2-The Cow / Baqarah -Part 2:

(2:40)   Oh Children of Israel, remember and be thankful for the blessings I gave you. Fulfill your covenant with Me, and I will fulfill my covenant with you. Be fearful of breaking your covenant with Me, and

(2:41)   believe in the Quran which confirms what I gave to you. You should be the first to believe because of the prior guidance I sent to you. Do not sell out my religion cheaply, and be afraid of disobeying Me.

(2:42)   Do not mix truth with falsehood and conceal the truth intentionally.

(2:43)   Instead you should pray consistently, give the required charity, and bow in prayer with those who submit to Me.

(2:44)   How can you command people to be good and forget yourselves when you read scripture regularly? Don’t you understand what it is saying?

(2:45)   Strengthen your faith with prayer and persevere against temptation. This will be difficult, except for those who turn to Me in humble submission.

(2:46)   Those who hope that I will reward and take care of them, and they know they will return to Me on the Day of Resurrection.

(2:47)   Oh Children of Israel, remember the blessings I gave you, and keep in mind all of the unique blessings that I gave only to you.

(2:48)   Then protect yourselves from the punishment of the day when no one can settle your debts for you, no one can intercede for you, no one will be accepted as a replacement for you, and no one can do anything to support or protect you.

(2:49)   Remember, I saved you from the house of Pharaoh. They wanted the worst punishment for you. There was a time when they killed your male children and used your girls to serve them. This hardship was terrible and heartbreaking, and your deliverance was a major blessing.

(2:50)   For you, I split the sea and saved you, and drowned the house of Pharaoh in front of you.

(2:51)   Remember, I had a promised meeting with Moses for forty nights, and then many of you worshiped the calf in his absence unjustly.

(2:52)   Then I forgave them so that they would be thankful and worship Me sincerely, and

(2:53)   to guide you, I gave Moses the Torah and definitive miracles so that my guidance would shine clearly.

(2:54)   Remember, Moses said to them, “You are my people, and you harmed yourselves by taking the calf as a deity. So repent to God who brought you into existence and kill those who worshiped the calf from among you as punishment immediately. This repentance is better for you with God, because you will be forgiven completely. You will return to God finding your repentance accepted, and you will receive the reward of God’s continuous mercy.”

(2:55)   Remember, a group of you said, “Oh Moses, we will not believe for you until we see God directly.” Instead, they saw lightning strike and kill them quickly.  

(2:56)   Then I resurrected them so that they would be thankful and worship Me sincerely.

(2:57)   And I gave you clouds for shade, and gave you Manna and Quail generously. “Eat from the blessing of good food I gave you.” You did not harm Me, you only harmed yourselves by being ungrateful and acting unjustly.  

(2:58)   Remember when I said, “Enter Jerusalem, and eat from its produce as you like freely. Enter its door bowing humbly. Say: ‘May our bad deeds be set aside entirely.’ I will forgive your mistakes and increase the reward of the good people who obey Me sincerely.”

(2:59)   Instead of saying what I told them to say, the unjust twisted my words sarcastically. So I dropped on them my punishment because they disobeyed Me persistently.

(2:60)   Remember, Moses prayed for water for you because you were thirsty. I told him to hit the stone with his staff, and twelve springs burst forth so the tribes could drink harmoniously. He said, “Eat and drink from God’s blessings, and at least, do not spread corruption in the land intentionally.”

(2:61)   Remember when you said, “Oh Moses, we cannot take eating just one food continuously. Pray to your God to produce from the earth for us vegetables, herbs, cucumbers, wheat, garlic, lentils, and onions abundantly.” Moses said, “Go back to Egypt, if you want to trade the blessed easy food God has provided for something inferior? Then I gave them permission to settle in towns to eat the produce of farmers. Then because of their disobedience and injustice, they were ungrateful, rejected my guidance, and unjustly killed my messengers. So they remained in a state of humiliation and poverty, and they will continue to be deserving of my anger.

(2:62)   But as for those who believed, and those who adopted the Jewish faith and repented, those who supported Jesus, and those who converted, whoever believes in Me sincerely, and in the Day of Judgment with certainty, and does good deeds regularly, they will not be scared or sad, and they will find their reward with Me to enjoy for eternity.

 (2:63)  Remember, I took your covenant under the mountain I raised over you. I commanded, “To protect yourself from my punishment falling on you, be strong in implementing and preserving what I have given to you.”

(2:64)   Then even after this event, they turned their back on the covenant. If it wasn’t for my blessing and mercy in giving them a chance to repent, they would have been among the losers on the Day of Judgment.

