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On Off. Therefore, after a person's profession of Islam, the moment he hears the call to the Prayer which sounds regularly five times a day from every mosque in the Muslim world , he should join the congregation for the Salat, because this determines whether he is sincere in his profession or not. If he does not attend to the call and join the congregation, it is an indication that he is not sincere in his profession.

It means that Salat should be performed in congregation and that permanent arrangements should be made for it in every habitation; otherwise Salat will not be considered to have been established, even if every inhabitant of a place offers the Salat individually. Those who do not believe in any kind of guidance from Allah, cannot at all benefit from the guidance of the Qur'an. Likewise those who profess to believe in the necessity of guidance from Allah but do not turn to Revelation and the Prophets for it, or who dub their' own theories as "divine light", cannot obtain any guidance from it.

Moreover, guidance is also denied to those who believe only in that revealed Book or Books in which their forefathers believed and reject all other guidance received from the same Source. Apart from all such people, the Qur'an guides only those who believe that they stand in need of Divine Guidance as well as admit that it does not come to every man individually but reaches humanity only through the Prophets and revealed Books.

Then those who want guidance should not be slaves to any racial or national prejudices but should be seekers after truth and should submit to it wherever and in whatever form they find it. Those who do not believe in the life-after-death with the above implications, cannot benefit from the Qur'an because the one who entertains' even the slightest doubt about these; not to speak of rejecting them, can never follow the way of life which the Qur'an prescribes. But it means that when they rejected the above-mentioned pre-requisites of belief and chose and adopted for themselves a way contrary to the one presented by the Qur'an, Allah sealed up their hearts and ears.

The Qur'an simply states a law of Nature: if one takes a biased view of something and deliberately nourishes prejudices against it in his mind, he can neither see any virtue in it nor hear anything in its favour nor open his heart to consider it dispassionately. This is the law of Nature and, as it is Allah's law, the act of sealing up of the hearts and the ears and the covering of the eyes has been attributed to Him.

A hypocrite might succeed in deceiving some people for some time but he cannot deceive all people for all times. When such a person is exposed, he loses all honour once and for all. As to the Hereafter, mere lip-service will carry no weight there because it is deeds alone that matter there. In their opinion it was nothing but folly to earn the hostility of the whole country merely for the sake of truth and righteousness. They considered it wisdom not to bother about the right and the wrong at all but to look only after one's own interests. This word is used both for the men and the jinn.

Though it has mostly been used in the Qur'an for the jinn devils, in some places it has also been applied to human devils, and from the context it can easily be judged where it refers to human and where to jinn devils. Here it refers to the Arab chiefs who were in the fore-front in their opposition to Islam. But the hypocrites, who were blinded by self-interest, could not see the right path even with the help of this light.

Allah deprives of the sight only him who is not himself a seeker after truth, who chooses error for himself instead of guidance, who shuts his eyes to the truth. When they themselves turned away from the light of truth and chose to wander only in the darkness of falsehood, Allah also let them go astray.

But they cannot, in fact, save themselves because Allah, with all His powers, is encircling them on all sides.

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The second parable gives a description of those hypocrites who were suffering from doubt, suspicion and lack of faith. Though they were not wholly unbelievers, they practised Islam only to the extent which might not involve them in trouble. In this parable rainfall stands for Islam which came as a blessing to humanity; pitch darkness, thunder and lightning stand for the impending obstacles, the threatening dangers and the glaring difficulties which were being experienced on account of the strong resistance from the opponents of Islam.

When the situation eased a little, they began to move onward on the path of Islam, but when the clouds of difficulties began to appear, or when they were given such commands as were against their self-interest or their superstitious beliefs and prejudices, they again stood still in sheer perplexity.

But Allah does not do so because it is His will to give them respite to see the Truth and hear the Truth to the extent they want to see and hear it. That is why He left them with only as much power as they made use of in seeing and hearing the Truth. Therefore, in the preceding verses distinction has been made between the people to show as to which of them can benefit from the guidance of this Book and which cannot. Now, the actual message for which the Qur'an was revealed is presented before all mankind.

As will be explained by the Qur'an below, there are certain kinds of worship which should exclusively be performed for the sake of Allah; associating others with these is the shirk for the eradication of which the Qur' an was sent down. It was meant to convince the opponents that the Qur'an is Divine Word and could not be produced by human mind. Now it was reiterated at Madinah. Of course, they will be much more delicious. For instance, they will be like mangoes, pomegranates, oranges, etc.

In Paradise the spouses will be joined on the basis of piety. For instance, if a certain man lived a pious life in this world, but his wife did not, their marriage will be dissolved in the Hereafter, and the pious man will be united with another pious woman whose marriage had similarly been dissolved and so on. But if both the husband and the wife led pious lives here, they will continue to live as husband and wife for ever in Paradise. The objection was that if the Qur'an had been the Book of Allah, it would not have adduced illustrations from such insignificant things as gnats, spiders, ants, bees, etc.

