سورة البقرة   

Surah Name: Al-Baqarah Meaning:The Cow

  • Revealed at Madinah
  • The Longest Surah of the Quran.
  • This Surah, with reference to its revelation, is Madni and some of its Aayat and injunctions pertain to the very last period of Quranic revelation, but in order of placement it is in the very beginning. The Quran, an answer to the prayer contained in al-Fatihah, begins with this Surah. There was a basic difference in the life patterns of Makkah and Madinah. The addressees of Divine Revelation at Makkah in general, were the pagans and the idolaters; but at Madinah there were also people who considered themselves to be the nearest to AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala and the true followers of Prophet Musa--AS (Moses). Whereas, in reality, over the passage of time, they had not only forgotten his teachings, but had also distorted the Divine Scriptures. They had replaced worship with rituals, and true faith with absurd beliefs. Despite this they claimed to be on the right path. The Quran in the first place, highlighted the difference between belief and disbelief. Thus the very first Aayat of this Surah also spells out the fundamentals of Islam
  • Total Number of Rukū / Sections 40
  • Total Number of Āyāt / Parts 286
  • Sūrah / Chapter number 2
  • Rukū / Section 8 contains Āyāt / Parts 10
  • Siparah/ Volume 1 & 2


إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَالَّذِينَ هَادُواْ وَالنَّصَارَى وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحاً فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ

Inna allatheena amanoo wa(a)llatheena hadoo wa(al)nnasara wa(al)ssabieena manamana biAllahi wa(a)lyawmi alakhiri waAAamila salihan falahum ajruhum AAinda rabbihim wala khawfun AAalayhim wala hum yahzanoon(a)

Those who believe (in the Quran) and those who are Jews and the Christians and the Sabaa’in; those who believe in AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala and the Last Day and do good works, their reward is with their RabbSubhana wa ta'ala . On them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve


وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَكُمْ وَرَفَعْنَا فَوْقَكُمُ الطُّورَ خُذُواْ مَا آتَيْنَاكُم بِقُوَّةٍ وَاذْكُرُواْ مَا فِيهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

Waith akhathna meethaqakum warafaAAna fawqakumu a(l)ttoora khuthoo maataynakum biquwwatin wa(o)thkuroo ma feehi laAAallakum tattaqoon(a)

And when WeSubhana wa ta'ala took a pledge from you and raised Tur over you, (saying) “Hold fast that which WeSubhana wa ta'ala have given you and remember what is therein so that you may observe Taqwa.”


ثُمَّ تَوَلَّيْتُم مِّن بَعْدِ ذَلِكَ فَلَوْلاَ فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ لَكُنتُم مِّنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

Thumma tawallaytum min baAAdi thalika falawla fadlu Allahi AAalaykum warahmatuhu lakuntum mina alkhasireen(a)

And even after that you turned away. Had it not been for the Grace and Mercy of AllahSubhana wa ta'ala , you would have been amongst the losers for sure.


وَلَقَدْ عَلِمْتُمُ الَّذِينَ اعْتَدَواْ مِنكُمْ فِي السَّبْتِ فَقُلْنَا لَهُمْ كُونُواْ قِرَدَةً خَاسِئِينَ

Walaqad AAalimtumu allatheena iAAtadaw minkum fee a(l)ssabti faqulna lahum koonoo qiradatan khasieen(a)

And you very well knew those of you, who transgressed in respect of Sabbath. So WeSubhana wa ta'ala said to them, “Be you apes, despised and rejected.”


فَجَعَلْنَاهَا نَكَالاً لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهَا وَمَا خَلْفَهَا وَمَوْعِظَةً لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

FajaAAalnaha nakalan lima bayna yadayha wama khalfaha wamawAAithatan lilmuttaqeen(a)

And WeSubhana wa ta'ala made this an example for their time and their posterity and lesson for the Muttaqin.


وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَى لِقَوْمِهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تَذْبَحُواْ بَقَرَةً قَالُواْ أَتَتَّخِذُنَا هُزُواً قَالَ أَعُوذُ بِاللّهِ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ

Waith qala moosa liqawmihi inna Allaha yamurukum an tathbahoo baqaratan qaloo atattakhithuna huzuwan qala aAAoothu biAllahi an akoona mina aljahileen(a)

And when Musa (Moses) said to his people, “Allah-SWT commands you to slaughter a cow.” They said, “Are you making fun of us?” He said, “Allah-SWT save me from being an ignorant.”


