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Surah al-Baqarah, the second surah in the Holy Quran, is the longest surah of the Holy Book, containing 286 verses. Allah begins the surah with a strong statement, saying that the Quran is the Book regarding which there is no uncertainty, which guides the God-conscious people. This is an emphatic statement regarding the importance and authenticity of Allah’s word.
Surah al-Baqarah was revealed after Hijra in Madinah. This was the period where the Muslim community was gaining strength in the Arab lands. Thus, the chapter covers a wide variety of topics concerning the Muslim community.
Themes discussed in al-Baqarah include stories of the past prophets such as Adam (a.s.), Ibrahim (a.s.) and Musa (a.s). Since the chapter was revealed during the Madinan era, it also contains numerous laws that were relevant to that period. Allah also discusses the three types of people: The believers, the disbelievers, and the hypocrites who pretend to be believers.
This chapter of the Quran holds a lot of importance for Muslims and contains some verses that are to be regularly recited as forms of supplication. Additionally, recital of the surah includes many benefits for believers.
Stories from Surah al-Baqarah with a beneficial message
Adam (a.s) and the importance of repentance after mistakes
Allah explains how he told Adam (a.s.) to stay away from the tree to protect himself from wrongdoing. This was a warning for the prophet and his wife while they were in paradise.
However, Adam (a.s.) and his wife both faltered after being duped by Satan. They approached the tree, and as a result, Allah banished them from paradise as they had disobeyed his commands.
Adam (a.s.) was regretful. Allah thereby revealed words of repentance to Adam (a.s.) and accepted the first man’s repentance. This shows us the virtues of repentance, and that even Allah’s prophet was not immune to committing mistakes. However, he repented with his heart, and Allah forgave him. We, believers, sin day and night, and we should also seek Allah’s forgiveness regularly.
Musa (a.s.) and the importance of gratitude towards Allah
Allah uses the example of Musa (a.s.) and the people of Israel to teach us gratitude. He begins by telling the people of Israel to not forget His favor upon them. After this, Allah provides a list of the acts that believers should engage in. He mentions the prohibition of falsehood and the obligation of prayer and zakat.
He then mentions the favors that He did for the people. Amongst them is the parable of saving Bani’ Israel’s forefathers from the cruel Pharaohs and their people. The miracle where Allah parted the sea is also alluded to. He then states that he forgave them so they may be grateful.
These few verses are very beneficial in that they provide us with perspective. We often forget Allah’s blessings and are ungrateful towards Him. It awakens our weak hearts to reality and reminds us that we must be grateful to Him alone.
Ibrahim (a.s.) and the importance of submission to Allah
In the Surah, it is mentioned that Ibrahim (a.s.) was tested by Allah with orders, which he followed. Ibrahim (a.s.) and his descendants were firm upon the path of the righteous. They never faltered in their faith.
When Ismael (a.s.) was born, and he grew up, he joined his father, Ibrahim (a.s.) on the path of submission. While they were building the Kaabah, they called on their Lord to accept it from them and make them staunch believers.
When Allah told Ibrahim (a.s.) to submit, he obliged. Allah describes the one who was opposed to Ibrahim’s (a.s.) religion as a person making a fool of himself.
Thus, we can see that Ibrahim (a.s.) and his righteous descendants were in an obstinate society, consumed by idol-worship. But, they kept Allah above all else and submitted to and obeyed Him alone. They never wavered, despite Ibrahim (a.s.) being thrown into the fire by his own people.
Hadith about the benefits of reciting Surah al-Baqarah
The Prophet (PBUH) described the benefits of Surah al-Baqarah. In a Sahih Hadith found in both Bukhari and Muslim, he said that reciting the last two ayahs of Surah al-Baqarah at night will suffice us. Another Hadith also states that no devil will come near a home where these verses are regularly recited.
