Story of the Heifer


In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious and The Most Merciful

Allah the Almighty says:

﴿وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَى لِقَوْمِهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَن تَذْبَحُواْ بَقَرَةً قَالُواْ أَتَتَّخِذُنَا هُزُوًا قَالَ أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَـهِلِينَ ﴾

﴿قَالُواْ ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّنَ لَّنَا مَا هِىَ قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ لاَّ فَارِضٌ وَلاَ بِكْرٌ عَوَانٌ بَيْنَ ذلِكَ فَافْعَلُواْ مَا تُؤْمَرونَ – قَالُواْ ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّن لَّنَا مَا لَوْنُهَا قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ صَفْرَآءُ فَاقِـعٌ لَّوْنُهَا تَسُرُّ النَّـظِرِينَ – قَالُواْ ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّن لَّنَا مَا هِىَ إِنَّ البَقَرَ تَشَـبَهَ عَلَيْنَا وَإِنَّآ إِن شَآءَ اللَّهُ لَمُهْتَدُونَ – قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ لاَّ ذَلُولٌ تُثِيرُ الاٌّرْضَ وَلاَ تَسْقِى الْحَرْثَ مُسَلَّمَةٌ لاَّ شِيَةَ فِيهَا قَالُواْ الَـنَ جِئْتَ بِالْحَقِّ فَذَبَحُوهَا وَمَا كَادُواْ يَفْعَلُونَ )

﴿وَإِذْ قَتَلْتُمْ نَفْسًا فَادَرَأْتُمْ فِيهَا وَاللَّهُ مُخْرِجٌ مَّا كُنتُمْ تَكْتُمُونَ – فَقُلْنَا اضْرِبُوهُ بِبَعْضِهَا كَذَلِكَ يُحْىِ اللَّهُ الْمَوْتَى وَيُرِيكُمْ آيَـتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ ﴾

{And (remember) when Musa (Moses) said to his people: “Verily, Allah commands you that you slaughter a cow.” They said, “Do you make fun of us?” He said, “I take Allah’s Refuge from being among Al-Jahilun (the ignorant or the foolish). ”

They said, “Call upon your Lord for us that He may make plain to us what it is!” He said, “He says: ‘Verily, it is a cow neither too old nor too young, but (it is) between the two conditions’, so do what you are commanded ” They said, “Call upon your Lord for us to make plain to us its color.” He said, “He says: ‘It is a yellow cow, bright in its color, pleasing the beholders.”

They said, “Call upon your Lord for us to make plain to us what it is. Verily, to us all cows are alike. And surely, if Allah wills, we will be guided.” He [Musa (Moses)] said, “He says: ‘It is a cow neither trained to tilt the soil nor water the fields, sound, having no other color except bright yellow. ”

“They said, “Now you have brought the truth.” So they slaughtered it though they were near to not doing it. And (remember) when you killed a man and fell into dispute among yourselves as to the crime. But Allah brought forth that which you were hiding.

So We said: “Strike him (the dead man) with a piece of it (the cow).” Thus Allah brings the dead to life and shows you His Ayah : (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) so that you may understand}. (Al-Qur’an:67-73)

The children of Israel were asked to slaughter a cow neither too old nor too young, neither trained to tilt the soil nor water the fields, sound, having no other color except bright yellow.

‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas, `Ubaidah As-Salmani, Abu Al-`Aliyah, Mujahid, As-Sadiy and other earlier scholars said: An old man from among the Children of Israel was very rich, and he had some nephews who wished he would die soon to inherit him.

One day, one of them on purpose murdered him at night and threw him on the road -or at the door of one of his own brothers.

In the morning, the people found the dead body and they disputed over him. His nephew -the murderer , came and began to weep and cry. Some people said: Why do you dispute over him? Why do not you go to Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon him)?

His nephew came and complained to Musa (Moses (Peace be upon him)). Musa (Peace be upon him) said: by Allah! Anyone who knows anything about this murdered man, he should let us know.

But, no one knew anything about it. Thereupon, they asked Musa (Peace be upon him) to ask his Lord concerning this issue.

Musa (Peace be upon him) asked his Lord and he was commanded to order them to slaughter a cow, {Verily, Allah commands you that you slaughter a cow. They said, Do you make fun of us?} i.e. we ask you about the murdered and you say so! {He said, I take Allah’s Refuge from being among Al-Jahilun (the ignorant or the foolish)} i.e. I take Allah’s Refuge from saying other than that He revealed to me; and that was His Answer to what you had wanted me to ask Him.

