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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Surah Al Baqarah - The Cow: 2nd Chapter of Quran (Exegesis Section 3 - Part I)


Sūrah Al Baqarah "البقرة" is the longest Sūrah of the Qurān with 286 verses and forty ruku, spanned over Juz' 1-3. 

Please read the Summary and the Overview of the Sūrah before reading its detailed exegesis so as to have a fair idea how this Sūrah has been compartmentalized into various sections and parts to emphasize on the important subject matter of the Sūrah:
  • Introduction
  • Section 1: [verses 40 to 121 (Ruku 5-14)] and has been further divided into two parts as under:
  • Part I:  (Verses 40-61) - Completed
  • Part II: (Verses 62-121) - Completed
Section 2: [verse 122-163 (ruku 15-19)] - Completed
  • Section 3: [Verses 164 - 242 (Ruku 20-40)]  It has been further sub divided into three parts as under:
  • Part I: (verses 164-188) - This Part
  • Part II: (Verses 189-216) 
  • Part III: (Verses 217-242) 
  • Section 4: (Verses 243-286) 
We have already presented the Introduction, Sections 1 & 2. We now begin with Section-3 / Part I. The translation and exegesis / tafseer is in English. For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given at the end and may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles.

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"


With verse 163 ends the second section of the surah. Near the end of this section, it was declared that a Muslim ummah has been constituted from the Ishmaelites who were one branch of Abraham’s progeny. With these verses begins the third section of the surah in which the directives of Abraham’s religion are once again revived for this ummah. The last verse of Ruku 19 connects both the second and third sections:
[Believers! Let them decide] and [regardless of what they think you should now fully understand that] Your God is one God.There is no deity but Him. He is the Compassionate, the Ever-Merciful.
From here on begin the directive of tawhid and then after that in a certain sequence all the directives of the shari‘ah have been stated that were appropriate to be given during the period of revelation of this surah. While stating these directives a negation is also made of the religious innovations which the Jews and the Idolaters had incorporated in religion.

Ruku / Section 20 [Verses 164-167]
Verses 164-167 Mushrikin / disbelievers will have severe punishment and Followers of misguided leaders will regret on the Day of Judgement:
( 164 )   Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and the day, and the [great] ships which sail through the sea with that which benefits people, and what Allah has sent down from the heavens of rain, giving life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness and dispersing therein every [kind of] moving creature, and [His] directing of the winds and the clouds controlled between the heaven and the earth are signs for a people who use reason.
If a man were to observe the constant operation of this universe, reflect on it in a manner befitting a rational being, and think about it without either stubbornness or bias, he would find sufficient signs to convince him that this gigantic system is absolutely subservient to the will of the Omnipotent and Wise Being, Who alone wields all power and authority. Moreover, this system seems to be such as to rule out all possibility of any interference from others whether independent of the Creator of the universe or in partnership with Him. Since this One True God is the Lord of all creation and none else is in possession of any power or authority, none is entitled to any share in His godhead or overlord-ship.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
This magnificent Nature passage stands out like a hill in a landscape, enhancing the beauty of our view, and preparing us for the every-day laws and ordinances which follow.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's explanation:
This refers to their creation, mold and structure, benefit and purpose which delineate the great power, mercy, wisdom and providence of their Creator. Also brought out is the mutual harmony and accord which exists between the heavens and the earth testifying that their Creator is the same and no one else has any say in governing them.

Ie., the way night and day follow one after the other with great discipline and order and the way they do so by influencing this world in various ways. This influence is also caused by their own mutual difference in nature.

The actual word is: الۡفُلۡک. It means “ship” and is used for singular, plural, masculine and feminine entities.

The actual word is: دَآبَّۃ. Just as it is used to connote animals that walk on the earth, it is also used to connote living beings if an indication to this usage exists. The second usage covers land animals, birds and even human beings. Here in this verse it is used in this connotation.

This refers to the various manifestations of winds in the form of storms and various types of climate which they produce and which may be a source of reward or punishment for human beings. These manifestations appear every now and then with full glory and glamour.

The actual words are: وَالسَّحَابِ الۡمُسَخَّرِ بَیۡنَ السَّمَآءِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ. The word تَسْخِيْر (taskhir) means: “to put something into the control and service of someone by making it obedient to him without any remuneration.”When the Qur’an mentions taskhir of winds and the sun and the moon with relation to man, it does not mean that all these are obedient to him or that man can subjugate them; it only means that the Almighty after subjugating them has put them in the service of man. Consequently, for this very reason this theme has been discussed in the Qur’an by the words سَخَّرَلَكُمْ implying that the Almighty has put them in the service of man. It does not mean that they are obedient to him.
( 165 )   And [yet], among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. And if only they who have wronged would consider [that] when they see the punishment, [they will be certain] that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is severe in punishment.
If only the wrong-doers were to perceive now – as they will perceive when they will see the chastisement – that all power belongs to Allah alone, and that Allah is severe in chastisement!

There are certain attributes which belong exclusively to God. Moreover, there are certain duties that man owes to God by virtue of His being his Lord. The indictment of the Qur'an is that the people in question ascribe to others than God the attributes which are exclusively His and likewise consider others to be the rightful claimants of certain rights over man which belong only to God. To be Lord of the entire complex of causal relationships found in the universe, to dispense the needs and requirements of people, to deliver them from distress and affliction, to heed complaints and respond to lamentations and prayers, and having full knowledge of all that is apparent as well as all that is hidden, are the exclusive attributes of God.

Furthermore, there are certain rights which God alone may claim: that His creatures should recognize Him alone as their Sovereign, prostrate themselves before Him alone in recognition of their bondage to Him, turn to Him alone for the fulfillment of their prayers, call Him alone for help and succour, place their trust is none save Him, centre their hopes and expectations only in His Munificence, and fear Him alone both in public and in private.

In the same way, being the only Absolute Sovereign of the universe, it befits none save God to lay down what is permitted and what is prohibited for His subjects, to prescribe their rights and duties, to command them what to do and what not to do, to direct them as to how the energy and resources bestowed on them, by God, should be expended.

Again, it is God alone Who can ask His subjects to acknowledge His sovereignty, to accept His commands as the source of law, to consider Him alone to be the Lord entitled to command men, to consider His commands supreme, and to turn to Him alone for correct guidance. Whoever either ascribes to any being other than God any of the aforementioned attributes or recognizes the claim of anyone save God to be entitled to any of the above-mentioned rights over His creatures is in fact setting up that being as a rival to God, and placing him on the same plane as God. By the same token, any individual or institution claiming to possess any of the exclusive attributes and rights of God (as mentioned above), is in fact claiming a position parallel and equal to that of God even though the claim to godhead may not have been categorically spelled out.

True faith requires that a man should give absolute priority to seeking God's good pleasure and should hold nothing too dear to sacrifice for the sake of God.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Everything around and within us points to unity of purpose and design, - points to God. Yet there are foolish persons (unrighteous - those who deliberately use the choice given them to go wrong). They think something else is equal to God. Perhaps they even do lip service to God. If only the unrighteous could see the consequences, they would see the terrible Penalty, and that all Power is in God's hands, not in that of any one else.

Who are these others who are used as fetishes by the misguided? It may be: (1) creatures of their own imagination, or of their faculties misused; the idea lying behind Idols is akin to this, for no intelligent idol-worshiper owns to worshiping stocks and stones; or (2) good leaders whose names have been misused out of perversity to erect them to a position of equality with God; or (3) Powers of evil that deliberately mislead. When it comes to the inevitable consequences of blasphemy and the rejection of God, the eyes of all are opened and these false and artificial relations dissolve. The idea which was created into a fetish disowns its follower, i.e. is seen to have no reasonable basis in the life of the follower, and the follower is forced to renounce it as false. The good ones would take an unholy delight in exposing the facts. The Reality is now irresistible but alas! at what cost?

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's explanation:
This is an expression of amazement. What is implied is that although there is no room for such foolishness but what can be done with those who are not ready to use their sense: all such signs are meaningless to them.

The implied meaning is that whenever the conflicting requirements of love for God and of love for those besides Him come before them, the former always overcomes the latter. They know that others besides Him can be loved but their love must always remain subservient to the love of God. They are aware that giving preference to the love of God is an obligation one owes to Him and no one can be given any share in this.

This is the apodosis of the word لَوۡ that occurs at the beginning of the sentence and has been suppressed as per the linguistic principles of Arabic. The words اَنَّ الۡقُوَّۃَ لِلّٰہِ جَمِیۡعًا and those subsequent to them explain this suppression.
( 166 )   [And they should consider that] when those who have been followed disassociate themselves from those who followed [them], and they [all] see the punishment, and cut off from them are the ties [of relationship],
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's explanation:
These are further details of the punishment mentioned earlier. As per the linguistic principles of Arabic, this sentence is a permutative (بَدَلْ) of the previous sentence: اِذۡ یَرَوۡنَ الۡعَذَابَ.

The actual word is: اَسْبَاب. It is the plural of سَبَبْ, which means “rope.” From here the meaning of “seeking nearness” was incorporated in it and then it broadened from this meaning to be used to mean “what is related to something.”
( 167 )   Those who followed will say, "If only we had another turn [at worldly life] so we could disassociate ourselves from them as they have disassociated themselves from us." Thus will Allah show them their deeds as regrets upon them. And they are never to emerge from the Fire.
Here particular reference is made to the dismal end of those so-called religious leaders who mislead people, and of their gullible followers who fall easy prey to their deception. This has been done in order to warn the Muslims to beware of the errors which misled former nations, and to impress upon them the need to develop the capacity to distinguish between true and spurious leaders so as to avoid being led by the latter.

