Surah 2. Al-Baqarah
لَيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَنْ تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آَمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآَخِرِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآَتَى الْمَالَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّائِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآَتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُوا وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ ﴿2:177﴾
(vii) and give full measures and weight with justice; We do not burden anyone beyond his capacity; *133
(viii) When you speak, be just, even though it concern a near of kin;
(ix) and fulfil the covenant of Allah. *134 That is what He has enjoined upon you so that you may take heed.
*133. Even though this is a full-fledged postulate of the law of God, it is mentioned here in order to stress that one who tries to remain fair and just to the utmost of his ability, in giving weight and measure and in his dealings with people, will be acquitted of responsibility for error. If any mistakes in weight or measure occur out of oversight, and thus involuntarily, he will not be punished.
*134. ‘Covenant of Allah’ signifies, in the first place, the commitment to God, as well as to human beings, to which man binds himself in His name. It also signifies that covenant between man and God, as well as between one human being and another which automatically takes place the moment a person is born onto God’s earth and into human society. The first two covenants mentioned are voluntary and deliberate whereas the last one is natural. The last one is no less binding than the first two, even though man does not make it of his own volition. For when man enjoys his own existence, makes use of his physical and mental energy, benefits from the means of sustenance and natural resources – in other words, when he benefits from the world created by God and avails himself of the opportunities provided for him by the operation of natural laws – he incurs certain obligations towards God. In the same way, when one derives nourishment and sustenance from the blood of one’s mother while in her womb, when one opens one’s eyes in a family which is supported by the toil of one’s father, when one benefits from the various institutions of human society, one is placed in varying degrees of obligation towards those individuals and institutions. This covenant between man and God and between man and society is inscribed, not on a piece of paper, but on every fibre of man’s being. Man has not entered into this covenant consciously and deliberately, yet the whole of his being owes itself to it. Surah al-Baqarah 2:27 alludes to this covenant when it says that it is the transgressors ‘who break the covenant of Allah after its firm binding, and cut asunder what Allah has commanded to be joined, and spread mischief on earth’. It is also mentioned in Surah al-A’raf 7:172 in the following words: ‘And recall when your Lord took the children of Adam from their loins and made them testify as to themselves saying, “Am I not your Lord?” (to which) they answered, “Yes, we do bear witness thereto. “
Non-acceptance of God’s guidance necessarily produces two grave and damaging consequences. First, by following any other way, one is inevitably led away from the true path and is thus deprived of the opportunity to approach God and please Him. Second, as soon as man deviates from the Straight Way prescribed by God, he encounters a whole labyrinth of highways and byways, causing the entire human species to fall a prey to total bewilderment and perplexity, and which shatters all dreams of a steady advance towards maturity and betterment. The words ‘follow not other paths for they will scatter you away from His path’ hint at this damage. (See Surah al-Ma’idah 5, n. 35 above.)
*39 “Fulfilment of pledges” was not meant to be merely a moral instruction for individuals but afterwards when the Islamic State was established, this became the guiding principle for the conduct of all internal; and external affairs by the Muslim Community and the Islamic Government.
*11 That is, “As long as his father is alive, your treatment of him is attentive and when his rather dies, even the paternal and maternal uncles and the elder brothers, to say nothing of the neighbours and distant relatives, neglect him.”
(1) That on that Day man will remember whatever he had done in the world and will regret, but what will remembrance and regretting avail him then?
(2) That on that Day man will take heed and accept admonition: he will realize that whatever he had been told by the Prophets was true and he committed a folly when he did not listen to them; but what will taking heed and accepting the admonition and realizing one’s errors avail one then ?
*2 The word ad-din as Qur’anic term is used for the rewards and punishments of the Hereafter as .well as for the religion of Islam. But the theme that . follows is more relevant to the first meaning, although the second meaning also is not out of the context: Ibn ‘Abbas has preferred the second meaning, while a majority of the commentators have preferred the first. In case the first meaning is taken, the theme of the Surah would mean that denial of the Hereafter produces such and such a character in man; in case the second meaning is taken, the object of the Surah would be to highlight the moral importance of Islam, to stress that Islam aims at producing an altogether different character in its adherents from that found in its deniers.
*3 The style shows that the object of asking this question at the outset is not to ask whether he has seen the person or not, but to invite the listener to consider as to what kind of character is’ produced in man when he denies the judgement of the Hereafter, and to urge him to know the kind of the people who belie this creed so that he tries to understand the moral significance of belief in the Hereafter.
*5 The sentence yadu `ul yatim as used in the original, has several meanings: (1) That he deprives the orphan of his rights and evicting him from his father’s heritage thrusts him away; (2) that if an orphan comes to ask him for help, he repulses him instead of showing him any compassion, and if he still persists in his entreaties in the hope for mercy, he drives him away and out of sight; (3) that he ill-treats the orphan. For example, if in his own house there is a closely related orphan, it is the orphans lot to serve the whole house, to receive rebuffs and suffer humiliation for trivial things. Besides, this sentence also contains the meaning that – the person does not behave unjustly and tyrannically only occasionally put this is his habit and settled practice. He does not have the feeling that it is an evil which he must give up, but he persists in it with full satisfaction, thinking that the orphan is a helpless, powerless creature; therefore, there is no harm if his rights are taken away wcongfitlly, or he is made the target of tyranny and injustice, or he is repulsed and driven away whenever he asks for help.
