Friday 17 January 2020

Surah Al Baqarah - The Cow: 2nd Chapter of Quran (Exegesis: Section 4)

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) - Completed
  • Part II: (Verses 189-218) - Completed
  • Part III: (Verses 219-242) - Completed
  • Section 4: (Verses 243-286) - This Part
We have already presented the Introduction, Sections 1, 2 and 3. We now present the last part of the exegesis of the Surah, i.e, Section 4, covering Ruku 32-40 (Verses 243-286). 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"

In this section (243-83), the Muslims have been induced to wage jihad against the unbelievers to liberate the Baitullah from their hold. They have also been motivated to spend in the way Allah for this cause. A reference is then made to the battle fought by Bani Israel, which has many similarities with the battle of Badr, to set free their qiblah from the Palestinians. Then after a parenthetical sentence infaaq is further stressed. In this regard, various examples have been cited to elucidate what type of people does the Almighty guide from the gloom of darkness to the radiance of light and who among the people are left by Him to rove in the darkness. A mention is next made of the blessings of infaaq, its conditions and characteristics and of some important sections of the society which should be its recipients. Simultaneously, a prohibition of riba, the very antithesis of infaaq, is made. The section ends with a directive which pertains to precautionary measures that should be undertaken in lending and borrowing.

Ruku / Section 32 [Verses 243-248]

Here begins a fresh discourse, in which Muslims are urged to struggle and make financial sacrifices for God's cause. Moreover, they have been warned to avoid those forms of corruption which eventually led the Children of Israel into decline and degeneration. In order to appreciate this discourse it should be borne in mind that it was revealed when the Muslims had been driven out of Makkah and had lived in Madina for year and a half. Exasperated by the wrongs to which the unbelievers subjected them, the Muslims had again and again asked the Prophet to permit them to fight. But when they were at long last asked to fight, some of them showed a degree of reluctance and disinclination see (verse 216 )above. Their attention is now drawn, therefore, to two incidents in the history of the Israelites from which the may learn their lesson.

Verses 243-244 There is no escape from death:
( 243 )   Have you not considered those who left their homes in many thousands, fearing death? Allah said to them, "Die"; then He restored them to life. And Allah is full of bounty to the people, but most of the people do not show gratitude.
This refers to the exodus of the Israelites. Surah 5 see ( verse 20) ) gives some details of this incident. The Israelites had left Egypt in large numbers and were wandering in the desert, eager to find a home. But when at God's command Moses ordered them to drive the Canaanites out of Palestine and conquer that land, they showed cowardice and refused to proceed. Eventually God let them wander about for forty years till one full generation of Israelites had died and been replaced by a new one reared in the tough conditions of desert life. It was only, then that God enabled the Israelites to overcome the Canaanites. Their former condition is described as death, whereas the later development is seen as their restoration to life.

The Canaanites were people who lived in the land of Canaan, an area which according to ancient texts may have included parts of modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
We now return to the subject of Jihad, which we left at verse 196 We are to be under no illusion about it. If we are not prepared to fight for our faith, with our lives and all our resources, both our lives and our resources will be wiped out by our enemies. As to life, God gave it, and a coward is not likely to save it. It has happened again and again in history that men who tamely submitted to be driven from their homes although they were more numerous than their enemies had the sentence of death pronounced on them for their cowardice, and they deserved it. But God gives further and further chances in His mercy. This is a lesson to every generation. The Commentators differ as to the exact episode referred to, but the wording is perfectly general, and so is the lesson to be learnt from it.
( 244 )   And fight in the cause of Allah and know that Allah is Hearing and Knowing.
For God's cause we must fight, but never to satisfy our own selfish passions or greed, for the warning is repeated: "God heareth and knoweth all things" all deeds, words and motives are perfectly open before Him, however we might conceal them from men or even from ourselves.

Verses 245-246 Spending in the Way of Allah and Israelites demand for a king: 
( 245 )   Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He may multiply it for him many times over? And it is Allah who withholds and grants abundance, and to Him you will be returned.
'Goodly loan' signifies whatever one gives to another person selflessly, and from absolutely pure motives. God describes whatever man spends in this manner as a loan made to none other than Him, and He undertakes to repay that loan and to repay it several-fold. The stipulation, however. is that the loan should be a 'goodly' one; that is, it should not he tainted with selfish designs and should be given for the sake of God, to be spent for purposes pleasing to Him

They said: 'And why would we not fight in the way of Allah when we have been torn from our homes and our children?' But when fighting was ordained for them they turned back, except a few of them. Allah is well aware of the wrong-doers.
( 246 )   Have you not considered the assembly of the Children of Israel after [the time of] Moses when they said to a prophet of theirs, "Send to us a king, and we will fight in the way of Allah "? He said, "Would you perhaps refrain from fighting if fighting was prescribed for you?" They said, "And why should we not fight in the cause of Allah when we have been driven out from our homes and from our children?" But when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned away, except for a few of them. And Allah is Knowing of the wrongdoers.
This took place about a thousand years before Christ. At that time the Israelites were persecuted by the Amalekites who had deprived them of the greater part of Palestine. The Prophet Samuel, who was then ruling over the Israelites, was old. The elders of Israel, therefore, felt the need to appoint as their head someone else under whose leadership they could wage wars. By that time, however, the Israelites had become so deeply infected with Ignorance, and the customs and practices of non-Muslim nations had made such inroads into their lives that the distinction between a religious state committed to serving God and secular monarchy was lost on them. They consequently asked God to appoint a king rather than a religious ruler (khalifah) over them. The information contained in the Bible is as follows:

Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. . . . Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, 'Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint for us a king to govern us like all the nations.' But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, 'Give us a king to govern us'. And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, 'Hearken to the voice of the people in what they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds which they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you . . . ' So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking a king for him. He said, 'These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you; he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plough his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make the implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take you men-servants and maid-servants, and the best of your cattle and asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And on that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.' But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said. 'No! But we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.' And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, 'Hearken to their voice, and make them a king.' Samuel then said to the men of Israel, 'Go every man to his city.' (1 Samuel 7: 15; 8: 4-22.)

And Samuel said to the people ? 'And when you saw that Nahash the king of Ammonites came against you, You said to me, No, but a king shall reign over us, when the Lord your God was your king. And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the Lord has set a king over you. If you will fear the Lord and serve him and hearken to his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well; but if you will not hearken to the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king. Now therefore stand still and see this great thing, which the Lord will do before your eyes. Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain; and you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king.' So Samuel called upon the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. And all the people said to Samuel, 'Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for a king.' And Samuel said to the people, 'Fear not; you have done all this evil, yet do not turn aside front following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart, and do not turn aside after vain things which cannot profit or save, for they are vain. For the Lord will not cast away his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; and I will instruct you in the good and right way?' (1 Samuel 12: 6-23).

These statements from Samuel make it clear that the demand to appoint a king was disagreeable to God and to His Prophet. It might be asked, however, why the Qur'an does not contain any denunciation of this demand of the elders of Israel. The reason is that to the purpose for which this incident has been cited the appropriateness and otherwise of the demand is irrelevant. The purpose here is to show the extent to which cowardice and self-indulgence had become part of Israelite life, and to show how the lack of moral restraint had come to characterize their conduct. It is these which ultimately led to their decline. The aim of the Qur'anic narrative is to enable Muslims to derive a lesson from this and to ensure that these weaknesses do not creep into their own lives.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The next generation after Moses and Aaron was ruled by Joshua, who crossed the Jordan and settled the tribes in Palestine. His rule lasted for 25 years, after which there was a period of 320 years when the Israelites had a chequered history. They were not united among themselves, and suffered many reverses at the hands of the Midianites, Amalekites and other tribes of Palestine. They frequently lapsed into idolatry and deserted the worship of the true God. From time to time a leader appeared among them who assumed dictatorial powers. Acting under a sort of theocratic commission from God, he pointed out their backsliding, re-united them under His banner, and restored, from time to time and place to place, the power of Israel. These dictators are called Judges in the English translation of the Old Testament. The last of their line was Samuel, who marks the transition towards the line of Kings on the one hand and of the later Prophets on the other. He may be dated approximately about the 11th century B.C.

This was Samuel. In his time Israel had suffered from much corruption within and many reverses without. The Philistines had made a great attack and defeated Israel with great slaughter. The Israelites, instead of relying on Faith and their own valour and cohesion, brought out their most sacred possession, the Ark of the Covenant, to help them in the fight. But the enemy captured it, carried it away, and retained it for seven months. The Israelites forgot that wickedness cannot screen itself behind a sacred relic. Nor can a sacred relic help the enemies of faith. The enemy found that the Ark brought nothing but misfortune for themselves, and were glad to abandon it. It apparently remained twenty years in the village (qarya) of Yaarim (Kirjath-jeafim): I. Samuel, vii. 2. Meanwhile the people pressed Samuel to appoint them a king. They thought that a king would cure all their ills, whereas what was wanting was a spirit of union and discipline and a readiness on their part to fight in the cause of God.

Verses 247-248 Allah appointed Talut to be their king:
( 247 )   And their prophet said to them, "Indeed, Allah has sent to you Talut as a king." They said, "How can he have kingship over us while we are more worthy of kingship than him and he has not been given any measure of wealth?" He said, "Indeed, Allah has chosen him over you and has increased him abundantly in knowledge and stature. And Allah gives His sovereignty to whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing [in favor] and Knowing."
In the Bible Talut is called Saul. He was a thirty-year-old Benjaminite youth. 'There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he; from his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people' (1 Samuel 9: 2). He went out in search of the lost asses of his father. During this search, he passed through the house of Samuel and God informed Samuel that this was the person who had been chosen to govern the people of Israel. Samuel brought Saul to his house, took a vial of oil, poured it on his head,. kissed him and said: 'Has not the Lord anointed you to be the prince over His people of Israel? ' (1 Samuel 10: 1). Samuel later called the people of Israel together and proclaimed Saul to be their king (1 Samuel 10: 17).

This was the second Israelite to be anointed by God's command to a position of leadership. Earlier, Aaron had been anointed as the chief priest. The third case of anointment was that of David, and the fourth that of Jesus. There is no clear statement in the Qur'an regarding the designation of Talut (the Saul of the Bible) to prophethood. The mere fact of his being appointed a ruler does not necessarily warrant considering him a Prophet as well.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Samuel knew as a Prophet that the people were fickle and only wanted to cover their own want of union and true spirit by asking for a king. They replied with spirit in words, but when it came to action, they failed. They hid themselves in caves and rocks, or ran away, and even those who remained "followed him trembling": I. Samuel, xiii 6-7.

Talut is the Arabic name for Saul, who was tall and handsome, but belonged to the tribe of Bejamin, the smallest tribe in Israel. His worldly belongings were slender, and it was when he went out to search for some asses which had been lost from his father's house that he met Samuel and was anointed king by him. The people's fickleness appeared immediately he was named. They raised all sorts of petty objections to him. The chief consideration in their minds was selfishness: each one wanted to be leader and king himself, instead of desiring sincerely the good of the people as a whole, as a leader should do.
( 248 )   And their prophet said to them, "Indeed, a sign of his kingship is that the chest will come to you in which is assurance from your Lord and a remnant of what the family of Moses and the family of Aaron had left, carried by the angels. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers."
The Biblical version of this incident is different from the Qur'anic one. The former sheds light, however, on certain details of the incident. It shows that during a military engagement the pagan Philistines had captured the 'Ark of the covenant'. Terrified of the scourge and pestilence which spread wherever they carried the Ark, these pagans placed it on a cart driven by milk cows, and sent it off. (1 Samuel 5-6 - Ed.) Perhaps the Qur'an alludes to this when it mentions angels, since the cart was driver-less and it was the angels who kept it in their custody and brought it to the Israelites. The Qur'anic statement, that in the Ark 'lies inward peace for you', can be understood in the light of the Biblical statements that the Israelites regarded the Ark as highly auspicious, and as an emblem of their triumph and victory. When they were deprived of it, they began to feel that they had been deprived of the mercy of God. The return of the Ark, therefore, had a highly salutary effect on them as it strengthened their sagging morale and raised their spirits.

