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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 36 (Verses 261 to 266)



Section/Ruku 36 [Verses 261 to 266]: Spending money in the cause of Truth:
Chapter 2: (Al-Baqarah - The Cow)
(Revealed at Madinah: 40 sections; 286 verses)

1. Translation:

261 The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah
a is as the parable of a grain growing seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies (further) for whom He pleases. And Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.b

262 Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah, then follow not up what they have spent with reproach or injury, their reward is with their Lord, and they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve.a

263 A kind word with forgiveness is better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Self-sufficient, Forbearing.

264 O you who believe, make not your charity worthless by reproach and injury, like him who spends his wealth to be seen of men and believes not in Allah and the Last Day.a So his parable is as the parable of a smooth rock with earth upon it, then heavy rain falls upon it, so it leaves it bare! They are not able to gain anything of that which they earn. And Allah guides not the disbelieving people.b

265 And the parable of those who spend their wealth to seek Allah’s pleasure and for the strengthening of their souls is as the parable of a garden on elevated ground, upon which heavy rain falls, so it brings forth its fruit twofold; but if heavy rain falls not on it, light rain (suffices). And Allah is Seer of what you do.a

266 Does one of you like to have a garden of palms and vines with streams flowing in it — he has therein all kinds of fruits — and old age has overtaken him and he has weak offspring; when (lo!) a whirlwind with fire in it smites it so it becomes blasted. Thus Allah makes the messages clear to you that you may reflect.a

 2. Commentary:

261a. The primary object of this and the following section in exhorting the faithful to spend money is the advancement of the cause of Islam, though other objects of charity are also included. The primary significance of the words fi sabil Allah (in the way of Allah) is the cause of the Faith or the cause of Truth. This is made clear in 9:60, where fi sabil Allah is a head of expenditure in addition to helping the needy, etc. [Back to verse 261]

261b. The comparison of money spent in the cause of Truth to a grain yielding increase is to show: firstly, that the progress of Islam depended on the sacrifices which the individual members of the community made; and secondly, that the expenditure of money must be accompanied with hard labour, as a seed cast on ground unaccompanied by any labour would not grow. It is noteworthy that while the Qur’an represents the increase to be seven-hundredfold, even multiples of it, Jesus, in a similar parable — the parable of the sower — promises thirty, sixty or a hundredfold increase (Matt.13:23; Mark 4:8). [Back to verse 261]

262a. Mann is originally the conferring of a benefit or a favour upon one (LL), and is so used in the Holy Qur’an frequently; it also has a secondary meaning, i.e., giving expression to the good done to anybody (Rz), or, reminding one of the favour done by way of reproach, and this is the meaning here. Adha signifies harm or annoyance, by speaking evilly of one or inflicting slight injury. Gifts, whether given in the cause of national or individual suffering, must not be accompanied by any interested motives; hence the donor is forbidden even to mention them afterwards. [Back to verse 262]

264a. The expression conveys a very strong disapproval of giving alms to be seen by men. It does not simply forbid the giving of alms “before men to be seen of them” (Matt. 6:1), but speaks of this as being the work of those “who believe not in Allah and the Last Day,” by which are meant the disbelievers, thus making it utterly hateful in the sight of true believers. [Back to verse 264]

264b. The concluding words of the parable show that the efforts of the disbelievers to deal a death-blow to Islam are meant here. They were spending their money to retard the advancement of Islam, but their efforts, they are told, would be fruitless; compare 8:36. The words they are not able to gain anything of that which they earn leave no doubt as to its purport. [Back to verse 264]

265a. This is the parable of the believers who will reap the fruits of the sacrifices they make. They are spoken of as spending to seek Allah’s pleasure, because all their efforts were for the upholding of truth, and for the strengthening of their souls, every act of self- sacrifice being due to their certainty of the ultimate triumph of the Truth, which in its turn gave them strength to make still greater sacrifices. The word tall means slight rain, or dew. [Back to verse 265]

266a. With great sacrifices during thirteen years at Makkah, the Muslims had built up a community to carry the message of the Truth to the world. But now when they had found a shelter at Madinah and were making good progress, they were being attacked by an enemy who aimed at destroying them altogether. The Muslims were, therefore, now called upon to make still greater sacrifices to save the garden of Islam from being blasted, and to put their whole strength, their lives as well as their wealth, into the cause. [Back to verse 266]



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Chapter 1: Al-Fatihah (The Opening)

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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 36 (Verses 261 to 266)

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