On the contrary, the seekers-after-truth, who are possessed of insight, ponder over the wisdom contained in them and are convinced that these sublime things can only be from Allah. In this verse the word 'ahd has been used in the same sense. The ratification of the same refers to the covenant to which the while of mankind agreed at the creation of Adam: it was that they would submit to Allah. This concise sentence is so vast in meaning that it covers the whole of the moral world, ranging from relations between two persons to international relations.

The Qur'an, therefore, abhors not only their violation but also their abuse as it causes chaos, conflict and disorder in the world. In every age man has been formulating different theories about cite heaven and the expanse of space surrounding the earth and beyond it according to his observations and speculations, which have been always changing.

Hence it will not be correct to link anyone of these with the "seven heavens" referred to in the Qur'an. It may either mean that God has divided the whole Universe beyond the earth into seven permanent spheres, or that the part of the Universe in which the earth lies consists of seven spheres.

Second, that the God Who knows everything is, in fact, the Source of true knowledge. Arty one who turns away from Him, will surely go astray into the darknesses of ignorance. When none beside Him is the source of knowledge, and none beside Him can provide the light by which one may walk one's way of life, what is then the good of turning away from Him? In these verses, he has been exhorted to submit to Him because he is His vicegerent on the earth. As such, he is not only bound to serve Him but also to obey and act according to the Guidance sent down by Him. For if he did not do so and yielded to the temptations of Satan, his eternal enemy, he would be guilty of the worst crime of rebellion against Allah and meet with evil consequences.

In the foregoing verses, Man has been asked to submit to Allah because He is his Creator and Sustainer and has power over his life and death, and because He is the Master and Ruler of the Universe in which he lives. Incidentally, the Qur'an here throws light on the truth about man and his correct position in the Universe and presents the chapter of human history, which man could not have ascertained in any other way. The important results that this chapter yields, are far more precious than the results which man tries to obtain by excavating miscellaneous bones from the earth and joining them together by speculation and conjecture.

Angels are not mere abstract powers without personality; they are beings with personalities and are so to speak the agents of Allah, Who employs them for the administration of His Kingdom. Ignorant people mistook them for associates in Godhead; others thought they were related to God and started to worship them as deities. Khalifah thus is not the master, but deputy of the Master; his powers are not his own but delegated to him by the real Master.

He has, therefore. It would be dishonesty and treason, if he assumed sovereign powers, or used them according to his own whim, or if he acknowledged another as his sovereign and submitted to his will. From the word Khalifah they had understood that the one, who was about to be created, was going to be entrusted with some powers, but they could not understand how an autonomous creature could fit in this totalitarian system of the universe.

They also could not understand how that part of the universe, in which someone was entrusted with autonomy, could be free from disorder. They simply meant to say, "We are carrying out orders obediently, faithfully and earnestly and are keeping the whole universe clean and in order, and sing hymns of Your praise and sanctify You as Your humble servants. Therefore, we are unable to understand what need then is there for a vicegerent. Your services do not suffice for the purpose that I have in view.

I want something more than the services you have mentioned. That is why I am going to create a being on the Earth and endow him with some powers. Hence, the whole information of man, in fact, consists of assigning names. Thus, teaching Adam the names of all things was meant to impart their knowledge to him. For example, the angels who deal with the air, know everything about the air but nothing about water. The same is true about the angels who are responsible for other spheres. In contrast to them, man has been granted comprehensive knowledge.

He may not know as much about these things as the angels in charge of a special sphere do but the comprehensiveness of knowledge that man has been granted has not been granted to the angels. Thus, Allah, so to say, informed them: "I am not giving Adam only authority but also knowledge. The chaos that you apprehended from his appointment is only one aspect of the matter. It has its good aspect also, which is more weighty and valuable than the evil aspect, and a wise man does not give up a greater good because of a lesser evil.

As Man was being appointed vicegerent in this part by Allah's command, it was ordained that all the angels, who worked in it must, as tar and as long as Allah willed, cooperate with him in their respective spheres whether he wanted to use the powers given to him rightly or wrongly. This implied: "You must help him in whatever he wants to do, irrespective of whether it is right or wrong. If he wants to commit theft or offer the Prayer, or intends to do another good or evil, you must cooperate with him in both cases as long as We allow him to act according to his will and choice.

He is obeyed within his jurisdiction by every official but no sooner is he deposed by the government than those very officials, who carried out his orders promptly cease to obey him. They even handcuff him and take him to prison, if the government so orders. The command given to the angels to bow down before Adam was in the same nature. Possibly the word sajdah bowing down here is symbolic of only submission, but this also is possible that the angels were ordered to perform some such act actually to signify their subordination, and this seems to be more correct.

As a term it is the name of the Jinn who disobeyed Allah and refused to bow down to Adam as a symbol of subordination to him and his offspring and asked Allah to grant him the opportunity of tempting mankind up to the Last Day. He is also called "ash-Shaitan" Satan. He is not merely an abstract power of evil but is a being with his own personality like that of man. He was not an angel as is commonly understood but was one of the jinn who form a distinct species of their own separate from the angels. Iblis has been particularly mentioned because he was their chief who led the rebellion.

