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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 37 (Verses 267 to 273)



Section/Ruku 37 [Verses 267 to 273]: Spending in the cause of Truth:
Chapter 2: (Al-Baqarah - The Cow)
(Revealed at Madinah: 40 sections; 286 verses)

1. Translation:

267 O you who believe, spend of the good things that you earn and of that which We bring forth for you out of the earth, and aim not at the bad to spend thereof, while you would not take it yourselves unless you connive at it. And know that Allah is Self-sufficient, Praiseworthy.

268 The devil threatens you with poverty and enjoins you to be niggardly,a and Allah promises you forgiveness from Himself and abundance. And Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing:

269 He grants wisdom to whom He pleases. And whoever is granted wisdom, he indeed is given a great good. And none mind but men of understanding.

270 And whatever alms you give or (whatever) vow you vow, Allah surely knows it. And the wrongdoers shall have no helpers.

271 If you manifest charity, how excellent it is! And if you hide it and give it to the poor, it is good for you.a And it will do away with some of your evil deeds; and Allah is Aware of what you do.

272 Their guidance is not thy duty, but Allah guides whom He pleases. And whatever good thing you spend, it is to your good. And you spend not but to seek Allah’s pleasure. And whatever good thing you spend, it will be paid back to you in full, and you will not be wronged.a

273 (Charity) is for the poor who are confined in the way of Allah,a they cannot go about in the land;b the ignorant man thinks them to be rich on account of (their) abstaining (from begging). Thou canst recognise them by their mark — they beg not of men importunately.c And whatever good thing you spend, surely Allah is Knower of it.

 2. Commentary:

267a. The Muslims are here enjoined to support the cause of Truth by spending good things, things which they love, and not to even think of giving bad things, things which they themselves would not accept from others. Elsewhere it is said: “You cannot attain to righteousness unless you spend out of what you love” (3: 92). They are thus told that half-hearted support brings no good either to the cause or to the helper of the cause; what is required is that they should exert themselves to their utmost and support the cause whole-heartedly. [Back to verse 267]

268a. Fahsha’ here signifies niggardliness or tenaciousness, being equivalent to hukhl (LL). [Back to verse 268]

271a. The manifesting of charity or giving alms openly is a thing quite different from giving them “to be seen of men”, for which see v. 264. By the giving of charity openly is meant the giving of subscriptions for works of public utility or for national defence, or for the advancement of national or public welfare. The teaching of the Gospels (Matt. 6:1–4) lays all the stress upon private acts of charity, and makes no mention at all of subscriptions for works of public utility and for organised efforts for dealing with the poor, without which national growth is impossible. The rule laid down here takes into consideration the varying circumstances of human society and enjoins public as well as private acts of charity, mentioning public charity first, as that is of greatest importance. [Back to verse 271]

272a. The opening words of the verse call attention to the special difficulties of Muslim society, which was required to repel its enemies in the interests of its existence. It shows that the Muslims did not fight to bring the disbelievers into the fold of Islam; for that, the Prophet is told in plain words, was not his responsibility. It was for the good of their people, the defence of the Muslim community that the Muslims were required to raise subscriptions. Hence what they spent was for Allah’s pleasure, because it was in the cause of truth. In the concluding words they are assured that for these deeds of sacrifice they will be fully rewarded.

As regards private charity, reports mentioned under this verse show that Muslim charity was exercised not only for the welfare of their own co-religionists but also for that of the disbelievers and that Islam did not allow the difference of religion to be a hindrance to the bestowal of charity upon a deserving person. [Back to verse 272]

273a. The first qualification of those who deserve charity is that they are conned in the way of Allah. Among these are included: (1) Those who had to fight in defence of Islam, but had no means of livelihood; (2) those who could not go forth to trade because of the insecurity of the roads and the constant raids of the enemy; (3) those who were wounded in the fighting (Rz). [Back to verse 273]

273b. In translating darb-an -l-ard as “knocking about in the land ”, Palmer has made a mistake. The unhappy similarity which he discovered between the colloquial English phrase “knock about”, which means “to wander here and there in a rough, careless, and aimless way”, and one of the significances of the Arabic word darb, viz., beating, striking, or smiting, makes him draw the conclusion that the “language of the Qur’an is really rude and rugged”. He would have been nearer the mark if he had said beating the land. As a matter of fact, the phrase here used means he journeyed in the land, seeking sustenance and for the purpose of traffic (LL). [Back to verse 273]

273c. Here we have another qualification of those who deserve to be assisted by private acts of charity; these are the men who abstain from begging. This would show that the Holy Qur’an does not countenance the practice of begging from door to door. [Back to verse 273]



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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 37 (Verses 267 to 273)

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