Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2 : 5

أُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ عَلَىٰ هُدًى مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ ۖ وَأُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْمُفْلِحُونَ


 Muhsin Khan
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
Those are upon [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

[ edit ]

Explanatory Note

Indeed, they adhered to God’s guidance and they were successful. For those who wish to follow in their footsteps, the route remains clearly marked.

2. Linguistic Analysis

[ edit ]

(aFlaha) / muFlih = Farmer who has put in alot of effort in sowing his seeds, and when his crops grow and he collects the fruit = muFlih/ Fal-lah, he sees his success and rewards.

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

3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

[ edit ]
The data for this section is awaiting to be be uploaded. Be the first to contribute.

5. Connected/Related Ayat

[ edit ]
The data for this section is awaiting to be be uploaded. Be the first to contribute.

6. Frequency of the word

[ edit ]
The data for this section is awaiting to be be uploaded. Be the first to contribute.

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, 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

[ edit ]
The data for this section is awaiting to be be uploaded. Be the first to contribute.

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


Overview (Verses 3 - 5)

Believing in the Imperceptible

The sūrah then gives a description of those who are God-fearing. In doing so it presents the early model of believers in Madinah, which was also to be the universal one for all future generations of Muslims: “Those who believe in what lies beyond the reach of human perception, observe Prayer and give of what We bestow upon them. Those who believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you, and are certain of the Hereafter.’’ (Verses 3-4)

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.

Looking more closely at each of these qualities, one discovers a number of essential values that are fundamental to human life.

“Who believe in what lies beyond the reach of human perception.” (Verse 3) The limits of human perception do not prevent believers’ souls from reaching their Creator, the omnipotent power behind the universe and all existence. Their limited natural senses do not stand in the way of their desire to reach beyond the physical world or their pursuit of the ultimate truths of life.

Belief in the imperceptible is a major threshold in human understanding, and crossing it elevates man above animals and takes him far beyond the physical world of the senses or all the devices that may extend their function. It raises human consciousness to a level where a wider and fuller world can be perceived. Such a step has far-reaching effects on man’s understanding of his own existence and the existence of everything else around him. It provides him with a totally new awareness of the realities of the interacting energies and forces that are at play in this complex world, and of the way he conceives of them. It also affects his behaviour and life on earth in general.

There is a vast difference between the thinking that is trapped within the parochial materialist world of the senses, and that which is based on the awareness of an infinite world of existence and which can, through the soul and the instinctive mind, deeply and intensely feel its energies and the forces governing it. Time and space extend far beyond what can be determined or comprehended within the short span of life. Man will come to recognize the great and ultimate truth that underpins the whole cosmos and sustains all existence, seen as well as unseen. It is the Divine Being that the human eye cannot see, nor the mind perceive.

This belief has the vital role of preserving man’s finite mental and intellectual powers and saving them from being wasted, abused or misdirected. These faculties have been bestowed on man to enable him to properly discharge his obligations as God’s vicegerent on earth. In the present life, the domain for man’s activities of procreation, construction, innovation and excellence is limited. His intellectual power needs to be strengthened and complemented by spiritual power which stems directly from God and is thereby linked to the whole of existence.

Any attempt to comprehend the world from another perspective is futile and foolish, because it resorts to the wrong tools and defies the fundamental truth that the finite cannot fathom the infinite. Man’s limited sensory and intellectual capabilities do not enable him to understand the absolute meaning of things.

This inherent human deficiency, however, in no way prevents man from believing in the imperceptible and accepting that it is the prerogative of the Divine. Man should leave these matters to God, the Omniscient, and should turn to Him for meaning, information, understanding and explanation. Recognition of this fact is the greatest prize the human mind can win, and is the first and foremost mark of the God-fearing believer.

The concept of the imperceptible is a decisive factor in distinguishing man from animals. Materialist thinking, ancient as well as modern, has tended to drag man back to an irrational existence, with no room for the spiritual, where everything is determined by sensory means alone. What is peddled as ‘progressive thought’ is no more than dismal regression. God has protected believers against such an error by describing them as those who believe in the imperceptible. For that alone they should be deeply grateful.

Those who “obseas 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.” (Verse 3) 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.

“Who believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you.” (Verse 4) This is a characteristic of the Muslim community, or ummah, the rightful heir to, and custodian of, God’s message and the legacy of all prophets since the dawn of human life, and the leader of mankind. This characteristic embodies such concepts as the unity of man, the oneness of God, the unity of the divine faith and God’s messengers. It purges man’s soul of bigotry and petty fanaticism. It reassures us of God’s everlasting grace and protection which He has shown by sending successive messengers preaching one and the same faith and offering the same guidance to all mankind. It allows us to feel proud of being the recipients of God’s pure and universal guidance, which remains a bright shining star that is never extinguished, even in the darkest days of human history.

“And are certain of the Hereafter.” (Verse 4) This characteristic of the God-fearing links the present life with the life to come; the beginning with the end; deed with reward. It provokes in man the feeling that he is no mere useless being, created without a purpose and left to wither away. It comforts him by affirming that full justice is certain to come, and thus inspires man to seek to do good, with total confidence in God’s justice and mercy.

Belief in the hereafter is the point of departure between those who conceive only of the confines of the physical world and those who appreciate the limitless expanse of existence; those who believe that worldly life is the be-all and end-all, and those who see it merely as a testing arena where the ultimate reward is earned. This latter group realize that true life is there, beyond the limited confines of this earthly existence.

Each of these interrelated characteristics carries certain values for human life, and they form one harmonious entity.

Fear of God is an inner feeling, a state of mind, a source of human action and behaviour. It binds inner feeling with outer action, and brings man into constant contact with God, in private and in public. This contact extends into the deeper recesses of meaning and consciousness, penetrating barriers of knowledge and feeling, making acceptance of the belief in the unseen a plausible and natural outcome and bringing total peace and tranquillity to man’s soul.

Fear of God and belief in what is beyond human perception go hand in hand with acts of worship, in accordance with the manner prescribed by God Almighty in order to link man the servant with God the Lord and Master.

Then comes the giving of part of one’s wealth to charity, in acknowledgement of God’s favour and as an expression of human fraternity and compassion. This is followed by a broad, all-embracing fellowship with all believers in God, and acceptance of His message and all the Prophets and messengers who preached it. Finally comes an unswerving belief in the hereafter.

These qualities were true of the first Muslim community which emerged in Madinah at the time these verses were revealed. It consisted of the Muhājirūn, who had migrated from Makkah, and the Anşār, the natives of Madinah who welcomed them. Members of this model community displayed these profound characteristics of faith in their personal and public conduct. Thus they were capable of great achievements, with far-reaching effects on human life and civilization as a whole.

The passage aptly concludes with the comment: “Those follow their Lord’s guidance, and they shall surely prosper:” (Verse 5) Indeed, they adhered to God’s guidance and they were successful. For those who wish to follow in their footsteps, the route remains clearly marked.

12. External Links

[ edit ]
The data for this section is awaiting to be be uploaded. Be the first to contribute.