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Surah al-Baqarah (163-177)
Qur'anic Exegesis
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)


وَإِلَـهُكُمْ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ لاَّ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الرَّحْمَنُ الرَّحِيمُ  إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلاَفِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَا أَنزَلَ اللّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاء مِن مَّاء فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الأرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَآبَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخِّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاء وَالأَرْضِ لآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ (١٦٣-١٦٤)

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِ اللّهِ أَندَاداً يُحِبُّونَهُمْ كَحُبِّ اللّهِ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِّلّهِ وَلَوْ يَرَى الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ إِذْ يَرَوْنَ الْعَذَابَ أَنَّ الْقُوَّةَ لِلّهِ جَمِيعاً وَأَنَّ اللّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعَذَابِ (١٦٥)

إِذْ تَبَرَّأَ الَّذِينَ اتُّبِعُواْ مِنَ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُواْ وَرَأَوُاْ الْعَذَابَ وَتَقَطَّعَتْ بِهِمُ الأَسْبَابُ  وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُواْ لَوْ أَنَّ لَنَا كَرَّةً فَنَتَبَرَّأَ مِنْهُمْ كَمَا تَبَرَّؤُواْ مِنَّا كَذَلِكَ يُرِيهِمُ اللّهُ أَعْمَالَهُمْ حَسَرَاتٍ عَلَيْهِمْ وَمَا هُم بِخَارِجِينَ مِنَ النَّارِ (١٦٦-١٦٧)

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُواْ مِمَّا فِي الأَرْضِ حَلاَلاً طَيِّباً وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ  إِنَّمَا يَأْمُرُكُمْ بِالسُّوءِ وَالْفَحْشَاء وَأَن تَقُولُواْ عَلَى اللّهِ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ (١٦٨-١٦٩)

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ اتَّبِعُوا مَا أَنزَلَ اللّهُ قَالُواْ بَلْ نَتَّبِعُ مَا أَلْفَيْنَا عَلَيْهِ آبَاءنَا أَوَلَوْ كَانَ آبَاؤُهُمْ لاَ يَعْقِلُونَ شَيْئاً وَلاَ يَهْتَدُونَ  وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي يَنْعِقُ بِمَا لاَ يَسْمَعُ إِلاَّ دُعَاء وَنِدَاء صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْيٌ فَهُمْ لاَ يَعْقِلُونَ (١٧٠-١٧١)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُلُواْ مِن طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ وَاشْكُرُواْ لِلّهِ إِن كُنتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ  إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةَ وَالدَّمَ وَلَحْمَ الْخِنزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ بِهِ لِغَيْرِ اللّهِ فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلاَ عَادٍ فَلا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ (١٧٢-١٧٣)

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْتُمُونَ مَا أَنزَلَ اللّهُ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَيَشْتَرُونَ بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلاً أُولَـئِكَ مَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِي بُطُونِهِمْ إِلاَّ النَّارَ وَلاَ يُكَلِّمُهُمُ اللّهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَلاَ يُزَكِّيهِمْ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ  أُولَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُاْ الضَّلاَلَةَ بِالْهُدَى وَالْعَذَابَ بِالْمَغْفِرَةِ فَمَآ أَصْبَرَهُمْ عَلَى النَّارِ (١٧٤-١٧٥)

ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللّهَ نَزَّلَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ اخْتَلَفُواْ فِي الْكِتَابِ لَفِي شِقَاقٍ بَعِيدٍ (١٧٦)

لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَـكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَالْمَلآئِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّآئِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُواْ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاء والضَّرَّاء وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ أُولَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَأُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ (١٧٧)

[Believers! Let them decide]1 and [regardless of what they think you should now fully understand that] Your God is one God2. There is no god but Him. He is the Compassionate, the Ever-Merciful3. There is no doubt that in the creation of the heavens and the earth4 and in the alternation of night and day5 and in the ships6 that sail in the ocean with cargoes beneficial to man and in the water which God sends down from the sky with which He enlivens the earth after its death, dispersing over it all kinds of living beings7 and in the manifestations caused by the winds8, and in the obedient clouds9 that are between sky and earth – surely in these there are signs10 for men of intellect [to understand this reality]. (163-164)

