Surah Baqarah Ayat 19 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 19
Or [it is] like a rainstorm from the sky within which is darkness, thunder and lightning. They put their fingers in their ears against the thunderclaps in dread of death. But Allah is encompassing of the disbelievers.
“Or (another similitude) is that of a rain-laden cloud from the sky: In it are zones of darkness, and thunder and lightning: They press their fingers in their ears to keep out the stunning thunder-clap, the while they are in terror of death. But Allah is ever round the rejecters of Faith!
Or (still another parable may be cited to depict their condition): heavy rain is falling from the sky, accompanied by pitch darkness, thunder and lightning. When they hear the thunderclap, they thrust their fingers into their ears for fear of death, but Allah is encircling the disbelievers on all sides.
Or like a rainstorm from the sky, wherein is darkness, thunder, and lightning. They thrust their fingers in their ears to keep out the stunning thunderclap for fear of death. But Allah ever encompasses the disbelievers (i.e. Allah will gather them all together).
Or like a rainstorm from the sky, wherein is darkness, thunder and the flash of lightning. They thrust their fingers in their ears by reason of the thunder-claps, for fear of death, Allah encompasseth the disbelievers (in His guidance, His omniscience and His omnipotence).
Or as a cloudburst from the heaven in which are darknesses, and thunder, and lightning. They set their fingers in their ears against stunning (thunderbolts), wary of death, and Allah is Supremely Encompassing the disbelievers.
Or [like people who, under] a cloudburst from the sky, with its darkness, thunder, and lightning, put their fingers into their ears to keep out the thunderclaps for fear of death- God surrounds the disbelievers.
Quran 2 Verse 19 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Baqarah ayat 19, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(2:19) Or they are like those who encounter a violent rainstorm from the sky, accompanied by pitch-dark clouds, thunder-claps and flashes of lightning: on hearing thunder-claps they thrust their fingers into their ears in fear of death. Allah encompasses these deniers of the Truth.
18. By thrusting their fingers into their ears they temporarily deceive themselves into believing that they can escape the catastrophic end that awaits them. However, they cannot escape that end since God with all His might, encompasses them.
19. Or like a rainstorm in the sky, bringing darkness, thunder, and lightning. They thrust their fingers in their ears to keep out the stunning thunderclap for fear of death. But Allah ever encompasses the disbelievers. 20. The lightning almost snatches away their sight, whenever it flashes for them, they walk therein, and when darkness covers them, they stand still. And if Allah willed, He could have taken away their hearing and their sight. Certainly, Allah has power over all things.
This is another parable which Allah gave about the hypocrites who sometimes know the truth and doubt it at other times. When they suffer from doubt, confusion and disbelief, their hearts are,
(Like a Sayyib), meaning, “The rain”, as Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, and several other Companions have confirmed as well as Abu Al-`Aliyah, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Ata’, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Qatadah, `Atiyah Al-`Awfi, `Ata’ Al-Khurasani, As-Suddi and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas. Ad-Dahhak said “It is the clouds.” However, the most accepted opinion is that it means the rain that comes down during,
(darkness), meaning, here, the doubts, disbelief and hypocrisy.
(thunder) that shocks the hearts with fear. The hypocrites are usually full of fear and anxiety, just as Allah described them,
(They think that every cry is against them) (63: 4), and,
(They swear by Allah that they are truly of you while they are not of you, but they are a people who are afraid. Should they find refuge, or caves, or a place of concealment, they would turn straightway thereto in a swift rush) (9:56-57).
(The lightning), is in reference to the light of faith that is sometimes felt in the hearts of the hypocrites,
(They thrust their fingers in their ears to keep out the stunning thunderclap for fear of death. But Allah ever encompasses the disbelievers), meaning, their cautiousness does not benefit them because they are bound by Allah’s all-encompassing will and decision. Similarly, Allah said,
(Has the story reached you of two hosts. Of Fir`awn (Pharaoh) and Thamud Nay! The disbelievers (persisted) in denying. And Allah encompasses them from behind!) (85:17-20).
