Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Verses 46 & 47
Chapter 2, Verses 46 and 47
who think that they will meet their Lord, and that to Him will they return. (Chapter 2: Verse 46)
In the previous session, we highlighted that help can be obtained through patience and prayer. These acts maybe difficult to do except for the person who humbles and devotes him or herself before God; a person who approaches God’s worship with love, faith and aspiration. This verse gives us the characteristics of the humble believers. They are those ‘who think that they will meet their Lord'.
Knowledge either comes from study and evidence, or from following someone you trust. For example, when you see an event with your own eyes, or when you do your own investigation, you gain knowledge. This knowledge is based on evidence, and it represents certainty. Similarly, you can learn something from your teacher, or from someone you trust. This is a lesser level of knowledge, because it is based on someone else's evidence.
On the other end of the scale, there is lack of knowledge, and there is ignorance. Lack of knowledge happens when you are simply not aware of something. Ignorance happens when you think that you know something, when you are certain that you are right, but in fact you are wrong. Ignorance is the most dangerous level of knowledge.
There are matters that fall between certainty and ignorance. These are matters of doubt, matters of possibilities and uncertainty. In this verse God is talking about those 'who think' not those who 'are certain’, or those 'who believe'…… Why? It is because the mere thought or possibility of meeting God should be enough to make a person humble him or herself before the Lord and adhere to His teachings.
Let's clarify this point with an example. Let’s say that you were travelling on a road, then a stranger comes up to you and tells you that this road is not safe………criminals and gangs often rob people here. This information will certainly make you avoid the road unless you were armed or have a large group traveling with you. Although you are not certain if the stranger's warning is accurate, you would still be cautious. The mere possibility that the stranger is right is enough for you to avoid this road. Likewise, the mere thought of meeting your Lord should be sufficient to make a you adhere to His guidance and protect yourself from the tremendous punishment.
The verse continues ' and that to Him will they return.' Returning to God is something we should all be preparing for. God says:
People, be mindful of your Lord, for the earthquake of the Last Hour will be a mighty thing: on the Day you see it, every nursing mother will think no more of her baby, every pregnant female will miscarry, you will think people are drunk when they are not, so severe will be God’s torment. (22:1-2)
and in another verse:
Then how will you, if you persist in unbelief, guard yourselves against a Day which will turn the children gray-headed? (73:17)
If this could be our condition on the Day of judgment, then shouldn't this knowledge be sufficient for us to follow God’s teachings? In our daily life, we take many precautions to insure ourselves and our property against worldly matters. You insure your car against accidents, and you fortify your house when the forecast calls for a possible hurricane. How can you ignore and leave yourself and your family unprotected against the horrors of the Day of Resurrection?
Now, we move to the next verse in 'The Cow'. God says:
O Children of Israel, remember My favor that I have bestowed upon you and that I preferred you over the worlds. (Chapter 2: Verse 47)
This verse is another reminder for the Children of Israel of the tremendous bounties God gave them. They were favored when God sent numerous Messengers from amongst them, and they were honored with the Torah and the Gospel. This, however, does not give them any excuse not to believe in the seal of the Prophets: Muhammad. In fact, The scriptures, and all the prophets sent to the Israelites should be more reason to obey God and follow His final message. Both the Torah and the Gospel gave good tiding of the coming of Muhammad and asked all to believe and support him. Their denial reflects disbelief in the scriptures, and rejection of the bounties God gave them across the centuries.
Why this constant reminder of God's favors, you may ask? It is because the Israelites took God's favors for granted, and often abused them. The children of Israel killed many of their Prophets; They repeatedly broke their covenant with God, and exchanged His guidance for worldly gain. Sadly, these actions were not done out of ignorance, but with careful planning. The end result earned them God’s punishment. He says:
You have surely known of those amongst you who transgressed the Sabbath. We said to them: 'Be apes, despised! ' (02:65)
and in another verse:
Say: "Shall I inform you who will receive the worst chastisement from God? They who were condemned by God, and on whom fell His wrath, and those who were turned to apes and swine, and those who worship the powers of evil. They are in the worse gradation, and farthest away from the right path." (05:60)
God may grant you many favors, and He may grant you even more chances to make up for your mistakes and return back to Him. However, you should always keep in mind that blessings do not continue with continued transgression and lack of appreciation. Those who enjoy the special bounties, also bare great responsibilities. Similarly, Allah granted the Children of Israel great favors, and even more chances to make up for their grave mistakes. One of the greatest bounties, and the greatest of opportunities God granted them to return back to Him was the coming of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It was the perfect chance to rectify their book and return to Allah with love. Sadly, rejection and opposition happened over and over again. Thus, when you read verses detailing the punishment of the children of Israel, and how they were dispersed in the land, you should not think that this was a cruel or unwarranted outcome. God says:
And after that We said to the Children of Israel: "Dwell now securely on earth. But when the time of the last decree comes, We will gather you as a mixed crowd (17:104)
When you read the above verse, the first thought that comes to mind is: of course they will dwell on earth, where else can they go? The key point to note is that God did not specify a place or a land on earth, rather, He decreed for them to be dispersed everywhere. They will have no homeland until God wills. He says:
We declared to the Children of Israel in the Scripture, ‘Twice you will spread corruption in the land and become highly arrogant.’ So when the time of the fulfilment of the first of the two warnings came, We sent against you some servants of ours, possessed of great might in war, and they ravaged your houses and it was a warning that was bound to be fulfilled. Then We gave back to you your independence from them, and We supplied you with wealth and children, and We made you more influential. ‘If you do good, you will do it for your own benefit, and if you do evil, it will be against yourselves‘. Later, when came the time appointed for the second warning, so that they spoil your faces, and so that they enter into the Mosque as the former ones entered it the first time, and utterly destroy whatever they prevail upon. (17:4-7)
These verses talk about two episodes that involve the Children of Israel, the Holy land and the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The first incident already happened during the rule of Omar ibn Al-Khattab, when the Muslim army entered Jerusalem. The Israelites have been dispersed everywhere since. Nowadays, as the verses informed, we see the mass migration of the Jewish people to the state of Israel. God gathered them as a mixed crowd with different languages and backgrounds. They have independence, wealth, children, foreign support and vast influence through the media. In case of military attack, they have access to foreign armies to aid them. Keep in mind that these verses also warned the Muslims about losing the Aqsa Mosque, and warned the Israelites that they will reap what they saw. If they are unjust, and transgress over other's rights, they will be only hurting themselves.
Perhaps more importantly, these verses also shed light on the future of the Aqsa Mosque. God says Later, when came the time appointed for the second warning, so that they spoil your faces, and so that they enter into the Mosque as the former ones entered it the first time, and utterly destroy whatever they prevail upon. (17:7)