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Chapter 2: Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow): Verses 21-25


O Mankind, serve your Sustainer (God) who created you and those before you, so that you can achieve God consciousness (and become responsible). (It is God) who has made the earth a place for rest (and sustenance) for you and established Heaven as a protective canopy (e.g., layers of air and the ozone layer). (It is God) who sends down rain from the clouds that helps bring out fruits (and vegetation) for your food and provision. Therefore, be appreciative by not creating rivals to God when you have knowledge (as described above). If you doubt as to the gradual revelation (of this Qur’an) to our servant (Mohammad), then take this challenge: Produce a chapter like this one and take advantage of all help you can gather, except the help of God, if you are really serious and truthful. Now if you do not follow through with this challenge, and you will never be able to produce one like this, then you ought to be prepared for the consequences, i.e., facing the Fire (conflicts in this world and Hell in the Afterlife) which is fueled by (ungrateful) human beings and stones (their objects of worship), a consequence for those who persistently deny God’s blessings.

(In contrast), give cheerful news to those who believe and do good work—for them are (reserved) gardens (instead of Fire) in which rivers flow. There they will be given fruits (or rewards) when they say, “This is something that was given to us before.” They will be given more, and they will have the comfort of their spouses who will be pure, and they (together) will reside there


Serving God is an important part of our responsibilities that comes from under- standing God’s plans and blessings for us. The earth, being a place of rest and a source of provision for us, the rain, providing the water to help produce fruits and vegetation, and the heavenly sky, with its atmosphere protecting us from meteorites and its ozone layer shielding us from harmful rays, should all make us reflect on the makeup of nature and its services to mankind.

This type of challenge is presented several times in the Qur’an, in 10:38 and 11:13. The people who persistently deny God are challenged to produce one or ten chapters like those of the Qur’an, although in 17:88, an earlier part of the revelation, the whole of mankind and the Jinn (Spirits) are declared to be unable to produce anything like the Qur’an. Compared to all the earlier Books of revelation, which exist in various forms and were primarily collected and preserved by later generations as historical narratives, the Qur’an was revealed through one man, the Prophet Mohammad, as recited to him by the Archangel Gabriel. Its contents have been unchanged over the centuries since their revelation, and no one has ever since claimed a similar production.


These verses make an appeal to our senses of understanding and fairness that we acknowledge God’s blessings and mercy and serve him. This section also contrasts the rewards for belief and good deeds against the punishments for disbelief and ungratefulness.


It is important not only to reflect on the nature of things and our purpose but also to act accordingly, since only by action do we truly transform our knowledge and understanding of ourselves and our environment and make a difference in our lives and in the world we live in. Too many Muslims are preaching as opposed to practicing. And many of those who practice Islam limit themselves to ritual worship and the five pillars whereas true worship demands serving humanity in all areas of human endeavor. This is a fundamental shortcoming of Muslims today.

Key Terms:

  1. An-Nara
  2. Jannah
  3. Azwazun