In the Name of Allah, the All-Compassionate, the All-Merciful.
In the Name of Allah, the All-Compassionate, the All-Merciful.
Ayah 48 of surah al-Baqarah reads:
وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا لَّا تَجْزِي نَفْسٌ عَن نَّفْسٍ شَيْئًا وَلَا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَلَا يُؤْخَذُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌ وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ
"Beware of the day when no soul shall compensate for another, neither any intercession shall be accepted from it, nor any ransom shall be received from it, nor will they be helped." (2:48)
This Ayah notes four points that would be prevalent among people on the Day of Judgment. The Jews would think that their forefathers could keep them safe from divine punishment, or their chief rabbis could intercede for them before God. They would also indulge in whims that their friends could help them and the punishment of the hereafter could be averted through payment of ransoms. The holy Qur’an replies that on that day nothing can hinder the punishment of the sinners and everybody would be concerned of his or her own salvation.
Thus nothing can be relied upon except true belief and good deeds. Of course, God has not closed in this world the way of repentance and returning, due to His boundless grace and mercy. It is also worth mentioning that the gate of intercession is open in afterlife, yet repentance and intercession have conditions and requisites. These ought to instill in the sinner regret and repentance for his or her misdeeds and act as deterrence against further wrongdoings. This Ayah strongly negates the idea of the Jews that they will be cleansed of every sin they have committed, and also the wrong belief among the Christians that Jesus sacrificed himself as compensation for the sins of his followers.
Now let’s listen to the 49th Ayah of the same surah:
وَإِذْ نَجَّيْنَاكُم مِّنْ آلِ فِرْعَوْنَ يَسُومُونَكُمْ سُوءَ الْعَذَابِ يُذَبِّحُونَ أَبْنَاءَكُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيُونَ نِسَاءَكُمْ ۚ وَفِي ذَٰلِكُم بَلَاءٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ عَظِيمٌ
"And when we delivered you from the Pharaoh’s clan who inflicted a terrible torment on you, and slaughtered your sons and spared your women, and in that there was a great test from your Lord." (2:49)
In a bid to preserve and prolong his rule, Pharaoh would kill the youth of the Israelites with different pretexts and would humiliate their women so that they wouldn’t have any power to confront him. According to the holy Qur’an both hardship and comfort are means to test human beings so that they may show their potentialities and strive towards perfection.
The next Ayah mentions yet another blessing for the Israelites. Let’s listen:
وَإِذْ فَرَقْنَا بِكُمُ الْبَحْرَ فَأَنجَيْنَاكُمْ وَأَغْرَقْنَا آلَ فِرْعَوْنَ وَأَنتُمْ تَنظُرُونَ
"And when We parted the sea with you, and We delivered you and drowned Pharaoh’s clan as you looked on." (2:50)
This Ayah notes the event of the Israelites’ deliverance from the clutches of Pharaoh and his forces as a divine miracle. Prophet Moses was given the mission to take out his people from Egypt. When they reached the waters they saw Pharaoh’s troops approaching from behind. This sight made them shudder. Thereupon God Almighty commanded Moses to touch the waters with his rod. As he fulfilled the command the waters split open and there were as many as 12 routes for the twelve tribes of Israelites to cross. But when Pharaoh and his troops pursued them the waters once again became one and the sinners were all drowned. Thus the Israelites witnessed both the divine grace of their deliverance and the obliteration of their enemies. So which bounty could be greater than this?
Now after a short break we’ll listen to the 51st Ayah of this surah.
وَإِذْ وَاعَدْنَا مُوسَىٰ أَرْبَعِينَ لَيْلَةً ثُمَّ اتَّخَذْتُمُ الْعِجْلَ مِن بَعْدِهِ وَأَنتُمْ ظَالِمُونَ
"And when We made an appointment with Moses for forty nights, you took up the calf [for worship] in his absence, and you were the wrongdoers." (2:51)
After the deliverance of the Israelites from the tyranny of Pharaoh, Moses was given the mission to receive the heavenly scripture, the Torah, during his forty-day stay on Mount Sinai in seclusion and away from the people. During his absence the Israelites were tested by God. An imposter by the name of Sameri made a calf from gold metals and gems which would give the sound of a cow when it was exposed to the wind since it was hollow from inside. This surprised the Israelites and gradually Sameri enticed them to worship it. It was a matter of regret that the majority of Israelites joined him and forgot Prophet Moses’ teachings. Thus they both wronged themselves by worshipping the inanimate calf instead of the One and Only God, and therefore violated the teachings of Moses who had endured many hardships and problems to rescue them from the Pharaoh.
However upon Moses’ return from Mount Sinai the Israelites realized their sin of committing polytheism, and because of repentance were forgiven by All-Forgiving Allah.
Now let’s listen to the 52nd Ayah of surah al-Baqarah:
ثُمَّ عَفَوْنَا عَنكُم مِّن بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
"Then We excused you after that so that you might give thanks." (2:52)
One of the divine blessings is that God does not punish His servants as soon as they commit a sin but He gives them respite and the chance to seek forgiveness so that they might regret and repent.
In this event, too, God forgave the sin of polytheism of the Israelites and provided grounds for them to thank Him for having blessed them with the leadership of Moses. Now let’s review the lessons we learn from these Ayahs:
1. We should always keep in mind afterlife and its consequences so that we may not sin, even for the sake of a friend or family member, as well as to obtain a position, since on the Day of Resurrection nobody can help us and no recommendation will benefit us; neither any wealth nor power can hinder the punishment of that Day.
2. The youth are the primary goal of the tyrannical and Pharaonic powers. Even today the arrogant powers try to misguide the youth by spreading narcotics and other corrupt pleasures among them. They also deceive young girls in the name of fashions and modes propagated so as to corrupt them.
3. Freedom from the yoke of oppressors is one of the greatest divine bounties and the faithful should try their best to attain it. If they do so divine unseen aids will come to them.
4. Divine leaders play a significant role in guiding societies towards salvation and eternal happiness. If the 40-day period caused the Israelites to deviate from the right path and indulge in sin, what would happen to humankind if there were no messengers sent for their guidance by God?
At the end of this episode we beseech God to keep us firm and steadfast on the right path till the end of our life. Amen
Translated by: R. Mansouri