Yet [in spite of these signs of the heavens and the earth], there are some who associate partners with God11. They love them as they should love God. And the believers love [their] God the most12. And if these wrongdoers see the time when they will face their punishment [it will become evident to them13] that all might and power is God’s alone, and that [for such people] God is stern in retribution. (165)

At that time14 when those who were followed will disown their followers and will face punishment and the ties15 which now unite them will suddenly break asunder and those who followed them will say: ‘Could we but live again, we would disown them as they have now disowned us’. Thus will God show them their own deeds16 as longings and they shall never be able to emerge from the Fire. (166-167)

People! [your concepts of what is lawful in eating and what is not – concepts which you have made under the influence of these leaders of yours – are absolutely baseless, so] eat17 of what is lawful and wholesome on the earth and do not walk in Satan’s footsteps18, for he is your open enemy19. He only entices20 you to sin21 and lewdness, and to ascribe to God what you know not22. (168-169)

When they are asked [to leave aside these concepts and] follow what God has revealed, they reply: ‘We will follow the path trodden by our forefathers’. Would they follow their fathers even though they did not use their intellect and had no guidance?23 And [in reality] the parable of these people who have rejected [in this manner to follow the path to which they were guided by the Almighty] is like that of a person who calls out those who can hear nothing but shouts and cries24. They are deaf, dumb, and blind so they understand nothing25. (170-171)

Believers [if they are not willing to abandon their religious innovations, leave them to themselves and] eat [without any hesitation] of the wholesome things with which We have provided you and be grateful to God alone if it is Him you worship26. He has forbidden you only carrion, blood, and the flesh of swine, also any flesh that is slaughtered in the name of someone other than God27. But whoever is driven to necessity, intending neither to desire28 nor to transgress, incurs no sin29. Indeed, God is Forgiving and Merciful. (172-173)

[These People of the Book knew that this is the truth, but they concealed it]. In reality, those who conceal what God has revealed in His Book and for this they gain some meager wealth [of this world]30 shall swallow nothing but the Fire of Hell into their bellies. On the Day of Judgement, God will neither speak to them31 nor purify them32 and [besides this] a woeful punishment awaits them [there]. Such are those who bought guidance for error and forgiveness for punishment. How audaciously do they seek Hell!33 (174-175)

That will be because God has revealed this Book with the truth34 and these people who have differed about it have gone far in their obstinacy35. (176)

[They think that the duty imposed on them of being loyal to God is fulfilled by merely observing certain rites and rituals. You should know that] loyalty to God36 does not merely consist in facing towards the East or the West [in the prayer]37 but loyalty is the loyalty38 of those who believe in God with all their heart39 and in the Last Day40 and in the angels of God41 and in His Books42 and in His prophets43 and who, though they love it dearly, give away their wealth44 to kinsfolk45, to orphans46, to the destitute, to the traveler and to those who ask47 and for the liberation of necks48 and who attend to the prayer and pay Zakāh49; [and of those] when make a promise50 fulfill it51 and specially [of those] who are steadfast in adversity, illness and in times of war52. These are the people who are truthful [to God in fulfilling the promise of loyalty to Him] and these are the ones who are in fact God-conscious. (177)








1. With verse 162 ends the second section of the sūrah. Near the end of this section, it was declared that a Muslim Ummah has been constituted from the Ishmaelites which is one branch of Abraham’s progeny. With these verses begins the third section of the sūrah in which the directives of Abraham’s religion are once again revived for this Ummah. They begin with the directive of Tawh*īd and then after that in a certain sequence all the directives of the Sharī‘ah have been stated that were appropriate to be given during the period of revelation of this sūrah. While stating these directives a negation is also made of the religious innovations which the Jews and the Idolaters had incorporated in religion.

2. In the Arabic language, the word ‘إِلَه’ comes for someone who is worshipped and someone who does not require any means and sources to provide help. The word ‘اللّه’ has been made from it by appending ‘ال’ to it.

3. After stating the oneness of the Almighty both in a positive and a negative way, the attributes of Rahmān and Rahīm are stated from among the other glorious attributes of God. This reference, on the one hand, serves to negate the disappointment that may arise in a person on the basis of the aloofness of the Almighty by explaining the relationship of the Almighty with His creation so that a person himself seeks the nearness of the Almighty instead of finding some intermediary and seeks refuge in His mercy. On the other hand, this reference highlights God’s attributes of mercy and compassion to determine the right poise and balance in the attributes of the Almighty after which a person does not seek intercessors to save himself from God’s wrath and in times of hardship himself knocks at His door without any hesitation.

