Al-Baqarah · Juz 2 · Qur'an Tafseer

But When Fighting was Prescribed for Them, They Turned Away


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

abandoning qitaal

Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 246

The discussion once again returns to the wrongdoings of the Children of Israel and how they rectified their behavior.

When they were overtaken by the enemies, due to their abandoning the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, they began thinking about correcting their situation.

Ayah 246

“Have you not considered the assembly of the Children of Israel after (the time of) Musa when they said to a prophet of theirs, ‘Send to us a king, and we will fight in the way of Allah’? He said, ‘Would you perhaps refrain from fighting if fighting was prescribed for you?’ They said, ‘And why should we not fight in the cause of Allah when we have been driven out from our homes and from our children?’ But when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned away, except for a few of them. And Allah is Knowing of the wrongdoers.” [al-Baqarah 2: 246]

The prophet mentioned in the ayah is Samuel (Arabic name) or Shemuel (in Hebrew).

The Children of Israel remained on the straight path for a period of time after Musa ‘alayhi salaam. They then innovated in the religion and some of them even worshiped the idols. Yet, there were always prophets sent among them who would command them to work righteous deeds, refrain from doing evil and who would rule them according to the commands of the Torah.

When the Israelites committed the evil that they committed, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala caused their enemies to overwhelm them, and many fatalities fell among them as a consequence. Their enemies also captured a great number of them, and took over large areas of their land.

Earlier, anyone who would fight the Israelites would lose, because they had the Torah and the Tabut, which they inherited generation after generation ever since the time of Moses, who spoke directly to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Yet, the Israelites kept indulging in misguidance until some king took the Tabut from them during a battle. That king also took possession of the Torah, and only a few of the Israelites who memorized it remained. The prophethood halted among their various tribes and only a pregnant woman remained of the offspring of Lavi (Levi), in whom the prophethood still appeared. Her husband had been killed, so the Israelites kept her in a house so that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala may give her a boy, who would be their prophet. The woman also kept invoking Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to grant her a boy. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala heard her pleas and gave her a boy whom she called ‘Shemuel’ meaning ‘Allah has heard my pleas.’ Some people said that the boy’s name was Sham’oon (Simeon), which has a similar meaning.

As that boy grew, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala raised him to be a righteous person. When he reached the age of prophethood, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed to him and commanded him to call his people to Him and to His Tawheed [Oneness]. Shemuel called the Children of Israel to Allah and they asked him to appoint a king over them so that they could fight their enemies under his command. The kingship had also ended among them. Their Prophet said to them, “What if Allah appoints a king over you, would you fulfill your vow to fight under his command?”

They replied, “And why should we not fight in the cause of Allah when we have been driven out from our homes and from our children?” Their land had been confiscated and their children had been arrested – there was no reason that they could sit behind and not fight. But when fighting was ordained for them, they turned away except a few of them. Only a few of them kept their promise; the majority abandoned fighting in the way of Allah.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “Allah is knowing of the wrongdoers.” Allah has full knowledge of them.


This is the sign of one’s decline that they show eagerness to do a task but when they are assigned that responsibility they turn away. Muslims claim to love Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and dying for His sake, but when the call to prayer is given at Fajr, how many people go the mosque? When someone is invited to study the Qur’an, how many people show up in class? When it comes to spending His cause, how many people give with an open heart?

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 246

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

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