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 27 (Verses 2:217–2:221): Miscellaneous Questions



یَسۡـَٔلُوۡنَکَ عَنِ الشَّہۡرِ الۡحَرَامِ قِتَالٍ فِیۡہِ ؕ قُلۡ قِتَالٌ فِیۡہِ کَبِیۡرٌ ؕ وَ صَدٌّ عَنۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ وَ کُفۡرٌۢ بِہٖ وَ الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡحَرَامِ ٭ وَ اِخۡرَاجُ اَہۡلِہٖ مِنۡہُ اَکۡبَرُ عِنۡدَ اللّٰہِ ۚ وَ الۡفِتۡنَۃُ اَکۡبَرُ مِنَ الۡقَتۡلِ ؕ وَ لَا یَزَالُوۡنَ یُقَاتِلُوۡنَکُمۡ حَتّٰی یَرُدُّوۡکُمۡ عَنۡ دِیۡنِکُمۡ اِنِ اسۡتَطَاعُوۡا ؕ وَ مَنۡ یَّرۡتَدِدۡ مِنۡکُمۡ عَنۡ دِیۡنِہٖ فَیَمُتۡ وَ ہُوَ کَافِرٌ فَاُولٰٓئِکَ حَبِطَتۡ اَعۡمَالُہُمۡ فِی الدُّنۡیَا وَ الۡاٰخِرَۃِ ۚ وَ اُولٰٓئِکَ اَصۡحٰبُ النَّارِ ۚ ہُمۡ فِیۡہَا خٰلِدُوۡنَ ﴿۲۱۷﴾

2:217 They ask you about fighting in the sacred month. Say: Fighting in it is a grave (offence). And hindering (people) from Allah’s way and denying Him and the Sacred Mosque and turning its people out of it, are still graver with Allah; and persecution is graver than slaughter. And they will not cease fighting you until they turn you back from your religion, if they can.1 And whoever of you turns back from his religion, then he dies while an unbeliever — these it is whose deeds are fruitless in this world and the Hereafter.2 And they are the companions of the Fire: in it they will abide.

اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَ الَّذِیۡنَ ہَاجَرُوۡا وَ جٰہَدُوۡا فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ ۙ اُولٰٓئِکَ یَرۡجُوۡنَ رَحۡمَتَ اللّٰہِ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۲۱۸﴾

2:218 Those who believed and those who fled (their homes) and strove hard in Allah’s way — these surely hope for the mercy of Allah. And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

یَسۡـَٔلُوۡنَکَ عَنِ الۡخَمۡرِ وَ الۡمَیۡسِرِؕ قُلۡ فِیۡہِمَاۤ اِثۡمٌ کَبِیۡرٌ وَّ مَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ ۫ وَ اِثۡمُہُمَاۤ اَکۡبَرُ مِنۡ نَّفۡعِہِمَا ؕ وَ یَسۡـَٔلُوۡنَکَ مَا ذَا یُنۡفِقُوۡنَ ۬ؕ قُلِ الۡعَفۡوَؕ کَذٰلِکَ یُبَیِّنُ اللّٰہُ لَکُمُ الۡاٰیٰتِ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَتَفَکَّرُوۡنَ ﴿۲۱۹﴾ۙ

2:219 They ask you about intoxicants3 and games of chance. Say: In both of them is a great sin and (some) advantage for people, and their sin is greater than their advantage.4 And they ask you as to what they should spend. Say: What you can spare. Thus does Allah make clear to you the messages that you may ponder

فِی الدُّنۡیَا وَ الۡاٰخِرَۃِ ؕ وَ یَسۡـَٔلُوۡنَکَ عَنِ الۡیَتٰمٰی ؕ قُلۡ اِصۡلَاحٌ لَّہُمۡ خَیۡرٌ ؕ وَ اِنۡ تُخَالِطُوۡہُمۡ فَاِخۡوَانُکُمۡ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ یَعۡلَمُ الۡمُفۡسِدَ مِنَ الۡمُصۡلِحِ ؕ وَ لَوۡ شَآءَ اللّٰہُ لَاَعۡنَتَکُمۡ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ عَزِیۡزٌ حَکِیۡمٌ ﴿۲۲۰﴾

2:220 on this world and the Hereafter. And they ask you concerning the orphans.5 Say: To set right their affairs is good; and if you mix with them, they are your brethren.6 And Allah knows him who makes mischief from him who sets (affairs) right. And if Allah pleased, He would have made matters difficult for you. Surely Allah is Mighty, Wise.

