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 34 (Verses 2:254–2:257): Compulsion in Religion Forbidden

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Translation:

یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اَنۡفِقُوۡا مِمَّا رَزَقۡنٰکُمۡ مِّنۡ قَبۡلِ اَنۡ یَّاۡتِیَ یَوۡمٌ لَّا بَیۡعٌ فِیۡہِ وَ لَا خُلَّۃٌ وَّ لَا شَفَاعَۃٌ ؕ وَ الۡکٰفِرُوۡنَ ہُمُ الظّٰلِمُوۡنَ ﴿۲۵۴﴾

2:254 O you who believe, spend (on good works) out of what We have given you before the day comes in which there is no bargaining, nor friendship, nor intercession. And the disbelievers — they are the wrongdoers.

اَللّٰہُ لَاۤ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ہُوَۚ اَلۡحَیُّ الۡقَیُّوۡمُ ۬ۚ لَا تَاۡخُذُہٗ سِنَۃٌ وَّ لَا نَوۡمٌ ؕ لَہٗ مَا فِی السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ مَا فِی الۡاَرۡضِ ؕ مَنۡ ذَا الَّذِیۡ یَشۡفَعُ عِنۡدَہٗۤ اِلَّا بِاِذۡنِہٖ ؕ یَعۡلَمُ مَا بَیۡنَ اَیۡدِیۡہِمۡ وَ مَا خَلۡفَہُمۡ ۚ وَ لَا یُحِیۡطُوۡنَ بِشَیۡءٍ مِّنۡ عِلۡمِہٖۤ اِلَّا بِمَا شَآءَ ۚ وَسِعَ کُرۡسِیُّہُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضَ ۚ وَ لَا یَـُٔوۡدُہٗ حِفۡظُہُمَا ۚ وَ ہُوَ الۡعَلِیُّ الۡعَظِیۡمُ ﴿۲۵۵﴾

2:255 Allah — there is no god but He, the Ever-living, the Self-subsisting by Whom all subsist. Slumber does not overtake Him, nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him but by His permission?1 He knows what is before them and what is behind them. And they encompass nothing of His knowledge except what He pleases. His knowledge extends over the heavens and the earth, and the preservation of them both does not tire Him. And He is the Most High, the Great.2

لَاۤ اِکۡرَاہَ فِی الدِّیۡنِ ۟ۙ قَدۡ تَّبَیَّنَ الرُّشۡدُ مِنَ الۡغَیِّ ۚ فَمَنۡ یَّکۡفُرۡ بِالطَّاغُوۡتِ وَ یُؤۡمِنۡۢ بِاللّٰہِ فَقَدِ اسۡتَمۡسَکَ بِالۡعُرۡوَۃِ الۡوُثۡقٰی ٭ لَا انۡفِصَامَ لَہَا ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ سَمِیۡعٌ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۲۵۶﴾

2:256 There is no compulsion in religion3 — the right way is indeed clearly distinct from error. So whoever disbelieves in the devil and believes in Allah, he indeed lays hold on the firmest handle which shall never break. And Allah is Hearing, Knowing.

اَللّٰہُ وَلِیُّ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا ۙ یُخۡرِجُہُمۡ مِّنَ الظُّلُمٰتِ اِلَی النُّوۡرِ۬ؕ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡۤا اَوۡلِیٰٓـُٔہُمُ الطَّاغُوۡتُ ۙ یُخۡرِجُوۡنَہُمۡ مِّنَ النُّوۡرِ اِلَی الظُّلُمٰتِ ؕ اُولٰٓئِکَ اَصۡحٰبُ النَّارِ ۚ ہُمۡ فِیۡہَا خٰلِدُوۡنَ ﴿۲۵۷﴾٪

2:257 Allah is the Friend of those who believe — He brings them out of darkness into light. And those who disbelieve, their friends are the devils who take them out of light into darkness. They are the companions of the Fire; in it they abide.

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Commentary:

  1. Islam does not recognize the concept that man stands in need of any mediator to reconcile him with God, as in the sense of the Christian doctrine. The Prophet is the model for his people and in this sense he is called a shafī‘ or an intercessor. Those who take him for their model are not all equally gifted, nor have all equal occasion for spiritual progress, though they exert themselves to their utmost. So Divine mercy takes them by the hand and amends are made for their shortcomings through the intercession of the Prophet. It is in this sense that Islam recognizes the doctrine of intercession in the life after death.
  2. This is a very well-known verse which goes under the name of āyat al-kursī, or the verse of knowledge, because it deals with the all-comprehen­sive knowledge of Allah.
  3. To all the allegations that the Holy Prophet preached Islam by the sword, this verse is a sufficient answer. Being assured of success, Muslims are told that when they hold power in their hands their guiding principle should be that there should be no compulsion in the matter of religion. The claim that this passage was directed only to the early converts and that it was abrogated later on is utterly baseless.

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