But this verse can also be translated as: "He was of the disbelievers. The word "shayatin" in the Qur'an has generally been used for these jinn and their species, and wherever there is no basis for taking shayatin to imply men, this same jinn satans are implied. A tree was chosen for this purpose and they were forbidden even to go near it. They were duly warned that if they violated the command, they would be considered guilty of iniquity in the sight of Allah.

The discussion as to what tree it was and why they were forbidden to go near it, is unnecessary. They were not forbidden because there was something intrinsically evil in the tree itself by which Adam and Eve could be harmed. It was chosen for the purpose of trial to see how far they remained constant on obedience to Allah's command as against the temptations of Satan. For this purpose it was enough to select a tree.

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That is why Allah has not mentioned the name and any characteristics of the tree. The Garden was a very suitable place for this trial because it was meant to show to Man that Paradise alone was the fit place for Allah's vicegerent, but if he yielded to satanic temptations, he would deprive himself of it. The only way to regain it was to oppose the enemy successfully who was always on the look-out to mislead him The tree has not been named or pointedd out specifically in the Quran because there was nothing intrinsically evil in the tree itself.

It was merely chosen for the purpose of trial. Zulm is "violation of a right or duty" and zalim is one who violates a right or duty. Anyone who disobeys Allah really violates three basic rights. First, he violates the rights of Allah Who is worthy of obedience. Second, he violates the rights of all those things and beings whom he employs in this disobedience, e. Lastly, he violates his own rights on himself, for his own self has a right that he should do his best to save it from destruction.

He is also guilty of iniquity against himself when he brings the wrath of Allah on himself by his disobedience. That is why the Qur'an, in many places has used the term zulm for sin and zalim for the sinner. The fact, that Satan tries his utmost to beguile man from the path of Allah to the path of destruction, is a clear proof that he is the arch-enemy of man. On the other side, man's humanity demands that he should fight Satan as his enemy. But it is a pity that man is so beguiled by the temptations of Satan that he begins to take him as his friend.

This, however, does not mean that their mutual enmity has really been changed into friendship.

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It only means that man has been beguiled by his opponent and caught in the snare which has been laid for him. Then Allah took pity upon him on account of his grief and helplessness and taught him the appropriate words. The Arabic word "taubah" means both "to turn back" and "to turn to". When applied to man, it means that he has turned back from rebellion to submission, and, when it is ascribed to Allah, it means that He has again turned with compassion to the penitent person. This is one of those selfinvented, nusleading theories which have done great harm to humanity.

As a result of this, one loses for ever all hope of reform, when once one is involved in sin. Even if he feels sorry for a past sin and wants to make amends for it and changes his life for the better, this theory confronts him with despair: there is no hope for you because you are doomed for ever: you must bear the consequences of what you have done in the past. In contrast to this, the Qur'an says, "It lies absolutely fn Allah's power to reward a virtue or to punish a sin.

If you are rewarded for a virtue, it is not on account of the natural result of your virtue, but it is through Allah's grace. He has full power to reward it or not. In the same way, if you are punished for a sin, it is not because of the inevitable consequences of the sin but because Allah has full power to punish or pardon it. Of course, being All-Wise, He does not use these powers indiscriminately, but takes into consideration the intention of the doer.

If He rewards a virtue, He does so when He sees that His servant performed the good deeds to please Him. And if He rejects an apparent virtue, He does so because He knows that it lacked sincerity. In the same way, He punishes the crime which is committed in a spirit of rebellion and is not followed by self-reproach but by an evil desire to commit more crimes. He, however, exercises His grace, and forgives the sins for which His servant feels sorry and makes up his mind to change for the better.

It is thus clear that the rejection of the theory of the inevitability of punishment for sin holds out new hopes of reform for sinners. Even the worst criminals and the staunchest unbelievers need not despair of forgiveness from Allah, provided that they confess their sins of course, before their Lord and not before a priest , feel ashamed of their disobedience, give up their attitude of rebellion and adopt the attitude of submission instead.

In the preceding verse, it has been said that Adam repented and Allah accepted his repentance. Thus Adam was not only absolved from the sin of disobedience, but his future descendants also were made immune from its effect. There was, therefore, no need for Allah to crucify "His only son" for the atonement of the sin of Adam and of his offspring. The repetition of the command, "Go down from here", shows that the real purpose of Adam's creation was to make him vicegerent on tire Earth.

He was kept in the Garden merely for trial and training, please see E. That is why he was not kept in the Garden after the acceptance of his repentance. He was sent to the Earth not by way of punishment but as a matter of course. The Qur'an has used this word in four different senses. At some places, it means merely a sign or symbol. At other places, the different phenomena of Nature have been termed as ayat of Allah, because each phenomenon points to the Reality which is hidden behind such curtains.

Then the miracles which were given to the Messengers have also been called ayat signs hecause these showed that they were the representatives of the Ruler of the universe. At some places the verses of the Book have been called "ayat" because they point not only to the Truth and the Right but also to the Great Author of the book It is not only the subject matter of the Book but also its words and mode of expression and its style that point to its Author.

The meaning of the word ayat in a particular place becomes clear from the context in which it occurs. It has been called Allah's "covenant" in verse It is meant to warn man not to invent a way of life for himself but to follow the Guidance of his Lord, for he is His servant as well as vicegerent. And there are only two means of knowing this: either a man should receive direct revelation from Allah, or follow the one who has received Revelation from Him.