In this connection, Qadi Abul Hasan al-Mawardi has related a strange incident in his A lam an-Nubuwwat. Abu Jahl was the testator of an orphan. The child one. day came to him in the condition that he had no shred of a garment on his body and he implored him to be .given something out of his father’s heritage. But the cruel man paid no attention to him and the poor child had to go back disappointed. The Quraish chiefs said to him out of fun: “Go to Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings) and put your complaint before him. He will recommend your case before Abu Jahl and get you your property.” The child not knowing any background of the nature of relationship between Abu Jahl and the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) and not understanding the motive of the mischief-mongers, went straight to the Holy Prophet and apprised him of his misfortune. The Holy Prophet immediately arose and accompanied the child to the house of Abu Jahl, his bitterest enemy. Abu Jahl received him well and when the latter told him to restore to the child his right, he yielded and brought out whatever he owed to him. The Quraish chiefs were watching all this earnestly m the hope that an interesting altercation would take place between them. But when they saw what actually happened they were astounded and went to Abu Jahl and taunted him saying that he too perhaps had abandoned his religion. He said: “By God, I have not abandoned my religion, but I so felt that on the right and left of Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings) there was a spear which would enter my -body if I acted against what he desired. ” This incident not only shows what was the attitude and conduct of the principal chiefs of the most civilized and noble tribe of Arabia towards the orphans and other helpless people in those days but it also shows what sublime character the Holy Prophet possessed and what impact it had even on his bitterest enemies. A similar incident we have already related in E.N. 5 of Surah Al-Anbiya’ above, which points to the great moral superiority of the Holy Prophet because of which the disbelieving Quraish branded him as a sorcerer.
*7 The words used are to `am-il-miskIn and not it am-il-miskin If to am-il-miskin were the words, the meaning would be that he does not urge (others) to feed the poor. But ta’am -il-miskin means that he does not urge (others) to give away the food of the poor. In other words, the food that is given to the poor man is not the food of the giver but of the poor man himself; it is his right which is enjoined on the giver, and the giver is not doing him any favour but rendering him his right. This same thing had been said in Surah Adh-Dhariyat above: “And in their possessions is a due share of him who asks and of him who is. needy.” (v. 19).
*12 The custom in the ancient days was that the prisoners were put in fetters and shackles and taken out daily to go about the streets begging food. Later the Islamic government abolished this custom. (Imam Abu Yusuf, Kitab al-Kharaj, p, 150, Ed, 1382 H. ) In this verse, the captive implies every such person who is in bondage, whether he is an unbeliever, a Muslim, a war prisoner, or imprisoned in consequence of a crime, and whether he is provided food in that state, or made to beg for it. In any case, to feed a helpless person who cannot do anything to earn a living, is an act of great virtue.
*14 It is not necessary that this may be said in so many words while feeding the poor man. It may be said in the heart; in the sight of Allah this is as meritorious as saying it with the tongue. But saying these words with the tongue has been particularly mentioned so as to set the person being helped at ease that no thanks or recompense is due from him, so that he eats with full satisfaction and peace of mind.
*18 That is, though silver, it will be as transparent as glass, Vessels of this kind of transparent, crystal like silver will be the special characteristic of the vessels in which drinks will be served to the people of Paradise.
>*24 In Surah Al-Kahf: 31, it has been said: “They will be adorned with bracelets of gold. This same theme has also occurred in Al-Hajj: 23 and Fatir 33 above. When all these verses are read together, three possibilities become obvious, (1) That sometimes they would 1 ike to wear bracelets of gold and sometimes bracelets of silver, both kinds of the ornaments being available for use as and when required; (2) that they will wear bracelets of both gold and silver at the same time, for the combination of the two enhances the personal charms of the wearer; (3) that whosoever desires will wear bracelets of gold and whosoever desires will wear bracelets of silver. As for the question, why will the men be adorned with the ornaments when these are usually worn by the women? The answer is that in the ancient times the custom was that the kings and their nobles used to adorn their hands and necks and the crowns of their heads with different kinds of ornaments. In Surah Az-Zukhruf it has been said that when the Prophet Moses arrived in the Pharaoh’s court in his simple dress, with only a staff in hand, and told him that he was a Messenger sent by Allah, Lord of the worlds, the Pharaoh said to his courtiers: “What kind of a messenger is he, who has appeared before me in this state? If he was sent by the King of the universe, why were not bracelets of gold sent down on him, or a company of angels as attendants?” (v. 53).
*25 Two kinds of the wine have been mentioned above, first that to which water will be added from the fountain of camphor; second that to which water will be added from the fountain of ginger, After these, making mention of another wine, with the’ remark that their Lord shall give them a pure wine to drink, gives the meaning that this will be some superior kind of wine, which they will be given to drink as a special favour from Allah.