SURAH II - AL-BAQARA (THE COW)

SURAH II

AL-BAQARA (THE COW)

                        

Revealed at Madina

(This Surah, which is 286 verses long, is the longest Surah in the Holy Qur’an.It takes its name form the cow which was mentioned in verses 67-73. Verses 275- 281, belongs to the last month’s of prophet’s death. Verse 281 is considered to be the last revelation which he received.

The Jews were ordered to slaughter a cow, but they disobeyed. When the Jews lost the true faith, they disobeyed Moses, inventing various excuses.

This surah starts with a declaration of the purpose of underlying the revelation of the Holy Qur’an as a whole. It discusses in detail man’s guidance in all of his worldly affairs and the most important spiritual life.

Throughout the Surah runs the five point Our’anic doctrine that Allah is the self-sufficient- “al-qayyum” ; that the fact of His existence, reiterated with prophets coming one after another at intervals, is accessible to man’s intellect ; that living a righteous way of life is more important than merely believing, that bodily death will be followed resurrection and judgement ‘on the Day of Judgement’ ; and among the men the who are truly conscious of their responsibility to God “need to have no fear and grief.”

This Surah also deals with the establishment of the “Umma”, the Islamic Brotherhood of Believers, together with the main principles of the Islamic law, and lays down ordinances for the ordering of society.

The Ka’ba was now to be the centre of the universal worship and the symbol of the Islamic Community, the Umma.

The story of man’s creation is told, and that of the Children of  Israel, of the privileges they received and how they refused them. There are references to Moses and Jesus, and their struggle with injustice and cruelty, and their persevering endeavors to establish the true faith.

The Patriarch Abraham (Ibrahim) is mentioned as a most righteous man and leader; he was the progenitor of the Arabs ( Ishmael’s line) and the Jews (Israel’s line). Ibrahim (peace be upon him), aided by his son, built the Ka’ba (the house of Worship at Makka), and purified it. Finally he established the universal religion of Islam for all mankind.;

In this chapter, issues of prayer, fasting, jihad, charity, patience and endurance under cruelty, gambling, and wine-drinking, divorce, contract, pilgrimage, the abolition of usury, the good treatment of orphans and women, are also discussed.

The Verse of the Throne ( Ayat al-Kuris) is also to be found in this Surah: a famous passage where Allah’s sublime and transcendent nature is called to mind. The Surah ends with a prayer forgiveness of shortcomings.

The period of revelation of this Surah was the years 1 and 1 A.H.)

 

THE COW

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

1. Alif. Lam. Mim

 (The true meaning of initials of this type is only known to Allah.

 These mystical letters are called al-Huruf al-Muqatta’at, and are placed at the beginning of several Surahs, of which they are an integral part. Different interpreters and commentators have ascribed a range of different meanings to them, without, however, arriving at any consensus.)

2. This is the Book in which there is no doubt, in it is guidance for those who fear God.

3. Who believe in the unseen, establish the Salat-prayer, and spend out of what We have given them.

4. And who believe in that which is sent down to you (Muhammad), and that which was sent down before you (the Books and the Prophets), and have certain faith in the Hereafter.

5. These are the people on true guidance from their Lord, and such are ( the people who are truly) successful.

6. As for the disbelievers, it is the same whether you warn them, or warn them not (of the final punishment). They will not believe.

7. Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes there is a covering. For them there is a great penalty (both in this world, and the hereafter).

8. And there are some who say, “We believe in Allah and the Last Day”, yet they believe not.

9. They think to deceive Allah and the believers, but they deceive no-one except themselves, though they realize it not.

10. In their hearts is a disease, so Allah has increased their disease. Because of their lies there is a great penalty for them.

11. When it is said to them: “Make not mischief in the earth”, they say: “We are only peacemakers.”

12. Nay, they are the ones who make mischief, but they realize it not.

13. And when it is said to them, “Believe as people believe”, they say: “Shall we believe as the fools believe?” They themselves are the fools, though they realize it not.

14. And when (these hypocrites) meet those who believe, they say: “We believe!” but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say: “We are with you, we were only mocking.”

15. Allah (Himself) does mock at them (in reality, whether they realize it or not), leaving them to wander blindly in their rebellion.

16. These are the people who have purchased error at the price of guidance, but their trade is profitless, and they are not guided.

(Having announced at the beginning of this Surah that the Holy Qur’an is without doubt the Book and the guidance, Allah proceeds to categorize men into three main types of attitude to faith.

(I) The believers, whose attributes are discussed in the five verses of the Surah.

(II) The disbelievers, whose qualities are discussed in the sixth and seventh verses.

(III) The Hypocrites, whose qualities, or signs, are discussed in detail from verses eight to twenty one.

In reading Qur’an, one must keep in mind the fact that the Speaker is always the Almighty Himself. Sometimes He lets His creation to speak also, and sometimes He punctuates the text with goodly examples for our reflection.)

17. Their condition ( the hypocrites) is the condition of one who kindles a fire, and, when it illuminates all around him, Allah takes away their light and leaves them in darkness, where they cannot see (anything at all).

(Here the inner state of the Hypocrites is described. When they embrace Islam, they benefit from its light as if they had languished in a dark night, but when they turn away from faith back to unbelief :kufr”, that light vanishes. They return to their previous condition, for without light they are blind.)

18. They are deaf, dumb and blind, they will not return (to the right way).

19. Or as though when a heavy rain is fallen from the sky, accompanied by darkness, thunder, and lightning, they press their fingers into their ears for fear of death; but Allah encircles the disbelievers.

20. The lightning terrifies them as if it would snatch away their eyesight. When they see light, they walk a little, and when it becomes dark for them, they stand still. Indeed, if Allah willed, He could take away their sight and hearing. Allah has power over all things.

(As we notice from the above verses, the disbelievers and the hypocrites suffer from a confusion in the mind. Sometimes they act as though they see the truth; sometimes they are hesitant with fear and excitement, and sometimes they are in complete darkness. I spite of this inner turbulence, Allah preserves their sanity. Those who want to believe believe; while those who wish to disbelieve, disbelieve and prepare themselves for eternal punishment.

The next verses explain that Allah is the Creator of all things, and He alone is worthy of worship. Allah the Exalted is the sole Creator of everything man needs in order to exist. Men are obligated to know this fact, and act accordingly. 

21. O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you,  so that you may protect yourselves.

22. It is your Lord who made the earth a bed, and the sky a canopy; and it is He Who sends down rain from above for the growth of every kind of   food for your sustenance .And do not set up rivals to Allah, while you know better.

23. And if you are in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto Our slave (Muhammad), then produce a Surah of the like thereof, and call your witnesses who are apart from Allah, if you are truthful.

24. But if you cannot do it, and you can never do it, then guard yourselves against the fire whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.

(In the above verses, mankind is called to believe in Allah. It is explained that it is Allah who created man, and gave him life and death and sustenance. They were challenged to produce a Qur’an similar to this. The impossibility of producing a second Qur’an was explained and stressed, and the consequent principle that those who do not believe in the Prophet and in his messages will be punished with hellfire. In the next verses, the glad-tidings to the believers of Heaven and their condition there will be explained.)

25. And give glad tidings to those who believe and do good deeds. For them there will be gardens beneath which rivers flow. Their fruits will resemble what had been given them before (in the world.) Every time they are served with such fruits they will say, “This is what was given to us aforetime!” And there will be pure spouses for them, and they will abide there for ever.

 (In this verse, the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is told that those who believe and do good deeds in the world will receive a reward in the hereafter. Although some of those blessings or rewards will be similar to those available in the world, they are greatly superior. According to a hadith narrated by Bukhari : “ the people of the garden will be  rewarded with what no eye has seen, no eye heard, and which has never occurred to mortal mind.”)

26. Allah does not disdain to coin even a gant as a parable, or a larger creature. As for those who believe, they know that it is the Truth from their Lord. But those who disbelieve say, “What does God wish to teach by such a parable?” He leads astray many thereby, and guides many. And He leads astray only the corrupt

The word ‘fasiq’ mentioned here means the corrupt or a disobedient person who transgresses all boundaries or limits imposed by Allah.

27. Those who break Allah’s Covenant after ratifying it, who cut asunder what Allah has ordered to be joined, and who commit evil in the earth. These are indeed the losers.

(A-  Allah’s Covenant  ‘Ahd’ is His standing command to all mankind to submit to Him and worship and serve Him alone. The ratification of the Covenant to hich the whole of mankind agreed at the creation of Adam, as mentioned in Surah Al- Ar’af : verse 172 that they will obey and serve Him alone

(B-   That is, they cut asunder and break the mutual bonds and relationships on whose establishment and strength depends man’s collective and individual well being and which Allah has enjoined to be observed rightly and properly.)

28. (O disbelievers!) How can you deny Allah. When you were dead, and He gave you life? Then He will cause you to die and then restore you to life, and you will return to Him (to give an account) 

(In this verse the idea of death refers to the condition of man (either all men or individuals). A soul’s life passes through three stages: (1) “ Creation from death “(creation from nothing or creation from lifelessness); (2) Death itself; (3) Restoration to life after death. The verse also explains that individuals will be required to account for themselves on the day of judgement. In this way, incidentally, the theory of reincarnation is repudiated.)

29. He created for you all that there is on Earth; then He turned to the sky and fashioned it into seven heavens. He has full knowledge of all things.

30. Recall the time when your Lord told the Angels “I am setting a man (Adam) on the Earth as a vicegerent. They asked: “Will you put there one that will work evil and shed blood, when we praise you and sanctify Your name?” He replied, “Surely I know what you know not.”

(The Angels could not grasp man’s function, for the is not a simple being, but God’s vicegerent on the Earth, who is to live in a state of constant trial until the day of judgement.)

31. He taught Adam the names (of all things, and their usefulness), and then showed them to the Angels: “Tell me the names of these, if you are truthful.”

(The term ‘ism’ – name implies according to the philologists, an expression used to convey knowledge (about a thing) applied to denote a substance or an event or attributes (of something). We might understand by this that by “Adam” the whole human race (from Adam to the last day) is meant here become obvious from the preceding reference by the angels, to “such as will spread evil and shed blood,” as well as from part 8 Surah 7, verse 11. Look also the explanatory note below.)

32. “Glory be to You “they replied. “We have no knowledge except that which You have given us. You alone are the Knower, the Wise.”

33. The He said: “O Adam, tell them their names;” and when Adam had informed them of them, He said, “Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of  heaven and earth, and all that you conceal and all that you reveal?”

(After this, Allah “tested” the angels in another way.)

34. And when We said to the angels: “Prostrate yourselves before Adam!” the all prostrated themselves, except Iblis, who in his pride refused, and turned his face away, and become a disbeliever.

(After this real test came, this time to man “Adam”: whether to obey Satan or to obey Allah.)

35. We said: “O Adam! Dwell with your wife (Eve) in paradise, and eat of its fruits to your hearts’ content, wherever and whenever you will, but never approach this tree, or you shall both become transgressors.”

36. But Satan caused them to swerve from it (the Garden), and expelled them from their former state. “Go down,” We said, “your offspring enemies to each other. The earth will for a while provide your sustenance, and a dwelling place.”

37. Then Adam received words from his Lord, and his Lord relented towards him. He is the Forgiver, the Merciful.

(There are various interpretations of the “words” that Adam received from his Lord. They may have been either warnings or advice to Adam. According to Ibn Mas’ud, the recitation of the “Subhanaka “prayer before the Fatiha is the prayer and supplication made by Adam to his Lord. Although only the name of Adam is mentioned, Eve is also included in this.)

38. We said “Go down, all of you, from here: yet Guidance shall come unto you from Me; and whoever follows My guidance, no fear shall come upon him, neither shall he grieve.

39. But those who disbelieve, and reject Our revelations, shall be doomed to the Fire, where the will remain forever.

40. O Children of Israel, remember My favor which I did bestow upon you, and fulfill your Covenant with Me and I shall fulfill My covenant with you; and fear Me alone.

41. And believe in the Book ( The Holy Qur’an ) I have now sent down, which confirms the Scripture which you already possess, and be not the first to reject it. Sell not My revelations for a paltry price; and fear Me alone.

(A reference to the persistent Jewish belief that the alone among all nations have been graced by divine revelation. The “paltry price” or “trifling gain” is their form conviction that they are “God’s chosen people”. This claim is consistently refuted in the Holy Qur’an.)

42. Do not confound truth with falsehood, nor knowingly conceal the truth.

43. Establish Salat, and pay Zakat, and bow with those who bow down.

44. How is it that you enjoin others to follow the Right Way, but forget it yourselves, though you read the Scriptures (the Torah)! Have you no sense?

45. Seek help in patience and with Salat; and truly it is hard save for the humble-minded.

(What is meant by patience (sabr) here is: fasting and salat, for these strengthen faith, teach a man to be humble, put an end to laziness and idleness, and make a man strong enough to face all other kinds of difficulties. According to the historian al-Tabari, whenever the Prophet Muhammed faced any kind of difficulty he immediately offered two rak’ats of Salat; Ibn Abbas used to do the same thing. The “humble minded” are those whose hearts are filled with the fear of Allah. They find no difficulty in praying, fasting, and telling the truth under all circumstances.)

46. Those (who are humble-minded) who know that they will meet their Lord and that to Him they will return.

47. O Children of Israel! Remember My favor that I bestowed upon you and how I preferred you above all the worlds (for my message, during a certain historical period.)

