Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Verses 140 & 141
Verses 140 & 141
Or are you saying that Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes were Jews or Christians?’ ask them, ‘Who knows better: you or God? And who is more unjust than one who conceals a testimony he has from God? And God is never unaware of what you do. (Chapter 2: Verse 140)
The people of the book claimed that the Prophets who preceded Moses and Jesus belonged to their faith. The Jews claimed that they were Jewish, while the Christians asserted that they were Christians. God answers: ‘‘Who knows better: you or God?’ This question has only one answer: God knows best. And this is the case for every question asked in the noble Quran: The answer is always according to what God intends.
Take note that Allah mentioned Ishmael –who belongs to the nation of the Arabs- along with Isaac and Jacob –who belong to the nation of the Israelites- in the same verse. This teaches us the unity of faith and the oneness of the messages from God. The creed from our Lord is one regardless of where and to whom it was sent. All heavenly messages are one: The worship of the one God without associating any partners with Him; each person is responsible for his or her actions and beliefs in God’s messengers and scriptures. God Almighty says:
Or were you there to see when death came upon Jacob? When he said to his sons, ‘What will you worship after I am gone?’ they replied, ‘We shall worship your God and the God of your fathers, Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac, one single God: we devote ourselves to Him.’ (02:133)
The message that was sent to Ishmael, the message that was sent to Isaac, and all the heavenly messages that were sent to all the prophets came from one source: Allah. Hence, if God is one, then the message of faith must be one too. And if you find deviations from the core message of monotheism, then rest assured that these deviations are a product of humans who altered the scripture to achieve their interest and fulfil their desires. This brings us to the next verse in The Cow’. God says:
That was a nation which has passed. Theirs is what they earned, and yours is what you earn. You will not be called to account for what they used to do. (Chapter 2: Verse 141)
As you listen to this verse, you quickly realize that it is identical to a previous verse we discussed earlier in the chapter. God says:
Or were you witnesses when the death came to Jacob, when he said to his children :"What will you worship after me?" They said: "We will worship your God, and the God of your fathers, Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac, the One God, and to Him do we submit." That was a nation which has passed. Theirs is what they earned, and yours is what you earn. You will not be called to account for what they used to do. (02:133-134)
Some people argue that this is repetition. We answer that although these two verses are identical; each verse carries a clear distinct meaning, and addresses a separate issue. The first verse informs the Jews that their lineage to Abraham and Isaac will not benefit them on the Day of Judgment. Those who altered the Torah, and lived against God’s commands will face the consequences of their actions regardless of their lineage. Any person’s family tree that reaches Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac will not be a mean for intercession or benefit on the day of resurrection.
In the verse under discussion, God addresses those who claim that Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac were all Jews or Christians. Allah answers that even if we assume that Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac were Jews or Christians –which is not true-, this would not be an excuse for anyone, because each person is responsible for his or her own actions. Your argument that you belong to the same faith as Abraham, will not benefit you in any way on the day of resurrection.
There will be those who come on the Day of Judgment and claim that they did not follow God’s message of Islam because Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac were Jews or Christians. There will also be those who say that because they are related to Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, then God should forgive their sins. To both these groups Allah answers:
That was a nation which has passed. Theirs is what they earned, and yours is what you earn. You will not be called to account for what they used to do.
The words of the Quran are primarily divided by chapter (sura) and verse (aya). The chapters vary in length, and are generally arranged from longest to shortest. To ease the reading process, the Quran is additionally divided into 30 equal sections, each called a juz. These divisions are done to make it easier to pace the reading of the entire Quran over a month’s period: reading a fairly equal amount of one Juz each day. This is particularly important during the month of Ramadan, when it is recommended to complete one full reading of the Quran from cover to cover.
Verse 141 of ‘The Cow’ marks the end of the first Juz of the Nobel Quran. For all of you who have been with Quran Garden from the beginning we want to say: Thank you. God willing we will continue our journey through the Quran together.