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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 (127 – 148)

127As Abraham and Ishmael built up the foundations of the House [they prayed], ‘Our Lord, accept [this] from us. You are the All Hearing, the All Knowing. 128Our Lord, make us devotedb Aslama here means to devote oneself to the one God alone, so that Abraham will come to his Lord with his heart totally devoted to Him: 3: 64; 26: 89; 37: 84. to You; make our descendants into a community devoted to You. Show us how to worship and accept our repentance, for You are the Ever Relenting, the Most Merciful. 129Our Lord, make a messenger of their own rise up from among them, to recite Your revelations to them, teach them the Scripture and wisdom, and purify them: You are the Mighty, the Wise.’

130Who but a fool would forsake the religion of Abraham? We have chosen him in this world and he will rank among the righteous in the Hereafter. 131His Lord said to him, ‘Devote yourself to Me.’ Abraham replied, ‘I devote myself to the Lord of the Universe,’ 132and commanded his sons to do the same, as did Jacob: ‘My sons, God has chosen [your] religion for you, so make sure you devote yourselves to Him, to your dying moment.’

133Were you [Jews] there to see when death came upon Jacob? When he said to his sons, ‘What will you worship after I am gone?’ they replied, ‘We shall worship your God and the God of your fathers, Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac, one single God: we devote ourselves to Him.’c ‘One single God’ reinforces the interpretation of islam as ‘devotion’, one meaning of aslama (al-Mu‘jam al-Wasit). 134That community passed away. What they earned belongs to them, and what you earn belongs to you: you will not be answerable for their deeds.

135They say, ‘Become Jews or Christians, and you will be rightly guided.’ Say [Prophet], ‘No, [ours is] the religion of Abraham, the upright, who did not worship any god besides God.’ 136So [you believers], say, ‘We believe in God and in what was sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and what was given to Moses, Jesus, and all the prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we devote ourselves to Him.’ 137So if they believe like you do, they will be rightly guided. But if they turn their backs, then they will be entrenched in opposition. God will protect you from them: He is the All Hearing, the All Knowing. And say [believers], 138‘[Our life] takes its colour from God, and who gives a better colour than God? It is Him we worship.’

139Say [Prophet] [to the Jews and Christians], ‘How can you argue with us about God when He is our Lord and your Lord? Our deeds belong to us, and yours to you. We devote ourselves entirely to Him. 140Or are you saying that Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes were Jews or Christians?’ [Prophet], ask them, ‘Who knows better: you or God? Who could be more wicked than those who hide a testimony [they received] from God? God is not unmindful of what you do.’ 141That community passed away: what they earned belongs to them, and what you earn belongs to you. You will not be answerable for their deeds.

142The foolish people will say, ‘What has turned them away from the prayer direction they used to face?’a This refers to the change in the Muslims’ prayer direction from Jerusalem to Mecca in the second year of the Hijra. Say, ‘East and West belong to God. He guides whoever He will to the right way.’ 143We have made you [believers] into a just community,b Literally ‘a middle nation’. so that you may bear witness [to the truth] before others and so that the Messenger may bear witness [to it] before you. We only made the direction the one you used to face [Prophet] in order to distinguish those who follow the Messenger from those who turn on their heels: that test was hard, except for those God has guided. God would never let your faith go to waste [believers],c This reassured those who asked whether the prayers said towards Jerusalem had been wasted. for God is most compassionate and most merciful towards people. 144Many a time We have seen you [Prophet] turn your face towards Heaven, so We are turning you towards a prayer direction that pleases you.a The Prophet secretly hoped to be allowed to face the Mosque in Mecca in prayer, as it was so dear to him, being built by Abraham and Ishmael, as seen from verse 127 onwards. Turn your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque: wherever you [believers] may be, turn your faces to it. Those who were given the Scripture know with certainty that this is the Truth from their Lord: God is not unaware of what they do. 145Yet even if you brought every proof to those who were given the Scripture, they would not follow your prayer direction, nor will you follow theirs, nor indeed will any of them follow one another's direction. If you [Prophet] were to follow their desires, after the knowledge brought to you, you would be doing wrong. 146Those We gave Scripture know it as well as they know their own sons, but some of them hide the truth that they know. 147The truth is from your Lord, so do not be one of those who doubt. 148Each community has its own direction to which it turns: race to do good deeds and wherever you are, God will bring you together.b On the Day of Judgement, cf. 5: 48. God has power to do everything.

Notes:

b Aslama here means to devote oneself to the one God alone, so that Abraham will come to his Lord with his heart totally devoted to Him: 3: 64; 26: 89; 37: 84.

c ‘One single God’ reinforces the interpretation of islam as ‘devotion’, one meaning of aslama (al-Mu‘jam al-Wasit).

a This refers to the change in the Muslims’ prayer direction from Jerusalem to Mecca in the second year of the Hijra.

b Literally ‘a middle nation’.

c This reassured those who asked whether the prayers said towards Jerusalem had been wasted.

a The Prophet secretly hoped to be allowed to face the Mosque in Mecca in prayer, as it was so dear to him, being built by Abraham and Ishmael, as seen from verse 127 onwards.

b On the Day of Judgement, cf. 5: 48.

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