Al-Baqarah (Arabic: ٱلْبَقَرَة‎, "The Heifer" or "The Cow")[1][2] is the second and longest chapter (Surah) of the Quran.[3] It consists of 286 verses (āyāt), 6,201 words and 25,500 letters.[4]

Sura 2 of the Quran
ٱلْبَقَرَة
Al-Baqarah
The Heifer
ClassificationMedinan
PositionJuzʼ 1–3
No. of Rukus40
No. of verses286
Opening muqaṭṭaʻātAlif Lam Mim
First verses of al-Baqarah

"There is no disagreement over the view that Surat Al-Baqarah was revealed in its entirety in Al-Madinah. Moreover, Al-Baqarah was one of the first Surahs to be revealed in Al-Madinah".[5]

Regarding the timing and contextual background of the supposed revelation (asbāb al-nuzūl), it is a later "Medinan surah", which means it is believed to have been revealed in Medina, after the Hijrah, with the exception the verses (2:281) with regard to riba (interest or usury) which Muslims believe were revealed during the Farewell Pilgrimage, the last Hajj of Muhammad.[6][7] in particular, Verse 281 in this chapter is believed to be the last verse of the Quran to be revealed, on the 10th of Dhul al Hijjah 10 A.H., when Muhammad was in the course of performing his last Hajj, and only 80 or 90 days later he died.[8]

Surah al-Baqarah (Quran 2) enjoins fasting on the believer during the month of Ramadan.[9]

BackgroundEdit

It is the longest chapter in the Quran and was revealed over a long period. It is a Mediniite Surah dealing with the Hypocrite (Munaafiqoon) and injunctions pertaining to various matters.

It includes many verses which have virtues like the first four and last three verses and the special Verse of the Throne (Aayatul Kursi). Muhammad is reported to have said,

“Do not turn your houses into graves. Verily, Satan does not enter the house where Surat Al-Baqarah is recited.” [Muslim, Tirmidhi, Musnad Ahmed]

Ad-Darimi also recorded that Ash-Sha`bi said that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said, "Whoever recites ten Ayat from Surat Al-Baqarah in a night, then Satan will not enter his house that night. (These ten Ayat are) four from the beginning, Ayat Al-Kursi (255), the following two Ayat (256-257) and the last three Ayat.

Theme and subject matterEdit

The surah addresses a wide variety of topics, including substantial amounts of law, and retells stories of Adam, Ibrahim and Musa. A major theme is guidance: urging the pagans (Al-Mushrikeen) and the Jews of Medina to embrace Islam, and warning them and the hypocrites (Munafiqun) of the fate God had visited in the past on those who failed to heed his call.[10]

The stories in this chapter are told to help the reader understand the theological conception of truth in Islam.[11]

Surah Baqarah also mentions three qualities of the God-fearing (Al-Muttaqin), that is those who possess Taqwa: 1) They believe in the unseen. Faith (Imaan) is believing and accepting something one cannot see i.e. trusting in Muhammad and the Quran. It is believing everything which is part of Imaan, the Angels, destiny etc. 2) They establish Prayer (Salah). The major sign of a person with Taqwa is they perform Prayer/Salaah. “Establishing” Salaah is fulfilling its requirements, internally with feelings in the heart, and externally fulfilling its requirements (Wudu, compulsory elements (Fard), Sunnahs, reciting with tajwid etc.) and feeling a connection with Allah. In a tradition or hadith, Muhammad said, “Prayer is the Mi’raaj of a Mu’min” and in Mi’raaj he spoke to Allah. (In the Surah preceding Surah Al Baqarah, i.e. Surah Fatiha Muslims are believed to have a dialogue with Allah). 3) They spend from what Allah has given them, as this is a form of worship too- namely, considered a financial worship. Spending in the way of God (i.e. giving Sadaqah), is to spend from what Muslims believe that Allah Himself gave them. Sadaqah comes from “Sidq” which means “True” as it shows the truth of a Muslim's Imaan (faith).

Verses 8-20 in Surah Al Baqarah refer to the hypocrites (Munafiqun). In the Meccan phase of Muhammad, there existed two groups, the Believers and the Mushrikeen (non-believers). However, after Hijrah (Emigration to Medina) Muhammad had to deal with the opposition of those who openly accepted Islam while secretly plotting against Muslims. Their leader was Abd-Allah ibn Ubayy who was about to be crowned king before the arrival of Muhammad in Medina. The hypocrites benefitted from the Muslims while not losing their association with the disbelievers. They were considered disloyal to either parties and inclined towards those who benefited them the most in the worldly sense

The surah also sheds light on the concept of Nifaq, which is opposite of sincerity. It is of two types:

1) Nifaq in belief: outwardly showing belief however in reality there is no belief 2) Nifaq in practice: where people believe however they act like hypocrites. The signs of a hypocrite are lying, breaking promises, not keeping an amaanah or trust and when they argue they curse or use bad language.