4. This refers to their creation, mould and structure, benefit and purpose which delineate the great power, mercy, wisdom and providence of their Creator. Also brought out is the mutual harmony and accord which exists between the heavens and the earth testifying that their Creator is the same and no one else has any say in governing them.

5. That is the way night and day follow one after the other with great discipline and order and the way they do so by influencing this world in various ways. This influence is also caused by their own mutual difference in nature.

6. The Qur’ānic word used is ‘الْفُلْك’. It means ‘ship’ and is used for singular, plural, masculine and feminine entities.

7. The Qur’ānic word used is ‘دَآبَّة’. Just as it is used to connote animals that walk on the earth, it is also used to connote living beings if an indication to this usage exists. The second usage covers land animals, birds and even human beings. Here in this verse it is used in this connotation.

8. This refers to the various manifestations of winds in the form of storms and various types of climate which they produce and which may be a source of reward or punishment for human beings. These manifestations appear every now and then with full glory and glamour.

9. The Qur’ānic words used are: ‘وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخِّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاء وَالأَرْضِ’. The word ‘تََسْخِيْر’ (Taskhīr) means ‘to put something into the service of someone by making it obedient to him’. When the Qur’ān mentions Taskhīr of winds and the sun and the moon with relation to man, it does not mean that all these are obedient to him or that man can subjugate them; it only means that the Almighty after subjugating them has put them in the service of man. Consequently, for this very reason this theme has been discussed in the Qur’ān by the words ‘سَخَّرَلَكُمْ’ implying that the Almighty has put them in the service of man. It does not mean that they are obedient to him.

10. Signs which tell us that the God of this world is only one and no one else is god. Imām Amīn Ahsan Is*lāh*ī, writes:

If one deeply reflects on this verse, it becomes evident that from its very start to its very end opposite and conflicting elements of this world are referred to and simultaneously their mutual harmony and unity with respect to being beneficial for this world are referred to as well. The heavens and the earth, the night and the day and the sea and the ships that sail through it are apparently conflicting and contradictory to one another but a deep deliberation will show that they are deeply related to one another like complimentary members of a pair. Without the heavens and its glittering suns and moons, our earth will lose all its magnificence and splendour and in fact it will cease to exist. Similarly, without this earth who knows how many abodes in the stars and planets of these expansive heavens would cease to exist. Likewise, just as our life and the life of other living beings of this world need the light, warmth and freshness of the day, they also need the peace, tranquillity and rest provided by the night. It is because of both the day and the night that life thrives here. Take a look at the sea: How bewildering and how vast its expanse is and how awesome and awe inspiring are its waves. But in spite of its commotions and turbulence it allows our ships and fleets to easily steer and set sail through it connecting the east to the west in economy and trade, knowledge and skills, culture and civilization and in many other aspects.

In the next portion of the verse, rain from the heavens and how it enlivens dead land is mentioned. How far apart are the heavens and the earth yet in spite of this huge distance they are close and in proximity with one another. The earth hides within it great treasures of potential life and subsistence but these treasures remain hidden in it unless rain comes and provides them with the sustenance needed to come out. A similar relation exists between the clouds and the winds. These fleets of clouds cannot set sail unless they are helped on by winds and pushed in the directions stipulated for them. It is the winds which drive and propel them to the nooks and corners of the north and the south and the east and the west. It is the winds which are responsible for their appearance and their disappearance.

Now the question is: what does a reflective eye make out of this world? Is it the battlefield of opposite and conflicting forces or is one wise and prudent being ruling these forces using all of them in an orderly way and to achieve a certain collective objective? Obviously, an observation of this universe points to this second case. Still further deliberation yields another fact: this world has not come in existence out of its own accord and neither has it evolved and developed in this manner. If this had been the case how could the conflicting elements have worked in harmony to achieve a higher objective – harmony which is so evident in every part of this universe.

If one reflects even further, one realizes that this one reality on the one hand roots out polytheism and on other hand deals a final blow to all the confusions caused by Darwinism. (Is*lāh*ī, Amīn Ah*san, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 401)

11. This is an expression of amazement. What is implied is that although there is no room for such foolishness but what can be done with those who are not ready to use their sense: all such signs are meaningless to them.

