Surah Al-Baqarah Part 8

{60. And (remember) when Musa asked for water for his people, We said: “Strike the stone with your stick.” Then gushed forth therefrom twelve springs. Each (group of) people knew its own place for water. “Eat and drink of that which Allah has provided and do not act corruptly, making mischief on the earth.”}

 

Twelve Springs gush forth

Allah said, “Remember My favor on you when I answered the supplication of your Prophet, Musa, when he asked Me to provide you with water. I made the water available for you, making it gush out through a stone. Twelve springs burst out of that stone, a designated spring for each of your tribes. You eat from the manna and the quails and drink from the water that I provided for you, without any effort or hardship for you. So worship the One Who did this for you. “And do not act corruptly, making mischief on the earth” meaning, “Do not return the favor by committing acts of disobedience that cause favors to disappear.”

Ibn ‘Abbas said that the Children of Israel, “Had a square stone that Musa was commanded to strike with his staff and, as a result, twelve springs burst out of that stone, three on each side. Each tribe was, therefore, designated a certain spring, and they used to drink from their springs. They never had to travel from their area, they would find the same bounty in the same manner they had in the first area.” (At-Tabari 2:120) This narration is part of the long Hadith that An-Nasa’i, Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abi Hatim recorded about the trials.

This story is similar to the story in Surat Al-‘Araf (7) although the latter was revealed in Makkah. In Surat Al-A’raf, Allah used the third person when He mentioned the Children of Israel to the Prophet and narrated what He favored them with. In this Surat Al-Baqarah, which was revealed in Al-Madinah, Allah directed His Speech at the Children of Israel. Further, Allah said in Surat Al-A’raf,

“And there gushed forth out of it twelve springs” (7:160)

describing what first occurred when the water begins to gush out. In the Ayah in Surat Al-Baqarah, Allah described what happened later on, meaning when the water burst out in full force. Allah knows best.

 

{61. And (remember) when you said, “O Musa ! We cannot endure one kind of food. So invoke your Lord for us to bring forth for us of what the earth grows, its herbs, its cucumber its Fum, its lentils and its onions.” He said, “Would you exchange that which is better for that which is lower? Go you down to any town and you shall find what you want!”}

 

The Children of Israel preferred Foods inferior to Manna and Quails

Allah said, “And remember My favor on you when I sent down the manna and quails to you, a good, pure, beneficial, easily acquired food. And remember your ungratefulness for what We granted you. Remember how you asked Musa to exchange this type of food for an inferior type that consists of vegetation, and so forth.” Al-Hasan Al-Basri said about the Children of Israel, “They were bored and impatient with the type of food they were provided. They also remembered the life they used to live, when their diet consisted of lentils, onions, garlic and herbs.” They said, “O Musa ! We cannot endure one kind of food. So invoke your Lord for us to bring forth for us of what the earth grows, its herbs, its cucumbers, its Fum, its lentils and its onions”. They said, “One kind of food” meaning, the manna and quails, because they ate the same food day after day. The Ayah mentioned lentils, onions and herbs, which are all known types of foods. As for the Fum, Ibn Mas’ud read it, Thum (garlic). Also, Ibn Abi Hatim narrated that Al-Hasan said about the Ayah,“Its Fum”, “Ibn ‘Abbas said that Fum means, garlic.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:193) He also said that the expression, ‘Fumu-lanna’ means, ‘bake for us’, according to the languages of old. Ibn Jarir commented, “If this is true, then ‘Fum’ is one of the words whose pronounciation were altered, the letter ‘fa’ was replaced by the letter ‘tha’, since they are similar in sound.” (At-Tabari 2:130) And Allah knows best. Others said that Fum is wheat, the kind used for bread. Al-Bukhari said, “Some of them said that Fum includes all grains or seeds that are eaten.”

Allah’s statement, “He said, “Would you exchange that which is better for that which is lower” criticized the Jews for asking for inferior foods, although they were living an easy life, eating tasty, beneficial and pure food. Allah’s statement, “Go you down to any Misr” means, ‘any city’, as Ibn ‘Abbas said. Ibn Jarir also reported that Abu Al’Aliyah and Ar-Rabi’bin Anas said that the Ayah refers to Misr, the Egypt of Fir’awn. (At-Tabari 2:134) The truth is that the Ayah means any city, as Ibn ‘Abbas and other scholars stated. Therefore, the meaning of Musa’s statement to the Children of Israel becomes, “What you are asking for is easy, for it is available in abundance in any city that you might enter. So since what you asked for is available in all of the villages and cities, I will not ask Allah to provide us with it, especially when it is an inferior type of food. ” This is why Musa said to them, “Would you exchange that which is better for that which is lower? Go you down to any town and you shall find what you want!” Since their request was the result of boredom and arrogance and since fulfilling it was unnecessary, their request was denied. Allah knows best .

