Based on the meanings explained by the Salaf, and the Ahlus Sunnah (Ash'ari & Maturidi) scholars.
2 – Surah Al-Baqarah – Verses 21 to 29
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يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ |21
الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْأَرْضَ فِرَاشًا وَالسَّمَاءَ بِنَاءً وَأَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَخْرَجَ بِهِ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ رِزْقًا لَّكُمْ ۖ فَلَا تَجْعَلُوا لِلَّهِ أَندَادًا وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ |22
وَإِن كُنتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِّمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَىٰ عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُوا بِسُورَةٍ مِّن مِّثْلِهِ وَادْعُوا شُهَدَاءَكُم مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ |23
فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُوا وَلَن تَفْعَلُوا فَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ ۖ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ |24
وَبَشِّرِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ ۖ كُلَّمَا رُزِقُوا مِنْهَا مِن ثَمَرَةٍ رِّزْقًا ۙ قَالُوا هَٰذَا الَّذِي رُزِقْنَا مِن قَبْلُ ۖ وَأُتُوا بِهِ مُتَشَابِهًا ۖ وَلَهُمْ فِيهَا أَزْوَاجٌ مُّطَهَّرَةٌ ۖ وَهُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ |25
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَسْتَحْيِي أَن يَضْرِبَ مَثَلًا مَّا بَعُوضَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا ۚ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ ۖ وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَيَقُولُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِهَٰذَا مَثَلًا ۘ يُضِلُّ بِهِ كَثِيرًا وَيَهْدِي بِهِ كَثِيرًا ۚ وَمَا يُضِلُّ بِهِ إِلَّا الْفَاسِقِينَ |26
الَّذِينَ يَنقُضُونَ عَهْدَ اللَّهِ مِن بَعْدِ مِيثَاقِهِ وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَا أَمَرَ اللَّهُ بِهِ أَن يُوصَلَ وَيُفْسِدُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ |27
كَيْفَ تَكْفُرُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَكُنتُمْ أَمْوَاتًا فَأَحْيَاكُمْ ۖ ثُمَّ يُمِيتُكُمْ ثُمَّ يُحْيِيكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ |28
هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ لَكُم مَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ فَسَوَّاهُنَّ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ ۚ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ |29
21. O people ! Worship your Lord, Who created you and those before you, so that you may perchance attain piety .
22. The one who made the earth a flooring for you and the sky a ceiling, and sent down water from the sky  so that some fruits spring forth from it for your provisions, then do not knowingly assign others as equals to Allah .
23. And if you have any doubt on that which we have descended onto our special slave , then bring forth just one surah like it , and invite all your sympathizers other than Allah, if you are truthful.
24. Then if you can’t [bring forth], and [We declare that] you can’t [bring it forth], then fear that fire whose fuel shall be men and stones ; it is ready for kafirs .
25. And give glad tidings to those who declared belief and did righteous deeds, that for them are gardens beneath which rivers flow ; when they are given a fruit from those gardens, they shall look at it and say, ‘this is the very fruit that was bestowed on us before’ , and it is given to them resembling it, and for them, in those gardens are pure wives , and they shall abide therein forever .
26. Indeed, Allah does not shy from it that to explain a parable He mention anything at all, a mosquito or something bigger ; then those who declare belief, they know that this is the truth from their Lord ; as for kafirs, they say, ‘by stating such parable, what are Allah’s implications?’; Allah misguides multitudes by it  and guides multitudes; and He misguides by it those who are disobedient sinners .
27. Those who break Allah’s covenant  after ascertaining it, and sever that which Allah has commanded to join, and spread mischief on earth [50 A], it is them who are in loss.
28. How could you disbelieve in Allah when you were dead and He brought you to life, and He will again make you dead, then again bring you to life, then you shall return back to Him [50 B].
29. He Alone is The One Who created for you all that is in the earth , then decreed Istawa towards the sky, so [He] rendered them seven skies, and He knows everything .