(For a nation to which a prophet is sent is certainly a “chosen” one. A Prophet, and then his family and nation, are in an honorable position. Yet their responsibility toward the Lord is equally great, for they have been blessed with a Prophet and Scriptures sent down by Allah. The Nation of  Israel, although “chosen” as indicated in the above verse, because of their subsequent deviation and disobedience to Allah, were reduced to a position of disgrace, as will be explained in verse 61. The wrath of the Lord descended upon them because of their ingratitude.)

48. And guard yourselves against a day when no soul shall aid another, and no intercession or ransom, or any compensation shall be accepted from it. Nor will they be helped.

49. (Remember) how We delivered you from Pharaoh’s people, who afflicted you with dreadful torment, slaying your sons and sparing your women. Surely that was a great trial from your Lord.

(“Pharaoh” is the generic name given to the ancient Egyptian rulers. Before the advent of Moses, scholars foretold that a child from the Children of Israel would destroy the throne of Pharaoh. After learning this, Pharaoh gave orders to slay the sons of the Children of Israel and spare the daughters.)

50. And (remember when) We parted the sea for you, and, taking you to safety, drowned Pharaoh’s followers before your eyes.

(A reference to a body of water, probably the Gulf of Suez, which was parted in two so that the people of Moses could passed into safety; and the army of Pharaoh was drowned.)

51. And when We appointed for Moses forty nights (of communing), and then you adopted the calf, and worshipped it, and thus became wrongdoers.

(The story is told in Surah Ta Ha of Moses’ visit to mount Tur, at which time a man by the name of Samiri brought a golden calf, and asked people to worship it, saying, “ This is your Lord. Moses forgot to tell you to worship this. Moses’ brother Aaron (Harun) could not prevent this.)

52. Then after that, We pardoned you, in order that you might give thanks.

53. And when We gave Moses the Scripture and the criterion (between right and wrong) that you might be led a right.

54. Moses told his people: “O my people, you have wronged yourselves by taking the calf. Turn in repentance to your Creator, and kill your (lower) selves. That will be best for you with your Creator, and He will relent towards you. He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.”

55. And when you said to Moses: “We will not believe in you until we see Allah with our own eyes,” a bolt of lightning struck you while you were looking on.

56. Then We revived you after your extinction, that you might give thanks.

(The people that were struck by lightning were revived, and realized that what they had asked for was wrong. In the above verse this is described in terms of [dying] and [reviving].)

57. And We caused the clouds to shade you, and sent down upon you manna and quails, saying, “Eat of the good things We have given you. “ Indeed, they did not wrong Us, but they wronged themselves.

(In these verses the mischief of the Children of Israel is explained, that we may derive a lesson, and not be among those upon whom Allah’s wrath descends. The best conduct of man lies in keeping himself from evil acts, being tolerant to others, not forgetting that all men are human beings; all of which he does by disobeying his own selfish desires. There are two reasons why the Jews have been condemned and put down throughout history and in all cultures. Not only are they a major cause of mischief and evil throughout the world, but they think that they are better than others. They misinterpret the fact that they were the chosen people to mean that they are superior to all others.)

58. And when We said, “Go into this town and eat where you will, to your hearts’ content. Make your way through   the gates by bowing down, saying: “We repent.” We shall forgive you your sins and bestow abundance on the right-doers among you.”

(The word ‘qaryah’ primarily denotes a “village” or “town, but it is also used in the sense of “land”. Here it apparently refers to Palestine. The town mentioned in the above verse is either Jerusalem or Jericho. The right- doers (muhsinin) are those who do their tasks thoroughly without any shortcomings. A person who has the qualities of Muhsin is praised very highly. In the famed Hadith of Gabriel, he is described as being “he who acts as though the Lord is seeing him.”

The interpretation of the word hittah is recorded by most of the lexicographers on the basis of what many companions of the Prophet said about it. According to Ibn Kathir’s commentary on this verse “The Children of Israel were admonished to take possession of the Promised Land (“enter the gate”) in a spirit of humality.)

59. But the wrongdoers changed the words which had been said to them for another saying, and We sent down upon the wrongdoers’ wrath from Heaven as a punishment for their misdeeds.

60. And when Moses asked for water for his people, We said to him: “Strike the rock with your staff!” And there gushed out there from twelve springs. Each tribe knows its drinking-place. (We said) “Eat and drink of that which Allah has provided, and do not make mischief in the earth.”

(The stone mentioned in this verse was a special one that Moses (Musa) carried with him. According to some traditional accounts, Adam had brought this stone from Heaven, and it was passed down the generations, coming finally to Moses.)

61. And when you said, “O Moses! We cannot endure only one kind of food, so call on your Lord to give us some of the varied produce of the earth, green herbs, cucumbers, garlic, lentils and onions!” He said “Would you exchange that which is higher for that which is lower? Go down to the settled country. There you shall obtain what you have asked for.” Shame and misery were stamped on them, and they incurred the wrath of Allah, because they disbelieved His signs and slew His prophets unjustly. That was for their disobedience and transgression.

(The Children of Israel assassinated Jethro, Zachariah, John and Jesus (In the case of Jesus “they thought they slew Jesus, but they did not!” God raised him to Himself.) No matter how intelligent they might be, they are not intelligent enough to see the Truth. And they have not used their intelligence to control their evil yearnings within themselves. And so it is that they shall never have peace on earth. As the next verse shows, however, if they are true in faith, they are acceptable to the Lord.)

62. Those who believe (in the Qur’an and the the Prophets sent before you), Jews, Christians, and Sabaeans; whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does what is right; shall be rewarded by their Lord; no fear shall come upon them, neither shall they regret.

(The name “Jew” was given to the Jews after they had repented of worshipping the golden calf. According to another narration it is a name which comes from Jahuza who was the oldest son of the prophet Jacob ( Ya’qub). Nasara, in turn, is the name given to Christians, perhaps because Jesus (Isa) came from Nazareth, although according to certain other accounts it is taken from Surah Al’Imran 52 and Surah al-Saff 14, where the words “man ansari ila’llah” are used.)

63. (O Children of Israel! Remember) when We made a Covenant with you, and caused the Mount to tower above you, (saying): “Hold firmly to what We have given you, and remember that which is therein, that you may guard yourselves (against evil).”

64. Then, after that, you turned away, and if it had not been for the grace of Allah and his mercy you would have been among the losers.

65. And you know of those of you who broke the Sabbath, how We said unto them: “You shall be detested apes.”

66. We made their fate (changing into the state of detested apes) an example to their own generation and to those who followed them, and a lesson to the God-fearing.

67. And when Moses said to his people: “Allah commands you to sacrifice a cow,” they replied: “Are you making fun of us?” He answered: “Allah forbid that I should be among the ignorant!”

(According to certain accounts, a man among the Children of Israel killed his uncle, in order to acquire his wealth. Moses attempted to identify the killer, but could not. Praying for divine aid, he received the command to sacrifice a cow. When Musa announced this sacrifice to the Israelites they treated it as a jest, and attempted to find all kinds of excuses in order to evade the command. The more questions they asked, the more answers they received; finally they ran out of excuses in order of excuses and obeyed. The Israelities used a piece of meat taken from the sacrificed cow to strike the dead person, who was revived and then disclosed the name of his killer.)

68. They said, “ pray for us to your Lord that He make clear to us what kind of cow she shall be.” Moses answered: “He says that she should neither be old nor immature but a cow between the two conditions; so do that which you are commanded.”

69. Then they asked, “Pray for us to your Lord that He make clear to us of what color she should be.” Moses answered: “He says that she is a yellow cow; bright her color, pleasing to the eye.”

70. (O Moses), they said: “Pray for us to your Lord, that He make known to us the exact type of cow she should be, for to us cows look alike, And if Allah wills, we shall be rightly guided.”

(The obstinate desire of the Jews to obtain closer and closer definitions of the simple commandment revealed to them through Moses had it almost impossible for them for them to fulfill it. Tabari quotes the following remark of Ibn Abbas: “ If’in the first instance’ they had sacrificed any cow chosen by themselves, they would have fulfilled their duty; but they made it complicated for  themselves, and so Allah made it complicated for them- Zamakhshari has expressed the similar view, in the same context.)

71. He answered, “Your Lord says: ‘She should be a cow which has not been yoked, nor has ploughed the land or watered the fields, a cow free from any blemish.’” “Now you have told us the truth,” they answered; and they sacrificed it, although almost did not.

As is evident from verse 72, the story related in this and the subsequent passages might be referred to the Mosaic law which ordains that in certain cases of unresolved murder a cow should be sacrificed, and the murder should wash their hands over it and declare, “Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it”-whereupon the community would be absolved of collective responsibility. See “Deuteronomy XXI, I-9”).

72. And (remember) when you slew a man and began to accuse one another, but Allah made known what you concealed.

73. So We commanded “Strike (the corpse) with a piece of it (the sacrificed cow).” Thus Allah restores the dead to life and shows you His signs (the miracles given to the Prophets), that you may understand.

74. After all this your hearts became as hard as rock, or even harder; for from some rocks rivers burst forth, while others split asunder so that water gushes from them, while others fall down for fear of Allah. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.

75. Now (O company of believers), do you then hope that they will believe in you, when some of them have already heard the word of Allah and knowingly perverted it, after they had understood its meaning?

(Rabbis subsequent to Moses changed the Torah, and interpreted it according to their own desires. Even today there are some Muslims who like to interpret Scripture according to their own preference. According to a hadith we are told that whoever interprets the Qur’an according to his own human opinion shall enter hellfire.)

76. When they (the hypocrites) meet with the believers they declare “We are believers.” But when they are alone they say to each other: “Will you tell them what God has revealed to you, that they might contend with you before your Lord concerning it? Have you then no sense?”

 (The above argument applies to the Biblical prophecy relating to the coming of a prophet {from among the brethren} of the children of Israel.)

77. Do they really not know that Allah has full knowledge of all they hide and all that they reveal?

78. There are illiterate men among them who are ignorant of the Scripture (the Torah), and depend on nothing but conjecture and guesswork.

(The word here rendered as “illiterate” may, according to some authorities, instead denote some Arabs that were neither Jewish nor Christian.)

79. Woe to those who write the Scripture with their own hands, and then declare, “This is from Allah,” in order to sell it for a paltry price. Woe unto them because of that their hands have written, and woe unto them for what they have gained (from their trade)!.

(Some Jewish rabbis used to append their own interpretations to the Torah and claim that these formed part of it, and used to sell these to people in exchange for money.)

80. They also say, “The Fire is not going to touch us, and (even if it does), it will be only for a few days!” Say (to them) : “Did Allah make such a promise, for Allah will not break His promise, or do you attribute to Allah things you do not know?”

 (According to Jewish belief, even the sinners among the children of Israel will suffer only very limited punishment in the Hereafter, and will be quickly reprieved by virtue of their belonging to “the chosen people” a belief which the Holy Qur’an rejects.)

81. No, but whoever earns evil and becomes surrounded in his sin shall be doomed to Hell, and abide therein for ever.

82. And those who believe and do good works, shall be dwellers of the Garden, and live therein forever.

83. And (remember) when We made a covenant with the Children of Israel, We said: “Serve none but Allah, show kindness to your parents and to your relatives, to the orphans and the needy; speak kindly to mankind, establish the Prayer and pay the Zakat.” But with the exception of a few, you turned away and paid no heed.

(The Old Testament contains many rebellious attitudes of the Children of Israel (In Exodus XXXIII, 3 XXXIV, 9; Deuteronomy IX, 6-8, 23-24, 27.

           This information about the Jews was given because they had concealed the coming of the Prophet (Muhammed) announced in the Torah. At the time of the Prophet Muhammed there were a considerable number of Jews living around Yathrib, the city which is today known as Madinah. When the expected prophet appeared among the Arabs instead of the Jews they grew wildly jealous, which is one reason why so much is told about the Jews in the Qur’an. Because of their treason, the Final Prophet was often at odds with the Jews, many of whom, convinced that no revelation could come after the Hebrew prophets, continue to bear a grudge against Muslims today.)

84. (O Children of Israel, remember) when We made a Covenant with you, saying: “You shall not shed blood among yourselves, nor expel one another from your homes.” And you confirmed it, and were witnesses thereto.

85. But in spite of this ( the solemn promise you made), you were slaying your own brethren and driving them out from their homes and helping others against them with sin and aggression. And when they come to you as captives you ransom them, although the expulsion (itself) was unlawful for you. Do you believe in one part of the Scripture and disbelieve in another? Those of you that act thus shall only be rewarded with disgrace in this world, and with the most grievous punishment on the Day of Resurrection. Allah is not unaware of what you do.

86. Such are they who buy the life of this world at the price of the hereafter. Their punishment will not be lightened , nor will they be helped.

(The above verses explain the sundry mischiefs caused by the Jews. Before Islam, the Jews of Madina were divided into two warring groups. When they took each other prisoner they would pay an indemnity for them and take them back, explaining, when asked the reason: “This is the commandment of Allah.”

87. And assuredly We gave Moses the Scripture, and after him We sent messenger after messenger. We gave Jesus son of Mary the clear miracles (to serve as proofs of Allah’s sovereignty.) and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit (the Angel Gabriel). Is it so, that whenever a Messenger whose message does not suit your desires, comes to you, you grow arrogant, denying some of them, and slaying others?

