Summary of Al-Baqarah & Ali Imran (Juz 3)

These notes are extracted from Sheikh Omar Suleiman’s 2016 Ramadhan Series entitled “Quran 30 for 30”, where he shares summaries of the surahs. Full notes (in PDF) can be downloaded at: https://goo.gl/mdQAL8

★ The Importance of Surah Al-Baqarah and Surah Ali Imran

Previously we discussed the overview of Surah Al-Baqarah, so in this lesson, we will be focusing primarily on the early section of Surah Ali Imran. If we look at Surah Al-Baqarah and Surah Ali Imran together, we can see that they are very much connected. Did you know that Rasulallah s.a.w. taught us to connect ourselves with these 2 surahs? Abu Abdullah ibn Burayda reported that he heard Rasulallah s.a.w. said:

“Learn Surah Al-Baqarah because there is blessing in learning it, there is sorrow in ignoring it, and the magicians cannot confront it. Learn Surah Al-Baqarah and Surah Ali Imran because they are the two bright ones and they shade their people on the Day of Resurrection just as two clouds, two spaces of shade, or two lines of birds. On the Day of Resurrection, the Qur’an will meet its companion in the shape of a pale-faced man when his grave is opened. The Qur’an will ask him: Do you know me? The man will say: I do not know you. The Qur’an will say: I am your companion, the Qur’an, which has brought you thirst during the heat and made you stay up during the night. Every merchant has his certain trade, but this Day, you are behind all types of trade. Then, kingship will be given to him in his right hand, eternal life in his left hand, and the crown of grace will be placed on his head. His parents will also be granted two garments that the people of this world could never afford. They will say: Why were we granted these garments? It will be said: Because your son was carrying the Qur’an. It will be said (to the Qur’an reciter): Read and ascend through the levels of Paradise. He will go on ascending as long as he recites, whether reciting slowly or quickly.”
[Musnad Ahmad | Grade: Hasan (fair) according to Ibn Kathir]

The Qur’an will intercede us on the Day of Judgment, and Surah Al-Baqarah and Surah Ali Imran specifically will become our shade on that Day like how 2 big clouds would shade a person, or in the form of 2 lines of birds that will precede the believer who committed him/herself to these 2 surahs. Subhanallah.

So again, these 2 surahs are inherently connected, and they emphasize the importance of guidance, as well as the answer to the du’a that we make in Surah Al-Fatihah which is to remain steadfast on the path of guidance.

 

★ The First Section
The Greatest Names of Allah: Al-Hayy Al-Qayyum

Like many surahs, parts of Surah Ali Imran were revealed in different times, but it flows so harmoniously that we would think it was all revealed in one time. The first section of the surah was revealed in Madinah, right after the battle of Badr. So at that point of time, the believers had a sense of great confidence because they just fought their oppressors overwhelmingly, and establishing themselves in Madinah. So Allah s.w.t. reminds them to never forget their priorities despite the success – that their focus should continuously remain on the Hereafter. Allah s.w.t. begins with:

Alif-Lam-Mim. Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshiped but He) Al-Hayy (the Ever Living) Al-Qayyum (the One Who sustains & protects all that exists).
[Ali Imran 3:1-2]

These 2 beautiful Names of Allah, Al-Hayy and Al-Qayyum, are also in Ayatul-Kursi which is the greatest Ayah in the Qur’an. Ayatul-Kursi is placed in the beginning of the third juz, which is the same juz as the above ayah. And according to some evidences, Al-Hayy Al-Qayyum are the 2 greatest Names of Allah. Rasulallah s.a.w. said:

“The greatest name of Allah appears in 3 surahs of the Qur’an: Al-Baqarah, Al ‘Imran and Taha.” [Ibn Majah & Hakim; classed as hasan by Albani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah]

Al Hayy Al-Qayyum are found in all of these 3 surahs. So not only does the third juz of the Qur’an has the greatest ayah, but it also has the greatest Names of Allah, repeated twice!

