Sura 2 of the Quran
The Cow
PositionJuzʼ 1–3
No. of Rukus40
No. of verses286
No. of words6121
No. of letters25613
Opening muqaṭṭaʻātAlif Lam Meem
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Folio from the Blue Quran with the fragment of the chapter Al-Baqara. Museum of Islamic Art, Doha.
Left-side of a Double-page Opening of the Qur'an from Terengganu with beginning of the chapter Al-Baqara. End of the 18th or 19th century. Asian Civilisations Museum.

Al-Baqara, alternatively transliterated Al-Baqarah (Arabic: الْبَقَرَة, ’al-baqarah; lit. "The Heifer" or "The Cow"), is the second and longest chapter (surah) of the Quran.[1] It consists of 286 verses (āyāt) which begin with the "muqatta'at" letters alif (ا), lām (ل), and mīm (م).[2][3] Q2:282, the Verse of Loan, is the longest single verse in the Quran.

The sūrah encompasses a variety of topics and contains several commands for Muslims such as enjoining fasting on the believer during the month of Ramadan;[4] forbidding interest or usury (riba); and several famous verses such as The Throne Verse, Al-Baqara 256, and the final two or three verses. The sūrah addresses a wide variety of topics, including substantial amounts of law, and retells stories of Adam, Ibrahim (Abraham) and Mūsa (Moses). A major theme is guidance: urging the pagans (Al-Mushrikeen) and the Jews of Medina to embrace Islam, and warning them and the hypocrites (Munafiqun) of the fate God had visited in the past on those who failed to heed his call.[5]

Al-Baqara is believed by Muslims to have been revealed in 622 in Medina over a long period after the Hijrah, with the exception of the riba verses which Muslims believe were revealed during the Farewell Pilgrimage, the last Hajj of Muhammad.[6][7] In particular, verse 281 in this chapter is believed to be the last verse of the Quran to be revealed, on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijja 10 A.H., when Muhammad was in the course of performing his last Hajj, 80 or 90 days before he died.[8]


Theme and subject matter

1-7 God-fearing rewarded, Unbelievers reproved

Following the muqatta'at, Al-Baqara begins with the declaration that the Quran is free of doubt and contains guidance for those who possess taqwa.[10] Taqwā is grammatically linked to the triliteral root w-q-y evoking wariness, a sense of care and protection.[11] These people, known as God-fearing (muttaqin), are defined as those who believe in al-ghaib (Unseen, ghayb, lit. “absent”),[11] offer salah, spend zakat from what is provided to them, believe in Muhammad's prophethood and that of the other prophets, and the books revealed to them.[10]

There follows a description of the kafirs and munafiqs. The first of these verses uses the word kafir to describe one who conceals the truth, and Muhammad is advised that they will not believe despite his efforts because God has sealed their hearts and hearing, and covered their eyes (so that they will not be able to see, hear, or comprehend guidance), and that they will be punished with a great torment.[12] Next is a detailed description of munafiqs, defined here as those who say they believe in God and the Last Judgment, but do not actually believe in them. It is said that they try to deceive God and the mumins (believers) but they deceive themselves without perception, that in their hearts is a disease which God increases, and that they will be punished with a painful torment. The munafiqs are also said to spread fasad (disorder/mischief) in the land, while claiming to spread peace, and to call the believers fools. To the believers they say they believe, but when they go back to their devils, they tell confess their disbelief, but they do not know that God deceives them and increases their deviation. They are then called those who engage in a profitless trade, the purchase of error with guidance. The munafiqs are then likened to a person who starts a fire and feels safe in its immediate surrounding, but God extinguishes the fire and the person is covered in darkness. The Quran then calls them deaf, dumb, and blind. Another example given is that of a person wandering in rain, thunder and lightning in darkness, such that they would have to thrust their fingers into their ears out of the fear of death. The lightning is so bright that it almost takes away their sight, but they walk toward it whenever it strikes, and stay put when it is dark.[13]

Mankind is then asked to worship God to acquire taqwa, and a description of God's creations follows: the earth as a resting place, the sky as a canopy, and rain sent from the sky to bring forth fruit and provision. They are then advised to not set up others in worship beside God. Those who doubt that the Quran was revealed to Muhammad are then challenged to produce a surah similar to it. It is then said that they will never be able to fulfill this challenge and are asked to fear Hell, which is described as being fueled with men and stones and specifically prepared for the kafirs.[14]