There is no third way of knowing Allah's Will. Therefore, every other way than these two is not only wrong but also rebellion which will lead ultimately to Hell. It will be useful to read the same story in the Old Testament Genesis, Chapters 1 to 3. The comparison of the Qur' anic version with the Biblical one, will conclusively show that the Qur' an has remained intact in its pure, original and unadulterated form just as it was revealed by Allah, while the Bible has been tampered with.

It will also be interesting to contrast the conversation between Allah and the angels as has been given here in the Qur'an with that cited in the Talmud. The latter is not only void of spiritual values but is also ridiculous. According to it when the angels asked Allah why He was going to create Man, He answered that He was doing that so that good people should be born on the Earth. He did not mention the birth of bad people lest the angels should withhold their permission for the creation of Man. This was the title that Allah had bestowed upon Jacob, who was a son of Isaac, and a grandson of Abraham Allah's peace be upon them all.

His descendents are called children of Israel. Up to verse 39, it was an introductory discourse meant for all mankind. From verse 40 to verse is a new discourse in which the children of Israel have been especially and particularly addressed. In some places it has also been directed towards the Christians and the mushriks of Arabia and in between towards the people who believed in the Prophet Muhammad upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings. In order to understand the full significance of this address, the following should be kept in view.

First, it aims to appeal to those few followers of the former Prophets, who were still capable of reforming themselves to believe in the Truth which the Holy Prophet upon whom be peace had brought and to cooperate with the mission which he had been appointed to perform. They are, therefore, told that the message of the Qur'an is the same as of the Scriptures of the former Prophets, and the mission of the Holy Prophet also was the same as theirs. It means to say: "At tirst this mission was entrusted to you so that you may put the Message into practice and then invite the world to accept it.

But, not to speak of carrying out the mission, you discarded the Guidance and went on degenerating. The past history of your community and its present moral and religious degeneration are a standing witness against you. Now Allah has sent another Servant of His with the same Message and mission and there is nothing new or strange in this for you. You should not, therefore, oppose the Truth knowingly.

The best thing for you is to accept it and cooperate with those who are doing the same work that was once entrusted to you. Therefore, it proves conclusively that their attitude towards Islam was absolutely wrong; for they were opposing it, whereas they knew that its fundamentals were exactly the same as of their religion and that there was nothing in the teachings of the Qur'an that was different from or opposed to the teachings of the Torah in principle.

It also shows that they had utterly failed to follow the Guidance which was given to them and fulfil the obligations of the leadership entrusted to them. As a proof thereof, such incidents have been cited as they could not deny.

43/47- Tafseer Surah Al-Baqarah (257 to 260) By Dr. Israr Ahmed

Moreover, this address unravelled the plots they were hatching, the doubts they were arousing, the crooked arguments they were advancing and the evil machinations they were contriving to defeat the mission of the Holy Prophet Muhammad upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings , though they knew it to be from Allah. This also exposed their "piety", for it lacked sincerity and righteousness and was motivated by obduracy, prejudice and self-worship. It also proved beyond any shadow of doubt that they did not really want virtue to thrive.

This produced the desired effect: it opened the eyes of the righteous element among the Jews and put an end to the spiritual and moral superiority they enjoyed against the common and polytheistic Arabs of Madinah. Besides, when they themselves were once exposed, they were so dismayed that they dared not oppose Islam openly with the courage of conviction. Thirdly, in the preceding verses, mankind had been invited to accept the Guidance of Allah. Now the example of the Israelites is being cited to show the consequences of discarding that Guidance. The reason why the Israelites have been held out as an example is that they are the only community whose history during the last four thousand years has been a living object lesson for all the nations of the world.

In its history one can see all the ups and downs which result from following the Divine Guidance or from discarding it. Fourthly, though the appeal is addressed to the Jews, it is also meant to forewarn the Muslims against the pitfalls of degeneration into which the followers of the former Prophets had fallen. That is why, on the one hand, the moral weaknesses of the Jews, their wrong notions about religion, their wrong ways of thinking and living, have been pointed out, one by one, while, on the other, the demands of the true faith have been stated so that the Muslims are able to see the Right Way clearly and avoid wrong.

The Holy Prophet knew by Divine inspiration that, by and by, the Muslims also would follow the same ways that had been pointed out in this discourse. Therefore, according to a Tradition, he forewarned that they would discard the Guidance and follow, step by step, the communities of the former Prophets, that is, the Jews and the Christians, in their wrong ways. It is a pity that they have not paid any heed to this warning and adopted the same ways of degeneration.

As a matter of fact, even the whole wealth of the world put together is worthless, if it is gained in exchange for Allah's Guidance. As against them, education was common among the Jews, who had among them great scholars renowned even beyond Arabia. That is why the Arabs were overawed by the scholarship of the Jews, more so because their scholars and rabbis made a great show of their learning and piety and reinforced it with the practice of charms and amulets.

