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Sura Al-Baqarah (Sura 2: Revelation Order 87)

  • This book is from God wherein there is no error and is the guidance for those who want to be righteous (2:1-2).

It is noteworthy that the meaning of ALM prefixed to the sura is explained in the earlier revelation being Order of Revelation 57 where the 2nd verse refers to the 1st verse to be the poofs of this book [31:1-3: ALM. These (letters) are proofs (Aayat, plural of Aaya means verse, sign, proof or miracle) of this book of wisdom. A guidance and a mercy for the righteous].

  • God has specified the requirements of the believers who want to be the winners in the Hereafter being certain about it (2:3-5) including the consequences of the disbelievers (2:6-7) and the hypocrites because of their evil behaviors (2:8-20).
  • God has commanded us to worship Him without having any partners to be our Creator who has made the earth habitable by sending down rain water for producing all kinds of fruits for sustenance (2:21-22).
  • God has let us know that Quran came from Him and there should not be any doubt about it with a challenge for the disbelievers to produce even a part of it.He knows that those who will accept this challenge would fail to do it but would not fail to ensure their severe retribution in the Hereafter, which confirms that it is not just a text in an Arabic language but there is something in it beyond that (2:23-24).
  • There is a good news in it for the believers who lead a righteous life. They will abide in the abode forever wherein there is an excellent arrangement of recreation, good provisions and pure companions (2:25).
  • God has cited a micro/macro pattern in it referring to a tiny mosquito to anything larger that as an example. The believers know from the example that it is the truth from their Lord while the disbelievers will fail to find any lesson from it. Thus, many will be guided while many will be misguided either but only the wicked will be misguided. However, those who believe in it but sever the community and commit evils will also be among the losers (2:26-27).
  • There is no way to disbelieve in God as He has given us many signs (examples) for His existence but death is very visual to all of us, which confirms our ultimate return to God as well as facing judgment being resurrected (2:28).
  • He has created everything on earth and everything in the seven universes to provide the environment to support life on earth being testing site wherein Satan would be placed as a representative to spread evil as integral part of test (2:29-30).
  • Adam was able to answer the question being asked while the angels did not being closer to God as God taught Adam the answer but the angels, which indicates that either angels or humans are not aware of anything unless they have been taught while God is aware of all secrets in the Heaven and earth (2:31-33)
  • When the angels were asked to prostrate Adam, they all did except Iblees who became Satan being arrogant and defiant of God’s command. Adam and Eve were allowed to live in the Paradise with a warning not to get closer to certain tree but the Satan duped them and caused their eviction from the Paradise to come down on earth for their temporary habitation (2:34-36).
  • Adam was sent down with Lord’s words for his redemption with a pledge from God to send guidance from Him. Those who follow His guidance will have no fear nor will they grieve but those who disbelieve and reject His revelation will be dwellers of Hell wherein they will live forever (2:37-39).

It is noteworthy that since the specific words given to Adam and Eve worked for them for their successful return to God, the similar specific words given to us (28 words in sura Al-Fatehah) as children of Adam and Eve should work for us either as the God’s system never changes.