Ruku / Section 21 [Verses 168-176]
Verses 168-169 Do not follow the footsteps of Shaitan:
( 168 )   O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.
The demand made here is that they should violate all those taboos in matters of food and drink which have their basis in superstitious beliefs or irrational usages.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
We now come to the regulations about food. First (ii. 168-71) we have an appeal to all people, Muslims, Pagans, as well as the People of the Book; then (ii. 172-73) to the Muslims specially; then (ii 174-76) to the sort of men who then (as some do now) either believe in too much formalism or believe in no restrictions at all. Islam follows the Golden Mean. All well-regulated societies lay down reasonable limitations. These become incumbent on all loyal members of any given society, and show what is "lawful" in that society. But if the limitations are reasonable, as they should be, the "lawful" will also coincide more and more with what is "good."

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's explanation:
It is evident from these words that polytheism and concepts of what is lawful and what is not are topics that are related to one another. On the basis of this very relationship, after refuting polytheism the Almighty addresses people and directs them to eat all lawful and pure things. In verse 136 of Surah al-An‘am and verse 103 of Surah Ma’idah, the Qur’an has enlisted the things which the Idolaters of Arabia, owing to their polytheistic superstitions, had made lawful or unlawful for themselves under the influence of Satan. Similar was the case of the People of the Book. While following their scholars and jurists they had prohibited many things on themselves in this way.

The implication is that declaring the lawful as the unlawful is something suggested to the Idolaters by Satan. Such a declaration has no basis in religion and therefore they must not follow it. In verse 119 of Surah al-Nisa’, the Qur’an has stated that from the very beginning Satan had threatened to mislead man from tawhid through such superstitions.

Such an open enemy is Satan that from the very beginning he has very overtly declared war on man. The Qur’an refers to this declaration in verses 16-17 of Surah al-A‘raf.
( 169 )   He only orders you to evil and immorality and to say about Allah what you do not know.
The notion that all superstitious customs and taboos are God-given religious teachings is an example of satanic deception, pure and simple, since there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that they are from God.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's explanation:
The actual word is: سُّوۡٓء. There is no doubt in the fact that just as it means “sin” and “misdeeds” it also means “financial, physical and intellectual losses and hardships.” This usage can be seen in verse 174 of Surah Ali-i ‘Imran and verse 12 of Surah al-Naml. Here, however, its copulation (‘atf) with الۡفَحۡشَآء and the presence of the verb يَاْمُرُكُمْ show that it is used in the first meaning.

The actual words are: وَاَنۡ تَقُوۡلُوۡا عَلَی اللّٰہِ مَا لَا تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ. They convey the same meaning as the words افْتَرَا عَلَی اللّٰہِ ie. to attribute falsity to God. For example, saying that such and such a person has been given certain authority by God or declaring something as unlawful without any sanction.

Verses 170-171 Do not profess the faith blindly:
( 170 )   And when it is said to them, "Follow what Allah has revealed," they say, "Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing." Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided?
The only possible argument and justification for these taboos was that they had been sanctified by the practice of their forefathers from whom they had allegedly come down generation after generation. Fickle-minded as they were, they deemed this argument to be sufficiently persuasive.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's explanation;
The implication is that the heritage of the forefathers no doubt should be respected; however, its veracity does not hinge upon merely being a sacred heritage. If it is criticized, every right-natured person should lend his ears to it, and if it does not carry any weight in the balance of sense and reason, then he should be ready to give it up without any hesitation.
( 171 )   The example of those who disbelieve is like that of one who shouts at what hears nothing but calls and cries cattle or sheep - deaf, dumb and blind, so they do not understand.
This parable has two aspects. On the one hand, it suggests that these people are like herds of irrational animals, dumb cattle, that always follow their herdsmen, moving on as they hear their calls without understanding what they mean. (Thus these people follow their leaders even though they do not grasp where it is they are being led to - Ed.) On the other hand, it also suggests that when the Truth is preached to them they show such insensitivity to it that one may as well be addressing animals who merely comprehend sounds but are incapable of understanding their meaning. The expression lends itself to both interpretations.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
If you reject all faith, the highest wisdom and the most salutary regulations are lost on you. You are like "dumb driven cattle" who can merely hear calls, but cannot distinguish intelligently between shades of meaning or subtle differences of values.

Cf ii. 18, where we are told that the rejectors of faith are "deaf, dumb and blind: they will not return to the path." Here the consequence of their not using their senses is that they have no wisdom. In each context there is just the appropriate deduction.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
This is a parable of a herd of cattle which when called by its shepherd does hear his voice but does not understand what he is saying and what he wants from it. Such parables are meant to compare a whole situation to another. Hence, it is not necessary that the components compared correspond individually to one another.

Ie., they are devoid of all intellectual and spiritual powers. There is no difference between them and animals.

Verses 172-173 Prohibited (Haram) food:
( 172 )   O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship
The believers are told that if by having believed they have committed themselves to following the Law of God as they claim then they should abandon all taboos and prohibitions imposed by the pundits and priests, by the rabbis and church fathers, by the monks and recluses, and by their own forefathers. Although they were required to abstain from whatever had been prohibited by God, they ought to feel no compunction with regard to consuming all that He had permitted. This has also been alluded to in the saying of the Prophet reported in a Tradition in the following words: 'Whoever prays in our manner, turns towards our qiblah (in Prayer), and eats (the flesh) of our slaughtered (animals), that person is Muslim. (Bukhari, 'K. al-Salah', 28; 'K. al-Adahi', 12; Muslim, 'K. al-Adahi', 6; Nasai, 'K. al-lman', 9; 'K. al-Dahaya', 17 - Ed.) This means that in spite of praying and facing towards the qiblah, a person is not fully assimilated into Islam as long as he maintains the pre-Islamic taboos in matters of eating and drinking and holds on to the fetters of superstition forged by the victims of Ignorance. A person's adherence to these taboos is indicative of the fact that the poison of Ignorance continues to flow in his veins.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
It is indeed difficult to eat things which have been prohibited since the times of one’s forefathers. It is for this very reason that the Qur’an has cautioned Muslims that they should disregard such superstitions and whatever the Almighty has declared lawful should be consumed by them without any reluctance. This is in fact a requirement of worshiping Him and expressing gratitude to Him and Muslims must fulfill this requirement in all circumstances.
( 173 )   He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah. But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
This applies to the flesh of an animal slaughtered in the name of anything and anyone other than God as well as to the food prepared as an offering to someone other than God. God alone is the master of everything - of the animal whose flesh we consume as well as of every other kind of food - and it is He Who has mercifully provided us with them. Hence, if it is appropriate to pronounce any name as an expression of gratitude, of consecration, it can only be the name of God. To use anyone else's name means that we believe that there is some other being either instead of or in addition to God which deserves to be acknowledged as our Lord and Benefactor.

This verse grants permission to use prohibited things with three stipulations. First, one must be in a state of extreme compulsion, for example, being gravely ill or being so hungry and thirsty that one's very life is in danger, and a prohibited thing is all that is available to save one's life. Second, the person concerned should have no inclination to violate the Law of God. Third, in consuming the prohibited thing one should not exceed the limits of bare necessity. If a few bites or a few drops are enough to save one's life, one ought not to go beyond the absolute minimum.

Yusuf Ali's explanation:
Dead meat: maitat: carrion; animal that dies of itself; the original Arabic has a slightly wider meaning given to it in Fiqh (Religious Law); anything that dies of itself and is not expressly killed for food with the Takbir duly pronounced on it. But there are exceptions, e.g., fish and locusts are lawful, though they have not been made specially halal with the Takbir. But even fish or locusts as carrion would be obviously ruled out.

For prohibited foods, cf. also Q. v. 4-5; vi. 121, 138-146; etc. The teachers of Fiqh (Religious Law) work out the details with great elaboration. My purpose is to present general principles, not technical details. Carrion or dead meat and blood as articles of food would obviously cause disgust to any refined person. So would swine's flesh where the swine live on offal. Where swine are fed artificially on clean food, the objections remain: (1) that they are filthy animals in other respects, and the flesh of filthy animals taken as food affects the eater; (2) that swine's flesh has more fat than muscle-building material; and (3) that it is more liable to disease than other kinds of meat; e.g., trichinosis, characterized by hair-like worms in the muscular tissue. As to food dedicated to idols or false gods, it is obviously unseemly for the Children of Unity to partake of it.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
Among edibles, the Qur’an has fundamentally prohibited only these four. Other edibles that are not appropriate for eating are proscribed through the innate guidance that the Almighty has blessed man with. In other words, man’s own nature generally provides him with ample guidance in this matter and he is able to decide the right course without any hesitation. He very well knows that lions, tigers, elephants, eagles, crows, vultures, kites, scorpions and human flesh itself are things which are not to be eaten. He is also well aware of the fact that horses and mules are a means of transportation and have no role in satisfying one’s hunger. That faeces and urine of animals are impure things are known to him very well also. His reason and intellect also guide him very well regarding intoxicants. Consequently, in this matter, the shari‘ah of God has left this matter to the innate guidance found in human nature to lead the way. The prohibition attributed to Muhammad (sws) regarding beasts having sharp canine teeth, birds having claws and tentacles in their feet, jallalah and tamed donkeys is merely a delineation of this innate guidance. The prohibition of liquor is another directive which is based on innate guidance. No doubt, at times, human nature becomes perverted but a study of human behaviour shows that generally people do not falter in this matter. It is for this reason that the shari‘ah has not given any original guidance in this matter. In this matter, the shari‘ah has provided guidance regarding animals and things related to these animals where it was impossible for man to decide the right course of action in the light of intellect and nature alone. The pig is a quadruped beast of the same genre as the goat, sheep, cow and cattle; however, it consumes meat like other carnivores. Should it then be considered forbidden or not? Should animals which are slaughtered in a way that all their blood is not drained out be eaten or not? Is the blood of animals impure as indeed are their faeces and urine? If animals are slaughtered by taking the name of someone other than the Almighty, can they still be eaten? Since human intellect is unable to come up with a decisive answer in this regard, the Almighty guided mankind in this affair through His prophets and informed them that the flesh of the pig, blood, the dead and animals which are slaughtered in the name of someone other than God are also impure and unclean and therefore people should abstain from them.

