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Surah Al Baqra Verses 241-250

241 For divorced women maintenance (should be provided) on a reasonable (scale). This is a duty on the righteous.

242 Thus doth Allah make clear His Signs to you: in order that ye may understand.

243 Didst thou not turn thy vision to those who abandoned their homes though they were thousands (in number) for fear of death? Allah said to them: "Die." Then He restored them to life. For Allah is full of bounty to mankind but most of them are ungrateful. 274

244 Then fight in the cause of Allah and know that Allah heareth and knoweth all things. 275

245 Who is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan which Allah will double unto his credit and multiply many times? It is Allah that giveth (you) want or plenty and to Him shall be your return. 276

246 Hast thou not turned thy vision to the chiefs of the children of Israel after (the time of) Moses? They said to a Prophet (that was) among them: "Appoint for us a king that we may fight in the cause of Allah." He said: "Is it not possible if ye were commanded to fight that ye will not fight?" They said: "How could we refuse to fight in the cause of Allah seeing that we were turned out of our homes and our families?" But when they were commanded to fight they turned back except a small band among them. But Allah has full knowledge of those who do wrong. 277 278 279

247 Their Prophet said to them: "Allah hath appointed Talut as king over you." They say: "How can he exercise authority over us when we are better fitted than he to exercise authority and he is not even gifted with wealth in abundance?" He said: "Allah hath chosen him above you and hath gifted him abundantly with knowledge and bodily prowess; Allah granteth His authority to whom He pleaseth. Allah careth for all and He knoweth all things." 280

248 And (further) their Prophet said to them: "A sign of his authority is that there shall come to you the Ark of the Covenant with (an assurance) therein of security from your Lord and the relics left by the family of Moses and the family of Aaron carried by angels. In this is a Symbol for you if ye indeed have faith." 281 282 283

249 When Talut set forth with the armies he said: "Allah will test you at the stream; if any drinks of its water he goes not with my army; only those who taste not of it go with me; a mere sip out of the hand is excused." But they all drank of it except a few. When they crossed the river he and the faithful ones with him they said: "This day we cannot cope with Goliath and his forces." But those who were convinced that they must meet Allah said: "How oft by Allah's will hath a small force vanquished a big one? Allah is with those who steadfastly persevere." 284 285

250 When they advanced to meet Goliath and his forces they prayed: "Our Lord! pour out constancy on us and make our steps firm; help us against those that reject faith."


Commentry:

274 We now return to the subject of Jihad, which we left at n. 214-216. We are to be under no illusion about it. If we are not prepared to fight for our faith, with our lives and all our resources, both our lives and our resources will be wiped out by our enemies. As to life, God gave it, and a coward is not likely to save it. It has happened again and again in history that men who tamely submitted to be driven from their homes although they were more numerous than their enemies had the sentence of death pronounced on them for their cowardice, and they deserved it. But God gives further and further chances in His mercy. This is a lesson to every generation. The Commentators differ as to the exact episode referred to, but the wording is perfectly general, and so is the lesson to be learnt from it. (2.243)

275 For God's cause we must fight, but never to satisfy our own selfish passions or greed, for the warning is repeated: "God heareth and knoweth all things" all deeds, words and motives are perfectly open before Him, however we might conceal them from men or even from ourselves. See ii. 216, n. 236. (2.244)

276 Spending in the cause of God is called metaphorically "a beautiful loan". It is excellent in many ways: (1) it shows a beautiful spirit of self-denial; (2) in other loans there may be a doubt as to the safety of your capital or any return thereon; here you give in the Lord of All, in Whose hands are the keys of want or plenty; giving you may have manifold blessings, and withholding you may even lose what you have. If we remember that our goal is God, can we turn away from His cause? (2.245)