(2:65)   You have come to know the story of those among you who circumvented the law of the Sabbath intentionally. I said “then go live as monkeys, pathetic, and far away from Me.”  

(2:66)   Allowing people who circumvent my laws to live like animals was my punishment then, and it is my punishment for all those who follow them. Their pathetic lives are a warning to be seen by those who fear the consequences of disobeying Me.  

(2:67)   Remember, Moses said to his people, “God commands you to take a cow and slaughter it.” They said, “Are you making fun of us?” He said, “I ask God to protect me from ever being so ignorant.”

(2:68)   They said, “Clarify to us which cow by asking your Lord.” He responded, “God says it should not be too young or too old. It should be of middle age, so now do what you’re told.”

(2:69)   They said, “We don’t know which color, so go ask your Lord.” He responded, “God says it must be all yellow and beautiful to behold.”

(2:70)   They said, “Ask your Lord to clarify which cow because they all look similar. God willing, this time we will know which one God wants us to slaughter.”

(2:71)   He said, “God says it is not trained to till the soil or work in the fields to water. The cow must be all yellow and perfectly healthy.” They said, “This time you made it clear.” Then they slaughtered it, but only reluctantly.

(2:72)   Remember, a murder was committed and regarding who did it, you disputed. And remember that I exposed all that was kept secret.

(2:73)   I ordered through Moses: Hit the victim with part of the cow, and he will be brought back to life to say who did it. Just as easily, I will bring you back on the Day of Judgment. By this miracle, I am showing you an example so you would better understand my complete power.

(2:74)   Then after that, your hearts hardened like stone or even harder. There are permeable rocks which allow rivers to flow, and some stones crack producing springs of flowing water, and there are stones that fall because, before Me, they are fearful and humble. So remember, I know everything you do, and for what you do, I will hold you accountable.

(2:75)   How can you hope for people whose hearts are harder than stone to believe sincerely? Among them is a group who heard My prior revelation, understood it, and then altered it intentionally.

(2:76)   When they meet believers they say, “We believe in God.” Then when they are alone together they say to each other, “Are you telling them what God ordered and judged for us previously so they will argue against us in front of God successfully? What is wrong with you that you are not thinking clearly?”

(2:77)   Don’t they know that I know their secrets and everything they say openly?

(2:78)   And among them there are those who are not literate in scripture except superficially. They only know lies and hopes they cling to for their beliefs stubbornly.

(2:79)   There will be a severe punishment for those who write for profit claiming their writing is revelation sent from Me. For what they wrote and for what they earn they will have a severe penalty.

(2:80)   They say, “We will be burned for a few days only.” Say, “Did you receive a promise from God because God does not break His promises, or are you making a claim against God ignorantly?”

(2:81)   Yes, those who do bad deeds regularly, and their evil surrounds and overcomes them completely, they will be in Hell for eternity, 

(2:82)   and those who believe and do good deeds sincerely will be in Heaven for eternity.

(2:83)   Remember, I took the covenant of the Children of Israel to worship and obey only Me, and be good and kind to their parents, to relatives, orphans, and the weak from poverty, and to pray regularly, and give the required charity. Then most of you turned your back on your promise intentionally.  

(2:84)   Remember, I took your covenant that you would not fight each other, killing and expelling those from your own community. Then you agreed and acknowledged your promise to Me.  

(2:85)   Then some of you went to war killing each other and expelling from their homes members of your own community. They conspired against their own people with sin and unjust animosity. But if community members are taken hostage, they pay the ransom obediently, even though it was forbidden to expel those people initially! How can they believe in part of my book and reject part deliberately? Whoever does this from among you will be rewarded with humiliation in this life, and on the Day of Judgment, they will get the most severe penalty. I know everything they do and they should be afraid of the consequences of disobeying Me.   

(2:86)   For a sinful, temporary, worldly life they traded an eternal life in Heaven. Because of this choice, they will never have their punishment reduced, and no one will ever save them.

(2:87)   I gave Moses a book to guide you, and after him many messengers were sent to you. I gave Jesus son of Mary clear signs to show you, and I supported him with Gabriel, the Holy Spirit, to guide you. Are you going to arrogantly reject or kill every messenger who comes with a message that doesn’t suit you?

(2:88)   And some said, “We already know a lot of scripture and we don’t understand what you are bringing.” No, I am denying them the mercy of my guidance, and they will not believe because they are intentionally rejecting.

(2:89)   And now they reject the Quran which is from Me and which validates the scripture they  received previously. And some used to ask for the final messenger to come and give them victory over their enemies. Then they recognized Muhammad, but rejected him stubbornly. So I deny the blessing of my guidance and my mercy to those who reject my guidance intentionally.