The 3 Types of People: The Hypocrites, The Believers, The Disbelievers
Remember that Surah Al-Baqarah starts with:

Alif-Lam-Mim. This is the Book (the Qur’an) whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun.
[Al-Baqarah 2:1-2]

Whereas in Surah Ali Imran, Allah s.w.t. says:

It is He Who has sent down the Book (the Qur’an) to you with truth, confirming what came before it. And he sent down the Taurat and the Injil. Aforetime, as a guidance to mankind, And He sent down the criterion (this Qur’an)…
[Ali Imran 3:3-4]

So in surah Al-Baqarah, Allah s.w.t. says that the Qur’an is guidance, and in surah Ali Imran, Allah s.w.t. says that the Taurat and the Injil were also guidance for the people aforetime, but now He s.w.t. has sent down THE criterion – The Qur’an. The Qur’an is now the Book of Guidance calling people back to Allah s.w.t. In Surah Ali Imran, Allah speaks to the people of the book (Taurat and Injil) quite heavily – particularly the Christians.

Just like in Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah s.w.t. also establishes the audience i.e. the way people reacted to the Revelation.

1. The hypocrites

…So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation, they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking Al-Fitnah (polytheism and trials), and seeking for its hidden meanings, but none knows its hidden meanings save Allah…
[Ali Imran 3:7]

How did the hypocrites react to the Revelation? These people, who have crookedness in their hearts, ignore the authority of the Qur’an but they focus on the ambiguous ayat and interpreted them wildly in numerous ways. They tried to manipulate the ayat with wrong interpretations to fit and conform with their lowly desires and to cause corruptions. If a person has this hypocrisy disease in his heart, he will continue to spin things out of control leading himself and others astray.

2. The believers

…And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: “We believe in it; the whole of it (clear and unclear ayat) are from our Rabb.” And none receive admonition except men of understanding.
[Ali Imran 3:7]

The believers who are people of knowledge, on the other hand, say that they believe in the whole Qur’an – that all of the ayat are from their Rabb, so they do not reject a single ayah, nor try to look for loopholes to escape from any ruling or commandment of Allah. And this is the exact same spirit on how Al-Baqarah ended:

The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Rabb, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. (They say), “We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers” and they say, “We hear, and we obey. (We seek) Your Forgiveness, our Rabb, and to You is the return (of all).”
[Al-Baqarah 2:285]

Now let’s recap: Surah Al-Fatihah is a du’a for guidance. In Surah Al-Baqarah, there is a du’a to keep us firm on that guidance we asked in surah Al-Fatihah, and that we don’t feel that the guidance and its commandments too burdensome for us.

And in Surah Ali Imran, there is also a du’a about guidance, but this du’a is specifically for our internal state of the heart. It’s a du’a asking for our heart’s ability to maintain sincerity so that it does not deviate after guidance has reached us. If the heart is strong and sincere, if it’s ready to receive guidance, then it can bear anything that Allah s.w.t. has commanded and nothing will be felt burdensome. That du’a is:

“Our Rabb! Let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us, and grant us mercy from You. Truly, You are the Bestower, Our Rabb! Verily, it is You Who will gather mankind together on the Day about which there is no doubt. Verily, Allah never breaks His Promise.”
[Ali Imran 3:8-9]

In a hadith by Tirmidhi, we learn Rasulallah s.a.w. most frequent du’a! Shahr bin Hawshab said to Umm Salamah: ‘O Mother of the Believers! What was the supplication that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said most frequently when he was with you?’ She said: ‘The supplication he said most frequently was:

“Ya Muqallibal-qulub, thabbit qalbi ‘ala dinik.”
(O Changer of the hearts, make my heart firm upon Your religion) [Tirmidhi]

So one of the most important elements that we learn from these two du’as is that the believers are very much focused on the Hereafter, so much so that the desire of this dunya are not appealing enough to take them away from Allah. Believers always know their priority, that the Day of Judgment is imminent, and therefore they will not betray the guidance for worldly desire, the way the hypocrites did.

