Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2 : 3

ٱلَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِٱلْغَيْبِ وَيُقِيمُونَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَٰهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ


 Muhsin Khan
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them,

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

The most essential quality of the God-fearing believers is their conscious, active moral unity that enriches their souls with profound belief in the imperceptible, or ghayb, dedication to their religious obligations, recognition of all God’s messengers, and unshakeable certainty in the hereafter. Such are the ingredients that make the Muslim faith a complete whole and distinguishes believers from unbelievers. Such a thorough outlook is worthy of God’s final message to man, which was intended as a focus and a guide for all human endeavour on this earth. Man is called upon to adopt this message and lead a complete and wholesome life, guided by its light which shapes man’s feelings, actions, beliefs and ways of living and behaviour.

Those who “observe prayer,” revere and worship none but God Almighty. They never debase themselves by worshipping anyone or anything else. They turn to the real and ultimate power in this world, humbling their hearts and souls to Him alone. In this way they link up to the cause and origin of existence; their lives assume real meaning and noble purpose, transcending the crude and trivial pursuits and needs of worldly living. Their ties with God give them power over other creatures and feed their conscience with moral strength and fear of God. Prayer is an essential element in the building of a believer’s character and shaping his concepts, feelings and behaviour and in linking them directly with God.

And give of what We bestow upon them.” This implies the believers’ recognition that what they own and possess is a gift and a favour from God. It is not of their own making. Such a belief brings mercy and benevolence towards the weak and the poor, and mutual fellowship and a true spirit of brotherhood and human community among all. The outcome is to eliminate greed and fill people’s hearts with compassion and humanity, making life an opportunity for cooperation rather than an arena for conflict and confrontation. The sick, the weak and the young and helpless in society are given security, so that they feel they are living among human beings with compassionate hearts and scrupulous souls, rather than selfish beasts with nothing but claws and teeth.

This kind of benevolent spending comprises the obligatory zakāt, as well as the giving of alms, voluntary donations and all other forms of charitable offerings. The latter had been instituted in Islam long before zakāt, because they are more general and wide-ranging than zakāt, which relates to the obligatory aspect of charitable spending. Fāţimah bint Qays quotes the Prophet Muĥammad as saying: “There is a rightful claim to people’s money, other than zakāt.” [Related by al-Tirmidhī] This statement by the Prophet clearly establishes the general principle with respect to financial obligations.

  • The very first characteristic of the Muttaqin, Allah lists is that they believe in al-Ghayb - the unseen world.
  • As a believer in the unseen world, you are able to absorb losses and instead see them as victories. Your whole scale and perception of what loss is is completely beyond what they are for those around you. They deal with the currency of money and health, you deal with the currency of thabat [firmness] and Allah's Pleasure. For you, there is no such thing as loss so long as you are true to your principles and have fulfilled the criteria for attaining Allah's Pleasure.
  • By making our success and failure based on the currency of the unseen world, we can never lose, no matter what ‘losses’ befall us in this world. Our religion could be attacked, we could be thrown in prison but we can never lose because these are all transactions of this world, while the flurry of activity in the unseen world - reward being recorded, palaces in Paradise being prepared - tells a very different story as to who won and who lost.
  • "Due to the full conviction in the unseen world, you are not a coward. You are willing to take risks in life, especially for the sake of preserving truth. You think back to the du’a make by the Messenger of Allah [saw] during the Battle of Badr: “O Allah! If this small group is defeated, You will never be worshipped on Earth!” You think about how this shows that the odds were so much against the Muslims that day - the risk of failure and annihilation so high - that Islam itself was in danger of being wiped out for good, and yet, this only increased the resolve of the Muslims and they went forth anyway. You think to yourself what drove them to take such a risk? What instilled this courage in their hearts? What kept them firm? You then realise that they had an advanced understanding of the forces at work in the world. They knew that the unseen world could - and would - unleash powers that the human mind cannot comprehend. They didn't know when it would unleash these powers and forces, but they knew for a fact that it could and would."
  • From the attributes of the Muttaqin are that they establish the Salah [prayer].
  • Wealth and Rizq [sustenance] generally are in essence what have been provided by Allah - the key point here is that these from what "We provided". 
  • Miserliness and stinginess is therefore discouraged.
  • الإيمان بالغيب حظ القلب، وإقام الصلاة حظ البدن، (ومما رزقناهم ينفقون)حظ المال، وهذا ظاهر . القرطبي: 1/7465 [Be first to translate this...]