 – In the beginning of the surah, it stated that this surah was descended for the guidance of the pious (muttaqeen), and then the qualities of the muttaqeen were mentioned; then on, it was stated regarding those who deviate from them (the muttaqeen) and their states, so that a heedful person may be pulled towards guidance and piety and abstain from disobedience and defiance. Now, the way of acquiring taqwa (piety) is being taught. Mostly (يَا أَيُّـهَا النَّـاسُ) (O people) is addressed to the Makkans and (يَـا أَيُّـهَا الَّذِيـنَ آمَنُوا) (O you who believe) is addressed to the Medinans, but here, this addressing [O people] is common to believers and kafirs, all alike. In it is an indication that man must attain taqwa and stay busy in worship (‘ebaadah). ‘Ebaadah is that pinnacle honor that a slave manifests, believing in as well as accepting – his own slavehood (‘abdiyyah), AND the absolute Lordship (uloohiyyah) of the one whom he is worshiping. Here ‘ebaadah is used in a general sense, including all of its types and forms, and foundations and branches.
[Translator’s Note: Please note well the definition of worship dear reader. Do not let the people of misguidance and bid’ah, like the wahabis, accuse you of shirk and kufr at their whims. Underlining by the translator.]
Mas-ala (Case): The kuffaar are under commandment to worship. Just as not being in a state of wudzu is not a deterrent to pray [that is, it is not an excuse to not pray], likewise, being a kafir does not deter the obligation to worship. And just as the obligation to pray, makes it obligatory on the person without wudzu to purify himself, likewise, the commandment to worship makes it obligatory on the kafir to dissociate from kufr.
 – From this we learn that the benefit of worship is only for the worshiper. Allah Ta’ala is pure from it that He seek benefit from [our] worships or anything else.
 – In the preceding verse, the blessing of manifesting [our] existence is stated that you and your fathers have been rendered existence from non-existence; and in the following verse, the means of earnings and subsistence and water and provisions have been stated to make clear that He Alone is The One Who grants blessings. Then the worship of anyone else is pure falsehood.
 – After the Tawhiid of the Almighty – that overwhelmingly powerful proof for the prophethood of our Master ﷺ, the Leader of the Prophets, and the Quran being Allah’s book and a mu’jiza (a miracle, that which leaves one dumbstruck) – is described, which delivers serenity to the seeker of the truth and will leave the deniers dumbstruck!
 – ‘Special slave’ refers to our radiant Master, the Commander of the world, sal Allahu Ta’ala ‘alaihi wa aalihi wa sallam.
 – That is, compose and bring forward a surah that is similar to the Quran in its eloquence, brilliance, magnificence and order of prose and informs of the news of the unseen.
 – By stones, the implication is those idols whom the kuffaar worship, and in their love of them (idols), defiantly deny the Holy Quran and the Blessed Messenger ﷺ.
 – Mas-ala (Case): From this we learn that hellfire has been already created.
Mas-ala (Case): We also learn that by His Ta’ala’s Grace, everlastingness (khulood) in hellfire is not for the muminiin (believers in Islam).
 – It is an Act of the Almighty that in the book, he mentions targheeb (stimulus & encouragement) along with tarheeb (frightening). That is why, after mentioning the kuffaar and their deeds and their punishments, the believers and their deeds have been mentioned, and they have been given the glad tidings of jannah. Righteous deeds (swaalihaatun) are those deeds that are deemed as good by the Shari’ah and they include all faraaidz (obligations) as well as nawafil (voluntary worships). [Jalalayn]
Mas-ala (Case): Iman (belief) is the conjunctive/affiliated evidence for the righteous deed, [and shows] that deed is not a part of iman in itself.
Mas-ala (Case): This glad tiding is for the righteous believers without any constraints, and the glad tiding that has been given to the sinners [Muslims] it is contingent to the Grace of Allah, He can forgive the sins straight away, or He can punish for them and the grant jannah. [Madaarik]
 – The fruits of paradise, even though they shall be similar, but will have different tastes. This is why the people of jannah shall say ‘this is the same fruit we got before’ but upon eating, they shall acquire a new taste, and this shall magnify their pleasure manifold.
 – The wives of jannah, be they houris or others, they shall all be free of female dispositions (like monthly cycles, menopause etc.) and all impurities and filth like passing bodily waste [as on earth]. In addition to that, they shall also be pure from bad behaviorisms and bad character traits. [Madaarik, Khaazen]
 – Meaning that the people of paradise (ahl al-jannah) shall never perish and shall never be kicked out of jannah.
Mas-ala (Case): From this we know that perishing (fana) is not for jannah and the ahl al-jannah.
