Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Verses 129 & 130
Verses 129 & 130
Our Lord, and send among them a messenger from themselves who will recite to them Your verses and teach them the Book and wisdom and purify them. Indeed, You are the almighty, the Wise. (Chapter 2:Verse 129)
Abraham and Ishmael (peace be upon them) are supplicating God to extend His blessings unto their children and descendants, and shower them with the mercy of a messenger who will convey them the heavenly scripture. They wanted to insure that there never comes a time on earth where people are left without heavenly guidance. They feared that mankind could fall into disobedience, corruption, and idol worship as was prevalent at the time of Abraham.
They asked for 'a messenger from themselves' because prophet Abraham understood that people listen and respond better to someone like them; Someone they know and trust; Someone who has the same language, habits and social background as they do. ‘a messenger from themselves' is also God's response to the Israelites who grieved over the fact that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent from amongst the Arabs. They believed that a prophet should only rise from amongst them. Both the Arabs and the Israelites share one grandfather: Abraham (peace be upon him). The Israelites are the descendants of his grandson Jacob son of Isaac, while the Arabs are from the children of Ishmael (peace be upon them all).
The supplication continues with 'who will recite to them Your verses and teach them the Book and wisdom and purify them.' Here we must understand the difference between reciting and teaching the scriptures. Recitation is when you read the Quran, and teaching is when you understand its meaning and rulings. Teaching and understanding are what allows you to apply God's book and properly practice your faith. Another distinction you should know is the distinction between 'the book’ and ‘wisdom' God says addressing prophet Muhammad's wives:
Remember what is recited in your houses of God’s revelations and wisdom, for God is all subtle, all aware (33:34)
From the above verse, we understand that the noble Quran is the book, and the narrations of our beloved Prophet -also known as Hadith- are the wisdom.
The supplication ends with: 'and purify them. Indeed, You are the almighty, the Wise.' To purify is to cleanse from sin and to direct towards the straight path. Our Lord is 'the Almighty' who is never defeated or overcome. He is the One that cannot be questioned about His actions or decisions. He is ‘The Wise’ who puts everything in its appropriate place for the right purpose at the right time.
Now, Let's move to the next verse in 'The Cow'. God says:
And who turns away from Abraham's religion except who made himself a fool? We have chosen him in this world and he will rank among the righteous in the Hereafter.
(Chapter 2:Verse 130)
What is the religion of Abraham, you may ask? It is the worship of God alone without ascribing any partners to Him. It is having great love for God's commandments and fulfilling what God asks of you and then more. Abraham (peace be upon him) embraced God’s tests with obedience and patience. Even when Allah commanded him to slaughter his only son, he did not hesitate. He performed God’s commands out of love and strived to put his descendants on the correct path.
‘And who turns away from' means those who reject and shun. You turn towards something when you want and love it; and you turn away from something when you want to be as far from it as possible. God says: ' And who turns away from Abraham's religion except who made himself a fool?' Allah described those who shun Abraham's faith as making fools out of themselves. This is because they deny themselves even the basic intelligence to differentiate between the beneficial and the harmful. A foolish person is the one who is not sound in judgment; it is translated from the Arabic 'safeeh.' Such a person usually requires a guardian to manage his or her affairs. Let's look at an example from the Quran. God says:
Do not entrust your property to the foolish. God has made it a means of support for you: make provision for them from it, clothe them, and address them kindly. (04:05)
This verse addresses the situation where a minor, or a person of unsound mind inherits wealth. God attributed the wealth of the foolish person to the guardians. He did not regard it as the wealth of the foolish because he or she is not capable of managing it responsibly. Thus, God placed the wealth under the custodianship of another person who is wise and sound in judgement. The guardian or the trustee takes care of the property as if it belongs to him or her until the owner reaches the age of maturity or is no longer weak-minded or foolish.
Nowadays, we see many children and teens filing claims against their parents accusing them of wasting their wealth. Then they take the wealth and waste themselves. Allah guards the wealth of the community. A child, or someone who cannot manage wealth, should have their money transferred to his or her guardian. If the guardian is poor, then he or she is permitted to take from the wealth an amount reasonable to meet the basic needs of life. But if the guardian is rich, then he or she should not take anything from the wealth, rather the money should be guarded and invested until its rightful owner reaches the age of reason. God says:
Test orphans until they reach marriageable age; then, if you find they have sound judgement, hand over their property to them. Do not consume it hastily before they come of age: if the guardian is well off he should abstain from the orphan’s property, and if he is poor he should use only what is fair. When you give them their property, call witnesses in; but God takes full account of everything you do. (04:06)
This brings us back to the verse. A person who turns away from the religion of Abraham is a fool acting like a child who cannot differentiate between the beneficial and the harmful in the long term.
God says at the end of the verse: ‘We have chosen him in this world and he will rank among the righteous in the Hereafter.’ Allah appointed Abraham as the custodian of His scripture on earth. Moreover, after Abraham perfected the Lord's tests and trials, God made him the leader of humanity. Take note that Allah separated the status of Abraham in this world from his status in the hereafter. This is because many people look at the rich, or the powerful in this world as a sign of being favoured by God. Allah wants you to know that being granted the luxuries of the worldly life has nothing to do with the hereafter. Thus God says: ‘We have chosen him in this world' and then He added: 'and he will rank among the righteous in the Hereafter.’ This is so you would understand that by being God conscious, prophet Abraham was favoured in this life and the next.