English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 5: Al-Maidah — Food (Revealed at Madinah: 16 sections, 120 verses)

Section 4 (Verses 5:20–5:26): Israelites’ Violation of the Covenant


وَ اِذۡ قَالَ مُوۡسٰی لِقَوۡمِہٖ یٰقَوۡمِ اذۡکُرُوۡا نِعۡمَۃَ اللّٰہِ عَلَیۡکُمۡ اِذۡ جَعَلَ فِیۡکُمۡ اَنۡۢبِیَآءَ وَ جَعَلَکُمۡ مُّلُوۡکًا ٭ۖ وَّ اٰتٰىکُمۡ مَّا لَمۡ یُؤۡتِ اَحَدًا مِّنَ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ﴿۲۰﴾

5:20 And when Moses said to his people: My people, remember the favour of Allah to you when He raised prophets among you and made you kings and gave you what He did not give to any other of the nations.1

یٰقَوۡمِ ادۡخُلُوا الۡاَرۡضَ الۡمُقَدَّسَۃَ الَّتِیۡ کَتَبَ اللّٰہُ لَکُمۡ وَ لَا تَرۡتَدُّوۡا عَلٰۤی اَدۡبَارِکُمۡ فَتَنۡقَلِبُوۡا خٰسِرِیۡنَ ﴿۲۱﴾

5:21 My people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has ordained for you and do not turn your backs, for then you will turn back losers.

قَالُوۡا یٰمُوۡسٰۤی اِنَّ فِیۡہَا قَوۡمًا جَبَّارِیۡنَ ٭ۖ وَ اِنَّا لَنۡ نَّدۡخُلَہَا حَتّٰی یَخۡرُجُوۡا مِنۡہَا ۚ فَاِنۡ یَّخۡرُجُوۡا مِنۡہَا فَاِنَّا دٰخِلُوۡنَ ﴿۲۲﴾

5:22 They said: Moses, in it are a powerful people, and we shall not enter it until they go out from it; if they go out from it, then surely we will enter.

قَالَ رَجُلٰنِ مِنَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَخَافُوۡنَ اَنۡعَمَ اللّٰہُ عَلَیۡہِمَا ادۡخُلُوۡا عَلَیۡہِمُ الۡبَابَ ۚ فَاِذَا دَخَلۡتُمُوۡہُ فَاِنَّکُمۡ غٰلِبُوۡنَ ۬ۚ وَ عَلَی اللّٰہِ فَتَوَکَّلُوۡۤا اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ مُّؤۡمِنِیۡنَ ﴿۲۳﴾

5:23 Two men of those who feared, on whom Allah had bestowed a favour, said: Enter upon them by the gate, for when you enter it you will surely be victorious; and put your trust in Allah, if you are believers.2

قَالُوۡا یٰمُوۡسٰۤی اِنَّا لَنۡ نَّدۡخُلَہَاۤ اَبَدًا مَّا دَامُوۡا فِیۡہَا فَاذۡہَبۡ اَنۡتَ وَ رَبُّکَ فَقَاتِلَاۤ اِنَّا ہٰہُنَا قٰعِدُوۡنَ ﴿۲۴﴾

5:24 They said: Moses, we will never enter it so long as they are in it; go therefore you and your Lord, and fight; surely here we sit.

قَالَ رَبِّ اِنِّیۡ لَاۤ اَمۡلِکُ اِلَّا نَفۡسِیۡ وَ اَخِیۡ فَافۡرُقۡ بَیۡنَنَا وَ بَیۡنَ الۡقَوۡمِ الۡفٰسِقِیۡنَ ﴿۲۵﴾

5:25 He said: My Lord, I have control of none but my own self and my brother; so distinguish between us and the transgressing people.

قَالَ فَاِنَّہَا مُحَرَّمَۃٌ عَلَیۡہِمۡ اَرۡبَعِیۡنَ سَنَۃً ۚ یَتِیۡہُوۡنَ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ ؕ فَلَا تَاۡسَ عَلَی الۡقَوۡمِ الۡفٰسِقِیۡنَ ﴿٪۲۶﴾

5:26 He said: It will surely be forbidden to them for forty years — they will wander about in the land.3 So do not grieve for the transgressing people.


  1. The reference need not be to the earlier history of the Israelites, but to their history as dating from the time of Moses, for the advent of Moses had brought about an entire change both in their spiritual and political status.
  2. These were Joshua and Caleb. See Numbers, 14:6–9.
  3. See Numbers 14:23. The forty years spoken of here represent the life of that generation.