  • The children of Israel are reminded the favors that God bestowed upon them to be reverent to Him and asked them: to believe in the Quran without trading away His revelations with cheap price, not to confound truth with falsehood or conceal the truth, to observe Salat and to give Zakat, not to exhort people to be righteous forgetting about themselves, to seek help through steadfastness and Salat being certain that they must meet their Lord (2:40-46).
  • The children of Israel are reminded the favors that God bestowed upon them being more blessed than any other people by Him: no intercession can be accepted or no ransom can be paid or no other help can be done, He saved them from oppression of Pharaoh drowning the people of Pharaoh, He pardoned their sins because of worshipping calf during the absence of Moses for forty nights when Moses came back and asked them to repent and kill their egos that caused them to fall into idol-worship, He gave them scripture, He fulfilled their demand when they wanted to see God physically, He sent down manna and quail as their provisions and He caused to gush out of twelve springs when they looked for water. Despite all favors, they disobeyed God and transgressed His commands rejecting His revelations and killing the prophets unjustly, and as consequences, they have incurred condemnation, humiliation, and disgrace bringing upon themselves wrath from God (2:47-61).
  • God has specified the primary requirements for the people what they need to do to be eligible for His reward: (1) to believe in God, (2) to believe in the Last Day and (3) to lead a righteous life; and those who meet such requirements have nothing to fear or to be grieved (2:62).
  • The evil behaviors of the children of Israel are addressed referring to Moses as well as ‘Mount Sinai’.They were supposed to uphold what was given to them to be saved but they turned away. If it were not God’s mercy, they would have been doomed. He cursed them to be apes those who desiccated the Sabbath. Thus they have been set as example for the next generations to help them to be righteous (2:63-66).
  • They were found argumentative when commanded to sacrifice a heifer although finally they sacrificed it after lengthy reluctance. (2:67-71).
  • They had killed a person and disputed among themselves but God brought the victim back to life to show them His sign to understand but their hearts became hardened, even harder than rock (2:72-74).
  • Some of them distorted and concealed the word of God while others were gentile but pretended to be knower of the scripture for their illicit gains. Some of them said that Hell would not touch them except for a limited number of days. God is aware of everything that they had done (2:75-80).
  • Thus God has confirmed that those who earn sins and become surrounded by their evil work will be the dwellers of Hell wherein they abide forever while those who believe, and lead a righteous life, they will be the dwellers of Paradise wherein they abide forever (2:81-82).
  • God’s commandments for the children of Israel to worship none except God, to honor their parents, to regard the relatives, the orphans and the poor, to treat people amicably, to observe Salat, to give the obligatory charity, not to shed blood, not to evict anyone from their homes what they agreed and bore witness but they turned away except a few. Consequently, the retribution is never commuted for them nor can they be helped (2:83-86).
  • The Gabriel has brought down the Quran containing clear revelations providing guidance and good news and none of us should disbelieve or reject it, and if anyone does that he is really wicked. We must believe in God, angels, messengers, Gabriel and Michael, otherwise we will be disbelievers (2:97-99).
  • It is a fact that many of us have made covenant and pledge to keep but some of us always disregard it and most of us do not believe (2:100).
  • A messenger came from God to them confirming what they have but they disregard God’s scripture behind their backs as if they never had scripture (2:101).
  • The knowledge of sorcery was sent down through two angels during the time of Solomon for a test but the devils taught it to the disbelievers to harm them rather to benefit them. Those who practice witchcraft will have no share in the Hereafter instead those who believe and lead a righteous life will have the far better reward from God. (2:102-103)
  • Some people of the previous scripture disbelieved and twisted their tongues to make sound to incur a painful retribution (2:104).
  • God possesses infinite grace. He showers His blessings upon whomever He chooses although the disbelievers among the followers of the previous scripture and the idol worshippers did not wish to see any blessings come down to the prophet due to their jealousy (2:105).
  • God is able to bring a better proof (sign/miracle) or at least an equal one when we are about to forget the previous ones as He is omnipotent and possesses the kingship of the heavens and the earth; that we have none besides God as our Lord and Master (2:106-107).
  • Many people may choose disbelief instead belief to go astray demanding what was demanded to Moses in the past while many followers of the previous scripture would like to see you revert to disbelief due to their jealousy. However, you should disregard them until judgment is issued by God (2:108-109).

It is noteworthy that it is human nature to try their best to revert the messengers to disbelief as they do not wish to see the blessings that came down with them from God due to jealousy.

  • We must send good on behalf of our souls to find it at God especially through observing Salat and giving Zakat to be qualified for the Paradise disregarding their wishful claim that you have to be Jews or Christians to enter Paradise is as God is seer of everything that we do (2:110-111).
  • Those who lead a righteous life upon submission to God will receive their recompense from their Lord, and they have nothing to fear nor will they grieve (2:112).
  • Both the Jews and Christians received scripture from God but these two groups are disputing one another not to have any basis because of lack of knowledge (2:113).

It is noteworthy that God has given us scripture but we do not study it carefully to be knowledgeable.

  • God has commanded us to worship Him in His masjid where His name is commemorated without disputing east and west as His presence is everywhere, and if any one boycotts His masjid will suffer in this as well as in Hereafter (2:114-115)
  • It is not befitting for God to have a son as everything in the heavens and in the earth belongs to Him and He just says, “Be” and it is (2:116-117).

