The Meanings of Surah al-Baqarah Ayah 14-28
وَإِذَا لَقُوا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قَالُوا آمَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَوْا إِلَىٰ شَيَاطِينِهِمْ قَالُوا إِنَّا مَعَكُمْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُسْتَهْزِئُونَ ﴿١٤﴾
[Al Baqarah 2:14] When they meet those who believe, they say: “We believe;” but when they are alone with their devil-like ones, they say: “We are really with you: We were only disdainful.”
When the hypocrites meet with the believers they show friendliness and delude them that they are with them, but when they are alone with the rebellious Jews they say we accompany you and accept your religion. An Nasafiyy explained that their address to the believers in the Ayah was with a verb opening sentence whereas their address to the Jews was with a name opening sentence; the significance reflect on that their address to the believers contains a false claim of belief whereas their address to their companions is based on conviction and desire. This meaning is substantiated by their address to the Jews that they are truly with them accepting their faith and that they are only disdainful to the believers and do discard Islam.
اللَّـهُ يَسْتَهْزِئُ بِهِمْ وَيَمُدُّهُمْ فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ ﴿١٥﴾
[Al Baqarah 2:15] Allah will punish them for their mockery, and will allow them more time in their trespasses and blasphemy; so they will wander about in confusion and hesitancy. Allah, the exalted, named the act of punishing them for their mockery(اللَّـهُ يَسْتَهْزِئُ بِهِمْ) by the same name as their act(نَحْنُ مُسْتَهْزِئُونَ) but with a different meaning; when they said in Ayah 14 إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُسْتَهْزِئُونَ Allah said اللَّـهُ يَسْتَهْزِئُ بِهِمْ; this is a well-known technique used in Qur’an and Hadith called المقابلة (almuqabalah). Mockery is impossible to be an attribute of Allah.
This Ayah is a proof that refutes the false saying of the Mu^tazilah that Allah is obligated to choose the best for His creations.
أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُا الضَّلَالَةَ بِالْهُدَىٰ فَمَا رَبِحَت تِّجَارَتُهُمْ وَمَا كَانُوا مُهْتَدِينَ ﴿١٦﴾
[Al Baqarah 2:16] These are they who have bartered Guidance for Blasphemy: But their trading is profitless, and they have lost true direction,
This Ayah is in reference to the people who believed and blasphemed afterwards, or about the Jews who used to believe in Mohammad, Sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, and disbelieved in him when he was revealed as a prophet. An Nasafiyy, who is a Hanafiyy scholar, said the Ayah is a proof that a selling-buying transaction is valid without a verbal contract; since the exchange of Guidance for Blasphemy was done without utterance and it was called a selling-buying transaction. Their trading did not even maintain for them their initial capital which is the Guidance because it was lost and they ended up with misguidance and blasphemy; such a trading is not called profitable. Those are misguided people and do not know the profitable practices of the knowledgeable traders.
مَثَلُهُمْ كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي اسْتَوْقَدَ نَارًا فَلَمَّا أَضَاءَتْ مَا حَوْلَهُ ذَهَبَ اللَّـهُ بِنُورِهِمْ وَتَرَكَهُمْ فِي ظُلُمَاتٍ لَّا يُبْصِرُونَ ﴿١٧﴾
[Al Baqarah 2:17] Their similitude is that of a man who kindled a fire; when it lighted around him, Allah took away their illumination and left them in utter darkness. So they could not see.
The similitude is used to further highlight the intrinsic subtle meanings that might be missed. Their situation was likened to the situation of the one who lit a fire, which lighted around him, to reflect that the hypocrite might benefit from the deluding words he uses for some duration, but thereafter the darkness of hypocrisy that lead to the everlasting torture in the hereafter overcomes. Or the meaning could be a simile of the Guidance that they sold as the fire that lit around them and a simile of the Blasphemy that they bought as the pitch darkness when Allah took their illumination away.
صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْيٌ فَهُمْ لَا يَرْجِعُونَ ﴿١٨﴾
[Al Baqarah 2:18] Deaf, dumb, and blind, they will not return to the guidance they traded away.
Their senses were sound, but when they turned their ears off from listening to the truth and rejected to utter accordingly and refused to see and be mindful, their senses became as if dysfunctional and thus similar to being deaf, dumb and blind.
