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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 2 (Al-Baqarah - The Cow) > Section 12 (Verses 97 to 103)


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Section/Ruku 12 [Verses 97 to 103]: Their enmity to the Prophet:
Chapter 2: (Al-Baqarah - The Cow)
(Revealed at Madinah: 40 sections; 286 verses)

1. Translation:

97 Say: Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel
a — for surely he revealed it to thy heart by Allah’s command,b verifying that which is before it and a guidance and glad tidings for the believers.

98 Whoever is an enemy to Allah and His angels and His messengers and Gabriel and Michael, then surely Allah is an enemy to disbelievers.a

99 And We indeed have revealed to thee clear messages, and none disbelieve in them except the transgressors.

100 Is it that whenever they make a covenant, a party of them cast it aside? Nay, most of them have no faith.

101 And when there came to them a messenger from Allah verifying that which they have, a party of those who were given the Book threw the Book of Allah behind their backs as if they knew nothing.a

102 And they follow what the devilsa fabricatedb against the kingdom of Solomon.c And Solomon disbelieved not,d but the devils disbelieved, teaching men enchantment.e And it was not revealed to the two angels in Babel, Harut and Marut. Nor did they teach (it to) anyone, so that they should have said, We are only a trial, so disbelieve not. But they learn from these two (sources) that by which they make a distinction between a man and his wife. And they cannot hurt with it anyone except with Allah’s permission. And they learn that which harms them and profits them not.f And certainly they know that he who buys it has no share of good in the Hereafter. And surely evil is the price for which they have sold their souls, did they but know!

103 And if they had believed and kept their duty, reward from Allah would certainly have been better; did they but know!

 2. Commentary:

97a. Michael was regarded by the Jews as a friend, “the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people” (Dan 12:1). And they looked upon Gabriel as their enemy, because he was considered to be an avenging angel who brought down Divine punishment upon the guilty. But in the Bible, as in the Holy Quran, Gabriel is mentioned as delivering Divine messages to men, as in Dan. 8:16 and in Luke 1:19 and 26. According to Muqatal, the Jews considered Gabriel as their enemy because they thought that he was charged to convey the gift of prophecy to the Israelites, and he conveyed it to another people, i.e., Ishmaelites (Rz). Some commentators look upon both the words Jibril and Mikal as foreign words having no derivation in Arabic (AH), but others consider Jibril as a combination of jabr, meaning a servant, and il meaning Allah, and Mikal as made up of mik and il, the word mik having the same significance as jabr (IJ). [Back to verse 97]

97b. The word idhn signifies permission, leave or concession of liberty to do a thing; and sometimes command, likewise will; also knowledge (LL). [Back to verse 97]

98a. The enmity of man to Allah and Allah to man is thus explained: “In reality there can be no enmity between Allah and man; as to man’s enmity to Allah, it signifies opposition to His commandments, and as to Allah’s enmity to man, it signifies the recompense for his opposition” (AH). Note that Allah is here said to be an enemy to those disbelievers only who first make themselves enemies to the prophets of Allah, and hence also to the angels and the Divine Being Himself. The same law of the punishment of an evil being spoken of in the terms of that evil really finds an expression here, as is referred to in 15a. [Back to verse 98]

101a. The covenant referred to in the previous verse as being cast aside, and the throwing of the Book behind their backs, both refer to the Israelites paying no heed to the prophecy of Deut. 18:18, which was verified by the advent of the Holy Prophet. So clearly did that prophecy point to the Holy Prophet that it is again and again referred to in this chapter as the most powerful argument against the inimical attitude of the Jews. [Back to verse 101]

102a. According to an interpretation accepted by all commentators, by the devils here are meant human devils, or devils in the form of men (AH, Rz). [Back to verse 102]

102b. Yaqulu ‘alai-hi means such a one lies or says what is false against such a one; yatlu ‘alai-hi sometimes carries the same significance (T, LL). Rz says tala ‘alai-hi means he lied. This is the significance here. [Back to verse 102]

102c. By the mulk of Solomon is here meant his prophethood or kingdom (AH, Rz). The Jews attributed Solomon’s glory to certain devilish crafts, and this is the lie which they are spoken of here as having forged against Solomon (Rz). [Back to verse 102]

