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Surah Al Baqra Verses 151-160

151 A similar (favor have ye already received) in that We have sent among you an Apostle of your own rehearsing to you Our signs and sanctifying you and instructing you in Scripture and wisdom and in new Knowledge. 155

152 Then do ye remember Me; I will remember you. Be grateful to Me and reject not faith. 156

153 O ye who believe! seek help with patient perseverance and prayer: for Allah is with those who patiently persevere. 157

154 And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: "They are dead." Nay they are living though ye perceive (it) not. 158

155 Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil) but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. 159

156 Who say when afflicted with calamity: "To Allah we belong and to Him is our return."

157 They are those on whom (descend) blessings from Allah and Mercy and they are the ones that receive guidance.

158 Behold! Safa and Marwa are among the Symbols of Allah. So if those who visit the house in the season or at other times should compass them round it is no sin in them. And if anyone obeyeth his own impulse to good be sure that Allah is He Who recogniseth and knoweth. 160 161 162

159 Those who conceal the clear (Signs) We have sent down and the guidance after We have made it clear for the people in the book on them shall be Allah's curse and the curse of those entitled to curse. 163

160 Except those who repent and make amends and openly declare (the truth) to them I turn; for I am Oft-Returning Most Merciful.


Commentry:

155 This verse should be read with ii. 150., of which the sentence is here completed. The argument is that in the grant of the Ka'ba Qibla, God was perfecting religion and fulfilling the prayer for the future made by Abraham. That prayer was threefold: (1) That Mecca should be made a sacred Sanctuary (ii. 126); (2) that a truly believing (Muslim) nation should be raised, with places of devotion there (ii 128); and (3) that an Apostle should be sent among the Arabs with certain qualities (ii. 129), which are set out there and again repeated here to complete the argument. (2.151)

156 The word "remember" is too pale a word for zikr, which has now acquired a large number of associations in our religious literature, especially Sufi literature. In its verbal signification it implies: to remember; to praise by frequently mentioning; to rehearse; to celebrate or commemorate; to make much of; to cherish the memory of as a precious possession. In Sufi devotions zikr represents both a solemn ritual and a spiritual state of mind or heart, in which the devotee seeks to realise the presence of God. Thus there is zikr of the mind and zikr of the heart. For beginners the one may lead to the other, but in many cases the two may be simultaneous. There is a subtler distinction, between the zikr that is open, and the zikr that is secret, corresponding to the two doors of the heart, the fleshly and the spiritual. In English some account (very imperfect) of zikr will be found in Hughe's Dictionary of Islam, covering over 14 columns. (2.152)

157 See ii. 45 and n. An additional meaning implied in sabr is self-restraint. Haqqani defines it in his Tafsir as following Reason and restraining Fear, Anger, and Desire. What can be a higher reward for patience, perseverance, self-restraint and constancy than that God should be with us? For this promise opens the door to every kind of spiritual well-being. (2.153)

158 The "patient perseverance and prayer" mentioned in the last verse is not mere passivity. It is active striving in the way of Truth, which is the way of God. Such striving is the spending of one's self in God's way, either through our property or through our own lives, or the lives of those nearest and dearest to us, or it may be the loss of all the fruits of a lifetime's labour not only in material goods but in some intellectual or moral gain, some position which seemed in our eyes to be eminently desirable in itself, but which we must cheerfully sacrifice if necessary for the Cause. With such sacrifice, our apparent loss may be our real gain: he that loses his life may really gain it; and the rewards or "fruits" that seem lost were mere impediments on our path to real inward progress. (2.154)

159 The glad tidings are the blessings of God in ii. 157 or (which is the same thing) the promise in ii. 153 that God will be with them. (2.155)

160 The virtue of patient perseverance in faith leads to the mention of two symbolic monuments of that virtue. These are the two little hills of Safa and Marwa now absorbed in the city of Mecca, and close to the well of Zam-zam. Here, according to tradition, the lady Hajar, mother of the infant Ismail, prayed for water in the parched desert, and in her eager quest round these hills, she found her prayer answered and saw the Zam-zam spring. Unfortunately the Pagan Arabs had placed a male and a female idol here, and their gross and superstitious rites caused offence to the early Muslims. They felt some hesitation in going round these places during the Pilgrimage. As a matter of fact they should have known that the Ka'ba (the House of God) had been itself defiled with idols, and was sanctified again by the purity of Muhammad's life and teaching. The lesson is that the most sacred things may be turned to the basest uses; that we are not therefore necessarily to ban a thing misused; that if our intentions and life are pure, God will recognise them even if the world cast stones at us because of some evil associations which they join with what we do, or with the people we associate with, or with the places which claim our reverence. (2.158)

161 The House - the Sacred Mosque, the Ka'ba. The Season of regular Hajj culminates in the visit to Arafat on the ninth day of the month of Zul-hajj, followed by the circumambulation of the Ka'ba. A visit to the Sacred Mosque and the performance of the rites of pilgrimage at any other time is called an Umra. The symbolic rites are the same in either case, except that the Arafat rites are omitted in the Umra. The Safa and Marwa are included among the Monuments, as pointing to one of the highest of Muslim virtues. (2.158)

162 The impulse should be to Good; if once we are sure of this, we must obey it without hesitation, whatever people may say. (2.158)

163 Those entitled to curse: i.e., angels and mankind (see ii. 161 below): the cursed ones will deprive themselves of the protection of God and of the angels, who are the Powers of God, and of the good wishes of mankind, because by contumaciously rejecting Faith, they not only sin against God but are false to their own manhood, which God created in the "best of moulds" (Q xcv. 4). The terrible curses denounced in the Old Testament are set out in Deut. xxviii. 15-68. There is one difference. Here it is for the deliberate rejection of Faith, a theological term for the denying of our higher nature. There it is for a breach of the lease part of the ceremonial Law. (2.159)

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