Surah Baqarah Ayat 102 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 102
And they followed [instead] what the devils had recited during the reign of Solomon. It was not Solomon who disbelieved, but the devils disbelieved, teaching people magic and that which was revealed to the two angels at Babylon, Harut and Marut. But the two angels do not teach anyone unless they say, “We are a trial, so do not disbelieve [by practicing magic].” And [yet] they learn from them that by which they cause separation between a man and his wife. But they do not harm anyone through it except by permission of Allah. And the people learn what harms them and does not benefit them. But the Children of Israel certainly knew that whoever purchased the magic would not have in the Hereafter any share. And wretched is that for which they sold themselves, if they only knew.
“They followed what the evil ones gave out (falsely) against the power of Solomon: the blasphemers Were, not Solomon, but the evil ones, teaching men Magic, and such things as came down at babylon to the angels Harut and Marut. But neither of these taught anyone (Such things) without saying: “We are only for trial; so do not blaspheme.” They learned from them the means to sow discord between man and wife. But they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah’s permission. And they learned what harmed them, not what profited them. And they knew that the buyers of (magic) would have no share in the happiness of the Hereafter. And vile was the price for which they did sell their souls, if they but knew!
(Instead of this,) they began to follow that (magic) to which the devils falsely attributed (the greatness of) the kingdom of Solomon. In fact Solomon was never involved in any practice of disbelief, but the satans, who taught magic to the people were themselves guilty of disbelief. They were after that thing which was sent to Harut and Marut, the two angels at Babylon. Whenever these two angels taught black art to anyone, they would always give a clear warning beforehand, saying, “We are merely a trial for you; so you should not commit blasphemy. But in spite of this warning, those people used to learn from the angels the art which caused division between husband and wife. Although it was obvious that they could not do any harm to anyone by means of this magic without Allah’s permission, yet they learnt that art which could not be profitable even for them but was actually harmful. Moreover, they knew it full well that anyone, who purchased that art, would have no share in the Hereafter. What a vile commodity it was for which they sold off their souls, if they had but known it!
They followed what the Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulaiman (Solomon). Sulaiman did not disbelieve, but the Shayatin (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, “We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).” And from these (angels) people learn that by which they cause separation between man and his wife, but they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah’s Leave. And they learn that which harms them and profits them not. And indeed they knew that the buyers of it (magic) would have no share in the Hereafter. And how bad indeed was that for which they sold their ownselves, if they but knew.
And follow that which the devils falsely related against the kingdom of Solomon. Solomon disbelieved not; but the devils disbelieved, teaching mankind magic and that which was revealed to the two angels in Babel, Harut and Marut. Nor did they (the two angels) teach it to anyone till they had said: We are only a temptation, therefore disbelieve not (in the guidance of Allah). And from these two (angles) people learn that by which they cause division between man and wife; but they injure thereby no-one save by Allah’s leave. And they learn that which harmeth them and profiteth them not. And surely they do know that he who trafficketh therein will have no (happy) portion in the Hereafter; and surely evil is the price for which they sell their souls, if they but knew.
And they closely followed what the Ash-Shayatîn (the all-vicious (ones), i.e., the devils) recited over Sulayman’s(Soloman’s) kingdom. And in no way did Sulayman (Solomon) disbelieve but AshShayatîn (The all-vicious (ones), i.e., the devils) disbelieved, teaching mankind sorcery, and that which was sent down upon the two Angels in Babil, (Babylon) Harût and Marût; and in no way did they teach anyone till they said, “Surely we are only a temptation, so, do not disbelieve.” Then from them (The two angels) they learned that by which they could cause separation between a person and his spouse. And in no way are they harming anyone except by the permission of Allah ; and they learned what harmed them and did not profit them. And indeed they already knew that indeed whoever trades it, in no way should he have any apportioning (of Grace) in the Hereafter; and miserable indeed was (that) for which they bartered themselves, if they had known (the Truth).
and followed what the evil ones had fabricated about the Kingdom of Solomon instead. Not that Solomon himself was a disbeliever; it was the evil ones who were disbelievers. They taught people witchcraft and what was revealed in Babylon to the two angels Harut and Marut. Yet these two never taught anyone without first warning him, ‘We are sent only to tempt- do not disbelieve.’ From these two, they learned what can cause discord between man and wife, although they harm no one with it except by God’s leave. They learned what harmed them, not what benefited them, knowing full well that whoever gained [this knowledge] would lose any share in the Hereafter. Evil indeed is the [price] for which they sold their souls, if only they knew.