The Qur'anic mention of 'the sacred relics left behind by the house of Aaron' seems to allude to the Tablets of Law bequeathed to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Ark is also said to have contained the original copy of the Torah, which Moses himself had had transcribed and which he had himself handed over to the Levites. The Ark is also supposed to have contained a golden urn holding the manna (Hebrews 9: 2 ff - Ed.), in order that the coming generations might recall God's benevolence to their forefathers during their wandering in the desert. The Ark also probably contained the rod of Moses which was one of the great miracles of God. (Hebrews 9: 5 mentions the rod of Aaron - Ed.)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Ark of the Covenant: Tabut: a chest of acacia wood covered and lined with pure gold, about 6ft x 3ft x 3ft. See Exod xxv. 10-22. It was to contain the "testimony of God", or the Ten Commandments engraved on stone, with relics of Moses and Aaron. Its Gold lid was to be the "Mercy Seat" with two cherubims of beaten gold, with wings outstretched. This was a sacred possession to Israel. It was lost to the enemy in the early part of Samuel's ministry; see n. 278 to ii. 246; when it came back, it remained in a village for twenty years and was apparently taken to the capital when kingship was instituted. It thus became a symbol of unity and authority.

Security: sakina-safety, tranquility, peace. Later Jewish writings use the same word for a symbol of God's Glory in the Tabernacle or tent in which the Ark was kept, or in the Temple when it was built by Solomon.

Carried by angels: these words refer to the Tabut or Ark, the cherubims with outstretched wings on the lid may well be supposed to carry the security or peace which the Ark symbolized.

A cherub (/ˈtʃɛrəb/; plural cherubim; Hebrew: כְּרוּב‎ kərūv, pl. כְּרוּבִים kərūvîm) is one of the unearthly beings who directly attend to God, according to Abrahamic religions. The numerous depictions of cherubim assign to them many different roles, such as protecting the entrance of the Garden of Eden.

Ruku / Section 33 [Verses 249-253]
Verse 249 Test of Israelites' belief and obedience:
( 249 )   And when Saul went forth with the soldiers, he said, "Indeed, Allah will be testing you with a river. So whoever drinks from it is not of me, and whoever does not taste it is indeed of me, excepting one who takes [from it] in the hollow of his hand." But they drank from it, except a [very] few of them. Then when he had crossed it along with those who believed with him, they said, "There is no power for us today against Goliath and his soldiers." But those who were certain that they would meet Allah said, "How many a small company has overcome a large company by permission of Allah. And Allah is with the patient."
But as soon as Saul (Talut) and the believers with him went forth across the river, they said: “Today we have no strength to face Goliath (Jalut) and his forces.” But those who believed that they were bound to meet their Lord said: “How often has a small party prevailed against a large party by the leave of Allah.” Allah is with those who remain steadfast.

This may refer either to the river Jordan or to some other river or stream in that region. Saul wanted to take the Israelite army across the river. He was aware, however, that there was little moral discipline and restraint left in them. Hence he hit upon this device to distinguish the worthy from the worthless. Those who could not endure thirst even for a short while, would not be expected to remain steadfast in their confrontation with an enemy at whose hands they had already taken a beating.

These were presumable the people who had shown their impatience on the bank of the river. (See the preceding note - Ed.)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
A Commander is hampered by a large force if it is not in perfect discipline and does not whole-heartedly believe in its Commander. He must get rid of all the doubtful ones, as did Gideon before Saul, and Henry V. in Shakespeare's story long afterwards. Saul used the same test as Gideon; he gave a certain order when crossing a stream; the greater part disobeyed, and were sent back. Gideon's story will be found in Judges, vii. 2-7.

Even in the small band that remained faithful, there were some who were appalled by the number of the enemy when they met him face to face, and saw the size and strength of the enemy Commander, the giant Goliath (Jalut). But there was a very small band who were determined to face all odds because they had perfect confidence in God and in the cause for which they were fighting. They were for making a firm stand and seeking God's help. Of that number was David; see next note.

Verses 250-251 Victory is not by numbers and Prayer of the believers for victory: 
( 250 )   And when they went forth to [face] Goliath and his soldiers, they said, "Our Lord, pour upon us patience and plant firmly our feet and give us victory over the disbelieving people."
( 251 )   So they defeated them by permission of Allah, and David killed Goliath, and Allah gave him the kingship and prophethood and taught him from that which He willed. And if it were not for Allah checking [some] people by means of others, the earth would have been corrupted, but Allah is full of bounty to the worlds.
Prophet Dawood (David, peace be upon him) was then in the early years of his youth. By chance he joined the army of Saul just when the mighty champion of the Philistine army had challenged the Israelite army to combat. None of the Israelites had the courage to take up the challenge. On seeing this, David took on Goliath in a duel and slew him. From then on, David could do no wrong in the eyes of the Israelites. Saul gave him the hand of his daughter in marriage and ultimately he became the ruler of the Israelites. (For details see 1 Samuel, chapters 17 and I8.)

This enunciates the principle according to which God treats the nations as a part of the Divine system governing the world. He allows various nations to attain power and strength within certain limits. But when any nation begins to commit wrongs and exceed reasonable limits. God brings forth another nation as a counterweight, Were the dominion of one nation or party to endure for ever, and were its capacity to perpetrate wrongs granted in perpetuity, God's earth would become full of corruption and wickedness.

Note how the whole story is compressed into a few words as regards narration, but its spiritual lessons are dwelt upon from many points of view. The Old Testament is mainly interested in the narrative, which is full of detail, but says little about the universal truths of which every true story is a parable. The Qur'an assumes the story, but tells the parable.

Verse 252 Reaffirming the Prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh): 
( 252 )   These are the verses of Allah which We recite to you, [O Muhammad], in truth. And indeed, you are from among the messengers.
Verse 253 Ranks of Rasools: 
( 253 )   Those messengers - some of them We caused to exceed others. Among them were those to whom Allah spoke, and He raised some of them in degree. And We gave Jesus, the son of Mary, clear proofs, and We supported him with the Pure Spirit. If Allah had willed, those [generations] succeeding them would not have fought each other after the clear proofs had come to them. But they differed, and some of them believed and some of them disbelieved. And if Allah had willed, they would not have fought each other, but Allah does what He intends.
The main cause of the differences which arose after people had received true knowledge through the Prophets, and which were even aggravated into feuds and wars, is not that God was helpless, and lacked the power to put an end to the fighting. Had He willed so, no one would have had the power to defy the teachings of the Prophets, to take the course of disbelief and rebellion against Him, and to spread mischief and corruption in His world. But it was not His will to deprive human beings of their free-will and choice, and to compel them to follow a particular course. He has created human beings on earth in order to test them and hence endowed them with the freedom to choose from the various alternative courses of belief and action.

God did not appoint the Prophets as policemen to force people to faith and obedience. He sent them, instead, with reasonable arguments and clear signs in order to invite people to righteousness. Hence the cause of all the differences and wranglings and fighting which took place was that people, in exercising the free-will granted to them by God, followed divergent courses. In short, people follow divergent ways precisely because of God's omnipotent will that men should have a choice. It would be a grave misunderstanding to hold that people follow different paths because God failed to persuade people to follow the path which He wanted them to choose.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Different gifts and different modes of procedure are prescribed to God's Apostles in different ages, and perhaps their degrees are different though it is not for us mortals, with our imperfect knowledge to make any difference between one and another of God's Apostles (ii. 136). As this winds up the argument about fighting, three illustrations are given from the past, how it affected God's Messengers. To Moses God spoke in clouds of glory; he led his men for forty years through the wilderness, mainly fighting against the unbelief of his own people; he organised them to fight with the sword for Palestine, but was raised to God's mercy before his enterprise ripened, and it fell to Joshua to carry out his plan. David, though a mere shepherd boy, was chosen by God. He overthrew the greatest warrior of his time, became a king, and waged successful wars, being also a prophet, a poet, and a musician. Jesus was "strengthened with the holy spirit": he was given no weapons to fight and his mission was of a more limited character. In Muhammad's mission these and other characters were combined. Gentler than Jesus, he organised on a vaster scale than Moses and from Medina he ruled and gave laws, and the Qur-an has a vaster scope than the Psalms of David.

Ruku / Section 34 [Verses 254-257]
Verse 254 Spending in charity: 
( 254 )   O you who have believed, spend from that which We have provided for you before there comes a Day in which there is no exchange and no friendship and no intercession. And the disbelievers - they are the wrongdoers.
This means spending in the way of God. The instruction given here is that those who have adopted the cause of the true faith should undertake financial sacrifices for its sake.

Here the expression 'they who disbelieve' signifies either those who refused to obey God and held their property to be clearer than God's good pleasure, or those who did not believe in the Day of which they had been warned, or those who cherished the false illusion that in the Hereafter they would somehow be able to secure their salvation and that their association with men devoted to God would stand them in good stead for they would intercede with God on their behalf.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Spend, i.e, give away in charity, or employ in good works, but do not hoard. Good works would in Islam include everything that advances the good of one that is in need whether a neighbor or a stranger or that advances the good of the community or even the good of the person himself to whom God has given the bounty. But it must be real good and there should be no admixture of baser motives, such as vainglory, or false indulgence, or encouragement of idleness, or playing off one person against another. The bounties include mental and spiritual gifts as well as wealth and material gifts.

Verse 255 Allah's attributes and "Ayat-al-Kursi":
( 255 )   Allah - there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.
Irrespective of the number of gods or objects of worship set up by ignorant people, the fact remains that godhead in its entirety, belongs exclusively to the Eternal Being, Who is indebted to no one for His existence. In fact, He is not only self-existent, but upon Him rests the entire order of the universe. He alone wields all sovereign authority over His dominion. None shares either His attributes or His power and might, and no one has the same claims against the creatures as He. Hence, if anywhere in the heavens or the earth someone sets up anything or anybody as an object of worship and service (ilah) either instead of or in addition to the One True God this amounts to declaring war on reality.

This is a refutation of the ideas of those who, in formulating their concepts of God, are inclined to consider God analogous to their own imperfect selves and hence ascribe to God the weaknesses characteristic of human beings. An instance at hand is the famous Biblical statement that God created the heavens and the earth in six days and on the seventh day He rested (see Genesis, chapters 1 and 2).

To God belongs the heavens and the earth and everything therein. There is no one who shares anything with God in governance either of the heavens or of the earth. Any conceivable being other than God would necessarily be a part of the universe and thus belong to, and be a subject of, God rather than His partner and equal.

This is a refutation of the ideas of those polytheists who consider either saints, angels or other beings to be so influential with God that if they were adamant in demanding something of Him, their demand would prevail. They are being told that, far from anyone having the power to impose his will on God, none - not even the greatest Prophets and the most highly esteemed angels - will dare utter one word in the majestic court of the Lord unless they are expressly permitted to do so.

