Al- Quran Surah AL-BAQARA Ayahs’ 91 to 120
(2:91) When they are told: “Believe in what Allah has revealed,” they say: “We believe only in what was revealed to us (Israel).” They deny everything else even though it be
the Truth which confirms what they possess. Say (to them): “If indeed you are believers, why is it that in the past you killed the Prophets of Allah (who were from Israel)?”
(2:92) Moses came to you with clear proofs and yet you were so wont to wrong-doing that as soon as he was gone you took to worshipping the calf.
(2:93) Recall the covenant We made with you and caused the Mount to tower above you, stressing: “Hold to what We have given you with full strength and give heed to it.” But their forefathers said: “We hear, but we disobey” – for their hearts were overflowing with love for the calf because of their unbelief. Say: “If you are people of faith, then evil are the things that your faith enjoins upon you.”
(2:94) Say to them: “If indeed the Last Abode with Allah is yours, in exclusion of other people, then long for deaths if you are truthful.”
98. This is a subtle, satirical reference to their excessive worldliness. Those who really care for the Hereafter neither set their hearts on earthly life, nor are they unduly frightened of death. The condition of the Jews was the reverse of this.
(2:95) But they shall never long for it because of the (evil) deeds they have committed;
Allah is well aware of me wrong-doers.
(2:96) You will certainly find them most eager to cling on to life, indeed even more eager than those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity. Each one of them wishes to live a thousand years although the bestowal of long life cannot remove him from chastisement. Allah sees whatever they do.
99. The Arabic text implies that the Jews were so frightened of death and so keen to remain alive that they did not mind whether they led an honorable and dignified existence, or whether their life was one of indignity and humiliation.
(2:97) Say: “Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel (should know that) he revealed this (Qur’an) to your heart by Allah’s leave: it confirms the Scriptures revealed before it, and is a guidance and good tiding to the people of faith.
100. The Jews not only reviled the Prophet (peace be on him) and his followers but also God’s chosen angel, Gabriel, denouncing him as their enemy, and branding him as the angel of curse rather than of blessing.
101. Since Gabriel communicated the revealed messages with God’s approval the abuses of the Jews which were apparently aimed at Gabriel should be considered as directed at God.
102. They abused Gabriel because he had brought the Qur’an from God, and since the Qur’an on the whole confirms the Torah this too became a co-sharer in those abuses.
103. Here there is a subtle suggestion that the wrath of the Jews was, in fact, directed against true guidance and righteousness even though acceptance of these would have brought them good tidings as to their own success.
(2:98) (And if this is the cause of their hostility to Gabriel, let them know) whoever is
an enemy to Allah, His Angels and His Messengers and to Gabriel and Michael will surely find Allah an enemy to such unbelievers.”
(2:99) We surely sent down to you clear verses that elucidate the Truth, (verses) which only the transgressors reject as false.
(2:100) Is it not that every time they made a covenant with Allah a party of them set it aside? The truth is that most of them do not truly believe.
(2:101) And whenever a Messenger from Allah came to them, confirming what they already possessed, a party of those who had been given the Scripture flung the Book of Allah behind their backs as if they no— nothing,(2:102) and then followed what the evil ones falsely attributed to the kingdom of Solomon even though Solomon had never disbelieved; it is the evil ones who disbelieved, teaching people magic. And they followed what had been revealed to the two angels in Babylon – Harut and Marut – although these two (angels) never taught it to anyone without first declaring: “We are merely a means of testing people; so, do not engage in unbelief.”1% And yet they learned from them what might cause division between a man and his wife1%. They could not cause harm to anyone except by the leave of Allah, and still they learned what harmed rather than profited them, knowing well that he who bought it will have no share in the World to Come. Evil indeed is what they sold themselves for. Had they but known!
104. ‘Evil ones’ embraces all evil beings, whether they belong to the human species or to the jinn. Here the reference seems to be to both.
