Al Baqarah: Topics and Interconnections

From Tafhimul Quran:

Ayats 120.
These introductory verses declare the Quran to be the Book of guidance: enunciate the articles of the faith (belief) in Allah, prophethood and life-after-death; divide mankind into three main groups with regard to its acceptance or rejection, believers, disbelievers and hypocrites.

Ayats 21-29.
Allah invites mankind to accept the guidance voluntarily and to submit to Him, the Lord and the Creator of the universe, and to believe in the Quran, His guidance, and in the life-after-death.

Ayats 30-39.
The story of the appointment of Adam as Allah’s vicegerent on earth, of his life in the garden, of his falling a prey to the temptations of Satan, of his repentance and its acceptance, has been related to show to mankind (Adam’s offspring) that the only right thing for them is to accept and follow the guidance. This story also shows that the guidance of Islam is the same that was given to Adam and that it is the original religion of mankind.

Ayats 40-120.
In this portion invitation to the guidance has particularly been extended to the children of Israel and their past and present attitude has been criticized to show that the cause of their degradation was their deviation from the guidance.

Ayats 121-141.
The Jews have been exhorted to follow Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who had come with the same guidance and who was a descendant and follower of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) whom they highly honored as their ancestor, and professed to follow as a prophet. The story of building of the Kaabah by him has been mentioned because it was going to be made the qiblah of the Muslim community.

Ayats 142-152.
In this portion, the declaration of the change of qiblah from the Temple (Jerusalem) to the Kaabah (Makkah) has been made as a symbol of the change of leadership from the children of Israel to the Muslim community, which has also been fore-warned to guard against those transgressions against the guidance that had led to the deposition of the Jews.

Ayats 153-251.
In this portion practical measures have been prescribed to enable the Muslims to discharge the heavy responsibilities of the leadership that had been entrusted to them for the promulgation of guidance. Salat, fasting, Zakat, Hajj and Jihad have been prescribed for the moral training of the ummat (Muslim community). The believers have been exhorted to obey authority, to be just, to fulfill pledges, to observe treaties, to spend wealth etc. in the Way of Allah. Laws, rules and regulations have been laid down for their organization, cohesion and conduct of daily life and for the solution of social, economic, political and international problems. On the other hand, drinking, gambling, lending money on interest etc. have been prohibited to keep the ummat safe from disintegration. In between these, the basic articles of the faith have been reiterated at suitable places, for these alone can enable and support one to stick to the guidance.

Ayats 252-260.
These verses serve as an introduction to the prohibition of lending money on interest. The true conception of Allah, revelation, and life-after-death have been emphasized to keep alive the sense of accountability. The stories of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and of the one who woke up after a sleep of hundred years have been related to show that Allah is All-Powerful and is able to raise the dead and call them to account. The believers, therefore, should keep this fact in view and refrain from taking interest on money.

Ayats 261-283.
The earlier theme has been resumed and the believers have been exhorted to spend in the Way of Allah in order to please Him alone. In contrast to this, they have been warned against the evils of lending money on interest. Instructions have also been given for the honest conduct of day-to-day business transactions.

Ayats 284-286.
The basic articles of the faith have been recapitulated here at the end of the Surah, just as they were enunciated at its beginning. Then the Surah ends with a prayer which the Muslim community needed very much at that time when they were encountering untold hardships in the propagation of the guidance.

 

Allah knows best.

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Muqaddimah Al Baqarah

The reason for Al Baqarah’s revelation was to teach the mukmin (believers) how to lead mankind after hijrah (migration from Makkah to Madinah). Among the themes are guidance, taqwa (faith), belief, sacrifices and knowledge.

Guidance/ Covenant

One of the main theme of this chapter is guidance/ covenant.

Whoever accepts the guidance and adhere to the covenant will gain leadership of mankind e.g. Adam, Ibrahim (Abraham), Dawud (David) etc. This happened to the Muslim after hijrah.

To adhere to the covenant, one must have taqwa, belief in the unseen, etc.

Some people pretended to hold onto it i.e. munafiq (hypocrites). Some prefers chaos and corruptions i.e. fasiq (disobedients, miscreants). Some rejected it ie kuffar (disbelievers).

The instruction to change qiblah (direction in prayers) signifies the change of leadership from Jews to Muslim.

Also included in this surah are the details of muslim covenant (eg jihad, riba, fast etc), parables, etc.


Al
Baqarahs Virtues

House which al Baqarah was recited in it wont be harmed by devils (Hadith from Tirmizi, An Nasaie, Hakim, Ad Darimi, At Tabrani, Ibn Hibban).

Al Baqarah and Ali Imran will intercede for their people during reckoning (Ibn Majah, Muslim, Ahmad).

Contains basic concepts and many rulings. Rasulullah once appointed a younger commander because he remembers and practise Al Baqarah.

Fully madani (revealed after hijrah ie migration), among first to be sent down after hijrah and last revealed ayat. Also said that most are madani, some are makki (revealed before hijrah).

Also the longest surah.

1:7 Conclusion for Al Fatihah

1:7 …Who did not incur Your wrath, who are not astray.

Allah’s wrath falls upon those who knew the truth but rejected it anyway in arrogance. This was explained in Al Baqarah with the Jews during the time of God’s revelation from Musa (Moses) to Muhammad as an example.

E.g. 

2:61 & 3:112 “they brought down anger from Allah upon themselves.”

48:6 “Allah is angry with them.”

In a hadith, Sadaqa (alms giving) extinguishes Lord’s anger.