(Here in this verse, there are two very important points; first one is the stress upon the continous succession of prophets among the Jews after Moses which fact deprives them of any excuse of ignorance. Second point is the rendering of rouh al-qudus- the Holy Spirit (the Angel Gabriel- Divine Inspiration.)

 88. They (the Jews) say: “Our hearts are wrappings (which are enough to preserve the divine world), “but Allah has cursed them for their unbelief. Little faith do they have.

 (An allusion to boast and conceit of the Jews that in view of the religious knowledge which they already possess, they are in no need of any further preaching as indicated in the above verse in reference to “Our hearts are wrappings (which are enough themselves to preserve the divine word). This is one the reasons why they rejected Islam and got jeaulous of prophet Muhammed which led them to be disbelievers by not accepting him.

The Jewish beliefs are centred on themselves and their alleged “exceptional” status in the sight of God as for as they are concerned, this idea also leads them to disbelief in Islam.)

89. And now that a Scripture from Allah confirming their own (the Torah)- though before they were asking for a victory over the disbelievers- has come they deny it, although they know it to be the truth. May Allah’s curse be on disbelievers.

90. Evil is that for which they have sold their souls: to deny Allah’s own revelation, grudging that He should reveal His bounty to whom He chooses from His servants! They have incurred wrath upon wrath. For disbelievers there is a humiliating punishment.

(Again, it is stressed in this verse that the envy of the Jews prevented them accepting a prophet coming from Arabian descend “Muhammed” not from the Israel descend like the previous prophets.)

91. And when it is said to them: “Believe in what Allah has revealed,” they say: “We believe in what was revealed to us(the Torah).” But they deny what has since been revealed, although it is the truth, confirming that which they possess. Say (to them, O Prophet): “Why then did you kill the messengers of Allah aforetime, if you are indeed believers?”

 (The reference here given that “We believe in what was revealed” to them (Jews) is the Law of Moses, which prohibits the killing not only the prophets but any other innocent human being. Jew killed John the Babtist, (Yahya), Zachariah and the others without a just cause.)

92. Moses came to you with clear signs, but in his absence you chose the calf, and you were wrongdoers.

 Because of their (Jews’) denial of the truth and for turning away from the genuine message brought by Moses, they went astray and fell into worshipping material goods, symbolized by the golden calf.)

93. And (remember) when We made a covenant with you, and raised the Mount above you, (saying), “Hold fast to what We have given you, and hear (Our commandments),” you said, “We hear and disobey.” For their disbelief, they were made to drink into their hearts (the love of) the Calf. Say (to them), “Evil is that which your belief enjoins you to, if you are believers.”

 (Some central points are discussed in the above verses. Although the Jews knew that there was a prophet coming at some future date, they rejected Muhammed because he was not from the Jews, but from the Arabs (verse 89). They had not really believed even in Moses, although he brought many miracles, for they regressed to the worship of the “golden calf.” To admonish them, the Lord made the Mount tower above them. At first they were afraid, and said: “We hear and obey”; yet soon they returned to disobedience. These stories, while ancient and specific to one people, retain their relevance to all mankind.

94. (O Muhammad), say to them, “If the abode of the Hereafter with Allah is exclusively reserved for you, and not for the rest of mankind, them long for death, if you are sincere in your claim!”

(An allusion of the Jewish belief that paradise is reserved for the Children of Israel alone. Look also for verse III of this Surah Al Bakara).

95. But they will never long for death, because of what their hands have wrought. And Allah is Aware of the wrongdoers.

(The Jews claimed that “the Hereafter is only for Jews. “And yet due to their weak faith, they will never wish to die. These verses show the racist attitude of the Jews, which shall abide until the Day of Judgement.)

96. You will find that, of all mankind, they are the greediest for life; greedier, even, than the polytheists. Each of them would love to live a thousand years, although to do so would by no means remove them from the punishment. Allah is Seer of all that they do.

97. Say (O Muhammad, to them): “Who is an enemy to Gabriel?” For it is he who has revealed (this scripture) to your heart by Allah’s leave, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, and a guidance and glad tidings to believers.

 (According to an account, a rabbi of the Arabian town of Fadak, named Abdullah ibn Suriya, argued with the Prophet Muhammad and asked him: “Who brings you the revelations?” When the Prophet answered that it was the Archangel Gabriel he grew angry, and said: “He is our enemy. If somebody else brought it, we would believe.” The next verse was revealed following this incident.)

 98. Who is an enemy to Allah and His Angels and His Messengers, and to Gabriel and Michael? Thus is Allah (Himself) an enemy to the disbelievers.

 99. (O Muhammad), We have sent down to you clear signs (in the revelation), and none but miscreants will deny them.

 100. Is it not so that whenever they make a covenant a party of them set it aside? Nay, most of them do not believe.

 101. And whenever a Messenger comes to them from Allah, confirming that Scripture which they already possess, a group from among those who had received the Book threw the book of Allah behind their backs as though they knew nothing.

 (According to some accounts the Jews are of four categories:

     1. Those who believe in the Torah and accept it. These, who are called “The People of the Book”, are few in number.

    2. Those who rejected the Scriptures and caused schism and mischief. This is the group referred to in these verses.

     3. The ignorant, who do not know what they are doing.

     4. The hypocrites who, although feigning faith, in reality strive to work mischief in the earth.)

102. They followed that which the devils had falsely attributed to the kingdom of Solomon. Yet Solomon did not disbelieve, but the devils disbelieved, teaching people magic, and that which was sent down to Harut and Marut, the two angels at Babylon. Nor did they (the two angels) teach it to anyone until they had said; “We are only a temptation, therefore do not disbelieve (in Allah’s guidance).” And from these two, people learn that by which they cause division between man and wife; but they injure no-one thereby save by Allah’s leave. And they learn that which harms them, and profits them not. And surely they do know that he who traffics therein will have no (happy) portion in the Hereafter; and surely evil is the price for which they sell their souls, if they but knew.

 (The ancient clans used to believe in witchcraft, by means of which their magicians used to deceive the masses.

Several kinds of witchcraft exist:

 1.      The witchcraft of the Chaldeaens, who worshipped the stars, which, they held, direct the universe. Both good and evil comes from them, and when the forces of the sky are united with the forces of the earth miracles occur. In order to deliver a message to those people, the patriarch Abraham was sent by God to tell them the truth.

2.      The witchcraft that depends on quasi-spiritualist forces. According to the exponents of this type, man can eliminate the spirit, create, kill, and bring back to life, and by spiritualist means effect certain changes in the human body.

3.      Witchcraft that depends for its operation on mediums and spiritual beings such as the jinns.

4.      Prestidigitation.

 The Islamic scholars are unanimously agreed that the first and the second group are to be reckoned forms of disbelief. However, as long as a man believes in Allah as the sole Creator, there can sometimes be justification for learning certain categories of magic. Magical techniques were current among the Jews to a considerable extent, and because of this many people believed that the Prophet Solomon (Suleyman) was a great magician, whose arts aided him to govern his kingdom, and also the realm of the animals and jinn. When Solomon was recognized as a prophet in the Qur’an, the Jews said “Muhammad thinks Solomon was a Prophet, but he was not, he was a magician.”)

103. And if they had believed in Allah and protected themselves from evil, a recompense from Allah would have been better, if they had but known.

104. (O believers!) do not say: “Ra’ina,” but say “Unzurna” and listen; and for the disbelievers there is a painful punishment.

(Ra’ina, meaning “look at us”, could easily be distorted by enemies to give a derisory sense. Hence the believers were counseled to use a from which could not be thus distorted.)

105. (O Believers!) Neither the disbelievers among the people of the Book nor the polytheists would like it that there should be sent down to you any good thing from your Lord. But Allah chooses for His mercy whom He Wills, and Allah is of tremendous favour.

106. If We abrogate any verse or cause it to be forgotten. We replace it by a better or a similar one. Do you know that Allah has power over all things?

 (When a verse is revealed to cancel out an earlier provision of revelation, this is called naskh., or “abrogation”. Allah has over the centuries sent new prophets and books to fulfill the needs of a world whose culture and civilization is on constant change. The verses abrogated within the Qur’anic text itself, however, are very few in number.)

107. Do you not know that it is to Allah that the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth belongs, and that there is none besides Him to protect or help you?

108. Or would you then question your Prophet as Moses was once questioned He who changes belief for disbelief surely strays from the right path.

 (The Children of Israel demanded from Moses at his time to see “God face to face” The Jews refused the message of Qur’an and demanded “objective” proof of the divine origin. God is giving the message in the Holy Qur’an “He who changes belief for disbelief surely strays from the right path. “ Jews by not believing in the message of the Holy Qur’an  went astray into disbelief.

109. Many of the People of the Book wish through their envy to lead you back to disbelief, now that you have embraced faith and the truth has become manifest to them. Forgive and be indulgent (towards them), until Allah makes known His will. He has power over all things.

110. Establish the Prayer, and pay Zakat, and whatever good you send before (you) for our souls, you will find it with Allah. He is Watcher over all your actions.

111. And they say, “None will enter the Garden unless he be a Jew or a Christian.” These are their own desires. Bring your proof (of what you state), if you are truthful.  

 (Many among the followers of the earlier revelations whether they be Jew or a Christian would like to bring their own people to disbelief by denying the truth. They were asked to “bring your (their) proof” form their own scriptures (Taurat and the Gospel).                   

112. Whoever surrenders himself to Allah, while doing good, shall receive his reward from his Lord, and no fear shall come upon him, neither shall he grieve.

(To be an obedient servant to the Lord one needs to be “Muhsin” a doer of good: just worshipping the Lord is not enough for salvation. A muhsin is a person who does everything for the sake of Allah, and has no fear of anyone else. Whatever he does, he does in the most satisfactory way. It is told that a group of Christian Arabs once came to visit the Prophet. Following a debate, the following verses were revealed.)

 113. The Jews say the Christians are and the Christians say it is the Jews who are misguided; although both are readers of the Scripture. Even thus speak those who know not. Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein they differ.

 (A Gradual corruption of the original teachings of Moses and Jesus through the centuries led the Jews and Christians to allusions that who claimed that only the followers of their own Faith (denomination) shall enter into Heaven in the Hereafter and they will be the only ones who will deserve the God’s Grace.)

114. Who does greater wrong than he who forbids the approach to Allah’s sanctuaries, and seeks to destroy them, and forbid His name to be  mentioned in them? As for such people, they do not deserve to enter the place of worship unless it be with fear in their hearts. They will be held to shame in this world, and a painful punishment in the Hereafter shall be theirs.

 (According to the Muslim scholars the “sanctuaries” referred to here are: al- Masjid al-Haram in Makka, and al-Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. The Jews, the Christians and the polytheists have all tried to prevent the Muslims from using them. Instead of doing this, the Jews, Christians and polytheists should be entering the sanctuaries with fear of Allah, thus shall the divine wrath not fall upon them.)

115. To Allah belongs the East and the West. Whichever way you turn, there is the face of Allah. Allah is All-Embracing, and Allah is All- Knowing.

 (One reason why every Muslim turns his face in one direction is to establish unity in worshipping Allah; Who, nonetheless, is present at all times and locations.)

116. They say: “Allah has taken a son”. Allah is far above such things? To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and on the earth. All things are subservient to Him.

 (The Jews claimed that Uzair was the “son of God,” the Christians made the same claim for Jesus, while the polytheists claimed that the angels are the daughters of God. Yet it takes only a little intelligence to realize that He is transcendant, far above such things.)

117. Originator of the heavens and the earth: when He decrees a thing, He merely says “Be!” and it is.

 (When Allah wishes something, He merely says “Be!” and it appears, all at the time and place decreed in His wisdom.) 

118. And those who have no knowledge say, “Why does Allah not speak to us, or give us a sign?” The people before them demanded the same thing. Their hearts are similar. We have already shown clear signs to those whose faith is firm.

119. We have sent you (O Muhammad) with the truth, and as a bringer of glad tidings and a warning. You shall not be questioned about the people of the Flame.

120. Neither the Christians nor the Jews will be pleased with you until you follow their faith. Say, “the guidance of Allah is the (only) guidance.” And if, after all the knowledge you have received, you yield to their desires, there shall be none to help or protect you from the wrath of Allah.

(Neither the Jews nor the Christians can be real friends to Muslims. Both the Jews and Christians were happy to exploit the Muslim countries for centuries.)

121. Those to whom We have given the Scripture, and who read it the way it should be read, truly believe in it. And those who deny it, they are the true losers.

 (This verse was revealed when a certain Jewish scholar named Abdullah ibn Salam, together with his friends, believed in the Qur’an and testified to it. According to another account, it refers to a group of forty People of the Book who came from Ethiopia under the leadership of Ja’far ibn Abi Talib, having accepted Islam.)

122. O Children of Israel! Remember that I have bestowed favours on you and preferred you above all the other worlds (in that you have received the divine message so frequently).

123. And guard yourselves against a day when no soul will avail against another, not shall compensation be accepted from it, nor will intercession be of use to it, nor will they be helped.

(Intercession depends on certain conditions, the most important of which is to have faith in God’s unity and justice.)

124. And (remember) when his Lord tried Abraham with certain words (commandments), and he fulfilled them. He said “I have appointed you a leader of mankind.” Abraham asked “And of my descendants?” He answered, “My covenant does not extend to the transgressors.”

