2. Illuminated Quran: The Cow

This sample is the second chapter of our new book The Illuminated Quran: Curriculum for Children available now on Amazon.  Please add to the discussion by sharing your lesson experiences and artwork the children make for each lesson.




This second surah is the longest chapter in the Quran and contains many ideas that can be used to encourage analytical thought with children. There are some very important points about belief and then a summary of prophetic history from Adam(a) to Dawud(a).

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

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

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

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

  • Is there anything that you do not understand (like why the sky is blue etc.)?
  • How would you feel if you could never find the answer to your question?

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.

  • Have you ever broken an important rule?
  • What happened when you broke the rule?

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

  • Can you think of any other miracles like the parting of the Red Sea?
  • Why do you think miracles happen?

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 (a). 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.

  • Have you ever done something wrong?
  • Have you ever tried to hide it because you were afraid of getting into trouble?

The sixth point mentioned are the rites of Hajj and Ramadan. The importance of the Kaaba is discussed and the construction of the Kaaba by Ibrahim(a) and Ismail(a).

  • What is the Kaaba?
  • Why is it important?
  • Why do we fast in the month of Ramadan?

The seventh point is that there is no compulsion in religion (2.256).  As much as Muslim parents and educators want the children to believe it is very important to discuss what it means that no one can be forced to believe or to practice religion.

  • 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?

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




The image for this surah is of the head of a golden cow to represent the cow mentioned in the parable.




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