As for those who are astray or missing the target, they are explained further in surah Ali Imran, on the characteristics of the Christians. Also in surah Al Maidah (5:77) “were misguided and misguided many others and are far from the right way.”

So in Al Fatihah, we praised God with His power and attributes, admitted our dependence on Him and pleaded for the blessed path. 

Dear God, guide us to the blessed path..

1:7 The blessed path

1:7 The path of those who are blessed, those who do not incur your wrath and are not astray.

Blessed here doesn’t mean blessing in worldly definition. It is made clear by the following explanations in the verse that the blessed ones don’t include those who incurred Allah’s wrath and those who he sent astray, even if they seem blessed from a man’s perspective.

As Al Fatihah is an introduction to Quran, Allah will continuously mention examples from peoples of the past in explaining the blessed path and distinguishing it with those who incurred His wrath and those who were astray.

Allah explained An Nisa (4:69) that the blessed are nabiyyin (the prophets), siddiqin (the true), shuhada (the martyrs) and SaliHin (the righteous).

We recite this request in solah at least 17 times daily, o Allah the All Powerful, grant our requests.

1:6 Guide us God

1:6 Guide us the straight path

Guidance is what we really need from Allah and He answers our plea later in surah Al Baqarah: 2.

As SiraTal mustaqim (the straight, uncrooked, undeviating path) can mean sunnah (way of the prophet guided by Allah). It will also be explained later in other chapters.

Allah answers our plea by giving us laws and limits to guide us towards the straight path.

This ayat symbolises a servant’s dependence on His Master. Our inherent helplessness and ignorance long for His might, knowledge and mercy.

It also explains the reality of free will. The qadariya, muktazila and some shi’a believes that our actions and fate are all within the influence of our free will. However, this ayah proves that Allah has the power to guide and misguide as He wills, our free will is not enough.

Allah made this surah a model for all supplications. Half of it comprises His praises and the other half is our needs.

It is best to use Allah’s word for supplication.

O Allah, incline our hearts to the truth.

1:5 We are always in need of You, our Creator

1:5 You alone we worship and You alone we seek help.

Nasta’in comes from word isti’aanah which means seeking help to complete tasks.

Nouman explains that this shows that we must start exercising Allah’s commands no matter how bad our situation is. And to complete them, seek help and leave the rest to Allah. We shouldn’t use our current situation as an excuse to disobey Allah.

We need Your help in worshipping You and guiding us to the right path as the created are always in need of the Creator because whatever we do are subject to sunnatullah (His natural rules e.g. chemical reactions, physical properties etc), shariatullah (His rules imposed on mankind for implementation) and what He wants.

Our goals, no matter how much effort we put in achieving them even when the whole of mankind works together, are not achievable except with His leave.

When we seek help from others, it is Allah who make them help us, not them themselves. By helping others, they actually helped themselves by doing good deeds, for their own sake in the Hereafter.

However, Allah commanded us to show gratitude to all.

We are never in control, place us within Your Grace o Lord.

1:5 You alone we worship

1:5 You alone we worship and to You alone we seek help.

The third dimension of God’s singularity is Tawhid uluhiyyah: belief in Allah’s oneness in His right to be worshipped due to His oneness in ownership, power and all other attributes ie tawhid rububiyyah and asma wa sifat.

Uluhiyyah refers to:
1. Worship in awe and adoration
2. Servitude
3. Submission

U’budu means obedience.

Allah, from being mentioned as third person, changed to second person from this ayah onwards. This is normal in Qur’an, the many ways Allah used to convey His message.

Allah used plural i.e. we, indicating that Islam or religion in general is not a strictly personal matter but will affect society as a whole.

Allah should always be prioritised. Sometimes we put work or family before Allah, which indirectly shows how we positioned Allah in our hearts. Forgive us God.

1:3 Mercy for all and for the faithful

1:3 The All Merciful, the Most Merciful.

The second dimension of God singularity is Tawhid asma wa sifat = Allah’s oneness in all His glorious names and attributes.

E.g. anyone can be strong but the strongest by far is none other than Allah.

Allah describes Himself as Lord of worlds, causing fear and awe for Him. He neutralises this by attributing these names to Himself.

These names were used for basmalah. The meanings were discussed earlier.

After the word Allah, Ar Rahman and Ar Rahim are of the most used words to refer to Allah in the Qur’an. This is to emphasise His mercy compared to His wrath. Despite being All Powerful and in control, His Mercy still preceeds His Wrath. 

So have faith and never give up on Allah’s mercy.

Praise be to Allah.

1:2&4 Lord of the Created worlds

1:2 …Lord of the worlds.
1:4 Master of the Day of Recompense.

The first dimension of God singularity is Tawhid Rububiyyah = Allah’s oneness in ownership and power over all things including the reckoning (hisab), time, hearts, actions and reactions etc.

Rabb means sustainer, lord, owner, proprietor and ruler.

It also includes the meaning in the word tarbiyah i.e. to grow, to nurture and to educate 

Men can be the rabb of his belongings. However, sometimes we own and sometimes we don’t. We own something and not something else. Allah is the owner of all things at all times.

All knowledge and discoveries made by mankind and all miraculous signs in nature are all from Allah the rabb, showing complex systems dependent on each other. It is illogical for anyone to think that these happened merely by chance.

Worlds (‘aalamiin) in plural form meaning not just human world but including all other worlds eg jinn, animals, outer space etc.

Yawmi ad deen means the day of recompense. 

Yawm means a period of time and usually translated as day.

Dayn means debt and deen means repayment.

Allah is the Lord and we are just His servants. Praise be to Allah.

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