The slaughter the cow by the Bani Israel
Hayat Al-Qulub Vol. 1,
By: Allamah Muhammad Baqir Al-Majlisi
It is written in the explanation of Allah’s words in the tafsir of Imam Al-Hasan al-’Askari that Almighty Allah addressed the Jews living in Medina to recall the time when Musa told his people, “Verily Allah orders you to slaughter the cow and to hit the body of the killed person with a piece of the slaughtered cow so that the corpse may become alive by the order of Allah to tell you who killed him.” This pertains to the events when a corpse was found lying among a tribe of The Israelites and Musa had compelled their fifty chief leading men to come up and swear by Allah who is the God of The Israelites and who has given grace to Muhammad and his progeny and solemnly say that they did not kill that man nor do they know the killer. If they swear and pay the blood money it is good, otherwise they should expose the killer so that, that man may be killed in retaliation. If they do not kill him then they may imprison him in a narrow cell. They should do either of these things.
They said, “O Messenger of Allah! We may swear and also pay blood money. But it is not Allah’s command. The fact behind is that there was, in The Israelites, a very beautiful, learned, knowledgeable, respected and modest (veiling) woman. Many men desired to marry her. Her uncle had three sons. One of them was most learned and pious. She agreed and desired to marry him. Her other two cousins were jealous. They called him one night for a feast and killed him. Then they threw out his body.” Next morning the two brothers who were the killers came to Musa tore their collars, threw dust on their heads and complained to Musa for justice. Musa called all the people of that tribe and inquired about the murdered man and they replied, “We did not kill him nor do we know who killed him.” Musa said, fifty men from among you should, as desired by Allah, swear solemnly, pay the blood money or give information about the killer.
They said, “Why do we have to pay blood money even after swearing? Musa said, “All the benefits are in obeying Divine orders. Whatever He commands must be carried out.” They said, “O Prophet of Allah! This is fine and this charge of sin is very grave as no one has any right on our heads. So pray to Allah that He may let us know the real killer so that you may give him a deserving punishment, and we may get rid of the fine and the punishment.” Musa said, “Almighty Allah has given me commands in this cause and hence I have no courage to ask for anything else. It is binding upon us to bow before His command, obey Him, and not raise any objection. Do you not see that He has prohibited us from working on Saturday and from eating camel meat? So we cannot disobey His command or make any changes in it. Rather we must obey Him.”
Musa desired to enforce the command upon them. Almighty Allah revealed to him that He might accept their word. “so that I may expose the killer and others may get rid of the allegations because, in connection with the answering to their request, I will widen the provision of the one who is one of the most righteous people among you and who believes in sending Salawaat on Muhammad and his Progeny and after him, giving respect to ‘Ali, I wish that, in this respect, I may make him needless (rich) in this world so that he may get a part of his reward for sending blessings on Muhammad and his progeny and thereby for giving them respect.”
Musa said, “My Lord! Tell me who the killer is.” Came the revelation, “Allah will intimate to you the killer if you slaughter a cow and hit the corpse of the killed man with a part of slaughtered cow. Then I will make him alive. This will happen if you obey the Divine orders. Otherwise accept my earlier order.” They said, “O Musa! Do you play a joke with us by asking us that if we hit a part of a corpse with a part of another earlier will come to life?”
Musa said, “I seek Allah’s protection from becoming ignorant or senseless, that is, I may attribute a word to Allah even if He did not say it, or I may reject the Divine word by imagining it to be nonsense according to my imperfect intelligence, just as you are denying. Is the seed of the man and the woman not lifeless? But when the two meet in the female womb, Allah creates from the two (lifeless elements) a living man. Is it not a fact that you are sowing a lifeless seed in the dead land and, therefrom, Allah brings out living grass and various trees?” When Musa’s arguments concluded for them, they said, “O Musa! Pray to your Lord so that He may describe the quality of that cow.”