  • لم يقل: يفعلون الصلاة، أو يأتون بالصلاة؛ لأنه لا يكفي فيها مجرد الإتيان بصورتها الظاهرة؛ فإقامة الصلاة: إقامتها ظاهراًً بإتمام أركانها وواجباتها وشروطها، وإقامتها باطناًً بإقامة روحها؛ وهو حضور القلب فيها، وتدبر ما يقوله ويفعله منها. السعدي: 41. [Be first to translate this...]

  • وأتى بـ (من) الدالة على التبعيض؛ لينبههم أنه لم يرد منهم إلا جزءاً يسيراً من أموالهم، غير ضار لهم، ولا مثقل، بل ينتفعون هم بإنفاقه، وينتفع به إخوانهم ,وفي قوله: (رزقناهم) إشارة إلى أن هذه الأموال التي بين أيديكم، ليست حاصلة بقوتكم وملككم، وإنما هي رزق الله الذي خولكم، وأنعم به عليكم؛ فكما أنعم عليكم وفضلكم على كثير من عباده فاشكروه بإخراج بعض ما أنعم به عليكم. السعدي: 41. [Be first to translate this...]

  • وجه ترتب الإنفاق على الإيمان بالغيب أن المدد غيب؛ لأن الإنسان لما كان لا يطلع على جميع رزقه كان رزقه غيبا، فاذا أيقن بالخلف جاد بالعطية، فمتى أمد بالأرزاق تمت خلافته، وعظم فيها سلطانه، وانفتح له باب إمداد برزق أعلى وأكمل من الأول. البقاعي: 1/30. [Be first to translate this...]

  • حاسب نفسك في أمر الصلاة، وتفقد اليوم جوانب التقصير فيها فكمله، وأقمه على الوجه المطلوب شرعاً، ﴿ ٱلَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِٱلْغَيْبِ وَيُقِيمُونَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ [Be first to translate this...]

2. Linguistic Analysis

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Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *

3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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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

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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, Islam 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 Quran 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

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  •  Whose Faith is most astounding?The Messenger of Allah [saw] said,
    أيُّ الخَلْقِ أَعْجَبُ إيمانًا ؟ قالوا : الملائكةُ . قال : الملائكةُ كَيْفَ لا يُؤْمِنُونَ ؟ ! قالوا : النبيُّونَ . قال : النبيُّونَ يُوحَى إليهِمْ فكيفَ لا يُؤْمِنُونَ ؟ ! قالوا : الصَّحابَةُ . قال : الصَّحابَةُ مع الأنبياءِ فكيفَ لا يُؤْمِنُونَ ؟ ! ولَكِنَّ أَعْجَبَ الناسِ إيمانًا : قومٌ يَجِيئُونَ من بَعْدِكُمْ فَيَجِدُونَ كتابًا مِنَ الوَحْيِ ؛ فَيُؤْمِنُونَ بهِ ويَتَّبِعُونَهُ ، فَهُمْ أَعْجَبُ الناسِ إيمانًا – أوْ الخَلْقِ إيمانًا 

“Whose Faith [Iman] amongst the various creations astounds you?” They [the Companions] said, “The Angels”  He said, “The Angels - Why would they not [have] Faith [when they are with their Lord]” They [then] said, “The Prophets” He said, “The Prophets receive revelation so how would they not believe?” They [then] said, “[Us] the Companions” He said, “The Companions whom are with the Prophets - so how would they not believe? - However the Faith of people which  is amazing and astounding is those who come after you who find Books which has written in them revelation [the Qur’ān] - and hence they believe in it and obey and follow it - they are the ones whose Faith is [truly] astounding.” [Bazzar no. 3/318, Silsilah Ahadeeth as-Saheehah no.  3215 - صحيح [Sahih]​

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