 

{61. And they were covered with humiliation and misery, and they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah. That was because they used to disbelieve in the Ayat (proofs, evidence) of Allah and killed the Prophets wrongfully. That was because they disobeyed and used to transgress the bounds (in their disobedience to Allah, i.e. commit crimes and sins.)} (2:61)

 

Covering the Jews in Humiliation and Misery

 Allah said, “And they were covered with humiliation and misery”. This Ayah indicates that the Children of Israel were plagued with humiliation, and that this will continue, meaning that it will never cease. They will continue to suffer humiliation at the hands of all who interact with them, along with the disgrace that they feel inwardly. Al-Hasan commented, “Allah humiliated them, and they shall have no protector. Allah put them under the feet of the Muslims, who appeared at a time when the Majus (Zoroastrians) were taking the Jizyah (tax) from the Jews.” Also, Abu Al-‘Aliyah, Ar-Rabi’bin Anas and As-Suddi said that ‘misery’ used in the Ayah means, ‘poverty.’ ‘Atiyah Al-‘Awfi said that ‘misery’ means, ‘paying the tilth (tax).’ In addition, Ad- Dahhak commented on Allah’s statement, “and they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah”, “They deserved Allah’s anger.” Also, Ibn Jarir said that,“and they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah” means, “They went back with the wrath”. Similarly, Allah said,

“Verily, I intend to let you draw my sin on yourself as well as yours” (5:29)

meaning, ‘You will end up carrying my, and your, mistakes instead of me’. Thus, the meaning of the Ayah becomes, ‘They went back carrying Allah’s anger; Allah’s wrath descended on them; they deserved Allah’s anger.”’ Allah’s statement, “That was because they used to disbelieve in the Ayat (proofs, evidences, etc.) of Allah and killed the Prophets wrongfully” means, “This is what We rewarded the Children of Israel with: humiliation and misery.” Allah’s anger that descended on the Children of Israel was a part of the humiliation they earned, because of their defiance of the truth, disbelief in Allah’s Ayat and belittling the carriers of Allah’s Law i.e. the Prophets and their following. The Children of Israel rejected the Messengers and even killed them. Surely, there is no form of disbelief worse than disbelieving in Allah’s Ayat and murdering the Prophets of Allah.

Meaning of Kibr

Similarly, in a Hadith recorded in the Two Sahihs the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

 “‘Kibr, is refusing the truth and degrading (belittling) people.” (Muslim 1:93)

Imam Ahmad recorded, ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud saying that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“The people who will receive the most torment on the Day of Resurrection are: a man who was killed by a Prophet or who killed a Prophet, an unjust ruler and one who mutilates (the dead).” (Ahmad 1:407)

Allah’s statement, “That was because they disobeyed and used to transgress the bounds” mentions another reason why the Children of Israel were punished in this manner, for they used to disobey and transgress the limits. Disobedience is to do what is prohibited, while transgression entails overstepping the set limits of what is allowed and what is prohibited. Allah knows best.

 

{62. Verily, those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians (Sabi’in), whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.}

 

Faith and doing Righteous Deeds equals Salvation in all Times

After Allah described the condition – and punishment – of those who defy His commands, fall into His prohibitions and transgress set limits by committing prohibited acts, He stated that the earlier nations who were righteous and obedient received the rewards for their good deeds. This shall be the case, until the Day of Judgment. Therefore, whoever follows the unlettered Messenger and Prophet shall acquire eternal happiness and shall neither fear from what will happen in the future nor become sad for what has been lost in the past. Similarly, Allah said,

“No doubt! Verily, the Awliya’ of Allah, no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve” (10:62).

The angels will proclaim to the dying believers, as mentioned,

“Verily, those who say: “Our Lord is Allah (alone),” and then they stand firm, on them the angels will descend (at the time of their death) (saying): “Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised!”. (41:30)

The Meaning of Mu’min, or Believer

Ali bin Abi Talhah narrated from Ibn’ Abbas, about, “Verily, those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day” that Allah revealed the following Ayah afterwards,

“And whoever seeks religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers” (3:85)

This statement by Ibn ‘Abbas indicates that Allah does not accept any deed or work from anyone, unless it conforms to the Law of Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, that is, after Allah sent Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Before that, every person who followed the guidance of his own Prophet was on the correct path, following the correct guidance and was saved.