Here another blow is struck against polytheism. On the basis of the concept of God's unlimited sovereignty and omnipotence it was stressed, in the foregoing verses, that no one shares independently in God's governance of the universe, and no one is so powerful with God that his intercession would decisively influence His judgement. The same point is stressed here but in a different manner. It is pointed out that no one possesses the knowledge that would enable him to comprehend the order of the universe and the considerations underlying it, so no one can legitimately interfere in its governance. The knowledge of human beings, of jinn, of angels and of all other creatures is limited and imperfect. No one's knowledge embraces all the facts of the universe. If someone did have the right to interfere even in only a part of the universe, and if his suggestions were of necessity to be put into effect, the entire order of the universe would be disrupted. Creatures are incapable of understanding what is best for them, and do not have the capacity to know how best the universe should be governed. It is God alone Who knows everything.

The Arabic term kursi signifies sovereignty, dominion and authority.

(The word Kursi has been variously interpreted by Muslim scholars. The literal meaning is obvious; it signifies that which one sits on. Scholars have differed, however, as to whether the word has been used in the Qur'an literally or figuratively. They have also disagreed whether the Kursi and 'Arsh Which occur in the Qur'an have one and the same meaning or are different. The main opinions expressed by the scholars are the following: (i) that Kursi signifies God's knowledge, a view attributed to Ibn 'Abbas; (ii) that it is identical with 'Arsh (Throne), a view attributed to Hasan al-Basri; (iii) that it signifies God's power (iv ) in opposition to such views a large number of scholars insist that Kursi should be considered a reality rather than be understood figuratively. In addition to many earlier scholars, this was vigorously championed by Ibn Taymiyah. It should be remembered, however, that Ibn Taymiyah and others who hold this opinion, side by side with affirming that Kursi is a reality, also emphasize that man has no knowledge about the nature and modality of Kursi and that it ought to be treated as something unique, being related to God Who is unique both in His essence and attributes. (See the commentaries of Alusi. Tabari, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir and Shawkani on this verse. See also Ibn Taymiyah, Majmu al-Fatawa 1bn Taymiyah, vol. 5, pp. 55-8 and vol. 6, pp. 584-5. It is interesting to note that Sayyid Qutb, (martyred 1386 A.H/966 C.E.), a contemporary of Mawdudi and one of the most influential Islamic thinkers of our time, has interpreted the verse exactly, as Mawdudi did - Ed.)

This verse is generally known as the 'Verse of the Throne' and it provides in one piece a knowledge of God without parallel.

The question that arises here is: What is the occasion for describing the Lord of the Universe and His attributes? In order to appreciate this one should rehearse the discourse beginning with( verse 243) and continuing up to this point. In this discourse the believers were urged to strive with their lives and belongings to establish the true faith and were warned to get rid of the weaknesses which had characterized the conduct of the Israelites. A fundamental fact about war - that victory and success do not depend upon superiority in either numbers or weapons - was then indicated. They depend rather on faith, fortitude, discipline and firm resolution. Thereafter the Divine wisdom underlying fighting was disclosed, namely that God removes one set of people by means of another in order to maintain the good administration of the world. For were one group's dominance to be assured in perpetuity, the lives of all other human beings mould become miserable.

This was followed by the clarification of a misunderstanding which often arises in the minds of ignorant people. This misunderstanding arose from the false assumption that God had sent His Prophets so that all diversity and disagreement might come to an end. The people who accepted this premise, however, saw considerable diversity and disagreement, and were aware that falsehood existed side by side with Truth. They were agitated by the thought that this state of affairs might suggest helplessness on God's part, that He had failed to stamp out the evils He wanted to. In reply to this it was pointed out that it was not God's will to compel all human beings to follow one and the same way. Had it been so, man could not have deviated from the course set for him by God. This observation was followed by a passing reference to the subject with which the discourse opened. Finally, the point is made that no matter how many divergent beliefs, viewpoints, ways of life and conduct exist in actual life, the reality underlying the order of the universe is the one stated in this verse, and it remains unaffected by the misconceptions of people. On the other hand, however, it is not God's purpose to compel people to accept it. Whoever accepts it will find it to his own benefit; whoever rejects it, will find the result harmful.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
This is the Ayat-ul-Kursi the "Verse of the Throne". Who can translate its glorious meaning, or reproduce the rhythm of its well-chosen and comprehensive words. Even in the original Arabic the meaning seems to be greater than can be expressed in words.

After we realize that His life is absolute Life. His Being is absolute Being, while others are contingent and evanescent, our ideas of heaven and earth vanish like shadows. What is behind that shadow is He. Such reality as our heavens and our earth possess is a reflection of His absolute Reality. The pantheist places the wrong accent when he says that everything is He. The truth is better expressed when we say that everything is His. How then can any creatures stand before Him as of right, and claim to intercede for a fellow-creature? In the first place both are His, and He cares as much for one as for the other. In the second place, they are both dependent on His will and command. But He in His Wisdom and Plan may grade his creatures and give one superiority over another. Then by His will and permission such a one may intercede or help according to the laws and duties laid on him. God's knowledge is absolute, and is not conditioned by Time or Space. To us, His creatures, these conditions always apply. His knowledge and our knowledge are therefore in different categories, and our knowledge only gets some reflection of Reality when it accords with His Will and Plan.

Throne; seat, power, knowledge, symbol of authority. In our thoughts we exhaust everything when we say "the heavens and the earth". Well, then in everything is the working of God's power, and will, and authority. Everything of course includes spiritual things as well as things of sense. Cf. Wordsworth's fine outburst in "Tintern Abbey": "Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean and the living air, And in the blue sky, and in the mind of man: A motion and a spirit that impels all thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things."

Verses 256-257 There is no compulsion in religion and Wali of Allah vs Wali of Shaitan: 
( 256 )   There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.
Din here signifies the belief about God embodied in the above 'Verse of the Throne' and the entire system of life which rests upon it. The verse means that the system of Islam, embracing belief, morals and practical conduct cannot be imposed by compulsion. These are not things to which people can be yoked forcibly.

Literally taghut means anyone who exceeds his legitimate limits. In the Qur'anic terminology, however, it refers to the creature who exceeds the limits of his creatureliness and arrogates to himself godhead and lordship. There are three stages of man's transgression and rebellion against God. The first stage is that one acknowledges in principle that obedience to God is right, but disregards it in practice. This is fisq (transgression). The second stage is that one not only disobeys but also rejects obedience in principle, and thus either refuses to become the subject of anyone at all or adopts someone other than God as the object of service and devotion. This is kufr (infidelity). The third stage is that one not only rebels against one's Lord but also imposes one's own will (in disregard of the Will of God - Ed.) on God's world and God's creatures. Anyone who reaches such a point is termed taghut and no one can be a true believer in God unless the authority of such a taghut (evil one) is rejected.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Compulsion is incompatible with religion; because 1) religion depends upon faith and will, and these would be meaningless if induced by force; 2) Truth and Error have been so clearly shown up by the mercy of God that there should be no doubt in the mind of any person of goodwill as to the fundamentals of faith; 3) God's protection is continuous and His Plan is always to lead us from the depths of darkness into the clearest light.

Hand-hold: something which the hands can grasp for safety in a moment of danger. It may be a loop or a handle, or anchor. If it is without flaw, so that there is no danger of breaking, our safety is absolutely assured so long as we hold fast to it. Our safety then depends on our own will and faith; God's help and protection will always be unfailing if we hold firmly to God and trust in Him.
( 257 )   Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into the light. And those who disbelieve - their allies are Taghut. They take them out of the light into darkness. Those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein.
The 'darkness' mentioned here means the darkness of Ignorance, which throws man off the path of salvation and well-being and directs his energies and efforts to wrong directions in defiance of reality. 'Light' here means the knowledge of Truth with the help of which man comes to know his own reality and that of the universe; this knowledge also shows him the purpose of his life, and thus leads him consciously, to adopt the Right Way.

Here taghut (see explanation of verse 256 above) has a plural connotation. It implies that by turning away from God a man is subjected not to the tyranny of one, but to the tyranny of many tawaghit (evil one). One of these is Satan, who throws up new temptations and allurements. Another potential taghut (transgressor) is man's own animal self, which seeks to subjugate him to his appetites and desires. There are many more taghut in the world outside oneself ; one's wife and children, one's relatives, one's family and one's community, one's friends and acquaintances, one's social environment and one's people, one's leaders and guides, one's government and rulers are all potential taghut, each one of whom seeks to have his purposes served. Man remains subjected to these innumerable masters throughout his life, not knowing precisely whom he should please and whose displeasure he should avoid.

Ruku / Section 35 [Verses 258-260]
Verse 258 Confrontation of Ibrahim and Namrud: 
( 258 )   Have you not considered the one who argued with Abraham about his Lord [merely] because Allah had given him kingship? When Abraham said, "My Lord is the one who gives life and causes death," he said, "I give life and cause death." Abraham said, "Indeed, Allah brings up the sun from the east, so bring it up from the west." So the disbeliever was overwhelmed [by astonishment], and Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.
It was stated earlier that God is the protector and supporter of the man of faith and brings him out of darkness into light whereas the protectors and supporters of the unbelievers are taghut who lead him out of light into darkness. It is to illustrate this that three examples are cited here. The first is that of a person before whom truth was put with such clear and impressive arguments that he could not refute it, but since he had placed his reins in the hands of taghut, he still could not believe in it. The two subsequent examples are those of two people who clung to God as their support, and God drew them out of darkness so that they were enabled to perceive directly those realities which are beyond the reach of man's perception.

Here the reference is to Nimrod the ruler of the land of Abraham's birth, Iraq. The event which is referred to here is not mentioned at all in the Bible. However, the whole story occurs in the Talmud and is largely in harmony with the Qur'anic version. In the Talmudic version it is said that the father of Abraham occupied the highest office in Nimrod's government. When Abraham denounced polytheism, preached the doctrine of the unity of God and smashed the idols of the temple, his own father lodged a complaint against him before the king. This was followed by a conversation which is mentioned here.

The dispute was over the question: Whom did he acknowledge as his Lord? The reason why this dispute arose was that God had granted kingship to the remonstrator, namely Nimrod. In order to comprehend fully the nature of the dispute hinted at in these statements, it is necessary to bear in mind the following:

(1) All polytheistic societies from the earliest times till today share one characteristic: they acknowledge God to be the Lord of lords, the greatest of all deities. They are unwilling to acknowledge Him, however, as the only God, the only object of man's worship and service.

(2) Polytheists tend to divide godhead into two categories. One of these belongs to the supernatural stratum. The being invested with godhead at this stratum rules over the entire system of causation and is the one to whom man turns for the fulfillment of his needs and for solutions to his problems. With this godhead the polytheists associate spirits, angels, jinn, heavenly bodies and several other beings. To them they address their prayers. They regard them as the objects of their worship. It is at their altars that offerings and sacrifices are placed. The second category of godhead belongs to the social and political stratum, and refers to the being who has the privilege of absolute sovereignty: the one who is entitled to make the rules of conduct for human life, the one who is entitled to unreserved obedience, the one who has unlimited authority to command in worldly matters. Polytheists of all ages have either wrested this godhead from God altogether, or they have had this godhead distributed, in addition to God, among many others such as royal dynastic, religious divines and the venerated personalities of society, whether they belonged to the past or to their own times. Many royal families have laid claim to godhead of the second category and, in order to consolidate their claim, they have pretended to be the offspring of gods in the former sense. In general there has been collusion between the religious and the ruling classes on this question.

(3) Nimrod's claim to godhead belong to this second category. He did not deny the existence of God, and he did not deny that He was the creator of the heavens and the earth, and that He alone governed the entire universe. Nimrod did not claim for himself that he held the reins of the entire realm of causation in his hands; he claimed rather that he was the absolute sovereign of Chaldea and its inhabitants, that in his realm his word was law, that there was no authority superior to his own to which he was answerable. Any Chaldaean who did not either acknowledge him to be his lord or took anyone other than him to be so, was a rebel and a traitor.

