Sending Down the Ma’idah

This is the story of the Ma’idah, the name of which this Surah bears, Surat Al-Ma’idah. This is also among the favors that Allah granted His servant and Messenger, `Isa, accepting his request to send the Ma’idah down, and doing so as clear proof and unequivocal evidence. Allah said,

إِذْ قَالَ الْحَوَارِيُّونَ

((Remember) when Al-Hawaryun said…) the disciples of `Isa said,

يعِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ هَلْ يَسْتَطِيعُ رَبُّكَ
أَن يُنَزِّلَ عَلَيْنَا مَآئِدَةً مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ

(O `Isa, son of Maryam! Can your Lord send down to us a Ma’idah from heaven) The Ma’idah is the table that has food on it. Some scholars said that the disciples requested this table because they were poor and deprived. So they asked `Isa to supplicate to Allah to send a table of food down to them that they could eat from every day and thus be more able to perform the acts of worship.

قَالَ اتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ

(`Isa said: “Have Taqwa of Allah, if you are indeed believers.”) `Isa answered them by saying, `Have Taqwa of Allah! And do not ask for this, for it may become a trial for you, but trust in Allah for your provisions, if you are truly believers. ‘

قَالُواْ نُرِيدُ أَن نَّأْكُلَ مِنْهَا

(They said: “We wish to eat thereof.”) we need to eat from it,

وَتَطْمَئِنَّ قُلُوبُنَا

(and to be stronger in faith,) when we witness it descending from heaven as sustenance for us,

وَنَعْلَمَ أَن قَدْ صَدَقْتَنَا

(and to know that you have indeed told us the truth,) of your Message and our faith in you increases and also our knowledge,

وَنَكُونَ عَلَيْهَا مِنَ الشَّـهِدِينَ

(and that we ourselves be its witnesses.) testifying that it is a sign from Allah, as proof and evidence that you are a Prophet, and attesting to the truth of what you brought us,

قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّنَآ أَنزِلْ عَلَيْنَا مَآئِدَةً مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ تَكُونُ لَنَا عِيداً لاًّوَّلِنَا وَءَاخِرِنَا

(`Isa, son of Maryam, said: “O Allah, our Lord! Send us from heaven a table spread (with food) that there may be for us — for the first and the last of us — a festival…”) As-Suddi commented that the Ayah means, “We will take that day on which the table was sent down as a day of celebration, that we and those who come after us would consider sacred.” Sufyan Ath-Thawri said that it means, “A day of prayer.”

وَءَايَةً مِّنْكَ

(and a sign from You. ) proving that You are able to do all things and to accept my supplication, so that they accept what I convey to them from You,


(and provide us sustenance,) a delicious food from You that does not require any effort or hardship,

وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ الرَّازِقِينَقَالَ اللَّهُ إِنِّى مُنَزِّلُهَا عَلَيْكُمْ فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بَعْدُ مِنكُمْ

(“For You are the Best of sustainers.” Allah said: “I am going to send it down unto you, but if any of you after that disbelieves…”) by denying this sign and defying its implication, O `Isa,

فَإِنِّى أُعَذِّبُهُ عَذَاباً لاَّ أُعَذِّبُهُ أَحَداً مِّنَ الْعَـلَمِينَ

(then I will punish him with a torment such as I have not inflicted on anyone among the `Alamin.) among the people of your time. Allah said in similar Ayat,

وَيَوْمَ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ أَدْخِلُواْ ءَالَ فِرْعَوْنَ أَشَدَّ الْعَذَابِ

(And on the Day when the Hour will be established (it will be said to the angels): “Cause Fir’awn’s people to enter the severest torment!”) 40:46, and,

إِنَّ الْمُنَـفِقِينَ فِى الدَّرْكِ الاٌّسْفَلِ مِنَ النَّارِ

(Verily, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire. ) 4:145 Ibn Jarir said that `Abdullah bin `Amr said, “Those who will receive the severest torment on the Day of Resurrection are three: The hypocrites, those from the people of Al-Ma’idah who disbelieved in it, and the people of Fir`awn.” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, “They said to `Isa, son of Maryam, `Supplicate to Allah to send down to us from heaven, a table spread with food.’ He also said, `So the angels brought the table down containing seven fish and seven pieces of bread and placed it before them. So the last group of people ate as the first group did.” Ibn Jarir recorded that Ishaq bin `Abdullah said that the table was sent down to `Isa son of Maryam having seven pieces of bread and seven fish, and they ate from it as much as they wished. But when some of them stole food from it, saying, “It might not come down tomorrow,” the table ascended. These statements testify that the table was sent down to the Children of Israel during the time of `Isa, son of Maryam, as a result of Allah’s accepting his supplication to Him. The apparent wording of this Ayah also states so,

قَالَ اللَّهُ إِنِّى مُنَزِّلُهَا عَلَيْكُمْ

(Allah said: “I am going to send it down unto you…”) 5:115.

وَإِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يعِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ أَءَنتَ قُلتَ لِلنَّاسِ اتَّخِذُونِى وَأُمِّىَ إِلَـهَيْنِ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ قَالَ سُبْحَـنَكَ مَا يَكُونُ لِى أَنْ أَقُولَ مَا لَيْسَ لِى بِحَقٍّ إِن كُنتُ قُلْتُهُ فَقَدْ عَلِمْتَهُ تَعْلَمُ مَا فِى نَفْسِى وَلاَ أَعْلَمُ مَا فِى نَفْسِكَ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ عَلَّـمُ الْغُيُوبِ – مَا قُلْتُ لَهُمْ إِلاَّ مَآ أَمَرْتَنِى بِهِ أَنِ اعْبُدُواْ اللَّهَ رَبِّى وَرَبَّكُمْ وَكُنتُ عَلَيْهِمْ شَهِيداً مَّا دُمْتُ فِيهِمْ فَلَمَّا تَوَفَّيْتَنِى كُنتَ أَنتَ الرَّقِيبَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَأَنتَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَىْءٍ شَهِيدٌ – إِن تُعَذِّبْهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ عِبَادُكَ وَإِن تَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ فَإِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

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