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 7 (Verses 2:60–2:61): Divine Favours on Israel



وَ اِذِ اسۡتَسۡقٰی مُوۡسٰی لِقَوۡمِہٖ فَقُلۡنَا اضۡرِبۡ بِّعَصَاکَ الۡحَجَرَ ؕ فَانۡفَجَرَتۡ مِنۡہُ اثۡنَتَاعَشۡرَۃَ عَیۡنًا ؕ قَدۡ عَلِمَ کُلُّ اُنَاسٍ مَّشۡرَبَہُمۡ ؕ کُلُوۡا وَ اشۡرَبُوۡا مِنۡ رِّزۡقِ اللّٰہِ وَ لَا تَعۡثَوۡا فِی الۡاَرۡضِ مُفۡسِدِیۡنَ ﴿۶۰﴾

2:60 And when Moses prayed for water for his people, We said: March on to the rock with your staff.1 So twelve springs flowed from it. Each tribe knew their drinking-place. Eat and drink of the provisions of Allah, and do not act corruptly, making mischief in the land.

وَ اِذۡ قُلۡتُمۡ یٰمُوۡسٰی لَنۡ نَّصۡبِرَ عَلٰی طَعَامٍ وَّاحِدٍ فَادۡعُ لَنَا رَبَّکَ یُخۡرِجۡ لَنَا مِمَّا تُنۡۢبِتُ الۡاَرۡضُ مِنۡۢ بَقۡلِہَا وَ قِثَّآئِہَا وَ فُوۡمِہَا وَ عَدَسِہَا وَ بَصَلِہَا ؕ قَالَ اَتَسۡتَبۡدِلُوۡنَ الَّذِیۡ ہُوَ اَدۡنٰی بِالَّذِیۡ ہُوَ خَیۡرٌ ؕ اِہۡبِطُوۡا مِصۡرًا فَاِنَّ لَکُمۡ مَّا سَاَلۡتُمۡ ؕ وَ ضُرِبَتۡ عَلَیۡہِمُ الذِّلَّۃُ وَ الۡمَسۡکَنَۃُ ٭ وَ بَآءُوۡ بِغَضَبٍ مِّنَ اللّٰہِ ؕ ذٰلِکَ بِاَنَّہُمۡ کَانُوۡا یَکۡفُرُوۡنَ بِاٰیٰتِ اللّٰہِ وَ یَقۡتُلُوۡنَ النَّبِیّٖنَ بِغَیۡرِ الۡحَقِّ ؕ ذٰلِکَ بِمَا عَصَوۡا وَّ کَانُوۡا یَعۡتَدُوۡنَ ﴿٪۶۱﴾

2:61 And when you said: Moses, we cannot endure one food, so pray your Lord on our behalf to bring forth for us out of what the earth grows, of its herbs and its cucumbers and its garlic and its lentils and its onions.2 He said: Would you exchange what is better for what is worse? Enter a city, so you will have what you ask for. And degradation and humiliation were stamped upon them, and they incurred Allah’s wrath.3 That was so because they disbelieved in the messages of Allah and would kill the prophets unjustly. That was so because they disobeyed and exceeded the limits.



  1. The words may mean strike the rock with your staff or march on to the mountain with your staff or your community. The story that Moses carried a stone with him and that twelve springs flowed from it whenever, placing it in the wilderness, he struck it with his staff, has no foundation in the words of the Holy Quran or any saying of the Holy Prophet. What the words of the Quran signify is either that Moses was commanded by God to strike a particular rock with his staff from which water flowed forth miraculously, or to march on to a mountain from which springs flowed.
  2. The Israelites were required to live a hard life which would make them fit for conquering the Holy Land; this was better for them. But they wanted to live a life of ease and to have all kinds of food which they could get only by settling in towns and tilling the land.
  3. The verse speaks of the ultimate condition to which the Israelites were reduced when they persisted in setting at naught the Divine commandments and indulged in immoral and depraved practices.