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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 14 (Verses 113 to 121)



Section/Ruku 14 [Verses 113 to 121]: Perfect Guidance is only in Islam:
Chapter 2: (Al-Baqarah - The Cow)
(Revealed at Madinah: 40 sections; 286 verses)

1. Translation:

113 And the Jews say, The Christians follow nothing (good), and the Christians say, The Jews follow nothing (good),
a while they recite the (same) Book. Even thus say those who have no knowledge, like what they say. So Allah will judge between them on the day of Resurrection in that wherein they differ.b

114 And who is more unjust than he who prevents (men) from the mosques of Allah, from His name being remembered therein, and strives to ruin them? (As for) these, it was not proper for them to enter them except in fear. For them is disgrace in this world, and theirs is a grievous chastisement in the Hereafter.a

115 And Allah’s is the East and the West, so whither you turn thither is Allah’s purpose. Surely Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.a

116 And they say: Allah has taken to Himself a son — glory be to Him! Rather, whatever is in the heavens and the earth is His. All are obedient to Him.a

117 Wonderful Originator a of the heavens and the earth! And when He decrees an affair, He says to it only, Be, and it is.b

118 And those who have no knowledge say: Why does not Allah speak to us or a sign come to us?a Even thus said those before them, the like of what they say. Their hearts are all alike. Indeed We have made the messages clear for a people who are sure.

119 Surely We have sent thee with the Truth as a bearer of good news and as a warner, and thou wilt not be called upon to answer for the companions of the flaming Fire.

120 And the Jews will not be pleased with thee, nor the Christians, unless thou follow their religion. Say: Surely Allah’s guidance — that is the (perfect) guidance.a And if thou follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to thee thou shalt have from Allah no friend, nor helper.

121 Those to whom We have given the Book follow it as it ought to be followed.a These believe in it. And whoever disbelieves in it, these it is that are the losers.a

 2. Commentary:

113a. In ‘ala shai-in the word ‘ala signifies conformity, as in the proverb al-nasu ‘ala dini muluki-him which means the people are in conformity to, i.e., are followers of, the religion of their kings (LL). The word shai’, which primarily means simply a thing, signifies in such cases a thing worth being regarded, or a thing of any account or value, or anything good, as in the proverb laisa bi-shai’-in (LL). [Back to verse 113]

113b. The Jews and the Christians are here blamed for denying all good in each other like ignorant men, notwithstanding that they were both followers of one Book, by which is here meant the Old Testament, which both accepted. As against this, the Quran accepts that there is partial truth in all religions. The declaration of this cosmopolitan principle by Islam as regards a substratum of truth underlying all religions is the more wonderful when it is borne in mind that Islam took its birth in a country which had no connection with the outside world, and the principle was proclaimed by a man who had not read the scriptures of any religion. [Back to verse 113]

114a. The idolatrous Quraish had turned the Muslims out of the Sacred Mosque at Makkah and the Jews and the Christians were now helping them to annihilate the small Muslim community in Madinah, which practically meant the laying waste of the Sacred Mosque itself. The word masajid (mosques) is used here because the Sacred Mosque was to be the centre of all the mosques of the world. This generalization further shows that the fate of all those who prevented Muslims from worshipping Allah in the mosques is predicted here, and the fate of the opponents of the Prophet bears ample testimony to the truth of this prediction. The Jewish residents of Madinah, who exerted themselves to their utmost to bring ruin to Islam, were either banished in disgrace or perished in their struggle to annihilate Islam. The idolaters or the Quraish, who prevented Muslims from repairing to the Sacred Mosque at Makkah, were also finally subjugated and had to bow their heads before the very men whom they had persecuted for no other fault than that they worshipped Allah. [Back to verse 114]

115a. The previous verse predicts disgrace for those who persecuted the Muslims; this one predicts the Muslim conquests by which the enemy was to be disgraced. The concluding words, Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing, also support this conclusion. The Muslims, who had been deprived of all they possessed and made utterly destitute, were promised ample gifts. The words whither you turn, thither is Allah’s purpose, point clearly to the Divine promise that all obstacles in the path of the Muslims will be removed and victory will follow their footsteps.

The word wajh occurring here denotes countenance or face, as well as course, purpose, or object which one is pursuing, or a direction in which one is going or looking (T, LL). According to R it signifies attention or course. [Back to verse 115]

116a. The Christian doctrine that God has a son is refuted here. Though mainly it is the Jews who are addressed in this chapter, Christianity also is spoken of occasionally, in contrast with the next chapter in which Christianity finds a detailed mention while there are occasional references to Judaism. The phrase subhana-hu is always used to declare the freedom of the Divine Being from all imperfections, and is always mentioned in connection with the doctrine of sonship to show that to attribute a son to the Divine Being is to attribute an imperfection to Him, which is met with in human beings. The doctrine of sonship is mentioned here as being opposed to the religion which requires entire submission to Divine commandments from every man and thus dispenses with the necessity of a conciliator. [Back to verse 116]

117a. The original word is Badi‘, which is applicable to the thing made as well as to the maker. A thing is badi‘ which is not after the similitude of any thing pre-existing, and badi‘ is also the person who makes or produces or brings into existence for the first time and not after the similitude of anything pre-existing (LL). [Back to verse 117]

117b. Kun fa-yakunu is the oft-recurring phrase in which Allah’s act of the creation and annihilation of things is spoken of in the Holy Quran. It is not meant by this that there is no gradual process in the creation of things; evolution in creation is in fact plainly spoken of in the very first words of the Quran, where God is spoken of as Rabb (Evolver) of words, the Fosterer of a thing in such a manner as to make it attain one condition after another until it reaches its goal of completion (R). It is, in fact, an answer to those who think that the creation of things by God is dependent on the previous existence of matter and soul and the adaptability of their attributes. The argument given here in the word badi‘ is that man, who stands in need of matter to make things, also stands in need of a pattern after which to make them, but God stands in need of neither. The verse seems particularly to refer here, however, to the revolution that was to be brought about by the Prophet. It seemed an impossibility to men, but Allah had decreed it. And, in fact, the revolution brought about in Arabia by the Prophet was so wonderful that the old heaven and earth of the peninsula may be said to have been changed into new ones. [Back to verse 117]

118a. The disbelievers refused to accept the truth of Islam unless either Allah spoke to them, so that they should have a proof that He sends His messages to men, or that a sign should come to them. The sign which they often demanded was the threatened punishment. As disgrace in this world is predicted for them (v. 114), their demand is that as an evidence of the Prophet’s truth that punishment should overtake them. The answer to both these demands is contained in v. 119, for as a bearer of good news the Prophet told them that if they purified themselves by walking in his footsteps, Allah would speak to them, and as a warner he informed them of the coming wrath if they persisted in their evil ways. [Back to verse 118]

120a. The Guidance of Allah or the religion of Islam is here called al-huda or the perfect guidance, as against the Jewish and Christian religions which are called ahwa’a-hum or their desires, because both the religions had lost their original purity. What the Prophet taught is here called al-‘ilm, or science, because it establishes all the principles of religion, both theoretical and practical, with clearness. [Back to verse 120]

121a. The Muslims are meant, while the Book is the Quran (AH). I‘Ab interprets the words yatluna-hu haqqa tilawati-hi as meaning follow it as it ought to be followed (IJ). For tala, meaning he followed it, or did according to it, see LL, which quotes several authorities. [Back to verse 121]



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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 14 (Verses 113 to 121)

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