Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 67-74: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the seventh installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 67-74. This passage recounts the story of Banu Israa’eel and the cow. See the series guide here for more information about this series.

وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِقَوْمِهِ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَن تَذْبَحُوا بَقَرَةً ۖ قَالُوا أَتَتَّخِذُنَا هُزُوًا ۖ قَالَ أَعُوذُ بِاللَّـهِ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ

And when Moosaa told his people, “Allah has commanded you to slaughter a cow.” They said, “Are you making fun of us?” He replied, “I seek refuge with Allah from being one of the ignorant people.” [2:67]

واذكروا يا بني إسرائيل جناية أسلافكم، وكثرة تعنتهم وجدالهم لموسى عليه الصلاة والسلام، حين قال لهم: إن الله يأمركم أن تذبحوا بقرة، فقالوا- مستكبرين-: أتجعلنا موضعًا للسخرية والاستخفاف؟ فردَّ عليهم موسى بقوله: أستجير بالله أن أكون من المستهزئين.ـ

67. And remember – O Children of Israa’eel – the crime of your ancestors and how stubborn they were and how much they argued with Moosaa when he told them, “Allah has commanded you to slaughter a cow,” to which they arrogantly responded, “Do you treat us as something to mock and belittle?” Then Moosaa replied to them by saying, “I seek Allah’s protection against being one of those who mock.”

قَالُوا ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّن لَّنَا مَا هِيَ ۚ قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ لَّا فَارِضٌ وَلَا بِكْرٌ عَوَانٌ بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ ۖ فَافْعَلُوا مَا تُؤْمَرُونَ

They said, “Call on your Lord for us so that He will make it clear to us what it is.” He said, “He says, ‘It is a cow neither old nor young – of medium age between those.’ Now do as you have been commanded!” [2:68]

قالوا: ادع لنا ربَّك يوضح لنا صفة هذه البقرة، فأجابهم: إن الله يقول لكم: صفتها ألا تكون مسنَّة هَرِمة، ولا صغيرة فَتِيَّة، وإنما هي متوسطة بينهما، فسارِعوا إلى امتثال أمر ربكم. ـ

68. They said, “Call on your Lord for us to clearly give us a description of this cow.” So he replied to them by saying, “Allah is telling you, ‘Its description is that it is neither old and decrepit nor a young calf; instead it is of a middle ground between those two.’ Now rush to obey your Lord’s command.”

قَالُوا ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّن لَّنَا مَا لَوْنُهَا ۚ قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ صَفْرَاءُ فَاقِعٌ لَّوْنُهَا تَسُرُّ النَّاظِرِينَ

They said, “Call on your Lord for us so that He will make it clear to us what its color is.” He said, “He says, ‘It is a yellow cow, bright in color, pleasing to onlookers.'” [2:69]

فعادوا إلى جدالهم قائلين: ادع لنا ربك يوضح لنا لونها. قال: إنه يقول: إنها بقرة صفراء شديدة الصُّفْرة، تَسُرُّ مَن ينظر إليها. ـ

69. Then they went back to their arguing by saying, “Call on your Lord for us to clearly tell us its color.” He said, “He says, ‘It is a yellow cow, very yellow in color, pleasing to those who look at it.'”

قَالُوا ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّن لَّنَا مَا هِيَ إِنَّ الْبَقَرَ تَشَابَهَ عَلَيْنَا وَإِنَّا إِن شَاءَ اللَّـهُ لَمُهْتَدُونَ

They said, “Call on your Lord for us so that He will make it clear to us what it is. All the cows look alike to us. We will certainly be – if Allah wills – guided.” [2:70]

قال بنو إسرائيل لموسى: ادع لنا ربك يوضح لنا صفات أخرى غير ما سبق؛ لأن البقر- بهذه الصفات- كثير فاشْتَبَهَ علينا ماذا نختار؟ وإننا- إن شاء الله- لمهتدون إلى البقرة المأمور بذبحها. ـ

70. The Children of Israa’eel said to Moosaa, “Call on your Lord on our behalf to clearly tell us more details besides those, for there are many cows with these characteristics so it is unclear to us which one we should choose. And we will certainly – if Allah wills – be guided to the cow that we have been commanded to slaughter.”

قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ لَّا ذَلُولٌ تُثِيرُ الْأَرْضَ وَلَا تَسْقِي الْحَرْثَ مُسَلَّمَةٌ لَّا شِيَةَ فِيهَا ۚ قَالُوا الْآنَ جِئْتَ بِالْحَقِّ ۚ فَذَبَحُوهَا وَمَا كَادُوا يَفْعَلُونَ

He said, “He says, ‘It is a cow neither trained to plow the earth nor to irrigate the field; faultless without any spots.'” They said, “Now you have brought the truth.” So they slaughtered it, although they almost did not. [2:71]

قال لهم موسى: إن الله يقول: إنها بقرة غير مذللة للعمل في حراثة الأرض للزراعة، وغير معدة للسقي من الساقية، وخالية من العيوب جميعها، وليس فيها علامة من لون غير لون جلدها. قالوا: الآن جئت بحقيقة وصف البقرة، فاضطروا إلى ذبحها بعد طول المراوغة، وقد قاربوا ألا يفعلوا ذلك لعنادهم. وهكذا شددوا فشدَّد الله عليهم. ـ

71. Moosaa told them, “Allah says, ‘It is a cow that has not been tamed to perform the work of plowing the earth for crops, nor one that has been trained to bring water for irrigation. It is free from any blemishes, without spots of any color besides the color of its hide.'” They said, “Now you have brought the actual description of this cow,” so they were compelled to slaughter it after trying at length to avoid that, and they had been close to not doing it at all due to their stubbornness. This was their way; they made things difficult so Allah made things difficult for them.

وَإِذْ قَتَلْتُمْ نَفْسًا فَادَّارَأْتُمْ فِيهَا ۖ وَاللَّـهُ مُخْرِجٌ مَّا كُنتُمْ تَكْتُمُونَ

And when you killed a person and disputed about it. And Allah brought out what you were concealing. [2:72]

واذكروا إذ قتلتم نفسًا فتنازعتم بشأنها، كلٌّ يدفع عن نفسه تهمة القتل، والله مخرج ما كنتم تخفون مِن قَتْل القتيل.ـ

72. And remember when you killed a person and then argued with one another about it, each person defending himself against the accusation of murder. And Allah exposed what you had been hiding about the murder of the victim.

فَقُلْنَا اضْرِبُوهُ بِبَعْضِهَا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يُحْيِي اللَّـهُ الْمَوْتَىٰ وَيُرِيكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ

Then We said, “Strike him with part of it.” Like that Allah gives life to the dead and shows you His signs so that you might understand. [2:73]

فقلنا: اضربوا القتيل بجزء من هذه البقرة المذبوحة، فإن الله سيبعثه حيًا، ويخبركم عن قاتله. فضربوه ببعضها فأحياه الله وأخبر بقاتله. كذلك يُحيي الله الموتى يوم القيامة، ويريكم- يا بني إسرائيل- معجزاته الدالة على كمال قدرته تعالى؛ لكي تتفكروا بعقولكم، فتمتنعوا عن معاصيه. ـ

73. Then We said, “Strike the murdered person with this slaughtered cow and Allah will raise him back to life so that he can tell you who murdered him.” So they struck him with part of it and then Allah have him life and he told them who his killer was. Like that Allah will give life to the dead on the Day of Resurrection, and He shows you – O Children of Israa’eel – His miracles that prove His absolute power so that you might reflect with your intellects and as a result refrain from disobeying Him.

ثُمَّ قَسَتْ قُلُوبُكُم مِّن بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ فَهِيَ كَالْحِجَارَةِ أَوْ أَشَدُّ قَسْوَةً ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنَ الْحِجَارَةِ لَمَا يَتَفَجَّرُ مِنْهُ الْأَنْهَارُ ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَشَّقَّقُ فَيَخْرُجُ مِنْهُ الْمَاءُ ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَهْبِطُ مِنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّـهِ ۗ وَمَا اللَّـهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ

Then their hearts became hardened after that, like rocks or even harder. For there are some rocks from which rivers burst forth, and there are some that break open and then water comes forth, and there are some that fall down out of fear of Allah. And Allah is not unaware of what you do. [2:74]

ولكنكم لم تنتفعوا بذلك؛ إذ بعد كل هذه المعجزات الخارقة اشتدت قلوبكم وغلظت، فلم يَنْفُذ إليها خير، ولم تَلِنْ أمام الآيات الباهرة التي أريتكموها، حتى صارت قلوبكم مثل الحجارة الصمَّاء، بل هي أشد منها غلظة؛ لأن من الحجارة ما يتسع وينفرج حتى تنصبَّ منه المياه صبًا، فتصير أنهارًا جاريةً، ومن الحجارة ما يتصدع فينشق، فتخرج منه العيون والينابيع، ومن الحجارة ما يسقط من أعالي الجبال مِن خشية الله تعالى وتعظيمه. وما الله بغافل عما تعملون. ـ

74. But despite all that, you did not benefit from it, for after each one of these amazing miracles your hearts became harder and rougher so that good could not penetrate them nor would they soften in the face of the clear miraculous signs which I showed to you. Thus it continued until your hearts became like solid rocks. In fact they became even rougher than that, for there are some rocks which expand and burst open until water comes flowing out of them and becomes a flowing river. And there are some rocks which crack and split and then springs and streams come forth. And there are some rocks which fall from the heights of mountains out of fear and exaltation of Allah. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.

[al-Taysir al-Muyassar pg 10-11]

See also: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar Translation Index

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