Surah Al-Baqarah >> Currently viewing Surah Baqarah Ayat 61 (2:61)

Surah Baqarah Ayat 61 in Arabic Text

وَإِذْ قُلْتُمْ يَـٰمُوسَىٰ لَن نَّصْبِرَ عَلَىٰ طَعَامٍۢ وَٰحِدٍۢ فَٱدْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُخْرِجْ لَنَا مِمَّا تُنۢبِتُ ٱلْأَرْضُ مِنۢ بَقْلِهَا وَقِثَّآئِهَا وَفُومِهَا وَعَدَسِهَا وَبَصَلِهَا ۖ قَالَ أَتَسْتَبْدِلُونَ ٱلَّذِى هُوَ أَدْنَىٰ بِٱلَّذِى هُوَ خَيْرٌ ۚ ٱهْبِطُوا۟ مِصْرًۭا فَإِنَّ لَكُم مَّا سَأَلْتُمْ ۗ وَضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ ٱلذِّلَّةُ وَٱلْمَسْكَنَةُ وَبَآءُو بِغَضَبٍۢ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُوا۟ يَكْفُرُونَ بِـَٔايَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ وَيَقْتُلُونَ ٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَ بِغَيْرِ ٱلْحَقِّ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ بِمَا عَصَوا۟ وَّكَانُوا۟ يَعْتَدُونَ
Wa iz qultum yaa Moosaa lan nasbira ‘alaa ta’aaminw waahidin fad’u lanaa rabbaka yukhrij lanaa mimmaa tumbitul ardu mimbaqlihaa wa qis saaa’ihaa wa foomihaa wa ‘adasihaa wa basalihaa qaala atastabdiloonal lazee huwa adnaa billazee huwa khayr; ihbitoo misran fa inna lakum maa sa altum; wa duribat ‘alaihimuz zillatu walmaskanatu wa baaa’oo bighadabim minal laah; zaalika bi annahum kaano yakfuroona bi aayaatil laahi wa yaqtuloonan Nabiyyeena bighairil haqq; zaalika bimaa ‘asaw wa kaanoo ya’tadoon (section 7)

English Translation

Here you can read various translations of verse 61

Sahih International
And [recall] when you said, “O Moses, we can never endure one [kind of] food. So call upon your Lord to bring forth for us from the earth its green herbs and its cucumbers and its garlic and its lentils and its onions.” [Moses] said, “Would you exchange what is better for what is less? Go into [any] settlement and indeed, you will have what you have asked.” And they were covered with humiliation and poverty and returned with anger from Allah [upon them]. That was because they [repeatedly] disbelieved in the signs of Allah and killed the prophets without right. That was because they disobeyed and were [habitually] transgressing.

Yusuf Ali
“And remember ye said: “O Moses! we cannot endure one kind of food (always); so beseech thy Lord for us to produce for us of what the earth groweth, -its pot-herbs, and cucumbers, Its garlic, lentils, and onions.” He said: “Will ye exchange the better for the worse? Go ye down to any town, and ye shall find what ye want!” They were covered with humiliation and misery; they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah. This because they went on rejecting the Signs of Allah and slaying His Messengers without just cause. This because they rebelled and went on transgressing.

Abul Ala Maududi
Remember: You grumbled: “O Moses, we cannot endure one and the same sort of food. Pray your Lord to bring for us the products of the earth green herbs, vegetables, corn, garlic, onions, pulses and the like.” Moses replied: “What! would you exchange that which is meaner for that which is nobler? Well, go and live in a town and you will get there what you demand.” By and by, they became so degraded that disgrace and humiliation, misery and wretchedness were stamped upon them and they incurred Allah’s wrath. That was because they began to reject the Revelations of Allah and kill His Messengers without any just cause; that was the consequence of their disobedience and their persistent transgression against the Law.

Muhsin Khan
And (remember) when you said, “O Musa (Moses)! We cannot endure one kind of food. So invoke your Lord for us to bring forth for us of what the earth grows, its herbs, its cucumbers, its Fum (wheat or garlic), its lentils and its onions.” He said, “Would you exchange that which is better for that which is lower? Go you down to any town and you shall find what you want!” And they were covered with humiliation and misery, and they drew on themselves the Wrath of Allah. That was because they used to disbelieve the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah and killed the Prophets wrongfully. That was because they disobeyed and used to transgress the bounds (in their disobedience to Allah, i.e. commit crimes and sins).

Pickthall
And when ye said: O Moses! We are weary of one kind of food; so call upon thy Lord for us that He bring forth for us of that which the earth groweth – of its herbs and its cucumbers and its corn and its lentils and its onions. He said: Would ye exchange that which is higher for that which is lower? Go down to settled country, thus ye shall get that which ye demand. And humiliation and wretchedness were stamped upon them and they were visited with wrath from Allah. That was because they disbelieved in Allah’s revelations and slew the prophets wrongfully. That was for their disobedience and transgression.