It is noteworthy that God can create anything small or big with a least effort.

  • Those who possess no knowledge expect that God should speak to them or send miracle to make them believers and this is the utterance from the past (2:118).
  • God send messenger with the truth as a bearer of good news and warner but is not made him answerable who is going to Hell (2:119).

It is noteworthy that the sole function of any messenger of God is to deliver the message which is truth from Him.

  • God has addressed the people of previous scripture informing them that God’s guidance is the true guidance. They should know that this (Quran) is from God and should believe in it being the people of scripture otherwise they will be disbelievers. He has also reminded them the blessings He bestowed upon them with a dreadful warning that no soul would be able to help another soul, no ransom would be accepted or no intercession would be useful on that day (2:120-123).

It is noteworthy that despite clear indication and a dreadful warning given in the Quran, many Muslims believe that Muhammad will intercede on behalf of them on the Day of Judgment. That’s why God has mentioned that deaf, dumb and blind will fail to return (2:18).

  • We must truly believe in God, and what is revealed to us as well as what was revealed before us without making any distinction between messengers. Abraham had been tested with certain commands and was made him Imam of the people. When he was told to submit, He submitted. He founded the Ka’ba together with Ismail and implored God for acceptance of it which is a focal point for the people. He also implored God to make him Submitter as well as his descendants and to teach him the rites of religion. Thus, anyone who forsakes the religion of Abraham is a fool. Jacob did the same to his children to follow the religion of Abraham when he was on the death bed (2:124- 133).
  • The history of the past communities has been communicated to us confirming that we are only responsible for our own works and we do not have to be either the Jews or the Christians to be guided as they claim (2:134-135).
  • God sent many prophets and messengers to guide the humanity but He warned us Not to make any distinction among them, which confirms that all His chosen has equal status at Him (2:136, 2:285).
  • Anyone from the people of scripture or the idol worshippers believes as he should be believed is guided one. This is the God’s system which is better as we worship Him alone (2:137-138).
  • We must avoid argument with the people of the scripture about God as everyone is responsible for his own deeds as Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob and the Patriarchs were not Jewish or Christian. That was a community from the past. They were responsible what they earned and we are responsible what we earn (2:139-141).
  • Changing the Qibla was a test only to distinguish those among you who readily follow the messenger from those who would turn back on their heels and only the fool did not realize it (2:142-143).
  • Changing and restoring back of Qibla was a test for the believers as His commands must be done at all situations (2:144-150).
  • The purpose of sending messengers and scripture is to communicate teachings of God so that we can remember and be thankful to Him being appreciative through steadfastness and Contact Prayers (2:151-153).
  • There is no real death for the righteous that we understand in normal sense as their souls directly get back to the place where they came from through their birth. It also indicates that the destination of the unrighteous is different from that of the righteous place (2:154).
  • Those who worship God at all circumstances even during some fear, hunger, and loss of money and lives deserve blessings from their Lord, and they are guided (2:155-157).
  • Traversing the distance between Safa and Marwah is one of the rituals during Hajj (2:158).
  • Punishment is ensured for concealing from the revelations for those who do not repent and reform after committing such offence (2:159-162).
  • Our god is one god confirms our core belief that there is no god besides He, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful (2:163).
  • Although we believe in God on faith but He has given us many signs (proofs) in His creations to confirm His presence (2:164).
  • Idolizing is a human tragedy as the idolizers could not realize while they are idolizing their idols except on the Day of Judgment when their idols will disown them and their destination is Hell because of nullification of their all works. They will not be given any chance to exit it (2:165-167).

It is noteworthy that messengers, prophets and saints are idolized being common idols while believing in God and practices will nullify all works.

