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Researcher’s Companion to Ghamidi’s Surah al-Baqarah (242-251)
Qur'anic Exegesis
Dr. Shehzad Saleem


I Eloquence & Style (الاساليب و البلاغة)

 1. The أَلَمْ تَرَ form of Address

About this form of address, Ghamidi writes (note 1): ‘This style of address in which plural entities are actually addressed by referring to a single entity is used when each member of the group is meant to be addressed separately’.

Other examples of this form can be seen in the following verses:

 أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِي حَآجَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ فِي رِبِّهِ أَنْ آتَاهُ اللّهُ الْمُلْكَ (٢٥٨:٢)

Have you not seen him who argued with Abraham about his Lord because God had bestowed sovereignty upon him?

 أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ بَدَّلُواْ نِعْمَةَ اللّهِ كُفْرًا وَأَحَلُّواْ قَوْمَهُمْ دَارَ الْبَوَارِ (٢٨:١٤)

Have you not seen those who repaid the grace of God with disbelief and drive their people into the abode of perdition? (14:28)

 أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِعَادٍ (٦:٨٩)

Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the ‘Ad? (89:6)

 أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِأَصْحَابِ الْفِيلِ (١٠٥:١)

Have you not seen how God dealt with the people of the elephants? (105:1)

 2. Figurative Use of مَوْت and حَيَاة

In verse 243, Ghamidi has translated the words مَوْت and حَيَاة figuratively – implying that the death and restoration to life refer to the states of moral and political degeneration of the Israelites and to their moral and political revival respectively.

In the other verses of the Qur’an also, this figurative use can be seen. In the first four verses quoted below, the word مَوْت has been used figuratively, while in the fourth and fifth verses, the word حَيَاة has been used figuratively:

اللَّهُ يَتَوَفَّى الْأَنفُسَ حِينَ مَوْتِهَا (٤٢:٣٩)

God takes away men’s souls during their sleep. (39:42)

ثُمَّ بَعَثْنَاكُم مِّن بَعْدِ مَوْتِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ (٥٦:٢)

Then We revived you from your stupor, so that you might be grateful. (2:56)

إِنَّكَ لَا تُسْمِعُ الْمَوْتَى وَلَا تُسْمِعُ الصُّمَّ الدُّعَاء إِذَا وَلَّوْا مُدْبِرِينَ (٨٠:٢٧)

You cannot make the dead at heart you nor can you make the deaf hear your call if they turn their backs and pay no heed. (27: 80)

أَوَ مَن كَانَ مَيْتًا فَأَحْيَيْنَاهُ وَجَعَلْنَا لَهُ نُورًا يَمْشِي بِهِ فِي النَّاسِ كَمَن مَّثَلُهُ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ لَيْسَ بِخَارِجٍ مِّنْهَا (١٢٢:٦)

Can the dead at heart man whom We have raised to life, and given a light to walk with among men, be compared to him who is in darkness from which he will never emerge? (6:122)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اسْتَجِيبُواْ لِلّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُم لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ (٢٤:٨)

Believers, obey God and the Prophet when he calls you to that which gives you life. (8:24)

III Scriptures and Testaments (العهود و الصحف)

1. The Test mentioned in the Bible

The Qur’an (2:249) mentions a test through which the Israelites were put before the battle. The Bible does not mention this test, although it does mention a similar one: 

Now the men of Israel were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, “Cursed be any man who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food. The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground. When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out, yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath. But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened. Then one of the soldiers told him, “Your father bound the army under a strict oath, saying, ‘Cursed be any man who eats food today!’ That is why the men are faint.” Jonathan said, “My father has made trouble for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey. How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies … They pounced on the plunder and, taking sheep, cattle and calves, they butchered them on the ground and ate them, together with the blood. (1 Samuel 14:24-33)

As pointed out by Islahi1, the above account differs from the Qur’an in the following aspects:

1. According the Bible, this test took place when the battle had begun, and the purpose of the test was that people should not indulge in eating until the enemy was totally routed. On the other hand, it is evident from the Qur’an that this test took place before the battle, and the purpose was to ascertain the true companions who would fight by David’s side.

2. It is evident from the Bible that as part of the test, the Israelite army was asked to refrain from food. The Qur’an, on the other hand, says that the forbiddance was regarding tasting the water of a rivulet which the marching army of Saul encountered.

3. In the Biblical version, every person of the Israelite army including David’s son Jonathan failed the test. However, the Qur’an says that there was a group, albeit small, who were successful.






1. Islahi, Amin Ahsan, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 579.

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