2-The Cow / Baqarah -Part 1:

In God’s Name, whose Mercy is Great and Continuous:

(2:1-2) I sent you this book with no reason to doubt its authenticity. In it is guidance for those who fear disobeying Me.  

(2:3)     Those who believe the unseen faithfully, pray consistently, and from what I have blessed them, they give generously,

(2:4)     and those who believe in the Quran along with the revelation I sent previously, and those who believe in the Day of Judgment with absolute certainty,

(2:5)     they are riding the guidance I sent them as they travel through life to come to Me, and they will achieve the greatest victory.

(2:6)     There are some who will not believe whether or not you warn them because they reject the truth intentionally.

(2:7)     I have punished them by sealing their hearts, blocking their ears, and covering their eyes for their lack of humility. They will have the punishment of Hell for eternity.

(2:8)     And there are some who say they believe in Me and the eternal life beginning on the Day of Resurrection, when their hearts reject and lack submission.

(2:9)     With Me and the believers, they attempt to create a deception, but they only deceive themselves without a hint of comprehension.    

(2:10)   In their hearts is the disease of hypocrisy. For their dishonesty with Me, I allow their sickness to overcome them, and on the Day of Judgment, they will go to Hell for eternity.

(2:11)   If it is said to them, “stop spreading rumors, creating problems, and instigating division,” they say, “It is we who are doing good, and you who is in a state of confusion.”

(2:12)   I say it is they who are spreading corruption, and they are so dishonest that they have deceived themselves without awareness or recognition.

(2:13)   And if it is said to them, “believe as the companions believed and practiced their religion,” they say, “How can we believe as them?!! We are smarter and at a higher level of importance.” I say it is they who are pathetic and ignorant of their own level of ignorance.

(2:14)   And if they meet the believers they say we are with you in religion. Then when they are alone with their devils they say, “We are really with you and just making fun of them.”

(2:15)   It is I who is making a fool of them, by giving them time to sink deeper into their indecisive evil and corruption.

(2:16)   They made the bad investment of selling out my guidance for confusion and now they are lost without direction.

(2:17)   Some are like a person in dangerous darkness starting a fire desperately. Then when the fire’s light shines brightly, I take their light suddenly, and leave them in layers of darkness unable to see anything clearly.

(2:18)   They chose a commitment to be deaf, dumb, and blind to Me, and so they will remain lost in their darkness indefinitely.  

(2:19)   And some are like people soaking wet to the core caught in the darkness of a storm under lightning and a thunderous downpour. They are terrified, and fumbling about in indecision. They put their fingers in their ears in fear they will hear the next lightning bolt strike them.

(2:20)   Their sight is almost snatched by the lighting. Every time it lights the way for them, they start walking. Then when darkness envelops them, they stop and fall back into their confusion. They should realize that I can do anything, and if I wanted to, I could completely take away their hearing and vision. Instead, I am giving them this chance to turn back to Me in humble submission.

(2:21)   Oh mankind, worship and obey your Lord who created you and those before you to save yourselves on the Day of Resurrection.

(2:22)   I prepared the earth for you to make your living and built the atmosphere as a roof for your protection. I drop from the sky rain to grow from it the fruits of the earth for your provision. Since you know this, then worship and obey Me in humble submission.

(2:23)   If you doubt that I revealed this book to Muhammad, then bring a chapter similar to it from a book alleged to be from Me. If you are speaking truthfully, then bring your evidence and witnesses, other than Me, to prove its superiority.

(2:24)   If you don’t do it, and you won’t do it honestly, then protect yourself from a fire fueled by rocks and men prepared for those who reject my message intentionally.

(2:25)   And give the good news to those who believe and do good deeds that they will have gardens in Heaven with rivers flowing through them gently. Every time they are blessed with one of its fruits, they think it is something they ate previously, and then find that it is similar only in that it is uniquely wonderful and tasty. In it they will have spouses with loving purity to share Heaven with them for eternity.

(2:26)   I am not ashamed to give the mosquito or something smaller in an example of my power. The believers know I give them the true reality, and those who reject my message say arrogantly, “Why would God use an example of something so lowly?” With the examples I give, I guide many, and misguide many for their disobedience and lack of humility.

(2:27)   They are the real losers in this life and the next for breaking the covenants they made with Me, disobeying Me irrationally, and spreading corruption and evil in the land regularly.

(2:28)   How dare they respond to my message and warning with rejection? I gave them life when they were nothing, and I will take it away on a day that is coming. Then I will give them life again, and then they will stand in front of Me on the Day of Resurrection.

(2:29)   I created for you the earth and what is in it entirely. I then directed building balanced layers of the atmosphere slowly, and I know how it happened exactly.

(2:30)  Remember when I said to the Angels, “I am sending to Earth a replacement shortly.” For earth, they thought they were better. So they asked, “Why are you putting on it those who will destroy and slaughter each other deliberately? Why, when we glorify, praise, and adore you sincerely?". “I know much more than you,” was my reply to their questioning.

(2:31)   So I taught Adam the ability to name and classify new things, and then I presented some examples to the Angels asking, “Name these if, for earth, you are truly better at inhabiting and developing?”

(2:32)   They responded, “You know that, other than what you taught us, we know nothing. You know we are telling the truth, and you know everything.”

(2:33)   I said, “Oh Adam, name those new things.” Then when he did, I said, “Didn’t I tell you I know all that is hidden in the heavens and the earth, and I know what you said and what you were thinking.”

(2:34)   Then remember, I gave the command to bow to Adam respectfully. The angels did and Iblees, the devil, didn’t out of a feeling of superiority. His arrogance drove him to reject the truth and disobey Me knowingly.

(2:35)   Then remember, I said to Adam, “You and your wife may live in Heaven comfortably. Eat as much as you want from its fruits freely, but don’t go near that specific tree, or you will be among those who are unjust to Me.”

