Tafseer - Concise Commentary of the Holy Quraan
By: Mufti Waseem Khan, Principal, Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago
According to authentic traditions of the Prophet (S.A.), the name given to this Chapter is Surah Al Baqarah, which is translated as the Cow or Heifer. It comprises of 286 verses and is considered to be a Madinite surah. This means that it was revealed at Madinah after the Hijrah, although some verses were revealed in Makka. It is the longest chapter of the Holy Quraan and was the first to be revealed in Madinah. Among the verses of the Holy Quraan, the very last verse to be revealed was verse 281 of this Surah which was revealed on the 10th Zul Hijjah in 10 A.H., when the Holy Prophet (S.A.) was in the course of performing his last Hajj.
VIRTUES OF SURAH AL BAQARAH
It is recorded in many different traditions that Abu Hurairah (R.A.) narrated that the Holy Prophet (S.A.) said, “Do not turn your houses into graves. Verily Satan does not enter the house where Surah Al Baqarah is recited.” (Tirmizi, Muslim, Nasai, Ahmad). In another tradition, Abdullah bin Masud (R.A.) said, “Satan runs from the house where Surah Baqarah is heard.” (Nasai). It is also narrated from Sahl bin Sa’ad (R.A.) that the Messenger of Allah (S.A.) said, “Everything has a high peak and Al Baqarah is the high peak of the Quraan. Whoever recites Al Baqarah at night in his house, then Satan will not enter that house for three nights. Whoever recites it during a day in his house, then Satan will not enter that house for three days.” (Tabarani, Ibn Hibban). Abu Umamah Al Bahili (R.A.) said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (S.A.) saying, “Read Al Baqarah, for reading it brings down (on you) the blessings of Allah and in ignoring it, there is sorrow, and men of falsehood cannot overcome it.” (Muslim). Another Hadith states that a group of eighty angels had accompanied each of its verses when it was revealed. (Ahmad) The blessed companion Abu Hurairah (R.A.) reports from the Holy Prophet (S.A.) that there is a verse in this Surah (i.e. Al Baqarah) which enjoys a superiority over all the other verses. It is the verse of the throne (Ayatul Kursi)-( i.e. verse 255.)” (Tirmizi) Another companion, Abdullah Ibn Masud (R.A.) says that ten verses of this surah have such an effect that if one recites them at night, neither Satan nor evil spirits would enter one’s house, nor would one and his family be afflicted with illness or calamity or sorrow that night, and if they are recited over a man suffering from a fit of madness, his condition will improve. The ten verses are the first four verses of the Surah, three verses in the middle (that is the Ayatul Kursi and the two following verses) and the last three verses of the Surah.
SURAH AL BAQARAH – ITS BASIC TEACHINGS
This surah occupies a special and distinct position among all surahs of the Holy Quraan. Besides the virtues which have been mentioned before, the Surah is filled with countless injunctions, prohibitions, points of wisdom, parables and references to historical events.
At the end of the previous surah, (i.e. Al Fatihah), the servant was asked to make a request from his lord for the straight path (guidance). Hence, this Surah (i.e. Baqarah) begins with an answer to that request by saying, “This is a book (i.e. of guidance) in which there is no doubt,” indicating that this book is the straight path which one has been seeking and praying for. Having defined the nature and function of the Holy Quraan, the surah proceeds to state in a very brief manner the basic principles of true guidance, which are oneness of Allah, prophethood and life in the hereafter. These principles have been presented in detail at the end of the Surah. Within its verses, the surah lays down the basic principles and also secondary rules in detail providing guidance to man in all spheres of life. The Surah also deals with the different modes of worship (Ibadah), ethics, individual and social behaviour, economic relationship and ways and means of improving oneself externally and internally.
SYNOPSIS OF SURAH BAQARAH
The Surah opens with three letters of the Arabic Alphabet, Alif, Lam, Meem, called Al Muqatta’at or Isolated letters.
“Alif Laam Meem”.
According to the majority of the blessed companions and those after them, these isolated letters are symbols which are known to Allah alone or may have been entrusted as a special secret to the Holy Prophet (S.A) not to be communicated to anyone else. Such letters occur in the beginning of twenty-nine surahs of the Holy Quraan and no meaning has been given to them. In this regard, many of the commentators of the Quraan have mentioned that, “The blessed caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali, and most of the companions like Abdullah bin Masood, firmly held the view that these letters are the secret of Allah, that we should believe in them as having descended from Allah, and recite them exactly in the form in which they have descended, and should not be inquisitive about their meanings.” Scholars have also mentioned of the wisdom of these letters being placed at the beginning of the surahs. They explain that it is to testify to the miracle of the Holy Quraan showing to man that he is unable to produce the like of the Quraan although it comprises of the same letters with which they speak to each other.