قَالُواْ ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّن لّنَا مَا هِيَ قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ لاَّ فَارِضٌ وَلاَ بِكْرٌ عَوَانٌ بَيْنَ ذَلِكَ فَافْعَلُواْ مَا تُؤْمَرونَ

Qaloo odAAu lana rabbaka yubayyin lana ma hiya qala innahu yaqoolu innahabaqaratun la faridun wala bikrun AAawanun bayna thalika fa(i)fAAaloo matumaroon(a)

They said, “Pray to your RabbSubhana wa ta'ala on our behalf, to make clear to us what it is?” He said, “HeSubhana wa ta'ala says: the cow should neither be old nor too young, but of middle age. Now do what you are commanded.”


قَالُواْ ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّن لَّنَا مَا لَوْنُهَا قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنّهَا بَقَرَةٌ صَفْرَاء فَاقِـعٌ لَّوْنُهَا تَسُرُّ النَّاظِرِينَ

Qaloo odAAu lana rabbaka yubayyin lana ma lawnuha qala innahu yaqoolu innahabaqaratun safrao faqiAAun lawnuha tasurru a(l)nnathireen(a)

They said, “Pray to your Rabb-SWT on our behalf, to make clear to us, of what colour should it be?” He said, “He-SWT says: it is a yellow cow, bright in colour, pleasing the onlookers.”


قَالُواْ ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّن لَّنَا مَا هِيَ إِنَّ البَقَرَ تَشَابَهَ عَلَيْنَا وَإِنَّآ إِن شَاء اللَّهُ لَمُهْتَدُونَ

Qaloo odAAu lana rabbaka yubayyin lana ma hiya inna albaqara tashabaha AAalayna wainna in shaa Allahu lamuhtadoon(a)

They said, “Pray to your RabbSubhana wa ta'ala on our behalf, to tell us more about it, because all cows appear alike to us. AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala willing, we shall then be rightly guided.”


قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ لاَّ ذَلُولٌ تُثِيرُ الأَرْضَ وَلاَ تَسْقِي الْحَرْثَ مُسَلَّمَةٌ لاَّ شِيَةَ فِيهَا قَالُواْ الآنَ جِئْتَ بِالْحَقِّ فَذَبَحُوهَا وَمَا كَادُواْ يَفْعَلُونَ

Qala innahu yaqoolu innaha baqaratun la thaloolun tutheeru alarda wala tasqee alhartha musallamatun la shiyata feeha qaloo alana jita bi(a)lhaqqi fathabahoohawama kadoo yafAAaloon(a)

He said, “HeSubhana wa ta'ala says: a cow unyoked, neither tills the soil nor waters the fields, perfect, without any flaw.” They said, “Now you have told us exactly.” They sacrificed her, although they had no intention to do so.


In The Name of AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala the Most Gracious, The Most Merciful

Who believe (in the Quran) ... shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.

Being condemned to eternal humiliation is indeed a grave situation; but there is still hope, because the source of mercy for the entire universe has arrived. The beneficence of Prophet MuhammadSal Allaah ho alayhi wassalam is universal and for everyone, for a Muslim, a Jew, a Christian or a non-believer. The only condition is to believe in AllahSubhana wa ta'ala , the Last Day, and all that which has been revealed to himSal Allaah ho alayhi wassalam as AllahSubhana wa ta'ala 's Messenger, and to follow hisSal Allaah ho alayhi wassalam teachings and practise righteousness. Righteous are only those deeds, which are in accordance with Sunnah, and an action that stands in conflict with it, loses its validity and merit. It is indeed a wrong notion that AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala will accept the good deeds of every sect, because without be­lief there is no virtue in any deed. However, anyone from any school of thought is welcome to embrace Islam. If the Muslims are being blessed, it is not because of their persons, but because of their belief and conduct.


Therefore, O Bani Israil and all the other sects of the world! If you follow the Holy ProphetSal Allaah ho alayhi wassalam in beliefs and in conduct, you can also receive these blessings. However, if (AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala forbid!) the Muslims abandon his way of life, they too will be condemned like the Bani Israil. This is exactly the situation we are facing today. We no longer possess the qualities, which had won the Muslims global honour and eternal bliss. Muslim blood is being spilled the world over. Our roots are being torn apart through treachery but we do not even stir in our indifferent slumber. May AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala guide us to repentance, and bless us with beliefs and actions to which the Holy ProphetSal Allaah ho alayhi wassalam has invited us! Only those who adopt his Sunnah will deserve Divine Favours, and shall neither have fear for the future nor any grief over the past.


