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Select Translation What is This? Selections include: The Koran Interpreted, a translation by A.J. Arberry, first published 1955; The Qur'an, translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published 2004; or side-by-side comparison view
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The Qurʾan What is This? A current English-language version of the Qur'an, published in 2004
Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

5. The Feast (1 – 26)

The title relates to food, and a central theme of this Medinan sura is the regulation of lawful and unlawful food, obedience to which is part of the pledge between God and the believers (verses 7–5, 87–108). Part of the sura concerns hunting for food during the pilgrimage and respect for the rites of pilgrimage. God had also taken pledges from the Jews and Christians and the section between verses 13 and 86 deals with what these two communities did to their pledges, and with their relationships with the Muslims. The passage from verse 109 to the end deals with the afterlife and the verdict of the messengers on the behaviour of their respective communities. Jesus, in particular, is given prominence here: mention is made of the feast for which his disciples asked him to pray to God, which gives the sura its title, and of his renunciation of any claim to divinity.

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

1You who believe, fulfil your obligations.a Obligations consequent on accepting the faith, including its dietary prohibitions. See verse 7, ‘pledge’. Livestock animals are lawful as food for you, with the exception of what is about to be announced to you. You are forbidden to kill game while you are on pilgrimage—God commands what He will, 2so, you who believe, do not violate the sanctity of God's rites, the Sacred Month, the offerings, their garlands, nor those going to the Sacred House to seek the bounty and pleasure of their Lord—but when you have completed the rites of pilgrimage you may hunt. Do not let your hatred for the people who barred you from the Sacred Mosque induce you to break the law: help one another to do what is right and good; do not help one another towards sin and hostility. Be mindful of God, for His punishment is severe.

3You are forbidden to eat carrion; blood; pig's meat; any animal over which any name other than God's has been invoked; any animal strangled, or victim of a violent blow or a fall, or gored or savaged by a beast of prey, unless you still slaughter it [in the correct manner]; or anything sacrificed on idolatrous altars. You are also forbidden to allot shares [of meat] by drawing marked arrowsb A pagan Arab custom. Arrows were also used to make other decisions, as in drawing lots, to determine the will of the idols (see verse 90).—a heinous practice —today the disbelievers have lost all hope that you will give up your religion. Do not fear them: fear Me. Today I have perfected your religion for you, completed My blessing upon you, and chosen as your religion islam: [total devotion to God]; but if any of you is forced by hunger to eat forbidden food, with no intention of doing wrong, then God is most forgiving and merciful.

4They ask you, Prophet, what is lawful for them. Say, ‘All good things are lawful for you.’ [This includes] what you have taught your birds and beasts of prey to catch, teaching them as God has taught you, so eat what they catch for you, but first pronounce God's name over it. Be mindful of God: He is swift to take account. 5Today all good things have been made lawful for you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful for you as your food is lawful for them. So are chaste, believing, women as well as chaste women of the people who were given the Scripture before you, as long as you have given them their bride-gifts and married them, not taking them as lovers or secret mistresses. The deeds of anyone who rejects faith will come to nothing, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.

6You who believe, when you are about to pray, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, wipe your heads, wash your feet up to the ankles and, if required,a e.g. after sexual intercourse or discharging semen. wash your whole body. If any of you is sick or on a journey, or has just relieved himself, or had intimate contact with a woman, and can find no water, then take some clean sand and wipe your face and hands with it. God does not wish to place any burden on you: He only wishes to cleanse you and perfect His blessing on you, so that you may be thankful.b ‘Perfecting the blessing’ is seen in instructing believers to avoid what is unclean in food and to wash before worship. This is also noted in 4: 43, where there is an instruction to wash before the prayer following an instruction to keep away from the pollution of the immoral acts mentioned in the preceding verses. 7Remember God's blessing on you and the pledge with which you were bound when you said, ‘We hear and we obey.’ Be mindful of God: God has full knowledge of the secrets of the heart.

8You who believe, be steadfast in your devotion to God and bear witness impartially: do not let hatred of othersc This resumes the instruction in vv. 1–2. lead you away from justice, but adhere to justice, for that is closer to awareness of God. Be mindful of God: God is well aware of all that you do. 9God has promised forgiveness and a rich reward to those who have faith and do good works; 10those who reject faith and deny Our revelations will inhabit the blazing Fire.

