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About This Surah

This is a Medinan sura and the longest in the Qur’an, containing material revealed over several years, and named after the story of the cow which the Israelites were ordered to slaughter (verses 67 ff.). The sura opens with a response to the plea for guidance in Sura1, ‘The Opening’, dividing mankind into three groups in their response to this guidance—the believers, the disbelievers, and the hypocrites—and closes confirming the tenets of faith given in the opening verses (3–5). The addressee shifts as the sura progresses: at various times the text addresses mankind in general (verses 21 ff.), where they are urged to serve God who has been so gracious to them (they are reminded that God created Adam and favoured him over the angels), the Children of Israel (verses 40 ff.), who are reminded of God’s special favours to them and urged to believe in scriptures that do indeed confirm their own, and the believers (verses 136 ff.), who are given instruction in many areas—prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, defence, marital law, and financial matters.

Source: The Qur’an (Oxford World’s Classics) by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem (Amazon Kindle Edition)

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