"….is the likeness of a garden on a height; heavy rain falls on it and it doubles its yield of harvest.
"….is the likeness of a garden on a height; heavy rain falls on it and it doubles its yield of harvest. And if it does not receive heavy rain, light rain suffices it..."
(Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 265)
By: Dr. Zaghloul El-Naggar
This verse appears towards the end of Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow), which was revealed in Madinah and has 286 verses. It is the longest Surah in the Qur'an and gets its name from the miraculous story mentioned in it about a man from the Israelites was murdered in the days of Musa (AS) and the identity of his murderer was unknown. Thus Allah (SWT) ordered Musa (AS) to order his people to slaughter a cow and to strike the dead man with a part of it; he then came back to life by Allah's will and told them the identify of his murderer. Truth was able to prevail as a result of this miracle and it was a manifestation of Allah’s (SWT) power to resurrect the dead.
Surat Al-Baqarah deals with the Jews and Christians at length; this subject matter covers more than one third of the Surah. The Surah concludes with an affirmation of the reality of faith and with a supplication to Allah that touches the heart and mind. The most significant facts mentioned in the Surah can be summarized as follows:
Personal characteristics of a virtuous believer mentioned in Surat Al-Baqarah:
1. Patience in suffering and adversity;
2. Fulfilling covenants and promises;
3. Courage and intrepidity in seeking martyrdom in the cause of Allah;
4. Boldness in upholding justice, declaring one's opinion and refraining from suppressing testimony;
5. Bounty, generosity and spending money in the cause of Allah;
6. Striving to do good deeds, to say kind words and to forgive others;
7. Showing respects to one's parents and kindness towards kin, orphans, the poor and to all people, and helping the needy without humiliating them or harming.
8. Avoiding all types of ill-gotten gain.
Tenets of faith in Surat Al-Baqarah:
- Surat Al-Baqarah provides details of the rules governing the Muslim family from marriage, divorce, weaning children, the iddat (waiting) period for women after divorce or the death of their spouse, etc. Men are also ordered to refrain from having sexual intercourse with their wives during their menstrual cycles and marriage with polytheists is forbidden until they believe.
- This Surah lists the foods that are forbidden, such as dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine and any animals that have not been slaughtered in the name of Allah. It is not sinful, however, if one consumes these foods through extreme necessity. Furthermore, the surah prohibits both intoxicants and gambling.
- Retribution (qisas) is the rule stipulated in the case of murder.
- The Surah encourages will writing and prohibited concealment or falsification of a will.
- It prohibits the unlawful usurpation of other people’s property or possessions.
- It sets checks for debt transactions.
- Riba is prohibited outright. ( Riba: is that amount of money added to the original sum or balance of money that was borrowed, in other words; interest).
- It encourages people to treat orphans well and sets up checks concerning money spent in the cause of Allah.
- It prohibits the denial of undeniable religious truths.
Stories in Surat Al-Baqarah:
Many of Allah's prophets and messengers are mentioned in this Surah and reference is also made to a number of events that provide useful allegories, such as the following:
- The story of Adam and Hawa’ (Eve).
- The story of the people of Israel and the Pharaoh, covering their exodus from Egypt with Musa (AS) who led them across the sea, and how water sprung out of the earth for their consumption and how they were then disobedient after receiving all these blessings from Allah and reverted to worshipping a calf. There is also reference to the story of how Allah transformed those who broke the rules of the Sabbath into monkeys. The Surah also refers to their denial of Allah’s signs and verses, their unjust slaying of prophets, distortion of the Torah, their disobedience to Allah's commands and transgression of the limits set by Him. Moreover, it shows how Allah raised above them (the towering height) of Mount (Sinai) to threaten and frighten them, as well as their story with the murdered person and Allah's order to them to slaughter a cow and to use its parts to hit the murdered person so that Allah (SWT) would resurrect him and let him utter his murderer's name then die again and their story with their king Talut (Saul) and with Galut (Goliath) and Dawud (AS) “David”.
- The story of prophets sent to the people of Israel such as Dawud (AS) and Solaiman (AS).
- The story of Ibrahim (AS) and his son Isma'il (AS), who raised the foundations of the Ka’ba, and their prayer to Allah (SWT) to send the final prophet to Makkah and the debate between Ibrahim (AS) and King Nimrod who was the first man to falsely claim divinity to himself.
- The story of Yaqub (AS).
- The changing of the Qibla (direction for prayer) from Jerusalem to Makkah.
- The story of Isa (Jesus) (AS).