Musa prayed to Allah and subsequently told those people that Allah commands that, that cow should be neither aged nor very young but of middle age. So do what you have been asked to do.” They said, “O Musa! Ask for the color of that cow and that from your Lord.” After asking, Musa said that the Lord says that it should be a yellow and its yellowness should be clear that is, neither so faint as to appear white nor so dark that it may appear blackish. Rather its attractive colors must make the viewers happy.”
They said, “O Musa! Pray to your Lord to describe more attributes of the cow because we have become confused due to the fact that there are many such cows. Now, Inshallah, we will recognize the one which He wants to be slaughtered.” Musa said, “The Lord commands that the cow should not be so much trained that it may plough land or water the fields but it ought to have been kept away from such tasks and that it should not have any defects no should it contain any other color shade except its original one.” Now the attributes of the cow have been described as they ought to have been described. It was not easy for them to carry out the command due to its being very costly.
But then it was incumbent on them because they had made allegation against Musa that he was not able to do what they demanded. So they were obliged to slaughter the described cow. Imam said, “After hearing all the attributes of the cow they asked Musa, “O Musa! Has our Lord ordered us to slaughter such a cow having all these attributes?”
He said, “Yes.” But had they, in the beginning, complied with the Divine order without hesitation, any cow would have sufficed. After their questioning it was not binding for Musa to inquire further from Allah. Rather, in response, he ought to have told them any cow would do. Anyway, when the matter reached a particular type of cow they went in search of it but could not find it anywhere. But there was a youth in The Israelites.
Allah has shown him, in dream, the holy Prophet and ‘Ali and the holy Imams from his progeny and they had informed him that since he loved them and gave them preference over others, they wished to give a part of his reward in this world. “So, when they come to you to purchase your cow, do not sell it without consulting your mother. If you will do so, Allah will reveal some matters to your mother, which will cause you and your children to be rich. The youth became very happy. Next morning The Israelites people came to him for purchasing his cow and asked about the price. He said, “Two Dinars. But my mother may alter the amount.” They said, “We will pay one Dinar.” The youth consulted his mother who told him to sell it for four Dinars. He came back to The Israelites and said, that my mother says it would cost four Dinars. They agreed to give two Dinars. The youth returned to his mother and asked for her opinion. Now she said a hundred Dinars. Then The Israelites said they were prepared to pay fifty. In this way, the price went on increasing with the rise in offer and demand until it reached to the demand that they should pay for it by filling its skin with gold. Finally, they agreed to do so, purchased the cow, and slaughtered it. Then they picked up its tail (wherefrom people are created in the beginning and with which their bodies will be rebuilt in the hereafter) and hit it on the corpse of the murdered man. While doing so they said, “O Lord! By the grace of Muhammad and the family of Muhammad make this man alive and speak out as to who has killed him.” The man stood up by the command of Allah and said, “O Prophet of Allah these two cousins of mine envied me on account of my cousin sister, killed me and threw me in this area so as to collect my blood money from the residents of this area.” Musa executed both of them.
When the corpse was hit with a piece of a slaughtered cow, it did not become alive. The Israelites said, “O Prophet of Allah what about your promise to us?” Allah revealed, “My promise never remains unfulfilled. But until the skin of this cow is not filled with gold and given to its owners this dead body will not rise up alive.” So they gathered their wealth. The Almighty made the skin of that cow larger until it was filled with gold worth 5000000 Dinars. Then after the gold was given to that youth and a piece of dead cow was hit on the corpse of the murdered man he became alive some people of The Israelites said, “Nothing can be more astonishing than the Divine deed of resurrecting this dead man and of making that youth so rich. Allah revealed to Musa, “Tell The Israelites that whoever from you wants that I may grant him a purer and better life in this world and raise his status in paradise and keep him there with Muhammad and the family of Muhammad must also do as this youth did. He had heard the name of Muhammad and ‘Ali and their pious progeny and was always sending Salawaat on them and was giving them preference over jinn, men and angels in the matter of respect. Therefore I gave him so much wealth so that he may deal nicely with people and be kind to his friends and defeat his enemies.” Then that youth said to Musa, “O Messenger of Allah how should I protect this wealth from the enmity of the enemies and envy of the jealous?”
