When pondering over the placing of the Sūr within The Qurʼān, or why a certain Sūrah comes before or after another, you’ll start to realize a lot of the merits & profound wisdom behind it. In this case, we’re going to speak about this matter with the Sūr of The Qurʼān: Sūrah al-Baqarah & Sūrah al-ʿImrān, due to the astounding details that can be found within.
In the insightful book Asrār Tartib al-Qurʼān by as-Suyūṭī رَحِمَهُ ٱللَّٰهُ (d. 911/1505), he commentates on majority of The Qurʼān regarding this matter, which is where I’ll be extracting the meticulous points & benefits.
as-Suyūṭī رَحِمَهُ ٱللَّٰهُ begins: “I say: What appears to me to be the case, and all praises are for Allāh, (is that there is a strong level of connection between al-Baqarah and al-ʿImrān.) This connection is from two angles:
The first angle is from the aspect of every Sūrah explaining the general matters of the previous Sūrah. In terms of these two Sūr, there are a number of such instances.
From them is that which was alluded to by the Imām above — (both al-Baqarah and al-ʿImrān start off in the same manner.) al-Baqarah described the Book as there is being no doubt in it, and He (Allāh) commenced al-ʿImrān with:
نَزَّلَ عَلَيۡكَ ٱلۡكِتَٰبَ بِٱلۡحَقِّ مُصَدِّقٗا لِّمَا بَيۡنَ يَدَيۡهِ
“It is He Who sent down the Book to you with truth, confirming what came before it.“
– Sūrah al-ʿImrān, ʾĀyah 3
This serves as an extension and amplification intended to negate doubt within it.
From them is that in al-Baqarah, the Book has been described as being revealed by Allāh in a general sense. However, al-ʿImrān explains that the Book has been split into ʾĀyāt which are muḥkam (clear) and others that are mutashābih (obscure), that none know the interpretation except Allāh. He says in al-Baqarah:
وَمَآ أُنزِلَ مِن قَبۡلِكَ
“What was revealed to those before you“
– Sūrah al-Baqarah, ʾĀyah 4
which refers to revelation in a general sense. He says here:
وَأَنزَلَ ٱلتَّوۡرَىٰةَ وَٱلۡإِنجِيلَ مِن قَبۡلُ هُدٗى لِّلنَّاسِ
“He revealed the Tawrah & the ʾInjīl. Before, as guidance for the people“
– Sūrah al-ʿImrān, ʾĀyāt 3-4
and this gives further detail to the names of the Books that were revealed before. (This again is another example of how al-Baqarah mentions a point in its general sense and then al-ʿImrān clarifies it further.) Furthermore, the introduction of al-ʿImrān mentions the ʾInjīl because the rest of the Sūrah is set to address the Christians, and it is not mentioned explicity in al-Baqarah despite its lenghiness. al-Baqarah primarily addresses the Jews and as a result it explicity mentions the Tawrah.
From them is that al-Baqarah mentions the rulings connected to fighting in a general sense. He said:
وَقَٰتِلُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ
“And fight in the name of Allāh“
– Sūrah al-Baqarah, ʾĀyah 190
كُتِبَ عَلَيۡكُمُ ٱلۡقِتَالُ
“Fighting has been legislated for you“
– Sūrah al-Baqarah, ʾĀyah 216
However, al-ʿImrān gives further details to this in the context of the Battle of Uhud being explained within it. al-Baqarah briefly explains the virtues of those who are killed in the path of Allāh:
أَحۡيَآءٞ وَلَٰكِن لَّا تَشۡعُرُونَ
“They are alive but you cannot perceive it.“
– Sūrah al-Baqarah, ʾĀyah 154
al-ʿImrān adds to this:
أَحۡيَآءٌ عِندَ رَبِّهِمۡ يُرۡزَقُونَ فَرِحِينَ بِمَآ ءَاتَىٰهُمُ ٱللَّهُ مِن فَضۡلِهِۦ
“Alive with their Lord gaining their sustenance. They are in bliss with what Allāh has given to them from His Favour.“
– Sūrah al-ʿImrān, ʾĀyāt 169-170
This is a weighty elaboration. He says in al-Baqarah:
وَٱللَّهُ يُؤۡتِي مُلۡكَهُۥ مَن يَشَآءُۚ
“And Allāh grants kingship to whom He wills.“
– Sūrah al-Baqarah, ʾĀyah 247
And in al-ʿImrān He said:
قُلِ ٱللَّهُمَّ مَٰلِكَ ٱلۡمُلۡكِ تُؤۡتِي ٱلۡمُلۡكَ مَن تَشَآءُ وَتَنزِعُ ٱلۡمُلۡكَ مِمَّن تَشَآءُ وَتُعِزُّ مَن تَشَآءُ وَتُذِلُّ مَن تَشَآءُۖ بِيَدِكَ ٱلۡخَيۡرُۖ إِنَّكَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ
“Say, “O Allāh, Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent.“”
– Sūrah al-ʿImrān, ʾĀyah 26
So these are many of the instances where al-Baqarah mentions a matter in a general form and then ʿImrān explains in further detail.
The second angle is that this Sūrah (al-ʿImrān) and al-Baqarah are united in complementing and reinforcing one another, because, as previously noted, al-Baqarah serves to remove the doubt. This is why it is mentioned again here regarding what is relevant to the clarification of the reality of the Book; from its revelation, affirming that which was revealed before it and being a guide to the straight path. For this reason, the ʾĀyah in al-Baqarah is repeated in its exact form here:
قُولُوٓاْ ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ
“Say, [O believers], “We have believed in Allāh and what has been revealed”“
– Sūrah al-Baqarah, ʾĀyah 136
This is why He (Allāh) mentions here what consequently follows that which is mentioned or necessitated there.
So after mentioning the creation of mankind in al-Baqarah, its formation in the womb is described in al-ʿImrān. In al-Baqarah, it mentions the creation of Ādam and in al-ʿImrān it mentioned the stages of the creation of his offspring. What is even more fascinating than this is that Allāh commenced al-Baqarah with the story of the creation of Ādam, being created without a father or a mother, and Allāh mentioned in al-ʿImrān the story of another individual who was similarly created without a father, that being ʿĪsā عليه السلام.
For this reason, ʿĪsā was compared to Ādam in respect to creation. al-Baqarah included the story of Ādam exclusively because it is the first (in-depth) Sūrah, and Ādam is the first human being who preceded all others, so it is the origin whilst al-ʿImrān is a branch from it and completes it; therefore, it provides more elaboration and clarification.
Again, this highlights the relationship between these two Sūr in correlation and explanation.”
May Allāh pardon & have mercy upon as-Suyūṭī, & reward him for his contributions to the religion of Islām.
All praise is due to Allāh, may His peace & blessings be upon our final Prophet Muḥammad, his family, his companions, & all those who follow him in guidance.
Asrār Ṭarṭib al-Qurʼān (أسرار طرطب القرآن) by as-Suyūṭī | Pages 70-79
Ṣafīullāh Labīb ibn Salīm ʿAbd al-Malik
13th of Rabīʿ ath-Thānī 1443 – 18th of November 2021