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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 2 (Al-Baqarah - The Cow) > Section 33 (Verses 249 to 253)



Section/Ruku 33 [Verses 249 to 253]: Fighting in the cause of Truth:
Chapter 2: (Al-Baqarah - The Cow)
(Revealed at Madinah: 40 sections; 286 verses)

1. Translation:

249 So when Saul set out with the forces, he said: Surely Allah will try you with a river. Whoever drinks from it, he is not of me, and whoever tastes it not, he is surely of me, except he who takes a handful with his hand. But they drank of it save a few of them.
a So when he had crossed it, he and those who believed with him, they said: We have today no power against Goliathb and his forces. Those who were sure that they would meet their Lord said: How often has a small party vanquished a numerous host by Allah’s permission! And Allah is with the steadfast.c

250 And when they went out against Goliath and his forces, they said: Our Lord, pour out patience on us and make our steps firm and help us against the disbelieving people.

251 So they put them to fight by Allah’s permission. And David slew Goliath, and Allah gave him kingdom and wisdom,a and taught him of what He pleased. And were it not for Allah’s repelling some men by others, the earth would certainly be in a state of disorder;b but Allah is Full of grace to the worlds.

252 These are the messages of Allah — We recite them to thee with truth; and surely thou art of the messengers.

Part 3

253 We have made some of these messengers to excel others.a Among them are they to whom Allah spoke, and some of them He exalted by (many) degrees of rank.b And We gave clear arguments to Jesus son of Mary, and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit. And if Allah had pleased, those after them would not have fought one with another after clear arguments had come to them, but they disagreed; so some of them believed and some of them denied. And if Allah had pleased they would not have fought one with another, but Allah does what He intends.

 2. Commentary:

249a. “The story of Saul is here confounded with that of Gideon” says a Christian critic. All that the Qur’an states is that Saul tried his forces by a river, and the Bible does not say anything about it. On the other hand, the Bible speaks of a trial of a somewhat similar nature by Gideon (Judges 7:1–6), while the Qur’an does not speak of Gideon at all. The Qur’an does not undertake to give a full and detailed history of the Israelites, and no Christian does, I think, hold the belief that the Bible gives a full and detailed record of the whole of the Israelite nation, so that it could not have omitted a single incident. Nor is there anything strange if Saul followed the example of Gideon. That these are two different incidents is made clear by the fact that while Gideon tried his forces by “the well of Harod” (Judges 7:1), Saul tried his forces by a river, as stated in the Qur’an. It further appears from the Bible that the river Jordan was there: “Some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead” (1 Sam. 13:7). [Back to verse 249]

249b. The Arabic word is Jalut, of the same measure as Talut, meaning he assailed or assaulted in the battle (LL), and thus instead of Goliath the Holy Qur’an has adopted a name which expresses his chief characteristic. [Back to verse 249]

249c. Compare 1 Sam. 14:6: “For there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few”. And on one occasion only six hundred men were left with him (1 Sam.13:15). [Back to verse 249]

251a. David was both a king and a prophet. [Back to verse 251]

251b. Thus the Muslims are told that they have to fight to restore order and establish peace in the country. [Back to verse 251]

253a. The principle is here recognised that some messengers excel others, and it contains, apparently, a reference to the excellence of the Prophet Muhammad. The mention of David and Jesus in particular here is to show that, notwithstanding that these two prophets represented two different aspects of the advancement of the Israelite nation, David standing for their worldly eminence and Jesus for their spiritual eminence, they both sang praises of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, and both spoke of his advent as the advent of God Himself, thus indicating that, looked at from both standpoints, the excellence of the Prophet over other prophets was so immeasurable as to have led two of the most eminent Israelite prophets to speak of his advent as the coming of the Lord.

Numerous verses of the Holy Qur’an bear testimony to the greatness of the Holy Prophet. He is repeatedly spoken of as being endowed with all those qualities of greatness in the highest degree which to others were given only partially and in a less degree. It is for this reason that the Prophet is declared to be a mercy to all nations (21:107), and his followers are called the best of the people (3:110), which shows that he is the greatest of the prophets. [Back to verse 253]

253b. Allah spoke to all, but there were some who were exalted above others by many degrees. Compare this with v. 87: “And some (of the prophets) you gave the lie to and others you would slay”, whereas those whom they tried to kill were also called liars. [Back to verse 253]



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Chapter 1: Al-Fatihah (The Opening)

Chapter 3: Al-'Imran (The Family of Amran)

Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 2 (Al-Baqarah - The Cow) > Section 33 (Verses 249 to 253)

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