The Lessons from Adam & Israelites on Divine Covenants: Albaqra

The Lessons from Adam & Israelites on Divine Covenants: Albaqra

Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 40

يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اذْكُرُواْ نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَوْفُواْ بِعَهْدِي أُوفِ بِعَهْدِكُمْ وَإِيَّايَ فَارْهَبُونِ

40. “O’ Children of Israel, remember My blessing wherewith I blessed you, and fulfill My covenant and I shall fulfill your covenant, and have awe of none but Me.”

The Remembrance of Allah’s Favours

In earlier verses, we learned about Adam’s appointment as Allah’s vicegerent on Earth, the respect shown to him by the angels, Iblis’s prideful reaction and breach of his covenant with Allah, and the subsequent removal of Adam from the Garden, followed by his repentance.

These events highlight a fundamental principle: the world consists of two opposing forces—right and wrong, or just and unjust—that are perpetually in conflict. Those who succumb to Satan’s temptations and choose the wrong path move further away from happiness and salvation, finding themselves in suffering and regret. Conversely, those who resist such temptations and follow Allah’s path experience a life free from spiritual pain and sorrow.

The story of Adam mirrors that of the Israelites. After being rescued from Pharaoh and given the vicegerency on Earth, they neglected their solemn covenant with Allah, leading to their suffering and misery. Their fate not only parallels Adam’s but also serves as a detailed example of a general principle. Thus, Allah, in the verses following this one, refers to various aspects of the Israelites’ history to complete the moral lesson begun with Adam’s story.

Allah addresses the Israelites, saying:

“O Children of Israel, remember My blessings upon you, fulfill My covenant, and I will fulfill yours, and fear none but Me.”

These three instructions—remembering Allah’s blessings, being loyal to His covenant, and fearing only Him—form the foundation of all divine guidance. Remembering Allah’s blessings fosters knowledge and gratitude towards Him. Realizing that these blessings come with a covenant makes one aware of their responsibilities. Not fearing anyone else allows a person to fulfill their duties without hindrance, overcoming obstacles with faith and dedication, which was particularly challenging for the Israelites under the oppressive rule of Pharaoh.

Jews in Medina

Historians note that Surah Al-Baqarah, the first Surah revealed in Medina, focuses significantly on the Jews, who were the dominant ‘People of the Book’ there. Before the Prophet Muhammad’s arrival, Jews in Medina, anticipating a prophet as foretold in their scriptures, were economically prosperous and socially influential. However, many opposed Islam upon its advent because it threatened their unlawful interests and societal plans. This opposition has continued through the centuries.

The revelation of these verses, condemning their actions, aimed to awaken those Jews with a sense of justice and truth, leading some to embrace Islam. Additionally, these verses served as a comprehensive lesson for all Muslims.

Future verses will discuss significant events in the Israelites’ history, such as their escape from Pharaoh, the parting of the sea, Moses’ experience on Mount Sinai, the worship of the golden calf, and Allah’s special bounties upon them, each offering valuable lessons.

The Jews’ Twelve Covenants with Allah

The covenant mentioned in the verse encompasses worshipping Allah alone, treating parents, kin, orphans, and the needy with kindness, behaving justly, maintaining prayer, paying alms, avoiding grievous wrongs, and not shedding blood or expelling one another. These obligations are detailed in Surah Al-Baqarah (2:83-84):

“And (remember) when We made a covenant with the Children of Israel (saying): ‘You shall worship none but Allah; and (do) good to parents, relatives, orphans, and the needy; and speak kindly to people, keep up prayer, and give alms.’ Then you turned away, except a few of you, and you are backsliders even now.”

“And (remember) when We made a covenant with you: ‘You shall not shed your blood, nor expel one another from your homes.’ Then you confirmed it while you bore witness.”

These verses highlight ten covenants. Adding the two from Surah Al-Maidah (5:12), which command belief in and support for the prophets, we see the extensive promises the Israelites made to Allah. Allah promised them entry into the Gardens of Heaven if they kept these promises:

“Allah did a foretime take a Covenant from the Children of Israel… and Allah said: ‘I am with you: if ye (but) establish regular prayers, practice regular charity, believe in My apostles, honor and assist them… And admit you to Gardens with rivers flowing beneath…’”

Despite their long anticipation based on their scriptures, the Israelites broke their promises and vehemently opposed Islam, a stance that continues today. Their actions led to their vagrancy, a state that will persist until their eventual downfall. Temporary support from various sources does not guarantee their ultimate victory.

Allah’s Fulfillment of His Covenant

Allah’s blessings always come with responsibilities. Imam al-Sadiq (as) states that Allah’s fulfillment of His covenant refers to admitting the faithful into Heaven. Acceptance of the divine leadership, including that of Hazrat Ali (as), is part of this covenant, emphasizing the continuity of leadership from Moses to Muhammad and then to Ali.

The command to fear only Allah reinforces the need to fulfill divine duties without fear of others, a crucial reminder for the Israelites who lived under constant threat from oppressive rulers.

Why are Jews Called the Children of Israel?

‘Israel’ was a title for Jacob, the father of Joseph. Renowned commentators Tabarsi and Shaykh al-Ta’ifah explain that ‘Israel’ means ‘servant of Allah’ in Hebrew, derived from ‘Isr’ (servant) and ‘il’ (Allah).


  1.  Salwa M. S. El-Awa, Introduction to Textual Relations in Qur’an, pg. 1. Part of the Routledge Studies in the Qur’an series. LondonRoutledge, 2005. ISBN 9781134227471
  2.  Quran 2:1
  3.  Sale, George (1891). The Koran: Commonly Called the Alkoran of Mohammed ... New York: John B. Alden.
  4.  Michael Binyon, Fighting is ‘allowed’ during the holy month of fasting The Times, 18 December 1998
  5.  Jump up to:a b Sadr-‘ameli Sayyid Abbas. “Surah Al-Baqarah, Chapter 2, Introduction”. Al-islam. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  6.  Mahmoud Ayoub, The Qurʾan and its interpreters, pg. 55. AlbanyState University of New York Press, 1984. ISBN 9780791495469

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