3. The disbelievers

Verily, those who disbelieve, neither their properties nor their offspring will avail them whatsoever against Allah and it is they who will be fuel of the Fire.
[Ali Imran 3:10]

Desire Makes People Forget About the Hereafter

Beautified for men is the love of things they covet; women, children, much of gold and silver, branded beautiful horses, cattle and well-tilled land. This is the pleasure of the present world’s life, but Allah has the excellent return with Him. Say: Shall I inform you of things far better than those? For Al-Muttaqun there are Gardens with their Rabb, underneath which rivers flow. Therein (is their) eternal (home) and purified spouses and Allah will be pleased with them. And Allah is All-Seer of the slaves.
[Ali Imran 3:14-15]

Allah gave the reasons why people are deluded: Because of their desire for spouse, children, wealth, etc. But Allah s.w.t. also says: Shall I not inform you what is even better than all of these things that can lead you away from Allah if you give priorities to them? For those who have taqwa, which is necessary to absorb guidance, are gardens in the presence of their Rabb, subhanallah. Just like the theme in surah Al-Baqarah, Allah s.w.t. teaches us again that unrestrained desires are what cause a person to fall into hypocrisy or even into rejection of faith.

Pride Makes One Go Astray

Truly, the religion with Allah is Islam. Those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) did not differ except out of mutual jealousy, after knowledge had come to them. And whoever disbelieves in the Ayat of Allah, then surely, Allah is Swift in calling to account.
[Ali Imran 3:19]

Allah s.w.t. clarifies that the way to Him has always been Islam, submitting to the One God in the way that He has ordered us to submit. The people of the book did not differ in the guidance sent to them, except out of their ego, pride and animosity amongst themselves. They even had the audacity to say that if they went to Hellfire, it will be for a few days only [Ali Imran 3:24] The believers, in comparison to that, said: “Our Rabb! We have indeed believed, so forgive us our sins and save us from the punishment of the Fire.” [Ali Imran 3:16] They believe in the Hereafter, they know the severity of the Hellfire – they don’t want to be in the Hellfire even for a millisecond!

The difference between these two groups is clear as night and day. One group of people remain committed with their focus on the Hereafter, out of awe and fear of Allah; while the other group belittled the punishment of Allah, and belittled the value of guidance.

We have previously learnt in surah Al-Baqarah that the 2 ways that a person can go astray are because of desire and pride – and surah Ali Imran again reiterates those points here. This is a stern reminder for us who recite and ponder over the Qur’an to not let our desire gets the best of us, nor fall into the wickedness of pride.

 

★ The Second Section
The second portion of the surah is between ayat 33 – 63. At ayah 33, Allah s.w.t. starts to speak particularly to the believers of Isa a.s. The reason why this is significant is because this portion was revealed in the 9th year after hijrah (at the very end of the prophetic seerah) in which at that time, there was a delegation of Christians who were received courteously and hosted well, and Rasulallah s.a.w. had a debate with them over some of the elements of Christianity. So this portion contains the most extensive and beautiful discourse on the blessed family of Imran, Zakariyya, Maryam, Isa, Yahya (peace be upon them all), as well as clarifies their position with Allah – how mighty they are in the sight of Allah, and how a believer should also hold them in such high regard. After these stories, Allah mentions the theological differences. So this actually gives us a methodology on how to speak about Isa a.s. or Maryam a.s. etc, that we speak about them in praise, we clarify their position with Allah, and then the theological differences are mentioned – that as great as Isa a.s. is, the way he was created was just like Adam a.s.:

Verily, the likeness of Isa before Allah is the likeness of Adam. He created him from dust, then (He) said to him: “Be!” – and he was.
[Ali Imran 3:59]

★ The Third Section
The third section of the surah, i.e. between ayat 64 – 120, was revealed at the same time as the first section of the surah after the battle of Badr. It is a warning to the people of the book to accept the truth as it is. This is where we see the most “Ya Ahlal-Kitab / O people of the book” mentioned repeatedly, over and over again. Allah s.w.t. also makes a distinction between how some people of the book accepted and some rejected; between the trustworthiness and truthfulness of one group and the wickedness of another group:

Among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is he who, if entrusted with a Qintar (a great amount of wealth) will readily pay it back; and among them there is he who, if entrusted with a single silver coin, will not repay it unless you constantly stand demanding, because they say: “There is no blame on us to betray and take the properties of the illiterates.” But they tell a lie against Allah while they know it.
[Ali Imran 3:75]