Why the Jews were called ‘Yahud

The Jews are the followers of Prophet Musa, who used to refer to the Tawrah for judgment. Yahud is a word that means, ‘repenting’, just as Musa said, “Certainly we have the Hudna to You” meaning, we repent to You. This indicates that they were the first to be called Yahud, because they repented and because they were kind to each other. It was also said that they were called Yahud in reference to Yahuda (Judah) the eldest son of the Prophet Yaqub, peace be upon him. Abu Amr bin Al-Ala’ said the were called Yahud, because they were swayed when they read the Tawrah.

Why the Christians were called ‘Nasara’

When ‘Isa, peace be upon him, was sent, the Children of Israel were required to follow and obey him. The followers of ‘Isa and his companions were called An’Nasara, because they gave aid and support to each other. They are also called Ansar (helpers), as ‘Isa, peace be upon him, said,

“Who will be my helpers in Allah’s cause” Al-Hawariyyun said: “We are the helpers of Allah.” (61: 14)

It was said that they were called ‘Nasara’, because they inhabited a land called An-Nasirah (Nazareth), as Qatadah, Ibn Jurayj and Ibn ‘Abbas were reported to have said. (Ar-Razi 3:97) Allah knows best. Nasara is certainly plural for Nasran.

When Allah sent Muhammad as the Last and Final Prophet and Messenger to all of the Children of Adam, mankind was required to believe in him, obey him and refrain from what he prohibited them; those who do this are true believers. The Ummah of Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was called ‘Mu’minin’ (believers), because of the depth of their faith and certainty, and because they believe in all of the previous Prophets and matters of the Unseen.

The Sabi’un or Sabians

There is a difference of opinion over the identity of the Sabians. Sufyan Ath-Thawri said that Layth bin Abu Sulaym said that Mujahid said that, “The Sabians are between the Majus, the Jews and the Christians. They do not have a specific religion.” (At-Tabari 2:146) Similar is reported from Ibn Abi Najih. Similar statements were attributed to ‘Ata’ and Sa’id bin Jubayr. (At-Tabari 2:146) They (others) say that the Sabians are a sect among the People of the Book who used to read the Zabur (Psalms), others say that they are a people who worshipped the angels or the stars. It appears that the closest opinion to the truth, and Allah knows best, is Mujahid’s statement and those who agree with him like Wahb bin Munabbih, that the Sabians are neither Jews nor Christians nor Majus nor polytheists. Rather, they did not have a specific religion that they followed and enforced, because they remained living according to their Fitrah (instinctual nature). This is why the idolators used to call whoever embraced Islam a ‘Sabi’, meaning, that he abandoned all religions that existed on the earth. Some scholars stated that the Sabians are those who never received a message by any Prophet. And Allah knows best.

 

{63. And (O Children of Isra’il, remember) when We took your covenant and We raised above you the Mount (saying): “Hold fast to that which We have given you, and remember that which is therein so that you may acquire Taqwa.

64. Then after that you turned away. Had it not been for the grace and mercy of Allah upon you, indeed you would have been among the losers.}

 

Taking the Covenant from the Jews

Allah reminded the Children of Israel of the pledges, covenants and promises that He took from them to believe in Him alone, without a partner, and follow His Messengers. Allah stated that when He took their pledge from them, He raised the mountain above their heads, so that they affirm the pledge that they gave Allah and abide by it with sincerity and seriousness. Hence, Allah’s statement,

“And (remember) when We raised the mountain over them as if it had been a canopy, and they thought that it was going to fall on them. (We said): “Hold firmly to what We have given you (Tawrah), and remember that which is therein (act on its commandments), so that you may fear Allah and obey Him.” (7:171)

The mount mentioned here is At-Tur, just as it was explained in Surat Al-‘raf, according to the Tafsir of Ibn ‘Abbas, Mujahid, ‘Ata’, ‘Ikrimah, Al-Hasan, Ad-Dahhak, Ar-Rabi’bin Anas and others. (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:203) This is more obvious. There is another report from Ibn ‘Abbas saying; ‘The Tur is a type of mountain that vegetation grows on, if no vegetation grows on it, it is not called Tur.’ And in the Hadith about the trials, Ibn ‘Abbas said; “When they (the Jews) refused to obey, Allah raised the mountain above their heads so that they would listen.” (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 6:396)

Al-Hasan said that Allah’s statement, “Hold fast to that which We have given you” means, the Tawrah. Mujahid said that the Ayah commanded, “Strictly adhere to it.” Abu Al-‘Aliyah and Ar-Rabi’ said that, “and remember that which is therein” means, “Read the Tawrah and implement it.” Allah’s statement, “Then after that you turned away. Had it not been for the grace of Allah” means, “Yet, after the firm pledge that you gave, you still deviated and broke your pledge”; “Had it not been for the grace and mercy of Allah upon you”, meaning, by forgiving you and by sending the Prophets and Messengers to you, “Indeed you would have been among the losers” meaning, in this life and the Hereafter due to their breach of the covenant.