In another Hadith, from Jami at-Tirmidhi, the Prophet (PBUH) warned against neglecting the Quran. He told us not to turn our homes into graves and said that Shaytan stays out of houses where Surah Al-Baqarah is recited. Thus, we can see the virtues of regularly reciting this chapter of the Quran.
Another detailed Hadith from Jami at-Tirmidhi describes the Day of Reckoning. The Prophet (PBUH) said the Quran will come along with those who followed its teachings, and Surah Al-Baqarah and Al’ Imran will be ahead of it. They both will be like two shades, shady clouds or similar to shadows of birds speaking in favor of their people. This Hadith describes the tremendous benefits believers will gain on the Day of Judgement due to reciting al-Baqarah.
The 255th verse of Surah al-Baqarah is known as Ayat al-Kursi. The verse begins with Allahu la ilaha illa hu wa al Hayy ul Qayyum… Regular recitation of Ayat al-Kursi has been prescribed in the Prophetic Sunnah for believers.
The meaning of the verse is that Allah is the only deity, who is Ever-Livings and sustains everything. He is free from needing sleep and possesses everything that is in existence. Who can intercede with Him without His approval? He knows everything about the present and the future, and the creation only possesses limited knowledge according to His Will. His Kursi is spread over both the heavens and the earth, whose preservation doesn’t exhaust Him. He is the Most High, the Most Great.
The Prophet (PBUH) mentioned the virtues of reciting this verse at night before sleeping. In a Hadith from Sahih al-Bukhari, he said that a guard from Allah will shield you throughout the night, keeping Satan at bay until dawn.
According to Jami at-Tirmidhi, Abdullah bin Mas’ud said that Allah hasn’t created anything in the heavens or the earth superior to the majestic Ayat Al-Kursi.
It is recommended for Muslims to recite this glorious verse of the Quran after the five daily prayers.
The verse about no compulsion in religion
The 256th verse of the Quran (right after Ayat al-Kursi) is a crucial one for us to know about. It tells us that there should be no coercion in religion.
The importance of this verse is due to attacks against Islam that are perpetrated by Westerners nowadays. One of the most common arguments against Islam is that the religion was spread by the sword. This is far removed from the truth since Islam was spread via the Prophet’s (PBUH) example. Many people think that Islam endorses forced conversion. Even though a believer knows that his duty is to merely convey, for it is Allah alone Who guides.
Knowing this verse helps us to denounce any such claims about Islam. It helps us to portray the truth about Islam to people who don’t have knowledge. Hence, this verse is a vital tool of dawah.
The last two verses of Surah al-Baqarah
According to Abdullah bin Mas’ud (Jami at-Tirmidhi), these verses were revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) during his ascension to the heavens (Isra and Mi’raj). In the first of these verses, Allah describes the Prophet (PBUH) and a believer’s belief. Belief in Allah, His angels, books, and messengers are discussed. (You can also read Surah Waqiah and this surah has many benefits.)
In the second verse, Allah mentions that he won’t place any burden on a person beyond what they can bear. He describes how humans will be rewarded and punished for their good and evil acts. The surah comes to a befitting end with a beautiful dua for us to recite.
The Prophet (PBUH) stated in a Hadith from Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim that reading the last two ayahs of Surah al-Baqarah at night suffices us.
According to Sunan an-Nasa’i, an angel gave the Prophet (PBUH) glad tidings of two lights given to him which weren’t given to any other Prophet. They are Surah Fatihah and the final verses of Al-Baqarah.
Recitation of the longest surah of the Quran has numerous merits. It provides us with lessons in the form of historical stories. It helps us to learn about Islamic laws. Besides, there are manifold virtues of reciting some specified verses. Therefore, it can be safely said, that it is one of the most integral and compelling surahs of the Quran.
In closing, we must do our utmost to memorize verses such as the Ayat al-Kursi and the last two verses of Surah al-Baqarah. We must also frequently recite the discussed chapter, and ponder over the meanings of its verses. This can be a means to partake of Allah’s boundless blessings.