Ibn ‘Abbas,’Ubaidah, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, As-Sadiy, Abu Al-`Aliyah and others said: If they were to slaughter any cow, they would fulfill the purpose thereof. But, they made it difficult for themselves (by asking so many questions thereof), and thus Allah the Almighty made it difficult for them (by stipulating so many conditions for the desired cow).

They asked about its description, color and age; and they were answered with what was scarce and dear (in a way to make it hard for them to find it). The point is that they were commanded to slaughter neither a too old cow, nor a too young, but (it is) between the two conditions.

This view was held by Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Abu Al-`Aliyah, `Ikrimah, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and others. Then, they pressed themselves with their questions through asking about its color. And they were answered to make it {yellow cow, bright in its color, pleasing the beholders}, which is very rare and dear.

Then, they asked: {They said, “Call upon your Lord for us to make plain to us what it is. Verily, to us all cows are alike. And surely, if Allah wills, we will be guided.”

He [Musa (Moses)] said, “He says: ‘It is a cow neither trained to tilt the soil nor water the fields, sound, having no other color except bright yellow.’ “They said, “Now you have brought the truth.” So they slaughtered it though they were near to not doing it}.

It is said that they could not find a cow with all these descriptions but with a man who was righteous and good to his father. They asked him to submit it to them, but he refused.

They tried to seduce him as to its price till they offered him what equals its weight in gold. But, he refused. Then, they offered him an amount of gold that equals its weight ten-times. Finally, he accepted their offer and submitted it to them.

Then, Musa (Peace be upon him) commanded them to slaughter it {So they slaughtered it though they were near to not doing it} i.e. while they were hesitant.

Then, Musa (Peace be upon him) instructed them with the Command of Allah to strike the dead man with a piece of the cow.

Some scholars said: with part of its thighbone, or with part of the flesh between its shoulders. When they stroke him with part thereof, he was resurrected by Allah the Almighty.

Musa (Peace be upon him) asked him: who’s your murderer? He said: it was my nephew who killed me. Then, he died again.

Allah the Almighty says {Thus Allah brings the dead to life and shows you His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) so that you may understand} i.e. as you witnessed the revival of that dead man by the Command of Allah the Almighty, He can do the same to all the dead people when He wishes to. He, Almighty Allah, says

(مَّا خَلْقُكُمْ وَلاَ بَعْثُكُمْ إِلاَّ كَنَفْسٍ وَحِدَةٍ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ بَصِيرٌ)

{The creation of you all and the resurrection of you all are only as (the creation and resurrection of) a single person. Verily, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Seer}. (Al-Qur’an-31:28)

Source: Tafsir Ibn Kathir

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What is Prophethood?


PROPHETHOOD IN ISLAM

The concept of prophethood is found in the three great monotheistic religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. In Islam, however, it has a special status and significance.

According to Islam, Allah created man to worship Him and to lead a virtuous life based on His teachings and guidance. But how can man know and fulfill his role and the purpose of his existence if he does not receive clear and practical instructions of what Allah wants him to do?

The existence of prophethood, by which Allah sent a prophet to every nation to reveal His message in terms that the people could understand, has answered this question most effectively.

One might ask: How were the prophets chosen and which individuals were so honored?

Prophethood is Allah’s blessing and a favor that is bestowed on an individual chosen by Him to convey His message. From studying the lives of the prophets that have appeared, we notice several characteristics:

1. He is the best person in his community as regards morality and intellectual ability. This is necessary, for a prophets life serves as a model for his followers. His personality should not drive people away from his message, but rather inspire them to accept it and to

transform their own lives. After receiving the message, he is infallible on all matters dealing with the revelation. Although he might commit some small mistakes, but not in any matter that concerns the revelation, he cannot commit a sin.

2. He is supported by miracles, which derive from the power and permission of Allah and not of the prophet himself, to prove that he is not an impostor. Such miracles are direct challenges to the powers that be, for they do not follow the rules laid down by the

Experts in the affected field or activity By way of illustration, let us review some of the miracles recorded in the Old Testament, the New testament, and the Qur’an.

Moses’ Egyptian contemporaries excelled in magic. Thus his major miracle was to defeat the best magicians that the society could offer.

Jesus’ contemporaries were skilled physicians, and so he raised the dead and cured those suffering from incurable diseases.

