Click to Listen Tafheem ul Quran - Al-Baqarah (Urdu)

(Madman Period)                                                     


Title

This surah is entitled al-Bagarah (`The Cow') because at one point it mentions the anecdote of the cow (see verses 66-73). Each surah of the Qur'an covers such a wide range of subjects that comprehen­sive surah headings are impossible. The titles suggested by the Prophet (peace be on him), under instruction from God, are not so much headings as tags to differentiate the surahs. The name of this surah, `The Cow', does not signify that the cow is its main theme, but merely marks it as the surah in which the cow is mentioned.


Period of Revelation

The greater part of this surah was revealed in the early Madman period. soon after the migration of the Prophet to Madina. A small portion was revealed later, and is included here because its subject is in harmony with the earlier parts. Hence we find the verses prohibiting interest (verses 275 ff.) included in this surah even though they were revealed during the very last days of the Prophet's life. Moreover, the concluding verses were revealed in Makka but have been incorporated here because they fit into the overall framework.


Background

To appreciate this surah one must first grasp the historical background of its revelation:

(1) Until the time of migration (Hijrah), the message of Islam was confined to Makka and was addressed mainly to the polytheists of Arabia, for whom it was altogether new and foreign. After his migration to Madina, however, the Prophet (peace be on him) found the Jews living in nearby settlements. They affirmed the unity of God and believed in prophethood, revelation, After-life and angels. They also recognized the religious Law revealed by God to Moses (peace be on him). In principle, their religion was the same as that being preached by Muhammad (peace be on him). Over many centuries, however, they had passed through a process of degener­ation which had left them far removed from their true religion.* Many non-Islamic concepts, for which there was no basis in the Torah, had crept into their beliefs. Their daily lives, too, had become overlaid with customs and usages which had no place in their original religion and for which there was no scriptural sanction.

In fact, they had totally distorted the Scriptures by mixing the word of man with the Word of God. They had mutilated whatever remained intact of the original Word of God by resorting to arbitrary interpretations and hair-splitting legal deductions and elaborations. Among them true religious spirit was already dead. What was left was a soulless body of outward observances. Their theologians and rabbis, their elite as well as their common men, had all become so totally enmeshed in corruption that their beliefs were warped, their moral standards in decline and their daily lives degenerate. Further­more, they cherished their corrupt ways far too much to be prepared for any reform. This corruption had gone on for so many centuries that whenever someone arose among them who was inspired by religious ideals, who sought to lead them to a truly sincere religious life, they looked upon him as their greatest enemy and spared no effort to prevent him from succeeding in his mission.

The accretion of foreign elements, the mutilation of the true teachings of their faith, the hair-splitting interpretations and schisma­tic divisions, the preoccupation with the letter and disregard of the spirit and substance of God's directives, the heedlessness of God, and the worship of material benefits had all made deep inroads

* Some nineteen centuries had then elapsed since the time of Moses. According to Jewish historical sources, Moses died in 1272 B.C. The Prophet Muhammad was entrusted with prophetic office in 610 C.E.

into their lives and had carried their degeneration to a point where they had even forgotten that they were `Muslims'. In short, they acquired the characteristic traits now associated with the Jews and had turned their religion into a national heritage of the Israelites.

When the Prophet arrived in Madina, God instructed him to call the Jews to their true and original faith. This call is embodied roughly in the first sixteen sections (ruku`) of this surah (i.e. from the opening verse of the surah to verse 141). In these sections both the past of the Jews and their present moral and religious condition are subjected to severe criticism. Moreover, the principles of true faith are elucidated in contrast with the corrupted forms of religion and morality. All this clearly shows the kind of corruption that can overtake the followers of Prophets, and what constitutes a true religiousness as distinct from a mere outward observance of religious laws. It also demonstrates the fundamentals-of-true religious life and the things of real value in the sight of God.

With the arrival of the Prophet (peace be on him) in Madina. the Islamic movement entered a new stage. In Makka the Prophet devoted himself almost exclusively to expounding the basic principles of the true faith and to the moral training of his followers. After the migration, however, people belonging to different tribes and are as of Arabia, and who had embraced Islam, began to concentrate in Madina. When these people, in co-operation with the local Muslims (Ansar) (literally meaning `Helpers'), laid the foundations of a small Islamic state God began to issue fundamental directives on social, economic, legal and political matters, explaining how a new order of life could be established on the basis of Islam. The last twenty-three sections of the surah (i.e. verse 141 to the end of this surah) consist mainly of such directives. Most of them were issued in the very early part of the Madinan period of the Prophet's life while the rest were issued later and in response to different requirements.

