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Select Translation What is This? Selections include: The Koran Interpreted, a translation by A.J. Arberry, first published 1955; The Qur'an, translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published 2004; or side-by-side comparison view
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The Qurʾan What is This? A current English-language version of the Qur'an, published in 2004
Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

2. The Cow (83 – 103)

83Remember when We took a pledge from the Children of Israel: ‘Worship none but God; be good to your parents and kinsfolk, to orphans and the poor; speak good words to all people; keep up the prayer and pay the prescribed alms.’ Then all but a few of you turned away and paid no heed. 84We took a pledge from you, ‘Do not shed one another's blood or drive one another from your homelands.’ You acknowledged it at the time, and you can testify to this. 85Yet here you are, killing one another and driving some of your own people from their homes, helping one another in sin and aggression against them. If they come to you as captives, you still pay to set them free, although you had no right to drive them out.a Razi: although the Jews fought each other in alliance with different Arab tribes, when their side captured a Jew from another side, they would pay to have them released, as they said this was required by the Torah. So do you believe in some parts of the Scripture and not in others? The punishment for those of you who do this will be nothing but disgrace in this life, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be condemned to the harshest torment: God is not unaware of what you do. 86These are the people who buy the life of this world at the price of the Hereafter: their torment will not be lightened, nor will they be helped.

87We gave Moses the Scripture and We sent messengers after him in succession. We gave Jesus, son of Mary, clear signs and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit. So how is it that, whenever a messenger brings you something you do not like, you become arrogant, calling some impostors and killing others? 88They say, ‘Our hearts are impenetrably wrapped [against whatever you say],’ but God has rejectedb La'ana in Arabic dictionaries gives the meaning of tarada ‘to reject’, ‘to drive away’ rather than ‘to curse’. them for their disbelief: they have little faith. 89When a Scripture came to them from God confirming what they already had, and when they had been praying for victory against the disbelievers, even when there came to them something they knew [to be true], they disbelieved in it: God rejects those who disbelieve. 90Low indeed is the price for which they have sold their souls by denying the God-sent truth, out of envy that God should send His bounty to any of His servants He pleases. The disbelievers have ended up with wrath upon wrath, and a humiliating torment awaits them. 91When it is said to them, ‘Believe in God's revelations,’ they reply, ‘We believe in what was revealed to us,’ but they do not believe in what came afterwards, though it is the truth confirming what they already have. Say [Muhammad], ‘Why did you kill God's prophets in the past if you were true believers? 92Moses brought you clear signs, but then, while he was away, you chose to worship the calf— you did wrong.’

93Remember when We took your pledge, making the mountain tower above you, and said, ‘Hold on firmly to what We have given you, and listen to [what We say].’ They said, ‘We hear and we disobey,’ and through their disbelief they were made to drink [the love of] the calf deep into their hearts. 94Say, ‘How evil are the things your belief commands you to do, if you really are believers!’ Say, ‘If the last home with God is to be for you alone and no one else, then you should long for death, if your claim is true.’ 95But they will never long for death, because of what they have stored up with their own hands: God is fully aware of the evildoers. 96[Prophet], you are sure to find them clinging to life more eagerly than any other people, even the polytheists. Any of them would wish to be given a life of a thousand years, though even such a long life would not save them from the torment: God sees everything they do.

97Say [Prophet], ‘If anyone is an enemy of Gabriel—who by God's leave brought down the Qurʾan to your heart confirming previous scriptures as a guide and good news for the faithful—98if anyone is an enemy of God, His angels and His messengers, of Gabriel and Michael, then God is certainly the enemy of such disbelievers.’ 99For We have sent down clear messages to you and only those who defy [God] would refuse to believe them. 100How is it that whenever they make a covenant or a pledge, some of them throw it away? In fact, most of them do not believe.

101When God sent them a messenger confirming the Scriptures they already had, some of those who had received the Scripture before threw the Book of God over their shoulders as if they had no knowledge, 102and 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. 103If they had believed and been mindful of God, their reward from Him would have been far better, if only they knew.

Notes:

a Razi: although the Jews fought each other in alliance with different Arab tribes, when their side captured a Jew from another side, they would pay to have them released, as they said this was required by the Torah.

b La'ana in Arabic dictionaries gives the meaning of tarada ‘to reject’, ‘to drive away’ rather than ‘to curse’.

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