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 6 (Verses 2:47–2:59): Divine Favours on Israel



یٰبَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ اذۡکُرُوۡا نِعۡمَتِیَ الَّتِیۡۤ اَنۡعَمۡتُ عَلَیۡکُمۡ وَ اَنِّیۡ فَضَّلۡتُکُمۡ عَلَی الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ﴿۴۷﴾

2:47 O Children of Israel, call to mind My favour which I bestowed on you and that I made you excel the nations.1

وَ اتَّقُوۡا یَوۡمًا لَّا تَجۡزِیۡ نَفۡسٌ عَنۡ نَّفۡسٍ شَیۡئًا وَّ لَا یُقۡبَلُ مِنۡہَا شَفَاعَۃٌ وَّ لَا یُؤۡخَذُ مِنۡہَا عَدۡلٌ وَّ لَا ہُمۡ یُنۡصَرُوۡنَ ﴿۴۸﴾

2:48 And guard yourselves against a day when no soul will avail another in the least, neither will intercession be accepted on its behalf,2 nor will compensation be taken from it, nor will they be helped.

وَ اِذۡ نَجَّیۡنٰکُمۡ مِّنۡ اٰلِ فِرۡعَوۡنَ یَسُوۡمُوۡنَکُمۡ سُوۡٓءَ الۡعَذَابِ یُذَبِّحُوۡنَ اَبۡنَآءَکُمۡ وَ یَسۡتَحۡیُوۡنَ نِسَآءَکُمۡ ؕ وَ فِیۡ ذٰلِکُمۡ بَلَآ ءٌ مِّنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ عَظِیۡمٌ ﴿۴۹﴾

2:49 And when We delivered you from Pharaoh’s people, who subjected you to severe torment, killing your sons and sparing your women, and in this there was a great trial from your Lord.

وَ اِذۡ فَرَقۡنَا بِکُمُ الۡبَحۡرَ فَاَنۡجَیۡنٰکُمۡ وَ اَغۡرَقۡنَاۤ اٰلَ فِرۡعَوۡنَ وَ اَنۡتُمۡ تَنۡظُرُوۡنَ ﴿۵۰﴾

2:50 And when We parted the sea for you, so We saved you and drowned the people of Pharaoh while you saw.3

وَ اِذۡ وٰعَدۡنَا مُوۡسٰۤی اَرۡبَعِیۡنَ لَیۡلَۃً ثُمَّ اتَّخَذۡتُمُ الۡعِجۡلَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِہٖ وَ اَنۡتُمۡ ظٰلِمُوۡنَ ﴿۵۱﴾

2:51 And when We appointed a time of forty nights with Moses, then you took the calf (for a god) after him, and you were unjust.4

ثُمَّ عَفَوۡنَا عَنۡکُمۡ مِّنۡۢ بَعۡدِ ذٰلِکَ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَشۡکُرُوۡنَ ﴿۵۲﴾

2:52 Then We pardoned you after that so that you might give thanks.

وَ اِذۡ اٰتَیۡنَا مُوۡسَی الۡکِتٰبَ وَ الۡفُرۡقَانَ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَہۡتَدُوۡنَ ﴿۵۳﴾

2:53 And when We gave Moses the Book and the criterion5 that you might walk aright.

وَ اِذۡ قَالَ مُوۡسٰی لِقَوۡمِہٖ یٰقَوۡمِ اِنَّکُمۡ ظَلَمۡتُمۡ اَنۡفُسَکُمۡ بِاتِّخَاذِکُمُ الۡعِجۡلَ فَتُوۡبُوۡۤا اِلٰی بَارِئِکُمۡ فَاقۡتُلُوۡۤا اَنۡفُسَکُمۡ ؕ ذٰلِکُمۡ خَیۡرٌ لَّکُمۡ عِنۡدَ بَارِئِکُمۡ ؕ فَتَابَ عَلَیۡکُمۡ ؕ اِنَّہٗ ہُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِیۡمُ ﴿۵۴﴾

2:54 And when Moses said to his people: My people, you have surely wronged yourselves by taking the calf (for a god), so turn to your Creator (penitently), and kill your passions.6 That is best for you with your Creator. So He turned to you (mercifully). Surely He is the Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful.