The actual words are: غَیۡرَ بَاغٍ وَّلَا عَادٍ. The word بَاغٍ is a nomen agentis (الاسم الفاعل) from the verb بَغَي يَبْغِي and since it is copulated to the word عَادٍ, it means “to intend” and “to desire.”

This is an exception for compelling circumstances in which a person is not able to find lawful food for himself. As per this exception, a person shall not be punished if he consumes prohibited edibles. This is evident from the words: فَلَاۤ اِثۡمَ عَلَیۡہِ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ. Obviously, the same directive should also hold for circumstances in which one is forced to eat prohibited food. In this regard, the correct attitude is that when such a situation arises one should use this concession given to him and should not refuse it in one’s enthusiasm for perseverance. This is also evident from the practice of Muhammad(sws) reported in certain narratives regarding tayammum (dry ablution), shortening of the prayer and wiping of socks in wudu. Nevertheless, in certain circumstances, the requirement of one’s beliefs may entail a different attitude.

Verses 174-176 Those who hide the truth for worldly gain swallow nothing but fire:
( 174 )   Indeed, they who conceal what Allah has sent down of the Book and exchange it for a small price - those consume not into their bellies except the Fire. And Allah will not speak to them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them. And they will have a painful punishment.
This means that the blame for the growth of whole new codes consisting of superstitions, perverted customs, and unjustifiable taboos lay squarely on the shoulders of those religious scholars who had knowledge of the Scriptures but failed to transmit their knowledge to the common people. Moreover, later, when erroneous practices began to spread among them they remained mute spectators of this drama. Indeed, some of them kept willfully silent about these matters thinking that their interests would be better served if the Scripture remained a sealed book and its injunctions were kept beyond the access of the common people.

This is a refutation of the false claims made by their religious leaders and a clarification of the misconceptions regarding their positions and privileges which these leaders had been spreading among the common people. They spared no efforts to give the impression that they were sacred beings and that anyone who attached himself to them would necessarily earn God's forgiveness through their intercession. Here God is telling them that He takes no notice of people who are unworthy to intercede for themselves, let alone able to intercede for others.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
"They eat nothing but fire into their bellies" is a literal translation that produces an effect of rude inelegance which is not in the Arabic words. Even in the matter of food and drinks, the mission of Islam is to avoid the extremes of lawlessness on the one hand and extreme formalism on the other. It has laid down a few simple and very reasonable rules. Their infraction causes loss of health or physical powers in any case. But if there is further a spirit of subjective rebellion or fraud - passing off in the name of religion something which is far from the purpose - the consequences become also moral and spiritual. Then it becomes a sin against Faith and Spirit. Continuing the physical simile, we actually swallow fire into ourselves. Imagine the torments which we should have if we swallowed fire into our physical body! They would be infinitely worse in our spiritual state, and they would go on to the Day of Resurrection, when we shall be deprived even of the words which the Judge speaks to a reasonable culprit, and we shall certainly not win His Grace and Mercy.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
If a person is able to gain all the wealth of this world by selling his faith, then even this is in fact meager wealth that he has gained.

The fact that the Almighty will not speak to them means that He will not speak to them with fondness and affection. For centuries, the Jews were honoured by God by conversing to Him through their prophets. This entailed that they should have treasured the word of God and should have spread it far and wide. However, the attitude they adopted entails that they should be deprived of the privilege to converse with God on the Day of Judgement.

This refers to the purity the Almighty out of His mercy will grant His servants in reward of their faith by forgiving their sins or by giving them only a little punishment.
( 175 )   Those are the ones who have exchanged guidance for error and forgiveness for punishment. How patient they are in pursuit of the Fire!
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
The actual words are:فَمَاۤ اَصۡبَرَہُمۡ عَلَی النَّارِ. This is an expression of amazement similar to مَا اَحْسَنَ.
( 176 )   That is [deserved by them] because Allah has sent down the Book in truth. And indeed, those who differ over the Book are in extreme dissension.
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
The implication is that this book has been revealed such that it contains very explicit and definite directives of the shari‘ah; hence there now remains no ambiguity between right and wrong.

The actual words are: لَفِیۡ شِقَاقٍۭ بَعِیۡدٍ. The word شِقَاق means “opposition” and “animosity.” When it is qualified by the adjective بَعِیۡد, it means that a person has gone so far in his animosity that he is not only unaware of his own loss and benefit but also there remains no possibility of his returning and atoning for the wrong he has committed.

Ruku / Section 22 [Verses 177-182]
Verses 177-177 Definition of righteousness?:
( 177 )   Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.
Turning one's face towards the east or the west is mentioned here only by way of illustration. The actual purpose of the verse is to emphasize that the observance of certain outward religious rites, the performance of certain formal religious acts out of conformism, and the manifestation of certain familiar forms of piety do not constitute that essential righteousness which alone carries weight with God and earns His recognition and approval.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
As if to emphasize again a warning against deadening formalism, we are given a beautiful description of the righteous and God-fearing man. He should obey salutary regulation, but he should fix his gaze on the love of God and the love of his fellow-men. We are given four heads: (1) our faith should be true and sincere; (2) we must be prepared to show it in deeds of charity to our fellowmen; (3) we must be good citizens, supporting social organisation; and (4) our own individual soul must be firm and unshaken in all circumstances. They are interconnected, and yet can be viewed separately.

Faith is not merely a matter of words. We must realise the presence and goodness of God. When we do so, the scales fall from our eyes: all the falsities and fleeting nature of the Present cease to enslave us, for we see the Last Day as if it were today. We also see God's working in His world and in us; His Powers (angels), His Messengers and His Message are no longer remote from us, but come within our experience.

Practical deeds of charity are of value when they proceed from love, and from no other motive. In this respect, also, our duties take various forms, which are shown in reasonable gradation: our kith and kin; orphans (including any persons who are without support or help); people who are in real need but who never ask (it is our duty to find them out, and they come before those who ask); the stranger, who is entitled to laws of hospitality; the people who ask and are entitled to ask, i.e., not merely lazy beggars, but those who seek our assistance in some form or another (it is our duty to respond to them); and the slaves (we must do all we can to give or buy their freedom). Slavery has many insidious forms, and all are included.

Charity and piety in individual cases do not complete our duties. In prayer and charity, we must also look to our organised efforts: where there is a Muslim State, these are made through the State, in facilities for public prayer, and public assistance, and for the maintenance of contracts and fair dealing in all matters.

Then come the Muslim virtues of firmness and patience. They are to "preserve the dignity of man, with soul erect" (Burns). Three sets of circumstances are specially mentioned for the exercise of this virtue: (1) bodily pain or suffering, (2) adversities or injuries of all kinds, deserved and undeserved and (3) periods of public panic, such as war, violence, pestilence, etc.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
The actual word is: الۡبِرّ. According to Imam Farahi the real meaning of this word is “to fulfill the rights of someone.” These include rights which are imposed on a person by his very existence like the rights of God, parents and his brethren and those also which arise because of agreements, promises and alliances. Because of these extensive meanings covered by the word, all those virtues are included in it which come under justice and kindness. There is no word in the English language that fully represents this meaning. The word “loyalty” to some extent expresses the real spirit of this word and I have thus translated it.

This is a slant on the Jews and Christians who had completely ignored the real teachings of the Torah and the Gospel but were ready to fight on the direction of the qiblah: whether it was located in the East or in the West. It seemed as if all religion was based on this issue. In the words of the Prophet Jesus (sws): “You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel,” (Matthew 23:24).

As per linguistic principles of Arabic, the governing noun (mudaf) has been suppressed here. The implied construction is: مَنْ آمَنَ [بِرُّ] وَلٰـكِنَّ الْبِرَّ.

Ie., they fully submit themselves to God without the slightest possibility of imputing partners to Him.

Ie., they should accept that after death they shall certainly be raised to life, that nothing except faith and righteous deeds shall be of any avail to them, that they shall be answerable to God for what they say and what they do and that without the permission of the Almighty no one shall dare speak even a single word in their favour.

