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Sūrat al-Baqarah (Part 4)
Part 4 of observations on the structure, organization, and cohesion of Sūrat al-Baqarah
This is a continuation of our series on Sūrat al-Baqarah. Please see last week’s post for Part 3.
Section [C] - Abraham’s Legacy
The previous section on the Children of Israel transitions to a new section on Prophet Ibrāhīm (Abraham), the progenitor of both the Israelites and the Ishmaelites, which would encompass the entirety of the Arab and Jewish audience residing in Arabia at the time of revelation. Accordingly, Allah ﷻ summons both the Israelites and the Ishmaelites to be muslims (those who submit) and to believe in all the prophets of Prophet Abraham’s line.
This section highlights Abraham’s spiritual legacy which is captured in the following ring structures:
[C1]/[C1’] – The ring structure begins with Allah ﷻ imploring the Israelites to remember Allah’s favor upon them. They were blessed by being one of the earliest communities upon guidance. But the final part of the ring then says that only a fool would turn away from the way of Abraham, as if to say that turning away from Islam is like turning away from Allah’s favor.
Allah ﷻ also mentions Abraham’s leadership qualities in the beginning. The conclusion similarly highlights his amazing legacy by recording how Abraham was successfully able to teach and transfer his religion to many generations after himself.
[C2]/[C2’] – Abraham is concerned for his future descendants and specifically asks Allah ﷻ if His covenant will encompass them all. Allah ﷻ responds in the negative in [C3], but Abraham’s prayer for a messenger to come from his progeny in [C3’] is answered with the coming of the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ. So, both sections were concerned with Abraham’s future generations.
[C3]/[C3’] – Both parts highlight the responsibility of Abraham and Ishmael to build and purify the Kaʿbah.
[C4] – At the heart of this passage is Abraham’s prayer for the safety and security of Makkah. And this is fitting as the next section, Section [D], focuses on the change in prayer direction from Jerusalem (a city ravaged by war and famine throughout the ages) to Makkah (a historically safe and secure town).
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[C5]/[C5’] – Allah ﷻ begins and ends this ring with the exact same message; we will all be held to account for what we did, not what others did.
[C6]/[C6’] – The top section mentions the call of the People of the Book to follow their respective religions, but Allah ﷻ reframes their request and tells them to follow the way of Abraham. Similarly, the connected section again mentions Abraham, but goes a step further to imply that not even his family were Christians or Jews.
[C7]/[C7’] – Both sections command us to declare our submission to Allah ﷻ and His message. In the earlier section we are told to say, “And it is to Him that we submit (wa-naḥnu la-hu muslimūn),” while the latter section similarly tells us to say, “And it is Him that we worship (wa-naḥnu la-hu ‘ābidūn).”
[C8] – This ring centers on what may be considered the core message of this section. The People of the Book have two options; 1) submit to Allah ﷻ as all the previous prophets did, including Abraham and his lineage, or 2) turn away from the message and face the consequences of that decision as mentioned in the outer ring.
The above analysis concludes the study of Section [C] – Abraham’s Legacy.
And Allah ﷻ knows best
We will continue our study next week with Section [D]!
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