125. And we made the House (the Holy Ka’ba at Makka) a place of assembly for mankind and a place of safety, (saying): “Adopt the place where Abraham stood, as a place of worship.” And We imposed a duty upon Abraham and Ishmael to purify Our house for those who walk around and those who meditate in it, and those who bow down and prostrate.

126. And when Abraham prayed: “Make this city a city of peace, and bestow fruits upon its people, such of them as believe in Allah and the Last Day”, He answered: “As for those who disbelieve, I shall leave them in contentment for a while, then I shall compel them to the punishment of the Fire; and that is the worst abode.”

 (In this world both believers and disbelievers have their portion of the blessings of this world, which do not depend on being religious or having a certain creed. Those who use their wealth and other blessings that Allah has bestowed on them in what is good and just, shall be successful both in this world and the Hereafter. If men do not use their wealth and blessings in the right way, they are gone astray, and will be losers both in this world and the Hereafter.)

127. And when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the foundations of the house, (they prayed): “Our Lord! Accept from us (this act); You are indeed the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.

 (The following account has come down to us a bout the building of the Ka.ba. When Adam and Eve were expelled from Heaven they met each other at the great plain known as Arafat, and walked towards the west, until they came to the valley-floor where the present Ka’ba is located. Adam endeavored to thank his Lord, desiring to have a place similar to the column of light which was given to him to make walk around (tawaf). He thus elected to build a simple building of four walls, setting a black stone in one corner of this building. Today the black stone, which remains from the original structure of Adam, is called “al-Hajar al Aswad.” After the great Deluge of the Prophet Noah (Nuh), this building was lost beneath the sands. The Prophet Abraham, following a commandment from his Lord, left his bonds maid Hadar with son Ishmael at the Ka’ba. Abraham and Ishmael together dug the sands, and found the foundation of the original edifice, and built the Ka’ba upon it. The Qur’anic reference to Abraham and Ishmael’s “raising the foundation of the House” denotes the building of the present day Ka’ba.”

128. O our Lord! Make us submitters to You! And raise from among our offspring a community which will be submitters to You. Show us our ways of worship, and relent towards us. You are indeed the Forgiving, the Merciful.

129. Our Lord! And raise up from among them a Messenger who shall recite Your revelations to them and teach them the Scriptures and the wisdom, and purify them (or: make them grow). You are the Powerful, the Wise.

130. Who but a foolish man would renounce the faith of Abraham? We chose him in the world, and in the Hereafter he is among the righteous.

131. When his Lord said to him, “Surrender!” he responded, “I have surrendered to the Lord of the Worlds. 

132. Abraham enjoined the same upon his children, and so did Jacob: “O my children, Allah has chosen for you the true faith (of Islam), so do not die except in the faith (of Islam).”

133. Or were you present when death came to Jacob? He said to his sons, “What will you worship when I am gone?” They answered: “We shall worship your God and the God of your forefathers Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac: the one (true) God. To him we are submitted.”

134. Those are a people who have passed away. Theirs was what they did, and yours is what you do. You will not be questioned about their actions.

135. They say : “Be Jews or Christians, and  you will be rightly-guided.” Say (O Muhammad):” rather the religion of Abraham, the upright, and he was not of the idolaters.”

 (“Upright” (hanif) means following the true and ancient Faith which is free of all superstition and idolatry.)

136. Say (O Muslims): “We believe in Allah and that which is revealed to us, and in what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes; to Moses and Jesus and the (other) prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Allah we have surrendered ourselves.”

 (The “tribes” (asbat) referred to here are descendants of the prophet Jacob).

137. If they believe in the likes of what you believe, they shall be rightly-guided; yet if they reject it, they shall be in schism. Allah will suffice you (for defense) against them. He is the Hearer, the Knower.

138. (We take our) color from Allah; and who is better than Allah at coloring? Allah it is that we worship.

(According to the commentary of al-Zamakhshari, some Christians used to baptize their new-born babies with yellow colored water, believing this to be a process of purification. So  the Muslims in this verse are commanded to say, “ We take our color from Allah,” meaning that involuntary rites can be of no avail, and that the only “coloring” possible for the soul is that induced by purity and the conscious recovery of man’s primordial nature.)

139. Say (to the people of the Book): “Do you dispute with us concerning Allah, when He is our Lord and your Lord? We are responsible for our works and you for yours. We look to Him alone.”

140. Or do you say that Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, were Jews or Christians? Do you know better, or does Allah? Who is more unjust than the man who hides a testimony which he has received from Allah? Allah is not unaware of what you do.

 (The truth that the Jews and the Christians were hiding was the fact that the prophet Abraham was true religion and worshipped one Almighty God. And they also hid the fact that the prophet Muhammad was also true in religion, being a Hanif (see above, to verse 135).)

141. Those are a people who have passed away, theirs is that which they earned and yours that which you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do.

 (After the Migration (hijra) of the prophet Muhammad and his companions from Makka to Medina, the Muslims faced Jerusalem for about sixteen or seventeen months to worship. This act annoyed the Jews, who started saying that the Prophet did not know which way to face, and thus had accepted the guidance of the Jews. The the prophet prayed to Allah that his own direction of prayer (qibla) might be granted him. After this, the commandment of Allah came, the following verse indicating that the Muslim community should now turn to face the Holy Ka’ba. Yet after this commandment was given, the Jews and the hypocrites still continued to talk, as is narrated below.) 

142. The foolish among the people will ask: “What has made them change their Qibla?” Say: “To Allah belongs the east and the west. He guides whom He will to a straight path.”

(“Qibla” means the “direction of prayer” or the direction which the prayer faces (turns) when one prays.

About sixteen months after his arrival at Medina, Prophet received revelation: the versus 142-150 of this surah which definitely established the Ka’ba as the qiblah of the followers of Islam and believers in the Holy Qur’an and the last prophet Muhammad SAW.)

143. Thus have We made you a middle nation (umma), so that you may be witnesses against mankind, and that the Messenger may be a witness against you. And we decreed your former Qibla (Jerusalem) only so that We might know the Messenger’s true followers and those who would turn their backs to him. It was indeed a (hard) test, except for those whims Allah guided. He would not cause your faith to be in vain. He is Kind and Merciful to mankind.

 (According to tradition, it is said that many nations will deny the fact that their prophets ever conveyed a divine message. Allah will ask the prophets for “proof” that they had indeed delivered the messages with which they had been entrusted. When the Nation of Muhammad is called, they will testify that he did indeed convey the message.)

144. (O Muhammad!) We have seen turn your face towards heaven (hoping for guidance from the Lord). We will surely turn you towards a Qibla that will please you.  Turn towards the Inviolable Sanctuary (al-Masjid al-Haram in Makka); and whenever you may be, turn your faces towards it. Those to whom the Scriptures were given know this to be the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.

145. But even if you gave those who have received the Scriptures every sign, they would not follow your Qibla, nor would you follow theirs; nor will they follow each other’s Qibla. If, after all the knowledge you have been given you follow their desires, then you would surely become amongst the evil-doers.

 (In this verse the stubbornness of the Jews and Christians is recalled. The Holy Prophet Muhammad did not fulfill their desires; and even if he had acceded to them, they would still have been displeased. So he was ordered by the Lord not to follow their desires, lest he fall into some transgression. Their desires were of the sort that are unregulated by faith, and as such were uncontrolled and dangerous.)

146. These to whom We gave the Scriptures know it (the Prophet, or the Qur’an) as well as they know their own sons. But some of them knowingly conceal the truth.

 (The Jews and Christians had read in their scriptures that another Prophet would someday come, possessed of specific qualities by which he could be recognized. This awareness was passed on from generation to generation, and the advent of the new Messenger was eagerly awaited. However, when he finally appeared as a poor Arab orphan they immediately rejected him, because of snobbery and racism. In reality many of them were certain that he was the true Prophet foretold in their books. Yet so great was their pride and stubbornness that they swerved aside.)

147. This is the truth from your Lord; therefore do not be of those who doubt.

148. Each one has a goal toward which he turns; so vie with one another in good works. Wherever you may be, Allah will bring you all together. Allah is over all things. Powerful.

149. So from whencesoever you depart, turn your face towards the Inviolable Sanctuary. This is surely the Truth from your Lord. Allah is not unaware of what you do.

150. From whencesoever you depart, face towards the Inviolable Sanctuary. And wherever you are (O Muslims), face towards it (when you pray), so that men may have no argument against you, except the unjust- fear them not, but fear Me! - so that I may complete my favor upon you, and that you may be rightly- guided.

 (The Holy Qur’an stresses repeatedly that the Muslims are true followers of Abraham. The disbelievers’ claim that the Muslims prayed in a direction other than Abraham’s ‘qiblah, the Ka’ba was the distortion of the truth and their unjust challenge to the message of the Qur’an.)

151. Thus We have sent to you a Messenger from among you, who will recite to you Our signs (revelations) and purify you (or: cause you to grow), who will teach you the Scripture and wisdom, and teach you that of which you have no knowledge.

152. Remember Me; and I will remember you. Give thanks to Me and deny Me not.

153. O Believers, seek help in steadfastness and in the Prayer. Allah is with those that are steadfast.

 (Such are the two best weapons against his “nafs” the lower soul which urges man towards immediate gratification.)

154. And do not say that those who were slain in the cause of Allah are dead; rather, they are alive; but you do not perceive (their life).

155. We shall surely test you with fear and hunger, and loss of property and lives and crops; but give glad tidings to the steadfast.

156. Who say, when a misfortune comes to them: “We belong to Allah, and to Him we shall return.”

157. On such will be blessings from their Lord and mercy; and such are the rightly- guided.

 (These verses concern the fourteen people who were martyred at the Battle of Badr, which was the first major clash between the aggressive polytheists of Makka and the new Muslim community, following the emigration to Medina the Radiant, The martyrs are not dead, for their spirits live among us. This is also a proof-text for punishment or reward in the grave. Fear, hunger, famine, poverty, sickness, death of loved ones, these are all tests for us, to purify our souls and to see how we conduct ourselves. These are the common problems of mankind that none of us can avoid. Every soul will eventually taste death, the Qur’an reminds us. The person who understands and learns from this is an intelligent believer, should he proceed to act in accordance with his knowledge.)

158. As-Safa and al-Marwa are among the sacred indications of Allah. It shall be no sin for him who is on Hajj or Umra to the House (the Ka’ba) should he walk between these two hills seven times. Today, those who go to Makka to perform Hajj and Umra (the Greater and Lesser Pilgrimages) perform the rite of “sa’y” between these two hills. In this text we are specifically told that there is no sin in running between the two hills, although previously there were two idols standing on both hills during the Jahiliyya (the Age of Ignorance in Arabia before Islam). Certain people still had doubts about this tradition, forgetting its origin, until this verse came.)

159. Those that hide the clear proofs and the guidance We have revealed, after We have proclaimed them in the Scriptures, shall be cursed by Allah, and by those who have the power to curse.

160. Except those that repent and amend and make known (the truth). These it is towards whom I relent. I am the Relenting, the Merciful.

161. As for those who disbelieve, and die as disbelievers, they shall incur the curse of Allah, and of the angels, and of all mankind.

162. Under (this condemnation) they shall remain forever; their punishment shall not be lightened, nor shall they be reprieved.

163. Your God is One God; there is no god but Him. He is the Compassionate, the Merciful.

 (In the above verses we have been told how man can be ungrateful to his Lord and how awful his end will be. The next verses will explain how a man can use his intelligence to obey Him, and can learn lessons from the natural phenomena he observes around him. Those who think clearly and logically can work out the truth and come to know the Maker.)

164. In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of night and day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the benefit of mankind; in the water which Allah sends down from the sky and with which He revives the earth after its death, and dispersing over it all kinds of beasts; in the ordinance of the winds and clouds that are driven between earth and sky; are signs for people who have sense.

(The Qur’an appeals repeatedly to those people “have sense or use their reason” to observe the nature and the wonders of universe, including the evidence of man’s own ingenuity (the ships that speed through the seas and oceans, and the airships fly faster than the speed of the sound in the skies, and the satellite with astronauts sent into space so many times), as so many indications of conscious, creative Power (which belongs to Allah SWT). Pervading the universe.)

165. Yet there are some who set up equals with Allah and adore them with the adoration due to Allah. Those who believe are stauncher in love of Allah. If only the unrighteous could see (on the day) when they behold the punishment, that might is His alone, and that Allah is severe in punishment!

 (The term “andad” used this verse is the plural of ‘nidd.’ There is consensus among the commentators of the Holy Qur’an that this term implies any object of adoration to which some or all of God’s qualities are ascribed, whether it be conceived as a diety or a sort of saint supposedly possessing certain divine or semi-divine powers. Those who among the people set up equals with Allah (to worshipping) and adores them with the adoration due to Allah. They deserve punishment from Allah.)

166. Then would those who are followed declare themselves innocent of those who follow (them); they would see the punishment, and all that unites them will be broken asunder.

167. Those who followed (them) will say: “Would that we were given a chance to return (to life in the world); then we would disown them even as they have disowned us (since we are in Hell).” Thus will Allah show them their own deeds as anguish for them, and they will not emerge from the Fire.

168. O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and clean in the earth, and follow not the footsteps of the devil, for he is indeed an open enemy to you.

169. He enjoins upon you evil and indecency, and to say concerning Allah that which you know not.

 (The Evil One arouses and aggravates evil thoughts and desires in man, and makes him love them. Hazrat Abu Bakr has remarked that “The greatest of men is who disobeys his own self-oriented desires.” 

