2-The Cow / Baqarah -Part 7:

(2:261) Giving money is like planting a seed to support my religion. The seed grows a stalk with many ears, in each ear are grains in the hundreds, and your reward can be multiplied even more as the seed benefits future generations. So think of my vast reward, and remember that I know everything you do including your intentions.

(2:262) Those who don’t harm or hold it over others when they give money to support my religion, I will reward them, and they will not be scared or sad on the Day of Resurrection.

(2:263) Being friendly and covering for people’s faults and praying for them is better than charity followed by harm. I don’t need your charity to take care of them. So as I am patient with you, be kind and patient with them.

(2:264) Oh believers, do not cancel the reward for your charity by harming and holding it over those who are less able. You will lose you reward like the hypocrites who give to be seen as charitable, when they don’t believe in Me or the day I will hold them accountable. They collect good deeds on their hearts like dust on a stone boulder. Then I send them guidance like heavy rain and all the dust runs off with the water. They will reap no fruits when it counts because I do not guide those who reject my guidance intentionally.

(2:265) Those who give their money to strengthen themselves and to please Me, they are like a garden in a raised bed that is ready. If I bless them with heavy rain they give double the produce, and with a light rain they still give plenty. Remember, that I know everything you do, so give from what I have blessed you with to charity. 

(2:266) Would you like to have a garden with grapes and palm trees with streams flowing through them gently? In the garden is ever kind of fruit but you don’t give to charity? Then when you are broken with age, with children who are weak and needy, the garden is hit by a lightning storm which destroys it completely? In this way, I make my guidance clear, so you will understand how important it is to give from what I bless you, and prepare for your eternity.  

(2:267) Oh believers, give to charity from the best that you earned in your trade and from the best produce I grew for you. Do not just give your garbage which you would only take with reluctance if it was offered to you. Remember, that I don’t need your praise or charity.

(2:268) The devil threatens you with poverty, and tells you to sin. I promise you my forgiveness and many blessings so don’t listen to him. Remember, my reward is great, and I know everything.

(2:269) I grant wisdom to those who study, think, and are open to receiving my guidance with humility. You receive a lot of good when I give you wisdom as a quality. It is those who think that understand and implement my commands correctly.

(2:270) I know and will reward you for the charity and promises to do good you make sincerely, and on the Day of Judgment, there will be no one to save those who behave improperly.

(2:271) To give openly to charity is good, but it is better for you to give to the poor secretly, because I will cover and forgive some of your mistakes you made previously. Remember, I know all the good you do, and I know how to reward you accordingly.

(2:272) Don’t worry about those who reject this message, it is not your responsibility to guide them. I guide those who turn to Me with humility. So don’t let a person’s religion prevent you from giving to them charity. The reward for whatever good you give is yours, and your charity will be accepted if you give with the intention of getting closer to Me. Remember, whatever good you give will be returned to you with interest, and you will not be treated unjustly.

(2:273) Make sure you give to the poor whose service to Me prevents them from earning money. They cannot move to find a better source of income, and a person who didn’t know their condition would think they are rich because of their modesty. You can recognize them if you look at their condition and see that they never ask people for money. Remember, I know the good you give to them, and I will reward you greatly. 

(2:274) Those who give their money in the night and day, in secret and openly, on the Day of Judgment, they will not be scared or sad, and they will find their great reward with Me.  

(2:275) Those who demand an increase for postponing the due date of a debt into the future, will stand on the Day of Judgment like a person experiencing an epileptic seizure. This is because they say that taking interest* is like taking income from business. The difference is that I permit taking income from trade or business and forbid interest. Those who receive my warning and stop, I forgive the interest they took previously. But whoever goes back to claiming that taking interest is like taking business income will go to Hell for eternity.

(2:276) I have eliminated the blessing in interest, and I multiply the blessing of charity. And I have no love for those who are sinful and reject my guidance intentionally.

(2:277) But those who believe and do good deeds, pray regularly, and give the required charity, on the Day of Judgment, they will not be scared or sad, and they will find their great reward with Me.

(2:278) Oh believers, abandon what is left of interest if you really believe in obeying Me.

(2:279) If you don’t, then I and my messenger declare war on you, but if you repent, you have the right to the full return of your principal to you. Don’t be unjust with others by demanding interest, and you will not be treated unjustly.