Dr. Ghali
And (remember) as you said, “O M‍ûsa, (Moses) we will never (endure) patiently one (sort) of food; so invoke your Lord for us that He may bring out for us of what the earth grows of its green herbs and its cucumbers, and its garlic, and its lentils, and its onions.” He said, “Would you wish to exchange that which is most charitable for that which is meaner? Get you down to (any) township; (Some say that it is Egypt) then surely you will have (there) what you asked for.” And they were stricken with humiliation and indigence, and they incurred the anger of Allah, That was for that they had disbelieved in the signs of Allah, and killed the Prophets (Literally: Prophesiers) untruthfully. That was for that they disobeyed and were (always) transgressing.

Abdel Haleem
Remember when you said, ‘Moses, we cannot bear to eat only one kind of food, so pray to your Lord to bring out for us some of the earth’s produce, its herbs and cucumbers, its garlic, lentils, and onions.’ He said, ‘Would you exchange better for worse? Go to Egypt and there you will find what you have asked for.’ They were struck with humiliation and wretchedness, and they incurred the wrath of God because they persistently rejected His messages and killed prophets contrary to all that is right. All this was because they disobeyed and were lawbreakers.

Quran 2 Verse 61 Explanation

For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Baqarah ayat 61, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.

Ala-Maududi

(2:61) And recall when you said: “O Moses, surely we cannot put up with one sort of food, so pray to your Lord to bring out for us what the earth produces – its herbs and its cucumbers and its corn and its lentils and its garlic and its onions.” Then Moses said: “Will you take a meaner thing in exchange for what is better?[77] Go down to some city and there you shall get what you ask for.” And ignominy and wretchedness were pitched upon them and they were laden with the burden of Allah’s wrath. This was because they denied the Signs of Allah[78] and slew the Prophets unrightfully.[79] All this, because they disobeyed and persistently exceeded the limits (of the Law).


77. This does not mean that their real fault lay in asking for things which entailed cultivation instead of availing themselves of manna and quails which they received without any toil. What is emphasized here is that rather than being concerned with the great purpose for which they had been brought to the Sinai they relished the foods which gratified their palates to such a degree that they could not forgo them even temporarily (cf. Numbers 11: 4-9).

78. There are several ways in which one might deny the signs of God. First, one might refuse to accept those teachings of God which one found contrary to one’s fancies and desires. Second, one might know that something is from God and yet wilfully flout it. Third, one might know well the import of God’s directives and yet distort them.

79. The Israelites recorded their crimes in detail in their own history. Here are just a few examples from the Bible:

(1) After the death of Solomon the state of the Israelites was split into two: the State of Judah with its capital in Jerusalem, and the State of Israel with its capital in Samaria. This was followed by a series of wars between the two States so that the State of Judah sought the assistance of the Aramacan State of Damascus against its own kinsmen. At this, Hamani the seer went under God’s direction to Asa the king and rebuked him. Instead of rectifying his behaviour, Asa was so angry that he put the seer in the stocks. (See 2 Chronicles 16: 7-10.)

(2) When Elijah denounced the Jews for their worship of Baal and invited them to return to monotheism, Ahab, the king of Israel pursued him for the sake of his pagan wife so that he had to take refuge in the mountains of the Sinai peninsula. On this occasion, according to the Bible, he said: ‘. . . the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword., and 1, even 1 only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away’ (1 Kings 19: 14).

(3) The same king Ahab imprisoned another Prophet, Micah, for no other reason than that of speaking the truth. King Ahab ordered that he should be given only bread and water. (See 1 Kings 22: 26-7)

(4) When idol-worship and moral corruption became prevalent in Judah and the Prophet Zechariah raised his voice against them, he was stoned to death in the very court of the house of the Lord. (See 2 Chronicles 24: 2l.)

(5) When the Israelite State of Samaria was wiped out by the State of Jerusalem, the Prophet Jeremiah deplored the condition of the Israelites. He warned them that it was time they set about mending their ways otherwise they would face an even more calamitous end than that of Samaria. The response to this sincere preaching was abuse and curses: he was beaten, imprisoned, put in the stocks and lowered by ropes into a cistern, where he was left to die of hunger and thirst. He was also accused of various crimes, including treason and conspiracy. (See Jeremiah 15: 10; 18: 20-3; 20: 1-18; 36-40)

(6) It is reported of another Prophet, Amos, that when he denounced the widespread errors and corruption in the State of Samaria and warned of the evil consequences that follow such misdeeds, he was condemned to exile and told to pursue his prophetic task somewhere beyond its frontiers. (See Amos 7: 10-13.)