وَ لَا تَنۡکِحُوا الۡمُشۡرِکٰتِ حَتّٰی یُؤۡمِنَّ ؕ وَ لَاَمَۃٌ مُّؤۡمِنَۃٌ خَیۡرٌ مِّنۡ مُّشۡرِکَۃٍ وَّ لَوۡ اَعۡجَبَتۡکُمۡ ۚ وَ لَا تُنۡکِحُوا الۡمُشۡرِکِیۡنَ حَتّٰی یُؤۡمِنُوۡا ؕ وَ لَعَبۡدٌ مُّؤۡمِنٌ خَیۡرٌ مِّنۡ مُّشۡرِکٍ وَّ لَوۡ اَعۡجَبَکُمۡ ؕ اُولٰٓئِکَ یَدۡعُوۡنَ اِلَی النَّارِ ۚۖ وَ اللّٰہُ یَدۡعُوۡۤا اِلَی الۡجَنَّۃِ وَ الۡمَغۡفِرَۃِ بِاِذۡنِہٖ ۚ وَ یُبَیِّنُ اٰیٰتِہٖ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّہُمۡ یَتَذَکَّرُوۡنَ ﴿۲۲۱﴾٪

2:221 And do not marry female idolaters until they believe; and certainly a believing maid is better than a female idolater even though she please you. Nor marry (believing women) in marriage to idolaters until they believe; and certainly a believing slave is better than an idolater, even though he please you. These invite to the Fire and Allah invites to the Garden and to forgiveness by His will and He makes clear His messages to people that they may be mindful.



  1. The unbelievers took up the sword to force the Muslims back into unbelief and they were determined to carry on the war until they gained this end. Note the words they will not cease fighting you until they turn you back from your religion, if they can, which disprove the false allegation that the Muslims started war to convert the unbelievers by force.
  2. The persons spoken of here are the apostates. A wrong impression exists that those who apostatize from Islam are to be put to death. This is entirely untrue. What is stated here is that the opponents of Islam exerted themselves to their utmost to turn back the Muslims from their faith by their cruel persecutions, and therefore if a Muslim actually went back to unbelief he would be a loser in this life as well as in the next, because the desertion of Islam would not only deprive him of spiritual advantages, but also of the physical advantages which must accrue to the Muslims through the ultimate triumph of Islam. Neither here nor anywhere else in the Quran is there even a hint at the infliction of capital or any other punish­ment on the apostate. In the matter of religion, the Quran gives perfect freedom to all to adopt whatever religion they like: “And say: The Truth is from your Lord; so whoever wishes, let him believe, and whoever wishes, let him disbelieve” (18:29).
  3. The word khamr used here includes all intoxicating substances. The prohibition spoken of here as regards both intoxicating liquors and games of chance is made plainer in 5:90. The prohibition of intoxicants in connection with the mention of war shows that Islam wanted to inspire true courage into its followers and disliked the reckless daring which a man shows under the influence of intoxicating liquors and which has so often led to atrocities in wars. The constant fighting of Arab tribes, one against the other, had made the habit of drink second nature to the Arab. Intoxicating liquors were the chief feature of their feasts, and the habit of drink was not considered an evil, nor had there ever been a temperance movement among them. Yet one word of the Holy Quran was suffi­cient to blot out all traces of it from among a whole nation.
  4. Intoxicants and gambling are both declared in 5:91 as causing “enmity and hatred among you”, and a society the members of which are imbued with feelings of hatred and enmity towards each other could never prosper.
  5. From the earliest, the revelations of the Quran always speak of the orphans, the needy, and the slaves in the kindest words, and lay special stress on helping and feeding them. See 90:11–16 and other places.
  6. Orphans are not to be treated as a separate class, and they should not be treated as living on the charity of others; they must be treated as brethren.