 (2:90)  What a terrible result they achieved for themselves by rejecting what I sent out of jealousy. They cannot accept that I can bless and select as a messenger whomever I want to from my servants?! Now they will live with my anger for their disobedience on top of anger for their arrogance. Those who reject my message will have a humiliating punishment on the Day of Resurrection.  

(2:91)   When it is said to them, “Believe the Quran which is sent by God.” They respond, “We will only believe in the previous revelation.” Then they reject the Quran which is the truth and affirms what is with them. So say to them, “Are you following the tradition of those before you who claimed to be believers? Some of them killed God’s messengers.

(2:92)   Moses came with clear evidence, and then some committed the terrible injustice of taking the calf as a god in his absence.”

(2:93)   Remember, I took their covenant raising the mountain over them saying, “Hear and understand what I am telling you. Take what I have given to you, and persevere in implementing it consistently and following through.” Then it was as if they said, “We hear and will be disobedient.” Because of their ungrateful rejection of my guidance, I filled their hearts with love for the calf as a punishment. Tell them, “If you believe and reject God’s guidance in the tradition of those before you, then what a terrible result your belief has done for you.”

(2:94)   Tell them, “If you truly believe the next life with God is for you only, then look forward to dying if you are speaking truthfully.”

(2:95)   They will never look forward to death because they are so sinful, and they know that I know who is unjust and evil.

(2:96)   I swear, of all people, you will find them the most protective of a pathetic life, and among the polytheists there are those who would love to live a thousand years from their fear of death. No matter how long they live it will not save them from punishment and accountability. They cannot hide anything from Me, and they will see that I will punish them accordingly.

(2:97)   Tell whoever has a problem with Angel Gabriel that I say clearly: He delivered the Quran to Muhammad with God’s permission perfectly. The Quran, which affirms the scripture sent previously, and is guidance and good news for those who believe sincerely.

(2:98)   Whoever is against or rejects Me, my angels, messengers, Angel Gabriel or Michael should know that I take them as an enemy, and they will be denied my mercy.

(2:99)   I sent these clear verses to Muhammad, and only the sinful reject it who disobey Me regularly. 

(2:100) Is a group of them going to break their covenant intentionally every time they make one with Me?

(2:101) And when Muhammad came as my messenger with a message that validates what is with them, a group of those who had my prior revelation discarded my guidance to them and behaved as if they didn’t recognize him.  

(2:102) And some followed the teachings that devils taught and attributed to the time of Solomon. Solomon was a believer. It is the devils who disbelieved and spread evil. They teach people black magic, and what was revealed to the two angels, Harut and Marut, in Babel. But the angels did not teach anyone without first warning, “We are sent as a test, so do not disbelieve in God or practice this knowledge on anyone.” Then people would learn from them the means to break up marriages, and they cannot harm anyone with this knowledge if I do not allow it to happen. What they learn from the devils does not benefit them, and what they do to others, in reality, only harms them. They knew whoever disbelieves and trades my guidance for what the devils are teaching will get nothing but punishment on the Day of Resurrection. What a terrible result they achieved for themselves, if they only knew the terrible consequences for their actions.    

(2:103) If only they knew how much better for them it would have been, to believe in Me, be fearful of disobeying, and receive my reward in Heaven.

(2:104) Oh believers, do not say to my messenger: listen to us and we will listen to you. Instead, say: take care of us and guide us too. Remember, those who reject my messenger will have a painful punishment. So listen and follow what he tells you to do.

(2:105) Those who reject the Quran from the polytheists and from those who received some prior scripture, they don’t want anything good to come to you from your Lord because they resent my messenger. Don't they realize that everything people get in life is a blessing from Me, and I give to whom I chose from my great generosity.

(2:106) I do not replace or allow the discarding of a rule, verse, or scripture without revealing something better for you or similar. Don’t they know that I have no limits on what I can do or order?

(2:107) Don’t they know that everything in the heavens and the earth is under my power? and other than Me, they have no one to support them or act as a protector? 

(2:108) Like demands were made of Moses, do you want to make demands and put conditions on your messenger? Whoever trades their belief for rejection and disbelief has strayed far from the right path to salvation.

(2:109) Even after they recognized the truth of this revelation, many of those who received some prior scripture are so jealous that they would love to convert you back to a disbelieving religion. So until I take care of them, let it go and be forgiving. Remember, that I can do anything.  

(2:110) And pray consistently, give the required charity, and for all the good deeds you do, you will find their reward with Me. Remember, that I see all you do, and I will reward you accordingly.

(2:111) And they said that none will enter Heaven unless they are a Jew or a Christian. That is what they are hoping. Respond saying, “If you are telling the truth, then show us your proof.