(7) When John the Baptist protested against the acts of moral corruption that were brazenly practised in his court, Herod, the ruler of Judah, first put John into prison, then had him beheaded at the request of a dancing girl, and had his head set on a platter and presented to the girl. (See Mark 6: 17-29)

(8) The same hostility to Prophets is evident from the life of Jesus. The priests and political leaders of Israel ultimately became inflamed against Jesus, who criticized them for their impiety and hypocrisy and invited them to true faith and righteousness. It was this which prompted them to prepare a false case against him and persuade the Romans to sign a death sentence. Later, when the Roman governor, Pilate, asked them which of the two prisoners – Jesus or Barabbas, a notorious brigand – should be released on the occasion of the feast, they asked for the release of Barabbas and for the crucifixion of Jesus (Matthew 27: 20-6). This is a shameful chapter in the record of the Jewish nation, to which the Qur’an refers here in passing. It is evident that when a nation chooses its most notoriously criminal and wicked people for positions of leadership, and its righteous and holy men for gaol and the scaffold, God has no alternative but to lay His curse and damnation on that nation.

Ibn-Kathir

61. And (remember) when you said, “O Musa ! We cannot endure one kind of food. So invoke your Lord for us to bring forth for us of what the earth grows, its herbs, its cucumber its Fum, its lentils and its onions.” He said, “Would you exchange that which is better for that which is lower Go you down to any town and you shall find what you want!”


The Children of Israel preferred Foods inferior to Manna and Quails

Allah said, “And remember My favor on you when I sent down the manna and quails to you, a good, pure, beneficial, easily acquired food. And remember your ungratefulness for what We granted you. Remember how you asked Musa to exchange this type of food for an inferior type that consists of vegetation, and so forth.” Al-Hasan Al-Basri said about the Children of Israel, “They were bored and impatient with the type of food they were provided. They also remembered the life they used to live, when their diet consisted of lentils, onions, garlic and herbs.” They said,

﴿يَـمُوسَى لَن نَّصْبِرَ عَلَى طَعَامٍ وَحِدٍ فَادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُخْرِجْ لَنَا مِمَّا تُنبِتُ الأَرْضُ مِن بَقْلِهَا وَقِثَّآئِهَا وَفُومِهَا وَعَدَسِهَا وَبَصَلِهَا﴾

(O Musa ! We cannot endure one kind of food. So invoke your Lord for us to bring forth for us of what the earth grows, its herbs, its cucumbers, its Fum, its lentils and its onions). They said,

﴿عَلَى طَعَامٍ وَحِدٍ﴾

(One kind of food) meaning, the manna and quails, because they ate the same food day after day. The Ayah mentioned lentils, onions and herbs, which are all known types of foods. As for the Fum, Ibn Mas`ud read it, Thum (garlic). Also, Ibn Abi Hatim narrated that Al-Hasan said about the Ayah,

﴿وَفُومِهَا﴾

(Its Fum), “Ibn `Abbas said that Fum means, garlic.”

He also said that the expression, `Fumu-lanna’ means, `bake for us’, according to the languages of old. Ibn Jarir commented, “If this is true, then `Fum’ is one of the words whose pronounciation were altered, the letter `fa’ was replaced by the letter `tha’, since they are similar in sound.” And Allah knows best. Others said that Fum is wheat, the kind used for bread. Al-Bukhari said, “Some of them said that Fum includes all grains or seeds that are eaten.”

Allah’s statement,

﴿قَالَ أَتَسْتَبْدِلُونَ الَّذِى هُوَ أَدْنَى بِالَّذِى هُوَ خَيْرٌ﴾

(He said, “Would you exchange that which is better for that which is lower”) criticized the Jews for asking for inferior foods, although they were living an easy life, eating tasty, beneficial and pure food. Allah’s statement,

﴿اهْبِطُواْ مِصْرًا﴾

(Go you down to any Misr) means, `any city’, as Ibn `Abbas said. Ibn Jarir also reported that Abu Al-`Aliyah and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas said that the Ayah refers to Misr, the Egypt of Fir`awn. The truth is that the Ayah means any city, as Ibn `Abbas and other scholars stated. Therefore, the meaning of Musa’s statement to the Children of Israel becomes, “What you are asking for is easy, for it is available in abundance in any city that you might enter. So since what you asked for is available in all of the villages and cities, I will not ask Allah to provide us with it, especially when it is an inferior type of food. ” This is why Musa said to them,

﴿أَتَسْتَبْدِلُونَ الَّذِى هُوَ أَدْنَى بِالَّذِى هُوَ خَيْرٌ اهْبِطُواْ مِصْرًا فَإِنَّ لَكُم مَّا سَأَلْتُمْ﴾

(Would you exchange that which is better for that which is lower Go you down to any town and you shall find what you want!)

