The story of cow in surah Al Baqarah

The Story of the murdered Israeli Man and the Cow

وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَى لِقَوْمِهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَن تَذْبَحُواْ بَقَرَةً قَالُواْ أَتَتَّخِذُنَا هُزُوًا قَالَ أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَـهِلِينَ

(67. And (remember) when Musa said to his people: “Verily, Allah commands you that you slaughter a cow.” They said, “Do you make fun of us” He said, “I take Allah’s refuge from being among Al-Jahilin (the ignorant or the foolish).”)
Allah said, `O Children of Israel! Remember how I blessed you with miracle of the cow that was the means for discovering the identity of the murderer, when the murdered man was brought back to life.’
Ibn Abi Hatim recorded `Ubaydah As-Salmani saying, “There was a man from among the Children of Israel who was impotent. He had substantial wealth, and only a nephew who would inherit from him. So his nephew killed him and moved his body at night, placing it at the doorstep of a certain man. The next morning, the nephew cried out for revenge, and the people took up their weapons and almost fought each other. The wise men among them said, `Why would you kill each other, while the Messenger of Allah is still among you’ So they went to Musa and mentioned the matter to him and Musa said,

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَن تَذْبَحُواْ بَقَرَةً قَالُواْ أَتَتَّخِذُنَا هُزُوًا قَالَ أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَـهِلِينَ

(“Verily, Allah commands you that you slaughter a cow.” They said, “Do you make fun of us” He said, “I take Allah’s refuge from being among Al-Jahilin (the ignorant or the foolish)).” “Had they not disputed, it would have been sufficient for them to slaughter any cow. However, they disputed, and the matter was made more difficult for them, until they ended up looking for the specific cow that they were later ordered to slaughter. They found the designated cow with a man, only who owned that cow. He said, `By Allah! I will only sell it for its skin’s fill of gold.’ So they paid the cow’s fill of its skin in gold, slaughtered it and touched the dead man with a part of it. He stood up, and they asked him, `Who killed you’ He said, `That man,’ and pointed to his nephew. He died again, and his nephew was not allowed to inherit him. Thereafter, whoever committed murder for the purpose of gaining inheritance was not allowed to inherit.” Ibn Jarir reported something similar to that. Allah knows best.

قَالُواْ ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّنَ لَّنَا مَا هِىَ قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ لاَّ فَارِضٌ وَلاَ بِكْرٌ عَوَانٌ بَيْنَ ذلِكَ فَافْعَلُواْ مَا تُؤْمَرونَ – قَالُواْ ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّن لَّنَا مَا لَوْنُهَا قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ صَفْرَآءُ فَاقِـعٌ لَّوْنُهَا تَسُرُّ النَّـظِرِينَ – قَالُواْ ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّن لَّنَا مَا هِىَ إِنَّ البَقَرَ تَشَـبَهَ عَلَيْنَا وَإِنَّآ إِن شَآءَ اللَّهُ لَمُهْتَدُونَ – قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ لاَّ ذَلُولٌ تُثِيرُ الاٌّرْضَ وَلاَ تَسْقِى الْحَرْثَ مُسَلَّمَةٌ لاَّ شِيَةَ فِيهَا قَالُواْ الَـنَ جِئْتَ بِالْحَقِّ فَذَبَحُوهَا وَمَا كَادُواْ يَفْعَلُونَ

68. They said, “Call upon your Lord for us that He may make plain to us what it is!” He said, “He says, `Verily, it is a cow neither too old nor too young, but (it is) between the two conditions’, so do what you are commanded.”
69. They said, “Call upon your Lord for us to make plain to us its colour.” He said, “He says, `It is a yellow cow, bright in its colour, pleasing the beholders.’ ”
70. They said, “Call upon your Lord for us to make plain to us what it is. Verily, to us all cows are alike. And surely, if Allah wills, we will be guided.”
71. He (Musa) said, “He says, `It is a cow neither trained to till the soil nor water the fields, sound, having no blemish in it.’ ” They said, “Now you have brought the truth.” So they slaughtered it though they were near to not doing it.
This is only apart of the story, and its tafsir is done by the famous muslim scholar Ibn Kathir

The Stubbornness of the Jews regarding the Cow; Allah made the Matter difficult for Them

Allah mentioned the stubbornness of the Children of Israel and the many unnecessary questions they asked their Messengers. This is why when they were stubborn, Allah made the decisions difficult for them. Had they slaughtered a cow, any cow, it would have been sufficient for them, as Ibn `Abbas and `Ubaydah have said. Instead, they made the matter difficult, and this is why Allah made it even more difficult for them. They said,

ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّنَ لَّنَا مَا هِىَ

(Call upon your Lord for us that He may make plain to us what it is!), meaning, “What is this cow and what is its description” Musa said,

إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ لاَّ فَارِضٌ وَلاَ بِكْرٌ

(He says, `Verily, it is a cow neither too old nor too young’), meaning, that it is neither old nor below the age of breeding. This is the opinion of Abu Al-`Aliyah, As-Suddi, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, `Atiyah Al-`Awfi, `Ata’, Al-Khurasani, Wahb bin Munabbih, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and Ibn `Abbas. Ad-Dahhak reported that Ibn `Abbas said that,

عَوَانٌ بَيْنَ ذلِكَ

(But (it is) between the two conditions) means, “Neither old nor young. Rather, she was at the age when the cow is strongest and fittest.” In his Tafsir Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas that,

فَاقِـعٌ لَّوْنُهَا

(bright in its colour) “A deep yellowish white.”