This is a recognition that they’re not all the same – there are people who will readily accept guidance and maintain their covenant with Allah s.w.t. Then Allah turns the discourse to the Muslims themselves and says to us just like how we hate any element of the divine guidance or Rasulallah s.a.w. to be rejected by people, then we should believe the entire body of divine guidance and the previous prophets sent by Allah:

Say: “We believe in Allah and in what has been sent down to us, and what was sent down to Ibrahim, Isma’il, Ishaq, Ya’qub and Al-Asbat (the offspring 12 sons of Ya’qub) and what was given to Musa, Isa, and the Prophets from their Rabb. We make no distinction between one another among them and to Him (Allah) we have submitted.”
[Ali Imran 3:84]

Then Allah says:

How shall Allah guide a people who disbelieved after their belief and after they bore witness that the Messenger (s.a.w.) is true and after clear proofs had come unto them? And Allah guides not the people who are Zalimun.
[Ali Imran 3:86]

What this means is that there were people of the book who knew that Rasulallah s.a.w. fit the descriptions of the awaited messenger. They saw him as that foretold messenger and believed in him privately, but publicly, they insisted upon fighting and rejecting him. How shall Allah guide these people who knew he s.a.w. is the Messenger, they knew that he s.a.w. is upon the truth, yet they obstinately refused to accept divine revelation? How can guidance come to these people if they purposely turn away from it? It is clear that Allah will not guide those who insist on misguidance. This is a stern warning to those who reject the current revelation and current prophet (Rasulallah s.a.w.), and it is beautifully placed right after Allah s.w.t. tells us Muslims to not disbelieve any of the previous revelation and prophet.

Finally, Allah ends this juz with:

By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (piety, righteousness – here it means Allah’s Reward, i.e. Paradise), unless you spend (in Allah’s Cause) of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allah knows it well.
[Ali Imran 3:92]

Basically what Allah s.w.t. is telling us is that He doesn’t just expect us to not be distracted by the dunya, but Allah also expects us to shed the dunya for His sake – that we should be willing to part ways with some of the material things for the sake of seeking the pleasure of Allah and salvation in the Hereafter. This is a mark of guidance on a person.

We ask Allah to make us humble believers that recognize and receive guidance, and commit ourselves sincerely to it.

Summary of Al-Fatihah and Al-Baqarah

These notes are extracted from Sheikh Omar Suleiman’s 2016 Ramadhan Series entitled “Quran 30 for 30”. Full notes (in PDF) can be downloaded at: https://goo.gl/LErWn0

★ The Beginning of the Qur’an: Du’a

All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Rabb of the ‘Alamin. The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. The Only Owner of the Day of Recompense. You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help. Guide us to the Straight Way. The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not of those who earned Your Anger, nor of those who went astray.
[Al-Fatihah 1:1-7]

The Noble Qur’an begins with Surah Al-Fatihah, in which Allah s.w.t. gives us a beautiful and important du’a. Rasulallah s.a.w. said: “Supplication (du’a’) is itself the worship.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]

The Qu’ran did not begin with a story of the prophets, or about someone else’s relationship with Allah. But the very beginning of this Manual for all mankind is Du’a, which shows us the nature of the relationship that Allah s.w.t. wants us to have with Him – that we can always approach Him directly, without any intermediary.

★ Supplication For Guidance
Surah Al-Fatihah is a supplication for guidance. Therefore the Qur’an begins with us speaking to Allah s.w.t. for that guidance. And immediately after our supplication, notice how the next Surah eloquently begins with:

Alif-Lam-Mim. This is the Book (the Qur’an), whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun
(the pious and righteous persons who fear Allah much and love Allah much).
[Al-Baqarah 2:1-2]

As soon as we ask for guidance in Surah Al-Fatihah, Allah s.w.t. immediately answers that supplication in the beginning of Surah Al-Baqarah. Allah s.w.t. responds: Here is the Book, the Qur’an, in which is the guidance that you’ve asked for. This is a beautiful correlation between the two Surahs.