 – Circumstances of revelation: When Allah Ta’ala stated two parables in the verse (مَثَلُھُمْ کَمَثَلِ الَّذِی اسْتَوْقَدَ) (Their parable is as if someone lit a fire… 2:17) and the verse (أَوْ كَصَـيِّـبٍ) (Or as the water descending… 2:19), the munaafiqiin objected to it, saying that Allah Ta’ala is exalted from it that he describe such parables. This ayah was revealed in refutation of that [objection by the hypocrites].
 – Because the stating of parables is establishes hikmah (wisdom) and renders the topic as persuasive and it is the way of the most eloquent of Arabs, therefore, objection to it is wrong and unjustified and the describing of parables is right.
 – (يُضِلُّ بِهِ) (misguide by it) is a reply to the saying of the kuffaar regarding what Allah Ta’ala means by this parable; and the two phrases (أَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا) (those who declare belief) and (أَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا) (those who disbelieve [i.e., kafirs]) that have been mentioned above, their exegesis is that by this parable He misguides many whose minds have been overwhelmed by ignorance and whose habit is arrogance and defiance and those who are bent on denying the truthful commandments and open wisdom and despite the fact that the parable is extremely apposite, they deny it. And by it Allah Ta’ala guides many who are habitual of contemplation and investigation and they do not speak against justice, they know that wisdom dictates that the similitude of a grand and magnificent thing be assigned to something worthy and the similitude of something lowly be assigned to something worthless, as in the above verse, the truth has been assigned similitude to light and falsehood has been assigned similitude to darkness.
 – In the Shari’ah, a “fasiq” (sinner/defiant) is said for the disobedient person who manifests major (kabiirah) sins. Fisq (sinfulness) has three stages: the first one is taghaabi (heedless), it is that when a person coincidentally commits a major sin (kabiirah) but he continued thinking of it as evil; the second one inhimaak (engrossed), it is that when a person is addicted to a kabiirah and no longer cares to avoid it; the third one is juhuud (rejection/defiance), it is that when a person commits haram considering it as good, the person at this stage becomes bereft of iman (belief). At the first two stages, as long as a person doesn’t commit the lowliest sins (shirk and kufr, paganhood and disbelief), he is deemed to be a mumin (believer). Here [in this verse], by faasiqeen (disobedient sinners) it refers to these very sinners who left iman (belief). In the Glorious Quran, even the kuffaar have been stated as “faasiq” (إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ) (Indeed, the munaafiqeen, they are the faasiqoon… 9:67). Some exegetes interpreted “fasiq” as “kafir” here and some interpreted it as munaafiq (hypocrite in religion) and some interpreted it as the jews.
 – The implication by this is that covenant which Allah Ta’ala decreed in the previous books regarding declaring belief in the Master ﷺ. Another saying is that the covenants are three; the first one is that which Allah Ta’ala took with the entire offspring of Adam that they accept his God-hood (ruboobiyyah), it is described in the verse (وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِن بَنِـي آدَمَ) (And remember [o beloved Prophet] when your Lord took from the children of Adam… 7:172); the second covenant is specific to prophets that they propagate the message and establish the religion (Islam), it is described in the verse (وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِنَ النَّبِيِّينَ مِيثَاقَهُمْ) (And remember [o beloved Prophet] when We took the covenant from the prophets… 33:7); the third covenant is specific to scholars that they do not hide the truth, it is described in the ayah (وَإِذْ أَخَذَ اللَّهُ مِيثَاقَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ) (And remember when Allah took a covenant with those who were given a book… 3:187).
[50 A] – Familial relationships and affinities, friendships and love with Muslims, believing in ALL prophets, ascertaining as truth ALL the books of the Almighty, agreeing and unifying upon the truth – these are those things that have been commanded to be joined. Severing/disbanding them, unduly separating some of them from the others, sowing discord – has been commanded as forbidden.