According to a prominent scholar, Kamaluddin Ahmed, Nifaq is something that is within the heart, hence no one knows of its existence except Allah. Therefore, no one can be called a hypocrite or Munaafiq through one's own self-assessment. This would amount to making Takfeer i.e. calling someone a Kafir (non-believer) since Nifaq (hypocrisy) in belief is kufr.

Condemnation of alcoholic beverages and gambling is also first found in the chapter,[12] and it is one of only four chapters in the Quran to refer to Christians as Nazarenes instead of the more frequent terms People of the Book or "Helpers of Christ."[13]

Al-Baqarah contains several verses dealing with the subject of warfare. Verses 2:190-194 are quoted on the nature of battle in Islam.

The surah includes a few Islamic rules related to varying subjects, such as: prayers, fasting, striving on the path of God, the pilgrimage to Mecca, the change of the direction of prayer (Qiblah) from Jerusalem to Mecca, marriage and divorce, commerce, debt, and a great many of the ordinances concerning interest or usury.[10]

ExegesisEdit

Verse 2:106Edit

Verse 2:106 is termed "The Abrogation verse".

2:106 None of Our revelations do We abrogate (Naskh) cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that God Hath power over all things? Translation Yusuf Ali (Orig. 1938) [14]

Non-Muslim scholar of Islam, John Burton says that the "greatest imaginable confusion reigns as to the definition of the term naskh", and that "an appalling degree of muddle" surrounds the meaning of verse Q.2:106[15] — "the Abrogation verse". And that "the constant confusion of 'suppression' with 'suppression'" causes the reader "endless difficulty".[16]

Verse 2:190Edit

2:190 Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loveth not transgressors. Translation Yusuf Ali (Orig. 1938) [17]

According to Islamic scholar Muhammad Asad the subsequent verses about fighting must be read in conjunction with 2:190. Following this, he asserts that "this and the following verses lay down unequivocally that only self-defence (in the widest sense of the word) makes war permissible for Muslims." On linguistic grounds Asad furthermore points out that "most of the commentators agree in that the expression la ta'tadu signifies, in this context, 'do not commit aggression'; while by al-mu'tadin 'those who commit aggression' are meant." Thus, Asad concludes: "the defensive character of a fight 'in God's cause' - that is, in the cause of the ethical principles ordained by God - is, moreover, self-evident in the reference to "those who wage war against you", and has been still further clarified in 22:39 - 'permission [to fight] is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged' - which, according to all available Traditions, constitutes the earliest (and therefore fundamental) Qur'anic reference to the question of jihad, or holy war (see Tabari and Ibn Kathir in their commentaries on 22:39). That this early, fundamental principle of self-defence as the only possible justification of war has been maintained throughout the Qur'an is evident from 60:8, as well as from the concluding sentence of 4:91, both of which belong to a later period than the above verse."[18]

Verse 2:191Edit

2:191 And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah is worse than killing. And fight not with them at Al-Masjid-al-Haram, unless they fight you there. But if they attack you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah. Translation Muhsin Khan & Muhammad al-Hilali [19]

According to Ibn Qayyim, he said "most of the scholars have explained the word 'Fitnah' here as meaning 'Shirk'"[20] According to Angelika Neuwirth, professor for Islam Studies in the Free University of Berlin & scholar Mouhanad Khorchide this verse is to be read in conjunction with the preceding verse (2:190) and that this verse does not legitimize violence but "on the contrary: it sets a limitation", thus Neuwirth asserts that the Quran "does not demand the persecution of unbelievers".[21][22][23]

Verse 2:207Edit

Terror groups have used (Quran 2:207), "And there is the type of man who gives his life to earn the pleasure of Allah: And Allah is full of kindness to (His) devotees," to justify their actions.[24][25] One early group, the Khawarij fighting an insurrection against the Caliphate, used what they understood, within the context of this Islamic scripture and philosophy, to mean "those who have traded the mortal life (al-Dunya) for the other life [with God] (al-Akhirah)".[26][27][28]

Verse 2:216Edit

Verse 2:216 is termed the "The Jihad Verse".

