Al-Maidah · Juz 7 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 100

Tayyab and Khabeeth are Not Equal

In this ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commands the Prophet salAllahu aalyhi wa sallam to convey us that there is no comparison between the pure and the impure. We may be surrounded by the impure but this abundance doesn’t make it lawful for consumption.

He says,

قُل لاَّ يَسْتَوِى الْخَبِيثُ وَالطَّيِّبُ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكَ كَثْرَةُ الْخَبِيثِ فَاتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ يأُوْلِى الاٌّلْبَـبِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

“Say: ‘Not equal are the bad things and the good things, even though the abundance of the bad may please you.’ So have Taqwa of Allah, O men of understanding in order that you may be successful.”

The word yastawa يَسْتَوِى is from the root letters seen-wau-ya which means equivalent.

The word tayyab طَّيِّب  refers to that which is pure while khabeeth خَبِيثُ is impure or bad. It is the Law of Allah that decides what is impure and what is pure. For example, apparently a thing may seem clean but it will spiritually impure. Similarly, we may see a dirty object but spiritually it may be clean. So, this includes both spiritual purity and spiritual impurity as well as physically purity and physical impurity.

A spiritually impure person will be one who has hypocrisy in his heart. He does shirk or his akhlaq is awful. He may be physically clean though. On the other hand, there is a person who doesn’t appear physically clean but he is a sincere believer with good akhlaq.

Physical impurity can include an action that’s bad such as yelling at someone, giving someone a dirty look, not doing something in time, disobeying and hurting others.

Remembering Allah, doing dhikr can never be equal to backbiting. Reciting Qur’an and reading that which arouses sexual desire cannot be same. Tayyab food is that which is halal while khabeeth is that which is haram and unclean.

Therefore, tayyab and khabeeth can never be same even if there is abundance of evil and impurity. For example, everyone is uttering a bad word, we tell our nafs, “It’s okay to say it because everyone else is doing so.” We are surrounded by alcohol. We see a lot of variety. Yet we cannot opt for it. It is khabeeth for us.

If we have Taqwa of Allah, His fear and consciousness we will stay away from the khabeeth even if everyone is running after it. People of Taqwa have sound minds. They avoid and abandon the impermissible, and let the permissible be sufficient for them.


– Tayyab and Khabeeth are not the same in the Sight of Allah and in the sight of those who have aqal. When people know pure and impure are not the same, only then we are going to stay away from the khabeeth. Otherwise yelling at someone and speaking politely will become equal. We need to develop in ourselves the knowledge that good and bad cannot be equal.

– Since Tayyab and Khabeeth are not the same, we should like the Tayyab and leave the Khabeeth. Generally, we choose whatever is “in” or famous even if it goes against the Deen. We wear clothing which is in trend even if it doesn’t cover the aura. When it comes to clothing, eating and talking we do that which is common. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us don’t go for Khabeeth even if you are surrounded by it. Khabeeth makes us negligent of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

– We are taught our focus should not be on the “quantity” but the quality. For example, we go to the grocery and we see a box of strawberries which is being offered at a discounted price but has fungus growing over it, are we going to buy it? No. Then why when it comes to the Deen we don’t look at the Tayyab but blindly follow the crowd.

We learn from a hadeeth when a person gives something as small as a date earned from halal income it has more value than a mountain of wealth earned from haram means.

– When sisters adopt the Hijab they wear it in such a manner that it doesn’t cover the aura. A fancy headscarf with tight-fitted garment is not hijab. Similarly, brothers have invented their own “designs” of beard that is not the Sunnah of the Prophet salAllahu aalyhi wa sallam.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in Surah Sa’d ayah 28, “Or should we treat those who believe and do righteous deeds like corrupters in the land? Or should We treat those who fear Allah like the wicked?”

People of intellect do not follow the crowd. They don’t look at Hijab “models” and see how they are dressed up. They don’t look at different “designs” of beard and adopt them. They study the Shariah and follow it.

Abdullah ibn Mubarak said, “Keeping myself clean from consuming a doubtful dirham is more charitable to me than giving 100,000 dirhams in charity.” 

– The abundance and variety of the Khabeeth is also a test. We see haram everywhere and we become desensitize. People are not particular about what they are watching on TV or the Internet, what kind of books or literature they are reading, what kind of food they are consuming. This is a test from Allah to determine who fears Him without seeing Him.

– Fear of Allah is in our hearts. A person cannot stay away from the evil unless he has dislike for it in his heart. If he likes something he will accept it even if it means going against the commands of Allah. Are we that impressed with the Khabeeth?

– People who have intellect they will differentiate between the Tayyab and Khabeeth that is the key to their success.

[SOURCE: Tafseer Lecture of Taimiyyah Zuberi]

3 thoughts on “Tafseer Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 100

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