Al Baqarah

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   Chapter 2 of the Quran  
The Cow

Date of RevelationMedinian
Number of Verses287

The subject-matter of the longest chapter is epitomized in its l30th verse. This verse contains a prayer of the Prophet Abraham in which he implores God to raise a Prophet from among the Meccans who should (1) recite to them the Signs of God; (2) give the world a perfect Book containing perfect laws; (3) explain the wisdom underlying them; and (4) lay down principles which should lead to a spiritual transformation in the people and make them a great and powerful nation. 

The four ends which Abraham prayed for are dealt with at length in this chapter, in the same order in which he prayed for them. The" Signs" are discussed in verses 1-168; then the "Book and Wisdom" in 169-243 and lastly the "Means of National Progress" in 244-287. 

"The recitation of the Signs" refers to the arguments for the truth of Muhammad'ssa message. We are told, for instance, that he appeared in the fullness of time in fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham. Muhammadsa was no innovator. Messengers of God had appeared before, and Islam was only the culmination of the religious history of man. Accounts of the Prophets of Israel and the working of the law of nature have been cited in support of the claim. Unbelievers are warned that if they reject the Signs that. have appeared, it will lead to their own extinction. 

"The teaching of the Book and Wisdom" refers to the laws laid down in the chapter and to the wisdom or philosophy which underlies them. After a description of fundamentals like belief in God, the Last Day, the divine Revelations and the Prophets of God, we have ordinances about Prayer, Fasting and Pilgrimage, and then laws relating to marriage, divorce, the care of orphans and widows, the law of Inheritance, etc., along with the wisdom underlying these laws and ordinances. 

Last of all, in elucidation of the subject of spiritual change spoken of in Abraham's prayer, the principles that led to national awakening are briefly but effectively dealt with, and the lesson is brought home that no people could hope to live who are not always prepared to die for their ideals. The giving and taking of interest is denounced, as this practice not only kills the spirit of sacrifice and mutual co-operation, but also leads to war and helps to prolong it.. The chapter ends with a moving prayer in which God's help is invoked by believers for the discharge of their great responsibilities.