Introduction to chapters of the Holy Quran: Surah al-Fatihah, al-Baqarah, Al-e-Imran, al-Nisa and al-Maidah


The English translation of Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IV’srh introduction to chapters of the Holy Quran is being presented for the benefit of our readers. Insha-Allah, in the coming issues, we will endeavour to publish the introduction to all chapters of the Holy Quran as given by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh:

Photo courtesy of Suhaib Ahmad

Chapter 1: Surah al-Fatihah

This surah [chapter] was revealed in the early Meccan period. According to some authentic reports, it was revealed a second time in Medina. Including “Bismillah…”, it consists of seven verses. 

The surah contains the essence of all the topics dealt with in the Holy Quran. For this very reason, this surah is also termed as اُمُّ‭ ‬الْكِتَاب (Ummul-Kitab( in ahadith. Aside from this, it has many other names, such as فَاتِحَةُالْكِتَاب (Fatihatul-Kitab), اَلصَّلٰوة (As-Salaat), اَلْحَمْدُ (Al-Hamd), اُمُّ‭ ‬الْقُرْآن (Ummul-Quran), اَلسَّبْعُ الْمَثَانِيْ (As-Sab’ul-Mathaani), اَلشِّفَاء (Ash-Shifaa), اَلْكَنْزُ (Al-Kanz) etc.

Allah the Almighty especially taught the Promised Messiahas the commentary of this surah. Therefore, he authored the commentary of especially this surah in Arabic. 

Chapter 2: Surah al-Baqarah

This surah was revealed in the first and second years of the Medinite period. Including “Bismillah…”, it consists of 287 verses. Fundamental beliefs such as Allah the Almighty, divine revelation and belief in the Hereafter have been discussed in the very beginning of the surah.

In Surah al-Fatihah, three categories of people, i.e. the favoured ones, the  مغضوب‭ ‬عليهم (maghdhub alaihim) “who incurred His displeasure”, and  ضالّين(dhaallin) “those who have gone astray”, were discussed. After discussing the favoured ones in Surah al-Baqarah, the evil creeds, evil practices, wickedness and crookedness of the people who incurred His displeasure have been mentioned in detail. 

This surah is a wonderful miracle. From the beginning of creation until the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, this surah gives accounts of various prophets and has also identified the challenges Islam was going to face until the Last Day. Having discussed Hazrat Adamas, the prophets of various major religions have also been mentioned, including Hazrat Abrahamas, Hazrat Mosesas, Hazrat Jesusas and the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa

While reading this surah, one feels as if the complete Law has been revealed; and no facet of the Islamic Law seems to be left out. Though in succeeding surahs some other aspects are also found, in its own right, this surah encompasses every subject. 

It is reported in a hadith that the Holy Prophetsa said that everything had its pinnacle and the Quran’s pinnacle was Surah al-Baqarah. 

There is a verse in this surah that is the chief of all verses of the Quran, and that is Ayat-ul-Kursi. Thus, it is the miraculous power of the Holy Prophetsa that he was bestowed such a surah

It also includes matters relating to Salat, fasting, Zakat and Hajj. The supplications of Hazrat Abrahamas and Hazrat Ishmaelas are specifically mentioned, which they made at the time of the reconstruction of the House of Allah.

This surah also includes the covenant which Allah had given to the Children of Israel, which they, out of their ill fortune, broke. It is this covenant that proved to be a prelude to the advent of Hazrat Jesusas.

Towards the end of this surah, there is a verse that indicates that it encompasses the essence of all kinds of prayers, as though a never-ending treasure of prayers has been bestowed.

Chapter 3: Surah Al-e-Imran

This surah was revealed in Medina in the third year of migration. Including “Bismillah…”, it consists of 201 verses. 

This surah addresses particularly the third group, i.e., Dhaallin [those who have gone astray] as discussed in Surah al-Fatihah. In this respect, the following topics are discussed: the beginning of Christianity, the birth of Hazrat Maryamas and the miraculous birth of Hazrat Jesusas

This surah also discusses Allah the Almighty’s exceptionally favourable treatment to Hazrat Maryamas and how Allah the Almighty would extraordinarily, yet lovingly provide for her. It seems that the desire for pure and pious progeny generated in the heart of Hazrat Zachariahas only due to looking at the piety of Hazrat Maryamas.

The miracles of Hazrat Jesusas, in this surah, have also been discussed in such a way that the misconceptions given rise to by reading the Bible are also dispelled by the Holy Quran, as it throws light on the reality of miracles. This surah also talks about the natural death of Hazrat Jesusas.

In contrast to the covenant of the Jews, this surah presents the covenant of the Prophets [“mithaq al-Nabiyyin”], which was taken from all the Prophets, which, in a nutshell, is that if such prophets of God came after them who corroborated and followed their correct teachings, in such a case, it was incumbent upon their people to assist them. This is the covenant which is found in Surah al-Ahzab as well, and this is the very covenant which was taken from the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa as well.

Apart from other matters, the philosophy of financial sacrifice has also been addressed in this surah; that is, one’s sacrifice cannot be accepted unless one spends in the way of Allah that which one loves and that which is the best.

This surah also discusses the miraculous victory of the Holy Prophetsa on the occasion of Badr, which was followed by an era of great victories of Islam. The account of Uhud is also given as to how the Companionsra of the Holy Prophetsa, recalling the sacrifice of Hazrat Ishmaelas, laid their lives like sacrificial animals, but did not forsake the Holy Prophetsa.

