October 11, 2014 by Saleha Waqar
يَـبَنِى إِسْرَءِيلَ اذْكُرُواْ نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِى أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَوْفُواْ بِعَهْدِى أُوفِ بِعَهْدِكُمْ وَإِيَّـىَ فَارْهَبُونِ
O Children of Israel, remember My favor which I have bestowed upon you and fulfill My covenant [upon you] that I will fulfill your covenant [from Me], and be afraid of [only] Me.
Jews in Madina- Background:
It is interesting that, according to what historians of the Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah is the first Surah that was revealed in Madina. This Surah talks mostly about Jews, because they were the most dominate group of the ‘People of the Book’ there.
Before the advent of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam of Islam, as their own religious books indicated, they were waiting for such an advent, and used to give its glad tidings to others. They were also in a very good economic condition at that time and, on the whole, they had a deep influence on the social affairs of Madina.
But, with the advent of Islam, many of them not only did not accept the invitation of Islam, but stood, hiddenly and openly, against it, because Islam hindered them from their unlawful interests and did not let them continue their evil social projects. Now, after the passing of more than fourteen centuries, this same hostility is still alive and active against Islam.
It was at that time when the above ayah and the ayaats after that were sent down which blamed them intensively and, by mentioning the sensitive aspects of their historical background, moved them so violently that those Jews, who had the least sense of justice and truth-seeking, awoke and accepted Islam. Besides that, this admonishment was a comprehensive lesson for all the Muslim believers, too.
Allah’s Blessings for the Children of Israel:
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is reminding the Children of Israel that He did favour them, but they were ungrateful. From among the favours that Allah (Exalted be He) has bestowed upon the children of Israel are the following:
- The selection of messengers from among them.
- The revelation of the holy books.
- Saving them from the agonies of Pheron and his people.
- Enabling them to gain power on earth.
- Causing springs of water to gush forth out of stone.
- Feeding them with Al-Manna and quails.
So Allah Almighty ordered the children to remember what He has bestowed upon their grand fathers and not to forget His favors.
What was the promise/convenant to Bani Isra’eel?
The covenant mentioned in this ayah, is the very covenant of worshipping Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala; to treat parents, kindred, orphans, and the needy with kindness; to have fair behaviour with people, to attend and be steadfast in ritual prayers; to pay alms; to avoid doing grievous wrongs, and to avoid shedding blood, that is mentioned in Surah Al-Baqarah ayah 83 and 84.
“And [recall] when We took the covenant from the Children of Israel, [enjoining upon them], “Do not worship except Allah ; and to parents do good and to relatives, orphans, and the needy. And speak to people good [words] and establish prayer and give zakah.” Then you turned away, except a few of you, and you were refusing.”
“And [recall] when We took your covenant, [saying], “Do not shed each other’s blood or evict one another from your homes.” Then you acknowledged [this] while you were witnessing.”
But, unfortunately, in spite of the long expectations of the Jews based upon the prophecies in their sacred scriptures, they, finally, observed none of those promises and they continued their most vehement and the most torturous opposition and persecution against Islam and Muslims
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will fulfill His covenant:
The bounties of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala have never been given unconditionally and every blessing is accompanied by a responsibility or responsibilities.
This Ayah contains encouragement, followed by warning. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala first called the Children of Israel, using encouragement, then He warned them, so that they might return to the Truth, follow the Messenger, follow the Qur’an’s prohibitions and commands and believe in its content.
Therefore, whoever obeys Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and His prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, then Allah will forgive his sins, enter him into Paradise and award him two rewards. And those who will not fear of His torment also get ready for His punishment.
We as Muslims are also favoured, so we should not fall into their mistakes, otherwise Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala might remove His favour from us, just like He removed it from them. We should fulfill Allah’s promise (through obedience) so that He will fulfill His promise (of success and reward) for us.