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Part 2:
Removing Doubts About the Tafsīr of “And the food of those given the scripture is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them” (Qurʾān 5:5)

Translated by Abu Zayd and Usman Khan

They said: People have raised questions and doubts concerning what you published about the verse: “And the food of those given the scripture is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them.” I replied: Don’t you know that I am the furthest of people from being involved in unproductive arguments and debates which are only intended to overpower and denigrate others. I detest argumentation in the strongest terms and hate to dominate or win over others. I always strive to avoid fruitless pursuits or waste my time. I praise my Lord who cast into my heart love for His Book. I am eager to ponder over it and follow its guidance as much as I am able to do so.

They said: These people insist that the word ṭaʿām in the verse refers to slaughtered meat (dhabīḥah). I replied: Let them insist upon their error as much as they want. The fact is that there are always some who look for numerical miracles in the Qurʾān, while others investigate scientific miracles, and yet others have made the Qurʾān a jurisprudential (fiqh) text covering subsidiary rulings corresponding to man-made schools of thought. All of these people effectively lower God’s Book to their base standards, either making it a book of natural sciences, one of legal opinions, or of matters related to experience or legal reasoning (ijtihād). They suppose human beings comprehend it by their intellects or perceive it through their normal senses without pondering or working their faculties of discernment and reflection. Why don’t they exert their energies instead in understanding heavenly guidance in order to arrive at the lofty meanings which God has placed therein? Can you expect the types of people who resort to analogical deduction in everything or those who live in their laboratories to be able to grasp the lofty and sublime nature of this divine book?

They said: Please don’t be so harsh with the questioners, for perhaps among them are some who would sincerely want to understand your words. In addition, since you consider yourself a teacher, shouldn’t teachers answer questioners courteously? I replied: Yes, certainly. I am grateful to you that you admonished me towards gentleness and reminded me of tenderness. No doubt that gentleness is from those human virtues that are endowed only to those who are blessed with abundant shares from their Lord.

They asked: Please tell us from whom you took this understanding. I replied: I took it from some of my teachers. They said: So why don’t you refer it to them? I replied: Because I have added some matters to it, and I do not want to attribute to anyone what they didn’t say. They asked: And did anyone else have this view apart from your teacher? I replied: Yes, many have. They said: Name them to us. I replied: That will be lengthy. However, know that all of them are dependent in their understanding on the leader of exegetes of our times, Imām Muḥammad Ḥamīd al-Dīn Farāhī, God have mercy upon him.

They asked: What did he exactly say? I replied: He said: The statement “and your food is lawful for them” (Qurʾān 5:5) serves to clarify the abrogation of what God had prohibited them due to their transgression in 6:146, so they could not claim that the Torah’s prohibition persisted for them after Islam. [Taʿlīqāt 1/147]

They asked: Has anyone before Farāhī made a similar interpretation? I replied: Certainly they must have, because this interpretation is the correct one. But not all of the previous exegesis has been transmitted to us, and I have not had the chance to study all tafsīr works past and present.

They said: If you could name one single person before our time who adopted this approach, it would serve to refute those who accuse you of innovation. I replied: The erudite scholar and exegete Jamāl al-Dīn al-Ṣafdī (d. 696/1297) had this same view in his commentary on this verse in a work entitled Kashf al-asrār wa hatk al-astār (‘Unveiling the Secrets and Tearing the Veils’). He says: His statement ‘and the food of the People of the Book is lawful to you’, i.e. in the same way it is lawful to them, refers to the food they currently consume, not what they currently prohibit, from those things God allowed for us. His statement ‘And your food is lawful for them’ refers to all of our food, which informs us that with the advent of the Arabian Prophet, peace be upon him, who allows all wholesome foods, and whom it is obligatory to follow, now our food has become lawful to them again. However, they refused and continued to prohibit what he had allowed for them. That is why God said, ‘And your food is lawful for them,’ and not that ‘it was permissible for them,’ or that ‘they considered it permissible themselves (as they believed).’ Rather, it is lawful now. Since the Messenger came and they rejected him, God maintained the prohibition as a punishment. This is the meaning of His statement, “for wrongdoing on the part of the Jews, We made unlawful for them (certain) good foods which had been lawful to them.” (Qurʾān 4:160)

They asked: So why don’t you explain the term taʿām as slaughter like others did? I replied: There is no need to mention slaughtering, for it is a well-known matter. God permitted the women of the People of the Book—and no single person doubts that this means after the contract of marriage. There was no need to place this condition in the Book for it is well-known.

They asked: And how is the condition of slaughtering known? I replied: I have already explained that in a previous article, that when God prohibits dead animals, it means those that have not been properly slaughtered.

They asked: Why have the commentators collected so many sayings of the pious forebearers concerning the slaughter of the People of the Book in their commentary of this verse? I replied: The customary practice of Qurʾānic commentators has always been to collect any statement that has the slightest connection to the verses. So everything which has been transmitted from the pious forebearers concerning the food of the People of the Book was collected under the commentary of this verse.

