Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2 : 273
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For the poor
are wrapped up
they are able
(to) move about
Think (about) them
the ignorant one
(that they are) self-sufficient
you recognize them
by their mark
(do) they ask
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
The sūrah then refers to a specific form of giving, the beneficiary of which is an honest and honourable section of society who are not ashamed of being poor and who are prevented by their dignity and self-esteem from degrading themselves by begging.
The description fitted a group of Makkan Muslims (Muhājirūn) who had migrated with the Prophet to Madinah, leaving behind all their belongings and members of their families. They settled in Madinah; some of them, known as Ahl al-Şuffah, lived in and around the Prophet’s Mosque, and devoted their lives completely to the service of the community, volunteering for military missions and expeditions or guarding the Prophet and his household and mosque. These people were not able to work and earn a living, but behaved with dignity and propriety, refusing to beg or ask for charity, so much so that only a few people were aware of their plight.
Nevertheless, the directive has a universal application. In every generation there will be people not able, for various reasons, to earn their livelihood, but who insist on preserving their modesty and personal dignity by not becoming a burden on anyone else. They do their utmost to hide their poverty and distress, and only a few people are able to detect and appreciate their predicament.
Thus, in its unique and inimitable style, the Qur’ān depicts in a few words a full and deeply poignant picture of human dignity and self-respect. The highly expressive syntax brings the features of those people gradually to life, and puts the reader face to face with their human characters.
Those honourable people who hide their want, as eagerly as they would their nakedness, could only be offered assistance privately and in such a way as would not offend their dignity. The verse closes with the appropriate comment that: “Whatever good you give is certainly known to God.” He will certainly not let it go unrewarded.
- أي: يظن الجاهل بحالهم أنهم أغنياء؛ لقلة سؤالهم، والتعفف هنا هو عن الطلب. (تعرفهم بسيماهم): علامة وجوههم؛ وهي ظهور الجهد والفاقة، وقلة النعمة، وقيل: الخشوع، وقيل: السجود. (لا يسألون الناس إلحافا): الإلحاف هو الإلحاح في السؤال؛ والمعنى: أنهم إذا سألوا يتلطفون ولا يلحون. وقيل: هو نفي السؤال والإلحاح معا. ابن جزي: 1/127 [Be the first to translate this....]
2. Linguistic Analysis[ edit ]
- The triliteral root lām ḥā fā (ل ح ف) occurs 1 times in the Qur'an
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 ]
- The Messenger of Allah said, A man said, "Tonight, I shall give charity.'' He went out with his charity and (unknowingly) gave it to an adulteress. The next morning the people said that alms were given to an adulteress. The man said, "O Allah! All the praises are for You. (I gave my alms) to an adulteress. Tonight, I shall give alms again.'' He went out with his charity and (unknowingly) gave it to a rich person. The next morning (the people) said, "Last night, a wealthy person was given alms.'' He said, "O Allah! All the praises are for You. (I gave alms) to a wealthy man. Tonight, I shall again give charity.'' So he went out with his charity and (unknowingly) gave it to a thief. The next morning (the people) said, "Last night, a thief was given alms.'' He said, "O Allah! All the praises are for You. (I have given alms) to an adulteress, a wealthy man and a thief.'' Then, someone came to him and said, "The alms that you gave away were accepted. As for the adulteress, the alms might make her abstain from adultery. As for the wealthy man, it might make him take a lesson and spend his wealth that Allah has given him. As for the thief, it might make him abstain from stealing.'' [Muslim & Bukhari]
- The Messenger of Allah said, 'The Miskin (needy) is not he who wanders about and whose need is sufficed by a date or two, a bite or two or a meal or two. Rather, the Miskin is he who neither has enough resources to sustain him, all the while people are unaware of his need so they do not give to him, nor does he ask people for anything.' [Muslim & Bukhari]
- The Messenger of Allah said to Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas 'You will not spend charity with which you seek Allah's Face, but you will ascend a higher degree and status because of it, including what you put in your wife's mouth.' [Muslim & Bukhari]
- The Prophet said 'When the Muslim spends on his family while awaiting the reward for it from Allah, it will be written as charity for him.' [Musnad Ahmad]