Surat al-Baqara / Tafsir

A Tafsir of Surat al-Baqarah Verses 2-3

 “A Tafsir of Surat al-Baqara Verses 2-3”


q 2 3

The noble shaykh, jurist and exegete `Ata’ Abu’ l-Rashta (may Allah protect him) comments on Q.2:3-4: “And the one who ponders on these verses will find the following:

1]. Allah (may He be Glorified!) has prefaced success (al-falah) on two matters: the first relates to belief (iman)[1] {those who believe in the unseen matters}; {and they believe in what was revealed to you and what was revealed to those before you as well as the Hereafter of which they have conviction}. The second matter relates to good actions (al-`amal al-salih) {and they establish the Prayer and spend of the provisions they have been given}. Allah has joined belief and good actions in many verses of the Qur’an, e.g. {those who believe and do good deeds}.[2]

2]. After Allah (may He be Glorified!) mentioned belief in the unseen (al-ghayb),[3] a little further down He then mentions belief in the Hereafter (al-akhira) which is part of the unseen. This is an example of mentioning the specific after the general (dhikr al-khass ba`d al-`amm) in order to show its extreme importance. Belief in the unseen matters is from the `aqida (creed) and belief in the Hereafter is one of the most important of its aspects. Every Muslim must constantly recall and remember the Hereafter and …”[4]


  • Every Muslim must believe in the unseen (al-ghayb) denial of which leads to disbelief (kufr).
  • The hereafter is part of the unseen and belief in it is obligatory denial of which leads to disbelief.
  • Balagha aspect: one of the rhetorical techniques used in the Qur’an is mentioning a general class of something followed by a specific instance of that general class. Such a technique is often used for the following aims: 1) to exalt something; 2) to highlight the importance of something; 3) to differentiate the qualities of something and 4) to emphasise something. Imam al-Zarkashi gives many examples of this from the Qur’an of which two is mentioned below:

“And another example is His saying: {and let there be groups from among you that call to the Good and command the right and forbid the wrong [3:104]} because commanding and forbidding (amr wa nahy) falls under calling to the Good.[5] And another example is His saying: {and those who believe and do good actions and believe in what was revealed to Muhammad [47:2]} intending the greatness of the Prophet (saw) and what was revealed to him because belief will not be complete except through belief in him […] and His saying: {and those who believe in the unseen matters [2:3]} which is general. And even though the verse {belief in the Hereafter of which they have conviction [2:4]) includes belief in the unseen matters, it has been specified in order to rebuke the statement of the polytheists where they said {there is nothing more to our mortal life except that we live and die [45:24]}. Thus, their being specified for belief in the Hereafter is a form of praising them…”[6]

ومنه قوله تعالىولتكن منكم أمة يدعون إلى الخير ويأمرون بالمعروف وينهون عن المنكر آل عمران : 104 ) إذ الأمر والنهي من جملة الدعاء إلى الخيروقوله تعالىوالذين آمنوا وعملوا الصالحات وآمنوا بما نزل على محمد ( محمد : 2 ) والقصد تفضيل النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – وما نزل عليه إذ لا يتم الإيمان إلا به وقولهالذين يؤمنون بالغيب البقرة : 3 ) فهذا عام وبالآخرة هم يوقنون (البقرة : 4 ) وإن كان الإيمان بالغيب يشملها، ولكن خصها لإنكار المشركين لها في قولهم ما هي إلا حياتنا الدنيا نموت ونحيا ( الجاثية : 24 ) فكان في تخصيصهم بذلك مدح لهم .

  • Mentioning the believer’s belief in the Hereafter which is from the unseen matters is a way of emphasising their belief as being true and authentic and hence by mentioning a specific matter after the general is a technique used here to both praise the believers in their conviction and to raise the importance of the Hereafter within the consciousness of the believer.


[1] al-Qurtubi in al-Jami` li-Ahkam al-Qur’an, 1:158 states : “and {yu’minun}, have total conviction. The word ‘iman’ linguistically means to have utter conviction in something…” (al-tasdiq)…”

(يؤمنون ) يصدقون . والإيمان في اللغة : التصديق

[2] See Q.2:52.

[3] al-Qurtubi in op. cit., 1:159 states: “…and the word {ghayb} according to the Arabs is anything that is absent from a person…” i.e. anything that disappears, remains hidden and removed from the sight.

(بالغيب ) الغيب في كلام العرب كل ما غاب عنك

[4] `Ata’ b. Khalil, al-Taysir fi Usul al-Tafsir, p.43.

[6] al-Zarkashi, al-Burhan fi `Ulum al-Qur’an, 3:47-48.


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