2. Illuminated Quran: The Cow

This second surah is the longest chapter in the Quran and there are many points that I think would be worth discussing with children. There are some very important points about belief and then a summary of prophetic history from Adam(a) to Daoud(a).

Within this summary is a parable about the sacrifice of a cow that loosely means we cannot hide our errors from Allah(s).

1. The first point you can share with children is that the Quran was sent for people who believe in things they cannot see.

Discussion question: Is there something you believe in that you cannot see (in addition to Allah(s))?

2. The second point is that people who do not believe cannot see the truth.

Discussion question: is there anything that you don’t understand (like why the sky is blue etc.)? How would you feel if you could never find the answer to your question?

3. The third point is the story of the fall of Adam(a). Adam(a) and Hawa(r) were in paradise until they were tempted by Iblis to eat what Allah(s) had forbidden. They were sent down to earth as a punishment.

Discussion question: have you ever broken an important rule? What happened when you broke the rule?

4. The fourth point is a recount of Exodus where Prophet Musa(a) and his followers leave Egypt and the Red Sea is parted 2.51.

Discussion question: can you think of any other miracles like the parting of the Red Sea? Why do you think miracles happen?

5. The fifth point is the sacrifice of the cow for which the surah is named. The text refers to a sacrifice of a cow in the time of Musa (as). The people tried to delay the sacrifice by asking many questions about the cow because they felt guilty about the bad thing they had done. The parable indicates that it is not possible to hide our errors from Allah(s). There are many instances where the Quran recommends a sacrifice in order to correct an error.

Discussion question: have you ever done something wrong? Have you ever tried to hide it because you were afraid of getting into trouble?

6. The sixth point mentioned are the rites of Hajj and Ramadan. The importance of the Kabba and its history are discussed and the construction of the Kabba by Ibrahim(a) and Ismail(a).

Discussion question: what is the Kabba? Why is it important? Why do we fast the month of Ramadan?

7. The seventh point is that there is no compulsion in religion 2.256. As much as Muslim parents want their children to believe I think it is a very valuable point to discuss that no one can be forced to believe or the practice religion.

Discussion question: why is it that we cannot force people to believe or to practice Islam? How would you teach your children about Islam; what would you tell them?

I want to emphasize that it may not be possible to cover all of these points in one lesson because the younger a child is the shorter their attention span. You can pick and choose which points seem more significant to you and perhaps review the parable of the cow for the illustration.

The illustration: I am really bad at drawing animals so for this image I kept it simple and made a sketch of a cow, from the parable mentioned above.  Inshallah one day a real artist will contribute to this project and the images will be more sophisticated.

Please contribute your ideas for teaching tafseer of Quran to children.


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