12. The implied meaning is that whenever the conflicting requirements of love for God and of love for those besides Him come before them, the former always overcomes the latter. They know that others besides Him can be loved but their love must always remain subservient to the love of God. They are aware that giving preference to the love of God is an obligation one owes to Him and no one can be given any share in this.

13. This is the apodosis of the word ‘لَوْ’ that occurs at the beginning of the sentence and has been suppressed as per the linguistic principles of Arabic. The words ‘أَنَّ الْقُوَّةَ لِلّهِ جَمِيعاً’ and those subsequent to them explain this suppression.

14. These are further details of the punishment mentioned earlier. As per the linguistic principles of Arabic, this sentence is a permutative (‘بَدَلْ’) of the previous sentence ‘إِذْ يَرَوْنَ الْعَذَابَ’.

15. The Qur’ānic word used is ‘أَسْبَابُ’. It is the plural of ‘سَبَبْ’, which means ‘rope’. From here the meaning of ‘seeking nearness’ was incorporated in it and then it broadened from this meaning to be used to mean ‘relationships’.

16. This refers to their loyalties for their unfounded deities and their leaders who tried to mislead them and to their sacrifices they offered for them.

17. It is evident from these words that polytheism and concepts of what is lawful and what is not are topics that are related to one another. On the basis of this very relationship, after refuting polytheism the Almighty addresses the Arabs and directs them to eat all lawful and pure things. In 6:136 and 5:103, the Qur’ān has enlisted the things which the Idolaters of Arabia, owing to their polytheistic superstitions, had made lawful or unlawful for themselves under the influence of Satan.

18. The implication is that declaring the lawful as the unlawful is something suggested to the Idolaters by Satan. Such a declaration has no basis in religion and therefore they must not follow it. In 4:119, the Qur’ān has stated that from the very beginning Satan had threatened to mislead man from Tawh*īd through such superstitions.

19. Such an open enemy is Satan that from the very beginning he has very overtly declared war on man. The Qur’ān refers to this declaration in 7:16-17.

20. The Qur’ānic word used is ‘اَمْر’. It means ‘to give a directive’ and it also means ‘to suggest and to tempt someone about something’. Here it means suggestions implanted by Satan and his allurement to make ground for such things. Imām Amīn Ah*san Is*lāh*ī, has directed our attention to a special aspect regarding Satan’s allurement. He writes:

Here one aspect needs attention. By nature and by sense and reason, there is such a clear distinction between the directives given by God and those given by Satan that an upright person can have no problem in distinguishing them. It is mentioned in the previous verse that whatever edibles the Almighty has declared lawful are pure, pleasing and healthy both with respect to effects and their inner and outer appearances. On the other hand, whatever Satan urges man to adopt is harmful to one’s body and to one’s intellect and to morals and is instrumental in leading a person to lewdness and immorality. If in spite of this blatant difference, someone insists on following Satan then he has had it. (Is*lāh*ī, Amīn Ah*san, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 411)

21. The Qur’ānic word used is ‘سُوْء’. There is no doubt in the fact that just as it means ‘sin’ and ‘misdeeds’ it also means financial, physical and intellectual losses and  hardships. This usage can be seen in 3:174 and 27:12. Here, however, its copulation (‘At*f) with ‘الْفَحْشَاء’ and the presence of the verb ‘يَأْمُرُكُمْ’ show that it is used in the first meaning.

22. The Qur’ānic words used are ‘وَأَن تَقُولُواْ عَلَى اللّهِ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ’. They convey the same meaning as the words ‘إفْتَرَا عًلَى اللّهِ’ ie. to attribute falsity to God. For example, saying that such and such a person has been given certain authority by God or declaring something as unlawful without any sanction.

23. The implication is that the heritage of the forefathers no doubt should be respected; however, its veracity does not hinge upon merely being a sacred heritage. If it is criticized, every right-natured person should lend his ears to it, and if it does not carry any weight in the balance of sense and reason, then he should be ready to give it up without any hesitation.

24. This is a parable of a herd of cattle which when called by its shepherd does hear his voice but does not understand what he is saying and what he wants from it. Such parables are meant to compare a whole situation to another. Hence, it is not necessary that the components compared correspond individually to one another.

25. They are devoid of all intellectual and spiritual powers. There is no difference between them and animals.

26. It is indeed difficult to eat things which have been prohibited since the times of one’s forefathers. It is for this very reason that the Qur’ān has cautioned Muslims that they should disregard such superstitions and whatever the Almighty has declared lawful should be consumed by them without any reluctance. This is in fact a requirement of worshipping Him and expressing gratitude to Him and Muslims must fulfill this requirement in all circumstances.