[50 B] – After stating the evidences for Tawhiid (Allah’s One-ness) and nubuwwah (prophethood [of our Master Rasulullah]), and the recompenses for kufr (disbelief) and iman (belief), Allah Ta’ala stated his general and specific blessings, signs of His Power, and the marvels [of creation], and hikmah (wisdom) and to conclusively establish the ugliness of kufr, [He] addressed the kuffaar that how can you deny The Almighty despite the fact that your OWN state dictates that you should believe in Him, because you were dead, and by dead here the implication is of a lifeless body. In our culture too, it is said that the earth is ‘dead’ [meaning barren]. In Arabic too, ‘death’ has been used in the same meaning. In the Quran itself, it is stated (يُحْيِي الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا ۚ) (He brought the earth to life after its death… 30:19, and others); meaning that you were a lifeless body in the shape of a little spec, then in the form of nutrition, then in the form of a mix, then in the form of an embryo, He gave you life and brought you alive, then upon completion of your lifespan, He shall grant you death, and then again He shall bring you to life. By that, either the life in the grave is implied, which shall be for questioning; or the rising on the judgment day. [Implication of the verse continues:] and then you shall be returned to him for accounting for your deeds and their recompense; knowing this state of yours, your committing kufr (disbelief) is extremely odd.
Another saying of the exegetes (mufassiriin) is that the addressing of (كَيْفَ تَكْفُرُونَ) (How could you disbelieve) is to the believers and it means that how can you be kafirs, meaning to state that you were dead by the death of ignorance, Allah Ta’ala granted you the life of knowledge and iman, and after that the only death for you is the one that comes to all at the completion of their life spans [i.e., physical death of the body], and after that He shall grant you REAL and everlasting life, and then you shall be returned to Him, and He shall grant you such thawab (rewards) that neither any eye has seen, nor has any ear heard about, neither has it been imagined by any heart!
 – Meaning, mines, vegetations, animals, rivers, mountains, whatever is in the earth, Allah Ta’ala has created all of it for your deeni (religious) and duniyawi (worldly) benefit. Deeni benefit because by observing the marvels of the earth, you attain realization of Allah Ta’ala’s Divine Hikmah (Wisdom) & Qudrah (Power). Duniyawi benefit is that you eat, drink, enjoy, utilize these things; then despite these blessings, how can you commit kufr?!
Mas-ala (Case): Karkhiy, and Abu Bakr, Razi, and others have deduced (خلق لكم) (created for you) as evidence for beneficial goods as being intrinsically/inherently permissible. [Translator’s Note: This is a matter of usul of fiqh.]
 – It means that this creating and bringing into existence is the evidence for Allah Ta’ala being The One Who Knows about every single thing, because the creating of this elaborately wise creation is neither possible nor imaginable without attributing to Him an All-Encompassing Knowledge. The kafirs used to consider it as impossible to be raised from the dead. These ayahs established strong evidence against their false conjecture that Allah Ta’ala is Al-Qadir (The All Powerful), Al-‘Aleem (The All-Knowing) and has the power to gather all bodies and bring them to life, then how can life after death be possible? After creating the skies and the earth, Allah Ta’ala gave residence to the angels in the sky, and to the jinns on earth. When the jinns spread mischief, He sent a group of angels that drove them away to the mountains and islands.
[Translator’s Note: Regarding the word “Istawa” as stated in verse 29, ALL the Sunni scholars worldwide accept and believe in “Istawa”. It is from the metaphorical words used in the Quran when talking about Allah, and only mujassim (anthropomorphist) wahabis translate that to “rising above” or “established on” because like the christians, they attribute bodily attributes and direction to Allah Ta’ala.
Being in a direction implies being a body entrapped in time and space and having limits. Far exalted is Allah from having limits and attributes of bodies and being entrapped in time and space, which are both His creations.
Sunnis should leave the word as it came, as is the way of the pious predecessors, without contemplating a “how-ness” on it. Allah resembles nothing in His creation and “howness” does not apply to Him. Our minds are incapacitated to understand His Almighty Majesty.
Furthermore, the word “Istawa” in the Arabic language has more than one meaning, other meanings being in the same vein as “declaring authority” or “establishing command” or “ascertaining ownership”.
The bottom line is that the scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah have said that we believe in ‘Istawa’ in the meaning that Allah wants us to believe in, and we do NOT ask “how” in regards to it. Asking “how” in regards to it is a terrible bid’ah. May Allah keep us steadfast on the ways of the Ahlus Sunnah, our beloved Prophet ﷺ & his noble companions and the pious scholars of the ummah who learned from the noble companions, radzi Allahu ‘anhum ajma’iin.]