They will not return to the guidance which they traded off for blasphemy, or the meaning is that they remain hesitant and frozen not knowing whether to proceed or go back.
أَوْ كَصَيِّبٍ مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ فِيهِ ظُلُمَاتٌ وَرَعْدٌ وَبَرْقٌ يَجْعَلُونَ أَصَابِعَهُمْ فِي آذَانِهِم مِّنَ الصَّوَاعِقِ حَذَرَ الْمَوْتِ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ مُحِيطٌ بِالْكَافِرِينَ ﴿١٩﴾
[Al Baqarah 2:19] Or (another similitude) is that Islam is like a rain- laden cloud from the sky: It encounters zones of darkness (blasphemy), and thunder (reward) and lightning (punishment): The blasphemers press their fingers in their ears to keep out the stunning thunder- boom fire, the while they are in terror of death. But Allah is always un-escaped by the rejecters of Faith!
There is another similitude in this Ayah where Islam is symbolized by the massive cloud that is loaded with rain; Islam quickens the hearts as the earth thrives by the rain. The blasphemies of the rejecters of faith are zones of darkness in the midst of the brilliance of Islam. The blasphemers hear the believers speak of promises of reward for the believing ones and threats of punishment for the misguided ones; they place their fingertips in their ears out of fear of death due to the speech of the believers that befall on them like the الصواعق) – thunder-boom) fires capable of killing them; (الصواعق) is the thunder accompanied by a spark of fire shooting from the clouds.
The promises of reward are symbolized by رعد)- thunder), and (رعد) is the sound of the bombardment of the clouds or the name of an angel who sounds the thunder. The threat of punishment is symbolized by برق-lightning; برق is the glow that is produced by the clouds.
The image symbolizes the intensity and horrors of the Day of Judgment.
The Ayah began by (أو) which determines that either of the two similitudes equally apply; This one and the previous one in Ayah 17.
However, the blasphemers cannot escape Allah no matter what they do.
يَكَادُ الْبَرْقُ يَخْطَفُ أَبْصَارَهُمْ ۖ كُلَّمَا أَضَاءَ لَهُم مَّشَوْا فِيهِ وَإِذَا أَظْلَمَ عَلَيْهِمْ قَامُوا ۚ وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّـهُ لَذَهَبَ بِسَمْعِهِمْ وَأَبْصَارِهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ ﴿٢٠﴾
[Al Baqarah 2:20] The lightning all but snatches away their sight; every time the light illuminates the way for them, they walk therein, and when the darkness over shadows them, they stand still. And if Allah willed, He could take away their faculty of hearing and seeing; for Allah has power over all things.
Very soon Allah will rapidly take away their sight; every time the blasphemers come to grips with a whim of a path they follow therein walking and hurrying. And when their confusion overshadows them and their path becomes dark they freeze in place. If Allah willed He could take away their faculty of hearing by the) رعد- thunder)r and their faculty of seeing by the (برق-lightning). Indeed Allah has power over all created things.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ ﴿٢١﴾
[Al Baqarah 2:21] O ye people! Adore your Guardian-Lord, who created you and those who came before you, that you may have the chance to learn righteousness;
^Alqamah said: Allah addressed the Mushriks (those who associate partners with Allah) of Makkah. That is Allah addressed them after He the exalted named the various groups of believers and blasphemers and hypocrites and their attributes and situations and what is specific to each among what makes them winners or losers in the hereafter and what makes them accepted or unaccepted by Him; the technique of (إلتفات Iltifat) is evident in the Ayah, that is moving from addressing the third person to the second person. Using the instrument (أيها) reflect the importance of the matter and the danger of defaulting.
Allah ordered those Mushriks to surely worship Allah their Lord alone and clear Him from all non-befitting attributes. Ibn ^Abbas said every worship mentioned in Qur’an is an order to perform Tawhid. Allah mentioned in the Ayah that He is the one who created them and those before them because the Mushriks used to admit that. Allah also mentioned that should they do so they may have the chance of being guided to piety and righteousness. The term to create is defined by the school of Ahl Assunnah wa Al Jama^ah as bringing into existence what was non-existent. Al Mu^tazilah falsely claim that all things existed in eternity and despite of that they say Allah created them. Indeed this is enough to conclude the invalidity of the school of Al Mu^tazilah.
الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْأَرْضَ فِرَاشًا وَالسَّمَاءَ بِنَاءً وَأَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَخْرَجَ بِهِ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ رِزْقًا لَّكُمْ ۖ فَلَا تَجْعَلُوا لِلَّـهِ أَندَادًا وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٢٢﴾
[Al Baqarah 2:22] Who has made the earth your couch, and the heavens your canopy; and sent down rain from the heavens; and brought forth therewith Fruits for your sustenance; then set not up rivals unto Allah when you know (the truth).
Allah has made the earth like a carpet upon which you sit and sleep and turn from one side to another and has made the sky as a ceiling that He held with His power lest it falls down and demolishes the earth. From the sky Allah sends water to irrigate the earth to produce various fruits for your sustenance; there is a similitude of marriage between the sky and earth and the water being a reason for the fruits to emerge and grow similar to how the semen of the man is a reason for the conception of the child. Indeed Allah has the power to make the child exist without semen as in the birth of Adam and Jesus and has the power to make the fruits exist without water, however, Allah makes the happening of such things gradual and one stage after another to reflect the wisdom so those with a sound mind may take heed.
Hence do not set up competitors and opponents to Allah who bestowed upon you such endowments which only speak of His being the only creator and the only one who deserves to be worshipped. Indeed you do know that the competitors and opponents you claim, whether idols or otherwise, are not capable of creating any of that. Allah is the only creator who is attributed with the perfect attributes and does not resemble the creation in any way.
وَإِن كُنتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِّمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَىٰ عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُوا بِسُورَةٍ مِّن مِّثْلِهِ وَادْعُوا شُهَدَاءَكُم مِّن دُونِ اللَّـهِ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ ﴿٢٣﴾
[Al Baqarah 2:23] And if you are in doubt as to what We (Allah) have revealed from time to time to Our servant Muhammad, then produce a Surah like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (If there are any) besides Allah, if you(r)(doubts) are true.
When Allah established the proof of His Godhood in the previous Ayah He established in this Ayah the proof of the truth about the message of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam. Allah challenged the Mushriks that if you are in doubt about what Prophet Muhammad brought from Allah then produce a Surah similar to the shortest Surah of the Qur’an that he brought. Allah called Prophet Muhammad “ عبدنا- our slave” the name most beloved to the Prophet, Sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam. The term slave is the one who is owned and subjugated by Allah; this term applies to the humans, jinns, angels and the likes such as Hur il ^in and al Wildan al Mukhalladun; however, the animals are called creations of Allah and not slaves of Allah. The Surah is a reflection of part of the Qur’an composed of at least three Ayahs or a reflection of that it contains a part of the Qur’an like a fence that contains within its boundaries valuable things or a reflection of ascending levels that the reciter attains or a reflection of that it is a part of the Qur’an.
The basis of the challenge is: produce a Surah similar to the shortest Surah of the Qur’an if your claim is correct; the Mushriks said the Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad in segments and not at once and had he truly been a Prophet of Allah then he would have received the Qur’an all at once similar to how the Torah and Injil were revealed.
Or the basis of the challenge is: bring about someone like Muhammad who was illiterate and cannot read a book yet has produced such a miraculous book. The first basis of the challenge is more conforming to the flowing meaning.
Hence do that if you are correct and invite your witnesses or helpers whom you have taken as Gods (If there are any) besides Allah, and claimed they will testify for you on the Day of Judgment that you are correct.
فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُوا وَلَن تَفْعَلُوا فَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ ۖ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ ﴿٢٤﴾
[Al Baqarah 2:24] But if you cannot- and of a surety you cannot- then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones,- which is prepared for those who reject the Faith.
When Allah directed them how to learn about the truthfulness of the Prophet, Sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, Allah told the Mushriks if you cannot meet the challenge, and for sure you will not, and you are compelled to believe him, then do believe and fear the torture that is prepared for those who are stubborn and disbelieve in Allah and His messenger and the Day of Judgment. This contains two elements of proving the prophet hood of Muhammad, Sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam. The first being that the challenge is unattainable and the second is telling about the unforeseen in that they will not meet the challenge. The torture for them in the hereafter is the Fire of Hell that is fueled by people and stones. The people are attached to stones because the Mushrik people in this life worshiped idols made out of stones. The stones are sulfuric in nature and burn more intensively and smell rotten. This Fire of Hell is already prepared and created contrary to the claim of Jahm Ibn Safwan the head of the misguided Jahmiyyah faction. Jahm was killed during the Omayyad era for his blasphemy; he was asked about whom he worshiped so he went into seclusion for several days and then appeared claiming that the creator occupies all places like thin air and he has other blasphemous sayings.
وَبَشِّرِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ ۖ كُلَّمَا رُزِقُوا مِنْهَا مِن ثَمَرَةٍ رِّزْقًا ۙ قَالُوا هَـٰذَا الَّذِي رُزِقْنَا مِن قَبْلُ ۖ وَأُتُوا بِهِ مُتَشَابِهًا ۖ وَلَهُمْ فِيهَا أَزْوَاجٌ مُّطَهَّرَةٌ ۖ وَهُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ ﴿٢٥﴾
[Al Baqarah 2:25] But give glad tidings to those who believe and work righteousness, that their reward is Gardens, beneath which rivers flow. Every time they are fed with fruits therefrom, they say: “Why, this is what we were fed with before,” for they are given things in similitude; and they have therein companions pure (and holy); and they abide therein (for ever).
It is the chosen methodology in the Book of Allah that He mentions the threats alongside the good tidings so the practices that lead to success may be adopted and enhanced and the abhorrent practices that lead to destruction may be avoided and discarded.
Since Allah mentioned the blasphemers and their ill doings Allah in this Ayah mentions the believers and their doings and informs them about the good tidings.
In this Ayah Allah orders the Prophet, Sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, or everyone to convey the good tidings to the believers; ordering everyone is to reflect the magnificence of the outcome.
The believers are those who did righteousness which is every good deed by virtue of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet and supported as such by the sound judgment; This Ayah stands proof to those who say the good deeds are part of belief because of the conjunction letter(و)used in the Ayah between (ءامنوا) and (عملوا). Those who say the deeds are not part of the belief mean the essence of the belief in the heart which does not increase or decrease; it is either present in the heart and one is a believer or not present in the heart thus one is a blasphemer. The scholars say about the good deeds that they are part of the belief and as such the belief does increase and decrease.
The good tidings is that their reward is gardens of paradise, beneath which rivers without banks flow.
Every time they are fed with fruits in paradise, some of which they acknowledge as similar in kind to what they were fed with before, they will express what they come to realize that they are given things in similitude but yet extremely different in quality to extents only Allah knows.
They have therein spouses pure from ill manners or menstruation and urine and feces and the rest of filthy matters; and they abide therein everlastingly. The misguided faction Jahmiyyah falsely claims that Paradise and its occupants come to an end. The existence of Allah is without beginning and without ending and it is an attribute of the self of Allah; no one has given Allah any of His Attributes. Paradise is a creation of Allah and has a beginning. However, Allah willed for Paradise to exist forever and never annihilate; hence its perpetuity is not an attribute of its self rather it is given to it by Allah.
Paradise, the abode of reward, is already created, however, some of the misguided faction Mu^tazilah say it is not.
إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَسْتَحْيِي أَن يَضْرِبَ مَثَلًا مَّا بَعُوضَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا ۚ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ ۖ وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَيَقُولُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّـهُ بِهَـٰذَا مَثَلًا ۘ يُضِلُّ بِهِ كَثِيرًا وَيَهْدِي بِهِ كَثِيرًا ۚ وَمَا يُضِلُّ بِهِ إِلَّا الْفَاسِقِينَ ﴿٢٦﴾
[Al Baqarah 2:26] Allah has no shame to use the similitude of things, as tiny as a mosquito or higher. Those who believe know that it is truth from their Lord; but those who blaspheme say: “What does Allah mean by this similitude?” By it He causes many to stray, and many He leads into the right path; but He causes not to stray, except those who forsake the correct path,-
Since Allah mentioned in His book the flies and the spider the Jews mocked and said does not the Lord of Muhammad have shame to use the similitude of flies and spiders?!
To discredit them, Allah used the technique of (مقابلة- Muqabalah) using their same word but with a different meaning and said Allah has no shame to use the similitude of what is lesser than flies and mosquitos or higher. Allah is clear from being attributed with shame and fear because both reflect change from one state to another and Allah is clear from that.