Ie., they should acknowledge that angels are unerring beings having an immaculate nature and character, that they deliver God’s guidance to man, that in delivering it they are fully trustworthy and honest and that the Almighty implements His decisions through them. A little deliberation would show that this belief in the angels is extremely necessary. The reason for this is that if mankind received God’s guidance through His prophets and messengers, then this guidance is generally delivered to the prophets and messengers through these angels. These are the sole creation of the Almighty who are able to keep equal contact with Him and with His creation. Because of being created of light they can come in contact with the Almighty and because of being His creation they can get in touch with human beings. Consequently, just as Noah (sws), Abraham (sws), Moses (sws), John (sws) and Jesus (sws) are messengers of God for us, the angels are messengers of God for these messengers. The Almighty has revealed His books and scriptures to the prophets and messengers through these angels. It is these angels who were used to implement the divine law of reward and punishment on this earth.

The implication is that what the prophets present before the people as the Book of God is in fact the Book of guidance revealed to them. The Almighty has revealed it such that it distinguishes the right from the wrong and has been revealed so that people are able to adhere to justice in matters of religion.

This belief entails acceptance of the prophets as divinely appointed people who must be followed and obeyed. Their knowledge is without error; their deeds are an exemplar for their followers and it is essential for everyone to show obedience to them, follow the example set by them and love them.

The actual words are: وَاٰتَی الۡمَالَ عَلٰی حُبِّہٖ. Although these words can also mean “he spent his wealth out of God’s love,” we have given preference to those given in the translation. The reason for this preference is other parallel verses of the Qur’an. In verse 92 of Surah Al-i ‘Imran, and verse 9 of Surah al-Hashr, it has been explicitly stated that the highest position a person can attain in being loyal to the Almighty is when he spends the wealth he cherishes most. Here also, it is being told what type of spending in the way of God earns a person this status. Hence, this becomes a basis for preferring the meaning that we have adopted.

The foremost head which is stated for spending in the way of God is a person’s kinsfolk. It is thus evident that if one’s relatives and kinsfolk are in need, then they are the most deserving of his help.

A mention of the orphans right after the kinsfolk shows that after one’s relatives one should spend on those who have been deprived of their fathers and whose responsibility now rests with the society – a responsibility imposed both by convention and by religion.

This refers to people who come over to someone for their needs. Their independent mention after a mention of the needy shows that it is not required for those who come to someone for their needs that it be ascertained whether they are deserving or not. What a person should do if he can is to help them; otherwise, he should politely refuse them.

This refers to the necks of the slaves and this is one of those directives which the Qur’an gave to gradually eliminate slavery. In these times, if a person helps out someone who is under debt or is liable for some penalty or is inflicted with some similar hardship, then In Sha Allah this would be counted equivalent to liberating a slave.

After a mention of faith and spending in the way of God (infaq), the prayer and the zakah are mentioned as their legal and practical manifestations respectively. In other words, the real essence of faith manifests itself in the prayer and that of infaq in zakah. The prayer and zakah are the minimum requirements of faith and infaq respectively. It is evident from the Qur’an that their real right is fulfilled by remembering God at all times and by spending generously in His way.

This stipulation expresses the determination and resolve of these loyal individuals. What is implied is that once they make a commitment then come what may, they fulfill it even if this requires facing great loss or endangering their life.

The actual words are: وَ الۡمُوۡفُوۡنَ بِعَہۡدِہِمۡ (those who fulfill their promise). A little deliberation would show that the style of the discourse has suddenly changed. Previously, faith, infaq, the prayer and the zakah were mentioned in the form of verbs. الۡمُوۡفُوۡنَ بِعَہۡدِہِمۡ are copulated to these four too but they are in the form of nomen agentis (الاسم الفاعل). Further down, another change has occurred in الصّٰبِرِیۡنَ فِی الۡبَاۡسَآءِ (the steadfast in trial). In spite of being connected to الۡمُوۡفُوۡنَ it is الصّٰبِرِیۡنَ instead of الصّٰبِرُوْنَ, which is in the accusative. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while explaining this change writes:
Students of Arabic know that verbs merely express an action but adjectives express permanent qualities and attributes; in fact, hidden in them is a spirit of vigour and resolve. Similarly, scholars of the language know that if, without any apparent reason, adjectives are expressed in the accusative then this means that the speaker wants to stress them. In technical parlance this accusative is called: علي سبيل المدح or علي سبيل الاختصاص. For example the occurrence of الصّٰبِرِیۡنَ just after الۡمُوۡفُوۡنَ, the implied meaning would be: انا اخص بالذكر الصَّابِرِيْنَ (I want to specially mention the steadfast). (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 427)
It is evident from this that the real thing in religion is character and conduct. This is the real spirit of religion. It also constitutes the real sphere of test. It is this character which makes a person loyal and God-conscious in his individual life and it is this character which makes him a righteous and loyal person in his collective life. Hence it was necessary to mention it in an emphatic manner. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while explaining another aspect of this writes:
Another question can arise. Only two questions pertaining to character are mentioned here: honouring commitments and promises and being steadfast. Why were not other qualities included in this list? The answer to this question is that these qualities are like a binding force for all other qualities. Included in honouring commitments are all rights and obligations whether big or small whether related to God or to fellow human beings and whether they result from a written contract or because of some relationship, affiliation and association and whether they are declared or are in good societies understood and implied. We are in some form of commitment with God, our Prophet (sws), our parents, our family, our relatives, our clan, our neighbours, our teachers and students. It is an essential requirement of loyalty to God and God-consciousness that we fulfill the rights entailed by these commitments. In short, the real essence of honouring commitments is fulfilling rights and fulfilling rights encompasses all our obligations whether big or small.
The quality of being steadfast appended to honouring commitments stipulates that a true believer should fight every impediment that comes in the way of fulfilling rights with steadfastness and resolve. In no way should he be overcome by greediness, lack of resolve and fear. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, 1, 428)

It is in these three circumstances in which the determination and resolve of a person are tested. If a person remains steadfast in them, he would attain a high position in loyalty to God and in God-consciousness. This is precisely what the Qur’an has said in the succeeding verses and in this manner has made it clear that those who want to fulfill the rights entailed by loyalty to God by merely offering some rituals and customs are neither God-conscious nor truthful in their commitment to His loyalty.

Verses 178-179 The Islamic laws of retribution:
( 178 )   O you who have believed, prescribed for you is legal retribution for those murdered - the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But whoever overlooks from his brother anything, then there should be a suitable follow-up and payment to him with good conduct. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. But whoever transgresses after that will have a painful punishment.
Retribution, that is, blood revenge, is based on the principle that what a person has done to others ought to be done to him. This does not mean that the murderer should be put to death in exactly the same manner as he killed but that the murderer should be subjected to the same act, i.e. killing, as that to which he subjected his victim.

In pre-Islamic Arabia people tried to take blood revenge upon the murderer's family and tribe, and the retaliation corresponded to the value placed on the blood of the victim. Their desire for revenge was not quenched merely by putting the murderer to death. They preferred to put to death tens and even hundreds of people to avenge the one life they had lost. If a respected member of their tribe was killed by an ordinary member of another, it was not deemed enough to put to death the actual murderer. They preferred to kill a man of the murderer's tribe equal in standing to the victim, and even several members of the murderer's tribe. However, if the victim was a man of humble standing from another tribe, and the murderer from their tribe happened to be a man of high standing, they were unwilling to permit the execution of the murderer.

This attitude is not confined to the Ignorance of that bygone age. Even today those nations that are supposedly the most civilized will often proclaim, officially and quite brazenly, that if one of their citizens is killed they will execute scores of the killer's compatriots. In addition we often hear that to avenge the murder of one person a large number of hostages belonging to a subject nation have been shot dead. One of the 'civilized' nations of the present century subjected the whole Egyptian nation to blood revenge because one of their officials, Sir Lee Stack, was killed by an Egyptian. The courts of justice of these so-called civilized nations have been known to refrain from passing the death sentence on convicted homicides when they happened to be members of the ruling nation while their victims belonged to the subject nation. It is iniquities such as these that God seeks to end by means of the directive contained in this verse. What God says here is that the killer ought to be put to death irrespective of his status and that of the victim.

The very use of the word 'brother' in this context suggests that as a general rule one ought to incline towards leniency. Despite the bitterness felt towards someone who has shed the blood of, say, one's father, the murderer is still one's brother by virtue of being a member of the human family. Hence if one who has been wronged can overcome the vengeful spirit aroused by his erring brother's deed, this attitude of forgiveness will be worthy of his humanity.

This verse also makes it clear that according to the Islamic penal law the question of homicide can be settled by the mutual consent of the two parties. It is the prerogative of the heirs of the victim to forgive the murderer, and if it is exercised not even a judge has the power to insist on carrying out the death sentence. In such a case, however, as the following verse mentions, the murderer will be made to pay blood money.

The term ma'ruf occurs quite frequently in the Qur'an. It refers to conduct which is reckoned fair and equitable by the generality of disinterested people. The generally accepted usages and customs of life are called 'urf and ma'ruf in Islamic terminology, and they are considered valid in all those matters not specifically regulated by the Shar'iah.