The Summary Of Tasawwuf

This is the essence of Tasawwuf; by a continuous repetition of AllahSubhana wa ta'ala 's Name, the heart attains that capability, by which a person accepts the Islamic beliefs from the depths of his heart, and then finds the courage to follow the Sunnah. If someone goes against the Sunnah and calls it Tasawwuf, it is just like calling a crow, a falcon!


And when WeSubhana wa ta'ala took a pledge from you ...so thai you may observe Taqwa"

The Bani Israil are being reminded of the lime when AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala had suspended the Mount ‘Tur’ over them in order to make them accept what had been sent unto them. They were warned that if they did not hold on to the Torah firmly, the mountain shall be lowered down upon them. Then they all prostrated before HimSubhana wa ta'ala and began to beg and promise. And AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala terms this persuasion as a great favour, for had they not accepted the Commandment, who would have been at loss? Thus AllahSubhana wa ta'ala , by forcing them into accepting the Commandments, gave them a chance to attain righteousness. The principle: 'La ikrah fid Din' (there is no compulsion in Din) is not applicable here, because these people had accepted AllahSubhana wa ta'ala 's faith earlier and were practically turning their backs to the Torah, saying that it was too difficult to act upon. Therefore, AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala suspended the Mount Tur over them, warning them that if they did not comply, they would he destroyed. Similarly in Islam, death is the punishment for an apostate, not for a non-believer.


Responsibility Of The Rulers

To make a Muslim practise Islam is the responsibility of a ruler, and he should punish the defaulters. If he fails to do so, he will be deemed as an accomplice. This is why during the auspicious era of the CompanionsRadhiAllaah Unho, Caliph 'Umar FaruqRadhiAllaah Unho roamed around with a whip in his hand. If only AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala would grant this sense to the rulers of today!


And even after that you turned away. ...the losers for sure.

The Bani Israil once again broke their promise and the latest example of this breach of faith was their animosity towards the Holy ProphetSal Allaah ho alayhi wassalam. AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala reiter­ates that it is because of HisSubhana wa ta'ala Grace and general Mercy that they have been granted respite until they live, otherwise they were at a great loss and on the verge of being doomed. They had been wrongdoers from the very beginning; it was only HisSubhana wa ta'ala Mercy, which held them time and again. And then the raising of the Holy ProphetSal Allaah ho alayhi wassalam was a special blessing; because of which even the non-believers were relieved of a general doom. But for how long can they escape AllahSubhana wa ta'ala 's wrath? One day they have to present themselves in HisSubhana wa ta'ala Court. If after deserting Prophet MusaAlayhi salam they still continue to survive, it does not mean that they will also be able to escape the eternal doom. So this too is AllahSubhana wa ta'ala 's Blessing that HeSubhana wa ta'ala did not seize them immediately for their follies and granted them respite, so that they may atone. And they very well know this fact.


And you very well knew those of you, .... "Be you apes, despised and rejected".

And those people who transgressed on Saturdays were also from amongst them. This incident took place during the period of Prophet DawudAlayhi salam They lived along the coastline and fishing was their means of earning a livelihood. AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala had ordered them to abstain from fishing on Saturdays, as this day was sacred for them, and was dedicated for worship. Plenty of fish, more than usual, would muster up the shore on Saturdays and they could not resist the temptation to catch it. They invented an excuse for violating the ban. They dug out several ditches along the shore and connected them to the sea with ducts. When the ditches would fill up with fish, they would seal off the ducts, and would not lake any fish on that day. The next day they would catch the trapped fish. Some would lower a fishing rod in the water and the fish so hooked would be taken out the following day. Some of them who obeyed AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala strongly opposed this crime and tried their best to stop the violators. The dispute became so grave that the wrongdoers drove the noble men out of their settlement, and constructed a wall in between to keep them confined to their homes, out of sight.


One morning, the expelled heard no human voice from the evildoer’s settlement. All that could be heard was the cries of apes and the shrieks of pigs. When they checked it out they saw that all had transformed into apes and pigs. The young ones were turned into apes and the old ones changed into pigs. They recognised their relatives, and would toss around restlessly at their feet, but nothing could be done for them. After a few days all of them died. Accord­ing to the ‘Hadith’ the nations subjected to such punishment had left no pedigree behind. The monkeys we see today are a separate species, which existed even before this incident, and have nothing to do with these condemned folk.


The Forms of Justification

It has been clearly indicated that any justification, which negates or violates a law of Shari'ah, is not only wrong, but also a serious crime. However, the justifications of Islamic jurists, which aim at obeying the Shari'ah and not negat­ing it do not fall in this category. Secondly, living with pious people is also a source of protection against a general Divine punishment. As long as the two Sabbath groups lived together, they were safe, but when the fundamentalists were separated, the so-called civilized were seized by Divine punishment. May AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala bless us with the company of nobles!