(2:280) If a debtor is going through hardship and cannot pay you back on time, then make the terms easier or forgive the debt fully or partially. If you understand the reward you will get, you would forgive the debt as charity.

(2:281) Protect yourself from the day you will stand in front of Me. Then everyone will get what they earned, and they will not be treated unjustly.

(2:282) Oh believers, take appropriate action to avoid conflicts with contracts depending on the circumstances of your society. For example, if two parties enter into a contract or loan involving a fixed future delivery, then write it down by having a third person write the agreement precisely. Those whom I have taught to write should not refuse this responsibility. They should write and the person who owes the debt should dictate and fear disobeying Me. They may not omit anything from the agreement intentionally. If the person who owes the debt cannot dictate, is senile, or incompetent, then the guardian should dictate it precisely. Have two believing men witness the agreement, or use one man and two women who are competent to give testimony. Then the women can support and protect each other from human error, or vulnerability to outside pressure. Those called to witness should not refuse, and don’t neglect to write the debt, no matter how big or small, along with the terms you chose. This is a service to justice because it is better proof, and it prevents doubt and suspicion. You should still have witnesses, but you don’t have to write the agreement if it is an immediate transaction. Remember, it is a sin for you to harm the writer of the contract or someone who witnessed for you. Be afraid of disobeying Me, and I will teach you what you need to do. I know everything, and I know everything about you.

(2:283) If you are traveling and cannot find someone to write the agreement, then give something as security. If the parties trust each other sufficiently, they can proceed accordingly. Then the one who owes the debt should honor the trust by delivering what they owe completely. Do not conceal what you witness and fear disobeying Me. They have a sinful, evil heart, those who withhold or alter their testimony. Remember, I know what you do, and you cannot hide what is in your heart from Me.    

(2:284) To Me belongs everything in the earth and the heavens, and I will hold you accountable whether you reveal or conceal your intentions.  Then I will determine who is punished or forgiven, because I have the power to do anything.

(2:285) My messenger, Muhammad, and his followers believed in this revelation I sent Him. All of them believed in Me, my angels, books, and messengers completely. They said, “We accept all of God’s messengers without exception” and, “We hear and obey in humble submission. Oh Lord, forgive us our shortcomings, and we will return to you on the Day of Resurrection.”

(2:286) I only ask from each of you, the most that you can do. Then what you do, on the Day of Judgment, will be for you, or against you. So pray to Me sincerely, “Oh Lord, don’t hold us accountable when we sin by mistake or forgetfully. Oh Lord, do not ask from us a duty that was asked of those before us, if we might fail the responsibility, and don’t place a burden on our shoulders which we might be too weak to carry, and forgive, overlook, and cover our sins with your mercy. You are our protector. So support us and give us victory against those who reject your guidance intentionally.”

 

Chapter Notes:

Verse 261: In verse (6:160) of the Quran, it states that normal good deeds are multiplied ten times. This verse encourages giving money to cases that generally support God’s religion because the reward benefits many multiples of people over time. The literal of the Arabic states that the reward is like planning a seed which produces a stalk with seven ears, and in each ear is one hundred grains. It is possible that this analogy is meant literally to say that the multiple is exactly 700 for money spent to support God’s religion. However, in classical Arabic numbers like seven and seven hundred can be meant literally or figuratively. So while the verse could be understood literally, in the real world grain plants vary in the number of their ears and grains or cornels. So the verse is presented in the text as it would be understood from the perspective of a real world analogy. In this way it is understandable to people who are more familiar with plants like corn which usually have 2-3 ears per stalk rather than seven. For an example of an edible grain plant that closely matches the literal Quranic description, look up pictures of the African Finger Millet, or Ragi as it is known in India. It produces a single stalk and branches off at the end with a number of ears that can be more or less than seven. Then each ear has seeds in the hundreds.

Verse 275-281: The implication of what these verses mean to modern economics, or for people living within the necessities of modern life is beyond the scope of this work. However, it is important to have a clear understanding of the basics of what the Arabic word Riba means and how it is similar or different to interest. What we think of today as “interest” was the common understanding of the word “Riba” at the time of the revelation of the Quran. Riba was the practice of demanding an increase to a debt that was owed in exchange for postponing the due date to a fixed point in the future. This was the practice that was specifically addressed by the Quran. Then by commands from the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, the concept of Riba was clarified and expanded in some ways.

