Ayaat 63 – 64 – Taking the Covenant from the Jews
In these ayaat, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminds the Children of Israel of the pledges, covenants and promises that He took from them.
While taking this pledge Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala raised the mountain (at-Tur) above their heads, so that they affirm it and abide by it with sincerity and seriousness. This incident is also mentioned in Surah Al-A’raf ayah 171.
“Take what We have given you…” means hold fast to the commands of Torah. They were not simply required to accept the Book but also live by it. They were to keep referring to the Book of Allah in their day-to-day matters. They were not supposed to blindly follow their forefathers or their traditions. They were to know what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala expects them to do in their daily matters.
As mentioned earlier, Surah Al-Baqarah is not a criticism on the Jews rather it contains lessons for us, the Muslims as well. We start studying the Book as soon as we turn four or when someone embraces Islam. Many of us do lengthy Qur’an courses but when it comes to our routine lives we forget to implement the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Families are supposed to live in mutual harmony, but how many homes have toxic environments? We know that we are forbidden to work in a bank or deal with them. But how many of us decline the opportunity when we are offered a job at the bank? How many of us hoard money in saving accounts expecting petty profit rather than depositing it with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in the form of charity? How many of us truly understand the concept of being at war with Allah and His Messenger ﷺ? It is mentioned in the Qur’an that the women have a share in the inheritance. How many of us remember to give the daughter, the wife or sister her share?
Why should one adhere to the Book? Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “…that perhaps you may become righteous…” Taqwa is what is going to save us in this life and the Hereafter. We cannot acquire taqwa if we do not hold fast to the Book. If we don’t study the Book, understand and remember its commands how can we conduct our lives according to how Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala wants?
Learn the Qur’an, understand its meaning, and remember its commands in your routine matters if you wish to enjoy the blessings of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in this world and the next.
Qur’an cannot be understood by our personal interpretations. To understand an ayah we first look for similar ayaat in the Qur’an. Then we look at the Prophetic traditions and study how the Prophet ﷺ explained the ayah. We then have the sayings of the Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum and the exegesis of the Tabi’een and so on. Be careful of your sources of knowledge. Ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to lead you to the truth and protect you from falsehood.
Tirmidhi relates from Jubayr ibn Nufayr radhiAllahu ‘anhu, on the authority of Abu Darda’ radhiAllahu ‘anhu:
We were with the Prophet ﷺ and he said, “There [will be] a time when knowledge will be snatched from the people until they will be unable to benefit from it.” Ziyad ibn Lubayd said, “O Messenger of Allah, how will Allah seize knowledge from us when we recite the Qur’an? I swear by Allah, we recite it and teach it to our women and children!” He said, “May your mother be bereaved of you, Ziyad. I used to consider you one of the learned people of Madinah! The Torah and the Gospel are with the Jews and Christians, yet do they benefit from them in any way?”
Jubayr ibn Nufayr said: I met ‘Ubada ibn al-Samit and said to him, “Will you not listen to what Abu Darda’ is saying? I then informed him of what he said concerning the loss of knowledge. He said, “Abu Darda’ has spoken truthfully. If you wish I will inform you of the first knowledge to be removed from people. It is humility [khushu’]. You will enter the central masjid and hardly find a single humble person!”
Among the Children of Israel only their Rabbis would read the Book, today, Muslims have conveniently assigned the task of studying and understanding the Qur’an to the scholars while the masses live their lives in ignorance. Qur’an is not for the scholars only rather it is for each one of us.
►We should read it.
►We should understand its meaning.
►We should not keep the knowledge to ourselves but teach it to others.
Therefore, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,
خُذُواْ مَآ ءَاتَيْنَـكُم بِقُوَّةٍ
“Hold fast to that which We have given you…”
Not just hold fast to it but…
وَاذْكُرُواْ مَا فِيهِ
“…and remember that which is therein…” meaning implement its commands. Remember them whenever you have to take a decision in life. When it comes to trying out a new recipe we go exactly by the recipe card. When it comes to fixing or setting up a machine we go exactly by the manual, then why is it that we believe we can live our lives without the Manual that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has given us?
► What do I do all day?
► How much time do I give to the Qur’an? Does the Qur’an even has any portion in my daily routine?
► Do I also try to understand the meaning or is my only focus on completing the recitation?
Some people ask is it obligatory to study the Qur’an daily. Such people should be asked: Is it obligatory to daily check your social media accounts, watch television, WhatsApp or talk to people? Why do we only have to compromise when it comes to the matters of the Deen?
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “Then you turned away after that.” Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala raised the mountain above their heads and commanded them to hold fast to the teachings of their Torah, seeing the mountain right above their heads they feared the safety of their lives and immediately surrendered. But when the mountain was placed back they returned to their usual lives of disobedience. They deviated and broke their pledge.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “And if not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy, you would have been among the losers.” The favor mentioned is Allah’s forgiveness and the sending of the Prophets and Messengers to them. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala continued to favor them despite their breach of the covenant.
What is our attitude towards the Qur’an?
When we are going through a test, we open the Qur’an, start a rigorous reading, invite people over to read the Qur’an for us, etc. and when that test is over we return to our usual lives of disobedience and ignorance.
When the mountain of calamity is above our heads we surrender (or so we pledge). Once the mountain is off our heads, we turn back to who we really are.
We can invite people to our homes for wazeefas, reading the Qur’an for the dead (something that we find no evidence for), but cannot invite people to our homes or gather at some other place to read and understand the Book of Allah?
How Merciful is Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that He has not dropped a mountain on our heads – He continues to forgive us, gives us respite that we might change.
Let us stop playing with the Qur’an and give it its due right. Let us become the People of the Qur’an, study it, understand it, remember its ayaat, and teach it to others.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.” [Bukhari no. 5027]
He also said, “Allah has His own people among mankind.” They said: “O Messenger of Allah ﷺ, who are they?” He said, “The people of the Qur’an, the people of Allah and those who are closest to Him.” [Ibn Majah no. 215 (Hasan)]
Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah said, “Allah’s Messenger shrouded every two martyrs of Uhud in one piece of cloth and then he would ask, ‘Which of them knew more Qur’an?’ When one of them was pointed out he would put him first in the grave.” [Bukhari no. 1347]
‘Abdullah ibn Mas’oud said, “The bearer of the Qur’an should be known by his night when the people are sleeping; by his day when people are awake; by his sadness when people are joyous; by his weeping when people are laughing.” [Nawawi in Tibyan al-Adab fi Hamalatul Qur’an]
Let us not be neglectful of the Book of Allah. Those who do not know it must commit to studying it with a proper scholar. Those who know it must honor it by displaying the traits pointed out by ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’oud radhiAllahu ‘anhu.
DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 63-64
رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]