Since their request was the result of boredom and arrogance and since fulfilling it was unnecessary, their request was denied. Allah knows best.

﴿وَضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الذِّلّةُ وَالْمَسْكَنَةُ وَبَآءُوا بِغَضَبٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُواْ يَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَـتِ اللَّهِ وَيَقْتُلُونَ النَّبِيِّينَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ ذلِكَ بِمَا عَصَواْ وَّكَانُواْ يَعْتَدُونَ﴾

(61. And they were covered with humiliation and misery, and they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah. That was because they used to disbelieve in the Ayat (proofs, evidence) of Allah and killed the Prophets wrongfully. That was because they disobeyed and used to transgress the bounds (in their disobedience to Allah, i.e. commit crimes and sins.)) (2:61)

Covering the Jews in Humiliation and Misery

Allah said,

﴿وَضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الذِّلَّةُ وَالْمَسْكَنَةُ﴾

(And they were covered with humiliation and misery). This Ayah indicates that the Children of Israel were plagued with humiliation, and that this will continue, meaning that it will never cease. They will continue to suffer humiliation at the hands of all who interact with them, along with the disgrace that they feel inwardly. Al-Hasan commented, “Allah humiliated them, and they shall have no protector. Allah put them under the feet of the Muslims, who appeared at a time when the Majus (Zoroastrians) were taking the Jizyah (tax) from the Jews.” Also, Abu Al-`Aliyah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and As-Suddi said that `misery’ used in the Ayah means, `poverty.’ `Atiyah Al-`Awfi said that `misery’ means, `paying the tilth (tax).’ In addition, Ad-Dahhak commented on Allah’s statement,

﴿وَبَآءُوا بِغَضَبٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ﴾

(and they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah), “They deserved Allah’s anger.” Also, Ibn Jarir said that,

﴿وَبَآءُوا بِغَضَبٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ﴾

(and they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah) means, “They went back with the wrath. Similarly, Allah said,

﴿إِنِّى أُرِيدُ أَن تَبُوءَ بِإِثْمِى وَإِثْمِكَ﴾

(Verily, I intend to let you draw my sin on yourself as well as yours) (Al-Ma’idah 5:29) meaning, `You will end up carrying my, and your, mistakes instead of me’. Thus, the meaning of the Ayah becomes, `They went back carrying Allah’s anger; Allah’s wrath descended on them; they deserved Allah’s anger.”’

Allah’s statement,

﴿ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُواْ يَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَـتِ اللَّهِ وَيَقْتُلُونَ النَّبِيِّينَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ﴾

(That was because they used to disbelieve in the Ayat (proofs, evidences, etc.) of Allah and killed the Prophets wrongfully.) means, “This is what We rewarded the Children of Israel with: humiliation and misery.” Allah’s anger that descended on the Children of Israel was a part of the humiliation they earned, because of their defiance of the truth, disbelief in Allah’s Ayat and belittling the carriers of Allah’s Law i.e. the Prophets and their following. The Children of Israel rejected the Messengers and even killed them. Surely, there is no form of disbelief worse than disbelieving in Allah’s Ayat and murdering the Prophets of Allah.

Meaning of Kibr

Similarly, in a Hadith recorded in the Two Sahihs the Messenger of Allah said,

«الْكِبْرُ بَطَرُ الْحَقّ وَغَمْطُ النَّاس»

(`Kibr, is refusing the truth and degrading (belittling) people.)

Imam Ahmad recorded, `Abdullah bin Mas`ud saying that the Messenger of Allah said,

«أَشَدُّ النَّاسِ عَذَابًا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ رَجُلٌ قَتَلَهُ نَبِيٌّ أَوْ قَتَلَ نَبِيًّا: وَإِمَامُ ضَلَالَةٍ وَمُمَثِّلٌ مِنَ الْمُمَثِّلِين»

(The people who will receive the most torment on the Day of Resurrection are: a man who was killed by a Prophet or who killed a Prophet, an unjust ruler and one who mutilates (the dead).) Allah’s statement,

﴿ذلِكَ بِمَا عَصَواْ وَّكَانُواْ يَعْتَدُونَ﴾

(That was because they disobeyed and used to transgress the bounds) mentions another reason why the Children of Israel were punished in this manner, for they used to disobey and transgress the limits. Disobedience is to do what is prohibited, while transgression entails overstepping the set limits of what is allowed and what is prohibited. Allah knows best.

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