[Chaldea was a country that existed between the late 10th or early 9th and mid-6th centuries BC, after which the country and its people were absorbed and assimilated into Babylonia. Semitic-speaking, it was located in the marshy land of the far southeastern corner of Mesopotamia and briefly came to rule Babylon.]

(4) Abraham asserted that he acknowledged none else but the creator of the universe as his God, the only object worthy of his worship. He also denied categorically the godhead and over lordship of anyone else. This raised the question of how far the new creed could be tolerated, in so far as it was opposed to the tenets of the national religion and rejected the current ideas regarding the deities it worshiped. It also alerted the establishment in so far as Abraham's ideas might constitute a serious threat to the national state and to the position and privilege of its ruling coterie.

Even though it was clear from Abraham's very first sentence that none other than God could legitimately be regarded as the Lord, Nimrod resorted to an unreasonable reply. But Abraham's second statement left no room even for Nimrod's brazenness. He knew well enough that the sun and the moon were subjected to the over lordship of the same God as Abraham had acknowledged as his Lord. What, then, could he say in reply? To accept the Truth which Abraham had made crystal clear by his argument meant that Nimrod ought to part with his absolutist despotism. The devil within him was not prepared for that. Hence he was left wonder struck, unable to get out of the darkness of self-adoration to the light of Truth. If he had taken God rather than the Evil One as his patron and supporter, the true path would have been opened to him after Abraham's preaching.

According to the Talmud, Abraham was interned in prison on the orders of this king. He remained in prison for ten days, after which the king decided to have him burnt alive. It was then that the famous incident of Abraham being thrown into the fire took place see Qur'an (21:51).; (29:16); (37:83).

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The three verses 258-260 have been the subject of much controversy as to the exact meaning to be attached to the incidents and the precise persons alluded to, whose names are not mentioned. M.M.A's learned notes give some indication of the points at issue. In such matters, where the Qur-an has given no names and the Holy Apostle has himself given no indication, it seems to me useless to speculate, and still worse to put forward positive opinions. In questions of learning, speculations are often interesting. But it seems to me that the meaning of the Qur-an is so wide and universal that we are in danger of missing the real and eternal meaning if we go on disputing about minor points. All three incidents are such as may happen again and again in any prophet's lifetime, and be seen in impersonal vision at any time. Here they are connected with Mustafa's vision as shown by the opening words of verse 258.

The first point illustrated is the pride of power, and the impotence of human power as against God's power. The person who disputed with Abraham may have been Nimrod or some ruler in Babylonia, or indeed elsewhere. I name Babylonia as it was the original home of Abraham (Ur of the Chaldees), and Babylon prided herself on her arts and sciences in the ancient world. Science can do many wonderful things; it could then; it can now. But the mystery of Life baffled science then, as it continues to baffle science now, after many centuries of progress. Abraham had faith and referred back everything to the true Cause of Causes. A sceptical ruler might jestingly say: "I have the power of life and death". A man of science might say: "We have investigated the laws of life and death." Different kinds of powers lie in the hands of kings and men of knowledge. The claim in both cases is true in a very limited sense. But Abraham confounded the claimer by going back to fundamentals. "If you had the ultimate power, why could you not make the sun rise from the West?"

Verse 259 Example of bringing dead to life: 
( 259 )   Or [consider such an example] as the one who passed by a township which had fallen into ruin. He said, "How will Allah bring this to life after its death?" So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years; then He revived him. He said, "How long have you remained?" The man said, "I have remained a day or part of a day." He said, "Rather, you have remained one hundred years. Look at your food and your drink; it has not changed with time. And look at your donkey; and We will make you a sign for the people. And look at the bones [of this donkey] - how We raise them and then We cover them with flesh." And when it became clear to him, he said, "I know that Allah is over all things competent."
It is irrelevant to ask who the person was and the place where this incident occurred. The real purpose in mentioning this event is to show how God showed light to the one who had chosen God as his protector and supporter. As for determining the name of the person and the locality, we neither possess the means to do so, nor is such an endeavour in any way beneficial. What seems to be evident from the statement that follows is that the person concerned must necessarily have been a Prophet.

This question does not signify that the person concerned denied or entertained any doubts regarding life after death. His enquiry merely indicates his wish to have direct knowledge of reality, like the Prophets of the past.

The restoration of life to a man considered to have died a hundred years ago was in itself sufficient to make him, for his contemporaries, a living testimony.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
This incident is referred variously (1) to Ezekiel's vision of dry bones (Ezekiel, xxxvii. 1-10, (2) to Nehemiah's visit to Jerusalem in ruins after the Captivity, and to its re-building (Hehemiah, i. 12-20): and (3) to Uzair, or Ezra, or Esdras, the scribe, priest, and reformer, who was sent by the Persian King after the captivity to Jerusalem, and about whom there are many Jewish legends. As to (1), there are only four words in this verse about bones. As to (2) and (3), there is nothing specific to connect this verse with either. The wording is perfectly general, and we must understand it as general. I think it does refer not only to individual, but to national, death, and resurrection.

A man is in despair when he sees the destruction of a whole people, city, or civilization. But God can cause resurrection, as He has done many times in history, and as He will do at the final Resurrection. Time is nothing before God. The doubter thinks that he has been dead or "tarried thus" a day or less when the period has been a century. On the other hand, the food and drink which he left behind is intact, and as fresh as it was when he left it. But the donkey is not only dead, but nothing but bones is left of it. And before the man's eyes, the bones are reunited, clothed with flesh and blood, and restored to life.

Moral: (1) Time is nothing to God; (2) It affects different things in different ways; (3) The keys of life and death are in God's hands; (4) Man's power is nothing; his faith should be in God.

Verse 260 Ibrahim's question of life after death: 
( 260 )   And [mention] when Abraham said, "My Lord, show me how You give life to the dead." [Allah] said, "Have you not believed?" He said, "Yes, but [I ask] only that my heart may be satisfied." [Allah] said, "Take four birds and commit them to yourself. Then [after slaughtering them] put on each hill a portion of them; then call them - they will come [flying] to you in haste. And know that Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise."
That is, the rest and inner peace that one attains as a result of direct personal observation.

People have subjected this incident and the one above to very strange interpretations. If one bears in mind, however, God's dealings with the Prophets, one will not feel any need to strain one's energies in hammering out such artificially-contrived interpretations. The truth of the matter is that the kind of function that ordinary believers are required to perform requires of them no more than believing in certain truths without perceiving them through their senses. The function entrusted by God to the Prophets is such that they ought to have direct knowledge of the truths, the acceptance of which they are required to invite others to.

Thanks to the nature of their mission, the Prophets had to tell the world that while others resorted to conjecture and fancy, they spoke from personal direct observation and experience; that while others could claim to possess only imagination, they possessed reliable knowledge; that while others were blind, they alone had the God-given capacity to perceive the Truth. It is for this reason that the angels come to the Prophets and they see them with their own eyes. It is for the same reason that the Prophets were allowed a glimpse of the system of governance of the heavens and the earth. It is for the same reason, again, that they were enabled to observe Heaven and Hell and witness scenes of resurrection.

The Prophets are in possession of faith in the Unseen at the time they are invested with prophethood. After being designated to prophethood, they are further honoured by special favours and privileges, and initiated into what may be termed as 'faith in the seen' (for the 'Unseen' is changed for them to the 'seen'). This favour is a special prerogative of the Prophets. (For a further explanation see (Surah 9, verses 15-17 and 36.)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Verse 258, we saw, illustrated by God's power over Life and Death, contrasted with man's vain boasts or imaginings. Verse 259 illustrated how Time is immaterial to God's working; things, individuals and nations are subject to laws of life and death, which are under God's complete control, however much we may be misled by appearances. Now in Verse 200 we are shown the power of wisdom and love: if man can tame birds so that they know him and fly to him, how much more will God's creatures obey His call at the Resurrection?

Abraham had complete faith in God's power, but he wanted, with God's permission, to give an explanation of that faith to his own heart and mind. Where I have translated "satisfy my own understanding", the literal translation would be "satisfy my own heart".

A portion of them: Juz-an. The received Commentators understand this to mean that the birds were to be cut up and pieces of them were to be put on the hills. The cutting up or killing is not mentioned, but they say that it is implied by an ellipsis, as the question is how God gives life to the dead. Of the modern Muslim Commentators, M.P. is non-committal, but H.G.S. and M.M.A. understand that the birds were not killed, but that a "portion" here means a unit, single birds were placed on the hills, and they flew to the one who tamed them. This last view commends itself to me, as the cutting up of the birds to pieces is nowhere mentioned, unless we understand the word for "Taming" in an unusual and almost impossible sense.

Ruku / Section 36 [Verses 261-266]
Verses 261-263 Parable of spending in Charity: 
( 261 )   The parable of those who spend their substance in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn: it groweth seven ears and each ear hath a hundred grains. Allah giveth manifold increase to whom He pleaseth; and Allah careth for all and He knoweth all things.
Here the discourse turns to the subject touched upon in verses 244 ff. above. Believers were urged to sacrifice life and property for the sake of the great cause in which they believed. It is difficult, however, to persuade those whose standard of judgement in respect of economic matters has not completely changed, to rise above either personal or narrow group interests and dispense their wealth wholeheartedly for the sake of a righteous cause. People who have a materialistic outlook and whose life constitutes an uninterrupted pursuit of money, who adore every single penny they have, and who can never stop thinking about their balance sheets can never have the capacity to do anything really effective for the sake of higher ideals. When such people apparently do spend money for the sake of higher moral ideals, it is merely an outward act which is performed after carefully calculating the material benefits which are likely to accrue either to them, to their group or to their nation. With this outlook a person cannot go one step forward along the path of that religion which requires man to become indifferent to considerations of worldly profit and loss, and constantly to spend time, energy and money to make the Word of God reign supreme.

To follow such a course requires a moral outlook of an altogether different kind; it requires breadth of vision and magnanimity and, above all, an exclusive devotion to God. At the same time it requires that man's collective life should be so re-moulded as to become conducive to the growth of the moral qualities mentioned above rather than to the growth of a materialistic outlook and behaviour. Hence the three succeeding sections i.e. (verses 261-81 - Ed.)are devoted to enunciating instructions designed to foster such an outlook.

A great many expenditures fall under the category of spending 'in the way of Allah', as long as this is done according to the laws of God and with the intention of seeking His good pleasure. This includes spending one's wealth to fulfill one's legitimate needs, to provide for one's family, to look after the needs of relatives, to help the needy and to contribute to the general welfare and to spread the true religion and so on.