- The story of the Uzair (Ezra) who went to Jerusalem after it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar; the verse states what can be translated as,* “…He said: “Oh! How will Allah ever bring this town back to life after its death?” So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then raised him up (again). He said: “How long did you remain (dead)?” He (the man) said: “(Perhaps) I remained (dead) a day or part of a day”. He said: “Nay, you have remained (dead) for a hundred years, look at your food and your drink, they show no change; and look at your donkey! And thus We have made of you a sign for the people. Look at the bones, how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh”. When this was clearly shown to him, he said, "I know (now) that Allah is Able to do all things.”” *
( Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 259)
Signs of Creation in Surat Al-Baqarah:
Surat Al-Baqarah mentions many of signs of creation that can be summarized as follows:
- The distinction between the different types of light, each with its own characteristics and the contrast between darkness and light. These are scientific realities that have only been recently discovered.
- The fact that hearing precedes sight in human development. It has been scientifically proven that in the stages of the creation of a human being, hearing is developed before sight.
- The description of how heavy outpours of rain are consistently accompanied by darkness, thunder and lightning.
- Reference to the consecutive stages in the Earth’s preparation to receive human life, from leveling the Earth’s surface, the building the heavens surrounding it, rain descending on the Earth, fruits grew on the Earth for our sustenance, revival of the earth after it had been barren and the scattering of all kinds of animals throughout the earth.
- The miracle of the sea splitting for Musa (AS), was also mentioned, saving him and those who were with him from the Pharaoh and his soldiers, as well as of the gushing forth of twelve springs with one strike of Musa’s (AS) staff. These wells still exist until today along a single fault in the Earth’s crust in the eastern area of the Suez Peninsula.
- Reference to psychological elements such as fear, suspicion and doubt, all of which have shown by studies in the field of psychology to be scientific truths that were unknown at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an.
The hardheartedness of the Jews is mentioned and is compared to the hardness of rocks; their hearts are considered harder than rocks as there are some rocks which soften with the rivers that flows over them, there are some that split and water flows out of them and others that sink for fear of Allah (SWT).
- Reference to the true East and West of the Earth, giving an indication of the Earth being the centre of the universe. This is a scientific fact that has yet to be accepted by secular science.
- Reference to the creation of the Heavens and Earth, the alternation of night and day and the passage of ships through the sea for the benefit of mankind; all of this is part of Allah’s supreme Dominion.
- Reference to the direction of the winds and the clouds which trail between the heavens and the earth in subjugation. These are scientific truths that have only been slightly understood in the latter decades of the twentieth century.
- New moons are signs to mark appointed times and dates in the lives of people and for the pilgrimage.
- Reference to women's menstrual periods and advising men to refrain from sexual intercourse with women during menstruation due to the harm and damage that can be inflicted on women as a consequence. Medical studies have indeed confirmed this fact.
- Emphasizing the dangers of intoxicants and gambling which outweigh any benefit that may be reaped from them.
- Mentioning the scientific truth that an orchard on a flat surface, which is more elevated than what surrounds it, if subjected to heavy rain, will bear twice the amount of fruit. This is because the likelihood of it being flooded with heavy rain is non-existent as the water quickly drains away from the soil after it has taken what it requires; this is as it is elevated above the valleys surrounding it. If, however, it does not receive heavy rain but light moisture (dew or light drizzles of rain) it is sufficient to water the plants and to produce plentiful fruit.
The point here is that such a garden on a height, thrives, flourishes, bears fruit and produces generously whether or not it receives heavy rain.
Surat Al-Baqarah describes those who spend for the sake of Allah and who are righteous. Allah makes what they have spent for Him in His cause thrive and grow (irrespective of whether the amount spent is large or small); the rewards of spending for the sake of Allah are compared to the produce of the garden on a height thrives and grows whether or not it receives heavy rain.
Each of the above mentioned scientific matters requires separate analysis; therefore, I will only focus my analysis in this article on the last point concerning the description of the garden on a height. Before starting, we shall have a quick look at the interpretation of this noble verse by old and contemporary scholars.
Dr. Zaghloul Ragheb Mohamed El-Naggar Professor of Geology, Head, Committee on Scientific Nations in the Glorious Qur'an & Purity Sunnah Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Cairo, Egypt.
Recitation of Surah Al Baqarah by
Sheikh Mishary Rashid Al-Afasy
Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) - سورة البقرة
Surah Al-Baqarah - سورة البقرة
Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Surah Al Baqarah
Tafsir Surah Al Baqarah
Surah Al-Baqarah - سورة البقرة
Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Surah Al Baqarah
Tafsir Surah Al Baqarah
Profile Of The Surah
Juz : 1
Surah No. :2
No. of Verses: 286
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