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Period of Revelation:

Though it is a Madni Surah (revealed at Madinah), it follows naturally a Makki Surah (revealed at Makkah) Al-Fatiha, which ended with the prayer :"Guide us to the Right Way." This Surah begins with the answer to that prayer, "This is the guidance that you have asked for." The greater part of Al-Baqarah was revealed during the first two years of the Prophet's life at Al-Madinah.

Major Issues, Divine Law and Guidance:
  1. Claim of the Qur'an: "This is the Book which contains no doubt."
  2. Creation of Adam, man's nature, and his destiny.
  3. The Children of Israel and the People of the Book (Jews and Christians).
  4. Israelites' sin of worshipping the statue of a calf.
  5. Punishment of Israelites violation of Sabbath.
  6. Nature of Jews' belief.
  7. Allah orders not to prevent the people from coming to Masajid.
  8. Ibrahim and his sons were neither Jews nor Christians but were Muslims.
  9. Abraham (Ibrahim), Ishmael (Isma`il), and their building of Ka'bah.
  10. Change of Qiblah (direction in prayers) towards Ka'bah in Makkah.
  11. Allah orders not to profess any faith blindly.
  12. The moon is created to determine the time periods i.e. months and years.
  13. Hypocrisy vs. True faith.
  14. Ayat-ul-Kursi (Verse of the Throne of Allah).
  15. Allah orders the believers to enter into Islam completely.
  16. Punishment of a murtad (a Muslim who becomes a Non-Muslim).
  17. It is unlawful to marry a mushrik.
  18. Victory is not by numbers but by Allah's help.
  19. Confrontation of Ibrahim and Namrud (the king of his time).
  20. What makes charity worthless.
  21. Taking usury is like declaring war against Allah and his Rasool.
  22. All business dealings relating to deferred payments must be in writing.
  23. Retaliation against oppression.
  24. Non compulsion in religion.
  25. Divine Laws are promulgated about the following categories:
  26. Food
  27. Retribution
  28. Wills
  29. Fasting
  30. Bribery
  31. Jihad
  32. Self-defense
  33. Evidence
  34. Pilgrimage
  35. Charity
  36. Drinking
  37. Bloodwit
  38. Gambling
  39. Marriage
  40. Orphans
  41. Menstruation
  42. Oaths
  43. Divorce
  44. Alimony
  45. Nursing
  46. Widows
  47. Usury
  48. Buying on Credit
  49. Debts
  50. Loans
  51. Pledge/Mortgage
  52. Believers supplication to Allah

Guidance is also provided concerning social, cultural, economic, political and legal issues through addressing the Jews who were acquainted with the Unity of Allah, Prophethood, Revelation, the Hereafter and angels. The Jews professed to believe in the law which was revealed by Allah to their Prophet Moses (pbuh), and in principle, their religion was the same (Islam) that was being taught by the Prophet Muhammad ( pbuh). Although they were originally Muslims, they had swerved from the real Islam and made innovations and alterations to their religion. As a result they had fallen victims to hair splitting and sectarianism, so much so that they had even given up their original name "Muslim" and adopted the name "Jew" instead, and made religion the monopoly of the children of Israel. This was their religious condition when the Prophet went to Al-Madinah and invited the Jews to the True Religion. More than one third of this Surah addresses to the Children of Israel. A critical review of their history, moral degeneration and religious perversions has been made, to draw clear lines of demarcation between the essentials and nonessentials of the True Religion. The Jews are warned not to mix up the Truth with Falsehood.

During this period, a new type of Muslim called "Munafiqin" (hypocrite), had emerged. There were some who had entered the fold of Islam merely to harm it from within. There were others who were surrounded by Muslims, and had become "Muslims" to safeguard their worldly interests. They, therefore, continued to have relations with the enemies so that if the latter became successful, their interests would remain secure. Allah has, therefore, briefly pointed out the characteristics of the hypocrites in this Surah. Later on when their mischievous deeds became manifest, detailed instructions were given in Surah Al-Taubah.

This Surah is an invitation towards the Divine Guidance. All of its stories, examples and incidents revolve round this central theme. This Surah particularly addresses the Jews and cites many events from their history to admonish and advise them that accepting the Guidance revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is to their own advantage. They should, therefore, be the first to accept it because this Message is basically the same as that revealed to the Prophet Musa (Moses) pbuh.