There was a man in the Bani Isra’eel who once murdered his wealthy cousin (for the sake of inheritance) and left his body outside the city at night. In the morning, he pretended not to know about it and announced to the residents that a murder had just taken place and that they should waste no time in finding the one who did it!
For this reason, the Bani Isra’eel proceeded to Hazrat Moosa (Alaihis Salaam) saying, “Ask Allah Ta’ala to reveal to us what happened.” In reply, Allah Ta’ala ordered through his Prophet that a cow should be slaughtered and a piece of its meat used to strike the man’s corpse. [Surah 2, Verse 67, 73] In doing so, the man would come alive and explain to them all that had happened.
The Bani Isra’eel were taken aback by the unconventionality of this solution and asked, “Do you make us a laughing stock?” [Surah 2, Verse 67] Hazrat Moosa (Alaihis Salaam) replied, “Allah forbid! Would I relate silly things to you? I am speaking only the truth.” They replied, “Okay, then tell us, what type of cow should it be?” “Allah says it should be neither too old nor too young.” [Surah 2, Verse 68]
They then said, “Ask Allah what colour it needs to be.” Hazrat Moosa (Alaihis Salaam) replied, “He says it should be a yellow cow that fills the eyes with tears and brings happiness to the one who sees it.” Unsatisfied with this information, the Bani Isra’eel persisted, “Ask Allah to explain everything about it to us so that we do not make a mistake and slaughter the wrong one.” [Surah 2, Verse 69-70]
Hazrat Moosa (Alaihis Salaam) replied, “He says it should be a faultless cow that has never been used for either ploughing or irrigation.” [Surah 2, Verse 71] The people then went out in search of such a cow, but after finding one proved to be difficult, they recalled hearing about a cow that had all of the qualities they were looking for in it. It belonged to an orphan and the story about it is as follows: There was an upstanding man of the Bani Isra’eel who had nothing in his possession except a yellow calf. He once marked it and entrusted it to the protection of Allah Ta’ala, saying to Him, “O Allah! I leave this in Your care and ask that You deliver it to my son when he is no longer a minor.”
The man then passed away, and the calf that he had left behind began to grow up all by itself in the wilderness. In time, his son too grew up to be a virtuous individual, always dutiful to his mother. She said to him, “Your father left a cow for you in a certain area. Now that you are mature, go there and make Dua to Allah Ta’ala that He return to you what was once entrusted to Him.”
The son did this, and when he saw the cow and recognized it by all of the signs his mother had told him to look for, he took the name of Allah Ta’ala and called out to it, upon which the cow saw him and immediately ran in his direction.
He then returned home and was told, “Now go and sell it in the market, but don’t take anything more than three dirhams for it before coming and seeking permission from me first.” (At that time, three dirhams was the usual amount paid for cows). The boy then left and began offering his cow in the marketplace. While there, an angel (in the form of a human) approached him and offered to pay six dirhams for it on condition that he does not consult his mother about it. The boy refused and said, “I’ll never do that.”
He then went home and related the entire story to her. She agreed with the price but, again, told him that if it went any higher, he should let her know about it first. When the boy returned to the market, the angel approached him again, this time offering twelve dirhams in exchange for the cow (also on condition that he does not speak to his mother about it), but the boy refused and again proceeded to his mother to inform her of the new offer.
The mother soon realized that this was not a man but an angel sent as a test. So, she said to her son, “Go to the market again, but this time, when the man arrives, ask him if he’s going to allow us to sell the cow or not.”
The boy then re-entered the market and asked the ‘man’ this question when he arrived. He simply said in reply, “Just keep the cow here with you.” Moments later, the Bani Isra’eel entered the bazaar, saw the cow they were looking for and offered to pay the boy its skin’s weight in gold for it! Not forgetting his promise, the boy again proceeded to his home to confirm the sale to his mother and after she agreed and the transaction was complete, the Bani Isra’eel took the cow, slaughtered it, and used a piece of its meat to strike the body of the murdered man.
As promised, the man then awoke, explained to them what had truly happened, and his cousin (who murdered him) was quickly apprehended and dealt with by them.
If an ordinary piece of meat slaughtered in the name of Allah Ta’ala can give life to the dead, can those who are the chosen and close servants of Allah Ta’ala not have this authority in them too, that just by their gesture, dead things come to life again? We also learn that no matter how far one goes in hiding one’s crimes, he or she will be caught and punished eventually – if not in this world, then surely in the Hereafter. We also see that obeying one’s parents brings great benefit to a person. If the boy had not sought the permission of his mother for the man’s first offer, he would have only made 6 dirhams out of the sale, instead of the great amount of gold the Bani Isra’eel gave him. Also, note that only Allah Ta’ala is worthy of worship, not anyone or anything else. Because the Bani Isra’eel worshipped the gold cow of Saamiri, Allah Ta’ala ordered that they now slaughter a cow to understand that something so helpless can never be taken as something worthy of worship.
May Allah Ta’ala grant us the Taufeeq to seek knowledge of the Holy Qur’an and to understand the Signs of Allah, Ameen.