170. And when it was said to them: “Follow Allah has sent down”, they said: “We will follow that wherein we found our forefathers.” What! Even if their forefathers comprehended nothing, nor were they guided?

171. The condition of the disbelievers (in relation to the messenger) is the condition of the (shepherd) who calls on (beasts) that can hear nothing except a shout and a cry. They are deaf, dumb, blind, therefore they do not understand.

(The verb ‘na’qa’ is mostly used to describe the inarticulate cry with which the shepherd drives his flock.

In these verses Allah condemns those who follow the traditions of their forefathers blindly. In this connection more than any other, those who can think logically should use their own wisdom and intelligence.)

172. O you who believe! Eat of the good and clean things which We have provided of you, and be grateful to Allah, if it is He whom you worship.

173. He has only forbidden you carrion, blood, and swine, and that which has been consecrated (to the name of) any other than Allah. But he who is driven by necessity, neither craving nor transgressing, it is no sin for him. For Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

 (Since “Islam is the religion of ease”, absolute necessity renders permissible certain things which are normally forbidden, for as long as such conditions continue. Hence a man may eat of swine-flesh or other impurities if he will otherwise be in real danger of starvation; for “Allah is Forgiving, Merciful”.)

174. Those who conceal any part of the Scripture which Allah has sent down and barter it for a paltry price, simply fill their bellies with fire. Allah will not speak to them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them (or: make them grow). Theirs will be a painful torment.

 (The Rabbis of the Jewish tribes settled in Arabia concealed the signs of the anticipated prophet Muhammad which are mentioned in their scriptures, afraid that their authority would be undermined by the arrival of a new Prophet.)

175. Those are they who purchase error at the price of guidance, and torment at the price of pardon. How steadfast they are in their efforts to reach the Fire!

176. That is because Allah had revealed the Scripture with the truth. And those who seek differences in the Scriptures are in open schism.

 (Those who seek to make changes in the Holy Qur’an and try to advance interpretations which accord with their own preferences without the benefit of any solid evidence or proof cause themselves to fall into schism.)

177. Righteousness is not whether you turn your faces to the East or to the West; but righteous is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the Prophets; and gives his wealth for the love of Allah to relatives, orphans and the needy, and the wayfarer, and those who ask, and for (the liberation of) slaves; and establish the Prayer and pay the Zakat; and those who keep their pledges when they make them, and show patience in hardship and adversity, and the time of distress. Such are the true believers; and such are the God fearing.

 (Here again Qur’an stresses the principle that mere compliance with outward forms does not fulfill the requirements of piety. The reference to the turning of one’s face in prayer in this or that direction flows from the passages which dealt above with the question of ‘qiblah.’

This verse defines who the “man of piety.” is As far as one’s obedience to God and following His commandments with total sincerity is concerned.Again the Qur’an stresses the great merit inherent in the freeing of slaves, and stipulates it as a means of atonement for various transgressions. Prophet Muhammad  SAW emphatically stated on many occasions that, in the sight of God, the unconditional freeing of a human being from bondage is among the most praiseworthy acts which a Muslim could perform.)

178. O you who believe! The law of retribution is prescribed for you in the matter of the murdered; the freeman for the freeman, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. For him who is forgiven somewhat by his (injured) brother, prosecution shall be according to usage, and payment to him in kindness. This is alleviation and a mercy from your Lord. He who transgresses after this shall have a painful doom.

 (All religions unanimously agree that murder is a mortal sin. Islam tries to eradicate the conditions which stimulate crimes, endeavoring to perfect man by strengthening his faith, improving his worship and nurturing his innate ethical values, which are founded on a sense of accountability to Allah. Yet crimes will always exist in society, and thus He provides legislation to deal with it, for universal pardon provides no deterrent. Those relatives who under certain circumstances may prefer the payment  in the form of a fine, for instance, instead of the death penalty, are given the right to request the comminution of the sentence.)

179. In (this law of) retribution there is life for you, O people of understanding, that perhaps you shall be God-fearing.

 (That “there is life for you” here is an important point. Through this legislation, not only do relatives exercise the right to leniency, but by establishing a major deterrent, other murders are prevented, thereby “giving life”.)

180. It is prescribed for you, when one of you approaches death, if he leaves wealth, that he bequeath it to parents and near relatives according to reasonable usage. This is a duty for all who fear Allah.

181. And those who change (the will) after they have heard it, the sin thereof is only upon those who change it. Assuredly, Allah hears and knows all things.

182. And he who fears from a testator some or sinful clause, and makes peace between the parties incurs no guilt. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

 (In the following verses, the text turns to the obligatory fast to be observed during the sacred month of Ramadan. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. One of the greatest virtues of this month is that it contains a night called the Lailat al-Qadr. The “Night of Power, or the “Night of Destiny”. In this night the Holy Qur’an began to be sent down from al-Lawh al-Mahfuz to Bayt al-‘Izza. In the cave of Hira, the Prophet, upon whom be blessings and peace, received the first verse. Aware of the significance of this time, Muslims commemorate it with fasting, good works, and special prayers.)

183. O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those who came before you; that you will perhaps guard yourselves (against evil).

 (Here the function and benefit of fasting is explained: by cutting ourselves off from our worldly requirements for a period, our awareness of our dependence on Allah increases, and we are more able to guard ourselves against evil.)

184. (Fast) a certain number of days, but if any one of you is ill or on a journey, let him (break his fast, and) fast the same number of days later on. And for those who can afford it there is a ransom: the feeding of a man in need. But he that does good of his own accord, it is better for him, but to fast is better for you, if you did but know.

185. The month of Ramadan in which the Qur’an was revealed, a guidance for mankind, (a book of) clear proofs of guidance and the criterion (distinguishing right from wrong). There fore whoever of you is present in that month let him fast; but he who is ill or on a journey shall fast (a same) number of days later on. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you; and (He desires) that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for giving you His guidance, and that perhaps you will be thankful.

 (There is no difficulty in the religion of Islam. While Allah has ordained an obligatory fast for men and women, those who are ill or on a journey for a period of time, which might render the fast difficult, are excused from fasting, and permitted to make up an equivalent number of days at some later point in the year. Those who are unable to fast at all because of old age or chronic illness can feed the poor instead, if they can afford it.)

186. When My servants question you about Me, (tell them) I am surely near. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he prays to Me; therefore let them hear My call and put their trust in Me, that they may be rightly guided.

(The Prophet, peace be upon him, was once asked: “Is our Lord close to us or far away? If He is close we will whisper in our prayers; while if He is far away then we should shout!” A verse was thus revealed explaining that Allah promises to fulfill the prayers of those who believe and obey, and that He, being Omnipotent, can hear them even if they pray quietly. Prayers will surely be accepted by Him, as He promises, of those who are believers and His good servants.)

187. It is made lawful for you to go unto your wives (in sexual relations) on the night of the fast. They are a garment for you and you are a garment for them. Allah is aware that you were deceiving yourselves in this respect, and He has turned in mercy toward you and pardoned you. Therefore you may now have intercourse with them and seek what Allah has ordained for you. Eat and drink until the white thread becomes distinct to you from the black thread of the dawn. Then resume the fast till nightfall, and do not approach them, but stay at your devotions in the mosques. These are the limits set by Allah, so do not approach them. Thus He makes known His revelations to mankind, that they may guard themselves (against evil).

(In the early days of Islam, the Muslims held to a strict rule of fasting from the evening meal of one day until the evening meal of the next. If they fell asleep before they had taken their meal they thought it necessary to abstain from it, with the result that some people fainted from hunger. Intercourse with their wives had been similarly restricted. By the revelation of this verse, the present, definitive by the ability to tell between a white and black thread) until sundown, was established.)

188. Don not eat up one another’s property among yourselves by unjust means, nor bride with it the judges in order that you may knowingly and wrongfully deprive others of their possessions.

(According to the commentators Baydawi and Zamakhshari, the part of the verse “…nor bride with it judges” or “do not throw it to the judges” with a view being decided by them contrary to what is right.)

189. They question you (O Muhammad) about the (phases of) the moon. Say: “They are seasons fixed for mankind and for the pilgrimage.” And it is not righteousness that you go to dwellings by the backs thereof (as is the pagan custom). The righteous man is he who fears Allah. Enter houses by their doors, and fear Allah, so that you may prosper.

(The Blessed Prophet was asked why the moon begins as a very thin crescent, gradually becomes full, and then gradually returns to a thin crescent again. They were answered with the above verse. The movements of the moon determine the lunar calendar, as well as determining the pilgrimage days. The verse also contains a condemnation of the pagan Arab custom by which, when they were in their “Ihram” (the state of consecration required for the Makka pilgrimage) they would avoid entering their houses by the front door upon their return. The provision has a more general application, defining the need to observe proper manners, and, metaphorically, to carry out one’s affairs in a straightforward and open fashion)

190. Fight for the sake of Allah those that who fight against you, but do not attack them first. Allah does not love the aggressors.

(Here the general Islamic commandment about armed combat is presented. Wars of aggression are specifically forbidden, but to fight in self- defense is not only allowable, but is an obligation, to prevent the occurrence of tumult and persecution in the land.) 

191. Kill them wherever you find them who fight against you); drove them out of the places from which they drove you, for tumult and persecution are worse than killing. But do not fight them at the Inviolable Sanctuary (al-Masjid al-Haram) until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there), and then kill them. Such is the reward of the disbelievers. 

192. But if they desist, then (know that) Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. 

193. And fight them until tumult and persecution are no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against the evil-doers. 

194. A sacred month for a sacred month, and sacred things (too are subject to) reciprocity. If anyone attacks you, attack him with the like of that with which he attacked you. And fear Allah, and know that Allah is with the God-fearing. 

(In the 6th year of the Muslim calendar, our Blessed Prophet left Madina for Makka with the intention of performing the Lesser Pilgrimage ( ‘Umra), but his path was blocked by the pagans at a place called Hudaibiya. There were bitter arguments there, but in the end, the Treaty of Hudaibiya was signed. According to the articles of this Treaty, the Muslims in that year were to return back to Madina without performing the ‘Umra, but the following year in the same sacred month they were to be permitted to perform it. The Pagans thought this a great success, although the Muslims were successful in visiting the Inviolable Sanctuary the following year. Hence the establishment of the rule of the “sacred month for the sacred month”. Sacred things too are subject to reciprocity.) 

195. Spend generously for the cause of Allah, and do not cast yourselves into destruction by your own hands. And know that Allah loves the doers of good. 

(The “doers of good” in the above verse are those who are honest, and accomplish their labors to perfection. According to a hadith, the Prophet Muhammad was asked to define this quality, known as “ihsan”, and he replied that it was “to worship God as though you saw Him, and, if you do not see him, still, He sees you”. Social justice and justice in general are also included in the concept.) 

196. Perform the Greater and Lesser Pilgrimage (Hajj and ‘Umra) for Allah. If you are prevented, then send such offerings as you can afford. And do not shave you heads until the offerings have reached their destination. But whoever among you is ill or has an ailment of the head must pay a ransom, either by fasting or by almsgiving, or by offering a sacrifice. And if you are in safety, then whosoever combines the ‘Umra with the Hajj (by relaxing the state of consecration in between) must offer such offerings as he can afford; but if he cannot find (such offerings) then let him fast three days while he is on pilgrimage and seven days when he has returned; than is, ten in all. That is for him whose family are not present (residents nearby) at the Inviolable Sanctuary. And fear Allah; and know that Allah is severe in punishment. 

197. The pilgrimage is (in) the appointed months. Whoever intends to perform it therein must abstain from sexual intercourse, obscene language, abuse and angry conversation while on the pilgrimage. And whatever good you do, Allah knows it. So make provisions for yourselves (for the journey to the hereafter), and the best provision is piety (fear of Allah and observance of His law); therefore keep your duty to Me, O people of understanding! 

(The old pagan Arabs used to hold street bazaars during the pilgrimage season, where all kinds of merchandise would be displayed. Since the affairs of these bazaars were conducted according to the usages of the pagan Arabs as these prevailed before Islam, the Muslims considered them unlawful. But Allah legalized the practice of sale during the Pilgrimage in the following verse.)

198. It is no sin for you to seek the bounty of your Lord (by trading during the Hajj season). When you come hastening from ‘Arafat with the multitude, remember Allah at the Sacred Monument. Remember Him that gave you guidance, although before you were of those gone astray.

(‘Arafat and the Sacred Monument are two of the main ritual sites of the Pilgrimage ceremonies. Like the other forms of worship, Hajj also benefits society in numerous ways, for instance: 

1. The pilgrimage dress, or “Ihram”, comprising two seamless pieces of cloth, symbolizes the fact that the pilgrims have left behind worldly things, their possessions, title, position, nobility and the like, and stand equal before Him Who created them equal.

2. The Ihram dress resembles the shroud in which the dead are interred. And the mass gathering at the plain of ‘Arafat recalls the Day of Judgment.

3. People from all over the world, of every race and culture; gather together in order to exchange both material and spiritual things, and to seek solutions to their common problems. Thus are the divergences between mankind reduced.) 

199. Then hasten on from the place whence the multitude hastens onward, and ask forgiveness of Allah. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. 

200. And when you have completed your sacred rites, then (continue to) remember Allah as you remember your forefathers, or even more. Among mankind there are some who say: “Our Lord! Give us what is good in this world!” and in the Hereafter they have no share. 