 

{65. And indeed you knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath (i.e. Saturday). We said to them: “Be you monkeys, despised and rejected.”

66. So We made this punishment an example for those in front of it and those behind it, and a lesson for Al- Muttaqin (the pious.)}

 

The Jews breach the Sanctity of the Sabbath

 Allah said, “And indeed you knew”. This Ayah means, O Jews! Remember that Allah sent His torment on the village that disobeyed Him and broke their pledge and their covenant to observe the sanctity of the Sabbath. They began using deceitful means to avoid honoring the Sabbath by placing nets, ropes and artificial pools of water for the purpose of fishing before the Sabbath. When the fish came in abundance on Saturday as usual, they were caught in the ropes and nets for the rest of Saturday. During the night, the Jews collected the fish after the Sabbath ended. When they did that, Allah changed them from humans into monkeys, the animals having the form closest to humans. Their evil deeds and deceit appeared lawful on the surface, but they were in reality wicked. This is why their punishment was compatible with their crime. This story is explained in detail in Surat Al-A’raf, where Allah said,

“And ask them (O Muhammad ) about the town that was by the sea; when they transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath (i.e. Saturday): when their fish came to them openly on the Sabbath day, and did not come to them on the day they had no Sabbath. Thus We made a trial of them, for they used to rebel (disobey Allah).” (7:163)

In his Tafsir, Al-‘Awfi reported from Ibn ‘Abbas that he said, “We said to them: “Be you monkeys, despised and rejected” means, “Allah changed their bodies into those of monkeys and swines. The young people turned into monkeys while the old people turned into swine.” Shayban An-Nahwi reported that Qatadah commented on, “We said to them: “Be you monkeys, despised and rejected”, “These people were turned into howling monkeys with tails, after being men and women.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:209)

The Monkeys and Swine that exist now are not the Descendants of Those that were transformed

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Those who violated the sanctity of the Sabbath were turned into monkeys, then they perished without offspring.” Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Allah turned them into monkeys because of their sins. They only lived on the earth for three days, for no transformed person ever lives more than three days. They did not eat, drink or have offspring. Allah transformed their shapes into monkeys, and He does what He wills, with whom He wills and He changes the shape of whomever He wills. On the other hand, Allah created the monkeys, swines and the rest of the creation in the six days (of creation) that He mentioned in HisBook.” (At-Tabari 2:167)

Allah’s statement, “So We made this punishment an example” means, Allah made the people of this village, who violated the sanctity of the Sabbath, “an example” via the way they were punished. Similarly, Allah said about Pharaoh,

“So Allah, seized him with punishing example for his last and first transgression” (79:25).

Allah’s statement, “for those in front of it and those behind it” meaning, for the other villages. Ibn ‘Abbas commented, “Meaning, ‘We made this village an example for the villages around it by the manner in which We punished its people.”’ Similarly, Allah said,

“And  indeed We have destroyed towns (populations) round about you, and We have (repeatedly) shown (them) the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) in various ways that they might return (to the truth and believe in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism)” (46:27)

Therefore, Allah made them an example for those who lived during their time as well as a reminder for those to come, by preserving their story. This is why Allah said, “and a lesson for Al-Muttaqin (the pious)”, meaning, a reminder. This Ayah means, “The torment and punishment that this village suffered was a result of indulging in Allah’s prohibitions and their deceit. Hence, those who have Taqwa should be aware of their evil behavior, so that what occurred to this village does not befall them as well.” Also, Imam Abu ‘Abdullah bin Battah reported that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Do not commit what the Jews committed, breaching what Allah has forbidden, by resorting to the lowest types of deceit.” (Irwa’ Al-Ghalil 5:375)

This Hadith has a good (Jayid) chain of narration. Allah knows best.

