Tuesday 21 March 2023 \


The Miraculous Cow

If they had obeyed Allah at once and slaughtered any cow they would find that would have been enough.

A short story about how the Almighty ordered the children of Israel to slaughter a cow.

Among the children of Israel there was a rich man named Amil. This man’s only heir was his poor cousin. One day, the rich man was found dead. There were many speculations regarding the motive of the murder. According to one legend, the rich man was killed by his cousin. The relatives of Amil started searching for the murderer. The village became all messed up but they still could not trace the murderer. According to another legend, the murderer left the body out in the wilderness between two villages trying to get rid of the evidence.

According to a different report, the dead body was found at somebody’s door step. 

Some people tell that Amil’s body was found between two of the twelve gates of the Great Temple of Israelites.

The relatives of Amil declared blood feud to the suspects. Their discord grew into a harsh argument and they appealed to the prophet Musa (peace be upon him) to resolve the dispute. The family of the victim was demanding revenge but their claims have been turned down due to the lack of witnesses. Before Musa (peace be upon him) all parties were equal. There was not enough evidence for issuing a verdict on the matter, and by that time the possibility of resolving a dispute by making the parties give an oath has not been revealed yet. The Israelites asked Musa (peace be upon him) to pray to Allah to reveal them the murderer. The prophet raised his prayers to the Almighty who in reply ordered to slaughter a cow.

When Musa (peace be upon him) informed the people about the answer of Allah, the people’s resentment boiled over: “You must be joking. What does the cow have to do with that?” They were convinced that the decision of Allah did not correspond with their concern. They could not comprehend the wisdom concealed in that decision and confronted Musa (peace be upon him) not trusting his words.

I am quite serious, this is the will of Allah,” - insisted the Messenger of Allah. When they finally believed the order was serious, they asked: “Tell us, what kind of cow this should be.” They were not satisfied with a single answer and asked several times about the cow’s age, color and breed. If they had obeyed Allah at once and slaughtered any cow they would find that would have been enough. But when they started asking questions Allah made his order more difficult to fulfill. And further everything happened exactly according to the predestination of Allah.

Let us ponder over this story for it verily bears lots of wisdom for those who spend time reading and thinking about it, inshallah.

A legend tells, there was a kind-hearted boy who obeyed and respected his father. Allah has given us a command to obey our parents and take care of them, but in fact we don’t often see children who whole-heartedly take care of their parents. Once that boy met a person selling a pearl for 50,000 dinars, and decided to buy it. The owner of the pearl wanted to get the money immediately but the money was in a dower chest, and the father kept its’ key under his pillow.  The son did not want to disturb his sleeping father and asked the merchant to wait until he wakes up. But the merchant wanted to have the money immediately. Then the son said that he would add 10,000 dinars if the seller waited until his father wakes up. The merchant said that he would reduce the price by 10,000 dinars if he would wake his father immediately. The son replied he would rather add 20,000 dinars if the merchant waited until his father wakes up. The merchant agreed.

When the father woke up the son told him about what happened. The merchant got his money and went out. The father was very pleased and prayed for his son’s blessing in this world and in the hereafter. Then he gave his son his only cow as a gift; the cow had the qualities which exactly corresponded with the qualities pointed out by Allah for the cow which had to be sacrificed. The Israelites bought the cow from the son and slaughtered it. The price for the cow was set at the cost of the amount of gold enough to fill the empty cow hide. These riches were granted to the son for his respect to his father. Verily if you want to beblessed in this world and escape the hellfire in the hereafter - seek the pleasure of your parents.

This is what the legend teaches. Let us find out what other stories teach. Inshallah it will help us to acquire wisdom and increase our barakah.

Among the Israelites there was a righteous person who had no children but a young son. This righteous man had a calf that was determined to be given to the son; the man brought the calf into the woods and left there, keeping his trust in Allah.

The father has not lived to see his son’s adulthood. The son was raised by his mother not even remembering his father’s face.

The young boy divided the day into three parts: one part - for the sleep: another part - for prayers and the remaining part - for serving his mother. Each morning he was heading for the forest to get firewood that he sold on the market. His earnings he also used to divided into three parts. One third he spent on sadaqa, the other two parts - on his and his mother’s needs.

The calf that had been left in the woods has turned by that time into a beautiful gracious cow. The cow was shunning people like a wild deer and escaped each time it sighted a human being. Once the mother told her son the story of the cow that had been left in the woods; she also showed him the place where the father left the cow. The mother described how the cow looked and sent the son to get it. She taught her son to call the cow mentioning the name of Allah. The mother said that there was something special about the beautiful cow: “If you take a look at it you will see as if it is shining with light.

The son went to the forest to do what his mother told him. He knew when he found it according to his mother’s description. He called the cow the way his mother had told him. When the cow heard the boy calling him it approached him as if it were a tame creature, and stood right in front of him. The boy stroke the cow’s forehead, put the rope around its’ neck and took the cow to his home. By Allah’s will the cow talked to the boy and offered him to ride on its’ back, as if it felt sorry for him. The boy however refused to do so telling his mother had forbidden this.

If you had sat on my back you would have never seen me again,” - said the cow.

