he believes and has taqwa, then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will accept his repentance. He will bless him with provisions here and in the Hereafter.
We, however, are too biased. We don’t let people forget their mistakes.
– A person who repents from a sin, he is rewarded with double reward.
– Upholding the law of Allah is obligatory upon everyone. We think if we follow the law of Allah we will face sufferings in dunya. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in this ayah that He will send us provisions from above and below. Some of His blessings are zahir [obvious] while some are not. We need to have tawaqqal on Allah that if we are following the commands of Allah then He is the One Who will assist us in all matters.