Interpretation of Sura Cow - Verses 168-169
Injunction about the use of food-stuff - Blind following disallowed. Concealing of truth and corrupting the Word of God and bartering it for worldly gains amounts to the eating of Fire.
168." O' mankind! eat of what is in the earth lawful and good; and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Surely he is a manifest foe for you."
169. " Verily, he (Satan) enjoins you evil acts and indecency and that you should speak against Allah what you know not."
One of the signs of a complete religion is that it considers the usage of the unlawful food-stuffs a Satanic deed (as the Qur'an says: "...intoxicants and games of chance... are an abomination of Satan's work...") 18 , and the inappropriate avoidance of eating the lawful ones originated from the temptations of Satan, (as the Qur'an says: "...eat of what Allah has given you and do not follow the footsteps of Satan...") . 19
Therefore, in the current verse, too, it says:
" O' mankind! eat of what is in the earth lawful and good; and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. ..."
In some of the historical narrations it is cited that a few of the Arab tribes had unreasonably forbidden a part of their crops and their animals for themselves, where they used to sometimes attribute those prohibitions to Allah. Then, the above verse was revealed to dismiss that ambiguity. Islam pays also specific attention to the material life of people. At the top of these things is the food necessities about which there are found tens of Qur'anic verses and hundreds of traditions in Islamic literature.
One of the duties of prophets has been to define the lawful and unlawful edible materials and drinks beside the introduction of the advantages and disadvantages of each of them. This verse emphasizes that we have to consume from what is religiously lawful and pure /h¤alal/ on the earth: " O' mankind! eat of what is in the earth lawful and good;..."
And that we must not prohibit ourselves from some things under the effect of the Satan's temptation, because it is certain that Satan is our open enemy:
"...and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Surely he is a manifest foe for you." Imam Baqir (a.s.) has narrated a tradition from the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) who said: " Worship of Allah is divided into seventy divisions, the best of which is earning a living lawfully." 20
Again, in another tradition, the very holy Imam, the fifth Imam, (a.s) has said: " He who seeks for sustenance in this world in order to be independent of people for his needs, to provide for his family members, and to stretch affection unto his neighbours, will meet Allah, Almighty and Glorious, on the Day of Judgement while his face will be as bright as the full moon." 21
It is cited in Tafsir-i-Rouh-ul-Bayan that Satan has some different stages in his invitations unto temptations. At first, he invites to infidelity. If he fails in this phase, he invites to innovation. If he does not succeed, he invites to lesser sins. Failing in these stages, Satan invites to doing good and lawful deeds instead of worshipping Allah. When he fails in this phase, too, he invites to performing worships with lower qualities than the noble ones in order to stop a person from promoting to higher degrees. 22 Thus, the statement of the verse is a warning against what Satan does and how he leads men astray by his different forms of evil whispers when the Qur'an says:
" Verily, he (Satan) enjoins you evil acts and indecency and that you should speak against Allah what you know not."
18. Sura Al-Ma'idah, No. 5, verse 90
19. Sura Al-'An'am, No. 6. verse 142
20. Tafsir Al-Burhan, vol.1p. 173
21. Al-Kafi, vol. 5, p.78
22. Tafsir-i-Rouh-ul-BaYan, vol. 1, p. 272
Adapted from the book: "The Light of The Quran - Interpretation of Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow)" by: "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani and A Group of Muslim Scholars"
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