Surah ‎Al-Baqarah: A Complete Guide of Spiritual Life

Surah ‎Al-Baqarah: A Complete Guide of Spiritual Life

Assalamu Alaikum dear readers,

As a humble servant of Allah, I find solace and guidance in the timeless teachings of the Quran. In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters – our connection with our Creator and our journey towards self-improvement.

Reflecting on Surah Al-Baqara, I am reminded of the profound wisdom it offers and the transformative power it holds for those who heed its message. From the Prophet Muhammad’s (S) affirmation of its superiority to the virtues associated with its recitation, this Surah encompasses a wealth of guidance for every aspect of our lives.

But merely reciting its verses is not enough. As humble believers, we must strive to implement these teachings in our everyday actions, embodying the values of compassion, justice, and humility that the Quran extols.

One of the most striking teachings of Surah Al-Baqara is the emphasis on monotheism and the rejection of arrogance. By embracing humility, we open our hearts to Allah’s mercy and blessings, recognizing our own limitations and seeking His guidance in all that we do.

Furthermore, the Surah reminds us of the importance of self-reflection and introspection. Through the practice of sincere contemplation, we can uncover hidden truths within ourselves and strive towards personal growth and spiritual development.

Implementing the teachings of Surah Al-Baqara in our lives is not always easy. It requires patience, perseverance, and a sincere commitment to living according to the principles of Islam. Yet, the rewards are immeasurable. By aligning our actions with the teachings of the Quran, we not only improve ourselves but also draw closer to Allah and His divine grace.

As humble Muslims, let us strive to embody the values of Surah Al-Baqara in our daily lives. Let us approach each day with humility, seeking Allah’s guidance in all that we do, and striving to make a positive difference in the world around us.

May Allah’s blessings be upon us as we embark on this journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth. (Syeda Naqvi)

The Cow
Arabic textEnglish translation
PositionJuzʼ 1–3
No. of Rukus40
No. of verses286
No. of words6121
No. of letters25613
Opening muqaṭṭaʻātAlif Lam Meem


Al-Baqara, meaning “The Heifer” or “The Cow” in Arabic, is the second and longest chapter (surah) of the Quran, consisting of 286 verses. It covers a diverse range of topics and includes various commands for Muslims, such as fasting during Ramadan and prohibiting usury.

The chapter addresses themes of guidance, encouraging pagans and Jews in Medina to embrace Islam while warning them and hypocrites about the consequences of disregarding God’s call. Al-Baqara also recounts stories of figures like Adam, Abraham, and Moses, and provides extensive legal guidance. Muslims believe it was revealed gradually in Medina starting in 622, with some verses, particularly those about usury, revealed during Hazrat Muhammad’s(S) last Hajj around 632.

The Virtue of Studying Surah Al-Baqara:

In Islamic literature, there are significant traditions and narrations emphasizing the virtue of studying Surah Al-Baqara. Here are some of them:

  • The Prophet Muhammad (S) was asked which Surah of the Quran is the best, and he replied, “‘Al-Baqarah’.” When asked about the best verse in this Surah, he mentioned, “‘Ayat-ul-Kursi,’ the Verse of the Throne.” This preference is attributed to the Surah’s comprehensive nature and the special monotheistic content of Ayat-ul-Kursi.
  • Ali ibn al-Husayn (as) narrated that the Prophet (S) said, “He who recites the first four verses of Surah Al-Baqarah, along with Ayat-ul-Kursi and the last three verses of the Surah, will not face any trouble in himself, his family, or his wealth. Satan will not approach him, and he will not forget the Quran.”
  • ‘Ubayy ibne Ka’b quoted the Prophet (S) saying, “He who recites Surah Al-Baqarah will be encompassed by the bounties of Allah and His Mercy, and Allah will reward him as much as that of a person who has fought fearlessly on the path of Allah for one year.”
  • Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (as) stated, “He who recites Al-Baqarah and ‘Al-i-Imran, these two Surahs will come above his head on the Day of Judgment like two clouds similar to two umbrellas, protecting him from the heat of That Day.”

These traditions emphasize the importance of studying Surah Al-Baqara and understanding its teachings deeply. Recitation of the Quran is not merely for the sake of reciting, but for understanding, contemplation, and ultimately, action based on its teachings.

Each virtue mentioned corresponds with the contents of the Surah, which revolve around monotheism, belief in the unseen, knowing Allah, and resisting evil temptations. Therefore, by studying and following the instructions of Surah Al-Baqara, one can attain these virtues. While the recitation of the Quran deserves rewards, its true impact on behavior comes from contemplation and action based on its teachings.