وَ اِذۡ قُلۡتُمۡ یٰمُوۡسٰی لَنۡ نُّؤۡمِنَ لَکَ حَتّٰی نَرَی اللّٰہَ جَہۡرَۃً فَاَخَذَتۡکُمُ الصّٰعِقَۃُ وَ اَنۡتُمۡ تَنۡظُرُوۡنَ ﴿۵۵﴾

2:55 And when you said: Moses, we will not believe in you till we see Allah manifestly, so the punishment overtook you while you looked on.7

ثُمَّ بَعَثۡنٰکُمۡ مِّنۡۢ بَعۡدِ مَوۡتِکُمۡ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَشۡکُرُوۡنَ ﴿۵۶﴾

2:56 Then We raised you up after your stupor that you might give thanks.

وَ ظَلَّلۡنَا عَلَیۡکُمُ الۡغَمَامَ وَ اَنۡزَلۡنَا عَلَیۡکُمُ الۡمَنَّ وَ السَّلۡوٰی ؕ کُلُوۡا مِنۡ طَیِّبٰتِ مَا رَزَقۡنٰکُمۡ ؕ وَ مَا ظَلَمُوۡنَا وَ لٰکِنۡ کَانُوۡۤا اَنۡفُسَہُمۡ یَظۡلِمُوۡنَ ﴿۵۷﴾

2:57 And We made the clouds to give shade over you and We sent to you manna and quails. Eat of the good things that We have given you. And they did Us no harm, but they wronged their own souls.

وَ اِذۡ قُلۡنَا ادۡخُلُوۡا ہٰذِہِ الۡقَرۡیَۃَ فَکُلُوۡا مِنۡہَا حَیۡثُ شِئۡتُمۡ رَغَدًا وَّ ادۡخُلُوا الۡبَابَ سُجَّدًا وَّ قُوۡلُوۡا حِطَّۃٌ نَّغۡفِرۡ لَکُمۡ خَطٰیٰکُمۡ ؕ وَ سَنَزِیۡدُ الۡمُحۡسِنِیۡنَ ﴿۵۸﴾

2:58 And when We said: Enter this city, then eat from it a plentiful (food) wherever you wish, and enter the gate submissively, and make petition for forgiveness. We will forgive you your wrongs and increase the reward of those who do good (to others).

فَبَدَّلَ الَّذِیۡنَ ظَلَمُوۡا قَوۡلًا غَیۡرَ الَّذِیۡ قِیۡلَ لَہُمۡ فَاَنۡزَلۡنَا عَلَی الَّذِیۡنَ ظَلَمُوۡا رِجۡزًا مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ بِمَا کَانُوۡا یَفۡسُقُوۡنَ ﴿٪۵۹﴾

2:59 But those who were unjust changed the word which had been spoken to them, for another saying,8 so We sent upon the wrongdoers a pestilence from heaven because they transgressed.9



  1. By “the nations” are meant the people contemporaneous with the Israelites in their days of triumph, or large masses of people. Numerous prophets were raised among them, and they were made to rule in the earth, and these are the favours of which Moses also reminds them (5:20).
  2. The Islamic doctrine that the prophets and the righteous will intercede for sinners on the day of Judgment really means that if they took as their model a righteous servant of God and did their best to follow him, this will shelter them from their own weaknesses. See further 2:255 footnote 1 and 4:85 footnote.
  3. The Quran does not say how the Israelites were made to pass through the sea or in what manner the parting of the sea was brought about. One expla­nation is that the Israelites passed when the sea receded on account of the ebb, and the Egyptians were drowned because the tide was on at the time, and in their zeal to overtake the Israelites they did not care for it.
  4. While the making of the calf is attributed to Aaron in the Bible, the Holy Quran declares that prophet to be innocent in the matter.
  5. Furqān (‘criterion’, ‘distinction’) is anything that makes a distinction between truth and falsity, and hence it signifies a proof or demonstration and also aid or victory. In the sense of distinction, the furqān given to Moses was Pha­raoh’s drowning in the sea and the deliverance of the Israelites. In the case of the Holy Prophet the battle of Badr afforded the furqān or distinction, and hence the battle of Badr is called yaum al-furqān or the day of distinction in 8:41.
  6. The Holy Quran rejects the Bible story of the Israelites being killed as a punishment for calf-worship. They were pardoned and were told simply to repent, and God accepted their repentance as clearly stated here. Therefore anfusa­-kum does not mean here your people, but your desires or your passions. No prophet ever taught that a man can be killed for the worship of an object other than God.
  7. See Exodus 19:16–17.
  8. That is to say, they went against the Divine commandment.
  9. When a punishment overtakes a people as a consequence of their wicked deeds it is spoken of as coming from heaven, the significance probably being that it cannot be averted. The pestilence spoken of here is referred to in the Bible in Numbers 25:8–9, according to which 24,000 men died of the plague.