The greater the sincerity and the more intense the feeling with which one spends for the sake of God, the greater will be God's reward. It is not difficult at all for God, Who blesses a grain so that out of it seven hundred grains grow, to allow one's charity to grow in like manner so that the unit of money one spends will return seven hundred fold. This statement is followed by a mention of two of God's attributes. First is His munificence. His Hand is not clenched so as to restrain Him from recompensing man for his deeds to the fullest extent that he deserves. Second, God is All-Knowing. He is not unaware of what one spends and the spirit in which one spends. So there is no reason to fear that one will not receive one's due reward.
( 262 )   Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and then do not follow up what they have spent with reminders [of it] or [other] injury will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.
They need not fear that they will not be amply rewarded or that they will have any reason to feel remorse for spending in the way of God.
( 263 )   Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Free of need and Forbearing.
This implies two things. First, Allah does not stand in need of anybody's charity, for He is Self-Sufficient. Secondly, He likes those people who are generous and large-hearted, but does not like frivolous and narrow-minded people, for He Himself is Generous, Clement and Forbearing. How, then Allah, Who bestows on the people the necessities of life without stint, and forgives and pardons them over and over again in spite of their errors, would like those who mar the self-respect of a person by sending repeated reminders of their charity and making pointed references to it even though they might have given only a farthing. A Tradition of the Holy Prophet says that on the Day of Resurrection, Allah will neither speak a word nor even so much as look at a person who makes pointed references to the gift he gave to some one.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
A very high standard is set for charity. (1) It must be in the way of God. (2) It must expect no reward in this world. (3) It must not be followed by references or reminders to the act of charity. (4) Still less should any annoyance or injury be caused to the recipient; e.g. by boasting that the giver relieved the person in the hour of need. Indeed, the kindness and the spirit which turns a blind eye to other people's faults or short-comings is the essence of charity: these things are better than charity if charity is spoilt by tricks that do harm. At the same time, while no reward is to be expected, there is abundant reward from God - material, moral, and spiritual - according to His own good pleasure and plan. If we spend in the way of God, it is not as if God was in need of our charity. On the contrary our short-comings are so great that we require His utmost forbearance before any good that we can do can merit His praise or reward. Our motives are so mixed that our best may really be very poor if judged by a very strict standard.

Verse 264 What makes charity worthless :
( 264 )   O you who have believed, do not invalidate your charities with reminders or injury as does one who spends his wealth [only] to be seen by the people and does not believe in Allah and the Last Day. His example is like that of a [large] smooth stone upon which is dust and is hit by a downpour that leaves it bare. They are unable [to keep] anything of what they have earned. And Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.
The desire to display one's good deeds itself proves that the person concerned does not truly believe in God and the Hereafter. One who does good merely in order to impress people with his righteousness clearly regards those persons as his god. Such a person neither expects reward from God nor is he concerned that his good deeds will some day be reckoned to his credit.

304. In this parable, 'heavy rain' signifies charity, and 'rock' the wicked intent and motive which lie behind external acts of charity. The expression, 'with a thin coating of earth upon it' signifies the external aspect of charity which conceals the wicked intent and motive of a man. These explanations make the significance and purport of the parable clear. The natural effect of rainfall should be the growth of plants and harvest. But if the earth, which is the repository of fertility, is insignificant in quantity, for example only a coating of it on some rock, the result will be that instead of yielding any beneficial result the rainfall may even prove harmful. Similarly, charity has the capacity to generate goodness and benevolence in human beings. Man's potential for goodness, however, is conditional on sincerity. Devoid of that charity leads to sheer loss and waste.

Here the term kafir is used in the sense of the ungrateful person who refuses to acknowledge benevolence. People who either make use of the bounties of God in order to seek the gratitude of God's creatures rather than God's good pleasure, or who spend on others and then hurt them by stressing their acts of benevolence and kindness, are ungrateful to God for His bounties and favours. Since such people do not seek to please God, God does not care to direct them to the way that leads to His good pleasure.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
False charity, "to be seen of men", is really no charity. It is worse, for it betokens a disbelief in God and the Hereafter. "God seeth well whatever ye do" (ii. 265). It is compared to a hard barren rock on which by chance has fallen a little soil. Good rain, which renders fertile soil more fruitful, washes away the little soil which this rock had, and exposes its nakedness. What good can hypocrites derive even from the little wealth they may have amassed?

Verses 265-266 Charity vs Showing off: 
( 265 )   And the example of those who spend their wealth seeking means to the approval of Allah and assuring [reward for] themselves is like a garden on high ground which is hit by a downpour - so it yields its fruits in double. And [even] if it is not hit by a downpour, then a drizzle [is sufficient]. And Allah, of what you do, is Seeing.
'Heavy rain' signifies here charity motivated by a high degree of benevolence and sincerity. 'Light shower' refers to charity deficient in sincerity and goodness, though not altogether devoid of them.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
True charity is like a field with good soil on a high situation. It catches good showers of rain, the moisture penetrates the soil, and yet its elevated situation keeps it well-drained, and healthy favorable conditions increase its output enormously. But supposing even that the rain is not abundant, it catches dew and makes the most of any little moisture it can get, and that is sufficient for it. So a man of true charity is spiritually healthy; he is best suited to attract the bounties of God, which he does not hoard selfishly but circulates freely. In lean times he still produces good works, and is content with what he has. He looks to God's pleasure and the strengthening of his own soul.
( 266 )   Would one of you like to have a garden of palm trees and grapevines underneath which rivers flow in which he has from every fruit? But he is afflicted with old age and has weak offspring, and it is hit by a whirlwind containing fire and is burned. Thus does Allah make clear to you [His] verses that you might give thought.
It is obvious that a man does not like to see the earnings of his lifetime destroyed in his old age, when he needs them badly and when he can no longer earn. How is it, then, that he can contemplate stepping into the realm of the Hereafter and finding suddenly that he is empty-handed; that he has sown nothing from which he can reap the fruit? In the Next World there will he no opportunity to begin earning anew. Whatever one can do towards ensuring one's well-being in the Hereafter must he done in this world. If one devotes oneself totally to the pursuit of the riches of this world rather than to the Hereafter, one's situation will be as pitiable as that of the age-stricken man whose orchard (his source of income in his old age) is reduced to ashes too late for him to produce a new one.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The truly spiritual nature of charity having been explained in three parables (ii. 261, 264, 265) a fourth parable is now added, explaining its bearing on the whole of our life. Suppose we had a beautiful garden well-watered and fertile, with delightful views of streams, and a haven of rest for mind and body; suppose old age were creeping in on us, and our children were either too young to look after themselves or too feeble in health; how should we feel if a sudden whirlwind came with lightning or fire in its train, and burnt it up; thus blasting whole of our hopes for the present and for the future, and destroying the result of all our labor and savings in the past? Well, this life of ours is a probation. We may work hard, we may save, we may have good luck. We may make ourselves a goodly pleasance, and have ample means of support for ourselves and our children. A great whirlwind charged with lightning and fire comes and burns up the whole show. We are too old to begin again: our children are too young or feeble to help us to repair the mischief. Our chance is lost, because we did not provide against such a contingency. The whirlwind is the "wrath to come"; the provision against it is a life of true charity and righteousness, which is the only source of true and lasting happiness in this world and the next. Without it we are subject to all the vicissitudes of this uncertain life. We may even spoil our so-called "charity" by insisting on the obligation which others owe to us or by doing some harm, because our motives are not pure.

Not strong (enough): dhu'afa-u: literally weak, decrepit, infirm, possibly referring to both health and will or character.

Ruku / Section 37 [Verses 267-273]
Verses 267-269 Spend the best portion of your wealth and Allah's promise vs Shaitan's promise: 
( 267 )   O you who have believed, spend from the good things which you have earned and from that which We have produced for you from the earth. And do not aim toward the defective therefrom, spending [from that] while you would not take it [yourself] except with closed eyes. And know that Allah is Free of need and Praiseworthy.
It is obvious that He Who is invested with the best attributes cannot be appreciative of those possessed of low and evil qualities. God is, for instance, Generous and Beneficent, and constantly showers His favours and bounties on His creatures. How is it possible for Him, then, to love those who are mean, niggardly and vicious?

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
According to the English proverb "Charity covers a multitude of sins". Such a sentiment is strongly disapproved in Islam. Charity has value only if (1) something good and valuable is given, (2) which has been honorably earned or acquired by the giver, or (3) which is produced in nature and can be referred to as a bounty of God. (1) May include such things as are of use and value to others though they may be of less use to us or superfluous to us on account of our having acquired something more suitable for our station in life; for example, discarded clothes, or an old horse or a used motor car; but if the horse is vicious, or the car engine so far gone that it is dangerous to use, then the gift is worse than useless; it is positively harmful and the giver is a wrong-doer. (2) Applies to fraudulent company-promoters, who earn great credit by giving away charity in some of their ill-gotten gains, or to robbers (even if they call themselves by high-sounding names) who "rob peter to pay Paul". Islam will have nothing to do with tainted property. Its economic code requires that every gain should be honest and honorable. Even "charity" would not cover or destroy the taint. (3) Lays down a test in cases of a doubtful gain. Can we refer to it as a gift of God? Obviously the produce of honest labour or agriculture can be so referred to. In modern commerce and speculation there is much of quite the contrary character, and charity will not cover the taint. Some kind of art, skill, or talent are God-given: it is the highest kind of charity to teach them or share their product. Others are the contrary: they are bad or tainted. In the same way some professions or services may be tainted, if these tend to do moral harm.

The preceding note tries to indicate some of the things which are bad or tainted. We should not even think of acquiring them for ourselves, soothing our conscience by the salve that we shall practice charity out of them.

Closed eyes imply disgust or connivance because of some feature which we would not openly acknowledge.

To dedicate tainted things to God is a dishonor to God, Who is independent of all wants, and Who is worthy of all honor and praise.
( 268 )   Satan threatens you with poverty and orders you to immorality, while Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and bounty. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Good and evil draw us opposite ways and by opposite motives, and the contrast is well marked out in charity. When we think of doing some real act of kindness or charity, we are assailed with doubts and fear of impoverishment; but Evil supports any tendency to selfishness, greed, or even to extravagant expenditure for show, or self-indulgence, or unseemly appetites. On the other hand, God draws us on to all that is kind and good, for that way lies the forgiveness of our sins, and greater real prosperity and satisfaction. No kind or generous act ever ruined anyone. It is false generosity that is sometimes shown as leading to ruin. As God knows all our motives and cares for all, and has everything in His power, it is obvious which course a wise man will choose. But wisdom is rare, and it is only wisdom that can appreciate true well-being and distinguish it from the false appearance of well-being.
( 269 )   He gives wisdom to whom He wills, and whoever has been given wisdom has certainly been given much good. And none will remember except those of understanding.
'Wisdom' signifies sound perception and sound judgement. The purpose of this statement is to point out that one who is possessed of wisdom will follow God's path rather than that of Satan. The followers of Satan believe that it is the height of wisdom and shrewdness to be constantly concerned with saving out of one's earnings, and to be perpetually on the look-out for higher income. But for those endowed with Divine perception such an attitude is sheer folly. True wisdom consists in using one's resource moderately to meet one's needs and in spending whatever is left for charitable purposes. It may be possible for a person who does not spend for charitable purposes to attain a much greater degree of worldly prosperity than others. The life of this world, however, is only a fraction of man's total life which is not limited to the confines of this world. One who risks the well-being of his eternal existence for the sake of highly transient well-being in this world is indeed a fool. The truly wise person is he who makes full use of the tenure of this life and invests his resources in prosperity in this life that will never cease.

Verses 270-273 Giving charity in public and private and Who is eligible for charity: 
( 270 )   And whatever you spend of expenditures or make of vows - indeed, Allah knows of it. And for the wrongdoers there are no helpers.
Whether or not a man spends in the way of God, and whether or not he vows to spend in the way of God, God is fully aware both of his intentions and deeds. All those who either spend for the sake of God or vow to spend for the sake of God will be adequately rewarded. As for those who have either spent or have vowed to spend for others than God, no one will save them from God's chastisement.

'Vow' means either a man's pledge to spend something or to perform some act of goodness which is not obligatory on him providing a particular wish of his is fulfilled. Provided that this vow is related to some wish which is in itself permissible and good and that the person concerned makes it to none but God and for the sake of God, then such a vow will be reckoned as an act of obedience to God and its fulfillment will be worthy of reward. Otherwise such a vow will be seen as an act of disobedience and sin and its fulfillment will invite punishment from God.
( 271 )   If you disclose your charitable expenditures, they are good; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, it is better for you, and He will remove from you some of your misdeeds [thereby]. And Allah, with what you do, is [fully] Acquainted.
If charity is of an obligatory nature it is preferable to dispense it openly. Non-obligatory charity should preferably be dispensed secretly. This principle applies to all acts. As a rule, it is more meritorious to perform obligatory acts openly and non-obligatory acts of goodness, secretly .

