Al-Baqarah · Juz 2 · Qur'an Tafseer

The Punishment for changing Allah’s Favor and mocking the Believers


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 211 – 212

In the previous ayaat, we learned the prohibition of following a pick-and-choose policy in religion. We have been commanded to enter into Islam in entirety. The repercussions of not doing so, will of course lead to Allah’s anger and punishment.

In the following ayaat, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala narrates to us what happened with the Children of Israel who chose to disobey Him despite witnessing all the Signs.


Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commands Muslims to ask the Jews about what happened to their elders. The Children of Israel witnessed many clear signs that attested to the truth that Prophet Musa [Moses] ‘alayhi salaam was sent with. They witnessed his hand (when it radiated), his parting the sea, his striking the rock (and twelve water springs for each tribe), the clouds that shaded them during the intense heat, the manna and the quails, and so forth. These signs attested to the existence of the Creator and the truth of Prophet Musa. Yet, so many among them ignored him, ignored the Book that he had brought, ignored Allah’s favors upon them, altered His commands and followed that which pleased their nafs [self].

In the wake of such misdeeds, the Divine Law is that one who changes the blessings or ignores the clear signs after witnessing them, then the ultimate must come to pass. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala descends His punishment, as was said in the ayah, “And whoever exchanges the favor of Allah (for disbelief) after it has come to him – then indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.”

Jews were the previous chosen nation, therefore, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala mentions them here so that we can be reminded of their end. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala greatly favored them, but they rejected and denied each blessing and were arrogant. They were disobedient and followed their desires. Muslims are being reminded: You are the new chosen nation. Do not follow the footsteps of the previous nation or you will face the same end. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us, aameen.

Ayah 212 – Beauty of this Life is a Deception

The word zuyyina [زُيِّن] is from the root zaa-ya-noon and it means to adorn, beautify or embellish. The word yaskharoon [يَسْخَرُون] is from the root seen-kha-ra and it means to mock, laugh or scoff at.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminds us that the life of this world is only a deception. And it is this life of deception that is the real cause for people deviating from the truth and following their desires. They see dunya [the worldly life] all that there is, and do not believe in the pleasures of the Hereafter. Therefore, in order to enjoy all that you can “right now”, they ignore that which is eternal.

[Choosing the Inferior Over What is Better]

This is what kept the leaders of the Quraysh from accepting Islam. They believed that by accepting Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as a prophet, their leadership position will be lost. They did not want to spend in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala fearing loss in their wealth. When they saw the believers sacrificing everything of this world for the delights of the Hereafter, they ridiculed them and called them fools. The believers know that the life of this world is temporary; therefore, they strive in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala with all their might. They are generous in their charity, and do not deceive others over petty gains of this world. They spend seeking Allah’s Face, and they are the ones who will have the best share in the Hereafter. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala make us of them, aameen.

The believers will be exalted above the disbelievers at the Gathering Place, when they are gathered, on the resurrection day and in their final destination. The believers will reside in the highest grades in the utmost heights, while the disbelievers will reside in the lowest of lows (in the Fire).

[The Faces Radiant with Joy – in the Hereafter]

Commenting on these ayaat, Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani writes, “When materialism overpowers, the urge for faith evaporates. People will go to the limit of abandoning their faith when it happens to be against their worldly interests.”

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminds us that our wealth and luxuries are a test for us, and we should never let arrogance seep into our hearts. He says, “And Allah gives provision to whom He wills without account.” He is the One Who gives sustenance to whomever He wills of His servants without count or limit. Therefore, when we are blessed we should not forget the share of the weak and needy as well as our close relatives, orphans and wayfarers. Likewise, when we are deprived, we should not get jealous of other people’s financial standing. Rather, we should make du’a for them and also for ourselves and ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to bless us from his lawful and pure sustenance, and to not make us dependent on anyone but Him. Allahumma aameen.

[Rights of the Relatives, Orphans and Needy]


A lesson for us is that if Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has blessed us with wealth then it is our duty to help others and spend in the way of Allah. If, however, we are deprived then we should remember that wealth is not always a favor of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, for some it is a test. Therefore, no person should think that because he is rich, he is dear to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. The Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum were poor yet their level of emaan was praiseworthy. Many Quraysh leaders were affluent and their affluence led them to their destruction.

A hadeeth has stated that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,

ابْنَ آدَمَ أَنْفِقْ أُنْفِقْ عَلَيْك

“O son of Adam! Spend (in Allah’s cause) and I (Allah) will spend on you.”

The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam also said,

أَنْفِقْ بِلَالُ وَلَا تَخْشَ مِنْ ذِي الْعَرْشِ إِقْلَالًا

“Spend O Bilal! And do not fear deprivation from the Owner of the Throne.”

In another ayah Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,

“…and whatsoever you spend of anything (in Allah’s cause), He will replace it.” [Saba 34:39]

In addition, it is reported in the Saheeh that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

أَنَّ مَلَكَيْنِ يَنْزِلَانِ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ صَبِيحَةَ كُلِّ يَوْمٍ فَيَقُولُ أحَدُهُمَا:اللَّهُمَّ أَعْطِ مُنْفِقًا خَلَفًا، وَيَقُولُ الآخَرُ: اللَّهُمَّ أعْطِ مُمْسِكًا تَلَفًا

“Every day two angels come down from heavens and one of them says, ‘O Allah! Compensate every person who spends in Your cause,’ and the other (angel) says, ‘O Allah! Destroy every miser.’”

In another Saheeh hadeeth it appears,

يَقُولُ ابْنُ آدَمَ: مَالِي مَالِي. وَهَلْ لَكَ مِنْ مَالِكَ إِلَّا مَا أَكَلْتَ فَأَفْنَيْتَ، وَمَا لَبِسْتَ فَأَبْلَيْتَ، وَمَا تَصَدَّقْتَ فَأَمْضَيْتَ، وَمَا سِوَى ذلِكَ فَذَاهِبٌ وَتَارِكُهُ لِلنَّاس

“The son of Adam says, ‘My money, my money!’ Yet, what is your money except that which you eat and use up, wear and tear, and spend in charity and thus keep (in your record). Other than that, it will go away and will be left for the people (the inheritors).”

In addition, Imam Ahmad reported that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

الدُّنْيَا دَارُ مَنْ لَا دَارَ لَهُ، وَمَالُ مَنْ لَا مَالَ لَهُ، وَلَهَا يَجْمَعُ مَنْ لَا عَقْلَ لَه

“The life of this world is the residence of those who have no residence, the wealth of those who have no wealth, and it is harvested by those who have no sense of reason.”

This is a warning for those who pride on their brute economic strength. It is Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala Who gives and He can take it back anytime. We should neither be boastful nor ignore the needs of others. Learn from the conduct of the Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum, whenever a call for spending was made they never hesitated in giving their best in Allah’s way. Abu Bakr radhiAllahu ‘anhu would give everything and leave behind only faith for his family. Abu Talhah radhiAllahu ‘anhu when he heard the ayaat of Al-Birr [piety] and spending, he offered the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam the garden that he loved the most. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam advised him to gift it to his kin – this way he will be spending for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and also maintaining ties of kinship.

Brothers and sisters, ask any generous person who spends solely for the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala how Ar-Razzaq has blessed them. The wealth is never reduced. It is stinginess that leads to lack of barakah [blessing] in one’s wealth. Give your wealth to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and see how He returns it to you in multitude.

May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala not allow us to be deceived by the charms of this world, and make us of those who are not attached to their wealth, aameen.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 211 – 212

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]


2 thoughts on “The Punishment for changing Allah’s Favor and mocking the Believers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.