(The earliest scholars of Islam like Ad-Dahnak, Ar-Rabi and Abu Muslim are of the opinion that what was meant here are actual father or rather both parents (by implication) who a child usually considers to be the embodiment of all that is good and powerful.) 

201. And there are others who say: “Lord! Give us what is good in this world and in the Hereafter; and keep us from the fire of Hell!” 

202. For them there is an abundant reward which they have earned. Assuredly, Allah is Swift at reckoning. 

203. Remember Allan on the Appointed Days (the three days which close to the Hajj). Whoever hastens (his departure) on the second day, there is no sin upon him. And whoever delays, there is no sin for him; for him who fears Allah. Have fear of Allah, then, and know that you will be gathered unto Him.  

(The following three verses were revealed in connection with a man named al-Ahnas ibn Shurayk. Although a handsome and well-spoken man, al-Ahnas was a hypocrite. He used to come to visit the Prophet like a Muslim and speak politely, yet he was feigning his faith, his heart being filled with poison and conniving. His sole purpose was to harm the Muslims. One should not be deceived by the aspect and words of a man, but should investigate his case before entrusting him with important affairs.) 

204. There are some men whose conversation on the life of this world pleases you (O Muhammad) and they call on Allah to vouch for that which is in their hearts; whereas they are the most rigid of opponents. 

(The two contrasting attitudes of the people! (1) The attitude of people whose only real concern is the life of this world, and (2) the people who are mindful of the hereafter as well as or even more than, their present life.) 

205. And when he turned away (from you) his effort in the land is to make mischief therein and to destroy the crops and the cattle; and Allah does not love mischief.)

206. When it is said to him, “Have fear of Allah,” pride takes him into sin. Hell shall be enough for him, an evil resting-place.

207. But there are others who would give away their lives and their belongings in order to seek the pleasure of Allah. Allah is Compassionate to His servants.

(The above verse was sent down because of a man named Suhayd ibn Sinan ar-Rumi. The pagans of Makka had captured and persecuted this man, and attempted to make him renounce Islam. Suhayb told his persecutors that he was and old man possessed of some wealth, and that if he gave them all he owned, his continuing allegiance to Islam would not harm them. The pagans agreed to this, and released him. When he was on his way to Madina the above verse was revealed . When Hazrat Abu Bakr saw him he greeted him by remarking, “The trade that you have completed will bring you good profits!” Suhayb then quoted the above verse to him.)

208. O you who believe! Submit, all of you, to Allah, and do not walk in Satan’s footsteps; assuredly he is an open enemy to you.

(Total surrender to God is the basis of all true belief. The Jews and the Christians, at the time of emergence of Islam did not accept the new religion and did not recognize prophet Muhammad by not surrendering themselves totally to Islam they went into disbelief although coming of the prophet was foretold to them in their own Divine Books.)

209. If you slide back after the clear signs have come to you, then know that Allah is Mighty, Wise.

210. Are they waiting for anything other than Allah’s coming to them in the shadow of a cloud with all the angels, and the question is (thus) settled? To Allah shall all things return.

211. Ask the Children of Israel how many clear signs We gave them! But he who alters Allah’s blessing after it has reached him: assuredly Allah is severe in punishment.

212. For the disbelievers the life of this world is adorned; and thus they mock at believers. Yet those that fear Allah will be above them on the Day of Judgement . Allah gives without measure to whomsoever He will.

(Abu Jahl, a pagan aristocrat of Makka, together with his friends, mocked the believers, and in this connection the above verse was revealed. But the verse has a more universal application, decrying those who, not having tasted the sweetness of faith, find the things of this base world delightful.)

213. Mankind were once one nation. And Allah sent to them Prophets, to give them good news and warning, and with them He sent down the Scripture with the truth, that it might judge the disputes between mankind. And only those to whom (the Scripture) was given differed concerning it, after clear signs had come to them, through hatred of one another. And Allah by His will guided those who believed to the truth of what they had disputed. Allah guides whom He will to a straight path.

(The human race, the descendants of the Prophet Adam, was once united. As time passed, however, they fell into dispute, and the Prophets were sent to end their differences.)

214. Or do you think that you will enter the Garden while untouched by the like of (the suffering which was endured by) those who were before you? Affliction and adversity befell them, and they were shaken as though with an earthquake, until the Messenger and those who believed along with him said: “when will the help of Allah come?” Assuredly, the help of Allah is near.

( The way to success for Muslims both in this world and in the next is to strive with faith and enthusiasm, to endure all kind of difficulties , never to feel defeated, and always to prefer spiritual pleasures over the pleasures and self-indulgences constantly whispered by Satan and the lower self.

According to some narrations the above verse describes the conditions of the Muslims during the Battle of the Trench (al- Khandaq), or, according to another narration, at the Battle of Uhud. Yet another narration holds it to refer to the Muslims who left their homes, belongings and their families in Makka and migrated to Madina. The above verse was revealed as a kind of reward, to console the suffering Muslims.)

215. They ask you (O Muhammad) about what they will spend. Say: “Whatever you spend for good must go to parents, and to your near relatives, orphans and to the poor and the wayfarer. Allah is Aware of whatever good you do.”

216. Fighting is obligatory for you, though it disliked by you; but it may be that you hate a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. Allah knows, but you know not.

(War is not something people like. Except for some individuals who are born mentally sick, people do not enjoy killing or destroying, or harming others in any way. However, some unpleasantness are sometimes necessary, as in the case of gangrenous limb which has to be cut off in order to save a human life, or in the case of breaking into a burning house in order to save a child trapped inside. To establish freedom or religion and conscience it is at times necessary to wage wars against oppression and cruelty. In these kind of cases it is a source of honour and pride to defend freedom and justice. In Islam, ‘jihad’ (struggle) has been established to further this end. Jihad is not aggression. Non-Muslims are guaranteed freedom of worship and conscience in a Qur’anically based state. Only if they refuse to pay their taxes can war be declared on them. When some nations deserve punishment, Allah punishes them with many kinds of disasters, and war is one of them. In fact, there is a verse in which it is indicated that if Allah did not deflect people with each other, law and order would break down. The Prophet Muhammad once send a platoon of soldiers to Makka under the command of Abdullah ibn Jahsh in order to acquire information about a trade caravan belonging to the Quraish, which was at war with the Muslims. They waylaid the caravan, and brought it to the Prophet. That was on the first day of the month of Rajah according to the Islamic calendar. The pagans accused the Prophet of fighting during the sacred months recognized in Arabia; and in consequence the following verse revealed.)

217. They ask you about the sacred month. Say: To fight (in a sacred month) is a grave matter; but barring people from the path of Allah, denying Him, and expelling people from the Inviolable Sanctuary is far graver in His sight. Tumult and persecution are worse than killing. They will not cease to fight against you until they force you to renounce your faith, if they can. But whoever of you turns away from his religion and dies in disbelief, his works will come to nothing in this world, and in the world to come. Such are the companions of the Fire, where they will stay forever.

218. Assuredly, those who believe and emigrate (to escape persecution because of their religion) and fight in the way of Allah, may hope for Allah’s mercy. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

219. They ask you about drinking and gambling. Say: “There is great harm in both, although there is some benefit for men, but their sin is greater than their benefit.” And they ask you what they should spend; say: “What is superfluous.” Thus Allah makes plain to you His revelations, so that you may ponder.

(Drinking wine or any other kind of alcoholic beverage is, in the Islamic vision, a prohibited does not mean that it has no benefit, but only tht its harm outweighs its benefit. Similarly with gambling: the one who gains something in gambling appears to gain some benefit, but since the practice as a whole yields, on balance, more suffering than advantage, the Lord has forbidden it.

The beginning verse 220 is related to the end of verse 219, the sense being that if you think about the affairs of this world as well as affairs of the Hereafter you will be successful in both.)

220. In this world and in the Hereafter. They question you concerning orphans. Say: “To deal with them in goodness is best. If you mix their affairs with yours, remember that they are your brothers. Allah knows the spoiler from the improver. If He wills he truly can put you into difficulties. He is Mighty, Wise.”

(Muslims are to treat orphans justly, so that they never feel that they are without father or mother. The person who is a guardian to an orphan is being tested, and Allah surely knows whether he is a spoiler or and improver. Those who do not treat them justly must remember that they are under the unceasing scrunity of their Creator.)

221. Do not marry polytheist women unless they believe (in Islam). A believing slavegirl is better than an idolatress, though the latter please you. No marry (your daughters) to polytheists unless they believe in Islam. A believing slave is better than a (free) polytheist, though the latter please you. These call you to the Fire, but Allah calls you, by His will, to the Garden and to forgiveness. He makes plain His revelations to mankind, that perhaps they will think.

(According to Islam, man is judged by the degree of his faith. In the eyes of Allah a believing slave and servant are far better and purer; hence for a Muslim to marry an idolater is prohibited.)

222. They ask you about menstruation. Say: It is a hurt, so let women alone during their menstruation periods, and do not touch them until they are clean again. Then go into them as Allah enjoined you. Assuredly, Allah loves those that turn to Him in repentance, and strive to keep themselves clean.

(In this verse there is good news for believing women. Because to have sexual relations with a woman during her courses is unpleasant for her, and unclean-Islam being the religion of cleanliness-men must abstain from such relations at this time.)

223. Your wives are a tilth for you. Go, then, into your tilth as you will. Advance good deeds for yourselves, and fear Allah, and know that you shall meet Him. And (O Muhammad), give glad tidings to believers!

(In the above verse the importance of spiritual closeness and preparation before intercourse is discussed. Muslims are here enjoined to avoid anal intercourse.)

224. Make not Allah, by your oaths, a hindrance to your being righteous and observing your duty to Him and making peace among mankind. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.

(In this verse it is emphasized that where there is a chance of keeping one’s duty to Allah and making peace among mankind, oaths taken previously should not be a hindrance. Such an oath may be broken without any expiation being required.)

225. Allah will not call you to account for that which is unintentional in your oaths. But He will call you to account for that which is intended in your hearts. Allah is Forgiving, Clement.

226. Those who swear to abstain from their wives must wait four months, and if the change their minds, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

227. But if they decide upon divorce, then know that Allah is Hearer, Knower.

(The pagan Arabs had a custom by which a man could deprive his wife of conjugal rights, but at the same time keep her tied to him indefinitely, so that she could not marry again. If the husband was reproached, he would say that an oath sworn to God restrained him. In these verses the Islamic principle of divorce is laid down, which establishes a four month “cooling-off” period, after which a husband is obliged either to retain or to divorce his wife. If he refuses to abide by this, the wife may raise the matter before a magistrate, who will force him to take a decision.)

228. Divorced women must wait, keeping themselves from men for three menstrual courses. It is unlawful for them, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day, to hide what Allah has created in their wombs. In that case, their husbands would do well to take them back, if they both desire a reconciliation. And (women) have rights similar to those of (men), In kindness; and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise.

229. Divorce may be pronounced twice, (and then a woman must be) retained in honour or allowed to go with kindness. It is not lawful for you(husbands) to take from them anything you have given them, unless both fear that they may not be able to keep within the limits set by Allah; in which case it will be no offence for either of them if the wife ransom herself. These are the limits set by Allah; do not transgress them. Those that transgress the bounds of Allah; such are the wrongdoers.

(Here the laws of divorce are elaborated. According to Islamic law a man can divorce his wife with two pronouncements, after which he can return to his wife. But when he utters the divorce statement for the third time he cannot return to his wife unless she has married someone else after the divorce, and then been divorced again. Lack of marital harmony is considered a justification for divorce. The basic form of divorce is by mutual consent; but they are ways in which it can be instigated at the man’s behest, and others in which it can be instigated at the woman’s behest, depending on circumstance.)

230. If a man divorce his wife (for the third time), then she is not lawful to him until she has married another man. If (the latter) divorce her, in which case it is no sin for either of them to return to the other, if they think that they can keep the limits set by Allah. Such are the limits of Allah. He makes them plain to people who have knowledge.

231. When you have divorced your wives, and they have reached the end of their waiting periods, then either retain them in kindness or let them go with kindness. But do not retain them in order to harm them or wrong them, lest you transgress. Whoever does this wrongs his own soul. Do not make the revelations of Allah a mockery. Remember the favours He has bestowed on you and the Book and the wisdom which He has revealed, wherewith He does exhort you. Fear Allah, and know that He has knowledge of all things.

232. When you divorce women and they reach the end of their waiting periods, do not prevent them from remarrying their husband if it is agreed between them in kindness. This is a counsel for him among you who believes in Allah and the Last Day. That is more virtuous for you, and purer. Assuredly, Allah knows, and you do not.

( The incident which accompanied revelation of this verse concerned a man named Ma’qil ibn Yasar. This man had prevented his sister from remarrying her former husband, until this verse was revealed. The Prophet sent for Ma’qil who, when he came into the presence of the Blessed Prophet, obeyed the order of Allah and let his sister remarry her former husband, declaring that the divine Command had done away with his pride. A similar incident is related of Jabir ibn Abduallah. Although these verses were not sent down in connection with particular incidents, the laws they enact are binding on all believers.)

