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)

Section 21 (Verses 2:168–2:176): Prohibited Foods



یٰۤاَیُّہَا النَّاسُ کُلُوۡا مِمَّا فِی الۡاَرۡضِ حَلٰلًا طَیِّبًا ۫ۖ وَّ لَا تَتَّبِعُوۡا خُطُوٰتِ الشَّیۡطٰنِ ؕ اِنَّہٗ لَکُمۡ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِیۡنٌ ﴿۱۶۸﴾

2:168 O people, eat the lawful and good things from what is in the earth, and do not follow the footsteps of the devil. Surely he is an open enemy to you.1

اِنَّمَا یَاۡمُرُکُمۡ بِالسُّوۡٓءِ وَ الۡفَحۡشَآءِ وَ اَنۡ تَقُوۡلُوۡا عَلَی اللّٰہِ مَا لَا تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۶۹﴾

2:169 He commands you only (to commit) evil and indecency, and that you speak against Allah what you do not know.

وَ اِذَا قِیۡلَ لَہُمُ اتَّبِعُوۡا مَاۤ اَنۡزَلَ اللّٰہُ قَالُوۡا بَلۡ نَتَّبِعُ مَاۤ اَلۡفَیۡنَا عَلَیۡہِ اٰبَآءَنَا ؕ اَوَ لَوۡ کَانَ اٰبَآؤُہُمۡ لَا یَعۡقِلُوۡنَ شَیۡئًا وَّ لَا یَہۡتَدُوۡنَ ﴿۱۷۰﴾

2:170 And when it is said to them, Follow what Allah has revealed, they say: But we follow that (path) upon which we found our fathers. What! Even though their fathers had no sense at all, nor did they follow the right way.

وَ مَثَلُ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا کَمَثَلِ الَّذِیۡ یَنۡعِقُ بِمَا لَا یَسۡمَعُ اِلَّا دُعَآءً وَّ نِدَآءً ؕ صُمٌّۢ بُکۡمٌ عُمۡیٌ فَہُمۡ لَا یَعۡقِلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۷۱﴾

2:171 And the parable of those who disbelieve is as the parable of one who calls out to that which hears no more than a call and a cry. Deaf, dumb, blind, so they have no sense.2

یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا کُلُوۡا مِنۡ طَیِّبٰتِ مَا رَزَقۡنٰکُمۡ وَ اشۡکُرُوۡا لِلّٰہِ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ اِیَّاہُ تَعۡبُدُوۡنَ ﴿۱۷۲﴾

2:172 O you who believe, eat of the good things that We have provided you with, and give thanks to Allah if He it is Whom you serve.3

اِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ عَلَیۡکُمُ الۡمَیۡتَۃَ وَ الدَّمَ وَ لَحۡمَ الۡخِنۡزِیۡرِ وَ مَاۤ اُہِلَّ بِہٖ لِغَیۡرِ اللّٰہِ ۚ فَمَنِ اضۡطُرَّ غَیۡرَ بَاغٍ وَّ لَا عَادٍ فَلَاۤ اِثۡمَ عَلَیۡہِ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۷۳﴾

2:173 He has forbidden you only what dies of itself, and blood, and the flesh of swine,4 and that on which any other name than that of Allah has been invoked.5 Then whoever is driven by necessity, not desiring, nor exceeding the limit, no sin is upon him. Surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ یَکۡتُمُوۡنَ مَاۤ اَنۡزَلَ اللّٰہُ مِنَ الۡکِتٰبِ وَ یَشۡتَرُوۡنَ بِہٖ ثَمَنًا قَلِیۡلًا ۙ اُولٰٓئِکَ مَا یَاۡکُلُوۡنَ فِیۡ بُطُوۡنِہِمۡ اِلَّا النَّارَ وَ لَا یُکَلِّمُہُمُ اللّٰہُ یَوۡمَ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ وَ لَا یُزَکِّیۡہِمۡ ۚۖ وَ لَہُمۡ عَذَابٌ اَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۷۴﴾

2:174 Those who conceal anything of the Book that Allah has revealed and take for it a small price, they eat nothing but fire into their bellies,6 and Allah will not speak to them on the day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them; and for them is a painful punishment.

اُولٰٓئِکَ الَّذِیۡنَ اشۡتَرَوُا الضَّلٰلَۃَ بِالۡہُدٰی وَ الۡعَذَابَ بِالۡمَغۡفِرَۃِ ۚ فَمَاۤ اَصۡبَرَہُمۡ عَلَی النَّارِ ﴿۱۷۵﴾

2:175 Those are they who buy error for guidance and punishment for forgiveness; how bold they are to challenge the Fire!

ذٰلِکَ بِاَنَّ اللّٰہَ نَزَّلَ الۡکِتٰبَ بِالۡحَقِّ ؕ وَ اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ اخۡتَلَفُوۡا فِی الۡکِتٰبِ لَفِیۡ شِقَاقٍۭ بَعِیۡدٍ ﴿۱۷۶﴾٪

2:176 That is because Allah has revealed the Book with truth. And surely those who disagree about the Book go far in opposition.7



  1. The fundamental principle of faith, Divine Unity, having been discussed, certain secondary rules and regulations are now consi­dered, and among these the subject of prohibited foods is introduced first with a twofold object. Firstly, only lawful and good things should be eaten. Lawful things are not only those which the law has not declared to be forbidden, but even unforbidden things become unlawful if they are acquired unlawfully, by theft, cheating, etc. Second­ly, by adding the injunction do not follow the footsteps of the devil, the Quran recognizes some sort of relation between the physical and the spiritual conditions of man.
  2. The Prophet is likened to the crier who calls out, but the disbelievers are deaf to reason, and are like cattle which only hear the cry of the driver, but do not understand the meaning of what he says. This is in accordance with what is said in the previous verse.
  3. The injunction to eat of the good things is directed against the use of things which are injurious to health, though they may not be forbidden by law.
  4. The Jews held the swine in great detestation, and the mention of the animal in the Gospels shows that Jesus Christ held it in equal abhorrence, which proves that he too regarded the animal as impure. Neither does he appear to have broken the Jewish law in this respect.
  5. The words that over which any other name than that of Allah has been invoked are said by commentators to refer to animals slaughtered by the worshippers of idols, which they used to slaughter as offerings to their idols or to those over which the name of an idol is invoked at the time of its slaughter. But the statement made in the Quran is general, and the invocation of any name other than that of Allah makes the animal slaughtered unlawful.
  6. The prohibition to eat certain impure or injurious foods is followed by a warning against the eating of fire. Caution is always given lest too much stress should be laid upon the outward ceremonial of the law. Even more dan­gerous than the prohibited foods is the eating of fire, which means the concealing of what is revealed in the Book. The concealment in this case means not acting upon the teaching of the Book. The Muslims are warned of the danger of being strict in external acts of purity while neglecting internal purity.
  7. By those who disagree about the Book are meant people who accept one part of the Divine Revelation and reject the other, as the Jews and the Chris­tians did, the Book in this case standing for the whole of the Divine Revela­tion which is accepted by the Muslims only. Or, the Book stands for the Quran, and their disagreement means their rejection of it.