Muhammad’s contemporaries were known for their eloquence and magnificent poetry. Therefore Muhammad’s major miracle was the Qur’an, which no poet could imitate or surpass, despite their repeated and vigorous efforts to do so.

All previous miracles were limited to a specific people living at a specific time.

This is not the case with the Qur’an, however, for this miracle is universal and everlasting. Although previous generations actually witnessed it, all future generations will continue to witness its miraculous nature in term of its style, content, and spiritual impact and message.

This ability of the Qur’an to rise above the limits imposed by time and space on all other miracles proves its divine origin.

3. Every prophet states clearly that what he receives comes from Allah and that it is for the well-being of humanity. He confirms what was revealed previously and what may be revealed by a future prophet, for his task is to convey the message entrusted to him by

Allah. Thus the revealed message is always the same in essence and purpose-it cannot deviate from prior or future revelations.

Prophets are necessary for conveying God’s instructions and guidance to mankind. Without this knowledge, we would be unable to answer the fundamental questions of our existence:

Why were we created? What happens after death? Is there an afterlife? Are we accountable for our actions? Is there any future reward or punishment for what we do? What about Allah, His angels, heaven, and hell?

Each of these questions, and all others, are answered in the revelation brought by the prophet. But in order for his community to believe and accept them, the prophet must be brought by individuals who have attained a position of trust and respect among their people. This is why he must be morally and intellectual superior to his contemporaries.

Based on this understanding, Muslims reject some of the stories found in the Old Testament concerning the prophets.

For example: The prophet Lot engaging in fornication-with his own daughters when

drunk, or the prophet David sending one of his military leaders to his death so that he could marry his wife. it is inconceivable to Muslims that a prophet of Allah could do such things.

Prophets are also miraculously supported by God and instructed by Him to affirm the continuity of His message. In brief, the divine revelation consists of the following information:

a) A clear concept of God, His attributes and creation, and what should and should not be ascribed to Him.

b) A clear idea about the unseen world, angels and jinn (spirits), paradise and hell.

c) Why has God created us? What does He want from us? Will we be rewarded (or punished) for obeying (or disobeying) Him?

d) A clear explanation of how to order our societies according to His will. This involves the implementation of a law that, when applied correctly and honestly, will bring about a happy and ideal society.

As we have seen in the above discussion, there is no substitute for prophets. Despite the tremendous and impressive advancements of modern science, even it cannot provide authentic information about the supernatural world or provide guidance. Its very nature, which is too materialistic and limited, precludes it from serving this purpose. Mystic experience is also unsuitable, for it is too subjective and, frequently, too misleading.

Now one might ask: How many prophets has Allah sent to humanity?

Although we cannot answer this question definitively, some Muslim scholars place the number at two hundred forty thousand. We are only sure of what is clearly mentioned in the Qur’an: God has sent one or more messengers to each nation, for He would not be just if he were to hold a nation to account for its actions w shout first informing its people of what is allowed and what is not.

The Qur’an mentions twenty-five prophets by name (i.e., Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, who are considered the greatest of all the prophets) and indicates that there were others not known to Muhammad. Muslims are required to believe in and to respect all of the messengers of Allah without exception.

Since all the prophets come from the same God and for the same purpose-to lead   humanity to Allah-belief in them all is essential and logical. If some are accepted and others are rejected, it is due to the individual’s misunderstanding of the prophet’s role or of racial (or other) bias.

The Muslims are unique in considering belief in all of the prophets of God to be an article of faith. The Jews reject Jesus Christ and Muhammad; the Christians reject Muhammad and, in reality, reject Moses because they do not abide by his laws.

The Muslims accept them all as messengers of God who brought guidance to mankind.

However, this acceptance is characterized with a degree of caution, for the Qur’an and the Prophet states the revelation conveyed by those prophets has been distorted and corrupted by those who received it.

We read in the Qur’an:

Say (O Muslims), we believe in Allah and that which is revealed to us and that which was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac and Jacob, and their children, and that which Moses and Jesus received and that the prophets received from their Lord. We maize no distinction between any of them and unto Him we have surrendered. (2:136)

The Qur’an tells the Muslims that this is the true and impartial belief. If other nations share this belief, it means that they are on the right track. If they do not share this belief, it means that they are following their own whims and biases.