Then they met a traveler who told them he was a shepherd. He told them that he had been making his way home when he put his belongings on a bull and the bull went lost. He also complained that he was tired, thirsty and hungry and asked for help.

If you let me ride on the cow’s back I will give you two cows,” - said the traveler. The boy told him without any hesitation that he should put all his trust in Allah and go his way. He added: “The Almighty knows how sincerely you trust in him. If you trust in Him with your whole heart - then He will be enough for you, and you must leave my cow alone.” Then the shepherd said that he would give the boy ten cows if he let him ride on the cow’s back. He also tried offering money. The boy declined all these offers with no hesitation. He said his mother had not given him such permission and stayed firm. Suddenly something weird happened:unexpectedly a bird took wing fluttering from under his feet and the cow with the traveler disappeared from the boy’s sight.

The boy called the cow by the name of Allah as he did for the first time. The gracious cow appeared before him and explained that the person who had tried to ride on its’ back was the cursed Iblis himself. “If this cursed creature had sat on my back I would have never come back to you again,” - she said.   This Iblis was holding me by the rope but when you called me by the name of the God of the prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) an angel took the rope away from the Iblis. The angel drove away the Satan and I could come back to you. This is the bliss of your kind attitude towards your mother and your diligent service to her. Even if you ask Allah to root out a mountain, Allah will do this for you.

The boy returned to his mother with the miraculous cow that the father of the boy had given to the custody of Allah.

The mother cared dearly about her son. That is why the mother told her son to sell the cow on the market in order to ease his daily work, since he used to go to the woods each day and spend nights in worship. The boy followed her advice and asked how much he should demand for the cow. The mother said the price was three dinars and asked her son to contact her before he would sell the cow.

When the boy came to the market the Almighty sent him an angel who pretended to be a customer. He asked the boy how much he wanted for the cow. The boy replied the way he had been taught by his mother: “Three dinars”. He also added that he would not sell the cow before he consulted his mother.

The angel asked the boy to sell the cow for six dinars without asking the mother’s permission. The boy replied that without his mother’s permission he would not sell the cow even for the amount of gold equal to the cow’s weight and that he had promised not to do anything that could be a sign of disrespect towards his mother. He returned home to tell his mother about what happened and she allowed him to sell the cow for six dinars.

The boy took the cow to the market again and the customer asked him about his decision. The boy said he would sell the cow for the price of six dinars that the customer had offered.  The angel offered him to sell the cow for twelve dinars without asking his mother’s permission. The boy remained firm in his respect towards his mother and overcame the temptation.  He went home again and told everything to his mother. The mother then started wondering about what happened. She came to conclusion that there was a secret behind all that and understood who the customer was. She told her son that the customer was an angel sent by Allah in order to tempt him and ordered him to ask the angel if they had to sell the cow at all.

The boy went back to the market, found the customer and asked him this question. The angel told him to return home with his cow and not to come to the market anymore. He told the boy to inform his mother not to sell the cow until customers come to them. The angel said that the cow is determined to reveal who was the murderer of a certain person and that Musa (peace be upon him) would come to buy it.

The angel commanded to accept that offer. In addition to that the angel told the boy not to sell the cow for less than for the amount of gold that would fill the cow hide.

With this news the boy returned home. He told everything to his mother and she was very pleased. The righteousness of the son brought blessing.

By that time the Israelites became all distressed searching for the cow matching the description mentioned by Allah, and finally they found the cow with the boy who was known for his good attitude towards his mother. They sold the cow for the amount of gold enough to fill the cow hide, and the house of the poor boy became full with blessing.

Another story goes that the cow was sold for the amount of gold ten times exceeding the weight of the cow.

Then the cow was slaughtered as it had been demanded by Allah and commanded by Musa (peace be upon him). The Almighty commanded that the victim should be touched by a part of the cow’s body. They did so and the dead man spoke: “I was killed by the person named so-and-so.” When the dead man pronounced his murderer’s name he became silent again.

The scholars are of different opinions regarding the body part of the cow that made the dead man speak. Some say, it was the tail bone. Others - it was the tongue.

The Holy Quran contains numerous stories that happened thousands of years ago. The same story is sometimes narrated in several different ways but it does not impair the meaning of the Quran. The story about the cow is mentioned in the Quran in the surah “al-Baqara” (“The Cow”); as for me, I am telling this for edification of my brothers in Islam.

When pondering over the miracles of Allah, one is caught in admiration. The mysteries of the world cannot be fully disclosed by anybody but God.  Hasn’t there been another way to find out who the murderer was? Was the only way to do that to make a dead man speak?  Could a slaughtered cow make a dead man alive by itself? No, dear brothers in Islam, the Creator of Heaven and Earth was the real cause for that and it happened solely according to His will.

Look how obeying the will of Allah makes a piece of meat of a slaughtered animal capable of performing such things! How can one ignore that it was Allah’s will that made the slaughtered cow the means of making the dead man speak? 

If one comprehends that one should also recognize that the cow was nothing more than a means. The cow by itself cannot be regarded as a deity. Those who worship Allah should know Him and not confuse the means with Him Who causes it to come into being. To comprehend this simple truth, one does not have to possess great wisdom and knowledge.


Taken from the book “The Story of the Prophets” by Shaykh Said Afandi al-Chirkawi


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