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Chapter 2: Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow): Verses 165-168


Yet there are people who take objects (or people) other than God for worship and they love them as they should love God. But those who truly believe have stronger love for God.Had the wrongdoers seen the retributions, they would have realized that power belongs to God in its entirety and that He is capable of serious retribution (for what evil they do). When those who were worshipped will renounce their worshippers and face the retribution, their (mutual) relationship will end and those who worshipped will say, “If we could but return, then we would renounce them as they had done.”

This is how God will show them how their own actions will become a source of over- whelming remorse, and they will not escape the Fire. Eat what is lawful (morally, ethically, and physically) and all that is good  on this earth and do not follow the footsteps of the Devil—he is an avowed adversary to you (mankind).


Muslims need to reflect on this verse. It refers to the condition of the Muslims at the time of the Prophet, who was able to ignite a great passion and commitment in the minds of the early Muslims to believe and trust in God in a much stronger way than their contemporaries. Some pertinent questions for all contemporary Muslims (conservatives and liberals alike) are: How strong is our love for God and for our fellow men? How does this love affect our day-to-day priorities and long-term personal and social visions? How do we exert ourselves to create civil societies, dignify our fellow men, put capable and trusting people in leadership, and ensure justice and equality for all?

This is a transition to some of the social and legal issues that came to dominate the Qur’an during the period after the Prophet’s migration to Medina, testifying to the fact that Islam is considered a way of life as opposed to a religion and thereby provides guidance on matters of food, physical relations, social behavior, financial matters, and many others. This transition also embarks on a wide range of rules and regulations pertaining to personal, social, and political lives which led to the claim that Mohammad, the Prophet of Islam, is the best and foremost law giver the world has ever known. Respect for law and creating a society and a world order based on God consciousness, the rule of civility, honor for human dignity, and a moral framework are some of the major achievements of the Prophet and comprise a worthy legacy that Muslims need to revive and follow. 


There are two main issues to think about here: (1) How is our love and devotion to God compared to those who love and adore false gods? And (2), in the end, those who worship others (setting up rivals to God) will be humiliated and will come to realize the true essence of God and His capacity for inspiring those who truly love and obey Him. But God wants us to prove this—He is here waiting for our actions and devotions.


God is challenging us to love Him more than other worshippers love false gods. Are we up to the challenge? We need to demonstrate our love to God by refraining from listening to the Devil and engaging in our own evil inclinations and by following the rules and regulations laid out by Islam in both the religious domain and the secular domain. The moral rules of personal and social conducts on one hand and the just and democratic legal framework of governance, conflict resolution, and financial and trade matters on the other hand are the cornerstones of Islam’s contribution to the world and led to an unprecedented rise in the power and influence of the early Muslims for over a millennium, unmatched by any other known civilization. Yet the condition of today’s Muslim societies and countries almost betrays that past achievement and leads to empty claims and false hope. We have failed to apply intellectual rigor, analytical principles (ijtihad), and consensus building (ijma) to continue to evolve these rules and laws to meet the needs of our world and our time.

Key Arabic Terms:

1. Halalan Taiyeban