And WeSubhana wa ta'ala made this on example for their ... and a lesson for the Muttaqin.

The Bani Israil caught the fish but, for this AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala turned them into apes and pigs, a sorry sight, a lesson and a source of repentance for their contemporaries and those to follow in time, whereas, for the pious it is a source of greater guidance. The Punishment of distortion was generally discontinued with the advent of the Holy ProphetSal Allaah ho alayhi wassalam. It is one of hisSal Allaah ho alayhi wassalam Barakah. But it is not surprising to see individual cases of distortion. In our village, a woman habitually used abusive language, especially against Hadhrat Abu Bakr SiddiqueRadhiAllaah Unho, and generally for the Holy Prophet'sSal Allaah ho alayhi wassalam wives and other CompanionsRadhiAllaah Unho. Before she died, her face got terribly disfigured and her tongue hung out four inches just like a dog’s, which simply would not retract. She could neither keep quiet, nor articulate any words and her voice resembled a dog's grumble. She was taken to Lahore for medical aid, but nothing seemed to help and after four months of torture she died. There are many such incidents, to list them all would be impossible here, but such exceptional cases of physical distortion do take place


State of Spiritual Distortion

In case of the Spirit, it cannot retain its human appearance without Islamic faith and practice. It would resemble the beast or animal whose traits are pre­dominant in a person. The Spirits of only those Muslims who have enlightened hearts retain their human appearance. Even the Spirits of the practising Muslims take the appearance of permissible animals, whereas those of the non-believers and the wrongdoers take the shape of beasts. They live cloaked in human form, but it would not last forever. If AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala bestows the power of spiritual observation, it can be seen that towns and cities are infested with beasts. This is the reason why people look human but behave worse than beasts. May AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala forgive us!


And when Musa-AS said to his people ... being an ignorant".

The Bani Israil are being reminded of AllahSubhana wa ta'ala 's Favour at the time when a per­son from amongst them was murdered and the murderer could not be traced. They approached Prophet MusaAlayhi salam and requested for help. The ProphetAlayhi salam, in accordance with AllahSubhana wa ta'ala 's orders told them to slaughter a cow. They asked him if it was a joke. He said that he could not possibly indulge in such ignorance as to joke about Divine Orders. Only someone who is unaware of AllahSubhana wa ta'ala 's Great­ness could do such a foolish act and such a person, no matter how educated he may be, is indeed an ignorant. Given the Divine Cognition one can never dare to joke about the Divine Commands, and the exalted ProphetsAlayhi salam enjoy an exemplary level of cognition. To make fun of someone or tell lies even while joking is also prohibited in Shari'ah. However, there is no harm in joking within close friends if the facts are correct and the aim is not to insult anyone. But no liberty can be taken with Divine Laws.


Now, why did the Bani Israil take it as a joke? Probably it looked irrelevant to them that sacrificing a cow could be helpful in the investigation of a murder. What possibly could be achieved by doing so? This is a world of 'cause and effect'. It is AllahSubhana wa ta'ala 's Wisdom that HeSubhana wa ta'ala has connected every single event with a cause, and HeSubhana wa ta'ala Alone knows the logic behind it. These events which we witness in our daily lives do not surprise us as we have become accustomed to them and treat them as routine. Otherwise, what sense does it make to bury in the soil whatever grains one is left with, for more yield? But our experience tells us that by doing so the land yields a crop and grains are multiplied mani­fold, and does not allow us to be surprised. In fact, everything in this universe is a definite proof of AllahSubhana wa ta'ala 's Omnipotence. HeSubhana wa ta'ala intended to show these people yet another proof, being well aware of the wisdom behind every command Therefore, it is imperative to execute the commands of the ProphetsAlayhi salam and the promised results are bound to manifest, whether we can discern the link or not, just as the ignorant critics of today have opined that the amount of money on Eid ul Adhha, on slaughtering animals is a waste, which could be put into welfare projects. They suggest that instead of spending millions of Rupees every year on Hajj, the money could be invested in establishing universities. These opinions stem out of the same Jewish mentality. Otherwise, the aim is only to follow the Holy ProphetSal Allaah ho alayhi wassalam. By sacrificing a paltry goat or a cow, one receives his share of the same Barakah, which were attained by Prophet IbrahimAlayhi salam when he put the knife on his son's throat. This duty indeed is a great Divine Favour to us. It is a marvellous achievement to arouse a gleam of Prophet IbrahimAlayhi salam's noble character in oneself. And to absorb the Divine Refulgence peculiar to Hajj is indeed an extremely glorified state, impossible to acquire without performing Hajj. Can anyone else claim to build the human character in a better way than the one who conveyed these Divine commands to humanity? Is there anyone in the history of mankind, equal to the Holy ProphetSal Allaah ho alayhi wassalam of Islam? Not at all! And today these animals in human guise, who claim to be civilized, inculcate beastly qualities in the children of Adam in their universities and colleges, and pass sarcastic remarks on Divine Commands!


