We begin with Ayah 53 of surah al-Baqarah, which reads:
وَإِذْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْكِتَابَ وَالْفُرْقَانَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ
"And when We gave Moses the Book and the Criterion so that you might be guided." (2:53)
The word ‘Forqan’ translated as criterion here - means something which distinguishes right from wrong. Since the books and miracles of divine messengers are the means to distinguish right from wrong these are called Forqan. God sends down scriptures, messengers, signs and miracles so that people can distinguish the righteous and the truthful from falsehood and liars. In this way God completes His proofs for mankind.
Now let’s listen to Ayah 54:
وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِقَوْمِهِ يَا قَوْمِ إِنَّكُمْ ظَلَمْتُمْ أَنفُسَكُم بِاتِّخَاذِكُمُ الْعِجْلَ فَتُوبُوا إِلَىٰ بَارِئِكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ عِندَ بَارِئِكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ
"And [recall] when Moses said to his people, ‘O my people! You have indeed wronged yourselves by taking up the Calf [for worship]. Now turn penitently to your Maker.’ Then He turned to you clemently. Indeed he is the All-Clement, the All-Merciful." (2:54)
When Prophet Moses returned from Mount Sinai after 40 days he noticed that his people had become worshippers of the Calf crafted from metals by Sameri. Thereon he reminded them of two points. He told them that they had wronged themselves and violated their own dignity by worshipping a Calf instead of the One and the Only God. He also warned them that they had become worse than pagans and infidels because they had abandoned righteousness after knowing it. Thus they were renegades and apostates, and the punishment of apostasy is execution.
Although God is the absolute symbol of mercy and kindness, at times Divine Wisdom decrees severe punishments in order to serve as lessons for humanity against taking religion as a plaything and also to cleanse the society from vestiges of bad deeds.
The Israelites deviation from truth and their worshipping of the Calf was not a trivial issue that could have been rectified through verbal penitence particularly from a people who have seen divine miracles and the great bounties of God.
Now we continue this week’s edition with Ayah 55 of surah al-Baqarah:
وَإِذْ قُلْتُمْ يَا مُوسَىٰ لَن نُّؤْمِنَ لَكَ حَتَّىٰ نَرَى اللَّـهَ جَهْرَةً فَأَخَذَتْكُمُ الصَّاعِقَةُ وَأَنتُمْ تَنظُرُونَ
"And when you said, ‘O Moses, we will not believe you until we see Allah visibly.’ Thereupon a thunderbolt seized you as you looked on." (2:55)
This Ayah mentions yet another deviation of the Israelites. Once they turned to worshipping the Calf and now they demand Moses that Almighty God, Who is far glorious to have shape, form, or place, ought to be visible to human eyes, so that they could believe in what Moses says.
This was a cardinal sin by the Israelites and irrational thought in view of the fact that anything could be perceived by human eyes or imagined by the human mind, cannot be God. To prove them they were unable to see even many of the creatures, God struck the Israelites with a terrible thunderbolt that killed them and all of them fell down on the ground.
The rest of the account is mentioned in Ayah 56 where it reads:
ثُمَّ بَعَثْنَاكُم مِّن بَعْدِ مَوْتِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
"Then We raised you up after your death so that you might give thanks." (2:56)
After the death of seventy dignitaries of the Israelites as a result of the thunderbolt, Prophet Moses beseeched God to revive them. God accepted his request and they came back to life so that both they and the Israelites might believe in divine potency and power.
Dear friends after a short break we will review the lessons taken from these Ayahs.
These Ayahs teach us that;
1. A sinner wrongs himself, and not God. It is the soul and the spirit that are the basis and origin of man and not his physical body. Thus sin pollutes his spirit to the extent that his sick spirit turns into a bestial being.
2. Every sin has its own appropriate repentance in accordance with the type and magnitude of the sin. Mere weeping and entreaties cannot be the repentance for turning away from God to worship a calf or for that matter any other creature or object. Rather, it might be require execution.
3. The pretext by certain people that if they were able to see God then they would worship Him, is because of two factors. They are ignorant of the fact that God is far too glorious to be perceived by the human eye since anything that could even be imagined cannot be God. The other factor is that such persons are arrogantly intransigent and despite seeing the handiwork of God in the world of nature and even within their own creation, they refuse to acknowledge God.
4. The revival of the dead is not impossible for God Who has created everything from nothing, and there are many instances when by Divine Commandment the dead have come to life. The revival of seventy Israelites who were killed by thunderbolt was one of these instances.
Well everybody, we end this edition with a prayer to God not to place us among those who have wronged themselves and turned to infidelity after seeing the clear signs of Divine Truth. Amen