When moral and material decline set in among the Israelites, they were overwhelmed withslavery and ignorance, with misery and poverty, and with humiliation and decadence. They were thus drained of all high ambitions and increasingly turned to magic, sorcery, witchcraft, charms and amulets. They began to search for facile means such as spells that would spare them hard work and yet ensure the achievement of their desired ends. At this stage they were misled by the evil ones, who made them believe that the mighty kingdom and astonishing power of Solomon were merely due to occult sciences and magical formulae, and that by revealing those they would pass on to them the keys to success. People were so engrossed in such practices that they ignored both the Book of God and anyone who summoned them to truth and righteousness.
105. There are various opinions on the interpretation of this verse. My own conclusion is that at the time when the whole Israelite nation was chained in slavery and captivity in Babylonia God sent two angels in human form in order to test the Jews. In the same way as angels were sent to the people of Lot in the form of handsome youths see (Quran 11: 69 ff. -Ed.), they were presumably sent to Israel in the form of divines who could work magic and sorcery. These angels at once began working their magical wonders but they warned the people that their presence among them was designed to test their faith, and that they ought not to jeopardize their After-life by the practice of magic. Despite the warning it seems that the Israelites had become so fond of their magical artifices that they continued to resort to talismans and sorcery.
It should not surprise anyone that angels came down to earth in human form; angels are dutiful servants of God’s kingdom, and are capable of assuming the form appropriate to the specific task they are required to perform at any particular time. Who knows how many angels may be busy performing their duties in our midst even today!
One might also wonder why angels should teach people magic, which is after all intrinsically evil. In order to understand this we must remember that the nature of their task was no different from that of an undercover policeman who hands over marked currency notes to a corrupt official as a bribe with the aim of ensuring that he is caught red-handed.
106. This shows that the greatest demand was for magical arts and charms to sow discord
between a man and his wife and to procure the eventual seduction of the latter. This was the depth of moral depravity to which these people had fallen. A people cannot sink to a lower level of moral degeneracy than when adulterous affairs become their favorite pastime, and when seducing a married woman is considered a boastful achievement. The matrimonial relationship is, in truth, the very foundation of man’s collective life. The soundness of human civilization depends on the soundness of the relationship between the two sexes.
Hence, nothing could be worse than the person who strikes at the very foundations of the structure which supports both him and society as a whole.
There is a Tradition from the Prophet to the effect that Satan sends his agents on their missions to all parts of the world. On their return these agents report their achievements with each mentioning his own special evil act. But Satan is not completely satisfied with any of them. It is only when an agent reports that he has succeeded in separating a wife from her husband that Satan is filled with joy and embraces him. (Bukhari chapter, ‘Talaq’, 25 – Ed.) In the light of this
tradition it is understandable why the angels who were sent to the Israelites to test them were asked to disclose those magical arts which would lead to separation between a husband and his wife, for the inclination of a people to learn such arts is a sure index of its moral decadence.
(2:103) Had they believed and been God-fearing Allah’s reward would have been better! Had they but known!
(2:104) O you who believers Do not say (to the Prophet): Ra’ina (Lend ear to us), but say Unzurna (Favour us with your attention) and pay heed (to him). A painful chastisement awaits the unbelievers.
