The Table Set With Viands (Food) From Heaven.

The Quran has recorded this particular miracle, in the following verses :

"And remember when the disciples said, "O Jesus, son of `Maryam (Mary)! Can your Lord send down for us a table from heaven?" Jesus said, "Fear Allah, if you have faith." They said, "We only wish to eat from it and satisfy our hearts and know that you have told us the truth and be witnesses of the miracle." Jesus, son of Maryam (Mary), said, "O Allah, our Lord! Send us, from heaven, a table, that it may be for us - for the first and last of us - a solemn festival and a sign from You and provide our sustenance, as You are the best Sustainer." Allah replied, "I will send it down to you, but if any of you should reject faith after it, I shall punish him with a punishment such as I have never inflicted upon anyone from the Universe." 5/112-115. This verse indicates that Jesus forbade the disciples from making such a request, warning them to fear Allah, indicating that if they had faith in Allah and in what Jesus had brought, these would be sufficient miracles and signs.

Imam Qurtubi has elaborated upon the disciples’ request saying that they continued to ask even after being forbidden by Jesus, for the following four reasons:

  1. To eat, possibly to fulfill their need and hunger or possibly to partake of food from a table of heaven, only to gain blessings from it.
  2. To satisfy their hearts. This satisfaction can possibly be in any of the following three ways : (a) to satisfy their hearts that Jesus was indeed a prophet, (b) to satisfy their hearts that Allah accepted their request, (c) to satisfy themselves that Allah had chosen them and given them the honour to be able to eat from a table consisting of food from heaven.
  3. The third reason for the disciples’ request for such a miracle to be sent to them, is that they would recognize, through this miracle, the fact that Jesus was a prophet and truthful in his claim of Prophethood.
  4. The fourth and final reason is that they could bear witness of the Oneness of Allah and bear witness upon Jesus as a prophet and apostle and be witnesses of the miracle for those who were not there to see it occur.
Imam Qurtubi has narrated that the majority of the scholars (without specifying which scholars) believe that the table was actually sent down. Qurtubi has supported this view saying, "The correct view is that the table did descend."

Imam Qurtubi also quoted Mujahid’s(d.103/681) view, which is that the table was not sent down as the people were threatened with punishment, if after the descent of the table, they refused to bring faith, and cancelled their request and refrained from such demands. Qurtubi considers this view to be incorrect. He then goes on to give a fuller description of this incident as follows. When the disciples requested such a table, Jesus stood up and weeping to his Lord, prayed, "O Allah, our Lord! Send to us a table from heaven, that it could be for us - the first and last of us - a solemn festival and a sign from You and provide us sustenance, as You are the best Sustainer." Allah accepted his supplication and replied, "I shall send it to you."

A red table between two clouds, one above and one beneath it descended. Whilst the people were staring in wonder upon it, Jesus was praying to his Lord, "O Allah! Make it a source of mercy and not a trial, You are my Lord to whom I ask for a miracle, so You give." The table landed in front of I`sa (Jesus), who prostrated immediately and so did the disciples with him.

Whilst engaged in prostration, a wonderful aroma assailed their nostrils, from the food, such an aroma they had never experienced before. Jesus then asked, "Who, from amongst you, is the most ardent worshipper of Allah, the most courageous, the nearest to his Lord and the most reliant upon the Sustainer? He is the one who should remove the cover off the table, so that we may eat from it and take the name of our Lord upon it and praise Him upon it." The disciples replied, "You, Jesus, are the most befitting and deserving of this act." Thus Jesus performed ablution, prayed Salaat and offered supplication, then sat by the table and removed the cover.

They were all surprised to find that the table was laden with varied provisions as follows : a huge fried fish, without bones, was placed in the center and different types of vegetables were set around it. Salt and vinegar flanked its head and five different kinds of bread were placed at its tail. Upon one bread were placed five pomegranates, dates were upon another, olives upon a third, cheese upon a fourth and eggs graced the last. Sham’oon, the leader of the disciples, asked, "Is this food that of paradise or the food of this world?" Jesus’ reply was, "This is food specially created for you, it is neither from paradise or this world. Allah said to it, "BE," and so it was."

The people asked for yet another sign in addition to the table, so Jesus ordered the fish to become alive which it did. The disciples told Jesus to eat from the food first, but Jesus refused saying, "Those who asked for it should eat from it." But the disciples feared to partake of the food, so Jesus called to the poor and said to them, "Eat from the provision of your lord, upon the invitation of your prophet and praise Allah upon it." The poor people fell upon the food and the disciples joined in, after which Jesus had to fix turns for the people, as they would all gather upon the table and cause congestion. The people ate from the table for forty days.

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