Commentary for Verses 233-286

Al Baqarah:251

فَهَزَمُوهُم بِإِذۡنِ ٱللَّهِ وَقَتَلَ دَاوُ ۥدُ جَالُوتَ وَءَاتَٮٰهُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡمُلۡكَ وَٱلۡحِڪۡمَةَ وَعَلَّمَهُ ۥ مِمَّا يَشَآءُ‌ۗ وَلَوۡلَا دَفۡعُ ٱللَّهِ ٱلنَّاسَ بَعۡضَهُم بِبَعۡضٍ۬ لَّفَسَدَتِ ٱلۡأَرۡضُ وَلَـٰڪِنَّ ٱللَّهَ ذُو فَضۡلٍ عَلَى ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ

Allah’s plan is universal. He loves and protects all His creatures and His bounties are for all the worlds. To protect one He may have to check another, but we must never lose faith that His love is for all in boundless measure.



Al Baqarah:253

تِلۡكَ ٱلرُّسُلُ فَضَّلۡنَا بَعۡضَهُمۡ عَلَىٰ بَعۡضٍ۬‌ۘ مِّنۡهُم مَّن كَلَّمَ ٱللَّهُ‌ۖ وَرَفَعَ بَعۡضَهُمۡ دَرَجَـٰتٍ۬‌ۚ وَءَاتَيۡنَا عِيسَى ٱبۡنَ مَرۡيَمَ ٱلۡبَيِّنَـٰتِ وَأَيَّدۡنَـٰهُ بِرُوحِ ٱلۡقُدُسِ‌ۗ وَلَوۡ شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ مَا ٱقۡتَتَلَ ٱلَّذِينَ مِنۢ بَعۡدِهِم مِّنۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَتۡهُمُ ٱلۡبَيِّنَـٰتُ وَلَـٰكِنِ ٱخۡتَلَفُواْ فَمِنۡہُم مَّنۡ ءَامَنَ وَمِنۡہُم مَّن كَفَرَ‌ۚ وَلَوۡ شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ مَا ٱقۡتَتَلُواْ وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَفۡعَلُ مَا يُرِيدُ

Different gifts and different modes of procedure are prescribed to Allah’s Messengers in different ages and perhaps their degree are different though it is not for us mortals, with our imperfect knowledge, to make any difference between one and another of Allah’s Messengers. All this winds up the argument about fighting, three illustrations are given from the past, how it affected Allah Messengers. To Moses Allah spoke directly; he led his men for forty years through the wilderness, mainly fighting against the unbelief of his own people; he organized them to fight with the sword for Palestine, but was raised to Allah’s mercy before his enterprise ripened and it fell to Joshua to carry out his plan. David was chosen by Allah. He overthrew the greatest warrior of his time, became a king, a Prophet and waged successful wars. Jesus was “strengthened with the holy spirit”: he was given no weapons to fight and his mission was of a more limited character. In Muhammad’s mission these and other characters were combined. Gentler than Jesus, he organized on a vaster scale than Moses and from Madinah he ruled and gave laws and the Quran has a vaster scope than the Scriptures before.



Al Baqarah:255

ٱللَّهُ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ٱلۡحَىُّ ٱلۡقَيُّومُ‌ۚ لَا تَأۡخُذُهُ ۥ سِنَةٌ۬ وَلَا نَوۡمٌ۬‌ۚ لَّهُ ۥ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۗ مَن ذَا ٱلَّذِى يَشۡفَعُ عِندَهُ ۥۤ إِلَّا بِإِذۡنِهِۦ‌ۚ يَعۡلَمُ مَا بَيۡنَ أَيۡدِيهِمۡ وَمَا خَلۡفَهُمۡ‌ۖ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَىۡءٍ۬ مِّنۡ عِلۡمِهِۦۤ إِلَّا بِمَا شَآءَ‌ۚ وَسِعَ كُرۡسِيُّهُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ‌ۖ وَلَا يَـُٔودُهُ ۥ حِفۡظُهُمَا‌ۚ وَهُوَ ٱلۡعَلِىُّ ٱلۡعَظِيمُ

This is the Ayat-ul-Kursi, the “Verse of the Throne”. Who can translate its glorious meaning, or reproduce the rhythm of its well-chosen and comprehensive words. Even in the original Arabic the meaning seems to be greater than can be expressed in words.
The attribute of Allah are different from anything we know in our present world: He lives, but His life is self-subsisting and eternal; it does not depend upon other beings and is not limited to time and space. The attribute of Qaiyum includes not only the idea of “Self-subsisting” but also the idea of “Keeping up and maintaining all life”. His life being the source and constant support of all derived forms of life. Perfect life is perfect activity, in contrast to the imperfect life which we see around us, which is not only subject to death but to the need for rest or slowed-down activity (sometimes which is between activity and sleep) and the need for full sleep itself. But Allah has no need for rest or sleep. His activity , like His life, is perfect and self-subsisting.