The stories in this chapter are told to help the reader understand the theological conception of truth in Islam.[15]

8-20 The hypocrites

Q2:8-20 in Surah Al Baqarah refer to the hypocrites (Munafiqun). In the Meccan phase of Muhammad, there existed two groups, the Believers and the Mushrikeen (non-believers). However, after Hijrah (Emigration to Medina) Muhammad had to deal with the opposition of those who openly accepted Islam while secretly plotting against Muslims. Their leader was Abd-Allah ibn Ubayy who was about to be crowned king before the arrival of Muhammad in Medina. The hypocrites benefitted from the Muslims while not losing their association with the disbelievers. They were considered disloyal to both parties and inclined towards those who benefited them the most in the worldly sense

The surah also sheds light on the concept of Nifaq, which is opposite of sincerity. It is of two types:

1) Nifaq in belief: outwardly showing belief however in reality there is no belief[16]

2) Nifaq in practice: where people believe however they act like hypocrites. The signs of a hypocrite are lying, breaking promises, not keeping an amaanah or trust and when they argue they curse or use bad language.

According to a prominent scholar, Kamaluddin Ahmed, Nifaq is something that is within the heart, hence no one knows of its existence except God. Therefore, no one can be called a hypocrite or Munaafiq through one's own self-assessment. This would amount to making Takfeer i.e. calling someone a Kafir (non-believer) since Nifaq (hypocrisy) in belief is kufr.

26 Commences with ۞[17] (rubʿ al-ḥizb), an Islamic symbol.

87-105 is preserved in the Ṣan‘ā’1 lower text.[18]

Indeed, We gave Moses the Book and sent after him successive messengers. And We gave Jesus, son of Mary, clear proofs and supported him with the holy spirit. Why is it that every time a messenger comes to you ˹Israelites˺ with something you do not like, you become arrogant, rejecting some and killing others?(2:84)

Condemnation of alcoholic beverages and gambling is also first found in the chapter,[19] and it is one of only four chapters in the Quran to refer to Christians as Nazarenes instead of the more frequent terms People of the Book or "Helpers of Christ."[20]

Al-Baqarah contains several verses dealing with the subject of warfare. Q2:190-194 are quoted on the nature of battle in Islam.

The surah includes a few Islamic rules related to varying subjects, such as: prayers, fasting, striving on the path of God, the pilgrimage to Mecca, the change of the direction of prayer (Qiblah) from Jerusalem to Mecca, marriage and divorce, commerce, debt, and a great many of the ordinances concerning interest or usury.[5]

255 "The Throne Verse"

Quran 2 includes many verses which have virtues like the special Verse of the Throne (Aayatul Kursi). Muhammad is reported to have said,

"Do not turn your houses into graves. Verily, Satan does not enter the house where Surat Al-Baqarah is recited." [Muslim, Tirmidhi, Musnad Ahmed]

Ad-Darimi also recorded that Ash-Sha'bi said that 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud said, "Whoever recites ten Ayat from Surat Al-Baqarah in a night, then Satan will not enter his house that night. (These ten Ayat are) four from the beginning, Ayat Al-Kursi (2:255), the following two Ayat (2:256-257) and the last three Ayat."

Verse 255 is "The Throne Verse" (آية الكرسي ʾāyatu-l-kursī). It is the most famous verse of the Quran and is widely memorized and displayed in the Islamic world due to its emphatic description of God's omnipotence in Islam.

256 No compulsion in religion

Main article: Q2:256

Verse 256 is one of the most quoted verses in the Quran. It famously notes that "There is no compulsion in religion".

282 "Verse of Loan and Women's testimony"

Main article: Verse of Loan

Verse 2:282 covers two specific Islamic jurisprudence issues: (1) undertaking a loan and (2) the status of women's testimony.

Amin Ahsan Islahi in his Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah says when there is a loan transaction for a specific period of time, it must be formally written down. Both the lender and the debtor must trust the writer. There must be two witnesses: two men, or one man and two women. The security of the writer must be guaranteed. The length of the contract should be stated exactly.[21][22]

Main article: Status of women's testimony in Islam

al-Jalalayn says, "summon to bear witness the debt two witnesses men mature Muslim free men; or if the two witnesses be not men then one man and two women".[23]

Abraham (Ibrahim)

Page 19-21 tells the story of Abraham and his relationship with Mecca and his son. Abraham made a prayer to Allah that Mecca would be safe and prosperous for its people until the end of time (2:126). The next verses then talk about how Abraham and Ishmail built the Kaaba and their prayer that their offspring would be righteous Muslims and Allah would send to them prophets so that they may be guided (2:127-130). This chapter also reaffirms that Abraham was neither a Christian, Jew, nor polytheist, but rather a monotheist, who submitted to Allah (2:131-136).

