Section (7): Ayahs 153- 260: The Laws given to the Muslim Umma
So according to the first section in surah Al-Baqara, Bani Israel took their laws and legislations very lightly; later on when turning the discussion to the new Muslim nation, Allah reveals about 100 Ayahs encompassing different aspects of our lives, from halal food, to divorce, to fasting, to the ethics of fighting and rules of engagement. As a believer, one should accept Islam in its entirety, as verse [2:208] mentions, and not pick and choose from the religion as Bani Israel did [2:85]
أَفَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِبَعْضِ الْكِتَابِ وَتَكْفُرُونَ بِبَعْضٍ
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ ادْخُلُواْ فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّةً وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ
You who believe, enter wholeheartedly into submission to God and do not follow in Satan’s footsteps, for he is your sworn enemy. [2:208]
Allah, The Giver of Life, will never let our Umma die, Insha Allah
This section contains three stories in Ayahs 258, 259, and 260, all explaining one fact: how Allah is the ONE who controls life and death, and no one but Him! We are told about a prophet who passes by a destroyed town, completely ruined, and asks “how will Allah restore this after its death, there is no way for it to come back”! and Allah puts him to death for 100 years, and then revives him and lets him see his own body being put together!
What is the relevance? There are (and will be) so many conversations that the Umma is dead, and that we have so much corruption, disobedience, hatred, and division.. so our Umma is dead and there is no hope in our nation! Allah is telling us that He is the one who can bring individuals and communities back to life! It is not up to us to decide and give up!
Section (8): Ayahs 260-284: Guidance on protection against greed
The essence of the story of Adam was that he was given paradise, but the satan caused him to slip out of GREED. Satan promised Adam “bankruptcy” out of paradise, and because of that, Adam and his spouse ate from the tree and immediately their clothes were removed. Nudity is a major promotor of shamelessness as we’ll see in other Surahs in the Quran. in contrast, what does the Satan prepare to the children of Adam?
الشَّيْطَانُ يَعِدُكُمُ الْفَقْرَ وَيَأْمُرُكُم بِالْفَحْشَاء
Satan promises you bankruptcy, and then commands you to be shameless [2:268]
Exactly the same trick: greed and shamelessness.
Because of greed, the Quran gives us guidance on how to contain it: the best way to do with one’s wealth is to spend in the way of Allah SWT, and the worst thing one can do with their wealth is to engage with usury (RIBA)
يَمْحَقُ اللَّهُ الرِّبَا وَيُرْبِي الصَّدَقَاتِ وَاللَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ كُلَّ كَفَّارٍ أَثِيمٍ
God blights usury, but blesses charitable deeds with multiple increase; He does not love the ungrateful sinner.[2:276]
Section (9): Ayahs 285-286: Two Treasures Right from Under the Throne of Allah
At the conclusion of this amazing Surah, please allow me to share with you two beautiful scenes: one at the beginning and one at the end:
In the beginning: human beings were sent from the heaven down to earth. Allah told Adam (and his children) to be on the lookout for guidance:
فَإِمَّا يَأْتِيَنَّكُم مِّنِّي هُدًى فَمَن تَبِعَ هُدَايَ فَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
But when guidance comes from Me, as it certainly will, there will be no fear for those who follow My guidance nor will they grieve [2:38]
Travel to the end of the Surah, which is concluded by two Ayahs, who were given to the prophet PBUH on a special night, the night of Israa and Miraj. He got an invitation and traveled from Mecca to Jerusalem, then to the seventh heaven, went so far up to a place even Angel Jibril himself couldn’t reach. At that blessed location, Muhammad PBUH was given the last two Ayahs of Al-Baqara as a gift.
The Surah started with the descent of humanity from heaven to earth, and it is concluded with the lifting of the best of humanity up to paradise. Just like Allah can send people out of paradise, he can bring you back to it.
Allah mentioned that not only the prophet believed in his Lord, but so did the believers: me and you! We were mentioned in the highest heaven because we are supposed to be the answer to the angels’ questions. Surah Al-Baqara concludes with a huge boost of praise to us, but also with a reminder of our responsibility as caliphs and stewards of this earth.
Thank you for reading these notes (if you’re still reading J); here’s a mind map and a visual summary of the nine sections and themes in Surah Al-Baqara. Note the symmetry in the flow of ideas, where section (1) is paralleled by section (9), section (2) compliments section (8) and so on…