102d. In this respect the Holy Quran contradicts the Bible, which says that the wives of Solomon “turned away his heart after other gods” (1 Kings 11:4), and that “the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel” (1 Kings 11:9). It is now established that the statement of the Bible is wrong in this respect. The Rev. T.K. Cheyne has shown conclusively that Solomon was “not a polytheist”, and, having shown how mistakes crept into the Bible statement, he concludes: “That Solomon had a number of wives, both Israelite and non-Israelite, is probable enough, but he did not make altars for all of them, nor did he himself combine the worship of his wives’ gods with that of Yahwe” (En. Bib. col. 4689). [Back to verse 102]

102e. According to Jauhari everything of which the origin is subtle is sihr. The primary significance is the turning of a thing from its proper manner of being to another manner (T, LL). Thus sahara-hu bi-kalami-hi means he caused him to incline to him by his soft or elegant speech (Mgh). Hence it is applied to skilful eloquence, and hence also the saying of the Prophet: Inna mina-l-bayani la-sihr-an, i.e., verily there is a kind of eloquence that is enchantment (sihr). And also sahara-hu means he deceived or beguiled him (Q). And sahartu-l-fiddata signifies I gilded silver (LL). Sihr is also synonymous with fasad (T), thus signifying the act of corrupting, marring, spoiling, etc. It is also the producing of what is false in the form of truth, and embellishment by falsification and deceit. Hence the word sihr carries a very wide significance, and its use in Arabic is not equivalent to that of sorcery in the English language. [Back to verse 102]

102f. According to Sale, the Persian Magi “mention two rebellious angels of the same names, now hung up by the feet with their heads downwards, in the territory of Babel”. A similar story is met with in the Jewish traditions in Midrash. Stories about sinning angels were also believed in by the Christians; see Second Epistle of Peter, ii. 4, and Epistle of Jude, v. 6. Upon these stories seem to be based the lengthy fables of some commentators, but the more learned reject them. Not only does the Quran not contain a word of these stories, but it plainly discredits them by denying that sorcery was revealed to certain angels at Babel, or that angels taught sorcery to men, giving them at the same time the warning, as was the common belief: We are only a trial, so disbelieve not. This statement was added to the story to save the character of the angels as penitents. The Arabic lexicons give the two words Harut and Marut under the roots hart and mart, and explain harata as meaning he rent a thing and marata as meaning he broke a thing.

The statement made in the Quran amounts to this. The Jews, instead of following the word of God, followed certain evil crafts which they falsely attributed to Solomon and to two angels at Babel. Solomon is declared free of any such sinfulness attributed to him, and the story of the two angels is declared to be a fabrication. But the Jews are blamed for learning from these two sources, i.e., by their fabrications against Solomon and the story of the two angels, things by which they made a distinction between a man and his wife. The personal pronoun huma (meaning two) refers to these two fabrications. The clue to what this was is contained in the words they cannot hurt with it anyone except with Allah’s permission, showing that by this craft they intended to inflict some injury on the Prophet. Similar words are met with in chapter 58 where, after denouncing the secret counsels of the enemies of Islam, it is said in v. 10: “Secret counsels are only (the work) of the devil that he may cause to grieve those who believe, and he can hurt them naught except with Allah’s permission”. It is evident that the 58th chapter was revealed at Madinah, where secret counsels of the nature of Masonic societies were carried on against the Prophet by the Jews, and these secret counsels are stated to be the work of the devil, the expression being closely parallel to what is stated in the verse under discussion, where the Jews are spoken of as following the devil while ascribing their evil doctrines to prophets and angels. In 58:10 we also see that the object of these secret counsels was to cause hurt to the Prophet and to the Muslims, and the same is stated to be the object of the evil machinations of the Jews in the verse under discussion. These considerations point clearly to the fact that the secret counsels of the Jews mentioned in chapter 58 are referred to here. It is further clear that the words by which they make a distinction between a man and his wife refer to secret gatherings of the nature of Masonic societies, for it is in freemasonry and in no other religious society of the world that women are totally excluded. Instead of mentioning freemasonry itself, therefore, its distinctive characteristic is mentioned. And however untrustworthy may be the old histories of freemasonry, there is no doubt that the institution is an ancient one, “having subsisted from time immemorial” (En. Br.). The statement made in the “Book of Constitutions” that Cyrus constituted Jerubbabel grand master in Judah (En. Br.) may not be without a substratum of truth. [Back to verse 102]

 

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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 2 (Al-Baqarah - The Cow) > Section 12 (Verses 97 to 103)


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