Excess might consist of trying to avenge the blood of the murdered man even after his heirs have settled the matter and received blood money or of efforts on the part of the murderer to delay the payment of blood money thus repaying the heirs of the victim with ingratitude for their kindness and goodwill.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Note first that this verse and the next make it clear that Islam has much mitigated the horrors of the pre-Islamic custom of retaliation. In order to meet the strict claims of justice, equality is prescribed, with a strong recommendation for mercy and forgiveness. To translate qisas, therefore, by retaliation, is I think incorrect. The Latin legal term Lex Talionsis may come near it, but even that is modified here. In any case it is best to avoid technical terms for things that are very different. "Retaliation" in English has a wider meaning, equivalent almost to returning evil for evil, and would more fitly apply to the blood-feuds of the Days of Ignorance. Islam says: if you must take a life for a life, at least there should be some measure of equality in it; the killing of the slave of a tribe should not involve a blood feud where many free men would be killed; but the law of mercy, where it can be obtained by consent, with reasonable compensation, would be better.

The jurists have carefully laid down that the law of qisas refers to murder only. Qisas is not applicable to manslaughter, due to a mistake or an accident. There, there would be no capital punishment.

The brother: the term is perfectly general; all men are brothers in Islam. In this, and in all questions of inheritance, females have similar rights to males, and therefore the masculine gender imports both sexes. Here we are considering the rights of the heirs in the light of the larger brotherhood. In ii. 178-79 we have the rights of the heirs to life (as it were): in ii. 180-82 we proceed to the heirs to property.

The demand should be such as can be met by the party concerned, i.e., within his means, and reasonable according to justice and good conscience. For example, a demand could not be made affecting the honour of a woman or a man. The whole penalty can be remitted if the aggrieved party agrees, out of brotherly love. In meeting that demand the culprit or his friends should equally be generous and recognize the good-will of the other side. There should be no subterfuges, no bribes, no unseemly by-play: otherwise the whole intention of mercy and peace is lost.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
The word qisas is from qasas which means to follow someone in his footsteps. From this meaning, it was used for the punishment in which the criminal is treated in the same way as he himself had treated the other person while committing the crime.

Since this directive is related to the whole society, the addressee of the expression کُتِبَ عَلَیۡکُمْ (decreed for you) is the society. Consequently, it is incumbent on the state to find out the murderers of a person murdered under its jurisdiction, arrest them and as per the Islamic law implement the will of the heirs of the murdered person on the murderers.

This is a statement of impartial justice and total equality that should be observed in taking qisas. This directive of the Qur’an has virtually put an end to the injustice and oppression suffered by the family of the slain person whether of the modern age of ignorance or that of the olden times. The rich and the poor, the person of high rank and that of low rank, the master and his servant – all are put on the same pedestal since they are the progeny of the same man and woman: Adam (sws) and Eve. A person’s social status should never create an exception to this rule of equality nor should it be given any emphasis in this regard.

The implication is that in this case, taking qisas will not be mandatory. If a court of law wants, it can insist on it; however, if the heirs of the deceased do not demand life for life and want to treat the criminal with lenience, then it can give him some lesser punishment keeping in view the nature of the crime and the circumstances of the criminal. For this the words used are: فَمَنۡ عُفِیَ لَہٗ مِنۡ اَخِیۡہِ شَیۡءٌ. The word عُفِیَ means “to pardon” and the correct grammatical construction in my opinion is فَمَنْ عُفِيَ لَهُ مِنْ اَخِيهِ شَيْءٌمِنَ العَفُوِّ. The implication is that if some lenience is showed by the heirs of the murdered person. By this lenience is meant that the heirs instead of demanding the life of the murderer settle for accepting diyat from him.The subsequent words اَدَآءٌ اِلَیۡہِ بِاِحۡسَانٍ (pay it to him with kindness) make this very evident.

The importance given to the slain person’s heirs in this law, while deciding for any lenience for the criminal, is based on great wisdom. It not only appeases their spirit of revenge, but also goes a long way in ridding the society of such crimes. Writes thus Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi:
… Leaving the life of the killer directly at the mercy of the heirs of the murdered person compensates to some extent the tremendous loss caused. Furthermore, if the heirs of the slain person adopt a soft attitude at that moment, they do a big favour to the murderer and his family, which produces many useful results. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 433)
The actual words are: فَاتِّبَاعٌۢ بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ. The word مَعْرُوْف occurs in the Qur’an to connote “virtue” and “good” as well as to connote “customs” and “conventions.” Here, the subsequent words اَدَآءٌ اِلَیۡہِ بِاِحۡسَانٍ (pay it to him with kindness) clearly show that it is used in the latter connotation. It is thus evident from this usage that the Qur’an instead of fixing the amount of diyat has directed the society to follow its custom in this regard. According to this directive of the Qur’an, every society is bound to follow its custom. In a society where no law about diyat exists previously, those at the helm of state can either continue with the Arab custom according to which Muhammad(sws) settled cases of qisas or re-legislate in this regard; whatever they do, if the society accepts the legislation, it will assume the status of ma‘ruf for that society and the directive of the Qur’an to pay diyat shall stand fulfilled.

While elaborating on the reason that diyat should be given in a befitting manner, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… The directive of paying diyat befittingly has been given because in that period in Arabia diyat was generally not given in the form of cash; it was paid in kind or in the form of animals. Therefore, if the payers of diyat had any ill-intention in their hearts, they could defraud the receiving party. It is easily possible in case of camels and goats or dates and other grains to pay diyat as far as the agreed quantity and weight is concerned, disregarding their quality and nature. This would amount to ignoring the favour done by the aggrieved party by forgiving the murderer. Someone whose life had been left at the mercy of a person by the shari‘ah had been forgiven by him and he had agreed to accept some wealth instead. This favour should be answered by a favour only, ie, the payment of diyat should be done with such magnanimity and munificence that the heirs of the slain person should not feel that by accepting camels and goats in place of the life of a beloved they had committed a mistake or done something dishonourable. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 434)
The implication is that the sanctity a life possesses required that life be taken in place of life; however, the Almighty has mercifully shown clemency. So no one should try to misuse this rebate.

While explaining this, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… Implied in it is a warning for the murderer and his family that it would be great disregard to the favour of the Almighty if a person after benefiting from this lenience plans to inflict some new oppression on the family of the murdered person. One of these plans could be that the murderer and his relatives scheme that for the moment they should save their lives by convincing the family of the murdered to forgive them and later they would inflict some loss on them. Likewise, there also exists in these words a warning for the heirs of the murdered person that they should not accept diyat with the plan that this acceptance is for the moment and that later they would kill the murderer whenever they get the opportunity. Both parties should sincerely accept the agreement contracted on the basis of a concession given to them by the Almighty. He who commits a wrong after accepting this agreement will become worthy of the wrath of God. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 434)
( 179 )   And there is for you in legal retribution [saving of] life, O you [people] of understanding, that you may become righteous.
This refutes another notion of Ignorance, a notion ingrained in the minds of many people, both past and present. On the one hand there are some people who, entrenched in Ignorance, tend to exceed the limits of moderation in revenge. At the other end of the spectrum stand those who are opposed in principle to the concept of executing a murderer. They have conducted such intense, world-wide propaganda against the death penalty that it has become abhorrent to many people. In fact the impact of this propaganda has been so great that in many countries the death penalty has been abolished altogether.

The Qur'an, however, addresses itself on this question to wise and intelligent people and cautions them against such immoderate leniency by proclaiming that the survival of human society rests on the application of the death penalty for homicide. A society which holds inviolable the lives of those who disregard the sanctity of human life is in fact rearing snakes and serpents. To save the life of one murderer is to risk the lives of many innocent human beings.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
Here the Qur’an while specifically addressing people of intellect has stated the wisdom behind this law so that indifference, partiality, apathy and over-sympathy do not come in the way of implementing this law. Also, so that people being over-awed with emotions don’t become audacious enough to start philosophizing and defending the criminal – what some people of current times have done. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi explains this in the following way:
… If a murderer is executed because of his crime, it apparently seems as if a second life has been taken, but a little deliberation shows that this punishment actually guarantees the life of the whole society. If this punishment is not carried out, the mental disorder in which a person commits this crime is actually transmitted to the society. The extent of various diseases differ: diseases which result in such heinous crimes as murder, robbery, theft or fornication are like those diseases in which it is necessary to amputate some limb of the body to save the whole body. Amputating a limb may seem a callous act, yet a doctor has to be callous. If by showing sympathy to this limb he does not force himself to this cruelty, he may have to bear with the patient’s death.
A society in its collective capacity is like a body. At times, its limbs get infected to the extent that the only option is to cut them off from the body through an operation. If sympathy is shown by considering it to be the limb of a patient, there is all the chance that this would fatally affect the whole body. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 436)

Verses 180-182 Commandment of Allah to make a 'Will':
( 180 )   Prescribed for you when death approaches [any] one of you if he leaves wealth [is that he should make] a bequest for the parents and near relatives according to what is acceptable - a duty upon the righteous.
This injunction relates to a period of time when no rules had been laid down for the distribution of inheritance. Thus everyone was required to make testamentary disposal of their property so as to ensure that no disputes arose in the family and no legitimate claimant to inheritance was deprived of his due share. Later when God revealed a set of laws regarding the distribution of inheritance see (Qur'an 4: 11 ff.), the Prophet elucidated further the laws relating to testamentary disposition and inheritance by expounding two rules.

First, that no person can make any will regarding his estate in favour of any of his legal heirs. Their portions were laid down in the Qur'an and neither increase nor decrease in this was permissible, nor could any heir be disinherited, nor anything willed in favour of any heir over and above his legal portion. (See the Tradition: 'There may be no will in favour of the heir.' See Abu Da'ud, 'Al-Wasaya', 6; Tirmidhi, 'Al-Wasaya', 5; Nasa'i, 'Al-Wasaya', 5; Ibn Majah, 'Al-Wasaya', 5 - Ed.)