With the migration to Madina, the struggle between Islam and unbelief entered a new phase. Hitherto, the message of Islam had been spread in the very heart of unbelief. People of various tribes stayed in their homelands even after they had embraced Islam. carrying on their missionary work there, even though they were persecuted and subjected to many wrongs. After the migration all these scattered Muslims gathered in Madina, formed a body-politic and established a small independent state. However, although they held a tiny piece of land the whole of Arabia was pitted against them, bent upon their extermination.

In these circumstances the very survival, let alone the success of this small group of people depended upon several factors. First, that they should propagate their beliefs with the utmost conviction in order to convert others. Second, that they should demonstrate the falsity of their opponents' standpoint so cogently and convincingly that there could remain no justifiable ground for any intelligent person to entertain any doubt on the question. Third, that they as the followers of the Prophet should not lose their nerve or become disheartened because they had been driven out of their homes and were faced, through the hostility and opposition of the whole country, with economic stringency, hunger, and constant insecurity and danger but that they should confront the situation with patience and fortitude. Fourth, that they should be prepared to resist with-both courage and the force of arms the violent assault by which the enemy intended to frustrate their movement, and that in this resistance they should not heed the enemy's superiority in either numbers or material resources. Fifth, that they should be inspired with the zeal and boldness needed to establish the Islamic order; if they found the people of Arabia unprepared to allow the Islamic order to be established by peaceful means, they should not hesitate to smash their corrupt way of life, based as it was on an inherited tradition of pagan Ignorance.

(4) In this phase of the development of the Islamic movement a new element, the `hypocrites', began to emerge. Although the first signs of hypocrisy had appeared during the last phase of the Prophet's life in Makka, the nature of that hypocrisy was different. The kind of `hypocrites' found then were those who while recognizing the truth of Islam and claiming to believe in it were not prepared to sacrifice their material interests, run the risk of severing the relationship which bound them to others, and who shrank from the persecution and trial which used to afflict all those who responded to the call of Truth.

In Madina, we notice that in addition to hypocrites of this sort other kinds also began to enter the body politic of Islam. One group consisted of those who had no faith in Islam but had entered the ranks of the Muslim community merely in order to create mischief. Another group of hypocrites, conscious of the political dominance of the Muslims, considered it advantageous to gain acceptance as fellow Muslims. At the same time they maintained contacts with their enemies so that they could enjoy the best of both worlds; in this way they secured all the advantages of friendship with the two opposite camps and thus remained safe from any hostilities. There was still another group of hypocrites — those who were in a state of ambivalence and indecision between Islam and Ignorance but who had embraced Islam because the majority of their tribe or family had done so. The final group consisted of those who, although they believed Islam to be true, found it difficult to forsake their inherited way of life, their superstitions, their customs and usages. and to discipline themselves to observe the moral restraints and fulfil the obligations prescribed by Islam.

At the time this surah was revealed these various kinds of hypocrites had just begun to appear and so God made only brief references to them. In the surahs revealed in subsequent years. references to the hypocrites became more elaborate and directives were issued regarding the members of each of their category since by then the characteristics and activities of the hypocrites became clearer.



Surah 2. Al-Baqarah (1-29)
 
 

Surah 2. Al-Baqarah (1-29)

 

الم﴿2:1﴾ 
(2:1) Alif. Lam. Mim. *1
*1. The names of letters of the Arabic alphabet, called huruf muqatta'at, occur at the beginning of several surahs of the Qur'an. At the time of the Qur'anic revelation the use of such letters was a well-known literary device, used by both poets and orators, and we find several instances in the pre-Islamic Arabic literature that has come down to us.
Since the muqatta'at were commonly used the Arabs of that period generally knew what they meant and so they did not present a puzzle. We do not notice, therefore, any contemporaries of the Prophet (peace be on him) raising objections against the Qur'an on the ground that the letters at the beginning of some of its surahs were absurd. For the same reason no Tradition has come down to us of any Companion asking the Prophet about the significance of the muqatta'at. Later on this literary device gradually fell into disuse and hence it became difficult for commentators to determine their precise meanings. It is obvious, however, that deriving right guidance from the Qur'an does not depend on grasping the meaning of these vocables, and that anyone who fails to understand them may still live a righteous life and attain salvation. The ordinary reader, therefore, need not delve too deeply into this matter.
 
ذَلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لاَ رَيْبَ فِيهِ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ﴿2:2﴾ 
(2:2) This is the Book of Allah: there is no doubt *2 about it. It is guidance to Godfearing people, *3
*2. One obvious meaning of this verse is that this Book, the Qur'an, is undoubtedly from God. Another possible meaning is that nothing contained in it can be subject to doubt. Books which deal with supernatural questions, with matters that lie beyond the range of sense perception, are invariably based on conjecture and their authors, despite their brave show of competence, are therefore not immune from a degree of scepticism regarding their statements. This Book, which is based wholly on Truth, a Book which is the work of none other than the All-Knowing God Himself is distinguishable from all other books. Hence, there is no room for doubt about its contents despite the hesitation some people might express either through ignorance or folly.
*3. This means that while the Book is potentially for all, only those who possess certain qualities can benefit from it. The first such quality is piety: those who want to benefit should be disposed to distinguish between good and evil, and to shun evil and do good. Those who lead an animal existence, who never to consider whether their actions are either good or bad, whose cynically follow the prevailing winds, who are helplessly tossed about by the animal desires that dominate their minds, such persons are all together incapable of deriving any benefit from the guidance embodied in the Qur'an.
 
الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْغَيْبِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ﴿2:3﴾ 
(2:3) who believe in the unseen *4 , establish the Salats *5 and expend (in Our way) out of what We have bestowed on them; *6
*4. This is the second prerequisite for deriving benefit from the Qur'an. Ghayb signifies the verities which are hidden from man's senses and which are beyond the scope of man's ordinary observation and experience, for example the existence and attributes of God, the angels. the process of revelation, Paradise, Hell and so on. 'Belief in the ghaib' means having faith in such matters, based on an absolute confidence in the Messengers of God and despite the fact that it is impossible to experience them.
According to this verse, Qur'anic guidance can prove helpful only to those prepared to affirm the truths of the suprasensory realm. People who make their belief in these questions conditional upon sensory perception of the object of belief, and who are not prepared even to consider the possibility of the existence of things that cannot be weighed or measured, cannot profit from this Book.
*5. This is the third requirement. It is pointed out that those to whom belief means merely the pronouncement of a formula, who think that a mere verbal confession of faith is enough and that it makes no practical demands on them, can derive no guidance from the Qur'an. To benefit from the Qur'an it is essential that a man's decision to believe should be followed immediately by practical obedience to God.
Prayer is the first and continuing sign of practical obedience. No more than a few hours can pass after a man has embraced Islam than the mu'adhin calls to Prayer and it becomes evident whether or not the profession of faith has been genuine. Moreover, the mu'adhin calls to Prayer five times every day and whenever a man fails to respond to his call it becomes clear that he has transgressed the bounds of practical obedience. An abandonment of Prayer amounts to an abandonment of obedience. Obviously, if a man is not prepared to follow the directives of his guide, it is immaterial whether or not true guidance is available to him.
It should also be noted that the expression 'establishment of Prayer' has a wider meaning than mere performance of Prayer. It means that the system of Prayer should be organized on a collective basis. If there is a person in a locality who prays individually but no arrangements are made for congregational Prayer, it cannot be claimed that Prayer is established in that locality.
*6. This, the fourth prerequisite for a person to benefit from the Qur'an, demands that the person concerned should neither be niggardly nor a worshipper of money. On the contrary, he should be willing to pay the claims on his property of both God and man, and should not flinch from making financial sacrifices for the sake of his convictions.
 
والَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ مِن قَبْلِكَ وَبِالآخِرَةِ هُمْ يُوقِنُونَ﴿2:4﴾ 
(2:4) who believe in the Book We have sent down to you (i.e. the Qur'an) and in the Books sent down before you, *7 and firmly believe in the Hereafter. *8
*7. The fifth requirement is that one should believe in the Books revealed by God to His Prophets in the various ages and regions of the world, in the Book revealed to Muhammad (peace be on him) as well as in those revealed to the other Prophets who preceded him. The door of the Qur'an is closed to all those who do not consider it necessary for man to receive guidance from God. It is also closed to those who, even if they believe in the need for such guidance, do not consider it necessary to seek it through the channel of revelation and prophethood, but would rather weave their own set of ideas and concepts and regard them as equivalent to Divine Guidance.
This door is also closed to those who believe in Divine books as such, but confine this belief to those books accepted by their forefathers, and spurn Divine Guidance revealed to anyone born beyond their own racial and national boundaries. The Qur'an excludes all such people and is prepared to open the source of its grace only to those who believe that mankind does require Divine Guidance, who acknowledge that this guidance does not come to people individually but reaches them through Prophets and Divine Books and who are not given to racial or national chauvinism but are devotees of Truth alone, and are therefore prepared to submit to Divine Guidance wherever it be found.
*8. Belief in the After-life is the sixth and last requirement. The term al-Akhirah embraces a whole set of ideas:
(i) that man is not an irresponsible being, but is answerable to God for all his conduct in this world;
(ii) that the present order of the world is not timeless, but will come to an end at an appointed hour knon only to God;
(iii) that when this world comes to an end God will bring into being another world in which He will resurrect, at one and the same moment, all the human beings ever born on earth. He will gather them together, examine their conduct and grant each one just reward for his actions;
(iv) that those who are accounted good in God's judgement will be sent to Heaven, and those judged by Him as evil-doers will be consigned to Hell;
(v) that the real measure of success and failure is not one's prosperity in the present life, but one's success or failure according to God's judgement in the Next.
Those who do not accept this set of beliefs can derive no benefit from the Qur'an. For if a man is merely in a state of doubt and hesitation with regard to these matters - let alone disbelieving them - he cannot advance even one step forward along the path charted out by the Qur'an.
 
أُوْلَـئِكَ عَلَى هُدًى مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ﴿2:5﴾ 
(2:5) Such people are on the right way from their Lord and such are truly successful.

 
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ سَوَاءٌ عَلَيْهِمْ أَأَنذَرْتَهُمْ أَمْ لَمْ تُنذِرْهُمْ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ﴿2:6﴾ 
(2:6) As for those who have rejected *9 (these things), it is all the same to them whether you warn them or do not warn them: they are not going to believe.
*9. That is, those people who do not meet these six requirements, or reject all or any one of the fundamentals set out above.
 
خَتَمَ اللّهُ عَلَى قُلُوبِهمْ وَعَلَى سَمْعِهِمْ وَعَلَى أَبْصَارِهِمْ غِشَاوَةٌ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عظِيمٌ﴿2:7﴾ 
(2:7) Allah has sealed up their hearts and ears and a covering has fallen over their eyes, *10 and they have incurred the severest punishment.
*10. This does not mean that their rejection of the Truth is a consequence of God sealing their hearts. What is meant is that God sealed their hearts and ears as a consequence of their decision to reject the fundamentals of faith, of their deliberate choice of a path divergent from that charted out by the Qur'an. Anyone who has worked for the dissemination of the Truth often finds that if, after full consideration, a person decides against a doctrine, his mind begins to move in a completely opposite direction so that he fails to appreciate anything that is explained to him. His ears become deaf, his eyes are blinded to the merits of that doctrine, and one gets the distinct impression that the person's heart has indeed been sealed.
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَقُولُ آمَنَّا بِاللّهِ وَبِالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَمَا هُم بِمُؤْمِنِينَ﴿2:8﴾ 
(2:8) Then there are some who say, "We believe in Allah and the Last Day", whereas they do not believe at all.

 
يُخَادِعُونَ اللّهَ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَمَا يَخْدَعُونَ إِلاَّ أَنفُسَهُم وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ﴿2:9﴾ 
(2:9) They thus try to deceive Allah and the Believers, but they succeed in deceiving none except themselves and they realize it not *11 .
*11. These people delude themselves that their hypocritical behaviour will profit them when in fact it will prove harmful both in this world and the Next. A hypoctite may be able to fool people for a while, but it does not last long; his hypocrisy is ultimately seen through. As for the Next Life, it is obvious that his claim to be a true believer is contradicted by his own actions and is thus quite worthless.
 