Allah then said,
(The lightning almost snatches away their sight) meaning, because the lightning is strong itself, and because their comprehension is weak and does not allow them to embrace the faith. Also, `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas commented on the Ayah,
(The lightning almost snatches away their sight), “The Qur’an mentioned almost all of the secrets of the hypocrites.” `Ali bin Abi Talhah also narrated that Ibn `Abbas said,
(Whenever it flashes for them, they walk therein), “Whenever the hypocrites acquire a share in the victories of Islam, they are content with this share. Whenever Islam suffers a calamity, they are ready to revert to disbelief.”. Similarly, Allah said,
(And among mankind is he who worships Allah on the edge: If good befalls him, he is content with that.) (22:11). Also, Muhammad bin Ishaq reported that Ibn `Abbas said,
(Whenever it flashes for them, they walk therein, and when darkness covers them, they stand still), “They recognize the truth and speak about it. So their speech is upright, but when they revert to disbeleif, they again fall into confusion.” This was also said by Abu Al-`Aliyah, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Qatadah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and As-Suddi, who narrated it from the Companions, and it is the most obvious and most correct view, and Allah knows best.
Consequently, on the Day of Judgment, the believers will be given a light according to the degree of their faith. Some of them will gain light that illuminates over a distance of several miles, some more, some less. Some people’s light will glow sometimes and be extinguished at other times. They will, therefore, walk on the Sirat (the bridge over the Fire) in the light, stopping when it is extinguished. Some people will have no light at all, these are the hypocrites whom Allah described when He said,
(On the Day when the hypocrites ـ men and women ـ will say to the believers: “Wait for us! Let us get something from your light!” It will be said to them; “Go back to you rear! Then seek a light!”) (57:13).
Allah described the believers,
(On the Day you shall see the believing men and the believing women ـ their light running forward before them and by their right hands. Glad tidings for you this Day! Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise)) (57:12), and,
(The Day that Allah will not disgrace the Prophet (Muhammad ) and those who believe with him. Their Light will run forward before them and (with their Records ـ Books of deeds) in their right hands. They will say: “Our Lord! Keep perfect our Light for us ﴿and do not put it off till we cross over the Sirat (a slippery bridge over the Hell) safely﴾ and grant us forgiveness. Verily, You are Able to do all things”) (66:8).
Ibn Abi Hatim narrated that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud commented on,
(Their Light will run forward before them), “They will pass on the Sirat. according to their deeds. The light that some people have will be as big as a mountain, while the light of others will be as big as a date tree. The people who will have the least light are those whose index fingers will sometimes be lit and extinguished at other times.” Ibn Abi Hatim also reported that Ibn `Abbas said, “Every person among the people of Tawhid (Islamic Monotheism) will gain a light on the Day of Resurrection. As for the hypocrite, his light will be extinguished. When the believers witness the hypocrite’s light being extinguished, they will feel anxious. Hence, they will supplicate,
(Our Lord! Keep perfect our Light for us).” Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim said, “On the Day of Resurrection, everyone who has embraced the faith will be given a light. When they arrive at the Sirat, the light of the hypocrites will be extinguished. When the believers see this, they will feel anxious and supplicate,
(Our Lord! Keep perfect our Light for us).”
Consequently, there are several types of people. There are the believers whom the first four Ayat (2:2-5) in Surat Al-Baqarah describe. There are the disbelievers who were described in the next two Ayat. And there are two categories of hypocrites: the complete hypocrites who were mentioned in the parable of the fire, and the hesitant hypocrites, whose light of faith is sometimes lit and sometimes extinguished. The parable of the rain was revealed about this category, which is not as evil as the first category.
This is similar to the parables that were given in Surat An-Nur (chapter 24). Like the example of the believer and the faith that Allah put in his heart, compared to a brightly illuminated lamp, just like a rising star. This is the believer, whose heart is built on faith and receiving its support from the divine legislation that was revealed to it, without any impurities or imperfections, as we will come to know, Allah willing.
Allah gave a parable of the disbelievers who think that they have something, while in reality they have nothing; such people are those who have compounded ignorance. Allah said,
(As for those who disbelieved, their deeds are like a mirage in a desert. The thirsty one thinks it to be water, until he comes up to it, he finds it to be nothing) (24:39).
Allah then gave the example of ignorant disbelievers, simple in their ignorance. He said;
(Or (the state of a disbeliever) is like the darkness in a vast deep sea, overwhelmed by waves, topped by dark clouds, (layers of) darkness upon darkness: if a man stretches out his hand, he can hardly see it! And he for whom Allah has not appointed light, for him there is no light) (24:40).