The Qur’an says:

So if they believe in the same as you believe in, then they have been [rightly] guided; but if they turn away, they are only in dissension, and Allah will be sufficient for you against them. And He is the Hearing, the Knowing. [And say, “Ours is] the religion of Allah. And who is better than Allah in [ordaining] religion? And we are worshippers of Him.” (2:137-38)

There are two important points that need to be clarified about the roles of Jesus and Muhammad, as they are usually misunderstood and distorted. In the case of Jesus, the Qur’an rejects completely the Christian assertion of his divinity and his status of the “son” of God.

It also states that the unusual circumstances of his birth-without a father-does not make him a “son” of God, for if this logic were followed to its logical conclusion, Adam, who had no father and no mother, would be greater than Jesus, for: Truly the likeness of Jesus, in God’s sight, is as Adam’s likeness; He created him of dust, then said unto him, “Be,” and he was (3:59).

Like other prophets, Jesus performed miracles: he raised the dead and cured the blind and the lepers. He also made it perfectly clear that these miracles were done by God, not by him. But his message was distorted, because it was not recorded in his presence and under his direction, but only about one hundred years after his death.

According to the Qur’an, Jesus was sent to the children of Israel to confirm the Torah of Moses and to bring glad tidings of a final messenger who would come after him:

 

And when Jesus son of Mary said, Children of Israel, I am indeed the Messenger to you, confirming the Torah that is before me, and giving good tidings of a Messenger who shall

come after me, whose name shall be the praised one. (61:6)

(the underlined portion is the translation of Ahmad, which is also a name of the Prophet Muhammad).

 

However, the majority of the Jews rejected his ministry and plotted against his life. The Qur’anic account of his death differs from the one found in the New Testament: he was not killed or crucified, but rather was raised to heaven by God. It is also implied that Jesus will return one day and that all of the Christians and Jews will believe in

him before he dies. This is also supported by authentic sayings of the

Prophet Muhammad.

Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last prophet of God, was born in Makkah in the sixth century CE. Until the age of forty, he was known as a man of excellent character and cultured manners. These characteristics earned for him the nickname of al-Amin (The Trustworthy). There

were no prior indications that Allah had chosen him to be His last messenger. Once he was entrusted with this task, however, he began calling his idol-worshipping people to Islam. The revelation was recorded during his lifetime in writing and in the memory of his followers. The care taken to preserve each revelation as it was transmitted by the Prophet ensured that it would reach future generations in an uncorrupted form. As Allah has stated that the Qur’an would be preserved accurately, it is the source of divine guidance for all time, and the Prophet Muhammad is His final prophet.

Source: WAMY Series on Islam No. 7

The Night Journey of Prophet (pbuh)


Narrated Abbas bin Malik: Malik bin Sasaa said that Allah‘s Apostle described to them his Night Journey saying, “While I was lying in Al-Hatim or Al-Hijr, suddenly someone came to me and cut my body open from here to here.” I asked Al-Jarud who was by my side, “What does he mean?” He said, “It means from his throat to his pubic area,” or said, “From the top of the chest.” The Prophet further said, “He then took out my heart. Then a gold tray of Belief was brought to me and my heart was washed and was filled (with Belief) and then returned to its original place. Then a white animal which was smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey was brought to me.” (On this Al-Jarud asked, “Was it the Buraq, O Abu Hamza?” I (i.e. Anas) replied in the affirmative). The Prophet said, “The animal’s step (was so wide that it) reached the farthest point within the reach of the animal’s sight. I was carried on it, and Gabriel set out with me till we reached the nearest heaven.
 
When he asked for the gate to be opened, it was asked, ‘Who is it?’ Gabriel answered, ‘Gabriel.’ It was asked, ‘Who is accompanying you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has Muhammad been called?’ Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, ‘He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is!’ The gate was opened, and when I went over the first heaven, I saw Adam there. Gabriel said (to me). ‘This is your father, Adam; pay him your greetings.’ So I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O pious son and pious Prophet.’ Then Gabriel ascended with me till we reached the second heaven. Gabriel asked for the gate to be opened. It was asked, ‘Who is it?’ Gabriel answered, ‘Gabriel.’ It was asked, ‘Who is accompanying you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has he been called?’ Gabriel answered in the affirmative. Then it was said, ‘He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is!’ The gate was opened.
 
