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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 34 (Verses 254 to 257)


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Section/Ruku 34 [Verses 254 to 257]: Compulsion in religion forbidden:
Chapter 2: (Al-Baqarah - The Cow)
(Revealed at Madinah: 40 sections; 286 verses)

1. Translation:

254 O you who believe, spend out of what We have given you
a before the day comes in which there is no bargaining, nor friendship, nor intercession. And the disbelievers — they are the wrongdoers.

255 Allah — there is no god but He, the Ever-living, the Self-subsisting by Whom all subsist. Slumber overtakes Him not, nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him but by His permission?a He knows what is before them and what is behind them. And they encompass nothing of His knowledge except what He pleases. His knowledgeb extends over the heavens and the earth, and the preservation of them both tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Great.c

256 There is no compulsion in religiona ? the right way is indeed clearly distinct from error. So whoever disbelieves in the devilb and believes in Allah, he indeed lays hold on the firmest handle which shall never break. And Allah is Hearing, Knowing.

257 Allah is the Friend of those who believe — He brings them out of darkness into light.a And those who disbelieve, their friends are the devils who take them out of light into darkness. They are the companions of the Fire; therein they abide.

 2. Commentary:

254a. The carrying on of the struggle for existence against the numerous enemies of Islam required in the first place the raising of funds and other acts of self-sacrifice; hence the repeated exhortations to spend. The subject is dealt with at length in the two sections that follow the next. [Back to verse 254]

255a. The twofold significance of intercession has been explained in 48b. The principle is here recognized that there may be intercession with Divine permission. It is true that Islam does not recognise the doctrine that man stands in need of any mediator to reconcile him with God, and therefore, mediation or intercession in the sense in which the Christian doctrine is held is unknown to Islam. But there is another aspect of it. The Prophet, to whom the Divine will is revealed, is the Model for his people. He is perfect and by pointing out a way enables others to attain to perfection. In this sense he is called a shafi‘ or an intercessor. Those who take the Prophet for their model may thus attain to perfection. But as all men are not equally gifted, nor have all equal occasion to attain to a state of perfection, though they exert themselves to their utmost, Divine mercy takes them by the hand and amends are made for such defects through the intercession of the Prophet. It is in this sense that Islam recognises the doctrine of intercession in the life after death. [Back to verse 255]

255b. Kursi means knowledge. Ibn Jubair said: “His Kursi is His Knowledge” (B. 65:ii, 44). It also means chair or throne, but the word is freely used in Arabic to indicate knowledge or learning, and a learned man is called ahl al-kursi. There is an Arabic proverb, khair al-nasi al-karasi, which means that the best of men are the men of learning. See further 7:54b, where the meaning of ‘arsh is explained. [Back to verse 255]

255c. This is a very well-known verse which goes under the name of ayat al-kursi, or the verse of knowledge, because it deals with the all-comprehensive knowledge of Allah. [Back to verse 255]

256a. To all the nonsense which is being talked about the Prophet offering Islam or the sword as alternatives to the pagan Arabs, this verse is a sufficient answer. Being assured of success, the Muslims are told that when they hold the power in their hand their guiding principle should be that there should be no compulsion in the matter of religion. The presumption that this passage was directed to the early converts and that it was abrogated later on is utterly baseless. [Back to verse 256]

256b. Taghut is derived from tagha, meaning he was inordinate or exorbitant, and is variously explained as meaning “the exorbitant in pride or corruptness or disbelief, of the people of the Scriptures, or any head or leader of error, or he who turns from the good, or the idols, or whatever is worshipped to the exclusion of God, or the devil” (LL). As the word devil is freely used for most of the significances of taghut given above, I have adopted it as the significance throughout this translation. But it is not a proper name, as it accepts the definite article al. It is used as a plural here, though it has a separate plural form tawaghit. [Back to verse 256]

257a. Faith is here spoken of as light and disbelief as darkness. The contrast is brought out to the best advantage in 24:35– 40. [Back to verse 257]

 

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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 34 (Verses 254 to 257)


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