The people of Madinah in particular were overawed by the learning of the Jews, for they were surrounded by big Jewish tribes and came in contact with them day and night. As a result, they were immensely influenced by them just as illiterate people usually are influenced by the neighbours who are more educated, more civilized and more religious in character. Such were the conditions when the Holy Prophet upon whom be peace presented himself as a Prophet and began to invite the people to Islam; naturally the illiterate Arabs turned to the Jews for guidance in this matter, and said: "You are the followers of a Prophet and possess a Book, so tell us what you think of this man and his teachings, who claims to be a Prophet.

But their scholars never gave them the right answer. For they could not say that the doctrine of Tauhid that Muhammad upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings was preaching was wrong, nor that the knowledge which he imparted about the Prophets, scriptures, angels, and the Hereafter was wrong, nor that there was something wrong about the moral principles that he taught. They were neither ready to admit in plain words the righteousness of the teachings of the Holy Prophet; nor had they the courage to refute it openly; nor were they willing to profess the Truth candidly.

Instead, they devised a subtle strategy to oppose it: they created one suspicion or the other about the Holy Prophet, his followers and his mission; they would concoct allegations against him and his followers and make false propaganda against them or raise frivolous objections so as to involve them in useless discussions. That is why they have been warned not to conceal the truth by covering it with falsehood, nor suppress it by spreading suspicions and by raising silly objections, nor mix it up with falsehood. Like all other Prophets, the Israelite Prophets also had strictly enjoined these, but by and by the Jews became wholly neglectful of them.

They gave up the performance of Salat in congregation and the majority of the people did not even offer it individually. Instead of paying Zakat, they started charging interest on money. The Qur'an uses this word to express that fortitude, that moral strength, that firmness of purpose and decision, that determination, moral discipline and self-control which enable a person to proceed with patience and courage in the face of afflictions, privations and temptations on the way he chooses in accordance with the dictates of his conscience.

What the Qur'an means to stress is that the Muslims should develop this moral quality in themselves and should observe the Salat regularly to reinforce it from without. But it is a joyful duty for the one who is willingly and happily obedient to Allah and who believes that one day he will have therein. They were under the delusion that they would win salvation just because they were the descendants of great Prophets and had relations with great saints and pious and righteous people. That is why they neglected we religion and involved themselves in sin. Here they are being disillusioned and warned that they will not escape the consequences of their evil deeds by virtue of their relation with some holy person or his intercession in their behalf.

That is why immediately after reminding them of the favour v. Therefore, only brief references have been made to these historical events to show that they had remained ungrateful and had persisted in evil deeds in spite of the continuous favours showered upon them by Allah. They were made to pass through the fire of the test to see whether they were pure gold or a base metal. Moreover, they were put to the test to see whether they would be grateful to Allah after their miraculous escape.

For details, please see Exodus, chaps. It should, however, be noted that the Tur, referred to here, is not the modern port of Tur on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Suez. When the Israelites degenerated and became slaves of the Copts after the death of the Prophet Joseph, they learnt this evil practice too from their rulers along with other evils.

The incident of the calf-worship is given in detail in Exodus, Here it stands for the knowledge and understanding of religion which enables a person to discern between right and wrong, truth and falsehood. Then Allah bestowed upon him the Book and Criterion and gave him the stone tablets with Instructions and Commandments inscribed on them for the guidance of the people, and he presented these to the chiefs.

The Qur'an says that at that time some wicked people from among them began to say: "How can we believe, on a mere statement of yours, that Allah has had a talk with you? But the Bible says, "And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink". Exodus, Strange though it may appear, the same Bible also tells us that Moses said," "I beseech thee, skew me thy glory.

And He said, "Thou canst not see my face, for there shall no man see me, and live. Had Allah not kept the sky cloudy for a long time, they would have perished by the scorching heat of the desert sun. Manna fell on the ground like dew-drops and salva flew in thousands like quails.

There was such a plenty of these provisions that a whole nation lived on them for forty years and was never confronted with starvation or famine. In modern times even a well developed and resourceful country fords it extremely difficult to make adequate food arrangements for a few hundred thousand emigrants if they happen to enter it suddenly and unexpectedly. For details refer to Exodus, 16; Numbers, , ; Joshua, As this incident took place when the Israelites were still wandering in the Sinai Peninsula, most probably it was situated somewhere there.

But it is also possible that it might have been Shittim which was situated on the eastern bank of the Jordan, opposite to Jericho. According to the Bible, the Israelites conquered this city during the last years of Moses and committed debaucheries.

The Qur'an

Consequently, Allah inflicted a terrible punishment on them in the form of an epidemic which killed twenty-four thousand of them. Numbers, Twelve springs were caused to flow for the Israelites in order to avoid water disputes among their twelve clans. We cite here a few from the Bible: 1 After the death of the Prophet Solomon, the kingdom of the Israelites was split into two states the kingdom of Judah with its capital at Jerusalem, and the kingdom of Israel with its capital at Samaria. As the two were often at war with each other, the things came to such a pass that the kingdom of Judah asked for help from the Aramaic kingdom of Damascus against their own brethren.