(2:36)   Then the devil tempted them into falling into disobedience, and got them removed from Heaven’s life of happy tranquility. I told Adam, his wife, and through them their children, “Go down to earth in groups as adversities competing. For a period of time, Earth has a place for you to stay and make a living.”

(2:37)   Then Adam and his wife accepted being taught how to ask for forgiveness, and I forgave them immediately. I accept those who turn back to Me. I accept them with forgiveness and my continuous mercy.

(2:38)   Then I said to humanity, “All of you go down to earth and when you get guidance from Me: Those who follow my guidance will have no fear or sadness when they return to Me,

(2:39)   and those who call my guidance a lie and reject it knowingly, they will go to Hell for eternity.” 

 

Chapter Notes:

Verse 1: This chapter, like a few other chapters of the Quran, begins with a series of flowing Arabic letters. Many interpretations have been given for these letters. Some early Quran scholars interpreted these letters as abbreviations. Some interpreted them to mean that God was swearing by the letters of the Arabic alphabet to show their importance for writing and their basis for forming the Quran. Others refrained from interpreting them and said only God knows the meaning. So it is as if the letters are saying “This book is from God and only God knows all of its secrets. The simplest explanation is that the Quran was revealed in the language of the Arabs fourteen hundred years ago. While they frequently had poetry competitions, it was unknown in their literature to start something with flowing individual letters like this. To them, listening to the flowing individual letters would have had the effect of attracting their attention to something new they had never heard before. So it was a beautiful way of saying “pay attention and listen to what is coming next.” For this chapter, the first verse was merged into the second because it is not possible to replicate every aspect of the Quran reading experience in English.   

Verse 23-24: At the time of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, the Arabs would regularly compete in poetry competitions. So the primary meaning of these verses at the time was a challenge to those idol worshiping tribes to provide a chapter similar to or superior to the quality of a chapter from the Quran. They could even call upon their idols if they needed help. The Quran then promised that they would not rise up to meet the challenge because the Quran was a miraculous book from God. Historically, the promise of the Quran came to pass and none of the Arabs at the time tried to meet the challenge of the Quran implicitly recognizing the divine quality of its language.

 

Today, there are few that have the mastery of classical Arabic to be able to evaluate the Quran against other works to really appreciate the superiority of the Quranic Arabic. So in this work, the more universal message from these verses is presented. The universal message from these verses is that if you doubt whether the Quran is from God, then compare one of its chapters to a chapter from another book that claims to have a divine source. If you do, the fact that the Quran is from God will be obvious even to the average reader who takes the time to study the matter.

Verse 29: In this verse, the Quran uses the expression “seven heavens.” In the Arabic language, seven is often used as a number to mean “many” rather than the specific numerical number. So what we can definitively say is that the Quran states that there are many layers of the atmosphere and many layers within the earth. Some have found ways of counting seven layers of the atmosphere and present it as a “miracle,” but this is unnecessary given the uncertainty of the Arabic language. However, the Quran also describes our entire visible universe as residing within the first of seven “heavens.” We know of the numerical number of these other dimensions because the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was taken to actually visited them and described them as numerically being seven in total.

In this verse, God states that He created the “seven heavens” after creating everything that is in the Earth for us. From the context, we understand that this “seven heavens” is actually referring to the layers of the atmosphere which formed after the planet cooled. We know this because the “seven heavens”, referring to our universe and the six other “heavens” or dimensions, were created before our planet was formed.

Verse 30: In the Quran, the Arabic literally states that God is going to put a replacement on Earth. Given the reaction of the Angels, the verses can be understood to suggest that they understood that humanity was replacing them on Earth. In response, they question the decision of replacing them with a creature, from their knowledge of human nature, they knew would cause a lot of bloodshed and destruction. The weakness in this interpretation is that Angels remain on earth doing what God commands to be done so it cannot be said that they have been completely replaced.  It is also possible to understand this verse to mean that God was replacing a previous race of creatures on Earth with mankind. To this the Angel’s response would mean, “Why would you replace one race of creatures that killed each other with another that will do the same. We are available, and all we do is worship you?” Some early scholars who interpreted this verse in this way suggested that the group humanity replaced was the Jinn. The problem with this theory is that according to the Quran and Prophetic tradition, the Jinn continue to inhabit the Earth. A large group of them are the devils. Others among the Jinn simply live on Earth, and only rarely interact or make themselves visible to humans. So it cannot fairly be said that they were replaced on Earth.

 

Today, scientists have discovered evidence of what appears to be one or multiple varieties of pre-modern humans which died out thousands of years ago. As this field of investigation is in flux, with new theories being proposed all the time, and frequently evidence is exaggerated or distorted, it cannot be relied upon at this time to make specific judgments in interpreting revelation. So we cannot say, for example, that God was referring to Neanderthals in this verse. What we can say is that the Quran can be understood to mean that humanity replaced some group or groups that lived before us on earth, and that humanity was deemed better suited to develop the Earth than Angels, or what lived prior. This determination was due to the fact that humans were given superior intellectual capabilities in the area of naming and classification which are the foundations for scientific advancement.


Verse 31: In this verse, the Quran states that Adam was taught the “names of everything.” What this means is that he was given the capacity to name and classify new things that he hadn’t seen before. This is the only way to teach someone the “names of everything.” It is this higher intellectual capacity for learning that separates us from the Animals and makes us uniquely qualified to develop the resources God blessed us with on Earth.

Verse 37: In this verse, the Arabic only mentions Adam asking for forgiveness and being forgiven. This is part of the style of classical Arabic to mention the husband and it is understood that the wife is included. In another chapter of the Quran, the text explicitly states that they both asked for forgiveness, see (7:23).

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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