2:216 Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not." Translation Yusuf Ali (Orig. 1938)[29]

Verse 2:255Edit

 
The Throne Verse (Ayat Al-Kursi) in the form of a calligraphic horse, India, Deccan, Bijapur - 16th century

Verse 255 is "The Throne Verse" (آية الكرسي ʾāyatu-l-kursī). It is one of the most famous verses of the Quran and is widely memorized and displayed in the Islamic world due to its emphatic description of God's omnipotence in Islam.[30][31]

Verse 2:256Edit

This verse starts with the phrase "there shall be no compulsion in religion/faith", which according to Muslim exegetes and Islamic jurists (fuqaha'), holds that forcible conversion is under all circumstances null and void, and that any attempt at coercing a non-believer to accept the faith of Islam is a grievous sin.[32]

Verse 2:282Edit

Verse 2:282 is the longest verse in the longest chapter of the Quran.

The verse covers lending:

. . When ye deal with each other, in transactions involving future obligations in a fixed period of time, reduce them to writing Let a scribe write down faithfully as between the parties . .[33]

and the testimony of women:

. . and get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses . .[33]

StructureEdit

Surah al-Baqarah is arranged in ring composition structure. The structure of the surah has been commented on by Dr. Raymond Farrin, Arabic professor at the American University of Kuwait. He notes in his book Structure and Qur'anic Interpretation[34] that the themes of the surah form a ring, where the first themes resemble the last themes, the second themes resemble the second last themes, and so on. The middle theme group includes verse 143 of the surah, that talks about the change in prayer direction.

A more detailed description of the ring composition of this surah is demonstrated here.