Second, that testamentary disposition might be made to the extent of one third of the estate, but no more. (See Bukhari, 'Al-Wasaya', 2 and 3; Muslim, 'Al-Wasiyah', 5-10; Abu Da'ud, 'Al-Wasaya', 2 - Ed.)

The purpose underlying these explanatory directives of the Prophet seems to be that at least two-thirds of the estate should be left aside to be distributed among the legal heirs according to the Qur'anic rules, and that a will could be made in respect of the whole or part of the remaining one-third. This could be made in favour of either relatives, whether close or distant, who are not legal heirs, or others not related by the blood-tie but who are deserving of assistance. Likewise, a will could be made in favour of charitable causes which are found worthy of support.

In later times people began to regard this directive regarding testamentary disposal as a recommendation only. The result was that this rule fell largely into disuse. It is significant, however, that the Qur'an mentions it as 'an obligation on the God-fearing'. Were Muslims to make this injunction an operative institution no trace would remain of the problems which agitate their minds respecting the Islamic law of inheritance , for example grandchildren whose parents had predeceased their paternal or maternal grandparents and who, under Islamic law, were not entitled to inherit from their grandparents. (The author suggests that re-activating the Qur'anic directive on testamentary disposal is the answer to this and similar problems - Ed.)
( 181 )   Then whoever alters the bequest after he has heard it - the sin is only upon those who have altered it. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing. 
( 182 )   But if one fears from the bequeather [some] error or sin and corrects that which is between them, there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
Yusuf Ali's Explanation:
A verbal will is allowed, but it is expected that the testator will be just to his heirs and not depart from what is considered equitable. For this reason definite shares were laid down for heirs later (see Q. iv. 11, etc.). These define or limit the testamentary power, but do not abrogate it. For example, among kin there are persons, e.g., an orphan grandson in the presence of surviving sons) who would not inherit under the intestate scheme, and the testator might like to provide for them. Again, there may be outsiders for whom he may wish to provide, and jurists have held that he has powers of disposition up to one-third of his property. But he must not be partial to one heir at the expense of another, or attempt to defeat lawful creditors. If he tries to do this, those who are witnesses to his oral disposition may interfere in two ways. One way would be to persuade the testator to change his bequest before he dies. The other way would be after death, to get the interested parties together and ask them to agree to a more equitable arrangement. In such a case they are acting in good faith, and there is no fraud. They are doing nothing wrong. Islam approves of every lawful device for keeping brethren at peace, without litigation and quarrels. Except for this, the changing of the provisions of a Will is a crime, as it is under all Law.

Ruku / Section 23 [Verses 183-188]
Verses 183-184 Obligation of fasting:
( 183 )   O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous -
Like most other injunctions of Islam those relating to fasting were revealed gradually. In the beginning the Prophet (peace be on him) had instructed the Muslims to fast three days in every month, though this was not obligatory. When the injunction in the present verse was later revealed in 2 A.H., a degree of relaxation was introduced: it was stipulated that those who did not fast despite their capacity to endure it were obliged to feed one poor person as an expiation for each day of obligatory fasting missed see (verse 184). Another injunction was revealed later see (verse 185) and here the relaxation in respect of able-bodied persons was revoked. However, for the sick, the traveler, the pregnant, the breast-feeding women and the aged who could not endure fasting, the relaxation was retained. (See Bukhari, 'Tafsir al-Qur'an', 25; Tirmidhi, 'Sawm', 21; Nasai, 'Siyam', 51, 62, 64; Ibn Majah, 'Siyam', 12; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 3, p. 104; vol. 4, pp. 347 and 418; vol. 5, p. 29 - Ed.)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
As it was prescribed: this does not mean that the Muslim fast is like the other fasts previously observed, in the number of days, in the time or manner of the fast, or in other incidents; it only means that the principle of self-denial by fasting is not a new one.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
The actual word is: الصِّیَام. As a term of the Islamic shari‘ah, it refers to the state of a person in which he is required to abstain from eating and drinking and from marital relations with certain limits and conditions and has always been used in the Arabic language in this meaning the way the word “fast” has been used in the English Language in this meaning.

Our relationship with the Almighty generally manifests in the form of the following three: worship, obedience and support. Fasts are a symbolic expression of obedience. It is evident from this verse that in divine shari‘ah, the fast has remained a special ritual to discipline the desires of the soul.

In order to remain within the limits and bounds set by the Almighty, it is essential that a person develop in him the ability to control his desires and emotions. A little deliberation shows that this ability only develops if a person is really fearful of the Almighty.
( 184 )   [Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] - then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] - a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess - it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.
This act of extra merit could either be feeding more than the one person required or both fasting and feeding the poor.

Here ends the early injunction with regard to fasting which was revealed in 2 A.H. prior to the Battle of Badr. The verses that follow were revealed about one year later and are linked with the preceding verses since they deal with the same subject.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
This verse should be read with the following verses, 185-88, in order that the incidents of the physical fast may be fully understood with reference to its spiritual meaning.

Illness and journey must not be interpreted in an elastic sense: they must be such as to cause real pain or suffering if the fast were observed. For journeys, a minimum standard of three marches is prescribed by some Commentators: others make it more precise by naming a distance of 16 farsakhs, equivalent to 48 miles. A journey of 8 or 9 miles on foot is more tiring than a similar one by bullock cart. There are various degrees of fatigue in riding a given distance on horseback or by camel or in a comfortable train or by motor car or by steamer, aeroplane, or airship. In my opinion the standard must depend on the means of locomotion and on the relative resources of the traveller. It is better to determine it in each case according to circumstances.

Those who can do it with hardship: such as aged people, or persons specially circumstanced. The Shafiis would include a woman expecting a child, or one who is nursing a baby, but on this point opinion is not unanimous, some holding that they ought to put in the fasts later, when they can.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
These words are meant for assurance and consolation. The implication is that in order to train and discipline the soul thirty or twenty nine days in reality are very few in number and a person should not feel discomfort on this.

The actual words are: وَ عَلَی الَّذِیۡنَ یُطِیۡقُوۡنَہٗ. Although the antecedent of the accusative pronoun هُ in یُطِیۡقُوۡنَہٗ comes later, it is in fact found in earlier in one’s intention just as we say: “If you have the strength for this, then you should embark on the journey.”

The permission to feed the needy in place of missed fasts was later revoked as is evident from the subsequent verse. Making up missed fasts by fasting was regarded essential.

The implication is that this is the minimum atonement of not fasting which people who have the capacity should offer. However, if a person feeds more than one needy person or does some other virtuous deed, then this is better for him.

Ie., this atonement is a lenience from the Almighty. It is better in the sight of God that a person should make up for the missed fasts by fasting in other days.
Verse 185 Revelation of the Quran and fasting in the month of Ramadan:
( 185 )   The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey - then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.
Whether a person should or should not fast while on a journey is left to individual discretion. We find that among the Companions who accompanied the Prophet on journeys some fasted whereas others did not; none objected to the conduct of another. The Prophet himself did not always fast when travelling. On one journey a person was so overwhelmed by hunger that he collapsed; the Prophet disapproved when he learned that the man had been fasting. During wars the Prophet used to prevent people from fasting so that they would not lack energy for the fight. It has been reported by 'Umar that two military expeditions took place in the month of Ramadan. The first was the Battle of Badr and the second the conquest of Makkah. On both occasions the Companions abstained from fasting, and, according to Ibn 'Umar, on the occasion of the conquest of Makkah the Prophet proclaimed that people should not fast since it was a day of fighting. In other Traditions the Prophet is reported to have said that people should not fast when they had drawn close to the enemy, since abstention from fasting would lead to greater strength. (See Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 3, p. 329, and vol. 5, pp. 205 and 209: Darimi, ' Sawm', 41; Muslim, 'Siyarn', 92; Nasai, 'Siyam', 47; Bukhari, 'Maghazi', 71; Muslim, 'Siyam', 102; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 3, pp. 21, 35, 46; Tirmidhi, 'Sawm', 18, Nasa'i. 'Siyam', 52; Bukhari , 'Jihad', 29; Muslim, 'Siyam', 98; Abu Da'ud, 'Sawm' 42; Muslim, 'Siyam', 102, 103, 105; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad vol. 2, 99; Tirmidhi, : 'Sawm', 19 - Ed.)

The duration of a journey for which it becomes permissible for a person to abstain from fasting is not absolutely clear from any statement of the Prophet, (cf. relevant Traditions Abu Da'ud, 'Sawm', 46, 47; Nasai , 'Siyam', 54, 55; Malik, Muaatta', 'Siyam', 21, 27 - Ed.) In addition the practice of the Companions was not uniform. It would seem that any journey which is commonly regarded as such, and which is attended by the circumstances generally associated with travelling, should be deemed sufficient justification for not fasting.

Jurists agree that one does not have to fast on the day of commencing a journey; one may eat either at the point of departure or after the actual journey has commenced. Either course is sanctioned by the practice of the Companions. Jurists, however, are not agreed as to whether or not the residents of a city under attack may abstain from fasting even though they are not actually travelling. Ibn taymiyah favours the permissibly of abstention from fasting and supports his view with vcry forceful arguments.

