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 22 (Verses 2:177–2:182): Retaliation and Bequests

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Translation:

لَیۡسَ الۡبِرَّ اَنۡ تُوَلُّوۡا وُجُوۡہَکُمۡ قِبَلَ الۡمَشۡرِقِ وَ الۡمَغۡرِبِ وَ لٰکِنَّ الۡبِرَّ مَنۡ اٰمَنَ بِاللّٰہِ وَ الۡیَوۡمِ الۡاٰخِرِ وَ الۡمَلٰٓئِکَۃِ وَ الۡکِتٰبِ وَ النَّبِیّٖنَ ۚ وَ اٰتَی الۡمَالَ عَلٰی حُبِّہٖ ذَوِی الۡقُرۡبٰی وَ الۡیَتٰمٰی وَ الۡمَسٰکِیۡنَ وَ ابۡنَ السَّبِیۡلِ ۙ وَ السَّآئِلِیۡنَ وَ فِی الرِّقَابِ ۚ وَ اَقَامَ الصَّلٰوۃَ وَ اٰتَی الزَّکٰوۃَ ۚ وَ الۡمُوۡفُوۡنَ بِعَہۡدِہِمۡ اِذَا عٰہَدُوۡا ۚ وَ الصّٰبِرِیۡنَ فِی الۡبَاۡسَآءِ وَ الضَّرَّآءِ وَ حِیۡنَ الۡبَاۡسِ ؕ اُولٰٓئِکَ الَّذِیۡنَ صَدَقُوۡا ؕ وَ اُولٰٓئِکَ ہُمُ الۡمُتَّقُوۡنَ ﴿۱۷۷﴾

2:177 It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West,1 but righteous is the one who believes in Allah, and the Last Day, and the angels2 and the Book and the prophets,3 and gives away wealth out of love for Him4 to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the traveller and to those who ask and to set slaves free5 and keeps up prayer and gives the due charity; and the performers of their promise when they make a promise,6 and the patient in distress and affliction and in the time of conflict. These are they who are truthful; and these are they who keep their duty.

یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا کُتِبَ عَلَیۡکُمُ الۡقِصَاصُ فِی الۡقَتۡلٰی ؕ اَلۡحُرُّ بِالۡحُرِّ وَ الۡعَبۡدُ بِالۡعَبۡدِ وَ الۡاُنۡثٰی بِالۡاُنۡثٰی ؕ فَمَنۡ عُفِیَ لَہٗ مِنۡ اَخِیۡہِ شَیۡءٌ فَاتِّبَاعٌۢ بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ وَ اَدَآءٌ اِلَیۡہِ بِاِحۡسَانٍ ؕ ذٰلِکَ تَخۡفِیۡفٌ مِّنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ وَ رَحۡمَۃٌ ؕ فَمَنِ اعۡتَدٰی بَعۡدَ ذٰلِکَ فَلَہٗ عَذَابٌ اَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۷۸﴾

2:178 O you who believe, retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the slain: the free for the free, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female.7 But if remission is made to one by his (aggrieved) brother, prosecution (for blood-money) should be according to usage, and payment to him in a good manner.8 This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. Whoever exceeds the limit after this, will have a painful punishment.

وَ لَکُمۡ فِی الۡقِصَاصِ حَیٰوۃٌ یّٰۤاُولِی الۡاَلۡبَابِ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَتَّقُوۡنَ ﴿۱۷۹﴾

2:179 And there is life for you in retaliation, you people of understanding, that you may guard yourselves.