After we realize that His Life is absolute Life. His Being is absolute Being, while others are contingent and evanescent, our ideas of heaven and earth vanish like shadows. Such reality as our heavens and our earth posses is a reflection of His absolute Reality. The pantheist places the wrong accent when he says that everything is He. The truth is better expressed when we say that everything is His. How then can any creatures stand before Him as of right, and claim to intercede for a fellow-creature? But He in His Wisdom and Plan may grade His creatures and give one superiority over another. Then by His will and permission such a one may intercede or help according to the laws and duties laid on Him. Allah’s knowledge is absolute, and is not conditioned by Time or Space. To us, His creatures, these conditions always apply. His knowledge and our knowledge are therefore in different categories, and our knowledge only gets some reflection of Reality when it accords with His Will and Plan.



Al Baqarah:256

لَآ إِكۡرَاهَ فِى ٱلدِّينِ‌ۖ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ ٱلرُّشۡدُ مِنَ ٱلۡغَىِّ‌ۚ فَمَن يَكۡفُرۡ بِٱلطَّـٰغُوتِ وَيُؤۡمِنۢ بِٱللَّهِ فَقَدِ ٱسۡتَمۡسَكَ بِٱلۡعُرۡوَةِ ٱلۡوُثۡقَىٰ لَا ٱنفِصَامَ لَهَا‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

Compulsion is incompatible with religion because-
1. Religion depends upon faith and will, and these would be meaningless if induced by force;
2. Truth and Error have been so clearly shown up by the mercy of Allah that there should be no doubt in the minds of any persons of goodwill as to the fundamentals of faith;
3. Allah’s protection is continuous, and His Plan is always to lead us from the depth of darkness into the clearest light.



Al Baqarah:258

أَلَمۡ تَرَ إِلَى ٱلَّذِى حَآجَّ إِبۡرَٲهِـۧمَ فِى رَبِّهِۦۤ أَنۡ ءَاتَٮٰهُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡمُلۡكَ إِذۡ قَالَ إِبۡرَٲهِـۧمُ رَبِّىَ ٱلَّذِى يُحۡىِۦ وَيُمِيتُ قَالَ أَنَا۟ أُحۡىِۦ وَأُمِيتُ‌ۖ قَالَ إِبۡرَٲهِـۧمُ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَأۡتِى بِٱلشَّمۡسِ مِنَ ٱلۡمَشۡرِقِ فَأۡتِ بِہَا مِنَ ٱلۡمَغۡرِبِ فَبُهِتَ ٱلَّذِى كَفَرَ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَہۡدِى ٱلۡقَوۡمَ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ

The first point illustrated is the pride of power, and the impotence of human power as against Allah’s power. The person who disputed with Abraham may have been Namrud or some ruler in Babylonia, or indeed elsewhere. I name Babylonia as it was the original home of Abraham (Ur of the Chaldees), and Babylon prided herself on her arts and sciences in the ancient world. Science can do many wonderful things; it could then: it can now. But the mystery of Life baffled science then, as it continues to baffle science now, after many centuries of progress. Abraham had faith, and referred back everything to the true Creator. A skeptical ruler might jestingly say: “I have the power of life and death.” A man of science might say: “We have investigated the laws of life and death.” Different kinds of powers lie in the hands of kings and men of knowledge. The claim in both cases is true in a very limited sense. But Abraham confounded the claimer by going back to fundamentals, “If you had the ultimate power, why could you not make the sun rise from the west?”.



