Al-Baqarah · Juz 2 · Qur'an Tafseer

Hiding Religious Commandments


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 159-162

These ayaat sternly warn those who hide the clear signs that the Messengers were sent with. Abu Al-‘Aliyah said that these ayaat were revealed about the People of the Scripture who hid the description of Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.


Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala states that everything curses such people for this evil act. Certainly, just as everything asks for forgiveness for the scholar, even the fish in the sea and the bird in the air, then those who hide knowledge are cursed by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and by the cursers.

A hadeeth states that Abu Huraira radhiAllahu ‘anhu narrated that Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

مَنْ سُئِلَ عَنْ عِلْمٍ فَكَتَمَهُ، أُلْجِمَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِلِجَامٍ مِنْ نَار

“Whoever was asked about knowledge that one has, but he hid it, then a bridle made of fire will be tied around his mouth on the Day of Resurrection.”

It is also recorded by Al-Bukhari that Abu Huraira radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “If it was not for an ayah (2:159) in Allah’s Book, I would not have narrated a hadeeth for anyone.”

The Duty of spreading the Islamic Knowledge

Concealing from people clear signs and guidance revealed by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is a crime which earns the displeasure and curse of Allah Almighty Himself, as well as that of His entire creation. Let us point out some commands that issue forth from this ayah:

1. It is forbidden to conceal knowledge which must be disclosed and disseminated widely.

The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Anyone who is asked about something (of religion) which he knows would, in the event that he conceals it, be brought forth by Allah on the Judgment Day harnessed with a rein of fire.” [Narrated by Abu Huraira and ‘Amr ibn al-‘As and reported by Ibn Majah – Qurtubi]

According to the Muslim jurists, this warning applies to a person who is the only one available in a given situation. If there are other knowledgeable people present, he has the option of suggesting that the issue may be discussed with an ‘alim who knows.

2. Another very important rule that emerges from here is that one who himself does not possess the sound knowledge of religious injunctions and rulings should not try to explain them.

3. The third rule is that answers to religious questions which are intricate and beyond the comprehension level of common people should not be offered before them lest they fall a prey to some misunderstanding.

This will not be considered as ‘concealment of knowledge’ since what is not allowed is the concealment of clear guidance given in the Qur’an and Sunnah. It was for such questions that ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’oud radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “If you recite ahadeeth which people do not understand fully, you will be throwing them into a nest of discord.” Similarly ‘Ali radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “Disclose to the common people only that much of knowledge as they have the capacity to understand. Do you want them to deny Allah and His Messenger?” For, anything beyond their comprehension would breed doubts in their minds and the possibility is there that they may refuse to accept it.

This leads us to the rule that it is the responsibility of an ‘alim [a religious scholar] or a guide, to talk to people after he has assessed their ability to receive what is to be communicated. Such questions should not be brought up before a person who is likely to fall in error or misunderstanding. It is for this reason that Muslim jurists, while discussing such questions in writing, conclude with a standard warning tag that the question under discussion is sensitive, therefore, a scholar should limit it to his comprehension and refrain from broadcasting it in public.

[Setting Up Da’wah Pages for Continuous Charity]


From this we learn the virtue of gaining Islamic knowledge and then spreading it among others. Those who leave their homes and comfort in search of knowledge are under special protection of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. The angels look out for such gatherings where people come together to study the Book of Allah and understand His religion.

The prophets ‘alayhi salaam did not leave behind Dirham or Dinar. Their legacy was knowledge of religion and whoever carries it forward is in the footsteps of the prophets ‘alayhi salaam. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala make us of those aameen.

It also teaches us that in order to teach religion to others we must first be knowledgeable ourselves. We cannot risk anyone’s aakhirah and our Own aakhirah by passing on wrong information.

It also teaches us that we should be extra cautious about our sources of knowledge. We should seek out the best teacher as once we have sought the best schools for our academic knowledge, then when have gained knowledge, we should not keep our degrees aside and get lost in dunya but share the goodness with others. We should be concerned about connecting others to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

If Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala opened up pathways for us to understand His Deen, we must express our gratitude by sharing it with more people. He who has been chosen for the study of Deen, has been willed by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to reach Jannah :). He who understands the Deen, the path of Jannah becomes easy for him because now he’ll have the knowledge of the permissible and impermissible acts. And the more he gains knowledge, the more his heart will be filled with Allah-consciousness and his emaan will strengthen.

The Evil Consequences of Sins – The Entire Creation Curses the Cursed

Mujahid said that when the earth is struck by drought, the animals say, “This is because of the sinners among the Children of Adam.”

Explaining, “…and cursed by the cursers…” Mujahid and Ikrimah said that the absence of identification (i.e. who curses the cursed) suggests that they are cursed by everything and every living being. All animals and insects join in since their misdeeds hurt all created life forms.

Abu Al-‘Aliyah, Ar-Rabi’ bin Anas and Qatadah said that “…and cursed by the cursers…” means that the angels and the believers will curse them. Those who hide the knowledge will be cursed, (in this life and) on the Day of Resurrection, by Allah, the angels, all humanity, and those who curse (including the animals) each in its own distinct way. Allah knows best.

The Virtue of Seeking Repentance

From this punishment, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala excluded all who repent to Him:

إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ تَابُواْ وَأَصْلَحُواْ وَبَيَّنُواْ

“Except those who repent and do righteous deeds, and openly declare (the truth which they concealed).”

This ayah refers to those who regret what they have been doing and correct their behavior and, thus, explain to the people what they had been hiding. Their repentance will be accepted by At-Tawwab [the One Who accepts repentance] and Ar-Raheem [the Most Merciful]. This ayah also indicates that those who used to call to innovation, or even disbelief, and repent to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will forgive them. However, those who disbelieve in Him and remain in this state until they die, then they will be cursed by Allah, the angels and mankind. They will suffer the eternal curse until the Day of Resurrection and after that in the fire of Jahannam. Their torment will not be decreased. We seek refuge with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala from such an evil end.

Cursing an Individual is not Permissible

“…and die while they are disbelievers…” commentators such as al-Jasas, al-Qurtubi and others have formulated the view that it is not permissible to curse a disbeliever about whom it is not certain in which state he died. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not curse a disbeliever by name except those about whom he was informed that they died in a state of disbelief.

As far as the infidels as a whole are concerned, including the tyrants and the unjust, it is technically correct, if cursed without any particularization.

From this we also find out that the act of cursing is so grave that it has been disallowed even if the target be an infidel about whom it is not certain that he is going to die as one. If so, how can this become permissible if the target is a Muslim or, even if it is directed at an animal? Common people in Muslim societies seem to neglect this aspect of standard Muslim behavior. Some of us use harsh language about those they do not like among the circle of their acquaintances.

[Watch Nouman Ali Khan’s Clip on Character Assassination]

It should be clearly understood that the act of cursing becomes effective not only by using the word, ‘curse’ but all synonyms used are subject to the same ruling. The word ‘La’nah’ [curse] means ‘to remove away from the mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala’. Therefore, all damnatory swearing and cursing fall under the purview of la’nah or curse.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 159 – 162

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]

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