  • Satan is our most ardent enemy. He prohibits us to eat what is lawful and good for us, and commands us to commit evil and vice (168-169).
  • Maintaining the Status Quo is a human tragedy,which literally means “the state in which before” i.e., just to follow the parents blindly that makes us deaf, dumb and blind NOT to accept new and updated messages from God (2:170-171).
  • God has made lawful for us to eat all the good things being thankful to Him while He has made unlawful for us certain meats: animals that die of themselves, blood, the meat of pigs, and animals dedicated to other than God. There is no sin if we eat anything which is prohibited when we are in a situation that forces us to do so (2:172-173).
  • Those who conceal God’s revelations in the scripture choose the straying instead of guidance, and the retribution instead of forgiveness as God has revealed the scripture, bearing the truth. They will have to endure Hell (2:174-176).
  • Both belief and practice have been spelled out to achieve righteousness. We must believe in God, the Last Day, the angels, the scripture, and the prophets. Practicing of Salat, keeping of word and steadfastness are required along with giving Zakat and charity to relatives, the orphans, the needy, traveling alien, the beggars and for freeing slaves being perseverance during prosecution and war (2:177).
  • Although equivalence is decreed for the murder but if the murderer is pardoned by the victim’s kin, an appreciative response is in order, and an equitable compensation shall be paid (2:178-179).
  • Writing will is decreed for the believers leaving an opportunity on testators to give any portion of their properties to any heirs and relatives. Altering will is a sin but there is no sin if justice is restored taking corrective measure when a gross injustice is found in the will on behalf of a testator(2:180-182).
  • Fasting is decreed for us as it was decreed before us. One shall fast a specific number of days but if anyone is ill or traveling may substitute the equal number of day in other time. However, anyone who cannot fast may substitute feeding one poor person for each day of breaking the fast (2:183-184).
  • Fasting is decreed in the entire month of Ramadan in honor of the blessed night for the light He had sent us. Those who witness this month shall fast therein. (2:185)
  • God answers all of our prayers when we pray to Him (2:186).
  • We may eat and drink until the white thread of light becomes distinguishable from the dark thread of night at dawn. Then, we shall fast until sunset. As such drinking, eating and sexual intercourse are allowed in the night of fasting but sexual intercourse is prohibited if anyone has decided to retreat in the mosque (2:187).
  • We shall not take each other’s money illicitly, nor shall we bribe the officials to deprive others of some of their rights illicitly (2:188).
  • The phases of moon serve as timing device and provide the timing of Hajj. Righteousness cannot be achieved by means of illegitimate way rather it can be achieved by means of legitimate way to reverence God. You shall reverence God that you may become successful (2:189).
  • Fighting is permitted in the cause of God, i.e., to worship God freely as well as in eliminating oppression but fighting is not permitted in the Sacred months except against aggression (2:190-194).
  • God has encouraged us to become charitable for our own benefits (2:195).
  • Hajj is decreed for the rich in any of the four sacred months and rituals for the observance of Hajj are detailed out so that we can achieve and maintain righteousness avoiding sexual relation, misconduct and arguments (2:196-203).
  • God has taught us how to identify our opponents whose destination is Hell while there are those who dedicate their lives to serving God and He is compassionate towards such worshippers (2:204-207).
  • Those who believe should embrace total submission avoiding the steps of the Satan who is their ardent enemy (2:208)
  • Those who turn around upon getting clear proofs wait expecting until God Himself along with His angels will come down what will never happen and when it happens, all matters will be terminated as we all will be returned to Him (2:209-210).
  • The children of Israel were given a lot of miracles but those who disregarded those blessings deserve retribution of God (2:211).
  • This worldly life is adorned in the eyes of the disbelievers while the righteous will be far above them on the Day of Resurrection (2:212).
  • The purpose of sending prophets is to give the scripture bearing the truth to judge among the people in their disputes along with good news and warnings. Thus, the term “scripture” is consistently associated with the “prophets” throughout the Quran, and the messengers of God who delivered scripture are prophets (2:213).

It is noteworthy that the definition of prophet (Nabi) and messenger (Rasool) as given by the so called scholars or in the dictionary is contradictory as it does not conform to the definition given in the Quran. Thus, we have confirmation from the Quran that all prophets are messengers but all messengers not prophets, and God sent 20 prophets, Muhammad being the last (33:40) and unknown number of messengers to guide the humanity from time to time (4:164, 40:78).

  • The priority of the recipients of Zakat (obligatory charity) is specified: the parents, the relatives, the orphans, the poor, and the traveling alien that we must follow when we give Zakat (2:215).