27. The Qur’ān has fundamentally prohibited only these four edibles. Other edibles that are not appropriate for eating are proscribed through the innate guidance that the Almighty has blessed man with. In other words, man’s own nature generally provides him with ample guidance in this matter and, without any hesitation, he is able to decide the right course. He very well knows that lions, tigers, elephants, eagles, crows, vultures, kites, scorpions and human flesh itself are things which are not to be eaten. He is also well aware of the fact that horses and mules are a means of transportation and have no role in satisfying one’s hunger. That faeces and urine of animals are impure things are known to him very well also. His reason and intellect guide him very well regarding intoxicants. Consequently, in this matter, the innate guidance found in human nature is enough to lead the way. The prohibition attributed to the Prophet (sws) regarding beasts having sharp canine teeth, birds having claws and tentacles in their feet, Jallālah and tamed donkeys is merely a delineation of this innate guidance. The prohibition of liquor is another directive which is based on innate guidance. No doubt, at times, human nature becomes perverted but a study of human behavior shows that generally people do not falter in this matter. It is for this reason that the Sharī‘ah has not given any original guidance in this matter. In this matter, the Sharī‘ah has provided guidance regarding animals and things related to these animals where human beings were liable to falter. The pig is a quadruped beast of the same genre as the goat, sheep, cow and cattle; however, it consumes meat like other carnivores. Should it then be considered forbidden or not? Should animals which are slaughtered in a way that all their blood is not drained out be eaten or not? Is the blood of animals impure as indeed are their faeces and urine? If animals are slaughtered by taking the name of someone other than the Almighty, can they still be eaten? Since human nature is unable to come up with a decisive answer in this regard, the Almighty guided mankind in this affair through His prophets and informed them that the flesh of the pig, blood, the dead and animals which are slaughtered in the name of someone other than Allah are also impure and unclean and therefore people should abstain from them.

28. The Qur’ānic words used are: ‘غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلاَ عَادٍ’. The word ‘بَاغٍ’ is a nomen agentis (الاسم الفاعل) from the verb ‘بَغَى يَبْغِى’ and since it is copulated to the word ‘عَاد’, it means ‘to intend’ and ‘to desire’.

29. This is an exception for compelling circumstances in which a person is not able to find lawful food for himself. As per this exception, a person shall not be punished if he consumes prohibited edibles. This is evident from the words: ‘فَلا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ’. Obviously, the same directive should also hold for circumstances in which one is forced to eat prohibited food. In this regard, the correct attitude is that when such a situation arises one should use this lenience given to him and should not refuse it in one’s enthusiasm for perseverance. This is also evident from the practice of the Prophet (sws) reported in certain narratives regarding Tayammum (dry ablution), shortening of the prayer and wiping of socks in Wud*ū. However, in certain circumstances, the requirement of one’s beliefs may entail a different attitude. Imām Amīn Ah*san Is*lāh*ī writes:

However, there can be certain circumstances in which it is befitting for an honourable Muslim to give his life and not tolerate eating forbidden food. For example if at some places the rulers are very insolent and disobedient to God and as a result there remains no distinction between lawful and unlawful food and in these circumstances a person is forced to eat prohibited food items, then it is the requirement of his faith to adopt the path of perseverance and lay down his life in order to enliven the faith of others. This deed would not be regarded as a sin and, God willing, he would be rewarded the position of Shahādah for upholding his honour and for respecting the rights of the Sharī‘ah. At least, for the scholars of religion and reformers of the society it is better if they adopt this path in such circumstances. Who is unaware of the hardships suffered by the Companions (rta) of the Prophet (sws) in the early Makkan period merely because they had professed faith in one God. Many of them were martyred at the hands of the enemies of Tawhīd. Their life was always in danger but none of them professed disbelief to save their lives even though the Qur’ān explicitly allowed them to do so. (Is*lāh*ī, Amīn Ah*san, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 420)

30. If a person is able to gain all the wealth of this world by selling his faith, then even this is in fact meager wealth that he has gained.