It is also worth noting that the 143rd verse of Surah al-Baqarah, which is composed of 286 verses, contains the word "middle" (143 is half of 286)[35]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Ibn Kathir. "Tafsir Ibn Kathir (English): Surah Al Baqarah Pt I". Quran 4 U. Tafsir. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  2. ^ Ibn Kathir. "Tafsir Ibn Kathir (English): Surah Al Baqarah Pt II". Quran 4 U. Tafsir. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  3. ^ Salwa M. S. El - Awa, Introduction to Textual Relations in Qur'an, pg. 1. Part of the Routledge Studies in the Qur'an series. London: Routledge, 2005. ISBN 9781134227471
  4. ^ Ibn Kathir
  5. ^ Unal, Ali (10 November 2006). "Surat Al-Baqarah was revealed in Al-Madinah". A new approach to Qur'an. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  6. ^ Mahmoud Ayoub, The Qurʾan and its interpreters, pg. 55. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984. ISBN 9780791495469
  7. ^ Maariful Quran
  8. ^ Qurtubi
  9. ^ Michael Binyon, Fighting is 'allowed' during the holy month of fasting The Times, 18 December 1998
  10. ^ a b Sadr-'ameli Sayyid Abbas (2014-01-23). "Surah Al-Baqarah, Chapter 2, Introduction". Al-islam. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  11. ^ R. G. Ghattas and Carol B. Ghattas, A Christian Guide to the Qur'an: Building Bridges in Muslim Evangelism, pg. 40. Kregel Academic, 2009. ISBN 9780825493423
  12. ^ Kathryn Kueny, The Rhetoric of Sobriety: Wine in Early Islam, pg. 66. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001. ISBN 9780791450536
  13. ^ Karen Steenbrink, "Muslims and the Christian Other: Nasara in Qur'anic Readings." Taken from Mission is a Must: Intercultural Theology and the Mission of the Church, pg. 200. Eds. Frans Jozef Servaas Wijsen and Peter J. A. Nissen. Volume 40 of Church and Theology in Context Series. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2002. ISBN 9789042010819
  14. ^ "Quran 2:106 Translation Yusuf Ali (Orig. 1938)". Islam Awakened. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  15. ^ Burton, "The Exegesis of Q.2:106", 1985: p.452
  16. ^ Burton, "The Exegesis of Q.2:106", BSOAS, 48, 1985: p.468
  17. ^ "Quran 2:190 Translation Yusuf Ali (Orig. 1938)". Islam Awakened. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  18. ^ "The Message of the Quran, M. Asad, 1982, Commentary on 2:190/191". 1980.
  19. ^ "Quran 2:191 Translation Translation Muhsin Khan & Muhammad". Islam Awakened. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  20. ^ Muḥammad Ibn ʻAbd al-Wahhāb, Imam (2003), Mukhtaṣar zād al-maʻād, Darussalam publishers Ltd, p. 347, ISBN 978-9960-897-18-9
  21. ^ "Scholar Angelika Neuwirth: 'Why the Quran gets abused' / Islamforscherin Neuwirth: Warum der Koran missbraucht wird". [Translation from German] "The Quran does not demand to persecuate non-believers." (Neuwirth) "Der Koran verlangt nicht, immer und überall Ungläubige zu verfolgen. Es würden „rücksichtslos“ Textstellen aus dem Koran rausgeschnitten, klagt die Inhaberin des Lehrstuhls für Arabistik an der Freien Universität Berlin. So stamme beispielsweise die Anweisung, Ungläubige zu verfolgen, aus einer Zeit im Kriegszustand. Wenn man die entsprechenden Kommentare dazu lese, wisse man, dass keineswegs gemeint sei, dass man sich für alle Zeit und immer so verhalten solle. Auch biblische Texte enthielten im Übrigen solche Weisungen, betont die Wissenschaftlerin.
  22. ^ "Interviews with western- & islamic Scholars: Eine Lange Nacht über das heilige Buch der MuslimeDie Blumen des Koran, 2019". [Translation from German]: "The famous section which is often quoted, surah 2 verse 191, says: 'Kill them, wherever you find them'. But in the preceeding verse 190, you read what the subject matter really is about: 'Fight against those, who fight against you'. In the very same verse the reader is reminded: 'When they desist, you shall desist, too'. God is the most gracious, the most Merciful. (This is) not a legitimization for violence, on the contrary: it is a limitation [German Original Interview] Die berühmteste Stelle, die immer wieder vorkommt, 2 Sure Vers 191, wo es heißt: Tötet sie, wo immer ihr sie findet. Aber 190, der Vers davor, da kann man nachlesen, worum es geht: Kämpft gegen die, die gegen euch kämpfen. Und im selben Vers wird erinnert: Wenn sie aber aufhören, hört auch auf! Gott ist Allverzeihend allbarmherzig. (Das ist) keine Legitimation für Gewalt, sondern im Gegenteil: eine Einschränkung.“ (Mouhanad Khorchide)
  23. ^ Neuwirth, Angelika (2011). Der Koran : Handkommentar mit Übersetzung. Verlag der Weltreligionen. ISBN 9783458700340.
  24. ^ Rowley, John (17 May 2015). "The Inghamasi: ISIL's New Way of War". Small Wars Journal. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  25. ^ Hodge, Adam (2007-04-11). Discourse, War and Terrorism. p. 151. ISBN 9789027292681. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  26. ^ Glasse, Cyril (2001). The New Encyclopedia of Islam. California: Altamira Press. pp. 255–56. ISBN 978-0759101890.
  27. ^ Bhala, Raj (2011). Understanding Islamic Law: Sharīʻa. LexisNexis. ISBN 978-1-4224-1748-5.
  28. ^ Martin, Richard C. (2004). Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World. Macmillan Reference USA. p. 390. ISBN 978-0028656038.
  29. ^ "Quran 2:216 Translation Yusuf Ali (Orig. 1938)". Islam Awakened. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  30. ^ Ali, Yusuf. The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary, note 295-298.
  31. ^ Walid A. Saleh. The Formation of the Classical Tafsīr Tradition, pp. 102-105, note 5.
  32. ^ Asad, Mohammad. The Message of the Quran, Surah 2:256, note 249. The term din denotes both the contents of and the compliance with a morally binding law consequently, it signifies "religion" in the widest sense of this term, extending over all that pertains to its doctrinal contents and their practical implications, as well as to man's attitude towards the object of his worship, thus comprising also the concept of "faith". The rendering of din as "religion", "faith", "religious law" or "moral law" (see note [3] on 109:6) depends on the context in which this term is used. On the strength of the above categorical prohibition of coercion (ikrah) in anything that pertains to faith or religion, all Islamic jurists (fuqaha'), without any exception, hold that forcible conversion is under all circumstances null and void, and that any attempt at coercing a non-believer to accept the faith of Islam is a grievous sin: a verdict which disposes of the widespread fallacy that Islam places before the unbelievers the alternative of "conversion or the sword".
  33. ^ a b "Quran 2:282 Translation Yusuf Ali (Orig. 1938)". Islam Awakened. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  34. ^ Raymond, Farrin (2014). Structure and Qur'anic interpretation : a study of symmetry and coherence in Islam's holy text (First ed.). Ashland, Oregon. ISBN 9781935952985. OCLC 860756355.
  35. ^ "Surah Al-Baqarah [2:143]". Surah Al-Baqarah [2:143]. Retrieved 2019-02-12.

External linksEdit