Therefore, Allah divided the camp of the disbelievers into two groups, advocates and followers. Allah mentioned these two groups in the beginning of Surat Al-Hajj,
(And among mankind is he who disputes about Allah, without knowledge, and follows every rebellious (disobedient to Allah) Shaytan (devil) (devoid of every kind of good)) (22:3), and,
(And among men is he who disputes about Allah, without knowledge or guidance, or a Book giving light (from Allah)) (22:8).
Furthermore, Allah has divided the group of the believers in the beginning of Surat Al-Waqi`ah (56) and at the end. He also divided them in Surat Al-Insan (76) into two groups, the Sabiqun (those who preceded), they are the “near ones” (Muqaribun) and Ashab Al-Yamin (the companions of the right), and they are righteous (Abrar).
In summary, these Ayat divide the believers into two categories, the near ones and righteous. Also, the disbelievers are of two types, advocates and followers. In addition, the hypocrites are divided into two types, pure hypocrites and those who have some hypocrisy in them. The Two Sahihs record that `Abdullah bin `Amr said that the Prophet said,
(Whoever has the following three (characteristics) will be a pure hypocrite, and whoever has one of the following three characteristics will have one characteristic of hypocrisy, unless and until he gives it up. Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie. Whenever he makes a covenant, he proves treacherous. Whenever he is entrusted, he breaches the trust)
Hence, man might have both a part of faith and a part of hypocrisy, whether in deed, as this Hadith stipulates, or in the creed, as the Ayah (2:20) stipulates.
Imam Ahmad recorded Abu Sa`id saying that the Messenger of Allah said
(The hearts are four (types): polished as shiny as the radiating lamp, a sealed heart with a knot tied around its seal, a heart that is turned upside down and a wrapped heart. As for the polished heart, it is the heart of the believer and the lamp is the light of faith. The sealed heart is the heart of the disbeliever. The heart that is turned upside down is the heart of the pure hypocrite, because he had knowledge but denied it. As for the wrapped heart, it is a heart that contains belief and hypocrisy. The example of faith in this heart, is the example of the herb that is sustained by pure water. The example of hypocrisy in it, is the example of an ulcer that thrives on puss and blood. Whichever of the two substances has the upper hand, it will have the upper hand on that heart). This Hadith has a Jayid Hasan (good) chain of narration.
(And if Allah willed, He would have taken away their hearing and their sight. Certainly, Allah has power over all things). Muhammad bin Ishaq reported that Ibn `Abbas commented on Allah’s statement,
(And if Allah willed, He would have taken away their hearing and their sight), “Because they abandoned the truth after they had knowledge in it.”
(Certainly, Allah has power over all things). Ibn `Abbas said, “Allah is able to punish or pardon His servants as He wills.” Ibn Jarir commented, “Allah only described Himself with the ability to do everything in this Ayah as a warning to the hypocrites of His control over everything, and to inform them that His ability completely encompasses them and that He is able to take away their hearing and sight.”
Ibn Jarir and several other scholars of Tafsir stated that these two parables are about the same kind of hypocrite. So the `or’ mentioned in,
(Or like a rainstorm from the sky) means `and’, just as the Ayah,
(And obey neither a sinner or a disbeliever among them). Therefore, `or’ in the Ayah includes a choice of using either example for the hypocrites. Also, Al-Qurtubi said that `or’ means, “To show compatibility of the two choices, just as when one says, `Sit with Al-Hasan or Ibn Sirin.’ According to the view of Az-Zamakhshari, `so it means each of these persons is the same as the other, so you may sit with either one of them.’ The meaning of `or’ thus becomes `either.’ Allah gave these two examples of the hypocrites, because they both perfectly describe them.”
I (Ibn Kathir) say, these descriptions are related to the type of hypocrite, because there is a difference between them as we stated. For instance, Allah mentioned these types in Surat Bara’ah (chapter 9) when He repeated the statement, “And among them” three times, describing their types, characteristics, statements and deeds. So the two examples mentioned here describe two types of hypocrites whose characteristics are similar. For instance, Allah gave two examples in Surat An-Nur, one for the advocates of disbelief and one for the followers of disbelief, He said,
(As for those who disbelieved, their deeds are like a mirage in a desert) (24:39), until,
(Or (the state of a disbeliever) is like the darkness in a vast deep sea) (24:40).
The first example is of the advocates of disbelief who have complex ignorance, while the second is about the followers who have simple ignorance. Allah knows best.
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