31. The fact that the Almighty will not speak to them means that He will not speak to them with fondness and affection. For centuries, the Jews were honoured by God with conversing to Him through their prophets. This entailed that they should have treasured the word of God and should have spread it far and wide. However, the attitude they adopted entails that they should be deprived of the privilege to converse with God on the Day of Judgement.

32. This refers to the purity the Almighty out of His mercy will grant His servants in reward of their faith by forgiving their sins or by giving them only a little punishment.

33. The Qur’ānic words used are: ‘فَمَآ أَصْبَرَهُمْ عَلَى النَّار’. This is an expression of amazement similar to ‘مَا اَحْسَنَ’.

34. The implication is that this book has been revealed such that it contains very explicit and definite directives of the Sharī‘ah; hence there now remains no ambiguity between right and wrong.

35. The Qur’ānic words used are: ‘لَفِي شِقَاقٍ بَعِيدٍ’. The word ‘شِقَاق’ means ‘opposition’ and ‘animosity’. When it is qualified by the adjective ‘بَعِيد’ it means that a person has gone so far in his animosity that he is not only unaware of his own loss and benefit but also there remains no possibility of his returning and atoning for the wrong he has committed.

36. The Qur’ānic words used is: ‘الْبِرّ’. According to Imām Farāhī the real meaning of this word is ‘to fulfill the rights of someone’. These includes rights which are imposed on a person by his very existence like the rights of God, parent and his brethren and those also which arise because of agreements, promises and alliances. Because of these extensive meanings covered by the word all those virtues are included in it that come under justice and kindness. There is no word in the English language that fully represents this meaning. The word ‘loyalty’ to some extent expresses the real spirit of this word and we have thus translated it.

37. This is a slant on the Jews and Christians who had completely ignored the real teachings of the Torah and the Gospel but were ready to fight on the direction of the Qiblah that whether it was located in the East or in the West. It seemed as if all religion was based on this issue. In the words of the Prophet Jesus (sws): ‘You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel’, (Matthew 23:24).

38. As per the linguistic principles of Arabic, an ellipses of the governing noun (mud*āf) has occurred here. The implied construction is: ‘مَنْ آمَنَ [بِرُّ  ] وَلَـكِنَّ الْبِرَّ ’.

39. That is they fully submit themselves to God without the slightest possibility of imputing partners to Him.

40. The implication of this belief is that they should accept that after death they shall certainly be raised to life, that nothing except faith and righteous deeds shall be of any avail to them, that they shall be answerable to God for what they say and what they do and that without the permission of the Almighty no one shall dare speak even a single word in their favour.

41. The implication of this belief in the angels is that they are unerring beings having an immaculate nature and character, that they deliver God’s guidance to man, that in delivering it they are fully trustworthy and honest and that the Almighty implements His decisions through them. A little deliberation would show that belief in the angels is extremely necessary. The reason for this is that if mankind received God’s guidance through His prophets and messengers, then this guidance is generally delivered to the prophets and messengers through these angels. These are the sole creation of the Almighty who are able to keep equal contact with Him and with His creation. Because of being created of light they can come in contact with the Almighty and because of being His creation they can get in touch with human beings. Consequently, just as Noah (sws), Abraham (sws), Moses (sws), John (sws) and Jesus (sws) are messengers of God for us, the angels are messengers of God for these messengers. The Almighty has revealed His books and scriptures to the prophets and messengers through these angels. It is these angels who were used to implement the divine law of reward and punishment on this earth.

42. The implication is that what the Prophets present before the people as the Book of God is in fact the Book of guidance revealed to them. The Almighty has revealed it such that it distinguishes the right from the wrong and has been revealed so that people are able to adhere to justice in matters of religion.

43. This belief entails acceptance of the prophets as divinely appointed people who must be followed and obeyed.

44. The Qur’ānic words used are: ‘وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَى حُبِّهِّ’. Although these words can also mean ‘he spent his wealth out of God’s love’, we have given preference to those given in the translation. The reason for this preference are other parallel verses of the Qur’ān. In 3:92, and 59:9, it has been explicitly stated that the highest position a person can attain in being loyal to the Almighty is when he spends the wealth he cherishes most. Here also, it is being told what type of spending in the way of Allah earns a person this status. Hence, this becomes a basis for preferring the meaning that we have adopted.

45. The foremost head which is stated for spending in the way of God is the kinsfolk. It is thus evident that if one’s relatives and kinsfolk are in need then they are the most deserving of his help.