233. Mothers shall give suck to their children for tow whole years, for those who wish the suckling to be completed. They must be maintained and clothed in a reasonable manner (according to the tradition of that particular country, assessed if necessary by a magistrate) by the father of the child. No one should be charged beyond his capacity. A mother should not be made to suffer because of her child, nor should a father because of his child. The same duties devolve upon the father’s heir. If, after consultation, they choose by mutual agreement to wean the child, it is no offence for them. If you wish to give you children out to nurse (by a wet nurse), it is no offence for you, provided that you (the father) pay what is due from you in kindness. Have fear of Allah, and know that Allah is Seer of what you do.

(The following subjects are discussed in the above verses: divorce, remarriage, the period of waiting before remarriage, the nursing rights of the child, the duties of mother and father in regard to nursing. For the details, one is required to turn to the Sunna, and the classical texts of Islamic Law.)

234. Widows shall wait, keeping themselves apart (before they remarry) for a period of four months and ten days, after their husbands’ death. When they complete the period of waiting, it shall be no sin for you to let them do whatever they choose for themselves in decency. Allah is Aware of what you do.

(The reason for this waiting period is to ensure that the woman is not pregnant. In the case of husband’s decease, it also constitutes a period of quite mourning. Within this period a woman should not be bothered before the period is over, unless this be absolutely inescapable; the object being to ensure her peace of mind. Whether the waiting-period is for divorce or death, it is psychologically very useful, both to console the widow and her close relatives, and to prepare her for a possible new marriage. It also prevents certain types of harm that might be instigated by the woman’s relatives.)

235. It shall be no offence for you to propose marriage to women (who are waiting for their period of four months and ten days), or to hold it in your hearts. Allah knows that you will remember them. Do not make a secret contract with them, except that you speak to them in honourable terms. Do not resolve on the tie of marriage before the end of their waiting period. Know that Allah knows what is in your hearts, so beware of Him; and know Allah is Forgiving, Clement.

(Once a woman becomes a widow, then provided she is not pregnant she may remarry after four months and ten days. There might be more than one man interested in marrying the widow, so there is no harm if one of them shows his intentions of marriage with her during her waiting period; or he may prefer to keep these feelings in his heart.)

236.It shall be no offence for you to divorce your wives before the marriage is consummated or the dowry settled. Provide for them with fairness; the rich man according to his means and the poor man according to his. This is a binding duty upon righteous men.

(The Arabic term used ‘faridah’ indicates the (mahr) which must be agreed upon by the bride and the groom before the ‘nikah’ marriage contract. The amount of the ‘mahr’ is left to the discretion of the two marrying parties, it is an absolutely essential part of an Islamic marriage contract. However the amount of dowry depends on financial ability of the bridegroom. The bride should not demand more than what the groom can possibly afford.)

237.If you divorce them before the marriage is consummated but after their dowry has been settled, give them the half of their dowry, unless they( the women) agree to forgo it or (the man’s half) is remitted by him in whose hand is the marriage tie (the bridegroom). It is more proper that the husband should forgo it. Do not forget to show kindness to each other. Allah is Seer of what you do.

(According to some of the Companions of the Prophet the term used denotes the ‘husband’ as it is shown in the translation of the verse. (Ibn Kathir, Razi, Tabari and Zamakhshari).

238. Attend regularly to your prayers, including the middle prayer. Stand (in your salat) with devotion to Allah.

(Salat is one of them main “Pillars of Islam”, as is explained in a hadith. The ‘middle prayer’ mentioned in the verse is said to be the midafternoon prayer (‘Asr). The prophet, peace be upon him, stated during the Battle of al-Ahzab that: “They have prevented us from the middle prayer! May Allah fill their house with fire!” On the basis of this, according to the view of Ibn Abbas, the middle prayer is the midafternoon prayer (‘Asr). According to Ibn ‘Umar’s opinion, however, the ‘middle prayer’ is the Noon (Zuhr) Prayer.)

239. If you are exposed to danger, (pray) while riding or on foot; and when you are restored to safety remember Allah (and pray), as He has taught you what you did not know.

(This relates to any dangerous situation <in times of war> where remaining for any length of time at one place would only increase the peril in this kind of situation, the fard <obligatory prayers may be offered in any way that is feasible, even without the consideration of qiblah> while riding or on foot.)

240. Those of you who are about to die and leave behind wives should bequeath to their wives a year’s provision, without causing them to leave their homes, but if they leave (on their own accord), there is no sin for you in that which they do of themselves within their rights. Allah is Mighty and Wise.

241. For divorced women a provision in kindness should be made, a binding duty for those who are God fearing.

(This obviously relates to women who are divorced without any legal fault on their part. The amount of alimony-payable unless and until they remarry has been left unspecified since it must depend on the husband’s financial ability and on the social circumstances of the period and place.)

242. Thus Allah makes known to you His revelations that you may grow in understanding.

243. Have you not seen those who fled their habitations in thousands for fear of death. Allah said to them: “Perish!” and then He brought them back to life. Surely Allah is bountiful to mankind, but most men do not give thanks.

(After the conclusion of the injunctions relating to marital life, the Qur’an return here to the problem of warfare in a just cause by alluding to people who obviously under a hostile attack “forsook their homelands for fear of death.”)

244. Fight for the cause of Allah, and know that Allah is Hearer, Knower.

(“Cause of Allah” in this verse means is a Just war in self defence against oppression or unprovoked aggression.)

245. Who will grant Allah a generous loan? He will multiply it many times over. It is Allah who gives you want or plenty, and to whom you want will all be returned.

246. Think of the leaders of the Children of Israel, how they demanded of one of their prophets after (the death of) Moses: “Set up for us a king” they (their council of elders) said, “and we will fight for the cause of Allah.” He replied: “What if you refuse to fight, when ordered so to do?” “Why should we refuse to fight for the cause of Allah,” they replied, “when we and all of our children have been driven away from our habitations?”- but when they were ordered to fight, they all refused, except a few of them. And Allah is Aware of the wrongdoers.

( The Amalekites dwelling in Midian, under the command of Goliath (Jalut) had attacked the Israelites proposed to a prophet of theirs that he appoint a commander to lead their defence. The prophet chose Saul (Talut), a son of Jacob (Ya’qub). They refused this choice, on the grounds of his extreme poverty, and only relented when the prophet proclaimed that he was Allah’s choice because of his good qualities, wisdom and physical power, which would qualify him to win the war.)

247. Their prophet said to them: “Allah has appointed Saul to be your King.” But they replied: “Should he be given the kingship, when we are more deserving of it than he? Besides, he is not rich at all.” He said: “Allah has chosen him to rule over you, and increased him in knowledge and stature. Allah gives His sovereignty to whom He will. He is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.”

(According to a habitual belief of the Israelite elite, the right to rule belongs to the people of wealth and capital: a view contrary to the correct, Prophetic teaching, which is that governance should be given on the basis of merit, knowledge, experience, physical strength and courage, not of wealth.)

248. Their prophet also said to them: “The sign of his kingship is that there shall come to you the ark wherein is peace of reassurance from your Lord, and a remnant of that which the house of Moses and the house of Aaron left behind, the angels bearing it. Behold; in this shall be a sign for you, if you are believers. “

(According to some accounts, the Ark of the Covenant was a kind of chest, made of acacia wood and lined with gold, which contained the Tablets of the Ten Commandments. The Prophet Moses used to carry this in times of war, sending it in front of the army. In time, when the Israelites become weak, this Ark was carried away by Goliath. And, challenging the authority of Saul’s kingship, they said: “If he is a true ruler let him bring true signs about it.” He gave proof of his kingship by bringing the Ark of the Covenant, carried by angels.)

249. And when Saul marched out with his army, he said: "Allah will put you to the test by means of a river: whoever, therefore, drinks from it shall not be of me, and whoever does not drink shall be of me, except him who takes a sip out of the hollow of his hand. But they all drank of it, except a few of them. And when he crossed it together with those who believed him, they said: "We have no power this day to face Goliath and his soldiers." But those of them who knew that they would meet their Lord replied: "Many a small company has defeated a mighty company by Allah's leave. Allah is with those who endure with patience."

(Saul asked from his army a kind of obedience which would show the symbolic implication of their faith. Belief in the justice of one's cause - has no value unless it is accompanied by heightened self - discipline and disregard of one's material interests. So that one can achieve success by succeeding a test that Allah put them to.)

250. When they met Goliath and his soldiers they cried: "Our Lord bestows on us steadfastness. Make our feet firm, and help us against the disbelieving people.

25 I. By Allah's will they routed them. David slew Goliath, and Allah bestowed on him the Kingship and wisdom and taught him what He pleased. Had Allah not defeated some by the might of others, the earth would have been utterly corrupted. But Allah is Bountiful to His creatures.

(In this verse, something of the importance of the divine Law is explained. Allah has established a balance in the social order. Some of the people are rich and some are poor, some are powerful and others are weak; some are healthy and others sick. Some are believers and some are not. The relations which evolve between these groups will determine the progress of the world. In the realm of physics, the interaction of positive and negative forces produces both light and energy. Thus, too, wars that take place between nations bring a new order into the world.)

252. Such are the signs of Allah. We recite them to you (0. Muhammad) with Truth, for you are one of the messengers (In the above verses, military discipline is discussed. The army's success depends how well the soldiers obey their commander and believe in their cause, rather than on the size of the army. David, we are told, was only seven years old when he slew Goliath. Allah informed the prophet that Goliath would be killed by David, and hence he took David with him to the war. On the way, David saw three stones that talked to him, saying: "Pick us up, David, you will kill Goliath with us." Picking them off the ground, he used them in his sling to kill the enemy chief.)

253. Of those messengers We have exalted some above others (in degree). To some Allah spoke directly; others He raised to a lofty status. We gave Jesus son of Mary clear signs, and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit (the archangel Gabriel). Had Allah so willed, those who succeeded them would not have fought against one another after the clear signs had come to them. But they disagreed among themselves; some believed, and others did not. Yet had Allah willed, they would not have fought against one another; but Allah does what He will.

254. O you who believe! Spend a part of what We have given you before that day arrives when there shall be neither trading, friendship nor intercession. Truly, it is the disbelievers who are the wrongdoers

255. Allah! there is no god but Him, the Living, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. His is what is in the heavens and what is in the earth. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before them and what lies behind them, and they can grasp only that part of His knowledge which He will. His Throne embraces the heavens and the earth, and it tires Him not to uphold them both. His is the High, the Tremendous.

(This is the celebrated Throne Verse ( Ayat al- Kursi). It describes certain of the divine attributes, and indicates the exalted degree of Allah, which is properly known only to Himself. The great spiritual advantages of reciting this verse have been explained in many hadiths. Our Blessed Prophet has stated in one such account: "The greatest (or the most significant) verse in the Qur'an is the Verse of the Throne. Whoever recites ­it, Allah sends a special angel for him who records this good deed in his Book. Satan flees from the house in which it is recited, and will not return within thirty days, while no magic or magician can enter the house for forty days. 0 'Ali! Teach this to your family, your children and your neighbors. The king of days is Friday; the king of words is the Qur' an, the master of the Qur' an is the Surah of the Cow, and the master of this Surah is the Verse of Throne.” It is said that those who recite this verse with sincerity and devotion are preserved from all manner of disasters. “Hayy” means “Living”. It is one the unique attributes of God that He is Eternal and Living at all times. “Kayyum” is also one of His attributes, indicating that He upholds and administers all creation, and is the Judge on the Day of Resurrection. )

256. There is no compulsion in religion. True guidance is distinct from error. But whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the strong handhold that will never break. An Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.

("TaghUt" denotes anything worshipped rather than Allah. Man, being subject to the inner promptings of the devil, is easily misled. By self-discipline and restraint, and the assistance of a guide, man can teach himself to combat these promptings, and hence save himself from committing wrong actions. Life is thus a struggle against taghut, for when we do not serve God, we are assuming that others are more worthy than our Maker.

The verse also contains the teaching that in genuine religion, truth is clearly discernable, and that constraint of any kind in the propagation of faith is to be renounced. )

257. Allah is the Protecting Friend of those who believe. He brings them out of darkness into light. As for those who disbelieve, their supporters will be Ttighut; who bring them out of light into darkness. Such are the rightful dwellers of the fire. They will abide there for ever.

(In the above verse we are given a different kind of comparison between men of belief and infidelity. The former are rightly guided to "light", while the latter are lured by the devil and their own caprices into darkness, so that they can only end their days in the archetype of all darkness: the Fire.)

258. Have you not heard of him (Nimrod) who argued with Abraham about his Lord because he had bestowed on him the kingdom? Abraham said: "My Lord is He who gives life and death." He answered: "I give life and death!" (by slaying or sparing my subjects.) Abraham said: "Allah causes the sun to rise from the East, so cause it to come from the West!" Thus was the disbeliever baffled. And Allah does not guide a wrong-doing people.

.259. Or (have you heard) of him who, when passing by a ruined and desolate city, exclaimed: "How can Allah give life to this city, now that it is dead?" And Allah caused him to die, and after a hundred years, brought him back to life. He said: "How long have you stayed away?" "A day," he answered, "or part of a day." Then Allah said "Know then that you have stayed away a hundred years. Yet look at your food and drink: they have not rotted; and look at your donkey! We will make you a sign to mankind: See how We will raise them and clothe them with flesh!" And when (the matter) became clear to him, he said: "I know now that Allah is Able to do all things."