Musa said, “Recite blessings with true faith on Muhammad and the family of Muhammad with true faith over this wealth as you were doing earlier. Allah will protect it if a thief, tyrant or a jealous person intends to harm you. The youth who had just become alive heard this and said, “My Lord! I ask you in the name of Muhammad and the family of Muhammad and their sacred radiance that you please keep me in this world so that I may enjoy my marriage with my cousin, dishonor my enemies, and grant me better.
At once Allah revealed to Musa, “Through the intercession of the sacred souls I have granted him a life span of 130 years during which he shall remain fit and healthy will not develop any weakness and will enjoy a married life. At the end of that period, I will call them back to me simultaneously and give them a house in Paradise where both of them will enjoy heavily bounties. O Musa! Even if those unfortunate murderers had asked me in the way this youth did and had they resorted to those holy souls after repenting I would not have disgraced them and would have made content on what they were given and would not have cared for The Israelites in finding out the killer and I would have made people forget this murder and would have made heirs of the victim spare them from retaliation. But I guide whom I wish to love Muhammad and the family of Muhammad and make them resort to the holy souls and I prevent (due to my justice) the causes of the evil of their misdeeds and I am the Omnipotent and the wise Allah.”
The Israelites complained to Musa, “We entangled ourselves in trouble by way of disobedience and gave away all of our provision.” Musa said, “Woe unto you, How much kind hearted you are! Perhaps you did not hear the prayers of this youth and of the murdered man and did not see how much benefit they got. So you too pray like that and resort to the sacred souls of those holy personalities. Allah will end your hunger and poverty and will increase your provision.” So they prayed, “Our Lord! We beg of You and we rely on Your Grace and Mercy. So, by the piety of Muhammad and ‘Ali and Fatimah and Hasan and Husayn and the holy Imams remove our poverty.” Allah revealed to Musa, “Tell them to go to such and such wasteland and to dig out such and such spot and to take out 10000000 Dinars buried there and to return the amounts to those from whom the price of the cow was collected and to distribute the remaining wealth among themselves so that it may add to their property and so also to the reward to which they are entitled as they resorted to the holy souls of Muhammad and the family of Muhammad and believed in the superiority of their grace over all creation.”
Remember the time when O The Israelites you killed a man and disputed about his killer and when every one of you absolved himself and made allegation on the other. Allah is to expose what you were concealing with the intention of falsifying Musa imagining that Allah will not except Musa’s request to make the murdered man alive.” So we said strike a part of that cow on the dead body. So likewise Allah makes the dead alive in the world and in the hereafter by the meeting of the lifeless things. That is, Allah brings life from the meeting of the water of men and women in wombs.
The same thing will happen in the hereafter. The water of the sea, which is near the first heaven, is like the semen of man. After the blowing of the bugle for the first time, which will kill all living beings Allah, will drop the said water on the worn and torn dusted bodies of the dead and recreate their original bodies. At the blowing of the second bugle, all will become alive. And this will prove His Oneness and the Prophethood of Musa and the superiority of Muhammad and the family of Muhammad over all the creation. May be you think and ponder that the Lord who makes miraculous things manifest does not order His creation to do anything except that which is for their betterment and that He did not give distinction to Muhammad and the family of Muhammad but only because they are superior to and higher than all the intelligent beings.
‘Ali ibn Ibrahim has related from reliable authorities that a righteous and learned man from The Israelites asked for the hand of a woman of The Israelites and she accepted. She had a cousin who was wicked and a bad character. He also wanted to marry her but she did not accept him. So he envied the former man and went after him until he murdered him and picked him up and brought him to Musa and said, “This is my cousin and he has been murdered.” Musa asked, “Who killed him?” He said he did not know. The punishment of murder was severe among The Israelites.
