Surah Al-Ma’idah : Chapter 5 (line 20-30) The Table

20. When Moses said to his people, “O my people, remember God’s blessings upon you, when He placed prophets among you, and made you kings, and gave you what He never gave any other people.”

21. “O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has assigned for you, and do not turn back, lest you return as losers.”

22. They said, “O Moses, there are tyrannical people in it; we will not enter it until they leave it. If they leave it, we will be entering.”

23. Two men of those who feared, but whom God had blessed, said, “Go at them by the gate; and when you have entered it, you will prevail. And put your trust in God, if you are believers.”

24. They said, “O Moses, we will not enter it, ever, as long as they are in it. So go ahead, you and your Lord, and fight. We are staying right here.”

25. He said, “My Lord! I have control only over myself and my brother, so separate between us and between the wicked people.”

26. He said, “It is forbidden for them for forty years. They will wander aimlessly in the land. So do not grieve over the defiant people.”

27. And relate to them the true story of Adam’s two sons: when they offered an offering, and it was accepted from one of them, but it was not accepted from the other. He Said, “I will kill you.” He Said, “God accepts only from the righteous.”

28. “If you extend your hand to kill me, I will not extend my hand to kill you; for I fear God, Lord of the Worlds.”

29. “I would rather you bear my sin and your sin, and you become among the inmates of the Fire. Such is the reward for the evildoers.”

30. Then His soul prompted him to kill his brother, so he killed him, and became one of the losers.

My Interpretation: 

This is not a call for Muhammad to insult the Jews or Christian leaders, it is to ask them to come back to the original source of worship and to join hands together in unity. And one way that Muhammad is told to ask them is by telling them the story of what happened during Moses’s time, after the Jews were saved from slavery and the consequences of turning away from God.

After Moses set the Jews free from slavery, they were showed the Holy Land, but they feared the people in it, so they did not enter. This caused them to wander for 40 days looking for a new place to settle losing many lives to hunger and exhaustion because they lacked faith that the land provided for them was a good place to settle in the first place. Possibly the land was already filled with good believers in God, and the Jews’s racism and suspicion caused them to lose out on the true peace shown to them.

Muhammad is told another story about what lacking of faith does and how it misleads people to err in their own souls.

Adam’s sons, Cain and Abel, also disagreed between each other a long time ago. One wanted to give God something good in sacrifice (charity, donation, fasting, service), and the other something not accepted by God (blood sacrifice, idol, wealth, food). The discrepancies between land of the brothers was seen by who God found to be His devoted servant and who was not. This caused a jealousy and hatred in the heart of one of the sons who’s deeds was not accepted by God. So the disbelieving son killed the believing son causing him to be one of the losers of Heaven, because he murdered his brother in cold blood without remorse and lacked faith.

An artist’s rendition of Cain attacking and killing Abel