In summary, Allah tells us in Surah Al-Baqarah: what guidance is, why we should seek guidance, how to be sincere in that pursuit of guidance, then Allah s.w.t. tells us the stories of those who fell off the path of guidance and the factors that led them to such so that we don’t fall in the same trap, and Allah s.w.t. affirms that this Message is one that requires dedication from us believers, and if we are sincere, then Allah will constantly see us through our obstacles.

The Entire Qur’an is Guidance for Those Who Believe in The Unseen
In the early part of Surah Al-Baqarah, notice that Allah s.w.t. mentions those who believe in the unseen:

This is the Book, whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun. Who believe in the Ghaib (unseen) and perform As-Salat (the prayers), and spend out of what we have provided for them.
[Al-Baqarah 2: 2-3]

And at the end of the Qur’an, Allah tells us in Surah An-Naas to seek refuge with Him from Shaitan – and amongst the functions of Shaitan, are the unseen whispers and doubts that he brings to us:

Say: “I seek refuge with (Allah) the Rabb of mankind. The King of mankind. The Ilah (God) of mankind. From the evil of the whisperer (devil who whispers evil in the hearts of men) who withdraws (from his whispering in one’s heart after one remembers Allah), who whispers in the breasts of mankind, of jinn and men.”
[An-Naas 114: 1-6]

The Qur’an begins by saying that this is the guidance for those who believe in Allah and the unseen, and the Qur’an ends by saying how we have to constantly fight the unseen attacks of Shaitan by seeking refuge in the One who sent the guidance in the first place. So we are constantly in this struggle, and for that struggle, Allah s.w.t. has already given its solution in and between from the very beginning of the Qur’an until the end of the Qur’an, subhanallah.

The Story of Adam a.s. and Iblis
In the next passages of Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah s.w.t. gives us briefly the traits of 3 types of people, how they responded when the guidance was brought to them:

  1. Those who believe in Allah and wants to sincerely accept the guidance
    They are on (true) guidance from their Rabb, and they are the successful. [Al-Baqarah 2:5]
  2. Those who purposely and arrogantly turn away from guidance – and because they turn away, Allah seals their hearts, eyes, and ears
    Verily, those who disbelieve, it is the same to them whether you (O Muhammad s.a.w.) warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe. [Al-Baqarah 2:6]
  3. The hypocrites who are not sincerely seeking guidance, but instead they use it for their lowly, worldly, material benefit whenever they see fit.
    And of mankind, there are some (hypocrites) who say: “We believe in Allah and the Last Day” while in fact they believe not. [Al-Baqarah 2:8]

Then Allah s.w.t. gives us their stories – and we usually think that the stories in the Qur’an are random. They’re not random at all. Look how Allah s.w.t. first gives us the story of the first man, Adam a.s., and what caused him to fall. Allah also gives us the story of Iblis who fell away from guidance. So Allah is showing us how Adam a.s. fell and how Iblis fell, but to a much different and greater degree. So here we learn 2 reasons how a person can turn away from guidance: Desire and Pride.

In the case of the fall of Adam a.s., it was his simple desire, which temporary disconnected himself from the guidance of Allah. Therefore shahwat / desire is a means where we can miss out on guidance, if we let our desires get the best of us.

But in the case case of Iblis, it was his pride / kibr. When a person suffers the disease from pride, they will find it much harder to come back to Allah than a person who suffers from a simple desire. For Iblis, it was his destructive characteristic, his flaw of pride which causes Iblis to permanently turn away from guidance. Whereas in the case of Adam a.s., he came back to Allah and to guidance. Hence why Allah s.w.t. says:

“We said: Get down all of you from this place (Paradise), then whenever there comes to you Guidance from Me, and whoever follows My Guidance, there shall be no fear on them, nor shall they grieve.
[Al-Baqarah 2:38]

The Story of Bani Israel and Fir’aun
Then there is a transition to the story of Musa a.s., Fir’aun, and Bani Israel. Bani Israel initially turned away from Allah due to their desires, but as they insisted upon their desires, that itself became a form of pride on its own. But we learnt in the Qur’an that they kept wavering – at times they did came back to Allah, but at other times they arrogantly turned away. Here Allah s.w.t. is giving us an example of when our desires get the best of us – they can lead us far, far, really far astray.

