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 6 (Verses 5:35–5:43): Punishment of Offenders


یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ وَ ابۡتَغُوۡۤا اِلَیۡہِ الۡوَسِیۡلَۃَ وَ جَاہِدُوۡا فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِہٖ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تُفۡلِحُوۡنَ ﴿۳۵﴾

5:35 O you who believe, keep your duty to Allah, and seek means of nearness to Him, and strive hard in His way that you may be successful.

اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا لَوۡ اَنَّ لَہُمۡ مَّا فِی الۡاَرۡضِ جَمِیۡعًا وَّ مِثۡلَہٗ مَعَہٗ لِیَفۡتَدُوۡا بِہٖ مِنۡ عَذَابِ یَوۡمِ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ مَا تُقُبِّلَ مِنۡہُمۡ ۚ وَ لَہُمۡ عَذَابٌ اَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۳۶﴾

5:36 Those who disbelieve, even if they had all that is in the earth, and as much as it again, to ransom themselves with it from the punishment of the day of Resurrection, it would not be accepted from them; and theirs is a painful punishment.

یُرِیۡدُوۡنَ اَنۡ یَّخۡرُجُوۡا مِنَ النَّارِ وَ مَا ہُمۡ بِخٰرِجِیۡنَ مِنۡہَا ۫ وَ لَہُمۡ عَذَابٌ مُّقِیۡمٌ ﴿۳۷﴾

5:37 They would desire to come forth from the Fire, and they will not come forth from it, and theirs is a lasting punishment.

وَ السَّارِقُ وَ السَّارِقَۃُ فَاقۡطَعُوۡۤا اَیۡدِیَہُمَا جَزَآءًۢ بِمَا کَسَبَا نَکَالًا مِّنَ اللّٰہِ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ عَزِیۡزٌ حَکِیۡمٌ ﴿۳۸﴾

5:38 And (as for) the man and the woman addicted to theft, cut off their hands as a penalty for what they have earned — an exemplary punishment from Allah. And Allah is Mighty, Wise.1

فَمَنۡ تَابَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ ظُلۡمِہٖ وَ اَصۡلَحَ فَاِنَّ اللّٰہَ یَتُوۡبُ عَلَیۡہِ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۳۹﴾

5:39 But whoever repents after his wrongdoing and reforms, Allah will turn to him (mercifully). Surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

اَلَمۡ تَعۡلَمۡ اَنَّ اللّٰہَ لَہٗ مُلۡکُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ ؕ یُعَذِّبُ مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ وَ یَغۡفِرُ لِمَنۡ یَّشَآءُ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ عَلٰی کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ قَدِیۡرٌ ﴿۴۰﴾

5:40 Do you not know that Allah is He to Whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth? He punishes whom He pleases, and forgives whom He pleases. And Allah is Powerful over all things.

یٰۤاَیُّہَا الرَّسُوۡلُ لَا یَحۡزُنۡکَ الَّذِیۡنَ یُسَارِعُوۡنَ فِی الۡکُفۡرِ مِنَ الَّذِیۡنَ قَالُوۡۤا اٰمَنَّا بِاَفۡوَاہِہِمۡ وَ لَمۡ تُؤۡمِنۡ قُلُوۡبُہُمۡ ۚۛ وَ مِنَ الَّذِیۡنَ ہَادُوۡا ۚۛ سَمّٰعُوۡنَ لِلۡکَذِبِ سَمّٰعُوۡنَ لِقَوۡمٍ اٰخَرِیۡنَ ۙ لَمۡ یَاۡتُوۡکَ ؕ یُحَرِّفُوۡنَ الۡکَلِمَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ مَوَاضِعِہٖ ۚ یَقُوۡلُوۡنَ اِنۡ اُوۡتِیۡتُمۡ ہٰذَا فَخُذُوۡہُ وَ اِنۡ لَّمۡ تُؤۡتَوۡہُ فَاحۡذَرُوۡا ؕ وَ مَنۡ یُّرِدِ اللّٰہُ فِتۡنَتَہٗ فَلَنۡ تَمۡلِکَ لَہٗ مِنَ اللّٰہِ شَیۡئًا ؕ اُولٰٓئِکَ الَّذِیۡنَ لَمۡ یُرِدِ اللّٰہُ اَنۡ یُّطَہِّرَ قُلُوۡبَہُمۡ ؕ لَہُمۡ فِی الدُّنۡیَا خِزۡیٌ ۚۖ وَّ لَہُمۡ فِی الۡاٰخِرَۃِ عَذَابٌ عَظِیۡمٌ ﴿۴۱﴾