Later verses discuss the story of Abraham with the Nimrud (Nemrod) who refused to believe and professed himself to be God. Abraham brings forth to him the parable that Allah can bring the dead to life and let those alive be dead, and Nimrud responds by claiming he can do the same by killing someone. Abraham then brings the parable of how God raises the Sun from the East and challenged him to raise it from the West at which he was silenced.

The final discussion of Abraham in this chapter, is when he asks of God to show him how he raises the dead (2:260).

Moses (Musa)

Moses is referenced several times in Al-Baqara:

See also



  1. ^ Salwa M. S. El - Awa, Introduction to Textual Relations in Qur'an, pg. 1. Part of the Routledge Studies in the Qur'an series. London: Routledge, 2005. ISBN 9781134227471
  2. ^ Quran 2:1
  3. ^ Sale, George (1891). The Koran: Commonly Called the Alkoran of Mohammed ... New York: John B. Alden.
  4. ^ Michael Binyon, Fighting is 'allowed' during the holy month of fasting The Times, 18 December 1998
  5. ^ a b Sadr-'ameli Sayyid Abbas. "Surah Al-Baqarah, Chapter 2, Introduction". Al-islam. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  6. ^ Mahmoud Ayoub, The Qurʾan and its interpreters, pg. 55. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984. ISBN 9780791495469
  7. ^ Maariful Quran
  8. ^ Qurtubi
  9. ^ Wherry, Elwood Morris (1896). A Complete Index to Sale's Text, Preliminary Discourse, and Notes. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, and Co. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  10. ^ a b Mubarakpuri, Safiur Rahman (2000). Tafsir Ibn Kathir (10 Volumes;Abridged). Darussalam. pp. 70–87. ISBN 9781591440208.
  11. ^ a b Caner Dagli, 2 The Cow al-Baqarah, Study Quran
  12. ^ Mubarakpuri, Safiur Rahman (2000). Tafsir Ibn Kathir (10 Volumes; Abridged). Darussalam. pp. 87–91. ISBN 9781591440208.
  13. ^ Mubarakpuri, Safiur Rahman (2000). Tafsir Ibn Kathir (10 Volumes; Abridged). Darussalam. pp. 91–118. ISBN 9781591440208.
  14. ^ Mubarakpuri, Safiur Rahman (2000). Tafsir Ibn Kathir (10 Volumes; Abridged). Darussalam. pp. 118–134. ISBN 9781591440208.
  15. ^ R. G. Ghattas and Carol B. Ghattas, A Christian Guide to the Qur'an: Building Bridges in Muslim Evangelism, pg. 40. Kregel Academic, 2009. ISBN 9780825493423
  16. ^ "ترجمة السورة البقرة | مركز نور إنترناشيونال". ترجمة السورة البقرة | مركز نور إنترناشيونال. Retrieved 2021-07-08.
  17. ^ Quran 2:26
  18. ^ Behnam Sadeghi & Mohsen Goudarzi, "Sana'a and the Origins of the Qu'ran", Der Islam, 87 (2012), 37.
  19. ^ Kathryn Kueny, The Rhetoric of Sobriety: Wine in Early Islam, pg. 66. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001. ISBN 9780791450536
  20. ^ Karen Steenbrink, "Muslims and the Christian Other: Nasara in Qur'anic Readings." Taken from Mission is a Must: Intercultural Theology and the Mission of the Church, pg. 200. Eds. Frans Jozef Servaas Wijsen and Peter J. A. Nissen. Volume 40 of Church and Theology in Context Series. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2002. ISBN 9789042010819
  21. ^ Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī (2007). Tafsir of Surah al-Fātihan and Surah al-Baqarah. The Other Press. ISBN 978-983-9154-88-7.
  22. ^ Tafsir Ibn Kathir 2:282
  23. ^ al-Jalalayn. "The Tasfirs". Retrieved 7 May 2020.