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Introduction to the Second Surah, AL-Baqra by Syed A'la Maududi

2. Al-Baqra (The Cow )
THIS CHAPTER of 286 verses is arranged in forty sections. It, as well as Chapter 3 and Chapters 29-32 inclusive, begin with the mystic initials A.L.M. It dates from the first year after the Hijra or Transfer from Mecca to Madina, or around the year 623 A.D. It was revealed before Chapter 8 Booty, except for verse 281 (XXXVII) which was revealed at Mina, a suburb just east of Mecca, during the Farewell Pilgrimage shortly before the Prophet passed away. The title is taken from the Cow, or the Golden Calf, the story of which appears in section VIII below, and which Moses wanted the Children of Israel to sacrifice to God Alone.

Because the chapter is quite long, it continues through two and a half of the thirty Parts into which the Quran is traditionally divided, and comprises more than one-tenth of the whole text of the holy Book. The chapter mostly concerns legislation promulgated during the Madinese period. begins with the majestic invocation to the Book which announces the first section, and then proceeds to describe disbelievers and those arrogant persons who take it upon themselves to dictate to others concerning religion. There is a parable on "The Gnat" in section III, and we proceed the story of Adam's creation in IV.

Prayer is discussed in V , and we are told in vi that intercession is acceptable because God's face is to be found everywhere. The Direction Prayer, or our qibla, is dealt with in XVII-XVIII, and prayer itself once more in XXXI. Section XIX instructs us that we should simply strive to meet God Alone. Abraham is introduced to us at Mecca (XV) while his signs app EAR in XXXV.

Fasting, the month of Ramaddan and God's care are other the discussed here (XXIII). Food is mentioned in XXI; virtue and retaliation in xxii; the Pilgrimage appears in XXV. Charity is prescribed in XXXV-XXXVI and we are told to favor the genteel poor who do not go around begging in public. Death and wills are treated in XXII; waste and bribery in XXIII. There is  legislation against liquor and gambling in XXV, the loan business XXXVIII, while the matter of debts and loans is handled in XXXIX. Then follow such matters as orphans, the sin of associating others with our worship of God Alone, menstruation (XXVIII), marriage, oaths, divorce nursing mothers and widows (XXX).

In Part III of the Quran, towards the end of this chapter, we offered the great vision of God's Seat or Throne, which embraces Heaven and Earth, and are admonished to observe tolerance (XXXIV). The chapter ends with a statement of the Islamic creed, given as this is generally recited by Muslims (XL).

Ecerpts from the Suar Al-Baqra:

" In the name of God, the Mercy-giving, the Merciful!

Invocation to the Book

The Heedful Or Pious

(I)* A.L.M.

*This is the Book which contains no doubt; it means guidance for those who do their duty

* who believe in the Unseen, keep up prayer, and spend something from whatever We have provided them with;

* who believe in what has been sent down to you as well as what was sent down before you,

While they are convinced about the Hereafter; 


** such people hold on to guidance from their Lord; those will be successful.

* It is all the same whether you warn those who disbelieve or do not warn them; they still will not believe: * God has sealed off their hearts and their hearing, while over their sight there hangs a covering; they will have severe torment.

Disbelievers (Arrogation Explained)

(II) * Some people say: "We believe in God and the Last Day," while they are not believers. * They would like to deceive God and those who believe, while they merely outwit themselves and do not even notice it! ** Their hearts contain malice so God has increased their [share of] malice. They will have painful torment because they have been lying.

* Whenever someone tells them: "Don't act so depraved on earth," they say: "We are only improving matters!" * They are indeed mischief makers, but they are not aware of it. * When someone tells them: "Believe just as other people believe," they say: "Are we to believe just as simpletons believe?" Surely they are the fools even though they do not realize it!

* Whenever they meet those who believe, they say: "We believe;' while once they go off alone with their ringleaders, they say: "We are with you; we were only joking!" ** God will joke with them and let them go on acting arrogantly in their blind fashion! * Those are the ones who have purchased error at the price of guidance, while their bargain does not profit them nor have they been guided.

The Arrogant

* They may be compared to someone who kindles a fire, and once it lights up whatever lies around him, God takes away their light and leaves them in darkness. They do not see: * deaf, dumb and blind will never respond!