The performance of good deeds in secret leads to the continual improvement of one's life and character. One's good qualities develop fully and one's bad qualities gradually wither away. This makes a man so acceptable to God that He pardons the sins that he might have committed.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
It is better to seek no publicity in charity. But if it is known there is no harm. If it is for public purposes, it must necessarily be known, and a pedantic show of concealment may itself be a fault. The harm of publicity lies in motives of ostentation. We can better reach the really deserving poor by quietly seeking for them. The spiritual benefit enures to our own souls, provided our motives are pure, and we are really seeking the good pleasure of God.
( 272 )   Not upon you, [O Muhammad], is [responsibility for] their guidance, but Allah guides whom He wills. And whatever good you [believers] spend is for yourselves, and you do not spend except seeking the countenance of Allah. And whatever you spend of good - it will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged.
In the beginning Muslims tended to hesitate in helping either their non-Muslim relatives or other non-Muslims who were in need. They thought that helping Muslims only constituted 'spending in the way of Allah'. This verse rejects this attitude. The purpose of this verse is to point out that Muslims are not responsible for forcing true guidance down the throats of people; conveying the message of Truth to people absolves them of the obligation incumbent upon them. It is, then, for God either to favour the recipients of the message with true perception or not. In addition Muslims should not shrink from helping their relatives in the affairs of the world on the ground that they are not following the true guidance; they will he rewarded by God for whatever help they render to needy persons for the sake of God.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
In connection with charity this means that we must relieve those really in need, whether they are good or bad, on the right path or not, Muslims or otherwise. It is not for us to judge in these matters. God will give light according to His wisdom. Incidentally it adds a further meaning to the command, "Let there be no compulsion in religion" (ii 256). For compulsion may not only be by force, but by economic necessity. In matters of religion we must not even compel by a bribe of charity. The chief motive in charity should be God's pleasure and our own spiritual good. This was addressed in the first instance to Mustafa in Medina, but it is of universal application.
( 273 )   [Charity is] for the poor who have been restricted for the cause of Allah, unable to move about in the land. An ignorant [person] would think them self-sufficient because of their restraint, but you will know them by their [characteristic] sign. They do not ask people persistently [or at all]. And whatever you spend of good - indeed, Allah is Knowing of it.
The people referred to here are those who, because they had dedicated themselves wholly to serving the religion of God, were unable to earn their livelihood. In the time of the Prophet there was a group of such volunteer workers, known as Ashab al-Suffah, consisting of about three or four hundred people who had forsaken their homes and gone to Madina. They remained at all times in the company, of the Prophet, always at his beck and call to perform whatever service he required of them. They were dispatched by the Prophet on whatever expeditions he wished. Whenever there was nothing to do elsewhere, they stayed in Madina and devoted themselves to acquiring religious knowledge and imparting it to others. Since they were full-time workers and had no private resources to meet their needs, God pointed out to the Muslims that helping such people was the best way of 'spending in the way of Allah'.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Indiscriminate acts of so-called charity are condemned as they may do more harm than good (see ii 262). The real beneficiaries of charity are here indicated. They must be in want. And the want must be due to some honorable cause. For example, they may be doing some unpaid service, such as teaching, or acquiring knowledge or skill, or be in exile for their faith, or in other ways be prevented from seeking employment or doing strenuous work. "God's cause" must not be narrowly interpreted. All sincere and real service to humanity comes within the definition. Such men do not beg from door to door. It is the duty of those who are well-to-do, or of the Public Purse, to find them out.

Ruku / Section 38 [Verses 274-281]
Verse 274 Reward for charity: 
( 274 )   Those who spend their wealth [in Allah 's way] by night and by day, secretly and publicly - they will have their reward with their Lord. And no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
We recapitulate the beauty of charity (i.e. unselfish giving of one's self or one's goods) before we come to its opposite, i.e. the selfish grasping greed of usury against those in need or distress. Charity instead of impoverishing you will enrich you; you will have more happiness and less fear. Contrast it with what follows, - the degradation of the grasping usurer.

Verses 275-276 Prohibition of usury: 
( 275 )   Those who consume interest cannot stand [on the Day of Resurrection] except as one stands who is being beaten by Satan into insanity. That is because they say, "Trade is [just] like interest." But Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden interest. So whoever has received an admonition from his Lord and desists may have what is past, and his affair rests with Allah. But whoever returns to [dealing in interest or usury] - those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein.
The term riba in Arabic means 'to grow, to exceed, to increase'. Technically, it denotes the amount that a lender receives from a borrower at a fixed rate of interest. At the time of the revelation of the Qur'an several forms of interest transactions were in vogue and were designated as riba by the Arabs. Of these one was that the vendor sold an article and fixed a time limit for the payment of the price, stipulating that if the buyer failed to pay within the specified period of time, he would extend the time limit but increase the price of the article. Another was that a man loaned a sum of money to another person and stipulated that the borrower should return a specified amount in excess of the amount loaned within a given time limit. A third form of interest transaction was that the borrower and vendor agreed that the former would repay the loan within a certain limit at a fixed rate of interest, and that if he failed to do so within the limit, the lender would extend the time limit, but at the same time would increase the rate of interest. It is to transactions such as these that the injunctions mentioned here apply.

The Arabs used the word majnun (possessed by the jinn) to characterize the insane. The Qur'an uses the same expression about those who take interest. Just as an insane person, unconstrained by ordinary reason, resorts to all kinds of immoderate acts, so does one who takes interest. He pursues his craze for money as if he were insane. He is heedless of the fact that interest cuts the very roots of human love, brotherhood and fellow-feeling, and undermines the welfare and happiness of human society, and that his enrichment is at the expense of the well-being of many other human beings. This is the state of his 'insanity' in this world: since a man will rise in the Hereafter in the same state in which he dies in the present world, he will be resurrected as a lunatic.

The unsoundness of this view lies in not differentiating between the profit one gains on investment in commercial enterprises on the one hand, and interest on the other. As a result of this confusion, the proponents of this view argue that if profit on money invested in a business enterprise is permissible, why should the profit accruing on loaned money be deemed unlawful? Similar arguments are advanced by those who thrive on interest in our own times. Their argument runs as follows: A person who could have profitably invested his money in a commercial enterprise loans it out to somebody who, in turn, makes a profit out of it. In such circumstances why should the borrower not pay the lender a part of the profit? Such people, however, disregard the fact that no enterprise in which a man participates, whether it is commercial, industrial or agricultural, and whether one participates in it with one's organizing skill or capital, or by both, is immune from risk. No enterprise carries absolutely guaranteed profit at a fixed rate. What is the justification, then, for the fact that out of all the people in the business world, the financier alone should be considered entitled to a profit at a fixed rate in all circumstances, and should be protected against all possibility of loss?

Let us set aside for a moment the questions of non-profitable loans and vacillations in the rate of profit. Let us consider only the question of loans for profitable enterprises, and confine our consideration to loans made at non-exorbitant rates of interest. The question, however, remains: Which rational principle, which logic, which canon of justice and which sound economic principle can justify that those who spend their time, energy, capacity and resources, and whose effort and skill make a business thrive, are not guaranteed profit at any fixed rate, whereas those who merely lend out their funds are fully secured against all risks of loss and are guaranteed profit at a fixed rate? And which principle can justify the fact that a man lends out his funds to an industrial concern and fixes, say for the next twenty years, that he will be entitled to receive each year a given per cent interest on his capital, while the proprietors of the industrial concern have no means of foretelling the price changes affecting their commodity, and hence their profit? Let us consider another case, namely that of war loans. How can it be appropriate that all classes of people endure all kinds of losses and are exposed to all kinds of risks and dangers connected with war, whereas the financiers, simply by having made loans, continue to receive Interest on them for long periods of time, sometimes even for a whole century?

The essential difference between non-interest business transactions and interest-bearing transactions rests on the following grounds:

(1) In ordinary business transactions there occurs a mutually equitable exchange of benefits between the buyer and the seller. The buyer derives benefit from the article which he purchases from the seller; the seller receives compensation for the effort, ingenuity and time spent on making the article available to the buyer. In interest-bearing transactions, on the other hand, the exchange of benefits does not take place equitably. The interest receiving party, receives a fixed amount as a payment for using the loan he advances and thus his gain is secured. The other party to the transaction has only one thing at his disposal - a period of time during which he can make use of the funds loaned, and which may not always yield a profit. If such a person spends the borrowed funds on consumption, there is obviously no question of profit. Even if the funds are invested in trade, agriculture or industry, one stands the chance both of making a profit and of incurring a loss during the period of time in question. Hence an interest-bearing transaction entails either a loss on one side and a profit on the other, or an assured and fixed profit on one side and an uncertain and unspecified profit on the other.

(2) In business enterprises the profit that a person makes, however large it may be, is made only once. The person who lends out money on interest receives, on the contrary, an on-going profit which multiplies with the passage of time. Moreover, however large the extent of the profit made by the borrower from the loaned money it will still be within certain limits, while the claims of the lender in return for this profit are unlimited. It is even possible that the lender may seize the entire turnover of the borrower if he defaults on payment, thus depriving him of all the resources from which he makes his living. It is also possible that even after the lender has seized all the property of the borrower, his claims will still remain unsatisfied.

(3) In a business deal, the transaction ends with the exchange between a commodity and its price. After this exchange has taken place, no obligation remains on either party towards the other. If the transaction is that of rent, the thing rented (e.g. land or building) is not consumed but is rather used and remains intact, and is returned to the owner after a stipulated period of time. In a transaction involving interest, however, what actually happens is that the borrower first spends the loaned funds, then reclaims them with his efforts, returning them to the lender together with a surplus.

(4) In agriculture and industry, and in trade and commerce, one makes a profit after having expended one's effort, intelligence and time. In an interest-bearing transaction, on the contrary, one becomes entitled to a sizable share in the earnings of others without any toil and effort, by merely allowing someone to make use of one's surplus money. The lender is neither a 'partner' in the technical sense of the term, for he does not share both the profit and the loss, nor is his share in proportion to the actual profit.

There is thus a tremendous difference from an economic point of view between business transactions as such and interest- bearing transactions. Whereas the former plays a highly constructive role in human society, the latter leads to its corrosion. This is in addition to its moral implications. By its very nature interest breeds meanness, selfishness, apathy and cruelty towards others. It leads to the worship of money and destroys fellow-feeling and a spirit of altruistic co-operation between man and man. Thus it is ruinous for mankind from both an economic and a moral viewpoint.

What is said here is not that man will be pardoned by God for the interest taken in the past, but that it is for God to judge him. The expression: 'may keep his previous gains' does not signify absolute pardon from God for the interest one has taken, rather it points to the legal concession that has been made. It only means that no legal claim will be made for the interest taken in the past. For were such claims to be entertained, an endless succession of litigation would ensue. From a moral point of view, however, the earnings made by way of interest would continue to be impure. If a person is really God-fearing and if his economic and moral viewpoint has really undergone a change under the influence of Islam, he will try to abstain from spending on himself the income which he has obtained by illegitimate means. He will also try to seek out those from whom he has derived illegitimate earnings and will try to return those earnings to such people; if he is unable to locate them, he will try to spend them on collective welfare rather than on himself. It is this conduct alone which can save him from the punishment of God. As for one who continues to enjoy his illegitimate earnings, it is not unlikely that he will be subjected to God's punishment.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Usury is condemned and prohibited in the strongest possible terms. There can be no question about the prohibition. When we come to the definition of Usury there is room for difference of opinion. The second Caliph 'Umar, according to Ibn Kathir, felt some difficulty in the matter, as the Apostle left this world before the details of the question were settled. This was one of the three questions on which he wished he had more light from the Prophet. Our scholars, ancient and modern, have worked out a great body of literature on Usury, based mainly on economic conditions as they existed at the rise of Islam.