277 The next generation after Moses and Aaron was ruled by Joshua, who crossed the Jordan and settled the tribes in Palestine. His rule lasted for 25 years, after which there was a period of 320 years when the Israelites had a chequered history. They were not united among themselves, and suffered many reverses at the hands of the Midianites, Amalekites and other tribes of Palestine. They frequently lapsed into idolatry and deserted the worship of the true God. From time to time a leader appeared among them who assumed dictatorial powers. Acting under a sort of theocratic commission from God, he pointed out their backsliding, re-united them under His banner, and restored, from time to time and place to place, the power of Israel. These dictators are called Judges in the English translation of the Old Testament. The last of their line was Samuel, who marks the transition towards the line of Kings on the one hand and of the later Prophets on the other. He may be dated approximately about the 11th century B.C. (2.246)

278 This was Samuel. In his time Israel had suffered from much corruption within and many reverses without. The Philistines had made a great attack and defeated Israel with great slaughter. The Israelites, instead of relying on Faith and their own valour and cohesion, brought out their most sacred possession, the Ark of the Covenant, to help them in the fight. But the enemy captured it, carried it away, and retained it for seven months. The Israelites forgot that wickedness cannot screen itself behind a sacred relic. Nor can a sacred relic help the enemies of faith. The enemy found that the Ark brought nothing but misfortune for themselves, and were glad to abondon it. It apparently remained twenty years in the village (qarya) of Yaarim (Kirjath-jeafim): I. Samuel, vii. 2. Meanwhile the people pressed Samuel to appoint them a king. They thought that a king would cure all their ills, whereas what was wanting was a spirit of union and discipline and a readiness on their part to fight in the cause of God. (2.246)

279 Samuel knew as a Prophet that the people were fickle and only wanted to cover their own want of union and true spirit by asking for a king. They replied with spirit in words, but when it came to action, they failed. They hid themselves in caves and rocks, or ran away, and even those who remained "followed him trembling": I. Samuel, xiii 6-7. (2.246)

280 Talut is the Arabic name for Saul, who was tall and handsome, but belonged to the tribe of Bejamin, the smallest tribe in Israel. His worldly belongings were slender, and it was when he went out to search for some asses which had been lost from his father's house that he met Samuel and was anointed king by him. The people's fickleness appeared immediately he was named. They raised all sorts of petty objections to him. The chief consideration in their minds was selfishness: each one wanted to be leader and king himself, instead of desiring sincerely the good of the people as a whole, as a leader should do. (2.247)

281 Ark of the Covenant: Tabut: a chest of acacia wood covered and lined with pure gold, about 6ft x 3ft x 3ft. See Exod xxv. 10-22. It was to contain the "testimony of God", or the Ten Commandments engraved on stone, with relics of Moses and Aaron. Its Gold lid was to be the "Mercy Seat" with two cherubims of beaten gold, with wings oustretched. This was a sacred possession to Israel. It was lost to the enemy in the early part of Samuel's ministry; see n. 278 to ii. 246; when it came back, it remained in a village for twenty years and was apparently taken to the capital when kingship was instituted. It thus became a symbol of unity and authority. (2.248)

282 Security: sakina-safety, tranquility, peace. Later Jewish writings use the same word for a symbol of God's Glory in the Tabernacle or tent in which the Ark was kept, or in the Temple when it was built by Solomon. (2.248)

283 Carried by angels: these words refer to the Tabut or Ark, the cherubims with outstretched wings on the lid may well be supposed to carry the security or peace which the Ark symbolised. (2.248)

284 A Commander is hampered by a large force if it is not in perfect discipline and does not whole-heartedly believe in its Commander. He must get rid of all the doubtful ones, as did Gideon before Saul, and Henry V. in Shakespeare's story long afterwards. Saul used the same test as Gideon; he gave a certain order when crossing a stream; the greater part disobeyed, and were sent back. Gideon's story will be found in Judges, vii. 2-7. (2.249)

285 Even in the small band that remained faithful, there were some who were appalled by the number of the enemy when they met him face to face, and saw the size and strength of the enemy Commander, the giant Goliath (Jalut). But there was a very small band who were determined to face all odds because they had perfect confidence in God and in the cause for which they were fighting. They were for making a firm stand and seeking God's help. Of that number was David; see next note. (2.249)

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