* Or to a rain cloud from the sky containing darkness, Thunder and lightning; they stick their fingers in their ears to ward off death of the thunderclaps, for God will soon be rounding up disbelievers ** Lightning almost snatches their sight away: each time it lights things up for them, they walk along in it, while when darkness settles down on them, they stand stock-still. If God wanted, He would take away their hearing and eyesight; God is capable of everything!

(III) * Mankind, worship your Lord Who created you as well as those before you, so that you may do your duty! * [He is] the One Who has made the earth a carpet for you and had the sky built above you, and sent water to pour down from the sky and brought forth fruit by means of it as sustenance for you. Do not set up rivals for God while you know [better].

* If you (all) are in any doubt about what We have sent down to Our servant, then bring a chapter like it and call in your witnesses besides God if you are so truthful. * If you do not-and you will never do so-then heed the Fire which has been prepared for disbelievers whose fuel is mankind and stones! **
Proclaim to those who believe and perform honorable deeds that they will have gardens through which rivers flow. Each time they are provided with fruits from it for their sustenance, they will say: "This is what we were provided with before!" They will be given similar things and have clean-living spouses there. They will live in it for ever!

Parables (The Gnat)

* God does not hesitate to compare things to a mosquito nor to anything bigger than it. Those who believe realize that it is the Truth from their Lord, while those who disbelieve say: "What does God want in such a comparison?" He lets so many go astray through it, and guides many by means of it. Yet only immoral persons are led astray by it! * Those who break God's covenant after they have pledged to keep it, and sever whatever God has ordered to be joined, and act depraved on earth, will be the losers. * How can you disbelieve in God when you once were dead and He furnished you with life? Soon He will let you die once more, then bring you back to life again; then unto Him will you return! * He is the One Who has created everything that is on earth for you; then He soared up to Heaven and perfected it as seven heavens. He is Aware of everything!

The Story of Adam

(IV)** So when your Lord told the angels: "I am placing an overlord on earth", they said: "Will You place someone there who will corrupt it and shed blood, while we hymn Your praise and sanctify You?" He said: "I know something you do not know."

* He taught Adam all the names of everything; then presented them to the angels, and said: "Tell me the names of these if you are so truthful." * They said: "Glory be to You; we have no knowledge except whatever You have taught us. You are the Aware, the Wise!" * He said: "Adam, tell them their names."

Once he had told them their names, He said: "Did I not tell you that I know the Unseen in Heaven and Earth? I know whatever you disclose and whatever you have been hiding."

* So We told the angels: "Bow down on your knees before Adam." They [all] knelt down except for Diabolis. He refused and acted proudly, and became a disbeliever.

** We said: 'Adam, settle down in the Garden, both you and your wife, and eat freely from it anywhere either of you may wish. Yet do not approach this tree lest you become wrongdoers."

* Satan made them stumble over it and had them both expelled from where they had been [living]. We said: "Clear out! Some of you will [become] enemies of others. You will have a resting place on earth a enjoyment for a while."

* Adam received words [of inspiration] from his Lord and he turned towards Him. He is the Relenting, the Merciful!

* We said: 'Clear out from it together! If you should be hand guidance from Me, then anyone who follows My guidance will have fear nor will they be saddened; * while those who disbelieve and reject Our signs will become inmates of the Fire; they shall remain in it!

(V)** Children of Israel, remember My favor which I have shown you, and fulfill My agreement! I shall fulfill your covenant. I am the One you should revere! * Believe in what I have sent down to confirm what you already have, and do not be the first to disbelieve in it. Do not sell My signs for paltry price. I am the One you should heed! * Do not cloak Truth with falsehood nor hide the Truth while you realize it.


* Keep up prayer, pay the welfare tax, and worship along with those who bow their heads. * Are you ordering people to be virtuous while forgetting it yourselves, even as you recite the Book? Will you not use you reason?

** Seek help through patience and prayer, since it is exacting except for the submissive * who assume they will meet their Lord, and that they will return to Him.

(The English translation by Dr.T.B. Irwing ). For study of Qur’an, visit the Islamic Library Section of this website.





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