Al Baqarah:259

أَوۡ كَٱلَّذِى مَرَّ عَلَىٰ قَرۡيَةٍ۬ وَهِىَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَىٰ عُرُوشِهَا قَالَ أَنَّىٰ يُحۡىِۦ هَـٰذِهِ ٱللَّهُ بَعۡدَ مَوۡتِهَا‌ۖ فَأَمَاتَهُ ٱللَّهُ مِاْئَةَ عَامٍ۬ ثُمَّ بَعَثَهُ ۥ‌ۖ قَالَ ڪَمۡ لَبِثۡتَ‌ۖ قَالَ لَبِثۡتُ يَوۡمًا أَوۡ بَعۡضَ يَوۡمٍ۬‌ۖ قَالَ بَل لَّبِثۡتَ مِاْئَةَ عَامٍ۬ فَٱنظُرۡ إِلَىٰ طَعَامِكَ وَشَرَابِكَ لَمۡ يَتَسَنَّهۡ‌ۖ وَٱنظُرۡ إِلَىٰ حِمَارِكَ وَلِنَجۡعَلَكَ ءَايَةً۬ لِّلنَّاسِ‌ۖ وَٱنظُرۡ إِلَى ٱلۡعِظَامِ ڪَيۡفَ نُنشِزُهَا ثُمَّ نَكۡسُوهَا لَحۡمً۬ا‌ۚ فَلَمَّا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ ۥ قَالَ أَعۡلَمُ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ ڪُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ قَدِيرٌ۬

A man is in despair when he sees the destruction of a whole people, city, or civilization. But Allah can cause resurrection as He has done many times in history, and as He will do at the final Resurrection. Time is nothing before Allah. The doubter thinks that he has been dead or “tarried thus” a day or less when the period has been a century. On the other hand, the food and drink which he left behind is intact, and as fresh as it was when he left it. But the donkey is not only dead, but nothing but bone is left of it. And before the man’s eyes, the bones are reunited, clothes with flesh and blood and restored to life. Moral:-
1. Time is nothing to Allah;
2. It affects different things in different ways;
3. The keys of life and death are in Allah’s hand;
4. Men’s power is nothing; his faith should be in Allah.



Al Baqarah:263

قَوۡلٌ۬ مَّعۡرُوفٌ۬ وَمَغۡفِرَةٌ خَيۡرٌ۬ مِّن صَدَقَةٍ۬ يَتۡبَعُهَآ أَذً۬ى‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ غَنِىٌّ حَلِيمٌ۬

A very high standard is set for charity:-
1. It must be in the way of Allah;
2. It must expect no reward in this world;
3. It must not be followed by references or reminders to the act of charity;
4. Still less should any annoyance or injury be caused to the recipient, e.g., by boasting that the giver relieved the person in the hour of need.
Indeed, the kindness and the spirit which turns a blind eye to other people’s faults or short-comings is the essence of charity: these things are better than charity if charity is spoilt by tricks that do harm. At the same time, while no reward is to be expected, there is abundant reward from Allah – material, moral, and spiritual – according to His own good pleasure and plan. If we spend in the way of Allah, it is not as if Allah was in need or our charity. On the contrary our short-comings are so great that we require His utmost forbearance before any good that we can do can merit His praise of reward. Our motives are so mixed that our best may really be very poor if judged by a very strict standard.



Al Baqarah:264

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لَا تُبۡطِلُواْ صَدَقَـٰتِكُم بِٱلۡمَنِّ وَٱلۡأَذَىٰ كَٱلَّذِى يُنفِقُ مَالَهُ ۥ رِئَآءَ ٱلنَّاسِ وَلَا يُؤۡمِنُ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِرِ‌ۖ فَمَثَلُهُ ۥ كَمَثَلِ صَفۡوَانٍ عَلَيۡهِ تُرَابٌ۬ فَأَصَابَهُ ۥ وَابِلٌ۬ فَتَرَڪَهُ ۥ صَلۡدً۬ا‌ۖ لَّا يَقۡدِرُونَ عَلَىٰ شَىۡءٍ۬ مِّمَّا ڪَسَبُواْ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَهۡدِى ٱلۡقَوۡمَ ٱلۡكَـٰفِرِينَ

False charity, “to be seen of men,” no charity. It is worse, for it betokens a disbelief in Allah and the Hereafter. “Allah seeth well whatever you do”(ii.265). It is compared to hard barren rock on which by chance has fallen a little soil. Good rain, which renders fertile soil more fruitful, washes away the little soil which this rock had, and exposes its nakedness. What good can hypocrites derive even from the little wealth they may have amassed?