It is noteworthy that we must give Zakat at the rate of 2.5% (70:24) and it is due on the day of income (6:141) when we have any income (3:134). It is also noted that in addition to the Arabic words, Zakat and Haqqun, the Arabic word, Unfiquun (anfaqa) meaning to spend also refers to Zakat based on the context.

  • There is a gross sin in intoxicants and gambling although there may have some benefits for the people from them. The charity is to be given from the excess (2:219).
  • Menstruation does not prevent women from performing Salat or any other religious duties being unclean except to have sex with them because of maintaining health and preventing disease (2:222-223).

It is noteworthy that tradition does not allow menstruating Muslim women to perform any religious activities putting them in jeopardy missing their chances to be redeemed. It is also mention-worthy that the excretion during menstruation does not nullify ablution (wudu in Arabic) as what nullifies ablution is associated with the excretion of the urinary and digestive tracts (4:43, 5:6).

  • God has commanded us to take His name to prove us righteous and pious as God judges us based on innermost intentions (2:224-225).
  • Laws of divorce, pre-marital interim and breaking of engagement are clarified. The breaking of marriage will happen amicably and the divorcees should not be thrown on the street (2:226-237).
  • We must observe Salat being totally devoted to God, especially the middle prayer and also we should observe Salat while riding or walking in unusual circumstances (2:238-239).
  • The alimony is to be provided for both widows and divorcees to support them (2:240-243)
  • Wisdom is a great blessing as God bestows wisdom upon whomever He chooses, and whoever attains wisdom, has attained a great bounty. Only those who possess intelligence will take heed (2:269).
  • God has encouraged us to give to charity that shall go to the poor who are suffering in the cause of God, and can be given day and night, secretly and publicly to receive recompense from Him (2:270-274).
  • Usury is condemned along with the consequences of usury while charities are encouraged. The lender will wait for better time if the debtor is unable to pay (2:275-276 & 2:278-281).
  • Our recompense is guaranteed from God through observing Salat and Zakat, and leading a righteous life while believing in God.(2:277).
  • God has commanded us to write down when we transact a loan for any period of time. Two men shall serve as witnesses; if not two men, then a man and two women whose testimony is acceptable to all, if traveling and no scribe is available a bond shall be posted to guarantee repayment (2:282 -283).
  • God’s sovereignty is confirmed stating that everything in the heavens and the earth belong to God, and He holds us responsible whether our innermost is declared or it is kept hidden. He forgives whomever He wills and He punishes whomever He wills (2:284).
  • Finally, the sura has ended informing us that God never burdens any soul beyond its means and giving us details to implore Him for our forgetfulness and mistakes using His words (2:286).

Conclusion

​God has divided His final guidance into 114 suras (chapters) to make it clear teaching for the believers covering a specific topic in each chapter. But the study indicates that sura Al-Baqarah is the summary of the whole Quran dealing with His sovereignty to a tiny mosquito representing a macro/micro pattern. As we know that the Quran is the useful tool for the believers and we can also divide the Quran into two parts based on the content that has covered in each sura where sura 1 belongs to part 1 being the God’s given specific words for our prayers for our redemption and the rest of the Quran, i.e., from sura 2 to sura 114 belongs to part 2 being our guidance to lead a righteous life as well as to perfect our religious practices through the best use of the Quran.

We may find justification of such division to reflect on why the 87th revelation has been placed in # 2 position, why sura 2: Al-Baqarah is prefixed with ALM, why sura 2: Al-Baqarah has been placed just after sura 1: Al-Fatehah and why the first 2 verses of sura 2: Al-Baqarah are:ALM. This scripture is infallible, a guidance for the righteous.

If we can sincerely apply our logic, wisdom, even common sense, the answers of all the questions mentioned above would justify such division to be very useful for us as every element of Quran is from God or the update as made on its way without slightest change in the message occurs according to His will. Moreover, Quran is one of the most wondrous creations of God and to access it as our guidance through ALM being the gateway also reflects its uniqueness.However, ALM is being a gateway has separated the God’s given specific words for our prayers from the words of our guidance.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.
Tafazzal (7/31/2015)