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On Surah Al-Baqra


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Author Topic: On Surah Al-Baqra  (Read 217 times)
Zeynab
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« on: January 07, 2014, 05:12:02 pm »


 
BismEm

Commentary by M.M. Pickthall


Surah Al Baqra is the lengthiest Chapter of the Quran consisting of 286 Verses.


Al-Baqrah (The Cow) is so named from the story of the yellow heifer (verses 67 to 71).  As is in all other Surahs, the title is taken from some word or incident  which surprised the listeners.  All suggestions to the contrary notwithstanding, it seems probable that the whole of this Surah was revealed during the first 4 years after the Hijrah, and that by far the greater portion of it was revealed in the first 18 months of the Prophet's (pbuh) reign at Al-Medinah - that is to say, before the battle of Badr.

The Jewish tribes once paramount to Yasrib had not very long before the coming of Al-Islam, been reduced by the pagan Arab tribes of Aus and Khazraj, each Jewish tribe becoming an adherent of one or the other.  But they had preserved a sort of intellectual ascendancy owing to their possession of the Scripture and their fame of occult science, the pagan Arabs consulting their rabbis on occasions and paying heed to what they said.  Before the coming of Islam, these Jewish rabbis had often told their neighbors that a Prophet was about to come and had often threatened them that when he came, they (the Jews) would destroy the pagan Arabs as the tribes of Aad and Samood had been destroyed of old.  So plainly did they describe the coming Prophet that pilgrims from Yasrib recognized Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) when he addressed them in Mecca, as the same whom the Jewish doctors had described to them.  But the Jewish idea of a Prophet was one who would give them dominion, not one who would make them brethren of every Arab who chose to accept Al-Islam.  When they found that they could not make use of the newcomer, they opposed him and tried to bewilder him with questions from their theology, speaking to him as men who possessed superior wisdom; failing to perceive that from a Prophet's standpoint, theology is childish nonsense, the very opposite of religion and its enemy; religion for the Prophet being not a matter of conjecture and speech, but of fact and conduct.

Verses 1 to 141 were definitely revealed concerning these Jewish rabbis and such of the new converts to Al-Islam as were half-hearted and inclined to them.  There follows the order to change the Qibla (the place toward which the Muslims turn their face in prayer) from Jerusalem to the Kaa'bah at Mecca which was built by Abraham, the choice of Jerusalem having led to a misunderstanding on the part of the Jews that the Prophet was groping his way toward their religion and stood in need of their guidance and instruction.

All through the Surah runs the note of warning, which sounds indeed throughout the Quran, that it is not the mere profession of a creed, but belief in One God and righteous conduct, which is true religion.  There is the repeated announcement that the religion of Abraham to which Judaism and Christianity (which springs from Judasim) trace their origin, is the only true religion, and that religion consists in the surrender of man's will and purpose to the Will and Purpose of the Lord of Creation as manifested in His creation and revealed by way of guidance through successive Prophets.  Of sincerity in that religion the one test is conduct and the standard of that religion is for all alike.

At the time when this Surah was revealed at Al-Medinah, the Prophet's own tribe, the pagan Qureysh at Mecca, were preparing to attack the Muslims in their place of refuge.  Cruel persecution was the lot of Muslims who had stayed in Meccan territory who journeyed thither, and Muslims were being prevented from performing the pilgrimage.  The possible necessity of fighting had been foreseen in the terms of the oath taken at Al-Aqaba by the Muslims of Yasrib (Medinah) before the Flight, to defend the Prophet as they would their own wives and children, and the first commandment to fight was revealed to the Prophet before his flight from Mecca; but there was no actual fighting by the Muslims until the battle of Badr.  Many of them were reluctant, having before been subject to a rule of strict pacifism.  It was with difficulty that they could accept the idea of fighting even in self-defense, as can be seen from several verses in this Surah; which contains also rules for fasting and the pilgrimage, bequests, alms giving divorce and contracts, and verses which discountenance usury, strong drink and gambling.  It concludes with a statement of the universal character of Al-Islam, the religion of Allah's sovereignty, and a prayer for the forgiveness of shortcomings.

This Surah might be described as the Quran in little.  It contains mention of all the essential points of the Revelation which are elaborated elsewhere in other Surahs of the Quran.  This accounts for the precedence given to it in the arrangement of the Book.

The period of revelation is the years 1 and 2 A.H. for the most part, certain verses of legislation being considered as of later date.
 

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N. Truth Seeker
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2014, 09:34:45 am »

MashAllah, what a beautiful commentary.  It really draws such a clear picture of the purpose of Surah Al-Baqra.  I particularly like the expression where he says that this Surah is often known as the "Quran in little" because it mentions all points that concern our daily lives, all of which are taken in greater detail in other Surahs.  I have saved this piece in my file.  It's really worth keeping.  Al-Baqra being the longest Surah in the Quran, learning about it as much as possible opens up the mind so smoothly and clears the way for a still better understanding of all other Surahs. 

Alhumdulilah. 

Many thanks for the post sister.
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2014, 06:31:38 pm »

 salamem

Jazak Allah thanks a lot for sharing this very enlightening and comprehensive commentary of Divine Guidance  ,Alhamdulillah,  I request U sis ! whenever U have time please continue the sharing of  M.M. Pickthall surah commentaries. May Allah bless U and Ur family ameen. Smiley
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Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain. It is a promise which is binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur'an. Who fulfilleth His covenant better than Allah? Rejoice then in your bargain that ye have made, for that is the supreme triumph.9:111
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2014, 07:18:53 pm »

Marvelous read worth saving.  Yes, sis.  Do keep putting up Pickthall's commentaries.  Has he written them for all Surahs?
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