Al Baqarah:265

وَمَثَلُ ٱلَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمۡوَٲلَهُمُ ٱبۡتِغَآءَ مَرۡضَاتِ ٱللَّهِ وَتَثۡبِيتً۬ا مِّنۡ أَنفُسِهِمۡ كَمَثَلِ جَنَّةِۭ بِرَبۡوَةٍ أَصَابَهَا وَابِلٌ۬ فَـَٔاتَتۡ أُڪُلَهَا ضِعۡفَيۡنِ فَإِن لَّمۡ يُصِبۡہَا وَابِلٌ۬ فَطَلٌّ۬‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

True charity is like a field with good soil on a high situation. It catches good showers of rain, the moisture penetrates the soil, and yet its elevated situation keeps it well-drained, and healthy favourable conditions increase its output enormously. But supposing even the rain is not abundant, it catches dew and makes the most of any little moisture it can get, and that is sufficient for it. So a man of true charity is spiritually healthy; he is best situated to attract the bounties of Allah, which he does not hoard selfishly but circulate freely. In lean times he still produces good works, and is content with what he has. He looks to Allah’s pleasure and the strengthening of his own soul.



Al Baqarah:266

أَيَوَدُّ أَحَدُڪُمۡ أَن تَكُونَ لَهُ ۥ جَنَّةٌ۬ مِّن نَّخِيلٍ۬ وَأَعۡنَابٍ۬ تَجۡرِى مِن تَحۡتِهَا ٱلۡأَنۡهَـٰرُ لَهُ ۥ فِيهَا مِن ڪُلِّ ٱلثَّمَرَٲتِ وَأَصَابَهُ ٱلۡكِبَرُ وَلَهُ ۥ ذُرِّيَّةٌ۬ ضُعَفَآءُ فَأَصَابَهَآ إِعۡصَارٌ۬ فِيهِ نَارٌ۬ فَٱحۡتَرَقَتۡ‌ۗ كَذَٲلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَڪُمُ ٱلۡأَيَـٰتِ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ

The true nature of charity having been explained in three parables (ii. 261, 264, 265), a fourth parable is now added, explaining its bearing on the whole of our life. Suppose we have a beautiful garden, well-watered and fertile, with delightful views of streams, and a haven of rest for mind and body; suppose old age were creeping in on us, and our children were either too young to look after themselves or too feeble in health: how should we feel if a sudden whirlwind came with lightning or fire in its train, and burnt it up, thus blasting the whole of our hopes for the present and for the future, and destroying the result of all our labour and savings in the past? Well, this life of ours is a probation. We may work hard, we may save, we may have good luck. We may make ourselves a good pleasance, and have ample means of support for ourselves and our children. A great whirlwind charged with lightning and fire comes and burns up the whole show. We are too old to begin again: our children are too young or feeble to help us to repair the mischief. Our chance is lost, because we did not provide against such a contingency. The whirlwind is the “wrath to come”; the provision against it is a life of true charity and righteousness, which is the only source of true and lasting happiness in this world and the next. Without it we are subject to all the vicissitudes of this uncertain life. We may even spoil our so-called “charity” by insisting on the obligation which others owe to us or by doing some harm, because our motives are not pure.



Al Baqarah:268

ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنُ يَعِدُكُمُ ٱلۡفَقۡرَ وَيَأۡمُرُڪُم بِٱلۡفَحۡشَآءِ‌ۖ وَٱللَّهُ يَعِدُكُم مَّغۡفِرَةً۬ مِّنۡهُ وَفَضۡلاً۬‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ وَٲسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ۬

Good and evil draw us opposite ways and by opposite motives, and the contrast is well marked out in charity. When we think of doing some real act of kindness or charity, we are assailed with doubts and fear of impoverishment; but evil supports any tendency to selfishness, greed, or even to extravagant expenditure for show, or self indulgence, or unseemly appetites. On the other hand, Allah draws us on to all that is kind and good, for that way lies the forgiveness of our sins, and greater real prosperity and satisfaction. No kind or generous act ever ruined any one. It is false generosity that is sometimes shown as leading to ruin. As Allah knows all our motives and cares for all, and has everything in His power, it is obvious which course a wise man will choose. But wisdom is rare, and it is only wisdom that can appreciate true well-being and distinguish it from the false appearance of well-being.



