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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 16 (Verses 130 to 141)



Section/Ruku 16 [Verses 130 to 141]: The Religion of Abraham:
Chapter 2: (Al-Baqarah - The Cow)
(Revealed at Madinah: 40 sections; 286 verses)

1. Translation:

130 And who forsakes the religion of Abraham but he who makes a fool of himself. And certainly We made him pure
a in this world and in the Hereafter he is surely among the righteous.

131 When his Lord said to him, Submit, he said: I submit myself to the Lord of the worlds.

132 And the same did Abraham enjoin on his sons, and (so did) Jacob: O my sons, surely Allah has chosen for you (this) religion, so die not unless you are submitting ones.a

133 Or were you witnesses when death visited Jacob, when he said to his sons: What will you serve after me? They said: We shall serve thy God and the God of thy fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac, one God only, and to Him do we submit.

134 Those are a people that have passed away; for them is what they earned and for you what you earn; and you will not be asked of what they did.

135 And they say: Be Jews or Christians, you will be on the right course. Say: Nay, (we follow) the religion of Abraham, the upright one, and he was not one of the polytheists.a

136 Say: We believe in Allah and (in) that which has been revealed to us, and (in) that which was revealed to Abraham, and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and (in) that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and (in) that which was given to the prophets from their Lord, we do not make any distinction between any of them and to Him do we submit.a

137 So if they believe as you believe, they are indeed on the right course; and if they turn back, then they are only in opposition. But Allah will suffice thee against them; and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.a

138 (We take) Allah’s colour, and who is better than Allah at colouring, and we are His worshippers.a

139 Say: Do you dispute with us about Allah, and He is our Lord and your Lord, and for us are our deeds and for you your deeds; and we are sincere to Him?a

140 Or do you say that Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes were Jews or Christians?a Say: Do you know better or Allah? And who is more unjust than he who conceals a testimony that he has from Allah? And Allah is not heedless of what you do.

141 Those are a people that have passed away; and for them is what they earned and for you what you earn; and you will not be asked of what they did.

2. Commentary:

130a. Istafaina-hu means We made him pure from all dross (AH); also We chose him (LL). The root is safw meaning purity. Musafa, the Purified One or the Chosen One, is one of the titles of our Prophet. [Back to verse 130]

132a. Jacob, elsewhere called Israel, was the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. Compare Gen. 18:19: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgement.”

For further references to Jacob, see 2:133, 136, 140; 3:84, 92; 4:163; 6:84; 12th chapter; 21:72, 73; and 38:45–47. [Back to verse 134]

135a. Hanif is from the root hanf, meaning inclining or declining (LL). Hence Hanif is one inclining to a right state or tendency (R, LL). The word is often mentioned in connection with the name of Abraham and the Holy Prophet, and his followers are also enjoined to be hanif. It seems to signify firmness in sticking to the right state, and has, no doubt, reference to the inclining to error on the part of both the Jews and the Christians. As opposed to both these professed followers of Abraham, the Muslims are enjoined to remain firm in the right state, and thus to be the true representatives of the Abrahamic faith in the world. It is for this reason that the word hanif is used here in opposition to the attitude of both the Jews and the Christians. [Back to verse 135]

136a. This shows the cosmopolitan nature of a Muslim’s belief. Not only is belief in the great prophets of Israel an article of faith with a Muslim, but the words that which was given to the prophets from their Lord make the Muslim conception of belief in prophets as wide as the world. And it should be noted that this broad conception was promulgated at a time when the Jews and the Christians were exerting themselves to the utmost against the new faith. [Back to verse 136]

137a. Islam recognised the prophets of the Jews and the Christians and the prophets of all other nations. How could a follower of any religion reject Islam? Yet the Jews not only did not accept Islam, but actively opposed it, so much so that they were making plans to take the Prophet’s life and annihilate a religion which was based on such broad principles. The words Allah will suffice thee against them mean that Allah will guard thee against their evil plans to annihilate thee (AH). [Back to verse 137]

138a. Sabgh means dyeing or colouring, and also dipping or immersing in water; hence sibghah indicates baptism, which the Christians effect by immersing in water. Sibghah also means religion (T), because religion brings about a change in mentality and gives its own colour to a man’s views. The religion of Islam is called Allah’s colour because God is uppermost in a Muslim’s ideas, and because his views are as broad as humanity. This particular word sibghah has also been adopted here as a hint to the Christians that the baptism of water does not effect any change in a man. It is the baptism of the broad principle of faith, accepting the prophets of all nations, that brings about change in the mentality of man. It is through this baptism that the new birth is received, because it opens the mind for the reception of all truth, and inspires it with love and reverence for all good men. [Back to verse 138]

139a. A Muslim’s conception of Allah is very broad. It includes all that is best in all other religions, but is free from the limitations they put. Therefore no one who is true to his religion can dispute the Muslim conception of the Divine Being. Moreover, every religion of the world limits the spiritual sustenance of God to one nation or one country. A Jew thinks that God revealed truth only to the Israelites; a Christian thinks that the truth was revealed only to Jesus; a Hindu thinks that God revealed the truth only to the sages of India; a Zoroastrian thinks that the truth was revealed to none but Zoroaster. Not so Islam, which says that the truth was revealed to every nation. Every nation thus accepts partial truth, only that part of the truth which was revealed to it, but Islam accepts the whole truth. [Back to verse 139]

140a. The interrogation here is simply to reprove the Jews and the Christians, for the Jewish claim was that only acceptance of the Jewish law could save man, and the Christians claimed that none could be saved unless he accepted the atonement of Jesus. They are told that their ancestors who were prophets were the followers of neither the one nor the other. Islam was, in fact, a reversion to the simple faith of sincerity, the faith of Abraham and his immediate followers and descendants. [Back to verse 140]



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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 16 (Verses 130 to 141)

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