46. A mention of the orphans right after the kinsfolk shows that after one’s relatives one should spend for those who have been deprived of their fathers and whose responsibility now rests with the society – a responsibility imposed both by convention and by religion.

47. This refers to people who come over to someone for their needs. Their independent mention after a mention of the needy shows that it is not required for those who come to someone for their needs that it be ascertained whether they are deserving or not. What a person should do if he can is to help them; otherwise, he should politely refuse them.

48. This refers to the necks of the slaves and this is one of those directives which the Qur’ān gave to gradually eliminate slavery. In these times, if a person helps out someone who is under debt or is liable for some penalty or is inflicted with some similar hardship, then inshāallah this would be counted equivalent to liberating a slave.

49. After a mention of faith and spending in the way of God (Infāq), the prayer and the Zakāh are mentioned as their legal and practical manifestations respectively. In other words, the real essence of faith manifests in the prayer and that of Infāq in Zakāh. The prayer and Zakāh are the minimum requirements of faith and Infāq respectively. It is evident from the Qur’ān that their real right is fulfilled by remembering God at all times and by spending generously in His way.

50. This stipulation expresses the determination and resolve of these loyal individuals. What is implied is that once they make a commitment then come what may, they fulfil it even if this requires facing great loss or endangering their life.

51. The Qur’ānic words used are: ‘الْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ’ (those who fulfil their promise). A little deliberation would show that the style of the discourse has suddenly changed. Previously, faith, Infāq, the prayer and the Zakāh were mentioned in the form of verbs. ‘الْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ’ are copulated to these four too but they are in the form of nomen agentis (الاسم الفاعل). Further down, another change has occurred in ‘َالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاء’ (the stead fast in trial). In spite of being copulated to ‘الْمُوفُونَ’ it is ‘الصَّابِرِينَ’ instead of ‘الصَّابِرُونَ’, which is in the accusative. Imām Amīn Ah*san Is*lāh*ī, while explaining this change writes:

Students of Arabic know that verbs merely express an action but adjectives express permanent qualities and attributes; in fact, hidden in them is a spirit of vigour and resolve. Similarly, scholars of the language know that if, without any apparent reason, adjectives are expressed in the accusative then this means that the speaker wants to stress them. In technical parlance this accusative is called: ‘على سبيل المدح’ or ‘على سبيل الاختصاص’. For example the occurrence of ‘الصَّابِرِينَ’ just after ‘الْمُوفُونَ’, the implied meaning would be: ‘أنا أخص بالذكر الصَّابِرِينَ’ (I want to specially mention the steadfast). (Is*lāh*ī, Amīn Ah*san, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 427)

It is evident from this that the real thing in religion is the character and quality of an entity. This character embodies the real spirit of religion. It also constitutes the real sphere of test. It is this character which makes a person loyal and God-conscious in his individual life and it is this character which makes him a righteous and loyal person in his collective life. Hence it was necessary to mention it in an emphatic manner. Imām Amīn Ah*san Is*lāh*ī, while explaining another aspect of this writes:

Another question can arise. Only two questions pertaining to character are mentioned here: honouring commitments and promises and being steadfast. Why were not other qualities included in this list? The answer to this question is that these qualities are like a binding force for all other qualities. Included in honouring commitments are all rights and obligations whether big or small whether related to God or to fellow human beings and whether they result from a written contract or because of some relationship, affiliation and association and whether they are declared or are in good societies understood and implied. We are in some form of commitment with Allah, our Prophet (sws), our parents, our family, our relatives, our clan, our neighbours, our teachers and students. It is an essential requirement of loyalty to God and God-consciousness that we fulfil the rights entailed by these commitments. In short, the real essence of honouring commitments is fulfilling rights and fulfilling rights encompasses all our obligations whether big or small.

The quality of being steadfast appended to honouring commitments stipulates that a true believer should fight every impediment that comes in the way of fulfilling rights with steadfastness and resolve. In no way should he be overcome by greediness, lack of resolve and fear. (Is*lāh*ī, Amīn Ah*san, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 428)

52. It is in these three circumstances in which the determination and resolve of a person are tested. If a person remains steadfast in them, he would attain a high position in loyalty to God and in God-consciousness. This is precisely what the Qur’ān has said in the succeeding verses and in this manner has made it clear that those who want to fulfil the rights entailed by loyalty to God by merely offering some rituals and customs are neither God-conscious nor truthful in their commitment to His loyalty.

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