Chapter 4: Surah al-Nisa

This surah was revealed between the third and fifth years of migration. Including “Bismillah…”, it consists of 177 verses.

This surah starts with a verse that talks about the miraculous origin of humans from a single cell.

This surah has a deep connection with especially the concluding part of the preceding one. Besides dealing with the teaching of steadfastness, the preceding surah, towards its end, also teaches to exhort one another to be steadfast and safeguard one’s boundaries. Surah al-Nisa talks about bloody wars against enemies resulting in a large number of women being left as widows and children as orphans. In connection with the problems ensued by wars and the rights of widows and orphans, one solution to these problems has been presented in the form of polygamy, with the proviso that a momin [believer] maintains justice. In case of being unable to do justice, he will have to have one wife only.

This surah deals with the basic principles of the Islamic system of inheritance and their details.

The relationship between Judaism and Christianity and the advent of Hazrat Jesusas has been discussed, that when the Jews broke all their covenants and became hard heartened and tried to kill Jesusas on the cross, Allah the Almighty frustrated their plan of killing Jesusas on the cross. It also proved as an exoneration for Hazrat Jesusas and his chaste mother from all the allegations levelled against them by the Jews.

This surah also talks about the migration of Hazrat Jesusas and mentions the prophecy that there would not be left among the People of the Book any group who did not believe in the truthfulness and natural death of Hazrat Jesusas. This prophecy was fulfilled word for word by his emigration to Kashmir via Afghanistan.      

Chapter 5: Surah al-Maidah

This surah was revealed towards the end of the Medinite period. Including “Bismillah…, it consists of 121 verses. 

This surah addresses the reality of numerous miracles of Hazrat Jesusas. It has been related in commentaries of the Holy Quran that he was literally given a tray of provisions from the Heavens. Its reality also has been uncovered by saying that this was in fact a prophecy that the immeasurable amount of sustenance provided to the Christian people would be the result of the supplications and sacrifices of Hazrat Jesusas. But if they became ungrateful after that, whose signs have unfortunately appeared, then the punishment they would receive would be so horrible that perhaps no such punishment had been inflicted on anyone before.

In view of the degradation caused in the Jews and Christians by breaking covenants, the ummah of Muhammadsa has been warned at the beginning of the surah.

Earlier, in Surah al-Baqarah, lawfulness and unlawfulness of certain foods was discussed. But in this surah, something different has been related which distinguishes Islam from every other religion, i.e. provision should not only be lawful, but it should be pure as well. Thus, if a food substance is apparently lawful, it is better to abstain from it unless it is absolutely pure and wholesome.

The teaching to administer justice in all circumstances has been discussed earlier. In the current surah, the topic of giving evidence starts. And the teaching of absolute justice with reference to evidence has been discussed so profoundly that the protection of the rights of even the antagonist and never ever letting go of justice while settling issues with them, have been urged.

This surah discusses the covenant again as to how the Jews fell victim to mutual malice and enmity and disintegrated into 72 sects as a result of breaking the covenant. At this point, Hazrat Jesusas was sent to those who founded the 73rd redeemed sect. But it was also in a way prophesied that his people would not benefit from it and would further continue disintegrating into factions. And as a result of jealousy, malice and meanness with each other, huge global wars would originate, which the Christian nations would wage against their own brethren Christian nations.

Where, on the one hand, this surah addresses the issue of nations’ mutual wars and bloodshed, it also talks about a group whose transgression and brutality would exceed all bounds (verse 34). As we find ruthless acts of brutality against juveniles in the Western world in the current age, the Eastern world is also rampant with it. And such extreme acts ought to be met with severe punishment so that فَشَرِّدْ‭ ‬بِهِمْ‭ ‬مَنْ‭ ‬خَلْفِهِمْ [“strike fear in those that are behind them”] may be fulfilled, and that other criminals may abstain from crime after seeing such a serious result.

This surah raises a voice against all types of transgression. In this very connection, it has been urged that someone’s conversion to another faith by force can never be allowed. As a result of extreme coercive measures, if some people become apostate, in lieu of that, Allah the Almighty will provide such great nations who will vastly outnumber these apostates. They will greatly love the believers and will be very harsh to the disbelievers.

This surah gives such an account of the just teachings of the Holy Quran which is not to be found in any other book of the world; that is, the followers of other religions who are true in following their religious teachings, do righteous deeds and firmly believe in the accountability of their deeds in the Hereafter, even if they do not believe in the Holy Prophetsa, Allah the Almighty will reward them the best for their good deeds. They need not entertain any fear or grief about their end result.

The topic of mutual malice and hatred under discussion in this surah addresses some other factors which cause extreme malice and hatred. One of them is alcohol and the second is gambling. Though they have some minor benefits, their harms far exceed those benefits.

The death of Hazrat Jesusas has been mentioned very clearly at the end of the surah. And he has been presented as a prophet who believed in the absolute unity of God. He never taught Trinity or idolatry to his people, nor did he teach them to deify both him and his mother besides Allah. 

(Translated from the original introduction of chapters as presented in the Urdu translation of the Holy Quran by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IVrh. Translated into English by Shahid Mahmood Ahmad, missionary in Ghana)

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