 

The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, specifically mentioned a handful of items when explaining the rules for Riba: Gold, silver, wheat, barley, raisins, dates, and salt. It was explained that for these, it was forbidden to trade a certain amount of the item for an amount of the same item to be delivered in the future. So you could not trade 10 grams of gold for 15 grams of gold to be delivered in a month. Gold could only be traded for gold if it was the same weight and delivery was immediate with the transaction. So you could trade 10 pounds of gold dust for 10 pounds of gold bars, if the transaction and delivery were simultaneous. You could only trade gold and silver for each other if the transaction and delivery was simultaneous. The same between the various food items as long as delivery was done immediately. So you could not trade 10 pounds of dates for 15 pounds of dates to be delivered in the future, but 10 pounds of dates could be traded for 15 pounds of wheat as long as the transaction and delivery was simultaneous.  However, it was allowed to trade gold or silver for any of the food items with a future delivery. In other words, you could not trade 10 grams of Gold for 15 grams of Silver to be delivered in a month, but you could trade 10 grams of Gold for ten pounds of dates to be delivered in a month. In general, these rules applied regardless of the quality of the item. So 10 pounds of dates could only be traded for 10 pounds of dates regardless of the quality of the dates involved. All transactions that violated the above rules were referred to as riba transactions.

 

The various schools of Islamic Law developed different theories to explain these injunctions which broadened the concept of riba to varying degrees even more. The legal theory determined how you answered questions like whether it is permissible to trade 1 acre of land for 5 acres of land to be delivered in the future, or 5 eggs for 10 eggs to be delivered in the future, or 1 breeding horse for 10 riding horses to be delivered in the future etc.

 

In any event, all scholars, for example, would agree that it is permissible for a person to sell a car or property today for $5,000 cash on delivery, or to choose to sell the same car or property for $10,000 with the payments to be made in installments. So basically, dealer financing is normally considered “interest” by modern terminology, but it can be written in a way that it is not within anybody’s definition of “riba.”

Verse 282: The majority of scholars consider the directions in this verse to be encouraged rather than mandatory. This is because in the middle of verse 283, it states that if the parties trust each other, they can do as they like. However, it is important to distinguish between how rules apply to an individual and how they apply on the level of social policy. On an individual level, there is a personal burden to behave reasonably to protect our rights and the rights of others depending on the circumstances of the debt and the parties involved. On the other hand, social policy is about passing laws that work best for most circumstances. For example, certain kinds of financial obligations, like real estate transactions, may be deemed serious enough that they need to be publicly recorded no matter whether the parties trust each other or not.

 

The other major issue relating to this verse is with regard to its treatment of women as witnesses at the time of formation of a contract. There are several correct ways to read and pronounce the part of the verse that addresses this issue. The implications of the various correct readings were combined together in the expression of the verse in the text. To understand the circumstances it was addressing, we have to remember that male dominated tribalism was the reality of Arab culture before the Quran. The Quran dealt with the realities of the society and incrementally phased in reforms. One of the realities that remained was that women were still generally in a weaker position relative to men, and generally less experienced in financial matters. There were many reasons for this. One of them is that the average life expectancy at the time was probably in the mid to low thirties at best. Life was hard for everyone and particularly for women who were married as soon as possible, and faced the real possibility of dying from delivery complications every time they got pregnant. Men would frequently travel for weeks or months via camel to conduct trade leaving the women to focus on the daily needs of the children and family.

 

In addition, in the male dominated tribal culture of the time, husbands and the men of a tribe could exert tremendous social pressure on a woman with regard to her testimony. Under these circumstances, the Quran encouraged using one man and two women as witnesses for business transactions. So if men wanted to make a financial contract, a woman could ask for a second to stand with her as a witness so they could support and protect each other. Yes, at the time there were definitely some women that were experienced in trade and were strong enough to stand up to any pressure. This verse is simply encouraging a practice that was practical based on the common circumstances of the time, and offered some added protection and support for women.

 

A related issue is the Islamic legal tradition on the judicial weight of testimony of male and female witnesses depending on the subject matter of their testimony. However, the topic and the various differences of opinion within it are beyond the scope of this work.

 

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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