They said: You are right. However, it is narrated from Mujāhid and others that they interpret the term as slaughter. I replied: They meant to dispel the misunderstandings of some simple-minded people who presumed that when God had made lawful the food of the People of the Book, it included their animals whether they slaughtered them or not, for God had categorically made their food lawful. So Mujāhid and others meant to teach people that proper slaughter is a condition for the consumption of their animals just as it was a condition for the consumption of their own animals. This is because of the unconditional nature of the verse, ‘Forbidden for you are dead animals.’ It is obligatory upon the people of knowledge to repel similar misunderstandings. This was related by Bukhārī and Muslim from Muḥammad b. al-Munkadir that Jābir once prayed in a loincloth which he tied behind his back while his clothes were on a hook. Somebody asked him, “Do you pray in a single cloth?” He replied, “I did so to show a fool like you. Which one of us had two garments during the time of the Messenger, prayers and peace of God upon him?”

They asked: Is it possible that some of the pious forebearers were incorrect in their commentary of this verse? I replied: It is certainly possible, for the pious forebears are not infallible. There is no infallibility except for the messengers, upon them be peace. However, the errors of the pious forebearers are far fewer in comparison to those that came after them. The pious forebearers often disagreed with one another, as those that came after them often disagreed with them. Such examples of differences are extensive.

They said: What do you advise us? I replied: Do not waste my time by presenting doubts of those who do not ponder over the Book of God and intend only trouble. They said: Indeed, they disparage you. I replied: Leave them to disparage me. This will only serve to bring me closer to my Lord, so long as we conduct ourselves with the character that He taught us: to say peace (salām) and pass over vanity with dignity.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

رفع إشكال

“حول تفسير “وطعام الذين أوتوا الكتاب حل لكم وطعامكم حل لهم

بقلم: محمد أكرم الندوي


            قالوا: قد أثار ناس تساؤلات وإشكالات حول ما نشرت من تفسير “وطعام الذين أوتوا الكتاب حل لكم وطعامكم حل لهم”، قلت: أو لا تعلمون أني من أبعد الناس عن الجدل العقيم، والمنازعات التي لا يقصد من ورائها إلا التغلب والنيل من عباد الله واغتيابهم، وإني لأمقت الخصام والمماراة مقتا شديدا مشمئزا عن قهر الناس والانتصار عليهم اشمئزازا، وصارفا نفسي عن اللغو وإضاعة الأوقات، وأحمد ربي الذي ألقى في روعي حب كتابه أتدبره تدبرا، وأتبع هداه اتباعا ما استطعت إلى ذلك سبيلا

            قالوا: يلح هؤلاء على أن الطعام في الآية المذكورة معناه الذبيحة، قلت: دعهم يصروا على الغلط لاجِّين لجًّا، فمن الأنام من يبحث عن الإعجاز العددي في القرآن، ومنهم من ينقب فيه عن الإعجاز العلمي، ومنهم من جعل كتاب الله تعالى متنا فقهيا يتناول الجزئيات والأمور الفرعية وفق المذاهب والآراء البشرية، فهبطوا بكتاب الله تعالى إلى مستواهم الدني، جاعليه كتاب علوم طبيعية وفتاوى وأشياء تجريبية اجتهادية، يدركها البشر بعقولهم، وينتبهون إليها بحواسهم العادية، دون تدبر أو إعمال نظر وفكر، وأنى لهم أن يبذلوا وسعهم في وعي الهدى السماوي متوصلين إلى المعاني الرفيعة التي أودعه الله إياها، وهل تتوقعون من قائسي النظائر على النظائر والمترددين إلى المخابر إدراك سمو الكتاب الإلهي؟

            قالوا: لا تشدِّد على السائلين كل هذا التشديد، فلعل فيهم من يرغب في تفهم كلامك مخلصا لله ناصحا لك، ثم إنك تزعم أنك معلِّم، أفلا يجب على المعلِّمين أن يرفقوا بالمستفسرين والسائلين؟ قلت: بلى، وإني شاكر لكم أن استلفتم نظري إلى الرفق وذكّرتموني اللين، ولا شك أن الرفق من الفضائل البشرية التي لا ينالها إلى من أوتي من ربه حظا عظيما

            قالوا: فاذكر لنا ممن أخذت منه قولك هذا في تفسير الآية، قلت: استفدته من بعض شيوخي، قالوا: لِم لم تعزُه إليه؟ قلت: لأني زدت عليه أشياء، فلم أحب أن أتقول عليه ما لم يقل، قالوا: وهل ذهب إليه غير شيخك؟ قلت: نعم جماعة، قالوا: سمهم لنا، قلت: إذن تطول القائمة، ولكن اعلموا أنهم كلهم عالة في تفسيره على رأس المفسرين في عصرنا الإمام حميد الدين الفراهي رحمه الله تعالى، قالوا: ماذا قال؟ قلت: قال: “وطعامكم حل لهم” لبيان النسخ لما حرم الله عليهم لبغيهم (سورة 6، الآية 146)، لكيلا يزعموا أن حرمة التوراة تبقى عليهم بعد الإسلام” (تعليقات 1/147)