This indicates that fasting need not be confined, exclusively, to Ramadan. For those who fail to fast during that month owing to some legitimate reason God has kept the door of compensation open during other months of the year so that they need not be deprived of the opportunity to express their gratitude to Him for His great bounty, in revealing the Qur'an.

It should he noted here that fasting in Ramadan has not only been declared an act of worship and devotion and a means to nourish piety but has also been characterized as an act of gratefulness to God for His great bounty of true guidance in the form of the Qur'an. In fact, the best way of expressing gratitude for someone's bounty or benevolence is to prepare oneself, to the best of one's ability, to achieve the purpose for which that bounty has been bestowed. The Qur'an has been revealed so that we may know the way that leads to God's good pleasure, follow that way ourselves and direct the world along it. Fasting is an excellent means by which to prepare ourselves for shouldering this task. Hence fasting during the month of the revelation of the Qur'an is more than an act of worship and more than an excellent course of moral training; it is also an appropriate form for the expression of our thankfulness to God for the bounty of the Qur'an.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Judgment (between right and wrong): Furqan - the criterion or standard by which we judge between right and wrong.

The regulations are again and again coupled with an insistence on two things: (a) the facilities and concessions given, and (b) the spiritual significance of the fast, without which it is like an empty shell without a kernel. If we relies this, we shall look upon Ramadan, not as a burden, but as a blessing, and shall be duly grateful for the lead given to us in this matter.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
It is evident from the succeeding verse in which the permission of feeding the needy for missed fasts has been revoked that it was revealed sometime after the first one.

The actual word is: بَیِّنٰت. It refers to clear signs and arguments that remove all doubts and convince people. Undoubtedly, the Qur’an is a treasure of such signs and arguments which are enough to guide humankind forever.

The actual words are: فَمَنۡ شَہِدَ مِنۡکُمُ الشَّہۡرَ فَلۡیَصُمۡہُ. As per the sentence construction, these words constitute the enunciative (khabar) of the above mentioned inchoative (mubtada) and the word فَلۡیَصُمۡہُ means that fasts of the whole month should be kept and none should be missed.

The implication is that one is in such a state that fasting becomes very strenuous. Consequently, the same directive shall apply to pregnant women or those who are suckling their offspring as well as to old people who are nearing death.

Here the Almighty has suppressed the words of the previous verse beginning with وَ عَلَی الَّذِیۡنَ یُطِیۡقُوۡنَہٗ and ending with اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡتَعۡلَمُوۡنَ. It is obvious from this that the permission of feeding the needy for missed fasts has been revoked. The Almighty in the succeeding verses has referred to the reason for revoking this permission. However, the question arises: Why was this permission given in the first place? In my opinion, the reason for this was that since it is difficult to fast in days other than Ramadan, the Almighty did not make it incumbent until people got used to it.

A little deliberation shows that three things have been mentioned previously: firstly, the month of Ramadan has been reserved for fasting; secondly, the permission of feeding the needy for missed fasts has been revoked and thirdly, in case of travel and ill-health a person can defer his fasts to other months. Here the Almighty has referred to the wisdom behind each of these three things in ascending order.

The implication is that it was worthy for the month in which the Qur’an was revealed that it be reserved for expressing gratitude to the Almighty and glorifying Him. The fast is nothing but this expression of gratitude and glorification. When a person, at the behest of His Lord, gives up things which are originally allowed to him in order to win the pleasure of his Lord, he shows through his words, deeds and inner and outer self as well as from every routine of life that there is nothing greater than the command of God. A little deliberation reveals that this state of a person in which he experiences and acknowledges the power, magnificence and exaltedness of the Almighty is a true expression of gratitude from him.

Verse 186 Allah is very close to His devotees:
( 186 )   And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me - indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.
Even though people can neither see God nor subject Him to any other form of sense perception this should not make them feel that God is remote from them. On the contrary, He is so close to each and every person that whenever any person so wishes he can communicate with his Lord. So much so that God hears and responds even to the prayers which remain within the innermost recesses of the heart.

People exhaust themselves by approaching false and powerless beings whom they foolishly fancy to be their deities but who have neither the power to hear nor to grant their prayers. But God, the omnipotent Lord and the absolute Master of this vast universe, Who wields all power and authority, is so close to human beings that they can always approach Him without the intercession of any intermediaries, and can put to Him their prayers and requests.

This announcement of God's closeness to man may open his eyes to the Truth, may turn him to the right way wherein lies his success and well-being.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
Ie., now when the Qur’an is being revealed and Muhammad(sws) is amongst his people, they can obtain guidance from the Almighty through him whenever they can.

This is an encouragement for people to ask questions which are necessary for the explanation of the shari‘ah. It does not imply unnecessary questions which the Qur’an at another place has stopped people from asking.

Although in general circumstances too, the Almighty answers the calls of the suppliant, however here it refers to the answers which people would immediately get from Muhammad(sws) during the time of revelation of the Qur’an. A number of similar questions have been mentioned further down in this surah.

The implication is that when the Almighty is near them and is also answering their questions to remove their confusions, no one should adopt a hypocritical attitude with Him and neither should people object to and raise doubts against any of His directives; in fact, they should obey them with full faith and conviction.

Verses 187 Nights of the Fasting month and Timings of fasting:
( 187 )   It has been made permissible for you the night preceding fasting to go to your wives [for sexual relations]. They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them. Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves, so He accepted your repentance and forgave you. So now, have relations with them and seek that which Allah has decreed for you. And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night]. Then complete the fast until the sunset. And do not have relations with them as long as you are staying for worship in the mosques. These are the limits [set by] Allah, so do not approach them. Thus does Allah make clear His ordinances to the people that they may become righteous.
Just as nothing intervenes between a person's body and his clothes, so nothing can intervene between a man and his wife; it is a relationship of inalienable intimacy.

Although there was no categorical ordinance in the early days prohibiting sexual intercourse between husband and wife during the nights of Ramadan, people generally assumed that this was not permissible. Despite the feeling that their action was either not permitted or was at least disapproved of, they did at times approach their wives. Such a betrayal of conscience can encourage a sinful disposition. God, therefore, first reproaches them with their lack of integrity, for this is what was objectionable. As for the act itself, God makes it clear that it is quite permissible. Henceforth they might engage in sexual intercourse as a perfectly lawful act unencumbered by feelings of guilt.

In this connection, too, there was a misapprehension at first. Some thought that eating and drinking were absolutely prohibited after the performance of the 'Isha' (Night) Prayer. Others thought that one could eat and drink so long as one had not fallen asleep, but that if one had it was not permissible to eat on reawakening. These were people's own fancies and often caused great inconvenience. This verse seeks to remove all such misconceptions. It clearly lays down the duration of the fast: from dawn until sunset. Between sunset and dawn it is permissible to eat, to drink, and to indulge in the legitimate gratification of sexual desires.

At the same time the Prophet introduced the pre-fasting repast, recommending a good meal just before dawn.

In fixing the time of obligatory rites, Islam has been mindful that these timings should be so clear and simple that people, at all stages of development, should be able to follow them. This is why Islam bases its timing on conspicuous natural phenomena and not on the clock.

Some people object that this principle of timing is untenable in areas close to the poles, where night and day each last for about six months. This objection is based on a very superficial knowledge of geography. In point of fact neither day nor night lasts for six months in those areas - not in the sense in which people living near the Equator conceive of night and day. The signs of morning and evening appear at the poles with unfailing regularity and it is on this basis that people time their sleeping and waking, their professional work, their play and recreation. Even in the days before watches were common, the people of countries like Finland, Norway and Greenland used to fix the hours of the day and night by means of various signs that appeared on the horizon. Just as those signs helped them to determine their schedules in other matters, so they should enable them to time their various Prayers, the pre-fast meal and the breaking of the fast.

'Complete your fasting until night sets in' means that the time of fasting ends with nightfall, i.e. sunset marks the breaking of the fast. The precise time of the end of the pre-dawn repast is when a lean strip of aurora appears at the eastern end of the horizon and begins to grow. The time to break one's fast starts when the darkness of night seems to have begun to appear over the eastern horizon.

In our own time, some people have adopted an attitude of extreme caution with regard to the time of both the end and start of fasting. The Law has not fixed these schedules with rigid precision. If a person wakes up just at the crack of dawn it is proper for him to eat and drink hastily. According to a Tradition the Prophet said: 'If anyone of you hears the call for [the morning] Prayer while he is eating he should not stop immediately, but should finish eating to the extent of his bare need.' (Abu Da'ud. Siyam', 14 - Ed.) Similarly, one need not wait for the light of day to disappear fully before breaking the fast. The Prophet, for instance, used to ask Bilil to bring him something to drink as soon as the sun had set. Bilal expressed his astonishment, pointing out that the light of day could still be observed. To this the Prophet replied that the time of fasting came to an end when the darkness of night began to rise from the east. (Muslim, 'Siyam', 10; Abu Da'ud, 'Siyam', 15; etc. - Ed.)

'On retreat in the mosque' refers to the religious practice of spending the last ten days of Ramadan in the mosque, consecrating this time to the remembrance of God. In this state, known as i'tikaf, one may go out of the mosque only for the absolutely necessary requirements of life, but one must stay away from gratifying one's sexual desire.