An apt simile: whereas legitimate trade or industry increases the prosperity and stability of men and nations, a dependence on Usury would merely encourage a race of idlers, cruel blood-suckers, and worthless fellows who do not know their own good and are therefore akin to madmen.

Owing to the fact that interest occupies a central position in modern economic life, and specially since interest is the very life blood of the existing financial institutions, a number of Muslims have been inclined to interpret it in a manner which is radically different from the understanding of Muslim scholars throughout the last fourteen centuries and is also sharply in conflict with the categorical statements of the Prophet (peace be on him). According to Islamic teachings any excess on the capital is riba (interest). Islam accepts no distinction, in so far as prohibition is concerned, between reasonable and exorbitant rates of interest, and thus what came to be regarded as the difference between usury and interest; nor between returns on bonus for consumption and those for production purposes and so on.
( 276 )   Allah destroys interest and gives increase for charities. And Allah does not like every sinning disbeliever.
The fact stated in this verse is a truism from a moral and spiritual as well as from an economic and social viewpoint. For, although wealth apparently multiplies through interest and shrinks as a result of charity, in actual fact the opposite is the case. By God's decree, the law of nature is such that interest not only serves as a strain on moral and spiritual well-being, and social and economic growth, it also causes actual regression and decline. Charity, however, (including such acts as lending money to people with the stipulation that they should return it if they can. and at their convenience) leads to the growth and expansion of man's moral and spiritual qualities and to the growth of human society and economy.

Looked at from moral and spiritual standpoints, it is evident that interest is not only the outcome of selfishness, miserliness and callousness but also encourages their growth. Charity, on the other hand, is the outcome of generosity, compassion, large -heartedness and magnanimity, with the result that the more one practices charity the more these qualities develop. It is obvious that if there is a society whose individuals are selfish in their dealings with one another, in which none is prepared to assist the other without self-interest, in which every person considers the other's need an opportunity to capitalize and exploit, in which the interests of the rich are directly opposed to the interests of the common people, that society does not rest on stable foundations. In such a society, instead of love and compassion there is bound to grow mutual spite and bitterness, apathy, indifference and callousness. The elements which compose such a society are bound to remain inclined towards disintegration and chaos; acute internal conflict and strife are sure to occur.

Contrast this with the society which is based on mutual sympathy and co-operation, whose individuals deal with one another magnanimously, in which, when a person is in need, people willingly come forward to accord generous help, in which the 'haves' assist the 'have-nots' with compassion and at least engage in just and equitable co-operation. In such a society mutual cordiality. goodwill and fellow-feeling are bound to flourish. The various components of such a society will be closely knit together and prove a source of mutual support. In such a society internal conflict and strife will make few inroads. Also, owing to mutual co-operation and goodwill the pace of development should be faster than in the other kind of society.

Let us now look at the matter from an economic viewpoint, from which interest- bearing loans are seen to be of two kinds. The first category, consists of loans incurred by people in genuine need, who are compelled to borrow for their personal consumption requirements. The second consists of the loans incurred by businessmen for investment in trade and industry or agriculture.

The first category is generally acknowledged to lead to ruin. Nevertheless, there is not one country in the world where financiers and financial institutions are not sucking the blood of poor labourers, peasants and ordinary low-income people through interest on consumption loans. The burden of interest makes it extremely difficult, often impossible, for borrowers to pay off the original loan. They may even have to resort to fresh borrowing from elsewhere to pay if off. Because of the way interest works, the sum outstanding against them often remains even after they, have paid twice or three times its amount in interest. The bulk of the income of labourers is snatched away from them by lenders, leaving them without enough for the bare necessities of life for themselves and their families. This situation steadily erodes their interest in their jobs. For if someone else is to reap the benefit of a man's hard work, why should he work hard at all? Moreover, oppressed by the worries of debt, the health and strength of labourers is gradually destroyed by undernourishment and lack of medical treatment.

In short, a minority of people continually fatten themselves by sucking the blood of millions of ordinary people, but the total production level of the people remains much lower than its optimum potential. Ultimately, of course, these exploiters are seldom spared the evil consequences of their actions. Their callous selfishness causes such widespread misery among the masses that anger and resentment against the rich smoulder in their hearts ready to erupt in times of revolutionary unrest. The exploiters then have to pay very dearly: their ill-earned riches are not only wrested from them, they are either killed mercilessly or subjected to ignominy and humiliation.

The second category of loans, those invested in productive enterprises, also cause harm because of the infliction of a predetermined rate of interest on such borrowings. The most significant are the following:

(1 ) Projects which do not promise a higher rate of profit than the current rate of interest fail to attract sufficient funds, no matter how useful and necessary they may, be from the viewpoint of larger national interests. Loanable funds flow towards those business enterprises which are likely to yield at least the same, if not a higher rate of profit on investments than the current rate of interest, even though they may be of very little or no benefit to the nation at large.

(2) There can be no guarantee that a business investment, whether it is in trade, industry or agriculture, will always yield a rate of profit which is higher than the rate of interest. Not only can there be no such assurance, there can never be an assurance about any business that it will always remain profitable. What really happens, therefore, is that the financier is assured interest at a predetermined rate whereas the business in which the loan is invested is exposed to risk and possible losses.

(3) Since the lender does not share the profit and loss of the business but lends out funds on the assurance of a fixed rate of interest, he is in no way concerned with the fortunes of the business itself. He is solely concerned, and in a totally selfish spirit, with his own pecuniary benefit. Hence, whenever the lender senses the faintest sign of depression, he begins to withdraw money from the market. The result is that sometimes imaginary fears and anxieties spark off an actual depression in the economy. And if the economy is depressed owing to other factors, the excessive selfishness of the financiers tends to escalate the situation into a full-scale economic crisis. These three evils of interest are obvious to every student of economics. Can anyone then deny the truth of the Natural law, enunciated by Allah that interest decreases the national economic wealth?

Let us now look at the economic effects of charity. Suppose the general attitude of the prosperous members of a society, is that within the limits of their means they spend generously on the fulfilment of their own requirements and on the requirements of their family, and then devote the surplus to helping the poor. After that they, either use their funds to provide interest-free loans to businessmen, invest them in business with the stipulation that they shall be co-sharers in both the profit and loss of the business, or deposit them with the government so that it may use them on projects of public welfare. A little reflection will make it obvious that trade, industry, and agriculture in such a society, will attain maximum prosperity; the standard of living of its people will continually rise and production in it will be much higher than in societies where economic activity is fettered by interest.

It is clear that only those who have a surplus of earnings over their basic requirements can lend out money at interest. This surplus, according to the Qur'an, constitutes God's bounty. And true thankfulness for this bounty requires that a person should be bountiful towards other creatures of God even as the Creator has been to him. If, instead of doing this, the person tries to become richer at the expense of those whose present earnings are insufficient to meet their needs, he is at once guilty of ungratefulness to God, and blatantly unjust, cruel and wicked.

Verses 277-281 Taking usury is like declaring war against Allah and His Rasool: 
( 277 )   Indeed, those who believe and do righteous deeds and establish prayer and give zakah will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.
In this section God brings into sharp relief two contrasting characters. One is selfish, Mammon-worshiping, a kind of Shylock. He is totally preoccupied with making and accumulating money in total disregard of his obligations to God and his fellow-beings. He counts the money he has saved and is so consumed by the desire to see it multiply that he spends much time estimating how much it will grow in the weeks, months and years to come. The other character is a God-worshiping, generous and compassionate person, ever conscious of the claims of both God and man, ready to spend whatever he earns by the sweat of his brow on himself as well as on other human beings, and devotes a good part of it to philanthropic purposes.

The first character is strongly denounced by God. No healthy society can exist on the basis of such men, and in the Hereafter, too, they are destined to meet grief and affliction, torment and misery. The latter, by contrast, is a character highly extolled by God, a character which will serve as the basis of a sound and healthy society in this world and will lead man to salvation in the Next.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The contrast between charity and unlawful grasping of wealth began at ii. 274, where this phrase occurs as a theme. Here the theme finishes with the same phrase. The following four verses refer to further concessions on behalf of debtors, as creditors are asked to (a) give up even claims arising out of the past on account of usury, and (b) give time for payment of capital if necessary, or (c) to write off the debt altogether as an act of charity.
( 278 )   O you who have believed, fear Allah and give up what remains [due to you] of interest, if you should be believers.
( 279 )   And if you do not, then be informed of a war [against you] from Allah and His Messenger. But if you repent, you may have your principal - [thus] you do no wrong, nor are you wronged.
This verse was revealed after the conquest of Makkah and has been placed here because of its contextual relevance. Although interest was considered objectionable earlier, it had not been legally prohibited. After the revelation of this verse interest-bearing transactions became a punishable offence within the realm of Islam. The Prophet (peace he on him) warned the Arab tribes through his officials that war would be declared against them if they did not give up interest-bearing transactions. It was specified, for instance, in the agreement under which the Christians of Najran were granted internal autonomy under the suzerainty of the Islamic state, that if they continued to use interest, the agreement with them would be considered void and their action an act of belligerency. On the basis of the last words of the verse, Ibn 'Abbas, Hasan al-Baari, Ibn Sirin and Rabi' ibn Anas are of the view that anyone who takes interest within the boundaries of the Islamic State (Dar al-Islam) should be pressed to repudiate the transaction and recant and, if he persists, should be put to death. Others consider it sufficient to imprison such people and keep them in prison until they pledge to give up taking interest. (See Jassas's commentary, on verse 2: 278; see especially vol. 1, pp. 471 f. - Ed.)
( 280 )   And if someone is in hardship, then [let there be] postponement until [a time of] ease. But if you give [from your right as] charity, then it is better for you, if you only knew.
This verse is the basis of the Islamic regulation that if a person has become incapable of paying off his debt, the court will force the creditors to grant him respite for payment. In fact, under certain circumstances, the court is entitled to remit a part of his debt and, at times, the whole of it. It is mentioned in the Hadith that once a person suffered loss in his trade and became greatly burdened with debt and the case was brought to the notice of the Prophet. The Prophet urged the people to help their brother in his distress. They came to his assistance but the amount of help was not enough to wipe out his debts. Then the Prophet approached the lenders and asked them to accept whatever amount was available and to grant remission to the borrower because of his inability to make further payments. Muslim jurists have made it clear that a debtor's residential house, eating utensils, clothes and the tools which he uses for earning his livelihood may not be confiscated in any, circumstances whatsoever for non-payment of loans. (For relevant discussion and textual evidence see the commentaries on this verse in Ibn Kathir, Jassas, and Qurtubi - Ed.)
( 281 )   And fear a Day when you will be returned to Allah. Then every soul will be compensated for what it earned, and they will not be treated unjustly.
Ruku / Section 39 [Verses 282-283]
Verse 282 All business dealings must be reduced to writing and Witnesses are required in all major business transactions: 
( 282 )   O you who have believed, when you contract a debt for a specified term, write it down. And let a scribe write [it] between you in justice. Let no scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him. So let him write and let the one who has the obligation dictate. And let him fear Allah, his Lord, and not leave anything out of it. But if the one who has the obligation is of limited understanding or weak or unable to dictate himself, then let his guardian dictate in justice. And bring to witness two witnesses from among your men. And if there are not two men [available], then a man and two women from those whom you accept as witnesses - so that if one of the women errs, then the other can remind her. And let not the witnesses refuse when they are called upon. And do not be [too] weary to write it, whether it is small or large, for its [specified] term. That is more just in the sight of Allah and stronger as evidence and more likely to prevent doubt between you, except when it is an immediate transaction which you conduct among yourselves. For [then] there is no blame upon you if you do not write it. And take witnesses when you conclude a contract. Let no scribe be harmed or any witness. For if you do so, indeed, it is [grave] disobedience in you. And fear Allah. And Allah teaches you. And Allah is Knowing of all things.
When friends and relatives borrow from one another it is generally considered unseemly either to commit these loans to writing, or to have them attested by witnesses. Such an act is considered a sign of distrust. But God enjoins that whenever loans or business transactions take place, their conditions should be recorded in black and white and should be attested by witnesses so that there remains no ground for misunderstanding or dispute. It is mentioned in the Hadith that three kinds of people who air their grievances to God go unheeded. The first is the man who does not divorce his wife despite her being of bad character. The second is the guardian of the orphan who hands over the latter's property to him before his having attained the age of majority. The third is he who loans out his money to a person without making anyone a witness to that transaction. (Cited by Jassas. Ahkam al-Qur'an, vol. 1, p. 481; also Ibn Kathir, in commentary on 4: 5, citing this as a Tradition from Abu Musa al-Ash'ari mentioned bv Ibn Jarir al-Tabari - Ed.)