(2:112) Because the truth is that the good people who turn to God in complete and sincere submission are the ones who will find their reward with God, and they will not be scared or sad on the Day of Resurrection.

(2:113) The Jews said the Christians are following the wrong religion, and Christians said the Jews are following the wrong religion, and both are reading scripture containing some of God’s prior revelation. And those who have no real knowledge of scripture make claims similar to them. God will judge between them for all their disputes on the Day of Resurrection.”

(2:114) Are there any worse than those who prevent people from praying and remembering Me in my houses of worship and work to destroy them? They have no right to enter them except in fear of the consequences for their actions. They will be disgraced in life, and on the Day of Judgment, there is a terrible punishment waiting for them.

(2:115) If you are prevented from praying, remember I own the East and the West. Wherever you go you will find Me waiting. Be thankful that I made life flexible and easy for you, and remember that I know everything you do.

(2:116) And some of them claim I have a son?! Against my glory, that is a terrible fabrication. I own everything in the heavens and the earth, and all are completely under my laws and direction.

(2:117) It is I who invented the earth and the heavens. If I want something done, I command and it happens.

(2:118) And those who are ignorant say, “We would believe, if only God speaks to us directly or gives us a miracle.” In the past, people made the same statements because their hearts’ condition was similar. I have made the truth clear in my revelation and creation for those who seek the truth diligently.

(2:119) Oh Muhammad, I sent you with the truth to spread the good news and deliver my warning clearly. You will not be responsible for those who choose Hell for eternity. So don’t worry or ask about them.

(2:120) The Jews and the Christians will never fully accept you until you follow their religious convictions.  Say to them, “God’s guidance is the only guidance and true religion.” After receiving this knowledge, if you cave in to their desires to please them, from my punishment, no one will be able to save you or offer you protection.

(2:121) Those who sincerely read and follow what they have received from my prior revelation will believe in the Quran, and those who reject it will be the losers on the Day of Resurrection.

 

Chapter Notes:

Verses 47-121: In classical Arabic, it is acceptable to refer to a group and say “You did this or that” and be referring to their forefathers. In many of these verses, God is responding to the Jewish community at the time of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, literally saying –for example- (72) “Remember, when you killed a person…”, and (92) “…why do you kill God’s messengers…” In all such places, the reference is actually to historical incidents committed by some members from the community. In other words, God is warning the people being spoken to not to follow in the footsteps of those before them from their community who were ungrateful and disobedient to God.

Verse 61: This verse has two readings in Arabic. In one Moses says “Go back to Egypt to get what you want.” In the other it is “Go to any town or developed area to get what you want.” So the two ideas were combined together.

Verse 62: This verse is often translated “Those who believe, and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians.” The word in Arabic translated “Sabian” means “one who converts or changes their religion.” As a result, the early Muslims were referred to as such because they changed their religion. Before the revelation of the Quran, there was a group that left Christianity and Judaism and allegedly worshiped Angels that were also referred to as “Sabian” for changing their religion. If that particular group was being referenced by this verse, it is unclear why.  Furthermore, the Arabic doesn’t say “are Jews.” It is more accurate to translate it as “became or adopted the Jewish faith.” Also the name for the Jewish faith in Arabic is derived from the Arabic word “to repent”. So when this verse is given a plain interpretation consistent with what came before it and after it, it reads as a historical progression through time: The believers from ancient past, then those who adopted the Jewish faith, then those who supported Jesus, and then those who converted to Islam, all of them who believed in God and did good deeds will be rewarded. 

Verse 65: This story is fleshed out in more detail in verse (7:163-166). In both, on face value the Quran implies that the Jews at the time of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, knew this story. However, there does not appear to be any written references to this story that are recognized and accepted by Jews today. So it is possible that this was an oral tradition that was known at the time to the Jews in that area. It is also possible that this story was lost even to the Jews of that time. From this perspective, when the Quran says, (7:163) “Oh Muhammad, ask them about the village…” it is a rhetorical means of getting someone’s attention by asking them about something they don’t know and then telling them about it.

 

The story of this particular group from the Children of Israel is that they lived in a city by the sea. Because they regularly disobeyed God, God tested them by having fish come to the area only on the Sabbath when they were not allowed to fish. Instead of asking God for forgiveness, they decided to circumvent the law by placing their nets the day before and then getting the fish the day after. So as part of their punishment God said to them, “then go live as monkeys, pathetic, and far away from Me.” While many classical Quran scholars interpreted the verse literally, a literal interpretation doesn’t flow well with the verse that comes after it. The verse after it suggests that their punishment was made the punishment for them and for those after them who circumvent or violate the spirit of God’s law. This cannot be the case because in the human experience, there are plenty of people who circumvent the spirit of God’s law, and they did not wake up one day physically transformed into monkeys as punishment. So those who interpret the transformation as literal are forced into stretching the language of verse (2:66) to find an interpretation that makes sense.