Al Baqarah:271

إِن تُبۡدُواْ ٱلصَّدَقَـٰتِ فَنِعِمَّا هِىَ‌ۖ وَإِن تُخۡفُوهَا وَتُؤۡتُوهَا ٱلۡفُقَرَآءَ فَهُوَ خَيۡرٌ۬ لَّڪُمۡ‌ۚ وَيُكَفِّرُ عَنڪُم مِّن سَيِّـَٔاتِڪُمۡ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ۬

It is better to seek no publicity in charity. But if it is known there is no harm, or if it is for public purpose, it must necessarily be known, and a pedantic show of concealment may itself be a fault. The harm of publicity lies in motives of ostentation. We can better reach the really deserving poor by quietly seeking for them. The spiritual benefit ensures to our own souls, provided our motives are pure, and we are really seeking the good pleasure of Allah.



Al Baqarah:275

ٱلَّذِينَ يَأۡڪُلُونَ ٱلرِّبَوٰاْ لَا يَقُومُونَ إِلَّا كَمَا يَقُومُ ٱلَّذِى يَتَخَبَّطُهُ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنُ مِنَ ٱلۡمَسِّ‌ۚ ذَٲلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمۡ قَالُوٓاْ إِنَّمَا ٱلۡبَيۡعُ مِثۡلُ ٱلرِّبَوٰاْ‌ۗ وَأَحَلَّ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡبَيۡعَ وَحَرَّمَ ٱلرِّبَوٰاْ‌ۚ فَمَن جَآءَهُ ۥ مَوۡعِظَةٌ۬ مِّن رَّبِّهِۦ فَٱنتَهَىٰ فَلَهُ ۥ مَا سَلَفَ وَأَمۡرُهُ ۥۤ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ‌ۖ وَمَنۡ عَادَ فَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ أَصۡحَـٰبُ ٱلنَّارِ‌ۖ هُمۡ فِيہَا خَـٰلِدُونَ

Usury is condemned and prohibited in the strongest possible terms. There can be no question about the prohibition. When we come to the definition of Usury there is room for difference of opinion. Hadhrat ‘Umar, according to Ibn Kathir, felt some difficulty in the matter, as the Prophet left this world before the details of the question were settled. This was one of the three questions on which he wished he had had more light from the Prophet. Our Ulama’, ancient and modern, have worked out a great body of literature on Usury, based mainly on economic conditions as they existed at the rise of Islam.



Al Baqarah:285

ءَامَنَ ٱلرَّسُولُ بِمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡهِ مِن رَّبِّهِۦ وَٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ‌ۚ كُلٌّ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّهِ وَمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَتِهِۦ وَكُتُبِهِۦ وَرُسُلِهِۦ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيۡنَ أَحَدٍ۬ مِّن رُّسُلِهِۦ‌ۚ وَقَالُواْ سَمِعۡنَا وَأَطَعۡنَا‌ۖ غُفۡرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيۡكَ ٱلۡمَصِيرُ

When our faith and conduct are sincere, we realize how far from perfection we are, and we humbly pray to Allah for the forgiveness of our sins. We feel that Allah imposes no burden on us that we cannot bear, and with this relation in our hearts and in the confession of our lips, we go to Him and ask for His help and guidance.



Al Baqarah:286

لَا يُكَلِّفُ ٱللَّهُ نَفۡسًا إِلَّا وُسۡعَهَا‌ۚ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتۡ وَعَلَيۡہَا مَا ٱكۡتَسَبَتۡ‌ۗ رَبَّنَا لَا تُؤَاخِذۡنَآ إِن نَّسِينَآ أَوۡ أَخۡطَأۡنَا‌ۚ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تَحۡمِلۡ عَلَيۡنَآ إِصۡرً۬ا كَمَا حَمَلۡتَهُ ۥ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِنَا‌ۚ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تُحَمِّلۡنَا مَا لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِۦ‌ۖ وَٱعۡفُ عَنَّا وَٱغۡفِرۡ لَنَا وَٱرۡحَمۡنَآ‌ۚ أَنتَ مَوۡلَٮٰنَا فَٱنصُرۡنَا عَلَى ٱلۡقَوۡمِ ٱلۡڪَـٰفِرِينَ

We must not be arrogant, and think that because Allah has granted us His favour and mercy we have no need to exert ourselves, or that we are ourselves superior to those before us. On the contrary, knowing how much they failed, we pray that our burdens should be lightened, and we confess our realization that we have all the greater need for Allah’s mercy and forgiveness.
And so we end the whole argument of the Sura with a prayer for Allah’s help, not in our own selfish ends, but in our resolve to uphold Allah’s truth against all Unbelief.



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