(The commentators on the Holy Qur'an are mostly agreed that the person discussed in verse 258, and the man who visited the ruined city were both disbelievers. But according to certain traditions, the visitor to the ruined city was Uzair. Picking up some food, he traveled on his donkey until he came to a ruined city, where he settled. Looking about him, he wondered if the~ past inhabitants of the place could ever come to lite again. While he contemplated this, he fell asleep, only to be brought back to life by God after a hundred years. His food had not rotted, but his donkey was dead; only its bones remaining. The ruined city, however, had been revived and rebuilt. Allah then brought back his donkey to life in front of his eyes. At this, he was humbled, and realized the infinite power of the Divine. The moral of the story is the superiority of the believer over all who are in ignorance of truth.

The person who argued with Nimrod was the prophet Abraham. Some commentators, however, hold that the episode took place in Egypt between. Abraham and Pharaoh, who also claimed, "I am the one who causes life and death." But the lesson to remember is that God supports His spokesmen with all manner of miracles, and may enable them to overcome seemingly insuperable odds.)

260. When Abraham said: "Show me, my Lord, how You give life to the dead!" He asked, "Do you not believe?" Abraham answered, "Yes indeed, I do believe; but I wish to set my heart at rest." Then Allah said: "Take four birds, draw them to you and cut their bodies to pieces and place a part of them on each hill, then call them: they will come to you in haste. And know that Allah is Mighty, Wise."

(The holy Prophets sent by God for the guidance of erring mankind may, as the previous few verses have intimated, be possessed of miraculous powers to further their divinely-appointed missions. Yet it is God Alone who has granted them these powers; they are not, therefore, to be accounted magical. Here we see the holy Prophet Abraham admonished by his own miracle, which was deployed not to gratify him, but rather, as is the case with all authentic miracles, to guide and remind mankind)

261. The likeness of those who spend their wealth in Allah's way is as the likeness of a grain which grows seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains. Allah gives increase manifold to whom He will. He is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.

262. Those that spend their wealth for the cause of Allah and do not follow their spending (charity) with taunts and insults shall be rewarded by their Lord and no fear shall come upon them, neither shall they grieve.

263. A kind word with forgiveness is better than charity followed by injury. Allah is Self Sufficient, Clement.

264. O you who believe! Render not vain your almsgiving by taunts and injury, like those who spend their wealth only for ostentation, and believe neither in Allah nor in the Hereafter. Such men are like a rock covered with earth; a shower of rain falls upon it and leaves it hard and bare. They will gain nothing from their works. Allah does not guide the disbelievers.

In the above verses we are encouraged to give out of our wealth in charity without following our charity with patronizing taunts or injury, or showing off, or scolding or belittling the plight of the needy. Otherwise, instead of gaining good deeds from one's charity, one might receive God's wrath and punishment)

265. And the likeness of those who spend their wealth in search of Allah's pleasure and for the strengthening of their souls is as the likeness of a garden on a hilltop. If abundant rain falls upon it, it yields up twice its normal crop; and if no heavy rain falls upon it, it is watered by a light shower. Allah is Seer of what you do.

266. Would anyone of you like to have a garden of palm-trees and vines, with rivers flowing beneath it, with all kinds of fruit for him therein, and old age had stricken him and he has helpless children to support; and a fiery whirlwind strikes it and it is (all) consumed by fire? Thus Allah makes plain the signs to you, so that you may perhaps think.

(This image addresses the problems that man may face in the life of this world: position, wealth, and other worldly gains are no guarantee for anyone. Many states and empires have been wiped out from the face of the earth, so that only eloquent ruins remain. Many rich people have become poor, and many nations because of intemal crises have collapsed. But man always plans many beautiful dreams, never knowing how matters will end. The only certain thing, and the only consolation, is to have faith and trust in the One Lord and Sustainer.)

267.0 you who believe! Spend of the good things which you have earned, and of that which We have brought out of the earth for you. And seek not the bad (with intent) to spend of it (in charity); and know that Allah is Self-Sufficient, and Worthy of Praise.

268. Satan threatens you with poverty and commands you towards immorality. But Allah promises you His forgiveness and His bounty, Allah is All-embracing, All-Knowing.

269. Allah gives His wisdom to whomsoever He pleases; and whoever is given wisdom, has truly been given abundant good. But none remember except men of understanding.

(The “Wisdom” discussed in the above verse denotes knowledge of the Qur’an. The first to receive this wisdom was the Blessed Prophet, followed by his heirs, the scholars who act in accordance with the knowledge that they possess. The most knowledgeable person is the one who is most useful to mankind. Our prophet, in a well-known hadith, teaches: “Ask (from God) knowledge that is not useful.” Honesty, justice, others, generosity, compassion and similar good traits who learns the Qur’an well and practices it, keeping himself from evil things, is also a man of wisdom, and is thus “given abundant good.”

270. Whatever charity you give and whatever vows you make are known to Allah. The wrongdoers shall have none to help them.

271. To give charity in public is good, but to give alms to the poor secretly is better for you, and will atone for some of your sins. Allah has knowledge of all that you do.

("Alms-giving" is either obligatory or optional. Zakat is the obligatory form; being possessed of two functions: (I) To purify wealth and render it blessed; (2) To improve one's own faith. Whether it be obligatory or optional, to give it secretly is considered better than to give it openly, for thus will it be less exposed to the danger of ostentation. To give in secret also saves face for the needy, whose dignity is preserved. )

272. (0 Muhammad!) It is not for you to guide them. Allah gives guidance to whom He will. Whatever good thing you spend, it is for your own soul, and you shall do so only for Allah's sake. And whatever good you spend, it will be repaid to you in full, and you will not be wronged.

("It is not for you to guide them" means "you are responsible only for conveying God's message to them and not responsible for their respond to it.”

The people referred being needy is mentioned in the preceding verses. In the early days of after the prophet's migration to Madina, the prophet and his companions faced a great poverty prevailing among the Muslim Community. He (Prophet) advised his Companions that "charity should be bestowed only on the followers of Islam." This view was immediately corrected by the revelation of the above verse. (lbn Kathir, Razi and Tabari). The Prophet after the revelation of this verse explicitly enjoined his followers to give away charities those all who needed them whether they are Muslim or not. There is a full agreement among all the commentators that the above verse of the Qur'an addressed, to the Prophet - lays down an injunction binding upon all Muslims in particular, draws from it the additional conclusion that to give away charity or 10 threat to with old it must never become a means of attracting unbelievers to Islam.)

273. (Alms) are for the poor who are restrained in the cause of Allah, unable to travel in the land. The ignorant man accounts them wealthy because of their restraint. But you will know them by their appearance. They never beg of people with importunity. And whatever good things you spend, surely Allah knows them well.

(These verses refer to people fighting for the cause of Allah, and those who are spending their lives to acquire knowledge and spread this knowledge in the world. Because of this honorable work, they are unable to make a sufficient living, and are hence worthy recipients of this type of Zakat.)

274. Those who spend their wealth by night and day, in private and public shall be rewarded by their Lord. No fear shall come upon them, neither shall they grieve.

(The above verses serve to institute the Islamic tithe - the Zakat. Were the Zakat to be given in conformity to Allah's injunctions there would be no poverty left on the face of the earth. Only certain people are qualified to receive Zakat. There are, of course, other forms of charity over and above the obligatory, which can be donated to such recipients as seem appropriate.)

275. Those who swallow usury shall rise up (from their graves) before Allah like the men whom Satan has bewitched and maddened by (his) touch, for they assert that usury is just like trading, although Allah has permitted trade and forbidden usury. He that receives an admonition from his Lord and mends his ways may keep what he has already earned; his affair will be determined by Allah. But those that return (to usury) will be the rightful owners of the Fire. They will abide there forever.

(The true charity consists in 'giving without on expectation of material gain, whereas usury is based on an expectation of gain without any corresponding effort on the part of the lender.)

276. Allah blights usury and makes almsgiving fruitful; He does not love the impious and guilty.

(Taking or giving money at interest in any way is an unjust practice forbidden in Islam. When Islam is fully applied in any place there is no need for such loans, which can lean to hopeless debt and exploitation. Islamic economics encourages partnership-based investment, in which participants share directly in the profit or loss of a venture. The prohibition of interest reduces the cost of such ventures, and also suppresses inflation. Money is a means of exchanging goods. To make money itself a subject of trade without any risk is illogical, exploitative, and generates a host of essentially parasitic activities.)

277. Those that believe, and do good works, and establish the Prayer and pay the Zakiit, will be rewarded by their Lord; and no fear shall come upon them, neither shall they grieve

278.0 you who believe! Have fear of Allah, and give up what is still due to you from usury, if you are true believers.

(This refers not merely to the believers at the time when the prohibition of usury was proclaimed, but also to people of later times who may come to believe in the messages of the Holy Qur'an.)

279. And if you do not, then be warned of war (against you) by Allah and His messenger. If you repent, you may retain your principal (without interest). Wrong not, and you shall be not wronged.

280. And if the debtor is in straitened circumstances, then grant him a postponement until a (time of) ease; but if you remit the debt as almsgiving it would be better for you, if you did but know.

281. And guard yourselves against a day in which you will be brought back to Allah. Then every soul will be paid in full that which it had earned, and they will not be wronged.

(The above verse was the last revelation revealed to the prophet, who died shortly after wards. (Bukhari).

282. O you who believe! When you contract a debt for a fixed period, record it in writing. Let a scribe write it down for you with equity. No scribe should refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so let him write; and let the debtor dictate, fearing Allah his Lord, and not diminishing (the sum he owes). If the debtor be a feeble minded or weak person, or unable to dictate, let his guardian dictate for him in fairness. Call in two witnesses from among your men, and if two men (are not at hand), then one man and two women of such as you approve as witnesses, so that if either of the (women) commit en error, the other will remind her. Witness must refuse if called upon to do so. Do not fail to record (your debts) in writing, be they small or large, together with the date of payment. This is more just in the sight of Allah; it ensures accuracy in testifying and is the best was to remove all doubt. But if the transaction in hand be a bargain concluded on the spot, it is no offerance for you if you do not record it in writing. See that witnesses are present when you trade with one another, and let no harm be done to either scribe or witness. If you (harm them) it shall be wickedness in you. Have fear of Allah. Allah is teaching you; and He is Knower of all things.

(This is the longest verse in the Qur'an. It contains the rules necessary for the establishment of the office of Notary Public, for the first time in history. The law of Islam is founded on the principle of protecting the rights and interests of mankind, and in the area of debts this is spelt out in detail. In order to protect the rights of citizens, the necessary witnessed documents and proofs are needed in courts of Law, a requirement which is acknowledged even in modem secular legal practice. The Holy Qur'an requires believers to serve as witnesses when they are called, no matter how busy they may be, because participating in the legal processes which uphold the stability and equity of society is a duty upon all citizens, and one that merits God's generous reward.

The above verse also embraces any transaction on the bases of credit, be it an outright loan or a commercial deal. Here the 'tadayantum' relates both the giver and taker of credit.

Again in this verse "No scribe should refuse to write as Allah has taught him" means that the scribe should write it in accordance with the laws promulgated in the Holy Qur'an.

"...and not diminishing anything..." means, the formulation of the undertaking is left to the weaker party, i.e. to the one who contracts the debt.

The definition of "feeble minded or weak person" in the verse can be explained as a person who is physically handicapped, or does not fully understand the business terminology used in such contracts, or is not acquainted with the language in which the contract is to be written. It also applies to minors as well as to very old persons who are no longer in full possession of their mental faculties.)

283. If you are on a journey and a scribe cannot be found, then let pledges be taken. If any one of you entrusts another with a pledge, let the trustee restore the pledge to its owner; and let him fear Allah, his Lord. You must not withhold testimony. He that withholds it, surely, his heart is doing wrong. Allah is Aware of what you do.

("You must not withhold testimony". This relates not only those who have witnessed a business transaction, but also to a debtor who has been given a loan on trust - without a written agreement and without witnesses - and subsequently denies all knowledge of his indebt ness.)

284. To Allah belongs all that the heavens and the earth contain. Whether you make known what is in your souls or hide it, Allah will bring you to account for them. He will forgive whom He will and punish whom He pleases; He has power over all things.

285. The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him by his Lord, and so do the believers. They all believe in Allah and His angels, His scriptures and His messengers: "We make no distinction between any of His messengers" - and they say: "We hear and obey. Grant us Your forgiveness, our Lord; to You is the journeying.

286. Allah does not charge a soul with more than what it can bear. It shall be requited for whatever good and whatever evil it has done. "Our Lord! Do not condemn us if we forget, or err! Our Lord! Do not lay on us a burden like that which You laid on these before us! Our Lord! Do not charge us with more than we can bear! Pardon us, forgive us, and have mercy upon us. You are our Protector. Give us victory over the disbelieving people!"

(The last two verses of Sarah al Baqarah reflect the faithfulness and loyalty of believers, and their obedience to the divine laws. Because of the enormous responsibility implied by the preceding verse ("Whether you make known what is in your minds or hide them; Allah will bring you to account for them~") those Companions who first heard these words were terrified and alarmed. The following passage consoles the Muslims and lessens their burden. The verse, which announces that obedience to Allah yields delightful fruits, was revealed to the Blessed Prophet on the night of the "Mi'raj"; directly, and without the intermediary role of the Angel Gabriel. The Prophet, peace be upon him, praised this verse in various hadiths, and encouraged the Muslims to recite it always, and especially before going to bed at night. For it contains the essence of Islam, which is loving submission to the Divine will, and satisfaction with the just decrees of Heaven. As such, it is the perfect conclusion to the Sarah.)