The directive here is neither to exceed nor draw near the limits set by God. This means that it is dangerous for a man to skirt the boundaries of disobedience; prudence demands that one should keep some distance from these lest one's steps inadvertent lead one to cross them. The same principle has been enunciated in a Tradition in which the Prophet said: 'Even sovereign has an enclosed pasture and the enclosed pasture of God consists of His prohibitions. So, whosoever keeps grazing around that pasture is likely to fall into it.' (Bukhari, 'lman', 36; 'Buyu'', 3; Muslim, 'Musaqah', 107; Abu Da'd, 'Buyu", 3; Tirmidhi, 'Buyu", 1; Nasa'i, 'Buyu?, 3; 'Ashribah', 50; Ibn Majah, 'Fitan', 14 - Ed.)

It is a pity that many people. who are not conversant with the spirit of the Shari'ah (Islamic law), insist on using these boundaries to the limits. Many religious scholars exert themselves in finding out arguments to justify this attitude, and a point is thus reached where only a hair's breadth separates obedience from disobedience. Consequently many people fall prey to disobedience, even to downright error and wrong-doing. For once a man arrives at this point he is seldom capable of discerning between right and wrong, and maintaining the absolute self-control needed to keep within the lawful limits.

Yusuf Ali's Explanation:
Men and women are each other's garments: i.e., they are for mutual support, mutual comfort, and mutual protection, fitting into each other as a garment fits the body. A garment also is both for show and concealment. The question of sex is always delicate to handle: here we are told that even in such matters a clear, open, and honest course is better than fraud or self-deception. The sex instinct is classed with eating and drinking, an animal thing to be restrained, but not to be ashamed of. The three things are prohibited during the fast by day, but permitted after the fast is broken at night till the next fast commences.

There is difference of opinion as to the exact meaning of this. I would connect this as a parallel clause with the clause "eat and drink", which follows, all three being governed by "until the white thread", etc. That is, all three things must stop when the fast begins again in the early morning. Or it may mean: What is permitted is well enough, but seek the higher things ordained for you.

Those in touch with Nature know the beautiful effects of early dawn. First appear thin white indefinable streaks of light in the east; then a dark zone supervenes; followed by a beautiful pinkish white zone clearly defined from the dark. This is the true dawn; after that the fast begins.

Till the night appears: From the actual practice of the Holy Apostle, this is rightly interpreted to mean: "Till sunset."

Retreat to the Mosques by night after the fast is broken is specially recommended towards the end of Ramadam, so that all carnal temptations may be avoided.

I construe these limits as applying to the whole of the regulations about fasts.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
This is the tabyin verse (verses which explain a previously revealed directive). It is evident from this verse that the previous discussion was raised so that the confusion which arose in the minds of the people could be cleared. It will be evident from the succeeding verses that gaining confidence from this response of the Almighty, people started to ask more questions one after the other which the Qur’an answered at various places by pausing in its own discourse.

The implication is that although this was always allowed but since people were hesitant about it, the Almighty in clear terms has stated that sexual relations can be established with the wives in the nights of Ramadan.

The actual word is: الرَّفَث. It means “lewd talk.” However, the preposition اِلٰی after it incorporates in it the meaning of sexual intimacy with the wives.

The implication is that a husband and wife are so close and so inseparable as per the nature on which the Almighty has created them that except in compelling circumstances they should not be kept separate from one another. A little deliberation would show that the metaphor of a husband and wife being each other’s garment is very subtle. A garment has three aspects: covering the body, protecting it and embellishing it. A husband and wife are one another’s garment in all these three aspects. They are a cover to one another’s sexual desires and instincts, are a means of protection for one another from the onslaughts of Satan and with their mutual interaction give all the colour and exuberance to life which becomes evident in the elegance and grace of human culture and civilization.

Ie., in spite of being of the view that it was not permissible for them to go near their wives in the nights of Ramadan, they were defying their own view. One reason for this view could have been that among the Jews, the next fast would start right after one had broken his fast and they would consider eating and drinking and having sexual intercourse with the wife as prohibited. Muslims thought that they too would have to follow the Jews in this matter. However, some of the Muslims in spite of thinking so deviated from the view they held. This is something which the Qur’an called deceiving one’s conscience, which is a self-evident reality. If a person considers something to be a requisite of religion and still does not act according to it regardless of the fact that it is actually a requisite or not, then this is not permissible to him and would be called deceiving one’s conscience.

This deception could have earned them the wrath of God but the Almighty mercifully pardoned them.

Since in such matters people want to be absolutely sure, they are instructed that they can also plan a child on such occasions. They should in no way be hesitant in this manner both as regards planning for a child in this period and what will be born to them ultimately as a result.

It is evident from this that the permission to eat and to go near the wives is till fajr; so because of a little delay or being before time one should not cast doubt on one’s own fasts or those of the others.

This is a religious term which means that a person in order to remember and worship the Almighty secludes himself in a mosque or some other place. It is an established Sunnah which has always remained a constituent of the religion brought by the prophets of God. The addressees of the Qur’an were fully aware of it and furnishing its details was thus not required. What however is evident from the Qur’an is that this worship ritual has a special affinity for the month of Ramadan. This inference is also corroborated by the practice of Muhammad(sws) and by some narratives attributed to him.

Since the basic objective of this worship ritual is to devote one’s self to the Almighty by leaving aside the world, hence a person should be fully attentive to its requirements. It is also essential that a person should not leave the mosque except because of some compelling human need. For this very reason, he is also not allowed to go near his wife during this period.

Ie., one should distance one’s self considerably from the limits and bounds set by the Almighty so that one does not inadvertently cross them.

These words normally occur after verses which are revealed to explain a directive. This is actually a fulfillment of the promise mentioned in Surah al-Qiyamah in the following words: ثُمَّاِنَّ عَلَیۡنَا بَیَانَہٗ (Then it is upon Us to explain it, (75:19)). The basic reason for such an explanation is to remove any doubt and uncertainty so that a believer is able to become even more thorough in virtue.

Verses 188 Bribe is a sin:
( 188 )   And do not consume one another's wealth unjustly or send it [in bribery] to the rulers in order that [they might aid] you [to] consume a portion of the wealth of the people in sin, while you know [it is unlawful].
One meaning of this verse is that people should not try to seek illegitimate benefits by bribing magistrates. Another meaning is that when a person is aware that the property, he claims rightfully belongs to someone else, he should not file a judicial petition either because the other party lacks the evidence to support their case or because by trickery and cunning the petitioner can usurp that property. It is possible that the judicial authority would decide the case in favour of the false claimant on the basis of the formal strength of the claim, but as this judicial verdict would merely be the result of the chicanery to which the claimant had resorted he would not become its rightful owner. In spite of the judgement of the court the property would remain unlawful for him in the sight of God. It has been reported in a Tradition that the Prophet said: 'I am merely a human being and you bring to me your disputes. It is possible that some of you will be more impressive in argument than others, so that 1 may give judgement in favour of one on the basis of what 1 hear. Beware that if 1 award to someone what belongs to his brother, I will have assigned to him a lump of Fire.' (Bukhari, 'Shahadat', 27; Muslim, 'Aqdiayah', 4; Abu Da'ud , 'Aqdiayah', 7; Tirmidhi, 'Ahkam', 11, 18; Nasai 'Qudat', 12, 33; 1bn Majah, 'AhkAm', 5, etc. - Ed.)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Besides the three primal physical needs of man, which are apt to make him greedy, there is a fourth greed in society, the greed of wealth and property. The purpose of fasts is not completed until this fourth greed is also restrained. Ordinarily honest men are content if they refrain from robbery, theft, or embezzlement. Two more subtle forms of the greed are mentioned here. One is where one uses one's own property for corrupting others - judges or those in authority - so as to obtain some material gain even under the cover and protection of the law. The words translated "other people's property" may also mean "public property". A still more subtle form is where we use our own property or property under our own control - "among yourselves" in the Text - for vain or frivolous uses. Under the Islamic standard this is also greed. Property carries with it its own responsibilities. If we fail to understand or fulfil them, we have not learnt the full lesson of self-denial by fasts.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's Explanation:
The actual word is: بِالۡبَاطِلِ. It implies devouring other people’s wealth through means which are against justice, honesty, fairness and against the good conventions of a society. It is this directive of the Qur’an which forms the basis of all prohibitions in Islam that pertain to economic matters. Obtaining money through illegal gratification, theft, extortion, lying, co-operation with evil, embezzlement, misappropriation, consuming unclaimed items without publicizing them, all come under it.

The sentence وَ تُدۡلُوۡا بِہَاۤ اِلَی الۡحُکَّامِ is co-ordinated to the previous and since it is explaining it, the particle of negationلاَ does not need to be repeated in it.

The actual words are: وَ تُدۡلُوۡا بِہَاۤ اِلَی الۡحُکَّامِ. The word اِدْلَاءٌ means “to put a bucket in a well.” It is through here the meaning of “gaining access to” was incorporated in it. It means illegal gratification and the way the Qur’an has used these words clearly shows what the essence of such gratification is.

Ie., the fact that this is a sin and an act of suppressing rights is known to a person, his intellect and nature bear witness to it, the conventions of a society corroborate it and its prohibition is accepted in all religions. So it is such a manifest reality that everyone knows about it. No one is unaware of it.

This brings us to the end of Part I of Section 3. Our next post (Section-3, Part II) will cover  Ruku 24-26 (Verses 189-216) 

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Surah al-Baqarah with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary / exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Juzʼ / Part backwards for chapters in 30th Juzʼ / Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
Photo | References | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [2]
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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