کُتِبَ عَلَیۡکُمۡ اِذَا حَضَرَ اَحَدَکُمُ الۡمَوۡتُ اِنۡ تَرَکَ خَیۡرَۨا ۚۖ الۡوَصِیَّۃُ لِلۡوَالِدَیۡنِ وَ الۡاَقۡرَبِیۡنَ بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ ۚ حَقًّا عَلَی الۡمُتَّقِیۡنَ ﴿۱۸۰﴾ؕ

2:180 It is prescribed for you, when death approaches one of you, if he leaves behind wealth for parents and near relatives, to make a bequest in a kindly manner; it is incumbent upon the dutiful.9

فَمَنۡۢ بَدَّلَہٗ بَعۡدَ مَا سَمِعَہٗ فَاِنَّمَاۤ اِثۡمُہٗ عَلَی الَّذِیۡنَ یُبَدِّلُوۡنَہٗ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ سَمِیۡعٌ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۸۱﴾ؕ

2:181 Then whoever changes it after he has heard it, the sin of it is only upon those who change it. Surely Allah is Hearing, Knowing.

فَمَنۡ خَافَ مِنۡ مُّوۡصٍ جَنَفًا اَوۡ اِثۡمًا فَاَصۡلَحَ بَیۡنَہُمۡ فَلَاۤ اِثۡمَ عَلَیۡہِ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۸۲﴾٪

2:182 But if one fears a wrong or a sinful course on the part of the testator, and effects an agreement between the parties, there is no blame on him. Surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

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Commentary:

  1. A warning is given to the Muslims that they should not fall into the error into which the previous people fell, who sacrificed the spirit of religion for the outward ceremonial. The essence of religion is faith in God and benevo­lence towards people. The turning of the face to the East and the West refers to the outward act of facing a certain direction when saying prayers. This, though necessary, should not be taken as the real object of prayer, which is in fact meant to enable one to hold communion with the Divine Being and to imbue oneself with Divine morals as explained further on.
  2. A belief in angels is one of the basic principles of Islam. This belief is accepted generally in all monotheistic religions. As in the case of all other principles of faith, Islam has pointed out a certain significance underlying the belief in angels. There are two attractions placed in humans — the attraction to good or to rise up to higher spheres of virtue, and the attraction to evil or to stoop down to a kind of low, bestial life. If we respond to the attraction for good we are following the angel or the Holy Spirit, and if we respond to the attraction for evil we are following the devil. Our belief in angels carries, therefore, the sig­nificance that whenever we feel a tendency to do good we should at once obey that call. It does not simply mean that we should admit that there are angels. This is clear from the fact that not only are we not required to believe in devils, whose existence is as certain as that of the angels, but we are plainly told that we should disbelieve in the devils (2:256). As a disbelief in the devil means that we should repel the attraction for evil, so a belief in angels means that we should follow the inviter to good.
  3. The Book stands for Divine Revelation in general or the scriptures of all the prophets.
  4. The love of Allah is here, as in many other places in the Quran, stated to be the true incentive to all deeds of righteousness.
  5. The basis was thus laid down for the abolition of slavery.
  6. The performance of promise on the part of individuals as well as of nations is one of the first essentials of the welfare of humanity, and hence the stress laid upon it by the Quran. Faithlessness to treaties and pledges on the part of nations has wrought the greatest havoc on humanity. Just as no society can prosper until its individual members are true to their mutual agreements and promises to each other, so humanity at large can never have peace unless the nations are true to their agreements.
  7. The Jewish law of retaliation is greatly modified in Islam, being limited only to cases of murder, while among the Jews it extended to all cases of grievous hurt. The words retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the slain mean that the murderer should be put to death. The pre-Islamic Arabs used in certain cases to insist, when the person killed was of noble descent, upon the execution of others besides the murderer. The Quran abolished this custom.
  8. There may be circumstances which alleviate the guilt. In such cases the murderer may be made to pay a fine to the relatives of the murdered person. Such money is called diyat or blood-money. A comparison with 4:92 makes it clear that when homicide is not intentional, blood-money may be paid.
  9. Some commentators hold the opinion that the direction here, to make a bequest, is abrogated by 4:11 which fixes the shares of the heirs of the deceased person. However, that verse clearly recognizes the validity of any bequest that may have been made. In practice, however, traced to the Prophet himself, the right to make a will has been subject to the condition that not more than a third of the property shall be bequeathed, and that those who take as heirs shall not be entitled to take under the bequest. Hence, this verse really speaks of bequests made for charitable purposes and not of bequests to heirs.

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