 

While it is certainly possible for God to inflict physical transformation as a punishment, and God may have punished this particular village in this way, the broader lesson for mankind is definitely a spiritual transformation as is attested to by daily experience. From a spiritual perspective, being like a monkey is symbolic of someone who is emotionally unstable, quick to yelling and aggression over petty matters, always fighting for position etc. People like this, unfortunately, are readily found among the ranks of those who claim to believe in God. The common thread with these people is their strict literalism with parts of God’s law as a means of violating the spirit of the law. This behavior results in a corruption of their humanity causing them to take on the worst characteristics of monkeys and apes.

Verse 85-89: This is referring to the actions taken by the Jewish tribes of the city of Madina and the wars they had against each other before Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, came to the city.

Verse 87: The verse states that God supported Jesus with the “Holy Spirit.” In other places in the Quran, God refers to Angel Gabriel as the “Holy Spirit” or “Spirit” and so it was interpreted in this way here. (see for example 16:102). The word “Holy” is being used here to mean exceptional purity in following God’s commands.

Verse 121: An alternate understanding of this verse is, “Those who receive the Quran and commit to understand and follow it, they are the ones who really believe in it. Those who reject it will be the losers on the Day of Judgment.”

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Disclaimer: The focus of this site is to provide a comprehensive and deep understanding of the Quran's message, and do so in a manner that is engaging and accessible to the average reader.  Every translation involves compromises, and the content on this site is no different. However, every effort was made to capture as much of the spirit and message of the Quran as possible, relying on the most respected and accepted classical scholarly texts in the field. God willing, the material on this site can be relied upon as a solid beginning on the journey towards understanding the Quran as it was revealed in its classical Arabic. If you have a question as to why a certain verse was translated a certain way, the answer can usually be found in: Fath Al-Qadeer by Imam Al-Shawkani, or feel free to E-mail us your questions.
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1- The Opening / Al-Fatihah

2-The Cow - Part 1
2-The Cow - Part 2
2-The Cow - Part 3
2-The Cow - Part 4
2-The Cow - Part 5
2-The Cow - Part 6
2-The Cow - Part 7
12-Yusuf
18-The Cave / Al-Kahf
19-Mary Mother of Jesus / Maryam
24-The Light 35-40
29-The Spider
67-God's Kingdom / Al-Mulk
68-The Pen / Al-Qalam

69-Day of Accountability / Al-Haqqah
70-The Levels / Al-Ma'arij:
71- Noah / Nuh
72- The Jinn / Al-Jinn
73-Wrapped with Responsibility / Al-Muzzammil

74-Get out of Bed / Al-Muddaththir

75-Day of Resurrection / Al-Qiyamah

76-Humanity / Al-Insan

77-What I send / Mursalat

78-The News / An-Naba

79-The Angels Who Pull Out Your Souls / An-Naziat

80-He Frowned / Abasa

81-When the Sun Collapses and Dies / At-Takwir

82-The Tearing / Al-Infitar

83-The Cheaters / Al-Mutaffifin

84-Ripped Open / Al-Inshiqaq
85-The Constellations / Al-Buruj

86-The Brilliant Stars / At-Tariq
87-The Most High / Al-A'la
88-The Overhelming Day / Al-Ghashiyah
89-The Dawn / Al-Fajr
90-The Sacred Land of Makkah / Al-Balad
91-The Sun / Ash-Shams
92-The Night / Al-Lail
93-Morning / Ad-Duha
94-Insight and Understanding / Ash-Sharh
95-The Fig / At-Teen
96-The Clot / Al-Alaq
97-The Night of Destiny / Al-Qadr
98-Clear Evidence / Al-Bayyinah

99-The Earthquake / Al-Zalzalah
100-Running Horses /Al-Adiyat
101-Terrifying / Al-Qariah
102-Collecting Things / Al-Takathur
103-Time / Asr
104-Backbiting / Al-Humazah
105-The Elephant / Al-Feel
106-The Tribe of Quraish / Quraish
107-Small Assistance / Al-Ma'un
108-A River in Paradise Called Kauthar / Al-Kauthar
109-Those Who Reject the Truth
110-My Support / Al-Nasr
111-Twisted Braided Rope / Al-Masad
112-Pure Intention / Al-Ikhlas
113-Daybreak / Al-Falaq
114-People / Al-Nas