They said, "Pray to your RabbSubhana wa ta'ala . ... pleasing the onlookers".

If we compare that truly Islamic society with our own and see which one offers salvation to humanity, the glory of following the Holy ProphetSal Allaah ho alayhi wassalam will surely dawn upon us. We may realize that only that university or college is worthwhile, which educates its students to follow the Sunnah. Otherwise, such educational institutions are just slaughterhouses, where humanity is skinned! Adherence to the ProphetAlayhi salam is synonymous to a complete trust in himAlayhi salam. But the Bani Israil, after being ordered to slaughter a cow, engaged in endless arguments with Prophet Musa-AS about its appearance. HeAlayhi salam replied that it was nei­ther too young, nor old, and that they must not indulge in pointless arguments and just do as AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala had ordered. But they again requested Prophet MusaAlayhi salam to ask his RabbSubhana wa ta'ala what must be the colour of that cow? He replied that AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala said, it must be of a bright yellow colour, which pleased the beholders. They were still not satisfied and told Prophet MusaAlayhi salam that there were too many cows of that description, so he should ask his RabbSubhana wa ta'ala to clarify further. Each time they said, "MusaAlayhi salam! Ask your RabbSubhana wa ta'ala "; never for once did they say ‘our RabbSubhana wa ta'ala '. They asked for more indications, and said that if AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala was willing, they would comply with HisSubhana wa ta'ala Command.


They said, "Pray to your RabbSubhana wa ta'ala ...we shall then be rightly guided"

According to the Holy ProphetSal Allaah ho alayhi wassalam had they not added "InshaAllah", they would never have been able to execute the Divine Command. Prophet MusaAlayhi salam told them that AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala said that it was a cow that had never been yoked, nor had ploughed or watered the till, nor was there any scar or mark on its body from being yoked or beating. Now everything was clear, they said. They finally bought a cow and willy-nilly slaughtered it. AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala is reminding the Jews of HisSubhana wa ta'ala great favour unto their ancestors. They were awfully slack in obeying their ProphetAlayhi salam, but in spite of that HeSubhana wa ta'ala accepted their sacrifice and allowed the de­sired result to be obtained. Their sacrifice could have gone in vain without bearing any result because of their wrong conduct. The trouble they went through was only because of their useless probing which led to more and more restrictions. Had they just slaughtered any cow after receiving the order, it would have served the desired purpose.


No Argument With The Shaikh

Similarly, if a Shaikh wants the seeker to do something, the latter should not ask further questions to create hardship for himself. For example, if a seeker is told to recite a certain number of Darud Sharif then whichever Darud Sharif he may recite, will serve the purpose. But if he asks the Shaikh, which Darud Sharif should he recite, then he will be bound to recite whichever the Shaikh tells him. The prescribed time of its recital must also be observed if fixed; otherwise the desired benefit would not be achieved.


He said, "HeSubhana wa ta'ala says: a cow unyoked, ...they had no intention to do so.

The commentators have recorded another strange incident regarding the slaughtering of the cow by the Bani IsraiI. They explain that a righteous man, who owned a calf, drove it to the woods before his death, supplicating to AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala to make it a source of livelihood for his son. The calf is said to have grown up as a beautiful cow, and the more the Bani Israil probed, AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala continued to reveal its features. Now no other cow could fulfil the specification revealed by AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala . On the other hand, the owner of the cow got an intuition to charge the Bani IsraiI a handsome amount of money. Thus the price of the cow was finally fixed to be gold coins stuffed in its hide. The Bani Israil had tried to play smart by cross-questioning the ProphetAlayhi salam, while AllaahSubhana wa ta'ala desired to benefit the one who had totally relied on HimSubhana wa ta'ala .


Therefore, neither should any objection be raised against the laws of Shari'ah, nor any excuses be made to evade the instructions of a Shaikh. This certainly invokes worldly hardships besides the additional risk of losing one's faith. On the path of love, sincerity carries real value; deep devotion is wisdom, while logic and calculation carry no weight!