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Interpretation of Sura Cow - Verses 208-209

208. " O' you who have Faith! enter you all into submission (to Allah in being in peace) , and follow not the footsteps of Satan, for he is a manifest foe for you. "

209. " But if you slip after clear arguments have come to you, then know that Allah is the Mighty, the Wise. "

Occasion of Revelation:

It is narrated from 'Akramah that this verse was revealed about the Jews who had converted to Islam, such as: 'Abdullah-ibn-Salam, Tha'labat-ibn-Salam, Ibn-i-Yamin, Asad and Asid (the sons of Ka'b) , Shu'bat-ibn-Amr, Bahira-Rahib, Sa'id-ibn-Amr, and Ghays-ibn-Zayd. They went to the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) and asked him to allow them to glorify Saturday and recite the Torah; and, similar to the custom in the Age of Ignorance, to avoid consuming the milk and meat of camel . 96


The worldly peace is possible only under the Shadow of Faith. The Qur'anic words /silm/ and /salam/ in lexicon mean 'peace' and 'quietness'. So, this verse invites all the believes to peace, and in view of the fact that it addresses the believers, the verse means that peace can come into existence only with the existence of Faith. Thus, war and anxiety cannot be removed only by relying on mere human made rules and laws based on material affairs. Then, it is only by the use of the spiritual power of Faith that human beings, in spite of all their differences, can live peacefully and in fellowship together when they, consequently, may form a worldly government. " O' you who have Faith! enter you all into submission (to Allah in being in peace) , ..."

It is evident that material affairs such as: language, race, wealth, geographical region, and social classes are totally the origin of separation and dispersion. They cannot provide the real worldly peace which needs a firm circle of connection between the hearts of human beings in the world. This linking circle is only Faith in Allah which is beyond those differences. Therefore, a certain worldly peace without Faith is impossible; the same manner that the inner peace and tranquillity in the unity of a person and in his spiritual environment, without having a true Faith, is impossible.

" ... and follow not the footsteps of Satan, ..."

As it was formerly mentioned, the Satanic temptations and deviations usually come forth gradually and , according to the meanings of the Qur'an, each of them is counted as the following of a step of Satan. 97 Here, this fact is stated again that deviation from the right and following the stimuli of enmity, hypocrisy, fighting and blood-shedding usually begin from slight and simple stages. Believing people should be aware of their advent in order to stop them. There is a proverb common among Arab people which says: Verily, a destructive fight begins with a slap.

"... for he is a manifest foe for you. " The enmity of Satan against human kind is not something hidden or unknown. Satan has decided and sworn to behave inimically towards man since the beginning of the creation of Adam, and does his best to settle this enmity among the human race. Yet, as it has been described before, this opposition and hostility can not harm the true believers but it is a secret alongside the path of spiritual development.

" But if you slip after clear arguments have come to you, ... "

The path is clear; the program is clear; and the destination is also clear; so, there is no room for falling for the temptations of Satan. Yet, if you deviate from the straight path and go astray while you have all of these clear reasons in hand, it will be your own fault. Thus, do know that Allah is both 'Mighty' , so that no one can flee from His justice, and 'Wise' so that He judges nothing unjustly.

" ... then know that Allah is the Mighty, the Wise. "


Another interpretation of the verse says: this verse indicates that the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) through this revelation was informed of what will happen to those who joined the ranks of Islam for some interest of their own or other. It is clearly stated in this verse that those who backslide after adopting the faith, may not foolishly imagine that their going astray is going to affect in the least, the cause of God or would cause any inconvenience to the cause of those who believe in God. Those who go astray, need not be arrogant as to imagine that they will defeat God's Power or Wisdom. The loss will be of those who go astray and not in the least of anybody else.


96. Qur'an-il-Hakim, Persian translation, by Muhammad Khajawi, p. 263

97. The Qura'n, 2: 168; 6: 142; 24:21

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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