But in the case of Fir’aun, this is an example equivalent of Shaitan in the form of a man – a man who insisted and literally put his pride before guidance, before humanitarian, before empathy. He worshiped himself and expected everyone to worship him in every true sense of the word.

So Fir’aun insisted on pride, while Bani Israel insisted on desires. Some of the Bani Israel came back to Allah like how Adam a.s. repented to Allah after he erred, but some of the Bani Israel insisted on their desires to a point that their hearts were hardened until it became a form of pride. So subhanallah, we have these 2 divergent paths that start with guidance, then how the audience in general receives the guidance, then the story of Adam and Iblis, and then Bani Israel and Fir’aun – all in correlation to one another.

★ The Story of Sulaiman a.s.
Then Allah s.w.t. mentions to us Sulaiman a.s. But wait, why is he so significant in this theme? Because Sulaiman a.s. had access to his desires the way that Bani Israel could only dream of having access to, and he had ALL the elements that usually would make a person full of pride, he had a kingdom GREATER than the kingdom of Fir’aun – he had EVERYTHING that usually would leave someone astray. YET he a.s. took all of these and channelled them in a way that would bring him closer to Allah s.w.t. He used these to make him a means of a beacon of guidance, rather than a person who turns away from guidance.

★ The Story of Ibrahim a.s.
The Qur’an next mentions our father, Ibrahim a.s., who is significant for many reasons. But in this context, it is about a uniqueness of the children of Adam a.s. who follow the ways of Ibrahim. Allah s.w.t. praises Ibrahim’s character – he a.s. is an epitome who is truthful to Allah, who always seeks guidance, and who – no matter what is thrown at him – constantly responds in a way that is pleasing to Allah. He is an example of complete submission to the guidance, and he does not feel any sense of pride by the great position that Allah gave him, never show preference of his desires but always prefers the commandments of Allah and what is pleasing to Him s.w.t., not questioning Allah, not looking for loopholes like what Bani Israel did. Ibrahim a.s. represents everything that a person would want to achieve in coming close to Allah. And this is also what he wanted to see from his offsprings and nation.

And who turns away from the religion of Ibrahim (i.e. Islamic Monotheism) except him who befools himself? Truly, We chose him in this world, and verily in the Hereafter he will be among the righteous. When his Rabb said to him: “Submit (i.e. be a Muslim)!” He said: “I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Rabb of the ‘Alamin.” And this (submission to Allah, Islam) was enjoined by Ibrahim upon his sons and by Ya’qub (saying): “O my sons! Allah has chosen for you the (true) religion, then die not except in the Faith of Islam.”
[Al-Baqarah 2:130-132]

This is one of the reasons why Ibrahim a.s. made this du’a for his offsprings and nation:

“Our Rabb! Send amongst them a Messenger of their own (and Allah answered this invocation by sending Muhammad s.a.w.), who shall recite unto them Your Verses and instruct them in the Book (this Qur’an) and Al-Hikmah (the Sunnah of Rasulallah s.a.w.) and purify them. Verily! You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.”
[Al-Baqarah 2:129]

We might wonder: Purify from what? Purify from the elements that took people away from guidance – the desires that people take preference over Allah’s commandments, and the pride that cause people to permanently insist on misguidance until they meet a humiliating end. This is what Ibrahim a.s. wants to see in the ummah of Rasulallah s.a.w.
Then Allah s.w.t. mentions the change of the Qiblah – the change of the direction of the prayer from Jerusalem to Ka’bah. This is a beautiful imagery, because Allah first mentions about Ibrahim and Ismail a.s. making du’a to Allah to send a prophet that would live up to THE expectation and standards, while they were building the Ka’bah, and right after then, Allah mentions that very same prophet s.a.w. coming and his ummah being commanded to face that very Ka’bah that was being built by them.

