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 26 (Verses 2:211–2:216): Trials and Tribulations

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Translation:

سَلۡ بَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ کَمۡ اٰتَیۡنٰہُمۡ مِّنۡ اٰیَۃٍۭ بَیِّنَۃٍ ؕ وَ مَنۡ یُّبَدِّلۡ نِعۡمَۃَ اللّٰہِ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَتۡہُ فَاِنَّ اللّٰہَ شَدِیۡدُ الۡعِقَابِ ﴿۲۱۱﴾

2:211 Ask the Children of Israel how many a clear sign We gave them! And whoever changes the favour of Allah after it has come to him, then surely Allah is Severe in retribution.1

زُیِّنَ لِلَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوا الۡحَیٰوۃُ الدُّنۡیَا وَ یَسۡخَرُوۡنَ مِنَ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا ۘ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ اتَّقَوۡا فَوۡقَہُمۡ یَوۡمَ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ یَرۡزُقُ مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ بِغَیۡرِ حِسَابٍ ﴿۲۱۲﴾

2:212 The life of this world is made to seem attractive to those who disbelieve, and they mock those who believe. And those who keep their duty will be above them on the day of Resurrection. And Allah gives to whom He pleases without measure.

کَانَ النَّاسُ اُمَّۃً وَّاحِدَۃً ۟ فَبَعَثَ اللّٰہُ النَّبِیّٖنَ مُبَشِّرِیۡنَ وَ مُنۡذِرِیۡنَ ۪ وَ اَنۡزَلَ مَعَہُمُ الۡکِتٰبَ بِالۡحَقِّ لِیَحۡکُمَ بَیۡنَ النَّاسِ فِیۡمَا اخۡتَلَفُوۡا فِیۡہِ ؕ وَ مَا اخۡتَلَفَ فِیۡہِ اِلَّا الَّذِیۡنَ اُوۡتُوۡہُ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَتۡہُمُ الۡبَیِّنٰتُ بَغۡیًۢا بَیۡنَہُمۡ ۚ فَہَدَی اللّٰہُ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا لِمَا اخۡتَلَفُوۡا فِیۡہِ مِنَ الۡحَقِّ بِاِذۡنِہٖ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ یَہۡدِیۡ مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ اِلٰی صِرَاطٍ مُّسۡتَقِیۡمٍ ﴿۲۱۳﴾

2:213 Mankind is a single nation.2 So Allah raised prophets as bearers of good news and as warners, and He revealed with them the Book with truth, that it might judge between people in that in which they differed.3 And none but the very people who were given it differed about it after clear arguments had come to them, envying one another.4 So Allah has guided by His will those who believe to the truth about which they differed.5 And Allah guides whom He pleases to the right path.

اَمۡ حَسِبۡتُمۡ اَنۡ تَدۡخُلُوا الۡجَنَّۃَ وَ لَمَّا یَاۡتِکُمۡ مَّثَلُ الَّذِیۡنَ خَلَوۡا مِنۡ قَبۡلِکُمۡ ؕ مَسَّتۡہُمُ الۡبَاۡسَآءُ وَ الضَّرَّآءُ وَ زُلۡزِلُوۡا حَتّٰی یَقُوۡلَ الرَّسُوۡلُ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا مَعَہٗ مَتٰی نَصۡرُ اللّٰہِ ؕ اَلَاۤ اِنَّ نَصۡرَ اللّٰہِ قَرِیۡبٌ ﴿۲۱۴﴾

2:214 Or do you think that you will enter the Garden, while there has not yet come upon you the like of what befell those who have passed away before you. Distress and affliction befell them and they were shaken violently, so that the Messenger and those who believed with him said: When will the help of Allah come? Now surely the help of Allah is near!6

یَسۡـَٔلُوۡنَکَ مَا ذَا یُنۡفِقُوۡنَ ۬ؕ قُلۡ مَاۤ اَنۡفَقۡتُمۡ مِّنۡ خَیۡرٍ فَلِلۡوَالِدَیۡنِ وَ الۡاَقۡرَبِیۡنَ وَ الۡیَتٰمٰی وَ الۡمَسٰکِیۡنِ وَ ابۡنِ‌السَّبِیۡلِ ؕ وَ مَا تَفۡعَلُوۡا مِنۡ خَیۡرٍ فَاِنَّ اللّٰہَ بِہٖ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۲۱۵﴾

2:215 They ask you as to what they should spend. Say: Whatever wealth you spend, it is for the parents and the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the traveller. And whatever good you do, Allah surely is Knower of it.

کُتِبَ عَلَیۡکُمُ الۡقِتَالُ وَ ہُوَ کُرۡہٌ لَّکُمۡ ۚ وَ عَسٰۤی اَنۡ تَکۡرَہُوۡا شَیۡئًا وَّ ہُوَ خَیۡرٌ لَّکُمۡ ۚ وَ عَسٰۤی اَنۡ تُحِبُّوۡا شَیۡئًا وَّ ہُوَ شَرٌّ لَّکُمۡ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ یَعۡلَمُ وَ اَنۡتُمۡ لَا تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۲۱۶﴾٪

2:216 Fighting is ordained for you, though it is disliked by you; and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is harmful for you; and Allah knows while you do not know.7

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Commentary:

  1. The favour of Allah is the Quran and its change implies its rejection.
  2. The oneness of humanity is a truth on which the Quran lays the greatest stress. They are sometimes told that they have all been “created of a single being” (4:1); again that they are all descended from the same parents (49:13); still again that they are as it were dwellers in one home, having the same earth as a resting-place and the same heaven as a canopy (2:22). Hence also the conclusion that prophets were raised among all nations which is conveyed in the words that follow.
  3. As all people are a single nation (umma), God, too, has been revealing Himself to all. This Law of Divine Revelation has, we are told, found expression through prophets, to every one of whom a revealed Book was given to show them the right way.
  4. The universal law expressed here is that corruption followed gui­dance. As time passed on, the very people to whom the Book was given so that they might follow it, went against it. Thus, though a prophet had been raised in every nation, yet every nation had forsaken the right way. Differences again arose which necessitated the advent of another prophet. Hence it was necessary to raise a prophet who should show the right way to all nations, and this is what is stated in the words that follow.
  5. Allah’s guiding those who believe refers to the raising of the Prophet Muhammad, through whom Muslims were guided to the right path, to the truth, regarding which differences had arisen among all people. If a prophet was needed by every nation to settle its own differences, one was surely now needed to settle the differences of the various nations. Thus among the different national religions of the world, Islam occupies the position of an international religion.
  6. This verse inculcates faith and perseverance under the hardest trials and is an indication of the Prophet’s own unequalled endurance and faith. It refers not only to the great trials and hardships which Muslims had already suffered at Makkah and the privations which they had to undergo in their exile, but more particularly to the hardships which were yet in store for them, and which they could clearly see in the massing of all forces that could be used to annihilate them.
  7. Muslims were too weak to carry on the struggle against the mighty forces that were bent upon their destruction, and they disliked the war. A picture of distresses and afflictions to which the few converts to Islam were subjected is drawn in v. 214. They were few in numbers, poor, exiled, and distressed, yet it became inevitable that they should fight in self-defence or they would be des­troyed. It was their utter weakness and the enormous disparity of numbers that made them dislike the fighting.

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