English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 2: Al-Baqarah — The Cow (Revealed at Madinah: 40 sections, 286 verses)



The name of this chapter is taken from the story in verses 67–71 regarding the slaughter of a cow, cow-worship having taken a hold among the Jews. This chapter deals mainly with the Israelites and their contentions against Islam, and hence much of the legisla­tion, details of which necessarily differ from the Jewish law, is dealt with in this chapter. The last chapter contains a prayer for being guided on the right path (1:5), and here that guidance is afforded in the opening words:

“This book, in which there is no doubt, is a guide” (v. 2).

The chapter deals with: the fundamental principles of Islam, need for Divine revelation, history of the Israelite nation, the replacement of former scrip­tures by the Quran, the covenant with Abraham, Islamic teachings on various important matters (including fasting, pilgrimage, wars, marriage and divorce), the power of Allah to give life to dead nations, and the need to sacrifice wealth in the cause of Truth. It ends with a prayer for the ultimate triumph of truth. This chapter was revealed at Madinah, mostly in the years 1 and 2 A.H.


List of Sections (Rukus):

  1. Fundamental Principles of Islam (Verses 2:1–2:7)
  2. Lip-profession (Verses 2:8–2:20)
  3. Divine Unity (Verses 2:21–2:29)
  4. Greatness of Man and Need for Revelation (Verses 2:30–2:39)
  5. Israelite Prophecies Fulfilled in Quran (Verses 2:40–2:46)
  6. Divine Favours on Israel (Verses 2:47–2:59)
  7. Divine Favours on Israel (Verses 2:60–2:61)
  8. Israelites’ Degeneration (Verses 2:62–2:71)
  9. They Grow in Hard-heartedness (Verses 2:72–2:82)
  10. Their Covenant and its Violation (Verses 2:83–2:86)
  11. They Reject the Prophet (Verses 2:87–2:96)
  12. Their Enmity to the Prophet (Verses 2:97–2:103)
  13. Previous Scriptures are Abrogated (Verses 2:104–2:112)
  14. Perfect Guidance is only in Islam (Verses 2:113–2:121)
  15. Covenant with Abraham (Verses 2:122–2:129)
  16. The Religion of Abraham (Verses 2:130–2:141)
  17. The Kabah as the Spiritual Centre (Verses 2:142–2:147)
  18. The Kabah as the Spiritual Centre (Verses 2:148–2:152)
  19. Hard Trials Necessary to Establish Truth (Verses 2:153–2:163)
  20. Unity must Prevail (Verses 2:164–2:167)
  21. Prohibited Foods (Verses 2:168–2:176)
  22. Retaliation and Bequests (Verses 2:177–2:182)
  23. Fasting (Verses 2:183–2:188)
  24. Fighting in Defence (Verses 2:189–2:196)
  25. The Pilgrimage (Verses 2:197–2:210)
  26. Trials and Tribulations (Verses 2:211–2:216)
  27. Miscellaneous Questions (Verses 2:217–2:221)
  28. Divorce (Verses 2:222–2:228)
  29. Divorce (Verses 2:229–2:231)
  30. Remarriage of Divorced Women and Widows (Verses 2:232–2:235)
  31. Provision for Divorced Women and Widows (Verses 2:236–2:242)
  32. Fighting in the Cause of Truth (Verses 2:243–2:248)
  33. Fighting in the Cause of Truth (Verses 2:249–2:253)
  34. Compulsion in Religion Forbidden (Verses 2:254–2:257)
  35. How Dead Nations are Raised to Life (Verses 2:258–2:260)
  36. Spending Money in the Cause of Truth (Verses 2:261–2:266)
  37. Spending in the Cause of Truth (Verses 2:267–2:273)
  38. Usury Prohibited (Verses 2:274–2:281)
  39. Contracts and Evidence (Verses 2:282–2:283)
  40. Muslims shall be made Victorious (Verses 2:284–2:286)