That is, from among Muslim males. This shows that wherever one has a choice, one should appoint only Muslims as one's witnesses. In the case of non-Muslim subjects of the Islamic State (ahl al-Dhimmah), however, they may appoint witnesses from among themselves.

What is implied is that every Tom, Dick or Harry is not worthy of acting as a witness. Rather, persons of high integrity enjoying public credibility should be appointed as witnesses.

The purpose of this directive is to stress that it is better for even day-to-day sales to be written down, as has become customary nowadays (viz. the issuance of invoices). Such a procedure, however, has not been made obligatory. Likewise, it is not objectionable if neighbouring shopkeepers do not record the frequent transactions that take place between them.

This means that no person should be compelled to write the document or be its witness. It also means that no party of a dispute should persecute either a scribe or witness for witnessing against the interests of that party.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The first part of the verse deals with transactions involving future payment or future consideration, and the second part with transactions in which payment and delivery are made on the spot. Examples of the former are if goods are bought now and payment is promised at a fixed time and place in the future, or if cash is paid now and delivery is contracted for at a fixed time and place in the future. In such cases a written document is recommended, but it is held that the words later on in this verse, that it is "juster . . . more suitable as evidence, and more convenient to prevent doubts", etc. imply that it is not obligatory in law. Examples of the latter kind - cash payment and delivery on the spot - require no evidence in writing, but apparently oral witnesses to such transactions are recommended.

The scribe in such matters assumes a fiduciary capacity: he should therefore remember to act as in the presence of God, with full justice to both parties. The art of writing he should look upon as a gift from God, and he should use it as in His service. In an illiterate population the scribe's position is still more responsible.

Possibly the person "mentally deficient, or weak, or unable to dictate", may also be incapable of making a valid contract, and the whole duty would be on his guardian, who again must act in perfect good faith, not only protecting but vigilantly promoting the interests of his ward.

It is desirable that the men (or women) who are chosen as witness should be from the circle to which the parties belong, as they would best be able to understand the transaction, and be most easily available if their evidence is required in future.

Commercial morality is here taught on the highest plane and yet in the most practical manner, both as regards the bargains to be made, the evidence to be provided, the doubts to be avoided, and the duties and rights of scribes and witnesses. Probity even in worldly matters is to be, not a mere matter of convenience or policy, but a matter of conscience and religious duty. Even our every-day transactions are to be carried out as in the presence of God.

Verse 283 If writing is not possible, take a security deposit: 
( 283 )   And if you are on a journey and cannot find a scribe, then a security deposit [should be] taken. And if one of you entrusts another, then let him who is entrusted discharge his trust [faithfully] and let him fear Allah, his Lord. And do not conceal testimony, for whoever conceals it - his heart is indeed sinful, and Allah is Knowing of what you do.
This does not mean that pledge transactions are confined to journeys alone. These transactions have been specially mentioned in the context of journeys because during journeys people often have to resort to pledge transactions. Moreover, it has not been laid down that pledge transactions may be entered into only when a scribe is not available to write down the transaction. It is also permissible, if the lender is not satisfied merely with the written promise of the repayment of the loan, for the borrower to seek a loan by pledging some property to the lender. But since the Qur'an urges its followers to be generous in their dealings, and since it is inconsistent with high standards of moral excellence not to make loans to needy persons without keeping some property in custody, the Qur'an has abstained from mentioning this form of dealing even though it is permissible.

It should also be noted that the purpose of taking a pledge is merely to assure the lender the return of his loan. He has no right at all to benefit from the pledged property. If a person lives, say, either in the building which has been pledged, or pockets its rent, he is guilty of taking interest. There is no essential difference between charging interest directly and using the pledged property. If, however, either cattle or beasts of burden have been pledged, they can be milked and used for transport in lieu of the fodder that one provides them during the period of custody.

Concealing true evidence applies both to a person not appearing to give evidence and to his avoidance of stating facts.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
A pledge or security stands on its own independent footing, though it is a very convenient form of closing the bargain where the parties cannot trust each other, and cannot get a written agreement with proper witnesses.

The law of Deposit implies great trust in the Depository on the part of the Depositor. The Depository becomes a trustee, and the doctrine of Trust can be further developed on that basis. The trustee's duty is to guard the interests of the person on whose behalf he holds the trust and to render back the property and accounts when required according to the terms of the trust. This duty again is linked to the sanction of Religion, which requires a higher standard than Law.

It sometimes happens that if some inconvenient piece of evidence is destroyed or concealed, we gain a great advantage materially. We are warned not to yield to such a temptation. The concealment of evidence has a serious effect on our own moral and spiritual life, for it taints the very source of higher life, as typified by the heart. The heart is also the seat of our secrets. We are told that the sin will reach our most secret being, though the sin may not be visible or open to the world. Further, the heart is in the seat of our affections, and false dealing taints all our affections.

Ruku / Section 40 [Verses 284-286]
Verse 284 Allah will call to account: 
( 284 )   To Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Whether you show what is within yourselves or conceal it, Allah will bring you to account for it. Then He will forgive whom He wills and punish whom He wills, and Allah is over all things competent.
These are the concluding observations on the subject. Just as this surah opened with an enunciation of the basic teachings of religion, so the fundamentals upon which Islam rests are reiterated in the concluding section of the surah, It is useful to go through the first section of this surah see (verses 1-5) while reading these concluding verses.

"To Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth." This is the first fundamental principle of Islam. That God is the Sovereign of the heavens and the earth and all they contain, and that it is improper for man not to bend himself in obedience and service to God.

"Whether you show what is within yourselves or conceal it, Allah will bring you to account for it." This sentence mentions two other matters. First, that man is individually responsible to, and answerable before, God. Second, that the Lord of the heavens and the earth, before Whom man is answerable, is All-Knowing. Thus, nothing is concealed from Him, not even intentions and thoughts which lie hidden deep in the hearts and minds of people.

"Allah is over all things competent" This refers to God's absolute authority. He is not bound by laws framed by others which might limit Him to operating in a certain manner. He is an absolute sovereign and has the full power either to punish or pardon people.

Verses 285-286 True belief of Prophets and Muslims and Believer's supplication. These last two verses are  the conclusion of the surah. It has been first of all explained that everything in this Universe is under the control of the Almighty; He shall take account of everything whether hidden or visible and punish and bless according to His law whomsoever He wills. It has subsequently been elaborated that whether anyone else believes or not, the Prophet (pbuh) and his followers firmly believe that this Book has been revealed by the Almighty. The surah ends with a prayer in which every word speaks of the tremendous responsibilities of this Book which the Jews and the Christians were unable to fulfill and which now have been passed on to the followers of this new religion.
( 285 )   The Messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers, [saying], "We make no distinction between any of His messengers." And they say, "We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination."
This verse outlines what one is required to believe in and what should be the distinguishing characteristics of one's conduct. They consist of the following: belief in God, in His angels, in His Books, in all His Messengers (instead of some rather than others), and in the fact that ultimately one will have to stand before God's judgement. These are the five fundamental articles of faith in Islam. Having accepted them, the only proper attitude for a Muslim is to cheerfully accept and follow whatever directives he receives from God. Instead of exulting in his moral excellence he should be humble and should constantly seek God's forgiveness and mercy.
( 286 )   Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. "Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people."
"Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity." Man's answer-ability to God is limited by the extent of his ability. If a man does not have the ability to do a certain thing, God will not take him to task for not having performed it. In the same way, if it is really beyond a man's ability to abstain from something, God will not blame him for having failed to abstain from it. It should be noted here that man will not be the final judge as to whether he had the ability to do something or not. Such judgement will be made by God alone.

"It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned." This is the second fundamental principle of God's law of retribution. Every man will be rewarded for the services he has rendered, none will be rewarded for services rendered by others. The same applies to punishment. It is the one who is guilty who will be punished. It is possible, however, that if a man has initiated either good or bad practices, they will continue to affect people's lives. The resulting good and bad deeds of people will be reckoned either to their credit or against them, since they are clearly related to their efforts and actions. It is impossible, however, that a map should be either rewarded for an act of goodness or punished for an act of evil in which he has had no share - neither by intent nor practical action. The requital of acts is not transferable.

"Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us." The prayer made here is that God should not subject them to the severe tests and the terrible persecutions and hardships undergone by their predecessors. It is God's law that those who commit themselves to follow Truth and righteousness are subjected to severe tests and tribulations, and it is a believer's duty to meet them with patience and fortitude. At the same time, the believer should always pray that God may make it easy for him to follow the path of Truth and righteousness.

"Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear." Believers pray to God not to place upon them a burden beyond their capacity of endurance, and to subject them only to those tests from which they may emerge triumphant. May it not happen that the hardships are too much for them to bear, and that their feet falter and are turned away from the path of righteousness,

"And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people."  In order to appreciate fully the spirit of this prayer, one should remember that these verses were revealed on the occasion of the ascension of the Prophet, a year before his migration to Madina. At that time the struggle between Islam and unbelief had reached its climax. Not only in Makkah, but throughout the Arabian peninsula, there was no place where the lives of those who wished to follow the religion of God had not been made extremely difficult. In these circumstances the Muslims were told in what manner they ought to pray to their Lord. It is obvious that if the bestower himself tells one how to present one's request, the granting of the request becomes virtually assured. Hence, this prayer greatly strengthened the hearts of the Muslims. Moreover, this prayer implicitly taught the Muslims not to allow their feelings to flow along undesirable channels. They should instead mould them into a prayer to their Lord.

Think of the heart-rending cruelties to which the Muslims were subjected merely because of their devotion to Truth, and then turn to the contents of this prayer, where there is no trace of bitterness against the enemies. Consider the physical afflictions and material losses which the Muslims suffered, then note how this prayer does not contain the slightest hint of worldly ambition. Compare the wretchedness and misery of these devotees of Truth with the pure, exalted feelings with which this prayer is overflowing. This comparison will enable us to appreciate the nature of the spiritual and moral training provided to men of faith.

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.
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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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