The Heifer or Sūrat al-Baqarah (Arabic: سورة البقرة, "The Heifer") is the second and longest chapter (Surah) of the Qur'an. It is a Medinan sura (revealed to Muhammad when he was at Medina), with the exception of verse 281 which Muslims believe was revealed during The Farewell Pilgrimage. It is also considered to be one of the first chapters revealed after the Hijra from Mecca to Medina. The chapter comprises 286 verses (ayat) according to the division of Ali, the most widely accepted count among all Muslim denominations, and includes the single longest verse in the Qur'an (2:282). The surah's name references verses 66–72 which recall the story of a heifer sacrificed by the Israelites.
Surah al-Baqarah enjoins fasting on the believer during the month of Ramadan.
Al-Baqarah is the longest surah of the Quran, having 286 verses. According to Muslim belief, this Medinan Surah was not revealed at once to Muhammad, but the various Islamic social circumstances and conditions are discussed among verses. Verse 281 is believed by Muslims to have been revealed during The Farewell Pilgrimage in Mecca. It is also considered to be one of the first chapters revealed after the Hijra from Mecca to Medina.
Theme and subject matter
The surah addresses a wide variety of topics, including substantial amounts of law, and retells stories of Adam, Abraham and Moses. A major theme is guidance: urging the pagans (Al-Mushrikeen) and the Jews of Medina to embrace Islam, and warning them and the hypocrites (Munafiq) of the fate God had visited in the past on those who failed to heed his call. The stories in this chapter are told to help the reader understand the theological conception of truth in Islam. Condemnation of alcoholic beverages and gambling is also first found in the chapter, and it is one of only four chapters in the Qur'an to refer to Christians as Nazarenes instead of the more frequent terms People of the Book or "Helpers of Christ."
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 chapter also consists of five stories regarding God giving life to the dead, one story of God giving life to a dead animal (donkey) and one story regarding giving life to a bird.
As a part of Lutheran efforts at translating the Qur'an in the 17th century, itinerant German orientalist Christian Ravis translated al-Baqarah along with Al-Fatiha and published bilingual versions in Amsterdam in 1646.
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 usury.
Verse 255 is "The Throne Verse" (آية الكرسيʾāyatu-l-kursī). It is the most famous verse of the Qur'an and is widely memorized and displayed in the Islamic world due to its emphatic description of God's omnipotence in Islam.
Verse 256 is one of the most quoted verses in the Qur'an. It famously notes that "there is no compulsion in religion". Two other verses, 285 and 286, are sometimes considered part of "The Throne Verse".
- ^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
- ^ abcdMahmoud Ayoub, The Qurʾan and its interpreters, pg. 55. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984. ISBN 9780791495469
- ^ abFelicitas Meta Maria Opwis, Maṣlaḥah and the Purpose of the Law: Islamic Discourse on Legal Change from the 4th/10th to 8th/14th Century, pg. 296. Volume 31 of Studies in Islamic Law and Society. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2010. ISBN 9789004184169
- ^"Physical Aspects of the Noble Qur'an". www.al-islam.org. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
- ^Michael Binyon, Fighting is 'allowed' during the holy month of fastingThe Times, 18 December 1998
- ^ abcSadr-'ameli Sayyid Abbas. "Surah Al-Baqarah, Chapter 2, Introduction". Al-islam. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^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
- ^Kathryn Kueny, The Rhetoric of Sobriety: Wine in Early Islam, pg. 66. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001. ISBN 9780791450536
- ^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
- ^"Uzair"(PDF). imedbham.webs. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- ^Alastair Hamilton, "A Lutheran Translator for the Qur'an: A Late Seventeenth-Century Quest." Taken from The Republic of Letters And the Levant, pg. 197. Eds. Alastair Hamilton, Maurits H. Van Den Boogert and Bart Westerweel. Volume 5 of Intersections. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2005. ISBN 9789004147614
- ^Prana Dev (2010). Spiritual Quest of a Baby Yogi: Journey Through Islam, Christianity, and Beyond. ISBN 978-1-4502-6904-9.
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful
No.2 (286 Verses)
Contents of the Surah
This Surah contains 286 verses, rendering it the longest Surah in the Holy Qur'an. It is indisputable that this Surah was not revealed all at once, but partially and in increments as necessitated by the various Islamic social circumstances and conditions found at different times in Medina.
But, the fact is that the inclusiveness of this Surah from the point of Islamic doctrine in Faith and many practical issues (social, political, economic, and religious) is not deniable, for, there are various subjects discussed in it, including the followings:
1. There are some discussions about Monotheism and gaining knowledge of Allah, especially by way of studying the mysteries of creation.
