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Chapter 2: Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow): Verses 161-164


Those who are bent on denying the truth and die as deniers of truth, they are the ones who will be rejected by God, by the angels, and by all people.75 They will stay in that state of rejection; their suffering will neither be lightened nor stopped. (Remember), your God is One God; there is no body other than Him worthy of worship, He is most Gracious and full of Mercy! 

The creation of Heaven and the earth, the constant succession of the night and the day, the ships that travel by sea benefiting mankind, the rain that God sends down from the sky, giving life to things on Earth after their death (disappearance), the spreading of all creatures (and vegetation), the (constant) changing of the wind, and the clouds following directed paths between the sky and the earth—these are signs for people who reflect, reason, and understand! 


Though some Muslims would like to think of this verse as referring to the Jews and Christians, and the Bible itself speaks of God’s punishment (Deut. 28:15–19, 20–68), this equally applies to today’s Muslims, as our commitments to God and humanity have become superficial or nonexistent. The curses of colonization, illiteracy, poverty, the Spanish inquisition, Palestinian dislocation, the Iran–Iraq war, the Bosnian massacre, dictatorship, and lack of safety and security all are due partly to our own failure to follow the guidance of God, as has been the failure of other religions, principally Judaism and Christianity, which the Qur’an spoke about. 

This is one of the most wonderful verses of the Qur’an, where God most eloquently and simply draws attention to the everyday features in nature to help us understand and appreciate His grand design of the universe to support our lives with a variety of provisions and relative comforts. Each one of us, irrespective of our level of intelligence or education, can observe these aspects of nature, and even a minimal level of thinking and pondering will humble our minds and fill us with awe for what God has done for us. I believe that you cannot be a true believer until you have paid close attention to your surroundings; the creatures, trees, sky, wind, clouds, rain, etc. have felt (at an emotional and spiritual level, not just a rational or visual level) the presence of God and His creative and majestic hand at work. It is easy to be a Muslim (one who declares submission), but it is not so easy to be a Mo’men (person of faith). God, quite frankly, is looking for true faith and is not satisfied with mere submission alone. Unfortunately, most Muslims are content with just being Muslims and have lost the importance of serving their fellow men. 


Verse 164 draws attention to our everyday interactions and happenings in nature. We cannot claim to be truly human (or truly one who has surrendered to God) until we begin to reflect on God’s creative aspects , His grand design to support our lives on this earth, and what He asks in return for this.


We ought to find a time and place to reflect on our lives, our surroundings, and the purpose of life. The 21st century, filled with unprecedented consumerism, get-rich-quick schemes around the world, and rich nations and rich people flaunting their wealth without respect for their fellow nations and neighbors, makes it very difficult for us to keep a proper perspective on life and what should be our primary pursuits. The Prophet spent a significant amount of time in the cave reflecting and contemplating prior to his prophethood. My questions then to each of us are, where is our cave, and when was the last time any of us went there to think about, reflect on, and make corrections to our lives? Setting proper priorities is extremely important, as we should be focusing on what the Prophet did and how we can follow his lead and not on how he looked or dressed, which some Muslims are totally obsessed with.

Key Arabic Term:

1. Kaumi Yakilun