 

{67. And (remember) when Musa said to his people: “Verily, Allah commands you that you slaughter a cow.” They said, “Do you make fun of us?” He said, “I take Allah’s refuge from being among Al-Jahilin (the ignorant or the foolish).”}

 

The Story of the murdered Israeli Man and the Cow

Allah said, ‘O Children of Israel! Remember how I blessed you with miracle of the cow that was the means for discovering the identity of the murderer, when the murdered man was brought back to life.’ Ibn Abi Hatim recorded ‘Ubaydah As-Salmani saying, “There was a man from among the Children of Israel who was impotent. He had substantial wealth, and only a nephew who would inherit from him. So his nephew killed him and moved his body at night, placing it at the doorstep of a certain man. The next morning, the nephew cried out for revenge, and the people took up their weapons and almost fought each other. The wise men among them said, ‘Why would you kill each other, while the Messenger of Allah is still among you?’ So they went to Musa and mentioned the matter to him and Musa said, “Verily, Allah commands you that you slaughter a cow.” They said, “Do you make fun of us” He said, “I take Allah’s refuge from being among Al-Jahilin (the ignorant or the foolish).” “Had they not disputed, it would have been sufficient for them to slaughter any cow. However, they disputed, and the matter was made more difficult for them, until they ended up looking for the specific cow that they were later ordered to slaughter. They found the designated cow with a man, only who owned that cow. He said, ‘By Allah! I will only sell it for its skin’s fill of gold.’ So they paid the cow’s fill of its skin in gold, slaughtered it and touched the dead man with a part of it. He stood up, and they asked him, ‘Who killed you?’ He said, ‘That man,’ and pointed to his nephew. He died again, and his nephew was not allowed to inherit him. Thereafter, whoever committed murder for the purpose of gaining inheritance was not allowed to inherit.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:114) Ibn Jarir reported something similar to that. Allah knows best.

 

{68. They said, “Call upon your Lord for us that He may make plain to us what it is!” He said, “He says, ‘Verily, it is a cow neither too old nor too young, but (it is) between the two conditions’, so do what you are commanded.”

69. They said, “Call upon your Lord for us to make plain to us its colour.” He said, “He says, ‘It is a yellow cow, bright in its colour, pleasing the beholders.’ ”

70. They said, “Call upon your Lord for us to make plain to us what it is. Verily, to us all cows are alike. And surely, if Allah wills, we will be guided.”

71. He (Musa) said, “He says, ‘It is a cow neither trained to till the soil nor water the fields, sound, having no blemish in it.’ ” They said, “Now you have brought the truth.” So they slaughtered it though they were near to not doing it.}

 

The Stubbornness of the Jews regarding the Cow; Allah made the Matter difficult for Them

Allah mentioned the stubbornness of the Children of Israel and the many unnecessary questions they asked their Messengers. This is why when they were stubborn, Allah made the decisions difficult for them. Had they slaughtered a cow, any cow, it would have been sufficient for them, as Ibn ‘Abbas and ‘Ubaydah have said. Instead, they made the matter difficult, and this is why Allah made it even more difficult for them. They said, “Call upon your Lord for us that He may make plain to us what it is!”, meaning, “What is this cow and what is its description” Musa said, “He says, ‘Verily, it is a cow neither too old nor too young'”, meaning, that it is neither old nor below the age of breeding. Ad-Dahhak reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said that, “But (it is) between the two conditions” means, “Neither old nor young. Rather, she was at the age when the cow is strongest and fittest.” In his Tafsir Al-‘Awfi reported from Ibn ‘Abbas that, “bright in its colour” “A deep yellowish white.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:221) As-Suddi said, “pleasing the beholder” meaning, that it pleases those who see it. Furthermore, Wahb bin Munabbih said, “If you look at the cow’s skin, you will think that the sun’s rays radiate through its skin.” (At-Tabari 2:202) The modern version of the Tawrah mentions that the cow in the Ayah was red, but this is an error. Or, it might be that the cow was so yellow that it appeared blackish or reddish in color. Allah’s knows best.

 “Verily, to us all cows are alike” this means, that since cows are plentiful, then describe this cow for us further. “And surely, if Allah wills” and if you further describe it to us, “we will be guided.”

“He says, ‘It is a cow neither trained to till the soil nor water the fields'” meaning, it is not used in farming, or for watering purposes. Rather, it is honorable and fair looking. ‘Abdur-Razzaq said that Ma`mar said that Qatadah said that, “sound” means, “The cow does not suffer from any defects.” (At-Tabari 2:214) Further, ‘Ata’ Al-Khurasani said that the Ayah means that its legs and body are free of physical defects. (At-Tabari 2:226)

Also, Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn ‘Abbas said that the Ayah, “So they slaughtered it though they were near to not doing it” means, “They did not want to slaughter it.” This means that even after all the questions and answers about the cow’s description, the Jews were still reluctant to slaughter the cow. This part of the Qur’an criticized the Jews for their behavior, because their only goal was to be stubborn, and this is why they nearly did not slaughter the cow. 

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Tafsir Ibn Kathir. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s