The believers know that it is the truth from their Lord that is not rejected by those who have sound minds and is incumbent upon them; but those who blaspheme say out of disdain: “What did Allah will by this similitude?”
Allah is attributed by Will which is an eternal and everlasting attribute with which Allah specifies the created things with some attributes instead of others and at a particular time instead of another.
By this similitude Allah causes many to be misguided, and many He leads into the path of guidance. Ahl Assunnah Wal Jama^ah hold the conviction that misguidance means creating the action of misguidance in the slave and guidance means creating the action of guidance in the slave. Both the misguided ones who mock Allah and the guided ones who know it is the truth from Allah are numerous.
The Ayah stipulates that the mockery of the blasphemers about using the similitude of what is degraded is rejected. If what is addressed is great in nature then the similitude used about it is great and if degraded then the similitude used about it is degraded. Do we not observe that when guidance and belief is the subject addressed then the similitude about it is light and illumination and when the subject addressed is misguidance and blasphemy the similitude used about it is darkness? When the blasphemers claimed gods other than Allah to support them Allah used the similitude of the weakness of the spider’s web and flies to describe their claim; using the similitude of even what is less than that such as the mosquito or a wing of it to reflect such truth is a matter that the believers see as rightful and the truth from Allah and are guided to this meaning and the blasphemers are misguided and fall in disdain and mockery and rejection. Belief and blasphemy, guidance and misguidance all are created by Allah and according to His eternal Will. Those who forsake the correct path by committing enormous sins or blasphemy are the ones who are misguided by such similitude.
الَّذِينَ يَنقُضُونَ عَهْدَ اللَّـهِ مِن بَعْدِ مِيثَاقِهِ وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَا أَمَرَ اللَّـهُ بِهِ أَن يُوصَلَ وَيُفْسِدُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ ﴿٢٧﴾
[Al Baqarah 2:27] Those who break Allah ‘s Covenant after it is substantiated, and who break what Allah Has ordered to be joined, and do mischief on earth: These cause loss only to themselves.
What is meant by ”those who breach Allah’s Covenant” are the stubborn religious leaders of the Jews or the hypocrites or the blasphemers at large. The Covenant is the intellectual proofs that Allah established in their minds that He is the only creator and the only one who deserves to be worshipped, or the promise to follow the Prophet whom Allah sent and supported by miracles and not to escape from announcing his advent; or not to shed the blood of one another and sever their kins and do injustice to one another. It was said that the Covenant of Allah to his creation is of three folds: The first to the children of Adam to admit the Lordship of Allah, the second to the Prophets to convey the message and establish the matters of the religion, the third to the scholars to explain the book of Allah and spread the knowledge of the religion.
What is meant by the substantiation is the commitment to which they consented. The meaning can also be that Allah bound them to it.
Those sever kind relations with their immediate relatives and reject to follow the believers in their path; both Allah ordered that they meet and fulfill. The meaning could be that those have severed bridging the messages of the various Prophets by believing in some and disbelieving in some. Those block the path to belief and guidance. Indeed they are the only losers for trading off fulfilling the Covenant with breach, and mending relations with severance, and virtue with mischief-making, and reward with punishment.
كَيْفَ تَكْفُرُونَ بِاللَّـهِ وَكُنتُمْ أَمْوَاتًا فَأَحْيَاكُمْ ۖ ثُمَّ يُمِيتُكُمْ ثُمَّ يُحْيِيكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ ﴿٢٨﴾
[Al Baqarah 2:28] How can you commit blasphemy in Allah?- seeing that you were without life, and He gave you your life; then will He cause you to die, and will again bring you to life; and again to Him will you return.
It is surprising to those who have sound minds that you should commit blasphemy when you have the reasons that drive away from it and invite to the true path of belief! You were dead as fertilized eggs in the wombs of your mothers then Allah gave you therein your life. Thereafter when you meet the death time set for you by Allah He causes you to die and then He quickens you with life so you are resurrected. Or the meaning could be He makes you alive in your graves. Thereafter you shall return to Allah for settlement of account and facing the consequences. Or the meaning could be you shall return to Allah for resurrection and assembly. The blasphemers have no grounds for their blasphemy in light of the signs mentioned in the Ayah and the numerous endowments of Allah for which one ought to thank Him.