فِي قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ فَزَادَهُمُ اللّهُ مَرَضاً وَلَهُم عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْذِبُونَ﴿2:10﴾ 
(2:10) In their hearts is a disease which Allah has increased all the more *12 and a painful doom is in store for them for the lie they utter.
*12. ' Disease' here refers to the disease of hypocrisy. The statement that 'Allah has intensified this disease' means that He does not punish the hypocrites immediately but allows them to indulge in their hypocrisy and exult in the success of their ruses. This feeling of success intensifies their hypocrisy.
 
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لاَ تُفْسِدُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ قَالُواْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُونَ﴿2:11﴾ 
(2:11) Whenever it is said to them, "Spread not disorder on the earth", their reply is, "We only seek to put things aright".

 
أَلا إِنَّهُمْ هُمُ الْمُفْسِدُونَ وَلَـكِن لاَّ يَشْعُرُونَ﴿2:12﴾ 
(2:12) Beware! they do spread disorder but they realize it not.

 
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ آمِنُواْ كَمَا آمَنَ النَّاسُ قَالُواْ أَنُؤْمِنُ كَمَا آمَنَ السُّفَهَاء أَلا إِنَّهُمْ هُمُ السُّفَهَاء وَلَـكِن لاَّ يَعْلَمُونَ﴿2:13﴾ 
(2:13) And when it is said to them, "Believe sincerely as the other people have believed", *13 they reply, "Should we believe as fools have believed?” *14 Beware! they themselves are the fools, but they know it not.
*13. They are being asked to become Muslims in the same manner as others of their community became Muslims
*14. They think that those people who sincerely embraced Islam and thereby exposed themselves to all kinds of trials and persecutions, and confronted risks and dangers, were merely fools. To them it seems sheer folly to invite the hostility of the entire land merely for the sake of Truth and righteousness. In their view, wisdom consists not in bothering oneself with the distinction between truth and falsehood, but in remaining concerned only with one's own interests.
 
وَإِذَا لَقُواْ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ قَالُواْ آمَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَوْاْ إِلَى شَيَاطِينِهِمْ قَالُواْ إِنَّا مَعَكْمْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُسْتَهْزِؤُونَ﴿2:14﴾ 
(2:14) When they meet those who believe, they say, "We, too, are believers", but when they privily meet their evil geniuses, *15 they say, "Indeed we are with you: we are only mocking at these people".
*15. 'Satan' in Arabic means refractory, rebellious and headstrong, and is used for both human beings and jinn. Although this word is generally used in the Qur'an for the satans amongst the jinn, it is also used occasionally for human beings possessing satanic characteristics. The context generally explains whether the word 'satan' refers to jinn or to human beings. In this particular case the word 'satans' refers to those influential leaders of the time who were in the vanguard of opposition and hostility to Islam
 
اللّهُ يَسْتَهْزِىءُ بِهِمْ وَيَمُدُّهُمْ فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ﴿2:15﴾ 
(2:15) (Little do they realize that) Allah is mocking at them. He gives them rope enough, and they wander on and on blindly in their mischief and rebellion.

 
أُوْلَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرُوُاْ الضَّلاَلَةَ بِالْهُدَى فَمَا رَبِحَت تِّجَارَتُهُمْ وَمَا كَانُواْ مُهْتَدِينَ﴿2:16﴾ 
(2:16) These are the people who have bartered away Guidance for error, but this is a profitless bargain that they have made, and they are not at all on the right way.

 
مَثَلُهُمْ كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي اسْتَوْقَدَ نَاراً فَلَمَّا أَضَاءتْ مَا حَوْلَهُ ذَهَبَ اللّهُ بِنُورِهِمْ وَتَرَكَهُمْ فِي ظُلُمَاتٍ لاَّ يُبْصِرُونَ﴿2:17﴾ 
(2:17) Their condition may be described in a parable: a man kindled a fire and when it illuminated all around him, Allah took away the light from their eyes and left them in utter darkness, where they could not see anything. *16
*16. This means that two opposite effects emerged when a true servant of God radiated the light which made it possible to distinguish true from false and right from wrong, and made the straight way distinct from the ways of error. To those endowed with true perception, all truths became evident. But those who were almost blinded by the worship of their animal desires perceived nothing.
The expression, 'Allah took away the light of their perception' should not create the impression that these people were not responsible for their stumbling into darkness. Only those who do not seek the Truth, who prefer error to guidance and who are adamantly disinclined to pursue the Truth despite its luminosity, are deprived, by God, of the light of their perception. God simply enables such people to do what they wish.
 
صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْيٌ فَهُمْ لاَ يَرْجِعُونَ﴿2:18﴾ 
(2:18) They are deaf; they are dumb; they are blind *17 so they will not return (to the right way).
*17. They have become deaf to hear, dumb to utter and blind to perceive the truth.
 
أَوْ كَصَيِّبٍ مِّنَ السَّمَاء فِيهِ ظُلُمَاتٌ وَرَعْدٌ وَبَرْقٌ يَجْعَلُونَ أَصْابِعَهُمْ فِي آذَانِهِم مِّنَ الصَّوَاعِقِ حَذَرَ الْمَوْتِ واللّهُ مُحِيطٌ بِالْكافِرِينَ﴿2:19﴾ 
(2:19) Or (still another parable may be cited to depict their condition): heavy rain is falling from the sky, accompanied by pitch darkness, thunder and lightning. When they hear the thunderclap, they thrust their fingers into their ears for fear of death, but Allah is encircling the disbelievers on all sides. *18
*18. By thrusting their fingers into their ears they temporarily deceive themselves into believing that they can escape the catastrophic end that awaits them. However, they cannot escape that end since God with all His might, encompasses them.
 
يَكَادُ الْبَرْقُ يَخْطَفُ أَبْصَارَهُمْ كُلَّمَا أَضَاء لَهُم مَّشَوْاْ فِيهِ وَإِذَا أَظْلَمَ عَلَيْهِمْ قَامُواْ وَلَوْ شَاء اللّهُ لَذَهَبَ بِسَمْعِهِمْ وَأَبْصَارِهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّه عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ﴿2:20﴾ 
(2:20) The lightning terrifies them as if it were going to snatch away their eyesight from them. When they see light, they move on a little further and When it becomes dark for them, they stand still *19 . Had Allah so willed, He could have deprived them totally of their hearing *20 and their sight. Most surely Allah has power over everything.
*19. The first parable refers to those hypocrites who disbelieved completely but had become Muslims merely, to further their worldly interests. The second parable refers to those who were prone to doubt and hesitation or whose faith was weak; who believed in the Truth but not to the extent of exposing themselves to hardships for its sake. The 'violent rainstorm' here alludes to Islam, which came to the world as a blessing. 'Pitch-dark clouds, thunder and lightning' refer to trials, tribulations and difficulties which confronted the Islamic movement, owing to the violent opposition and resistance of those committed to Ignorance. The last part of the parable portrays the state of mind of the hypocrites. They move a little ahead when circumstances seem favorable, but when either difficulties cloud the horizon, or when they are given directives which run counter to their desires or inherited prejudices, they are seized with alarm and come to a halt.
*20. Just as God has completely deprived the first category of hypocrites of their 'light of perception', He could have rendered these other hypocrites totally blind and deaf. But it is not God's way to deprive anyone of sight and hearing while he is willing to see and hear. Hence, God allowed them to retain their sight and hearing to the extent they were prepared to see and hear the Truth.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُواْ رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ﴿2:21﴾ 
(2:21) O Mankind *21 , submit to your Lord Who created you and those who were before you; in this way only you may expect to save yourselves *22 .
*21. Even though the message of the Qur'an is addressed to all, benefiting from it depends on ones willingness and on God's succour in relation to that willingness. This is why the Qur'an first explained which kind of people can and which kind of people cannot benefit from the Qur'an. As this has been explained in the foregoing verses, the quintessence of the message to which the Qur'an invites all mankind is now put forth.
*22. So that you are saved from false beliefs and unrighteous conduct in this life, and from the punishment of God in the Next.
 
الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الأَرْضَ فِرَاشاً وَالسَّمَاء بِنَاء وَأَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاء مَاء فَأَخْرَجَ بِهِ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ رِزْقاً لَّكُمْ فَلاَ تَجْعَلُواْ لِلّهِ أَندَاداً وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ﴿2:22﴾ 
(2:22) It is He Who has made the earth a bed for you and the sky a canopy; and it is He Who sends down rain from above for the growth of every kind of food products for your sustenance. So, when you know this, you should not set up equals to rank with Allah *23 .
*23. That is, when man recognizes that all those things were done by none but God, then worship, devotion and service must be exclusively for Him. For who besides the Creator can legitimately claim these things from man?
Not to set up others as rivals to Allah means not to make anyone other than God the object of worship, service and obedience that one owes to God alone. Later on we shall see, in some detail, how the Qur'an itself specifies the forms of worship and service which we owe exclusively to God, and wherein associating anyone else amounts to shirk (associating others with God in His divinity). This, the Qur'an seeks to eradicate.
 
وَإِن كُنتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِّمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَى عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُواْ بِسُورَةٍ مِّن مِّثْلِهِ وَادْعُواْ شُهَدَاءكُم مِّن دُونِ اللّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ﴿2:23﴾ 
(2:23) And if you be in doubt whether the Book We have sent down to Our Servant is from Us or not, then produce, at least, one Surah like this *24 . You may call all your associates to assist you and avail yourselves of the help of any one other than Allah. If you are genuine in your doubt, do this.
*24. Before this, in Makka, opponents had often been challenged to produce anything of comparable merit if they believed the Qur'an to be the work of a human being. In Madina the same challenge was reiterated. (For similar challenges made elsewhere in the Qur'an, see 10: 38; 11: 13; 17: 88 and 52: 33
 
فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُواْ وَلَن تَفْعَلُواْ فَاتَّقُواْ النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ﴿2:24﴾ 
(2:24) But if you do not do this, and you can never do this, then fear the Fire which has been prepared for the disbelievers and which shall have men and stones for fuel *25 .
*25. This suggests, in a subtle manner, that in the Next Life not only will the unbelievers become the fuel of hell
 
وَبَشِّرِ الَّذِين آمَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَارُ كُلَّمَا رُزِقُواْ مِنْهَا مِن ثَمَرَةٍ رِّزْقاً قَالُواْ هَـذَا الَّذِي رُزِقْنَا مِن قَبْلُ وَأُتُواْ بِهِ مُتَشَابِهاً وَلَهُمْ فِيهَا أَزْوَاجٌ مُّطَهَّرَةٌ وَهُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ﴿2:25﴾ 
(2:25) And give good news (O Muhammad), to those who believe in this Book and do good deeds (in accordance with its teachings). For them there will be gardens underneath which canals flow. Their fruits will so resemble the fruits on the Earth that every time they will be provided with fruits, they will say, "Such fruits were provided to us before on the Earth *26 . " And there will be pure spouses *27 for them and therein they will live for ever.
*26. The fruits of Paradise will not be so exotic in appearance as to be unfamiliar to people. They will resemble the fruits to which human beings are accustomed in this world, though infinitely excelling them in delicacy of taste. In appearance they may resemble, say mangoes, pomegranates and oranges, and the people of Paradise will be able to identify them as such. In taste, however, there will be no comparison between the terrestrial and heavenly fruits.
*27. The Qur'anic text has the Arabic word azwaj which means 'spouses' or 'couples', and embraces both husband and wife. The husband is the zawj of his wife, and vice versa. In the Next World, however, this relationship of spouses will be qualified by purity. If a man has been virtuous in this world while his wife has not, their relationship in the Next World will be sundered and the man will receive another spouse who will be pure and virtuous. On the other hand, if a virtuous woman has had an evil husband she will be tied in companionship with a virtuous man. Where husband and wife have both been virtuous their relationship will become everlasting.
 