2. There are many statements about the Resurrection and life after death with a few tangible examples, like the story of Abraham (as) and how the birds became restored to life, and the story of Ezra.
3. There are some facts about the inimitability of the Qur'an and the significance of this Heavenly Book.
4. There are long discussions and explanations concerning the Jews and hypocrites and their peculiar positions against Islam and the Qur'an, evidenced by their various mischievous hindrances against them.
5. There are some narrations about the history of the Great Prophets, including Abraham (as) and Moses (as) in particular.
6. There are some passages that contain a few Islamic rules related to varying subjects, such as: prayers, fasting, Holy War on the path of Allah, the pilgrimage to Mecca, the change of the Qiblah (the direction of prayer) from Jerusalem to Mecca, marriage and divorce, commerce, debt, and a great many of the ordinances concerning usury.
Donation for the sake of Allah is abundantly discussed. The problem of retaliation, the banning of different kinds of forbidden meat, and also gambling and wine drinking are discussed, in addition to a few other ordinances related to the subjects of writing wills, testaments, and the like.
The appellation 'Al-Baqarah' (the Cow), the title of this Surah, is taken from the story of the Israelites' Cow, mentioned in verses 67 to 73 of this Surah, whose description will be explained later in this very (on pages 208 to 213).
The Virtue of Studying this Surah
There are some significant traditions and narrations on the virtue of studying this Surah, cited in Islamic literature, including the followings:
The Late Tabarsi has so cited in Majma'-ul-Bayan that once the Prophet (S)was asked: "Which Surah of the Qur'an is the best?" He (S)answered: "Al-Baqarah". They asked: "Which verse of the Surah (is the best)?" He replied: "Ayat-ul-Kursi, the Verse of the Throne', (verse 255)". 1
The superiority of this Holy Surah is, apparently, due to its comprehensiveness, and the preference of the 'Verse of the Throne', (verse 255) is because of its special monotheistic content, which will be dealt with later in this .
It is not contrary to the fact that some other Suras of the Qur'an are considered superior in other aspects. All the Suras of the Qur'an have been considered from different points of view.
Again, it is narrated by Ali ibn al-Husayn (as) that the Prophet (S)said:
"He who recites the first four verses of Surah AI-Baqarah, the 'Verse of Throne' (verse 255)with its next two verses (256,257)together with the last three verses of the Surah, will not meet any trouble in himself; in his family members, and in his wealth; and Satan will not approach him, and he (having paid attention to the Qur'an in his life) will not forget the Qur'an". 2
Also, 'Ubayy ibne Ka'b quotes from the holy Prophet (S)thus:
"He who recites this Surah (Al-Baqarah) will be encompassed by the bounties of Allah and His Mercy; and He will reward him as much as that of a person who has fought fearlessly on the path of Allah for one year". 3
Then, the Messenger of Allah (S)added that Muslims should study this Surah, know it, and do it accordingly in order to be benefited by the Mercy of Allah in this world and the next.
Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (as) is narrated to have said:
"He who recites Al-Baqarah and 'Al-i-Imran, these two Suras will come above his head on the Day of Judgement like two clouds similar to two umbrellas, (and will protect him from the heat of That Day) ". 4
Here, it is necessary to mention the important fact that those rewards, virtues and significant compensations that have been cited for studying the Qur'an or some special Suras and verses of the Qur’an never meant that one simply should be contented with the fact that one has recited them as invocations.
On the contrary, the recitation of the Qur’an is for understanding, and understanding is for contemplation, and contemplation is for action.
As a matter of fact, every virtue, which is mentioned for a Surah or a verse, corresponds very much with the contents of that Surah or verse. For example, among the virtues of reciting Surah An-Nur, No.24, we see that it says that Allah may protect the person and his children from committing adultery and slander when he perseveres in studying it.
This consequence is because the contents of Surah An-Nur contains some important instructions on resisting sexual deviations; i.e. the instructions advising single persons to hasten to marriage; the instructions about 'cover' (hijab); the instructions about refraining from ogling and desirous aoks; the instruction that forbids spreading any rumours and accusations about others; and, finally, the instruction on executing the punishment for fornication and adultery upon any perpetrators: be they men or women.
It is obvious that when the content of this Surah be observed by the members of a society or a family, the iniquity of adultery will not appear therein. It is the same concerning the verses of Surah al-Baqarah, mentioned above.
They are all related to the subject of Monotheism, belief in 'Qayb' (the Invisible), knowing Allah, and resisting evil temptations. So, if a person recites them and observes the instructions in them carefully and from the depths of his soul, he will certainly obtain those virtues.
It is certainly true, however, that the recitation of the Qur'an deserves rewards, but, besides the original and essential rewards given by Allah, its effects on personal behavior will exist only when this recitation is a premise for contemplation and action.