Eventually The Israelites gathered and said, “O Prophet of Allah! What is your opinion in this matter?” Among them, there was a man who had a cow. He also had a very good and obedient son. He had something for purchasing which people came to him. The key of the place wherein that thing was locked was with the father of that boy. The father was asleep. With an intention of not disturbing his father, he turned away the purchaser. After the father awoke and asked him, what he did with the property? He replied, “It is where it was. I did not sell it because the key was with you and you were asleep and I did not like to disturb your sleep.” The father said, “In exchange of the profit you had to forgo by not selling it I gift this cow to you.” Allah also like this good deed of that boy, and as a reward commanded The Israelites to purchase that particular cow and slaughter it.
Finally when The Israelites gathered around Musa and complained about the murdered man weeping Musa said, “Allah orders you to slaughter a cow.” The Israelites expressed astonishment and said, “Are you joking? We have brought our victim to you and inquiring about his killer and you are telling us to slaughter a cow!” Musa said, “I seek Allah’s refuge from being ignorant or a joker.” They felt that they had insulted Musa so they requested him to pray Allah to ascertain what kind of a cow it should be? Musa said, “It should be neither advanced in age nor too young.” They said, ‘Pray to Allah so that He may tell its color. Musa said, “Allah said it should be yellow and very yellow which may attract people and people may like it to see.”
Then they said, “Pray to Allah to tell us what else distinction it ought to have.” Musa said, “The lord says that it should be a cow which must not have tilled the land nor fetched water; that except being yellowish it should not have any spots or dots of any other color.” Then they said, “Now that you described it, such a cow is only with such and such man who has gifted it to his son as reward of some good deed.” They went to that boy to purchase the cow. He said, “Fill the skin of this cow with gold.” Hearing this, they came to Musa and told him that the owner asked this much. Musa said, “You have to purchase it as there is no alternative. Verily the same cow should be slaughtered. So purchase it for the said amount.”
At last, the people purchased it, slaughtered it, and said, “O Prophet of Allah! What should we do now?” Allah revealed, “O Musa! Tell them to pick up a piece of slaughtered animal and strike it on the body of the murdered man, and to ask him as to who killed him?” They took the tail of the slaughtered cow, stroked it on the murdered man, and asked him as to who killed him. He said so and so son of so and so, that is, the son of his uncle who had claimed his blood money.
It is mentioned in the reliable tradition that Imam al-Ridha said a man from The Israelites killed one his relatives and threw his body in the path of a noblest tribe of The Israelites and then, coming to Musa claimed the blood money. The Israelites told Musa, “Expose to us who killed him.” Musa said, “Bring a cow.” Had The Israelites brought any cow, it would have been enough. But they began to argue and counter argue that is, they went on asking questions after question. So Allah went on getting harsh on them until a cow was pinpointed which was only in the possession of a youth belonging to The Israelites who agreed to sell it only if its skin was filled with gold. Left with no alternative they had to purchase it at that price and to slaughtered it.
Then as ordered by Musa they hit the body of the killed man with the tail of the slaughtered cow. The corpse became alive and spoke, “O Messenger of Allah! My cousin had killed me, not those against whom that he is claiming.” A man told Musa, “There is an event behind this cow.” Being asked about it he said, “The youth who is the owner of this cow is very obedient son of his father. One day he purchased something and went home to pay its price. But he saw his father asleep with the keys beneath his pillow (head). He did not like to awaken his father. So returned that thing thereby foregoing its benefits or profit cancelled the deal. When his father awoke, he described the happening to him. His father said, “You did a very good deed. I have now gifted this cow to you in exchange of the profit, which you missed.” Musa said, “Just ponder, behaving nicely with parents raises man to such height.” There are several hadiths in this regard. As it would be lengthy to narrate them, I suffice with this.