Quran 2 Verse 102 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Baqarah ayat 102, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(2:102) and then followed what the evil ones falsely attributed to the Kingdom of Solomon even though Solomon had never disbelieved; it is the evil ones who disbelieved, teaching people magic. And they followed what had been revealed to the two angels in Babylon – Harut and Marut – although these two (angels) never taught it to anyone without first declaring: “We are merely a means of testing people; so, do not engage in unbelief.” And yet they learned from them what might cause division between a man and his wife. They could not cause harm to anyone except by the leave of Allah, and still they learned what harmed rather than profited them, knowing well that he who bought it will have no share in the World to Come. Evil indeed is what they sold themselves for. Had they but known!
104. ‘Evil ones’ embraces all evil beings, whether they belong to the human species or to the jinn. Here the reference seems to be to both.
When moral and material decline set in among the Israelites, they were overwhelmed with slavery and ignorance, with misery and poverty, and with humiliation and decadence. They were thus drained of all high ambitions and increasingly turned to magic, sorcery, witchcraft, charms and amulets. They began to search for facile means such as spells that would spare them hard work and yet ensure the achievement of their desired ends. At this stage they were misled by the evil ones, who made them believe that the mighty kingdom and astonishing power of Solomon were merely due to occult sciences and magical formulae, and that by revealing those they would pass on to them the keys to success. People were so engrossed in such practices that they ignored both the Book of God and anyone who summoned them to truth and righteousness.
105. There are various opinions on the interpretation of this verse. My own conclusion is that at the time when the whole Israelite nation was chained in slavery and captivity in Babylonia God sent two angels in human form in order to test the Jews. In the same way as angels were sent to the people of Lot in the form of handsome youths see (Quran 11: 69 ff. – Ed.), they were presumably sent to Israel in the form of divines who could work magic and sorcery. These angels at once began working their magical wonders but they warned the people that their presence among them was designed to test their faith, and that they ought not to jeopardize their After-life by the practice of magic. Despite the warning it seems that the Israelites had become so fond of their magical artifices that they continued to resort to talismans and sorcery.
It should not surprise anyone that angels came down to earth in human form; angels are dutiful servants of God’s kingdom, and are capable of assuming the form appropriate to the specific task they are required to perform at any particular time. Who knows how many angels may be busy performing their duties in our midst even today!
One might also wonder why angels should teach people magic, which is after all intrinsically evil. In order to understand this we must remember that the nature of their task was no different from that of an undercover policeman who hands over marked currency notes to a corrupt official as a bribe with the aim of ensuring that he is caught red-handed.
106. This shows that the greatest demand was for magical arts and charms to sow discord between a man and his wife and to procure the eventual seduction of the latter. This was the depth of moral depravity to which these people had fallen. A people cannot sink to a lower level of moral degeneracy than when adulterous affairs become their favourite pastime, and when seducing a married woman is considered a boastful achievement. The matrimonial relationship is, in truth, the very foundation of man’s collective life. The soundness of human civilization depends on the soundness of the relationship between the two sexes. Hence, nothing could be worse than the person who strikes at the very foundations of the structure which supports both him and society as a whole.
There is a Tradition from the Prophet to the effect that Satan sends his agents on their missions to all parts of the world. On their return these agents report their achievements with each mentioning his own special evil act. But Satan is not completely satisfied with any of them. It is only when an agent reports that he has succeeded in separating a wife from her husband that Satan is filled with joy and embraces him. (Bukhari, ‘Talaq’, 25 – Ed.) In the light of this Tradition it is understandable why the angels who were sent to the Israelites to test them were asked to disclose those magical arts which would lead to separation between a husband and his wife, for the inclination of a people to learn such arts is a sure index of its moral decadence.
The tafsir of Surah Baqarah verse 102 by Ibn Kathir is unavailable here.
Please refer to Surah Baqarah ayat 99 which provides the complete commentary from verse 99 through 103.
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