At this the Prophet Hanani by God's command severely rebuked Asa king of Judah for relying on the king of Syria instead of relying on "the Eternal your God. King Ahab of Samaria threatened to kill him because his idolatrous wife incited him against the Prophet Elijah. In terror he ran for his life to the mountains in the Sinai Peninsula. During the period of affliction, he said, "I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even 1 only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away".

And they conspired against him, and stoned him at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the Lord. He lamented and cried, "Mend your ways otherwise you will meet with a far worse doom than Samaria. They accused him of treachery against the nation and shouted, "You are deserting to the Chaldeans.

Then they put him into an underground cistern, lowering him down with ropes so that he should sink in the mud and die on the spot from starvation. For details please refer to Jeremiah, I5: 10, ; and Chapters 36 to Then at the request of Herodias, his wife, who had a grudge against him, he sent one of the guards to bring his head. The man went and beheaded him in the prison and brought, his head on a dish to be presented to her. Thus, the Prophet of God was killed without any cause. For this"crime" of his, they plotted against him: bought Judas, one of his twelve disciples, and sent a large mob with swords and cudgels to seize him and take him away to the house of the high priest.

After binding him, they led him off, and handed him over to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor. They tried to procure false evidence against him in order to have him put to death. They had become so hardhearted that they asked Pilate to release Barabbas, a murderer, as a boon at the festival but to "crucify him". In this verse, the Qur'an briefly refers to this most shameful chapter of the history of the Israelites and declares that they fully deserved the curses and condemnation of Allah. They chose their worst offenders against law and morality and made them their chiefs and leaders, and sent their most pious and righteous men to the gaol or the gallows.

These things have been described in their proper places. Here, the object is to refute the self-delusion of the Jews that salvation was their sole monopoly.

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They were suffering from the delusion that they had some special relationship with God; therefore whoever belonged to their race, would go straight to Heaven, irrespective of his creed and deeds, and all other people were born to become fuel of Hell. To remove this misunderstanding of theirs Allah declares that salvation does not depend upon one's connection with any group but on one's right beliefs and good deeds.

Whoever goes before Allah with these provisions will find his reward with Him, for Allah's judgement will be based on one's real worth and not on the census registers. One may, however, understand that at the time of making the covenant at the foot of the mountain a dreadful situation was created and it so appeared that the mountain was going to fall upon them. Please see E. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear : but let not God speak with us, lest we die. The Israelites were enjoined to keep the Sabbath as "a sign between me and you throughout your generations" for a perpetual covenant.

Some are of the opinion that they were physically transformed into apes, while others hold the view that from that time onward they began to behave like apes. The words of the Qur'an, however, indicate that it was not a moral but a physical metamorphosis. In my opinion their bodies were transformed into those of apes, but their human minds were left intact in order to subject them to extreme torture.

It was a test of their faith: if they really believed in Allah as their only Deity and did not make anyone or anything else the object of their worship, they should break the idol of their former worship with their own hands. But this proved to be a very hard test. They tried to evade and avoid the sacrifice because their belief in One God had not become firm as yet. They went on asking one detail after the other in order to put it off, but the more questions they asked the more they were driven into a tight corner. So much so that at last they were specifically told to sacrifice that very golden-coloured cow, which was being specially chosen for worship at that time.

The Bible also mentions this incident, but does not tell how the Israelites tried to put it off by asking a number of unnecessary questions. Please refer to Numbers, However, there is some ambiguity concerning the method applied for discovering the murderer, that is, the striking of the dead body of the murdered man with a piece of "the sacrificed cow". A method similar to this described in Deut.

In this way, a Sign of Allah was shown and at the same time it was demonstrated that the object of their worship was so powerless that its slaughter did not cause any harm. On the contrary, its slaughter proved useful. They had become interested in the Holy Prophet because they had often heard from the neighbouring Jews about Prophethood, Revelation, Angels, Divine Law, etc. They had also heard from them that they were expecting a new Prophet whose followers would prevail over the whole world. That is why the people of Madinah turned to the Holy Prophet when they heard of him and entered into the fold of Islam in large numbers.

Naturally, they expected that the Jews, who possessed revealed Scriptures and who themselves had foretold the coming of a Prophet, would be the first to welcome Muhammad Allah's peace be upon him as a Prophet and would be in the forefront of his supporters. When, contrary to their expectations, the Jews did not come forward, the new Muslims themselves went to them and invited them to accept Islam, but they failed to persuade them. The hypocrites and the opponents of Islam used this rejection as an argument against Islam itself. They argued like this: there must be something suspicious about it: had Muhammad Allah's peace be upon him really been a Prophet, these pious and learned followes of the earlier scriptures, would nothave rejected him Knowingly, and ruined their Hereafter.

In order to counteract the mischief caused by this fallacy, the past history of the Jews has been related to show that nothing better could be expected of them. This also cautioned the simple Muslims against cherishing any hope that the Jews of their city would in a body welcome Muhammad Allah's peace be upon him as the Prophet about whom prophecies has been made in their own Books.

They have been warned that they should not entertain such expectations from the people whose history has been so and so. This was necessary because they were liable to become disheartened because of the rejection of Islam by them. As to the Jews, they had become so degenerate and hard-hearted that they were not moved even by those verses which melted the hearts of the pagans who formerly used to kill their own daughters.

