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(2:72-73) – Unresolved Murder

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Remember ye slew a man and fell into a dispute among yourselves as to the crime: But Allah was to bring forth what ye did hide.

So We said: “Strike the (body) with a piece of the (heifer).” Thus Allah bringeth the dead to life and showeth you His Signs: Perchance ye may understand.

Nasr writes,

On the murder, also see 2:67–71c. With some variations, the
commentators relate the story that the Israelites, after searching for a long time,find the cow described by Moses, purchase it for a high price, and sacrifice it.
Then they take a part of the cow’s body and strike the corpse of the murder
victim, which is then briefly animated, long enough to answer the question of
who the killer was, after which the body reverts to its previous state (IK). Thus,
most commentators understand the command in v. 73 to mean, “Strike him [the
corpse] with part of it [the slaughtered cow].” Assuming this is the correct
interpretation, it would not be the only instance of reanimation in the Quran;
others include Abraham and the birds (2:260); Jesus and the clay bird (3:49); the
unnamed man thought by some to be Ezra, who died and was revived after a
hundred years (2:259); and an allusion to this is when dust touched by a
messenger (usually thought to be Gabriel) is used to animate the golden calf

In a related ḥadīth, a man asked, “O Messenger of God, how does God
revive the dead?” “Have you ever passed by a barren valley, and then passed by
it again and it was verdant?” “Yes.” “Even so is the Resurrection.” In another
version he replied, “Even so does God revive the dead.” Sufi commentators have
seen in this passage a message that one whose heart has been “slain” by
worldliness must sacrifice the egotistical soul in order to give life to the heart
through the remembrance of God (Ni, Su, Qu). Al-Qushayrī states, “Whoever
desires that his heart be given life must sacrifice his soul. So whoever sacrifices
his soul with effort gives life to his heart and the lights of vision.”

See also:

The Concept of unresolved murder among the Israelites


Nasr, Hossein (2015). Study Quran.

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