11You who believe, remember God's blessing on you when a certain people were about to raise their hands against you and He restrained them. Be mindful of God: let the believers put their trust in Him.

12God took a pledge from the Children of Israel. We made twelve leaders arise among them, and God said, ‘I am with you: if you keep up the prayer, pay the prescribed alms, believe in My messengers and support them, and lend God a good loan,a God repays what is given for His sake, many times over. The Qurʾan uses this figure of speech in many instances. See, for example, 57: 18; 64: 17. I will wipe out your sins and admit you into Gardens graced with flowing streams. Any of you who now ignore this [pledge] will be far from the right path.’ 13But they broke their pledge, so We distanced them [from Us] and hardened their hearts. They distort the meaning of [revealed] words and have forgotten some of what they were told to remember: you [Prophet] will always find treachery in all but a few of them. Overlook this and pardon them: God loves those who do good. 14We also took a pledge from those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ but they too forgot some of what they were told to remember, so We stirred up enmity and hatred among them until the Day of Resurrection, when God will tell them what they have done.

15People of the Book, Our Messenger has come to make clear to you much of what you have kept hidden of the Scripture, and to overlook much [you have done]. A light has now come to you from God, and a Scripture making things clear, 16with which God guides to the ways of peace those who follow what pleases Him, bringing them from darkness out into light, by His will, and guiding them to a straight path. 17Those who say, ‘God is the Messiah, the son of Mary,’ are defying the truth. Say, ‘If it had been God's will, could anyone have prevented Him from destroying the Messiah, son of Mary, together with his mother and everyone else on earth? Control of the heavens and earth and all that is between them belongs to God: He creates whatever He will.b Including his creation of Jesus without a father (3: 47 and 59). God has power over everything.’ 18The Jews and the Christians say, ‘We are the children of God and His beloved ones.’ Say, ‘Then why does He punish you for your sins? You are merely human beings, part of His creation: He forgives whoever He will and punishes whoever He will. Control of the heavens and earth and all that is between them belongs to Him: all journeys lead to Him.’ 19People of the Book, Our Messenger comes to you now, after a break in the sequence of messengers, to make things clear for you in case you should say, ‘No one has come to give us good news or to warn us.’ So someone has come to you, to give you good news and warn you: God has the power to do all things.

20Moses said to his people, ‘My people, remember God's blessing on you: how He raised prophets among you and appointed kings for you and gave you what he had not given to any other people. 21My people, go into the holy land which God has ordained for you—do not turn back or you will be the losers.’ 22They said, ‘Moses, there is a fearsome people in this land. We will not go there until they leave. If they leave, then we will enter.’ 23Yet two men whom God had blessed among those who were afraid said, ‘Go in to them through the gate and when you go in you will overcome them. If you are true believers, put your trust in God.’ 24They said, ‘Moses, we will never enter while they are still there, so you and your Lord go in and fight, and we will stay here.’ 25He said, ‘Lord, I have authority over no one except myself and my brother: judge between the two of us and these disobedient people.’ 26God said, ‘The land is forbidden to them for forty years: they will wander the earth aimlessly. Do not grieve over those who disobey.’

Notes:

a Obligations consequent on accepting the faith, including its dietary prohibitions. See verse 7, ‘pledge’.

b A pagan Arab custom. Arrows were also used to make other decisions, as in drawing lots, to determine the will of the idols (see verse 90).

a e.g. after sexual intercourse or discharging semen.

b ‘Perfecting the blessing’ is seen in instructing believers to avoid what is unclean in food and to wash before worship. This is also noted in 4: 43, where there is an instruction to wash before the prayer following an instruction to keep away from the pollution of the immoral acts mentioned in the preceding verses.

c This resumes the instruction in vv. 1–2.

a God repays what is given for His sake, many times over. The Qurʾan uses this figure of speech in many instances. See, for example, 57: 18; 64: 17.

b Including his creation of Jesus without a father (3: 47 and 59).

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