Not only this, these hard-hearted Jews made fun of those very verses also. Therefore, the zealous Muslims were warned that they should understand the real condition of the Jews, who had corrupted the Truth to suit their own desires and then had the audacity to have their hopes centred on the religion which they had themselves perverted. The Jewish scholars not only twisted, distorted and misinterpreted the revealed scriptures, and read into them the meaning they wanted to read, but they also tampered with the actual words of the text.

They also warned each other not to inform the Muslims about those verses and teachings of their holy books which, they feared, would expose to objection their own present condition and attitude for they were afraid that the Muslims would present these as arguments against them on the Day of Judgement. This is an instance of the kind of belief they held about Allah's knowledge. They were under the delusion that if they succeeded in hiding the Truth and their corruption of the Scriptures in this world, there would be no possibility of bringing a case against them in the Next World.

That is why in the parenthetical clause that follows they have been asked whether they really believed Allah to be unaware of the affairs of the people. They had neither any knowledge of the fundamentals of religion, nor of the regulations concerning morality and rules of everyday life, nor of the principles leading to ultimate success or failure. And the pity is that they had formed their own notions about religion without this knowledge and were living on false hopes.

They not only perverted their Scriptures to suit their desires and vanities, but also blended with the Text of the Bible their own interpretations, their national history, their superstitions, their self-made theories, philosophies and laws. Then they presented all this mixture before the people as if it were actually from God. Every historical fiction, every interpretation, every man-made creed, and every bye law that had somehow entered into the Holy Book, became the "Word of God," and it was absolutely obligatory for every Jew to believe in all these things and, if one did not, he was declared to be a renegade or a heretic.

They thought that even if any punishment was imposed on them, it would be for a few days only after which they would be sent to Paradise. Before the migration of the Holy Prophet, they had entered into alliances with the neighbouring Arab clans, Aus and Khazraj. When one Arab clan went to war with the other clan, their respective Jewish allies also went to war against each other. Thus Jews waged war upon Jews, whereas this was clearly against the teachings of their Scriptures which they knowingly violated. But when the Jews of one clan fell into the hands of the other clan as prisoners of war, they would redeem them after taking ransom for them.

When they were questioned about this inhuman trade of their own brethren, they tried to justify it, saying that it was allowed by the Scriptures. It is strange that they forgot the same Scriptures which they brazenfacedly violated by going to war against each other. Thus on the one hand, they accepted that part of the Scriptures which allowed ransom for prisoners and , on the other hand, rejected that part which prohibited war against their own brethren in faith.

They regard such an obstinate attitude as a sign of their firm Faith and, therefore, a virtue. In tact, there can be no greater vice than to stick to one's own traditional creeds and beliefs even though there are strong arguments against them. They used to pray: "May he come soon so that we should triumph over the disbelievers and regain our lost glory!

The people of Madinah themselves bore witness that the Jews lived in this expectation. It had become a bye-word with them to proclaim: "Let the pagans tyrannise over us as much as they like. When that Prophet comes, we will settle accounts with them. So they said to one another, "Let us go and accept him lest the Jews should forestall us. As to the fact that "they did recognize the Holy Prophet," many proofs were furnished at that very time.

The most authentic evidence is that of Hadrat Safiyyah one of the wives of the Holy Prophet , who was the daughter of one learned Jew and the niece of another. She says, "When the Holy Prophet migrated to Madinah, my father and uncle went to see him. When they returned home, I myself heard the following conversation between them: Uncle: Is he really the same Prophet about whom there occur prophecies in our books? Father: By God, he is the same. U Are you quite sure of it? Then what is your intention?

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I will oppose him as long as I live and will not let his mission succeed. II, p. This meant that Allah ought to have consulted them before appointing His Messenger, and when Allah did not do so, and in His bounty appointed one He chose by Himself, they were offended. They, however, were and are so much given to this worldliness that they were terrified by the very thought of death and the Hereafter. It means that they wished to live without giving any consideration to the kind of life they led.

It did not matter whether that was a life of honour and grace, or a life of dishonour and disgrace. They said. In this part of the verse, they have been admonished to consider the matter from another point of view. As the Qur'an shows the way to right guidance and brings good tidings to the believers, it is sheer folly to oppose it and reject it. Thus ney harm none but themselves by depriving themselves of the true success which follows its acceptance. Here it refers to both. When the Jews fell to the lowest depths of degeneration, morally and materially, and lost all the noble qualities because of their captivity, ignorance, poverty, homeless wanderings, etc.

Then the devils began to beguile them by ascribing the origin of the occult sciences to Solomon and proclaimed that Solomon owed his wonderful kingdom and his extraordinary powers to the occult sciences which they were teaching the people. Jews at once succumbed and welcomed these as a great boon: so much so that even their rabbis began to practise magical arts. Consequently they lost all their interest in the Scriptures and would not listen to those who invited them to Allah's Guidance.

Here the Quran refutes not only the false accusation of sorcery against Solomon, but also the other charges levelled against him in the Bible I Kings, Chapter According to it "Solomon was a lover of women and his wives seduced him to follow foreign gods, and he did what was evil in the eyes of the Eternal and put up shrines and idols of their gods.

