Weekly Tafsir Notes

Surah Al-Baqara – Notes from Sunday, June 12, 2022

Overview of Surah Al-Baqarah:
Surah Al-Baqarah – translates directly as “story of the cow”
Takes its name from the cow mentioned in verses 67-71
The Jews were given a simple command from Allah: slaughter a cow.
However, they went out of their way to disobey the commands of Prophet Musa, asking him question after question to avoid doing it.
The main lesson we can learn here is to obey Allah, and that will be simpler and better for us.

Connection between Surah Al-Baqara and Surah Al-Fatiha
Surah Al-Baqara is a Medinan Surah, as the majority of it was revealed to the Prophet (SAW) during the first two years of his life in Medina.
It follows a Makkan Surah in Surah Al-Fatiha, which ends with a prayer: “Show us the straight path”. Allah then begins the Surah with an answer to the prayer: “This is the book in which there is no doubt, in it is guidance for those who fear God.”
This surah is a surah of al-Ubudiyah, detailing how we worship Allah.
Allah emphasizes guidance in both Surahs. In Surah Al-Fatiha, Allah teaches us how to seek guidance.

There are 3 types of people emphasized:
First 5 verses – The Believers – those who will benefit from Allah’s words.
Verses 6 and 7 – The Disbelievers – those who openly disbelieve.
Verses 8-20 – The Hypocrites – those who pretend to believe.
Verses 21-39 – These verses delve into servitude and worship as well as the origins of worship.
Verses 40-123 – These verses are about the children of Israel. In the first and end verses 40 and 122-123, Allah addresses Bani Israel (Children of Israel), warning them to remember the favors he has bestowed on them, one of which is that they received the divine message so frequently.

Test and Worship:
Allah created us to worship him, and tests are an important part of worship
Reference: Surah Mulk – Verse 2 – Allah says He is the one “Who has created life and death that he may TEST you, to see which of you is best in conduct; and he is Mighty, the Forgiving.”
In Surah Al-Baqarah, verses 124-153 – Allah talks about the story of Prophet Ibrahim and how he tested Ibrahim, who is amongst the most beloved to Allah.
Lesson here: Allah tests us all, especially those he loves the most.
In verses 153-253, which is 100 verses, Allah talks about the comprehensiveness of worship. There are many topics like marriage, fasting, Hajj, the qiblah, etc. We will go over it further in future classes.

Ayah 255 – Ayatul-Kursi
One of the best verses in the entire Quran
This verse describes multiple divine attributes:
His oneness – there is no God but him, and he is Eternal and Living at all times.
Kayuum – one of his attributes, that he takes care of all his creation, and is the judge on the Day of Judgement.
He is not in need of sleep or rest.
It is said that those who recite this verse with sincerity and devotion are protected from harm, from Shaitan, and from magic.
Last two verses – Verses 285 and 286
These verses reflect the faithfulness and loyalty of believers, as well as their obedience to the divine laws.
Verse 285 – has the command سمعنا وأطعنا – We heard and we obeyed!
When the companions of the Prophet heard verse 285, they were at first terrified. Allah sent down verse 286 to ease their concerns.

Recap of first 5 verses
Verse 1: Alf.Lam.Mim الم
Mystical letters, known as al-Huruf-al-Muqatta’at, or cut-off letters. These letters are building block letters; they have no meaning on their own.
They appear at the beginning of different Surahs in the Quran; there are different interpretations. One is these were revealed to the Prophet (SAW) to show his people letters they used and even mastered and took pride in.
Allah says in verse 2: “This is the book of which there is absolutely no doubt.”
The word ذلك means that, so this literally translates as “that book”, which could be a way that Allah raises this holy book.
He uses the word ريب in this verse and verse 23, where he tells the disbelievers to try and produce something like that. He even claims with certainty they won’t, and so they should prepare themselves for the Hellfire.
He also mentions guidance, هدى, for those who fear God.
Verse 3: Allah continues from verse 2, going into the traits of the believers. They are those who believe in the unseen, establish the prayer, and spend what Allah has given them.
Why does Allah mention غيب, the unseen? Because that is part of our test, to believe in what we cannot see.
The best of people are those who not only pray, but establish the prayer, meaning they are strong with it.
Allah only asks us to give 2.5%, a small portion from what he has given us, and he’s given us countless blessings; giving is a benefit to us, as what we give in this life we gain more in the Hereafter.

Verses 4 and 5: These verses continue talking about the traits of true believers.
Those who believe in what was sent to the Prophet (Quran), what was sent down before (books and Prophets), and who believe in the Hereafter.
In Verse 5, Allah uses the word اولئك twice, which is to say these are people of true guidance, and they are the ones who will ultimately be successful.