107. This and the following verses inform the followers of the Prophet (peace be on him) of the machinations of the Jews against Islam and the Muslims, and dispel any doubts and misgivings they tried to create in their minds. Special attention is paid to the points raised during controversial discussions between Muslims and Jews. It is useful to note here that when the Prophet (peace be on him) arrived in Madina and the message of Islam began to spread the Jews tried to engage Muslims in controversial religious discussions. They raised all kinds of involved and suspicion-provoking problems so as to contaminate the simple and pure-hearted Muslims with the spiritual diseases from which they themselves suffered. Not only that, they resorted to sly and deceptive talk in the presence of the Prophet. 108. When the Jews visited the Prophet they tried to vent their spite by using ambiguous expressions in their greetings and conversation. They, used words which had double meanings, one innocent and the other offensive. After using quite proper expressions they would then whisper some malicious words. Ostensibly they maintained the decorum of respect and courtesy while sparing no underhand means to insult the Prophet. Later we shall encounter several examples of this kind of behavior. The particular expression referred to here, and which the Muslims were asked to avoid using since it lent itself to abuse, was employed by the Jews when in conversation with the Prophet, whenever they wanted to request a short pause in which to finish whatever they wanted to say. They, used the expression ra’ina, which meant ‘kindly indulge us’ or ‘ kindly lend ear to us’. It was possible, however, for the expression to be used with quite a different shade of meaning. In Hebrew, for instance, there is a word similar to it which means: ‘Listen, may you become deaf.’ In the same language it also means arrogant, ignorant and fool. In actual conversation it was also used on occasions when one wanted to say: ‘If you listen to me, 1 will listen to you.’ When it was pronounced with a slight twist of the tongue it turned into ra’ina, meaning ‘our shepherd. It is because of the possibility of the word being used in these different senses that Muslims were asked to avoid it and to use instead the straightforward expression unzurna, meaning
‘kindly favor us with your attention’ or ‘kindly grant us a while to follow (what you are saying)’. This advice was followed by the admonition to listen attentively to what the Prophet said, for the Jews used to ask for the same thing to be repeated merely because they did not pay proper attention to what the Prophet said but instead were engrossed in their own thoughts. If the Muslims were to heed what the Prophet said, they would scarcely need to make such requests.
(2:105) The unbelievers, be they the People of the Book or those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity, do not wish that any good should be sent down upon you rom your Lord. But Allah chooses for His mercy whomsoever He wills. Allah is Lord of Abounding Bounty.
(2:106) For whatever verse We might abrogate or consign to oblivion, We bring a better one or the like of it. Are you not aware that Allah is All-Powerful?
109. This is in response to a doubt which the Jews tried to implant in the minds of the Muslims. If both the earlier Scriptures and the Qur’an were revelations from God, why was it – they asked – that the injunctions found in the earlier Scriptures had been replaced by new ones in the Qur’an? How could the same God issue divergent injunctions? Furthermore, they expressed their amazement at the Qur’anic indictment of the Jews and Christians for having allowed part of the revelation to be forgotten and lost, pointing out that it was impossible that Divine revelation should be erased from human memory. In all this, their motive was not to know the truth but to cast doubt on the Divine origin of the Qur’an. In refutation God states that He being the Absolute Sovereign has unlimited authority both to abrogate previous injunctions and to cause people to forget the injunctions He wants them to forget. However, God ensures that whatever He abrogates or causes to be erased from people’s memories is replaced by something equally or even more beneficial.
(2:107) Are you not aware that the dominion of the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah, and that none apart from Allah is your protector or helper?
(2:108) Or would you ask your Messenger in the manner Moses” was asked before? And whoever exchanges faith for unbelief has surely strayed from the Right Way.
110. The Jews, who were addicted to hair-splitting arguments, instigated the Muslims to ask the Prophet a great many questions. God, therefore, cautioned the Muslims against following the example of the Jews in this matter, and admonished them against unnecessary inquisitiveness. The Prophet himself often warned the Muslims that excessive inquisitiveness (which was devoid of religious earnestness and the sincere desire to do God’s will) had been the ruin of earlier religious communities. (Muslim, ‘Fadail’, 130; Bukhari, ‘1’tisim’, 2 – Ed.) He stressed that people need not delve too deeply into questions left un elucidated by God or His Messenger. It was better to follow the injunctions which were clearly laid own, abstain from things prohibited, and avoid excessive inquiry about far-fetched, hypothetical issues, attending instead to questions of practical significance.
(2:109) Out of sheer envy many People of the Book would be glad to turn you back into unbelievers after you have become believers even though the Truth has become
clear to them. Nevertheless, forgive and be indulgent towards them until Allah brings forth His decision. Surely Allah is All-Powerful.
111. This means that one should neither allow oneself to get angry at their spite and hostility, nor waste one’s valuable time by engaging in useless debates and acrimonious polemics. It is better to wait patiently and observe how God deals with them. Instead of wasting energy in frivolous pursuits such as those mentioned above one should spend it in the remembrance of God and in acts of goodness, for it is these rather than barren controversies that will benefit man in the Life to Come.