Just as the angels were sent to the people of the Prophet Lot as handsome boys, so they were sent to the Israelites as saints and religious guides. For this purpose, they might have set up an institution to teach magic and might also be warning everyone who came to learn these things, saying: "We are holding out these temptations merely for your trial. You should not, therefore, ruin your Hereafter by seeking this "science".

But in spite of this warning, the people came to them in large numbers for talismans, charms and amulets. There is nothing strange in the coming of angels in human guise. Being agents of Divine Kingdom they are endowed with extraordinary powers to perform their respective duties.

As to the question why they taught magic to the people, we can understand this by an illustration. It is like the case of the police who sometimes arrange to hand over signed currency notes to corrupt officials as bribes in order to catch them red-handed. Just as there is nothing wrong in this, so there is nothing wrong in what the angels did for the trial of the degenerate Jews. This shows how depraved they had become. Their greatest enjoyment was to make love with other people's wives and to separate them from their husbands. This was the worst form of depravity because it struck at the root of family life which is the very foundation of society.

If the relations between husband and wife are sound. But if they are bad, the whole society will become rotten. Thus they were the worst offenders because they cut at the root of those relations on which depended their own solidarity and that of their society. A Tradition of the Holy Prophet says that Satan sends his agents to the tour corners of the world.

When they come back to him to report, they relate the deeds they have performed. One says that he has created such and such dispute and the other that he has spread chaos and so on, but Satan goes on commenting, "You have done nothing. Besides this, doubts and suspicions which were being disseminated by them in the minds and hearts of the Muslims have been removed and those special problems which , came up for discussion between the Muslims and the Jews have been dealt with.

Here it should also be kept in view that when the Holy Prophet came to live at Madinah, and Islam began to spread in the country' around it, the Jews tried to involve the Muslims in various kinds of religious disputes and theological controversies. They also tried to affect the simple and sincere Muslims with the same disease from which they themselves were suffering, that is, the malady of hair-splitting and asking frivolous and irrelevant questions.

For this purpose, they attended even the meetings of the Holy Prophet and resorted to cunning and subtle talk, which showed how depraved they had become. They would use ambiguous words derisively or twist them into an insult by a slight mispronunciation. For instance, if they wanted to invite his attention to any particular thing they would say "Ra'i-na"which means "Just pay attention, please," but it has other meanings also. In Hebrew there was a word of similar sound which meant, "Listen, may you become deaf," and in Arabic itself it also meant, "a proud and ignorant person.

In order to guard against the use of such ambiguous words as sounded complimentary but might be abused by wicked people, the Believers were advised to say, "unzurna: " Kindly pay attention to us," which could serve the same purpose without having any secondary bad sense like "ra'i-na. They argued like this: The Qur'an says that the former Scriptures had been sent down by Allah and that it also has been sent down by Him.

If it is so, why does the Qur'an then give such commands as differ from those contained in the former Books'? How can the same Allah give different commands at different times? Besides, they said, "The Qur'an asserts that the Jews and the Christians have forgotten a part of the teachings sent down to them. How is it possible that the teachings of Allah could be obliterated from memory?

Allah answers their objections thus: "I am the Sovereign and My powers are unlimited. I can repeal any order of Mine or allow it to be forgotten, but I substitute for it something that serves the same purpose better or at least equally well. They put subtle and unnecessary questions to the Muslims and would incite them to inquire about the same from the Holy Prophet. As they intended merely to create mischief, Allah warned the Muslims not to follow their example.

The Holy Prophet also advised the Believers not to indulge in the pastime of making fine distinctions and asking unnecessary questions because such things had ruined the communities that went before them. They should do what they were asked to do and refrain from what they were prohibited.

They should not waste their powers and energies in useless pursuits but attend to important matters. You should not lose your dignity and waste your precious time in such useless pursuits but should go on doing the right and wait patiently for Allah's judgement. You should remember Allah and do good deeds because these are the things that will avail you before Allah and not those things and the like.

This arrangement will prevent the wicked people from doing any mischief there for fear of retribution. It also implied that the disbelievers of Makkah had quite unjustly prevented their own brethren who had embraced Islam from entering the Ka'bah which they themselves called the "House of Allah". If a particular direction is fixed for worship, it does not mean that Allah resides in that direction only.

There is, therefore, no need to enter into disputes as to why a certain direction and place has been fixed instead of the other or why faces were at first turned towards a particular direction but now are being turned towards a different direction and a different place. On the contrary, His Kingdom is boundless and so are His vision and generosity. He also knows which of His servants remembers Him and also where and when and with what intention.

These are exactly the same as have always been put forward by those who go astray from the Right Way, as all the wicked people of all ages think alike and follow the same line of argument. As to the other demand that Allah should show them a Sign, Allah answers that He has shown many clear Signs but those who are not inclined to believe cannot see them.

They knew everything about his life before Prophethood; the conditions of his country and nation and the circumstances and environment under which he was brought up and how he spent the first forty years of his life before his appointment as a Prophet;.