Wednesday, 20 April 2011

surah baqarah verse 63-73

63. And (O Children of Israel, remember) when We took your covenant and We raised above you the Mount (saying): "Hold fast to that which We have given you, and remember that which is therein so that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious - see V.2:2).
64. Then after that you turned away. Had it not been for the Grace and Mercy of Allah upon you, indeed you would have been among the losers.
65. And indeed you knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath (i.e. Saturday). We said to them: "Be you monkeys, despised and rejected."
66. So We made this punishment an example to their own and to succeeding generations and a lesson to those who are Al-Muttaqun
67. And (remember) when Musa (Moses) said to his people: "Verily, Allah commands you that you slaughter a cow." They said, "Do you make fun of us?" He said, "I take Allah's Refuge from being among Al-Jahilun (the ignorants or the foolish)."
68. They said, "Call upon your Lord for us that He may make plain to us what it is!" He said, "He says, 'Verily, it is a cow neither too old nor too young, but (it is) between the two conditions', so do what you are commanded."
69. They said, "Call upon your Lord for us to make plain to us its colour." He said, "He says, 'It is a yellow cow, bright in its colour, pleasing to the beholders.' "
70. They said, "Call upon your Lord for us to make plain to us what it is. Verily to us all cows are alike, And surely, if Allah wills, we will be guided."
71. He [Musa (Moses)] said, "He says, 'It is a cow neither trained to till the soil nor water the fields, sound, having no other colour except bright yellow.' " They said, "Now you have brought the truth." So they slaughtered it though they were near to not doing it.
72. And (remember) when you killed a man and fell into dispute among yourselves as to the crime. But Allah brought forth that which you were hiding.
73. So We said: "Strike him (the dead man) with a piece of it (the cow)." Thus Allah brings the dead to life and shows you His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) so that you may understand.

The Bani Israel had promised to believe in Allah and His messengers but they broke their promise and indulged in worshipping the calf ( Shirk) and were punished accordingly as per Allah's commands (the wrongdoers were killed). After this 70 people were taken to Mount Toor where they were killed by a bolt of lightining and brought back to life and thus they made a firm convenant with Allah to believe in Him. Verse 63 is a reminder of that convenant where Allah says that remember the time when we raised the Mount Toor over your heads (with the grace of Allah such miracles were common in those times) so that you may stick to your promise. They are further advised and warned to firmly hold on to the Book (Torah) they had been blessed with and to follow whatever is given in it so that they may be among the believers.

Quran does not specify the village where the incident took place. This incident happened during the time of Hazrat Dawood. The day of Saturday for Bani Israel was a day of holiday. They were forbidden to indulge in any sort of worldly activities on this day rather devote themselves to the worship of Allah on this day. there was a certain tribe of Bani Israel who lived by the sea shore and were fishermen by profession. The command of Allah to stay away from any business or worldly activity on saturday was a serious challenge for them primarily because on this very day the fishes would come up in huge numbers. So they would lay the net on friday evening and take it out on sunday thereby claiming that they did not do any work on Saturday. Another opinion states that they would dig holes on the shore on friday so that the waves would dump the fishes in the holes on saturday and on sunday the fishermen can catch them.
In either case they tried to act cunningly to please Allah and at the same time succumb to their temptations (of catching fish even on saturday). But Allah is All-Knowing He knew what went on in the hearts of these people and how they tried to fool Allah. At that time this tribe of Bani Israel divided into 3 groups:
1. those who engaged in this act
2. those who tried to stop them from doing this
3. and those who neither engaged in this and neither did they try to stop them.
the 3rd group of people used to tell the 2nd group that why are they trying to stop them and waste their time on those who will face the wrath of Allah for sure. So Allah punished the 1st group and also those who did not try to stop them by making them monkeys. It is said that these people who had been changed into monkeys could recognize each other and would cry on seeing each other. All of these people-turned-monkeys died after 3 days. This punishment was a lesson for those who engage in wrongdoings and also for those who are believers and the generations to come next so that their faith may become stronger.

And then Hazrat Musa conveyed the command of Allah to the Bani Israel i.e they sacrifice a cow(this command was given so that the Bani Israel would realize that a cow holds no other significance apart from being an animal and is not a creature for worship). At this the Bani Israel were taken back and asked Hazrat Musa that is he joking (the Bani Israel used to worship a calf so the thought of sacrificing a cow did not appeal to them and they felt it was some sort of a joke). Hazrat Musa replied that he seeks refuge from Allah from being among the ignorant(implying that making such baseless and useless jokes is a sign of ignorant people).
the Bani Israel then engaged in the act of asking unnecessary questions in an attempt to get out of the act of performing the requried sacrifice. Alas they ran out of questions and had to sacrifice a cow. Before doing so they asked numerous questions regarding the colour,type etc of the cow they were ordered to sacrifice. Allah told them that the cow should be middle aged neither too old nor too young, shiny yellow coloured that looks pleasing to the eye, one which is not used to any sort of farming activities and it should  be sound (i.e. no spots,injuries, broken limbs etc). Thus, the bani israel managed to find such a cow (it is said they had to pay a heavy price for it) and sacrificed it. At that time a very wealthy man of the tribe was murdered and the Bani Israel engaged in a conflict within themselves each blaming and accusing the other for the murder. But Allah revealed the identity of the murderer which uptill then had been hidden from everyone. Allah commanded them to throw any piece of the body of the sacrificed cow at the murdered man. When the piece of meat was thrown at him, the dead man was brought back to life and he revealed the identity of the person who had killed him. Thus, Allah saved them from a serious conflict which could have arose if they had continued with the accusations. Allah put an end to it by revealing what was hidden from them so that they may strengthen their faith and understand the verses and words of Allah.

so far we have seen 3 prominent traits in the attitudes of Bani Israel:
1. They went back on their promise and broke the convenant with Allah, openly refusing to believe His signs and ayats.
2. Pretending to be innocent they would engage in cunning plans in an attempt to fool Allah- the saturday incident of the fishermen
3.engage in unnecessary questioning to avoid /delay the command - the incident of the cow sacrifice

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