Content of Surah:

This Surah, Al-Baqara (The Cow), is the longest chapter in the Quran, consisting of 286 verses. It was revealed gradually in Medina, addressing various aspects of Islamic faith and practical issues relevant to society. Here are some key themes covered in this Surah:

  1. Monotheism and Understanding Allah: The Surah discusses the importance of recognizing Allah through studying the wonders of creation.
  2. Resurrection and Life After Death: It presents beliefs about the Hereafter, illustrated with stories like Abraham’s revival of birds and the narrative of Ezra.
  3. Inimitability of the Quran: The Surah emphasizes the unique nature and significance of the Quran as a divine revelation.
  4. Dealing with Jews and Hypocrites: It addresses challenges posed by Jewish opposition and hypocrisy towards Islam.
  5. Narratives of Prophets: Stories of significant prophets like Abraham and Moses are recounted.
  6. Islamic Rules and Guidance: The Surah provides detailed guidance on various topics including prayer, fasting, holy war, pilgrimage, marriage, divorce, trade, debts, and laws against usury.

The Surah derives its name from the story of the Israelites’ cow mentioned within it (verses 67-73), which will be discussed later in the chapter. Al-Baqara encompasses various religious, social, and legal teachings essential to Islamic doctrine.

Therefore, while recitation of the Quran merits rewards from Allah, its true impact on behavior occurs when this recitation leads to contemplation and action aligned with its teachings.

Here is a summary of the contents of Surah Al-Baqara with a different wording:

1-20: The reproof of unbelievers and hypocrites.

21-38: Encouragement to worship the true God.

39-101: Urging Jews and Christians to accept Muhammad’s prophethood.

102-112: Combating the opposition of Jews and Christians to Muhammad’s prophecy.

113-114: Introduction of the doctrine of abrogation.

115: Allah declares a new Qibla (direction of prayer).

116-141: Denunciation of the Jews and affirmation of Abraham’s true religion as Islam.

142-153: The Jews are rejected and the adoption of Mecca as the Qibla is accepted.

154-163: Consolation for the bereaved of the Battle of Badr.

164-172: Exhortation to the people of Mecca to have faith in God and observe dietary laws. 173-176: Laws on permissible and impermissible food (delivered in Medina).

177: The summary of Muslim duties.

178-179: Laws on retaliation.

180-182: Laws concerning wills and bequests.

183-185: Laws concerning fasting.

186-187: Details about fasting during Ramadan.

188-202: Instructions on Hajj (pilgrimage) and Jihad (struggle for faith).

203-206: Contrast between hypocrites and true believers.

207-208: Encouragement to embrace Islam wholeheartedly. 209: Pronouncement of the fate of disbelievers.

210-212: Reproachment of the Jews.

213: Endurance of suffering is advised.

214-242: Various laws on almsgiving, warfare, wine, orphans, etc.

243-254: Emphasis on the duty to defend religion through war, illustrated with historical examples.

255: The Throne Verse (Ayat-ul-Kursi). 256-257: Emphasizes that there is no compulsion in religion.

258-260: The doctrine of resurrection is illustrated through stories like Nimrod and Abraham. 261-274: Encouragement and exhortation towards charity.

275-277: Prohibition of usury (interest on loans).

278-283: Laws related to debts, including the longest verse in the Quran.

284-286: Final verses emphasizing the rewards of Paradise.

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful

“Verily the Qur’an doth guide to that which is most right (or stable) (to run societies), and giveth the glad tidings to the Believers who work deeds of righteousness, that they shall have a magnificent reward”1.

“We have sent down to thee the book explaining all things, a Guide, a Mercy, and Glad tidings to Muslims”2.

“When those come to thee who believe in Our Signs, say: ‘Peace be on you: Your Lord hath inscribed for Himself (the rule on Mercy; verily, if any of you did evil in ignorance, and thereafter repented, and amended (his conduct), Lo! He is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful”3.

What is a ‘Commentary’?

A commentary is an explanation or analysis of a text, often providing insights into its meanings and interpretations. In the case of the Quran, a commentary helps readers understand the text’s apparent and hidden meanings, considering the context of its revelation and the language used.

While a correct translation of the Quran is essential, understanding its deeper significance may require additional information. This could include the occasion of revelation for specific verses, linguistic changes over time, and insights from Islamic scholars and traditions.

The commentary provides details on the background of verses, clarifies their meanings, and offers interpretations that are relevant for all times. It helps readers grasp the timeless wisdom of the Quran and its application to various aspects of life.

The Current Commentary:

In the current commentary project mentioned, scholars are working to provide a comprehensive explanation of the Quran in English. They aim to offer clarity and insight into the text, starting with a sample section and eventually covering the entire Quran. Attributes needed for this task include proficiency in English and Arabic, knowledge of Islamic sciences and culture, and an understanding of various fields of knowledge relevant to the Quran’s teachings. Additionally, the commentary employs a phonetic system to represent Arabic words in English text, ensuring accessibility for readers unfamiliar with Arabic script.

Internal Links:

  • 1.Nur-uth- Thaqalayn, vol. 1, p. 26; & Majma’-ul-Bayan, vol. 1, p. 32
  • 2.Thawab-ul-A’mal (according to the citation of Nur-uth-Thaqalayn vol. 1, p. 36).
  • 3.Minhaj-us-Sadiqin, vol. 1, p. 120; & Majma’-ul-Bayan, vol. 1, p. 32
  • 4.Al-Burhan Fi Tafsir-il-Qur’an, vol. I, p. 52