Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2 : 243
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(were in) thousands
(of) [the] death
He restored them to life
(of) the people
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
The aim of this verse is simply to establish that life and death are determined by the will of God, and that human beings should fulfil their obligations in life with complete trust in God’s will and total reassurance that what befalls them is an integral part of God’s order of things.
No precautions could ever prevent death or impede God’s will, nor could fear or despair prolong life. Life and death are entirely in God’s hands. He dispenses them according to reasons known only to Him, and His grace and mercy are evident in both. “Surely, God grants limitless bounty to mankind, but most people are ungrateful.”
Such a mass exodus, with thousands of people fleeing at the same time, whether from a hostile attack or the outbreak of disease, could only occur in a state of total panic. Nevertheless, running away could not save those people from meeting their death, for “God said to them; ‘Die.’“
No details are given as to the manner in which God spoke to those or how they met their death, because these bear no relevance to the objective of the story, which is that their despairing desertion of their homes did not change the destiny God had already willed for those panic-stricken people. They needed to persevere, be patient and freely put their trust in God.
Nor are we given any details of how God brought those people back to life, or on whether this is a reference to a later generation of the same community who did not panic or despair, and who accepted what God had chosen for them. There would be no point in speculating over these matters; nor can we accept the various unsubstantiated accounts of some commentaries. The essential message here is that God gave those people life, and their own efforts could not prevent their death. Life is a gift from God which He bestows on human beings with no effort or reason on their part. They, on the other hand, can do nothing to prevent what God has predestined.
- المقصود من هذه الآية الكريمة: تشجيع المؤمنين على القتال بإعلامهم بأن الفرار من الموت لا ينجي؛ فإذا علم الإنسان أن فراره من الموت أو القتل لا ينجيه هانت عليه مبارزة الأقران والتقدم في الميدان. الشنقيطي: 1/152 [Be the first to translate....]
- جعل الله تعالى هذه القصة لما فيها من تشجيع المسلمين على الجهاد، والتعرض للشهادة، والحث على التوكل، والاستسلام للقضاء؛ تمهيدا لقوله تعالى: (وقاتلوا في سبيل الله). الألوسي: 2/162 [Be the first to translate....]
2. Linguistic Analysis[ edit ]
4. Miscellaneous Information[ edit ]
5. Connected/Related Ayat[ edit ]
6. Frequency of the word[ edit ]
7. Period of Revelation[ edit ]
The scholars are unanimous that Surah al-Baqarah is Madani and that it was the first Surah revealed in Madinah. [Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani in Fath al-Bari no. 160/8].
Despite it being the first Surah to be revealed in Madinah, it contains Ayaat from a later period also. In fact, according to Ibn Abbas [as mentioned in Ibn Kathir] the last Ayat revealed to the Prophet was Ayat no. 281 from Surah al-Baqarah and this occurred 8 days or so before his death [which corresponds to the year 11 Hijri].
8. Reasons for Revelation[ edit ]
In order to understand the meaning of this Surah, we should know its historical background:
1. At Makkah, the Quran generally addressed the polytheist Quraysh who were ignorant of Islam, but at Madinah it was also concerned with the Jews who were acquainted with the creed of Monotheism, Prophethood, Revelation, the Hereafter and Angels. They also professed to believe in the law which was revealed by God to their Prophet Moses, and in principle, their way was the same (Islam) that was being taught by Prophet Muhammad. But they had strayed away from it during the centuries of degeneration and had adopted many un-Islamic creeds, rites and customs of which there was no mention and for which there was no sanction in the Torah. Not only this: they had tampered with the Torah by inserting their own explanations and interpretations into its text. They had distorted even that part of the Word of God which had remained intact in their Scriptures and taken out of it the real spirit of true religion and were now clinging to a lifeless frame of rituals. Consequently their beliefs, their morals and their conduct had gone to the lowest depths of degeneration. The pity is that they were not only satisfied with their condition but loved to cling to it. Besides this, they had no intention or inclination to accept any kind of reform. So they became bitter enemies of those who came to teach them the Right Way and did their utmost to defeat every such effort. Though they were originally Muslims, they had swerved from the real Islam and made innovations and alterations in it and had fallen victims to hair splitting and sectarianism. They had forgotten and forsaken God and begun to serve material wealth. So much so that they had even given up their original name “Muslim” and adopted the name “Jew” instead, and made religion the sole monopoly of the children of Israel. This was their religious condition when the Prophet went to Madinah and invited the Jews to the true religion. That is why more than one third of this Surah has been addressed to the children of Israel. A critical review of their history, their moral degeneration and their religious perversions has been made. Side by side with this, the high standard of morality and the fundamental principles of the pure religion have been put forward in order to bring out clearly the nature of the degeneration of the community of a prophet when it goes astray and to draw clear lines of demarcation between real piety and formalism, and the essentials and non-essentials of the true religion.
2. At Makkah, Islam was mainly concerned with the propagation of its fundamental principles and the moral training of its followers. But after the migration of the Prophet to Madinah, where Muslims had come to settle from all over Arabia and where a tiny Islamic State had been set up with the help of the ‘local supporters’ (Ansar), naturally the Quran had to turn its attention to the social, cultural, economic, political and legal problems as well. This accounts for the difference between the themes of the Surahs revealed at Makkah and those at Madinah. Accordingly about half of this Surah deals with those principles and regulations which are essential for the integration and solidarity of a community and for the solution of its problems.
After the migration to Madinah, the struggle between Islam and disbelief (Kufr) had also entered a new phase. Before this the Believers, who propagated Islam among their own clans and tribes, had to face its opponents at their own risk. But the conditions had changed at Madinah, where Muslims from all parts of Arabia had come and settled as one community, and had established an independent city state. Here it became a struggle for the survival of the Community itself, for the whole of non-Muslim Arabia was bent upon and united in crushing it totally. Hence the following instructions, upon which depended not only its success but its very survival, were revealed in this Surah:
a. The Community should work with the utmost zeal to propagate its ideology and win over to its side the greatest possible number of people.
b. It should so expose its opponents as to leave no room for doubt in the mind of any sensible person that they were adhering to an absolutely wrong position.
c. It should infuse in its members (the majority of whom were homeless and indigent and surrounded on all sides by enemies) that courage and fortitude which is so indispensable to their very existence in the adverse circumstances in which they were struggling and to prepare them to face these boldly.
d. It should also keep them ready and prepared to meet any armed menace, which might come from any side to suppress and crush their ideology, and to oppose it tooth and nail without minding the overwhelming numerical strength and the material resources of its enemies.
e. It should also create in them that courage which is needed for the eradication of evil ways and for the establishment of the Islamic Way instead. That is why God has revealed in this Surah such instructions as may help achieve all the above mentioned objects.
At the time of the revelation of Al-Baqarah, all sorts of hypocrites had begun to appear. God has, therefore, briefly pointed out their characteristics here. Afterwards when their evil characteristics and mischievous deeds became manifest, God sent detailed instructions about them. [REF: Mawdudi]
9. Relevant Hadith[ edit ]
- Allah's Messenger said If it the plague breaks out in a land that you are in, do not leave that land to escape from it. If you hear about it in a land, do not enter it. [Ibn Kathir]