Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2 : 251
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So they defeated them
by (the) permission
and gave him
and the wisdom
and taught him
(for the) repelling
some of them
certainly (would have) corrupted
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
At the time of these events, David was a young man and Goliath a powerful king and a fearful commander, but God wished to demonstrate to the Israelites that they should not judge matters at face value, and should look deeper into the reality of things. Their side of the bargain was to keep their pact with God and prepare themselves for battle, leaving the rest to God who knows the essence of all things and how they come about. The outcome would be decided by God, in accordance with His will and wisdom. It was God’s will that a youth such as David should slay a powerful giant-of-a-man such as Goliath as proof that physical power by itself is not the decisive factor. The other divine objective, not obvious at the time, was that David was destined to inherit the kingdom of Saul, and that David would be succeeded by his son, Solomon, who reigned over what became the golden era in the whole history of the Israelites, a period of great religious revival which came after their return from the wilderness.
David was a king and a Prophet, who excelled in the craft of making iron tools and implements of war, as the Qur’ān tells us elsewhere (21: 80). The purpose behind relating this story is revealed in the closing sentence of the verse: “Had it not been for the fact that God repels one group of people by another, the earth would have been utterly corrupted. God is limitless in His bounty to all the worlds.”
This powerful statement takes us beyond the limited narrative and its personalities and events to reveal the fundamental divine wisdom underlying the constant contention, power struggles and battles among the multitudes of mankind in the tumult of life. It depicts the incessant strife and the spirit of competition and rivalry that drive human beings to their various ends and objectives in this world, according to the overall divine scheme under God’s wise hand which leads them all towards progress and higher standards of life.
Were it not for this spirit of struggle and competition, life would be dull and stale. The conflict of interests and the variety of objectives that people seek in this world are the means by which human talent and energy are released and brought into play to reinvigorate and revitalise the human experience for the good of mankind. This dynamic movement produces the true human force of goodness, brings truth to the fore, enhances man’s sense of right and wrong, and firmly establishes justice on earth. It enables true and sincere believers to identify their noble role in life. It provides them with the will and strength to persevere and fulfil that role in total obedience to God’s order and tireless pursuit of His pleasure and blessings.
God then intervenes on the side of the believers so that the truth they are upholding will prevail. Human conflict becomes a positive and constructive struggle for the good of mankind and a better life in this world. The fact that the smaller group of believers have placed their trust in God, and are devoted to fulfilling His ultimate will in protecting life and establishing the truth and defending it, enables them to eventually triumph and prevail.
Characteristics of Dawud - His worship and fasting.
- The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said,
أَفْضَلُ الصَّوْمِ صَوْمُ أَخِي دَاوُدَ كَانَ يَصُومُ يَوْمًا وَيُفْطِرُ يَوْمًا وَلاَ يَفِرُّ إِذَا لاَقَى
"The most virtuous fast is the fast of my brother Dawud. He would fast a day, and not fast (the next) day. He would not flee at the time of engagement (with the enemy)." Tirmidhi no. 770
- Seeking the love of Allah - The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said,
كَانَ مِنْ دُعَاءِ دَاوُدَ يَقُولُ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ حُبَّكَ وَحُبَّ مَنْ يُحِبُّكَ وَالْعَمَلَ الَّذِي يُبَلِّغُنِي حُبَّكَ اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ حُبَّكَ أَحَبَّ إِلَىَّ مِنْ نَفْسِي وَأَهْلِي وَمِنَ الْمَاءِ الْبَارِدِ " . قَالَ وَكَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا ذَكَرَ دَاوُدَ يُحَدِّثُ عَنْهُ قَالَ " كَانَ أَعْبَدَ الْبَشَرِ
“It used to be from the supplication of Dawud that he would say: ‘O Allah, indeed, I ask You for Your love and the love of those who love You, and for the action that will cause me to attain Your love, O Allah, make Your love more beloved to me than myself, my family and cold water'(Allāhumma innī as’aluka ḥubbaka wa ḥubba man yuḥibbuka wal-`amalalladhī yuballighunī ḥubbak. Allāhummaj`al ḥubbaka aḥabba ilaiyya min nafsī, wa ahlī wa minal-mā’il-bārid) He said: “And when the Prophet (ﷺ) would mention Dawud, he would narrate about him, saying: “He was the best in worship out of all men.” Tirmidhi no. 3490
- He had a beautiful voice. He would recite the word of Allah and the birds and mountains would join him in his remembrance of Allah.
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]