When I went over the second heaven, there I saw Yahya (i.e. John) and ‘Isa (i.e. Jesus) who were cousins of each other. Gabriel said (to me), ‘These are John and Jesus; pay them your greetings.’ So I greeted them and both of them returned my greetings to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.’ Then Gabriel ascended with me to the third heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked, ‘Who is it?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Gabriel.’ It was asked, ‘Who is accompanying you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has he been called?’ Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, ‘He is welcomed, what an excellent visit his is!’ The gate was opened, and when I went over the third heaven there I saw Joseph. Gabriel said (to me), ‘This is Joseph; pay him your greetings.’ So I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.’ Then Gabriel ascended with me to the fourth heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked, ‘Who is it?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Gabriel.’ It was asked, ‘Who is accompanying you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has he been called?’ Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, ‘He is welcomed, what an excellent visit his is!’
 
The gate was opened, and when I went over the fourth heaven, there I saw Idris. Gabriel said (to me), ‘This is Idris; pay him your greetings.’ So I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.’ Then Gabriel ascended with me to the fifth heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked, ‘Who is it?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Gabriel.’ It was asked. ‘Who is accompanying you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has he been called?’ Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, ‘He is welcomed, what an excellent visit his is!’ So when I went over the fifth heaven, there I saw Harun (i.e. Aaron), Gabriel said, (to me). This is Aaron; pay him your greetings.’ I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.’ Then Gabriel ascended with me to the sixth heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked,’Who is it?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Gabriel.’ It was asked, ‘Who is accompanying you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has he been called?’ Gabriel replied in the affirmative. It was said, ‘He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is!’
 
When I went (over the sixth heaven), there I saw Moses. Gabriel said (to me),’ This is Moses; pay him your greeting. So I greeted him and he returned the greetings to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.’ When I left him (i.e. Moses) he wept. Someone asked him, ‘What makes you weep?’ Moses said, ‘I weep beCause after me there has been sent (as Prophet) a young man whose followers will enter Paradise in greater numbers than my followers.’ Then Gabriel ascended with me to the seventh heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked, ‘Who is it?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Gabriel.’ It was asked,’ Who is accompanying you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has he been called?’ Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, ‘He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is!’
 
So when I went (over the seventh heaven), there I saw Abraham. Gabriel said (to me), ‘This is your father; pay your greetings to him.’ So I greeted him and he returned the greetings to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O pious son and pious Prophet.’ Then I was made to ascend to Sidrat-ul-Muntaha (i.e. the Lote Tree of the utmost boundary) Behold! Its fruits were like the jars of Hajr (i.e. a place near Medina) and its leaves were as big as the ears of elephants. Gabriel said, ‘This is the Lote Tree of the utmost boundary.’ Behold! There ran four rivers; two were hidden and two were visible. I asked, ‘What are these two kinds of rivers, O Gabriel?’ He replied, ‘As for the hidden rivers, they are two rivers in Paradise and the visible rivers are the Nile and the Euphrates.’
 
Then Al-Bait-ul-Ma’mur (i.e. the Sacred House) was shown to me and a container full of wine and another full of milk and a third full of honey were brought to me. I took the milk. Gabriel remarked, ‘This is the Islamic religion which you and your followers are following.’ Then the prayers were enjoined on me: They were fifty prayers a day. When I returned, I passed by Moses who asked (me), ‘What have you been ordered to do?’ I replied, ‘I have been ordered to offer fifty prayers a day.’ Moses said, ‘Your followers cannot bear fifty prayers a day, and by Allah, I have tested people before you, and I have tried my level best with Bani Israel (in vain). Go back to your Lord and ask for reduction to lessen your followers’ burden.’ So I went back, and Allah reduced ten prayers for me. Then again I came to Moses, but he repeated the same as he had said before. Then again I went back to Allah and He reduced ten more prayers. When I came back to Moses he said the same, I went back to Allah and He ordered me to observe ten prayers a day. When I came back to Moses, he repeated the same advice, so I went back to Allah and was ordered to observe five prayers a day.
 
When I came back to Moses, he said, ‘What have you been ordered?’ I replied, ‘I have been ordered to observe five prayers a day.’ He said, ‘Your followers cannot bear five prayers a day, and no doubt, I have got an experience of the people before you, and I have tried my level best with Bani Israel, so go back to your Lord and ask for reduction to lessen your follower’s burden.’ I said, ‘I have requested so much of my Lord that I feel ashamed, but I am satisfied now and surrender to Allah’s Order.’ When I left, I heard a voice saying, ‘I have passed My Order and have lessened the burden of My Worshipers.”
[Sahih Bukhari]