ON THE QUR`AN
Chapter 2: Surat Al-Baqarah
Surat al-Baqarah contains a great deal of the original primal
blueprint of how a community can line -- how its members should
behave among themselves as individuals, as families, and as social
entities. It contains the laws that govern jihâd, the
struggle against inner and outer evil -- when, where and against
Surat al-Baqarah begins with the devastatingly deep
simplicity of the letters Alîf Lâm Mîm. From Unity,
everything in the cosmos descends to you as a wave of mercy in tiny
portions, and each portion contains the meaning of that Oneness. One
drop of the ocean contains the secret of the entire ocean.
This surah (chapter) contains the history of humankind from
the creation of Adam to the time of Prophet Muhammad, may the peace
and blessings of God be upon him, his family and his righteous
Companions.** A great portion deals specifically with Banî Isrâîl
(the Tribe of Israel). It illustrates how they were given the
message of Unity (Tawheed), of the One-and-Only Reality, and how
they rejected it time after time. In spite of their rejection, God,
in His infinite mercy, repeatedly gave them repentance.
Although this chapter deals historically with the Tribe of Israel,
it also describes the state of rebelliousness in all peoples and
individuals who attempt to assert themselves over the will of Allah
(Allah in Arabic means God, or God Alone). On the level of haqiqah
(essential Truth and Reality), the Banî Isrâîl represent
the ever-present, ongoing struggle of the nafs (ego-self), to
establish itself in authority and power, which in turn brings to it
misery, sadness and disappointment. The way to inner joy and bliss
is through the submission of the nafs and the will of the
individual, which has no existence on its own, for there is no power
and no might except from God Alone. This chapter gives us a road map
of the course to follow to reach that stage of abandonment and
knowledge of Allah.
Every chapter is a complete and contained unit, even though it may
have been revealed in different places at different times. Surat
al-Baqarah, except for the last few ayât
(communications; verses), was revealed during the early years after
the Hijrah (the Prophet's migration from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD).
Historically, the 281st ayât is considered to be the last
verse of the Qur`an to be revealed.
The present volume concerning, Surat al-Baqarah, is the first
of five commentaries on the Qur`an which are intended specifically
for serious students and seekers of Qur`anic knowledge. Since the
richness of meaning is contained in the Arabic words themselves
which God Alone has employed in His Book to transmit and confirm the
absolute certainty of the clear revelation, much of our concern here
is in elucidating the words and their roots. The commentary was made
with special emphasis for its day-to-day use by the student of
self-knowledge. Classical and traditional interpretations, which are
readily available in English, have not been included here.
In this series of commentaries, the roots of the key Arabic words
are examined and discussed, thus enabling the student to derive the
full benefit of the original language of the Qur`an and its
unparalleled ability to communicate what is most difficult to
transmit by words. At their root level, Arabic words have many
different meanings, and these meanings are sometimes the opposite of
each other. This aspect of the Arabic language reflects a very
important dimension of the ancient Arab culture, a dimension which
enabled its people to be extremely sensitive to their fragile life
and environment, and, therefore, susceptible to the message of tawhîd
(Divine Unity, or Unity). Although its people were worldly, the
language and ecology were well suited to describing and
communicating the subtle world of divine realities.
The source Book, the Qur`an, contains within it many levels of
meanings, uses and remedies. We have taken an etymological route
through this Garden, catching a glimpse of how the roots and sounds
of words interconnect, pointing towards the Source of all letters,
God Alone. The fountainhead of many Arabic words spring from tawhîd;
therefore the primary aim has been to follow the vein of tawhîd
when exploring the root form of the words and their derivatives.
Certain points have been repeated and often over-emphasized to
encourage the beginner on this most blessed path which is surrounded
by pitfalls and dangers. The single-minded, determined and
disciplined student no doubt will succeed, discovering that the
thorns on the path are only stimuli delineating the boundary of the
narrow passage. These afflictions only enhance his balance and
sharpen his 'aql (reasoning ability) and awareness.
Our present age is such that denial of the One Reality is the
prevailing disease. To awaken the heart of the seeker, the teacher
attempts to tap the remedy drawn from the unity and timelessness of
the Truth in the all-encompassing Book of Reality, the Qur`an. The
absolute Truth appears in the form of the Book, reflected through
the purified heart of the mu`min (believer) and sparkles with
every visible atom in creation.
The Qur`anic revelations offer support and help for the true seeker
in his or her passage through life. To remember these chapters and
verses in times of difficulty, uncertainty, weakness, or doubt, is
to gain spiritual as well as temporal strength, because one is
reminded of the Ever-Witnessing, the All-Seeing, the Ever-Present --
the Creator, God.
From Allah we have all come by the grace and mercy and love of the
One Creator and, by the eternal mercy, we are sustained and
supported on a short lifeline through a flimsy and insecure
existence, so that we seek refuge in the Ever-Sustaining,
Ever-Living Reality Whose subtle Attributes and absolute Essence we
shall come to know, insha'allah (if God wills).
It is customary invocation, whenever the name of the
Prophet Muhammad is mentioned, to invoke the peace and
blessings of Allah upon him, his family and his righteous