5:41 O Messenger, do not let those grieve you who hasten to disbelief, from among those who say with their mouths, We believe, and their hearts do not believe, and from among those who are Jews — they are listeners for the sake of a lie, listeners for another people who have not come to you.2 They alter words after they are put in their (proper) places, saying: If you are given this, take it, and if you are not given this, be cautious. And he for whom Allah intends temptation, you control nothing for him against Allah. Those are they whose hearts Allah does not intend to purify. For them is disgrace in this world, and for them a grievous punishment in the Hereafter.

سَمّٰعُوۡنَ لِلۡکَذِبِ اَکّٰلُوۡنَ لِلسُّحۡتِ ؕ فَاِنۡ جَآءُوۡکَ فَاحۡکُمۡ بَیۡنَہُمۡ اَوۡ اَعۡرِضۡ عَنۡہُمۡ ۚ وَ اِنۡ تُعۡرِضۡ عَنۡہُمۡ فَلَنۡ یَّضُرُّوۡکَ شَیۡئًا ؕ وَ اِنۡ حَکَمۡتَ فَاحۡکُمۡ بَیۡنَہُمۡ بِالۡقِسۡطِ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ یُحِبُّ الۡمُقۡسِطِیۡنَ ﴿۴۲﴾

5:42 Listeners for the sake of a lie, devourers of forbidden things, so if they come to you, judge between them or turn away from them. And if you turn away from them, they cannot harm you at all. And if you judge, judge between them with equity. Surely Allah loves the equitable.3

وَ کَیۡفَ یُحَکِّمُوۡنَکَ وَ عِنۡدَہُمُ التَّوۡرٰىۃُ فِیۡہَا حُکۡمُ اللّٰہِ ثُمَّ یَتَوَلَّوۡنَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ ذٰلِکَ ؕ وَ مَاۤ اُولٰٓئِکَ بِالۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ ﴿٪۴۳﴾

5:43 And how do they make you a judge and they have the Torah in which is Allah’s judgment? Yet they turn away after that! And these are not believers.


  1. The cutting off of hands may be taken metaphorically or literally. If taken metaphorically, it would simply mean restraining the thief by imprisonment or otherwise. If taken literally, it must be emphasized that it is the maximum punishment, and whether it is inflicted would depend on the circumstances of the case. This punishment is called exemplary, and exemplary punishment could only be inflicted where the crime is very serious or the offender is a habitual criminal. The next verse shows that the punishment of cutting off the hand is only for a crimi­nal who does not reform, i.e. for the habitual offender. Moreover, what is required is repentance and reform. To give a man a chance to reform it is necessary that he should be given freedom of action before the more serious punishment is inflicted. I translate the word al-sāriq as meaning one addicted to theft, not only for the reasons given above but also because an explanatory read­ing of this word is al-sarriq, which is a noun of intensiveness, from the same root.
  2. The meaning is that they listen, but their object is only to invent lies and to give false reports to people who have not come to the Holy Prophet.
  3. By the agreement drawn up between the various nationalities of Madinah on the advent of the Holy Prophet there (see 2:84 footnote), all disputes were to be referred to the Holy Prophet, but the Jews had by this time become so inimical to the Prophet that he is allowed to refuse to judge between them. In case he judged between them, he is still told to judge with equity. To be equitable, despite their severe enmity, shows that the Prophet had reached the highest point of moral rectitude to which man can attain.