            قالوا: وهل سبق الفراهي أحد إلى مثل هذا التفسير؟ قلت: لا بد، فهو التفسير الصحيح، ولم تنقل إلينا التفاسير كلها، ولم يتفق لي البحث عن جميع تفاسير السلف والخلف، قالوا: لو سميت لنا واحدا سبق عصرنا ممن ذهب ذلك المذهب لكان ردا على بعض من اتهمك بالابتداع. قلت: ذهب إليه العلامة المفسر جمال الدين الصفدي (ت 696 هـ) في تفسيره للآية في كتابه (كشف الأسرار وهتك الأستار)، يقول: “فقوله وطعام الذين أوتوا الكتاب حل لكم: أي كما هو حل لهم، ويريد ما هم الآن يستعملونه لا ما هم الآن يحرمونه مما أحله الله لنا. وقوله وطعامكم حل لهم: يريد به جميع طعامنا إعلاما لنا أنه من حين جاء النبي العربي صلى الله عليه وسلم الذي يحل لهم الطيبات وجب اتباعه فقد عاد طعامنا حلا لهم كله، لكنهم أبوا فحرموا ما أحله لهم، ولهذا قال: وطعامكم حل لهم، ولم يقل: كان حلا لهم، أو حلٌّ عندهم، أي فيما يعتقدون، بل هو الآن حل، فمن حين جاءهم الرسول وأبوا أبقاهم الله على ما حرموه مما أحله لهم عقابا لهم، وهو معنى قوله: فبظلم من الذين هادوا حرمنا عليهم طيبات أحلت لهم …”

            قالوا: فما لك لا تفسر الطعام بالذبائح كما فعل غيرك؟ قلت: لا حاجة إلى ذكر الذبيحة، فهو أمر معلوم، فالله أحل نساء أهل الكتاب، ولا يشك أحد أن ذلك بعد النكاح، ولا حاجة إلى وضع هذا الشرط في الكتاب لأنه معلوم، قالوا: وكيف علم شرط الذبح؟ قلت: قد فصلت ذلك في مقالي السابق إذ حرم الله تعالى الميتة، وهي غير الذبائح

            قالوا: فما لأهل التفسير جمعوا أقوال كثير من السلف حول ذبائح أهل الكتاب في تفسير الآية؟ قلت: من عادة المفسرين أن يجمعوا الأقوال المختلفة لأدنى مناسبة، فكل ما روي عن السلف فيما يتعلق بطعام أهل الكتاب جمعوه تحت الآية، قالوا: أصبت، ولكن قد روي عن مجاهد وغيره أنهم فسروا الطعام بالذبائح، قلت: أرادوا بذلك دفع سوء فهم بعض البسطاء من الناس ممن يظن أنه إذا كان الله قد أحل طعام أهل الكتاب، فما كان من طعامهم من الحيوان مما يأكلونه حلال لنا ذبحوه أم لم يذبحوه، لأن الله تعالى أحله مطلقا، فكشف مجاهد وغيره أن الذبح شرط في طعامهم من الحيوان كما هو شرط في طعام المسلمين، وذلك لعموم قوله تعالى “حرمت عليكم الميتة”، ويجب على أهل العلم دفع مثل هذا السوء في الفهم، وهو ما أخرجه الشيخان عن محمد بن المنكدر، قال: صلى جابر في إزار قد عقده من قبل قفاه وثيابه موضوعة على المشجب، قال له قائل: تصلي في إزار واحد؟، فقال: إنما صنعت ذلك ليراني أحمق مثلك، وأينا كان له ثوبان على عهد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم؟

            قالوا: وهل يجوز أن يكون بعض السلف قد غلط في تفسير الآية؟ قلت: يجوز، فالسلف غير معصومين، ولا عصمة إلا للأنبياء عليهم السلام، ولكن الغلط في السلف أقل بالنسبة إلى من بعدهم، وقد اختلف السلف بعضهم عن بعضهم، كما اختلف من بعدهم عنهم، وأمثلة هذا الاختلاف كثيرة مستفيضة

            قالوا: فما توصينا به؟ قلت: لا تضيعوا أوقاتي بعرض شبهات الذين لا يتدبرون في كتاب الله تعالى، ولا يهمهم إلا التشغيب. قالوا: إنهم يطعنون فيك. قلت: دعهم يطعنوا، فما يزيدني ذلك إلا تقربا إلى ربي إذا تأدبنا بالأدب الذي علَّمه إيانا، وهو أن نقول سلاما وأن نمر باللغو كراما.