Surat al-Baqara is a beautiful chapter of the Quran. I don’t read this often enough! The long length of it discouraged me in the past, I suppose. Well, careful reading and contemplation of the verses the starting days of Ramadan has me thinking that it’s worth reading again and again and again… I was hoping to condense all my thoughts on this surah in one blog post, but that’s laughably ridiculous because I might as well publish a book (OK, huge exaggeration). I shall inshaAllah share some of my insights in separate parts. I am in no means a scholar, yet I am writing these thoughts to remind myself to keep on reflecting, not simply skim and read.
Hearts & Rocks
A rock is deemed to be the hardest thing, and the strongest things are made from rock, such as mountains and the Earth’s crust. But when a rock is used as a simile for a person’s organ, such as “he has a rock for a brain” or “a rock for a heart”, this is most certainly not commendable; it means this person’s mind is in the wrong place, and it means one’s heart may be acting as a bystander to cruelty because his actions seem to indicate he is a heartless man.
So what degree of extreme transgression can we make when God Himself tells us that there are hearts that can be even harder than rocks?
The imagery brought on by this ayah is both heartwrenchingly beautiful yet frightening at the same time. The beauty comes from the description of stones gushing out water: truly, when stones get fissures and eventually erode, tree roots and water alike can infiltrate through them. What would be the metaphor for water gushing out a human heart… love, compassion, mercy, hope, trust, faith…?
This remains to be one of my favorite verses. May God open our hearts to be flooded with crashing waves of understanding and wisdom.
Notice the order of the covenant:
- Worship God (only your soul benefits)
- To parents and relatives (family) do good
- Then to orphans and needy (society) do good
- Then to people.
A harmonious society is built from the inside out; from the individual to the crowd, from the intention to the action, from one’s soul to external things, from the single household to the society.
Sadly what we often see these days are people sucking up to other people, overly praising them for personal gain, while neglecting to give these kind words to their own family members. It is like purchasing a newly built house, convinced by the artistically painted and decorated outer appearance- yet its very foundation is faulty and shaky, and it collapses before it has a chance to be lived in.
Inside out. If you’re not taking care of your soul by visiting He who can heal it and mend it for you daily through prayer, all other good deeds you do will not benefit you in any way.
Verses 2:115, 142, 177
East and West
The concept of worshiping Allah regardless if you are east or west repeats several times in this surah. There is not a particular place on earth that has the truth.
How often have we been doing something out of cultural habit and confused it with being a part of the religion? For most of us, we were facing east without questioning whether Islam and some of those cultural practices were contradictory to begin with.
Similarly, how many of us in the west have deliberately rejected to do something those of the ‘east’ do, assuming it is culture when its basis is actually in Islam?
As God Himself tells us in the Quran, truth is clear and falsehood is clear. East or West, God’s pleasure can be equally sought inshaAllah.
Comes as quite a shock, for everyone actually, to simply acknowledge that God is neither here or there, but that God is everywhere…
Allah knows best.
I shall conclude this post with a new favorite quote by Mustafa Hosny:
If you make God’s pleasure your ultimate concern, God will take care of your concerns.
إذا جعلت رضا الله همك، تكفل الله بما أهمك
[Translations from: http://quran.com/2]