Verily! We have seen the turning of your (Rasulallah s.a.w.) face towards the heaven. Surely, We shall turn you to a Qiblah that shall please you, so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid- Al-Haram (at Makkah). And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction. Certainly, the people who were given the Scriptures know well that, that (your turning towards the direction of the Ka’bah at in prayers) is the truth from their Rabb. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.
[Al-Baqarah 2:144]

So we face the way of Ibrahim a.s. both physically and spiritually, and we are expected to adopt that standard that Ibrahim a.s. wishes to see in his progeny and the ummah of Rasulallah s.a.w.

★ Ramadhan: Taqwa and Gratitude for Guidance
And then Allah mentions:

O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious and righteous persons who fear Allah much and love Allah much).
[Al-Baqarah 2:183]

Remember earlier, in the beginning of Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah s.w.t. also mentions:

…a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun… [Al-Baqarah 2:1-2]

So fasting is a means to attain taqwa so that we can properly bring guidance into our lives. Not only do we gain taqwa, but as we finish the month of Ramadhan, we glorify and praise Allah, we declare His greatness, and we thank Him for the guidance He gave us. Allah s.w.t. says this guidance is not imposing, it’s not harsh, it’s not to cause us stress or anxiety, but it gives us the best of this world and the best of the next.

The month of Ramadhan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights the month, he must observe Saum (fasts) that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of days which one did not observe fasts must be made up) from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah [i.e. to say Takbir (Allahu-Akbar)] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.
[Al-Baqarah 2:185]

★ How Should We Seek Guidance?

And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad s.a.w.) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may gain guidance [يَرۡشُدُونَ]
[Al-Baqarah 2:186]

Notice that Allah s.w.t. uses the word [Yarshudun / Rushd] for ‘guidance’ instead of [Hidayah]. [Rushd] means a level above hidayah – it’s a GREATER guidance, it’s when guidance manifests itself in one’s actions as well. Some scholars said that hidayah is guidance towards knowledge, while rushd is guidance in our actual actions. This is why our righteous khulafa are called Ar-Rashidun Al-Mahdiyun – they are guided in both their action (rushd) and knowledge (hidayah). So in this ayah, Allah says that when we call upon Him AND when we answer His call, we will achieve guidance in every single way (rushd).

O you who believe! Enter perfectly in Islam (by obeying all the rules and regulations of the Islamic religion) and follow not the footsteps of Shaitan. Verily! He is to you a plain enemy.
[Al-Baqarah 2:208]

So do not follow the footsteps of Shaitan like Fir’aun, like the way Bani Israel insisted on doing which made them earned their destruction. But follow the way of Ibrahim a.s., the way Adam a.s. who came back to Allah immediately once he erred, the way of Musa a.s. who did not let any obstacle in life deterred him. Enter into Islam altogether, enter fully and completely into submission.

★ This Guidance Is Not Overbearing
At the end of the Surah, Allah s.w.t. says:

Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. “Our Rabb! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error, our Rabb! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us; our Rabb! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Maula (Supporter, Protector, etc.) and give us victory over the disbelieving people.”
[Al-Baqarah 2:286]

Allah does not burden us beyond our scope – this guidance is not overbearing. Allah did not give Adam a.s. something he could not handle, Allah did not give Bani Israel what they could not handle. This guidance is not beyond our scope – Allah will not give us more than what we can handle and therefore He expects us to submit to it completely.

It’s All About Guidance
The Qur’an starts with a du’a for guidance.
Then Surah Al-Baqarah tells us that Allah has sent us that guidance, and how to be guided.
Then Allah mentions Ramadhan is the month in which we really learn to value guidance.
Then Allah mentions du’a again in the last ayah of Al-Baqarah.
So in Al-Fatihah, we ask for guidance, and at the end of Al-Baqarah, we ask Allah to keep us firm on that guidance.

See the beautiful correlation? Subhanallah, they all come together.

Everything in Al-Fatihah and Al-Baqarah is about guidance. As long as we submit wholly to it, we can ask Allah s.w.t. and He will guide and answer our supplications.

We ask Allah s.w.t. to guide us and make us firm upon His guidance. Ameen.