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَسْتَحْيِي أَن يَضْرِبَ مَثَلاً مَّا بَعُوضَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ فَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ فَيَقُولُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِهَـذَا مَثَلاً يُضِلُّ بِهِ كَثِيراً وَيَهْدِي بِهِ كَثِيراً وَمَا يُضِلُّ بِهِ إِلاَّ الْفَاسِقِينَ﴿2:26﴾ 
(2:26) Well, Allah is not ashamed to cite the similitude of a gnat or of something even more insignificant than this *28 . As for those who believe, they come to know from the same similitude that it is the Revelation from their Lord; but those who disbelieve, say, "What does Allah mean by such similitudes?" *29 Allah leads astray many and guides many to the right way by the same thing *30 . And He leads astray only those who disobey Allah;
*28. Here an objection is indirectly refuted. At several places in the Qur'an, spiders, flies, gnats and so on are mentioned in order to elucidate certain points. Opponents objected to this on the grounds that such objects were too lowly to find a place in the Book of God. They indicated that had the Qur'an indeed been a revelation from God it would not have mentioned such trivial objects.
*29. Those who do not wish to understand things and are not motivated by the urge to seek the truth become enmeshed in superficial questions relating to the Book of God, draw altogether erroneous conclusions when they encounter references to apparently insignificant things such as gnats, and are thereby thrown further and further away from the Truth. Those who seek the Truth and possess true perception, on the other hand, penetrate through these superficialities and perceive the gems of wisdom that they embody. This appreciation makes their hearts attest that such wisdom could have no other source than God Himself.
*30. Fasiq means transgressor, disobedient. (See also n 33 below )
 
الَّذِينَ يَنقُضُونَ عَهْدَ اللَّهِ مِن بَعْدِ مِيثَاقِهِ وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَا أَمَرَ اللَّهُ بِهِ أَن يُوصَلَ وَيُفْسِدُونَ فِي الأَرْضِ أُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ﴿2:27﴾ 
(2:27) who break Allah's covenant after ratifying it *31 ; who cut asunder what Allah has ordered to be joined *32 , and who produce chaos on the Earth *33 . These are the people who are indeed the losers.
*31. The injunctions or ordinances issued by a sovereign to his servants and subjects are termed 'ahd in Arabic since compliance with them becomes obligatory for the latter. 'Ahd has been used here in this sense. The 'ahd referred to signifies God's eternal command that all human beings are obliged to render their service, obedience and worship to Him alone. 'After its binding' refers to the promise made by mankind to remain faithful to the injunctions of God at the time of Adam's creation. (For details see verse 7: 172)
*32. That is, the transgressors strike their blows at those very relationships upon which the individual and collective well-being of mankind depends, and which God wants maintained on a sound basis.This small sentence is of great import as it embraces the whole of human morality and social life, and extends from relationships between individuals to those between nations. 'To cut asunder what Allah has commanded should he joined' does not merely signify the disruption of relationships between man and man; it forbids the establishment of all forms of human relationship except the right and permissible ones. For wrong and prohibited bonds between people have the same consequences as the disruption of the bonds of human relationship as such
*33. In these three sentences the nature of transgression and the attitude of transgressors is fully defined. To debase the relationship between man and God, and between man and man necessarily leads to 'mischief'. Those who spread this 'mischief' on earth are transgressors.
 
كَيْفَ تَكْفُرُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَكُنتُمْ أَمْوَاتاً فَأَحْيَاكُمْ ثُمَّ يُمِيتُكُمْ ثُمَّ يُحْيِيكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ﴿2:28﴾ 
(2:28) How is it that you adopt the attitude of disbelief towards Allah when the fact is that you were lifeless and He gave you life, and He will take away life from you and wilt again restore you to life: then you shall ultimately return to Him.

 
هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ لَكُم مَّا فِي الأَرْضِ جَمِيعاً ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى إِلَى السَّمَاء فَسَوَّاهُنَّ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ﴿2:29﴾ 
(2:29) He it is Who created for you all that there is on the Earth; He then turned to the sky and ordered it into seven heavens *34 . And He has full knowledge of everything *35 .
*34. It is difficult to explain precisely what is meant by the 'seven heavens'. In all ages man has tried, with the help of observation and speculation, to conceptualize the 'heavens', i.e. that which lies beyond and above the earth. As we well know, the concepts that have thus developed have constantantly changed. Hence it would be improper to tie the meaning of these words of the Qur'an to any one of these numerous concepts. What might be broadly inferred from this statement is that either God has divided the universe beyond the earth into seven distinct spheres, or that this earth is located in that part of the universe which consists of seven different spheres.
*35. In this sentence attention is drawn to two important facts. First, man is warned against disbelief and rebellion against God, for God knows all that man does and none of his actions are hidden from Him. Second, it is suggested to man that if he turns away from the All-Knowing God, from the One Who is the source of all knowledge, this can only leave him grouping in the darkness of ignorance and error. When there is no source of truth knowledge except God, and when that very light which alone can illuminate man's life can be obtained from none else but Him, what good can come out of deviation from the Truth?
 
 

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