This is a very important and wonderful Quranic event. Due to this event the Surah that describes it has been named Surah Al-Baqarah (the Surah of cow).
The story is that there was a very pious person in the Bani Israel who had a young son. He had a single (female) calf only in his property. Just before his death, that pious person took the calf to the jungle and left it by a bush, saying ‘O Allah , I leave this calf under Your protection until my son reaches puberty.’ After this, the pious person died and the calf grew to a cow with the passage of time and his son grew up to a righteous man who was very obedient to his mother. He had divided his night into three parts: he used to sleep in one part, worship in second and serve his mother in the third part. Also, he used to travel to the jungle everyday in the morning to fetch wood which he used to sell. He used to do Sadaqah (charity) of one third of his earnings, spend one third on his personal needs and give one third to his mother.
One day, the mother said to the son, ‘O my beloved son! Your father left a calf for you in inheritance that he had left near such and such bush under the protection of Allah Now go to that bush and supplicate in this way, ‘O Rab of Sayyiduna Ibraheem, Isma’eel and Ishaaq ! Return me the thing my father gave under Your protection!’ She further said that the calf was yellow coloured and its skin would be glistening in such a way as though the rays of the sun are emitting from it.’
Hearing this, the boy went to the jungle and supplicated by that bush. All of a sudden, the cow came to him running and stood by him. He brought it home. His mother said, ‘My son! Go to the market and sell this cow for three dinars, but do not sell it to any buyer without consulting me.’ In those days, the usual cost of a cow was about three dinars. A buyer came in the market, who in reality was an anget in fact. The angel said, ‘I will pay you more than three dinars on a condition that you sell me the cow without consulting your mother.’ The boy replied, ‘No matter how much more you offer me, I will not sell the cow without consulting my mother.’ Reaching home, the boy related the whole event to his mother. She said perhaps the buyer was an angel. Therefore, 0 son, consult with him whether we should sell the cow or not.
Thus when the boy consulted with that buyer in the market, he advised not to sell the cow. He said that in future, the people of Sayyiduna Musa will buy this cow. He further ad vised to demand the price equivalent to the amount of gold that can be filled in the hide of the cow. They will pay the price he wishes. Therefore, after a few days, a very rich person from the Bani Israel, named ‘Aameel, was killed by his two paternal cousins and they threw his body in a desolate place. The next morning, the search for the murderers began. After getting no trace, some people went to Sayyiduna Musa and asked about the murderer. He ” ordered them to slaughter a cow and strike the dead body with its tongue or the bone of the tail and the murdered ‘Aameel will resurrect and tell you the name of his killer. Hearing this, the Bani Israel raised questions and arguments about the age, colour etc. of the cow. When they finally understood the type of the cow that was required, they then began the search for it.
When they reached the cow of that boy, they realised that this was exactly the same cow they were looking for. Therefore, they paid its price equivalent to gold filled in its hide and slaughtered the cow. Then they hit the corpse with the tongue or bone of the tail and the dead ‘Aameel came back to life. He said that his killers were the two sons of his uncle who killed him due to the greed of his wealth. After telling this, he died again. Therefore, both of those killers were killed in return and the boy of the pious person who was very obedient to his mother became very rich by getting lot of wealth.
(I’afseer As-Saawi, vol. 1, pp. 75; part 1, Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayah 71)
Whole of this incident has been described in the holy Ayahs of the Glorious Quran in the following words:
And when Musa said to his nation, ‘Allah commands you to slaughter a cow,’ they said, ‘are you mocking us?’ He said, ‘I seek refuge in Allah that I should he amongst the ignorant.’ They said, ‘Pray to your Lord that He may inform us (as to) what kind of cow it is,’ he (Musa) said, ‘He (Allah) says that, ‘It is a cow, neither old nor too young, rather it is in between both,’ so do what you are ordered.’ They said, ‘Pray to your Lord He may inform us of its colour,’ he said, ‘Says He (Allah), ‘It is a yellow cow, bright in colour, pleasant to the beholders.’ They said, ‘Pray to Your Lord that He may explain clearly to us ( as to) what kind of cow it is. Certainly, we have become doubtful about cows, and (if) Allah wills, we shall attain guidance.’ (Musa) said, ‘He (Allah) says that, ‘It is a cow, from which no service is taken, that it (neither) ploughs the earth, nor irrigates the fields. It is flawless having no spot.’ (After hearing this), they said, ‘Now you have brought the true fact,’ then they slaughtered it, whereas they seemed reluctant to slaughter (it). And when you committed murder, then began accusing each other and Allah was to disclose that which you were hiding. Then We said, ‘Strike the murdered one with a part of that cow.’ This is how Allah will give life to the dead and shows you His signs; that you may have sense.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (Translation of Quran)] (Part 1, Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayah 67-73)
We have come to know many moral lessons, words of ad vice and rulings from this event. A few of these are mentioned below and are worthwhile to be remembered.
1. The possessions left over by the pious bondmen of Allah carry a lot of blessings. You see, the pious man only left one calf behind him but Allah put so much blessings in it that his heirs earned abundant wealth by virtue of that calf.
2. The pious man left the calf under the protection of Allah to help his son. So we also learnt that being affectionate towards children and leaving some heritage for them is the good practice of the chosen people of Allah.
3. Allah Jr.9 provides sustenance in abundance from the unseen sources to those who are obedient and serve their parents. We can see how Allah blessed an orphan with prosperity and wealth because he was very much obedient to his mother.
4. Argumentation and debate in commandments of Allah bring afflictions. The Bani Israel were ordered to slaughter a cow. They could have slaughtered any cow and the order would have been fulfilled. However, they began to argue and started raising questions such as what kind of cow? What kind of colour? How old should it be? As a result, it became very difficult for them as they had to slaughter such a specific cow that was very unique. That’s why they had to pay such a huge price for it that no other cow has ever been priced as much and there is no chance of so high price of any cow in future.
5. The one who gives his wealth under the protection of Allah protects it and bestows endless blessings in it.
6. The one who leaves his family under the protection of Allah nourishes them in such a way that is beyond one’s expectation.
7. Sayyiduna ‘Ali said that the one who takes on yellow shoes will always remain happy and will suffer sorrows rarely. Because Allah said about yellow cow tha pleasing to the beholders. (Tafseer Ruh-ul-Bayan, vol. 1, pp. 160; part 1, Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayah 69)
8. We also came to know that the animals used for ritual sacrifice should be beautiful, perfect and precious.