Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2 : 45
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
Thus the Qur’ān directs the Jews of Madinah and, by implication, all mankind, to seek support and strength through perseverance and prayer. The Jews were being asked to give up the privileged status they enjoyed in Madinah and the material benefits obtained from their religious functions, and to accept the new revelations which they knew to be true. Such great sacrifices require strength, courage and devotion. Hence the directive: “Seek strength in patient perseverance and in prayer, which is indeed a demanding task except for the devout, who know that they shall meet their Lord and to Him they shall ultimately return.” It demands courage, honesty and tenacity, as well as the power of prayer and perseverance.
Reference to perseverance is quite frequent in the Qur’ān, which presents it as crucial and indispensable in enduring hardship and making momentous decisions. One of the most difficult moments anyone can encounter is having to acknowledge the truth and relinquish power and material privilege as a result.
But what do we understand from the directive to ‘seek strength in... prayer’. Prayer is seen by Islam as a link between man and his Lord and Master, through which the human heart draws strength and fortitude. It generates life and energy in the human soul. Despite his unique relationship with God and the lofty level of spiritual piety he attained, the Prophet Muĥammad was known to resort to prayer every time he experienced distress or anxiety. Prayer remains an inexhaustible fountain of peace, comfort and spiritual uplift for every believer.
".....except for the humbly submissive [to Allah]." * The prayer is heavy, because one's legs and hands are not what get up for the prayer. What gets up for the prayer are the heart and the soul. The heart is the machine that drives all acts of worship. It is what moves the entire body! As long as the heart is alive, then the limbs will be alive, and the soul will open itself up to worship. However, if the heart becomes diseased, then worship will become too heavy on the soul, leading to it eventually disliking and hating. The limbs are simply slaves of this heart, carrying out what it commands them. If the heart is alive, then the soul will be alive, and worship will become beloved and sweetened to the hearts and the souls, and they will open up for it. However, if the heart becomes diseased, then worship becomes too heavy on it. The heart is like the digestive system: right now, the most beloved thing to you is meat. However, if you develop an ulcer somewhere in your digestive system, then the meat - along with its fat and oil - becomes the most hated thing to it, since it is diseased. Sweets are also something that are beloved to the soul.
أخبر الله- جل ثناؤه- أن الصلاة كبيرة إلا على من هذه صفته. الطبري: 1/22 [Be first to translate this....]
2. Linguistic Analysis[ edit ]
Isti’aanah = seeking ‘Awn – Assistance / Help.
It is a special type of Assistance. The word is used when you are already trying to complete a job, and you cannot finish it yourself. So you ask someone for Help/Aid/Assistance [Isti'aanah] to finish it.
Sabr = Patience, constancy, perseverance, consistency, commitment. It has the literal implication of ‘being tied down firmly on what you are aiming for.’
What is truly huge (kabeer)? 2 opinions;
1 – the Salaah (Prayer) – prayer is very difficult except for those who are truly fearful of Allah. So those who aren’t regular in their prayers don’t really have true fear of Allah.
2 – the Isti’aanah (Seeking help) – is very difficult for these people. So they may pray due to its obligation, but their patience is only temporary, and as a result – they do not get true help from Allah through their prayers. It is extremely hard for them to get this help.
4. Miscellaneous Information[ edit ]
5. Connected/Related Ayat[ edit ]
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱسْتَعِينُوا۟ بِٱلصَّبْرِ وَٱلصَّلَوٰةِ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلصَّٰبِرِينَ
"O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient." (2:153)
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]