As-Suddi said,

تَسُرُّ النَّـظِرِينَ

(pleasing the beholder) meaning, that it pleases those who see it. This is also the opinion of Abu Al-`Aliyah, Qatadah and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas. Furthermore, Wahb bin Munabbih said, “If you look at the cow’s skin, you will think that the sun’s rays radiate through its skin.” The modern version of the Tawrah mentions that the cow in the Ayah was red, but this is an error. Or, it might be that the cow was so yellow that it appeared blackish or reddish in color. Allah’s knows best.

إِنَّ البَقَرَ تَشَـبَهَ عَلَيْنَا

(Verily, to us all cows are alike) this means, that since cows are plentiful, then describe this cow for us further,

وَإِنَّآ إِن شَآءَ اللَّهُ

(And surely, if Allah wills) and if you further describe it to us,

لَمُهْتَدُونَ

(we will be guided.)

قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ لاَّ ذَلُولٌ تُثِيرُ الاٌّرْضَ وَلاَ تَسْقِى الْحَرْثَ

(He says, `It is a cow neither trained to till the soil nor water the fields’) meaning, it is not used in farming, or for watering purposes. Rather, it is honorable and fair looking. `Abdur-Razzaq said that Ma`mar said that Qatadah said that,

مُّسَلَّمَةٌ

(sound) means, “The cow does not suffer from any defects.” This is also the opinion of Abu Al-`Aliyah and Ar-Rabi`. Mujahid also said that the Ayah means the cow is free from defects. Further, `Ata’ Al-Khurasani said that the Ayah means that its legs and body are free of physical defects.

Also, Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas said that the Ayah,

فَذَبَحُوهَا وَمَا كَادُواْ يَفْعَلُونَ

(So they slaughtered it though they were near to not doing it) means, “They did not want to slaughter it.”

This means that even after all the questions and answers about the cow’s description, the Jews were still reluctant to slaughter the cow. This part of the Qur’an criticized the Jews for their behavior, because their only goal was to be stubborn, and this is why they nearly did not slaughter the cow. Also, `Ubaydah, Mujahid, Wahb bin Munabbih, Abu Al-`Aliyah and `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said, “The Jews bought the cow with a large amount of money.” There is a difference of opinion over this.

وَإِذْ قَتَلْتُمْ نَفْسًا فَادَرَأْتُمْ فِيهَا وَاللَّهُ مُخْرِجٌ مَّا كُنتُمْ تَكْتُمُونَ – فَقُلْنَا اضْرِبُوهُ بِبَعْضِهَا كَذَلِكَ يُحْىِ اللَّهُ الْمَوْتَى وَيُرِيكُمْ آيَـتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ

(72. And (remember) when you killed a man and disagreed among yourselves as to the crime. But Allah brought forth that which you were Taktumun.) (73. So We said: “Strike him (the dead man) with a piece of it (the cow).” Thus Allah brings the dead to life and shows you His Ayat (proofs, evidences, etc.) so that you may understand.)

Bringing the murdered Man back to Life

Al-Bukhari said that,

فَادَرَأْتُمْ فِيهَا

(And disagreed among yourselves as to the crime) means, “Disputed.”

This is also the Tafsir of Mujahid. `Ata’ Al-Khurasani and Ad-Dahhak said, “Disputed about this matter.” Also, Ibn Jurayj said that,

وَإِذْ قَتَلْتُمْ نَفْسًا فَادَرَأْتُمْ فِيهَا

(And (remember) when you killed a man and disagreed among yourselves as to the crime) means, some of them said, “You killed him,” while the others said, “No you killed him.” This is also the Tafsir of `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam. Mujahid said that

وَاللَّهُ مُخْرِجٌ مَّا كُنتُمْ تَكْتُمُونَ

(But Allah brought forth that which you were Taktumun) means, “what you were hiding.”

Allah said,

فَقُلْنَا اضْرِبُوهُ بِبَعْضِهَا

(So We said: “Strike him (the dead man) with a piece of it (the cow)”) meaning, “any part of the cow will produce the miracle (if they struck the dead man with it).” We were not told which part of the cow they used, as this matter does not benefit us either in matters of life or religion. Otherwise, Allah would have made it clear for us. Instead, Allah made this matter vague, so this is why we should leave it vague. Allah’s statement,

كَذَلِكَ يُحْىِ اللَّهُ الْمَوْتَى

(Thus Allah brings the dead to life) means, “They struck him with it, and he came back to life.” This Ayah demonstrates Allah’s ability in bringing the dead back to life. Allah made this incident proof against the Jews that the Resurrection shall occur, and ended their disputing and stubbornness over the dead person.

 

 

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