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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 19 (Verses 153 to 163)


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Section/Ruku 19 [Verses 153 to 163]: Hard trials necessary to establish Truth:
Chapter 2: (Al-Baqarah - The Cow)
(Revealed at Madinah: 40 sections; 286 verses)

1. Translation:

153 O you who believe, seek assistance through patience and prayer; surely Allah is with the patient.
a

154 And speak not of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead. Nay, (they are) alive, but you perceive not.a

155 And We shall certainly try you with something of fear and hunger and loss of property and lives and fruits. And give good news to the patient,a

156 Who, when a misfortune befalls them, say: Surely we are Allah’s, and to Him we shall return.a

157 Those are they on whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord; and those are the followers of the right course.

158 The Safa and the Marwah are truly among the signs of Allah;a so whoever makes a pilgrimage to the House or pays a visit (to it), there is no blame on him if he goes round them.b And whoever does good spontaneously — surely Allah is Bountiful in rewarding, Knowing.

159 Those who conceal the clear proofs and the guidance that We revealed after We have made it clear in the Book for men, these it is whom Allah curses, and those who curse, curse them (too).a

160 Except those who repent and amend and make manifest (the truth), these it is to whom I turn (mercifully); and I am the Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful.

161 Those who disbelieve and die while they are disbelievers, these it is on whom is the curse of Allah and the angels and men, of all (of them):a

162 Abiding therein; their chastisement shall not be lightened nor shall they be given respite.

163 And your God is one God; there is no God but He! He is the Beneficent, the Merciful.a

 2. Commentary:

153a. The Sacred Mosque at Makkah was in the possession of the idolaters, but by making it the qiblah of the Muslims promise was given to them that it would soon be theirs, purified of idol-worship. But to attain this great object they must seek Divine assistance, which would be granted them if they faced hardships with perseverance and kept up praying to God. There is, however, a deeper reference in these words to the Muslims’ duty to proclaim the great spiritual Truth, with which they had been favoured, to the whole world. This was a work which could only be done with Divine help, and this they were required to seek through perseverance and prayer. [Back to verse 153]

154a. The sacrifice of life which must be undertaken in the cause of Truth is hinted at in this passage. The words fi sabil Allah, frequently occurring in the Holy Qur’an, rendered literally in the way of Allah or in the cause of Allah, signify the cause of Truth. That the cause of the Muslims is really the cause of truth, right and justice, and that they were compelled to fight to defend the Truth has been discussed in various places. Sale’s comment that the words fi sabil Allah always “meant war undertaken against unbelievers for the propagation of the Muhammadan faith” is baseless. Carrying the message of Islam to non-Muslims is indeed the duty of a Muslim, and anyone engaged in this work is undoubtedly working in the way of Allah, but that a Muslim was required to carry the message of God at the point of the sword is no more than a myth. [Back to verse 154]

155a. The Muslims had already made great sacrifices in the cause of Allah. They had left their homes, their near and dear ones and everything they had, behind them at Makkah, and had come to Madinah empty-handed, but they were now told that they would have to make more sacrifices yet. They would have to face fear and hunger and all kinds of losses, even death itself. If they bore all these sufferings with steadfastness, they would have a great future, of which the good news is given to them beforehand.

That those who sacrifice their lives in the cause of Truth never die is a truth which is generally recognized. As truth lives and falsehood must die, so those who make the triumph of Truth the object of their lives do not die, even though they are slain in the cause of Truth. Or those who have sacrificed their lives in the cause of Truth gain the life eternal, while the dead are really those who are dead in ignorance. [Back to verse 155]

156a. This is the true expression of a Muslim’s resignation under trials: We are Allah’s and to Him we shall return. He resigns himself to the will of God so thoroughly that no trial or misfortune can disturb the course of his life, which has a much higher goal before it than mere comfort. Come what may, the contentment of his mind is never lost. [Back to verse 156]

158a. The Safa and the Marwah are two mountains near Makkah. They were the scene of Hagar’s running to and fro in quest of water when left alone with Ishmael in the wilderness. These two mountains now serve as two monuments of the reward which patience brought, and it is as a memorial to Hagar’s patience that they are now gone round by the pilgrims. [Back to verse 158]

158b. On the Safa was an idol called Usaf, and on the Marwah one called Na’ilah, which the pilgrims touched in the days of ignorance, and hence the apprehensions of the Muslims in going round them (IJ). “The people of Madinah were averse to going round the Safå and the Marwah”, though no reason for their aversion is given (B. 65: ii, 21). The concluding portion of the verse again generalizes the subject. The suffering which a man has to endure in the doing of good is not left unrewarded, for Allah is Bountiful in rewarding. In these words the Muslims are in fact exhorted to prepare themselves for enduring sufferings to establish Truth, being at the same time told that they will be amply rewarded for their sacrifices. [Back to verse 158]

159a. As against those who willingly endure all kinds of sufferings in the cause of truth, the Qur’an now speaks of people who hide the truth, i.e., they neither act according to it, nor do they carry the message to others. Though speaking of the Jews, the words convey a warning to the Muslims.

For the meaning of la‘nat, or curse, see 88b. The reference in those who curse seems to be to Moses and the Israelite prophets: “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken

unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command thee this day, that all these curses shall come upon thee and overtake thee: cursed shalt thou be in the city and cursed shalt thou be in the field, cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out” (Deut. 28:15–19). After enumerating the curses of the Lord, His sending upon them “cursing, vexation, and rebuke”, His making the pestilence “cleave” to them, His smiting them with “a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting ... and the botch of Egypt ... and madness and blindness”, the curses of men are thus spoken of: “Thou shalt go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them”, “thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore”, “thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build a house, and thou shalt not dwell therein”, “thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people ... the fruit of thy land and all thy labours shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed always” (Deut. 28:20–68). [Back to verse 159]

161a. This verse continues the subject-matter of v. 159, the disbelievers spoken of here being those who hide the truth. The curse of God stands for their estrangement from God, the curse of the angels signifies their loss of all incentive to good and noble deeds, and the curse of men signifies their subjugation to other people. [Back to verse 161]

163a. The mention of Divine Unity in this, the concluding verse of the section, is to show that it was for this object that the trials and privations spoken of in this section were to be undergone. The ultimate triumph of Divine Unity is spoken of in the next section. [Back to verse 163]

 

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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 19 (Verses 153 to 163)


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