Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2 : 129

رَبَّنَا وَٱبْعَثْ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُوا۟ عَلَيْهِمْ ءَايَٰتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ ٱلْكِتَٰبَ وَٱلْحِكْمَةَ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلْعَزِيزُ ٱلْحَكِيمُ


 Muhsin Khan
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
Our Lord, and send among them a messenger from themselves who will recite to them Your verses and teach them the Book and wisdom and purify them. Indeed, You are the Exalted in Might, the Wise."

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

This shows not only the fact that faith is the most important aspect in a believer’s life, and appreciation of its great blessings, but also the instinctive natural feeling of wishing the best for one’s children and descendants. Their main concern was that their offspring should be God-fearing, righteous and obedient to God. So they add a specific request: “’Our Lord, send them a Messenger from among themselves who shall declare to them Your revelations, and instruct them in the Book and in wisdom, and purify them. You are Mighty and Wise.’

That particular prayer was answered when the Prophet Muĥammad, a direct descendant of Abraham and Ishmael, was given his message several centuries later. We note that some time may elapse before God answers a particular prayer. As human beings, we tend to be impatient and want our prayers answered immediately, forgetting that it is for God Almighty to choose how and when they should be answered and fulfilled.

This prayer by Abraham and Ishmael carries particular significance for the debate that was going on between the Muslims and the Jews in Madinah at the time. The two Prophets expressly request God to make out of their offspring a nation that would serve God, as the word ‘Muslim’, (meaning one who submits himself) implies. The prayer makes clear that the Muslim nation, followers of Muĥammad, are the recognised heirs to the legacy of Abraham; that is, the leadership of mankind and the custody of the House of God in Makkah. This, in turn, is an affirmation of the Muslims’ right, over the idolater Arabs, to the Ka`bah, as well as of the latter’s precedence over Jerusalem as the qiblah faced by Muslims in Prayer throughout the world.

Jews and Christians who claim a religious bond with Abraham, and the Quraysh Arabs who claim an ancestral relationship to Ishmael, are informed in clear, simple language that Abraham excluded the wrongdoers among his offspring from his covenant with God, and prayed for guidance and salvation only for the believers among them. Furthermore, when Abraham and Ishmael embarked on building a place dedicated to the worship of God on earth, they asked Him to make a nation from their offspring, the Muslim nation that would submit to God; and to send them a messenger of their own, Muĥammad, to instruct them in the true religion of God. These are the real and legitimate heirs of the legacy of Abraham and Ishmael.

  • والحكمة: المعرفة بالدين، والفقه في التأويل، والفهم الذي هو سجية ونور من الله تعالى. القرطبي: 2/403 [Be the first to translate this...]
  • (الحكمة هي: السنة؛ لأن الله أمر أزواج نبيه أن يذكرن ما يتلى في بيوتهن من الكتاب والحكمة، و(الكتاب): القرآن، وما سوى ذلك مما كان الرسول يتلوه هو السنة. ابن تيمية: 1/345 [Be the 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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  • The Prophet is reported to have said, دَعْوَةُ أَبِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَبُشْرَى عِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَم  '[I am the] supplication of my father Ibrahim and the glad tidings brought forth by Jesus the son of Mary.' [quoted by Ibn Kathir]

10. Wiki Forum

Comments in this section are statements made by general users – these are not necessarily explanations of the Ayah – rather a place to share personal thoughts and stories…

11. Tafsir Zone


12. External Links

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