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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Sürah Al-A'raf - The Heights: 7th Chapter of Quran (Exegesis Part III)


Sürah Al-A'raf " ٱلْأَعْرَاف " is the seventh surah with 206 ayahs with 24 rukus, part of the 8th-9th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an. It also has one sajdah (prostration of recitation - verse 206).  This Sürah takes its name from verses 46-47 in which mention of A'araf occurs.

This Sürah is closely connected, both chronologically and in respect of the argument with the previous Sürah 6 An'aam. But it expounds the doctrine of revelation and man's religious history by illustrations from Adam onward, through various prophets, and the detail of Moses's struggles, to the time of the Prophet Muhammad (sws), in which Allah's revelation is completed.

The exegesis of this surah has been divided into five parts as already mentioned in the Overview. We now present the Part III, covering Ruku / Sections 13-19 [Verses 100-157]: The story of Moses is told in greater detail, not only in his struggles with Pharaoh, but in his preparation for his mission, and his struggles with his own rebellious people. Even from the time of Moses the coming of the unlettered Prophet was foreshadowed.


Let us now read the translation and exegesis / tafseer in English of the Sürah segmented into portions as per the subject matter. For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given at the end and may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"


Summary Verses 101 – 126 God sends Moses to Pharaoh:
The people in the cities in the previous verses were sent messengers with warnings but they refused to believe in them.  Then God sent Moses to Pharaoh and his priests but they too treated the message unjustly.  See then what happened to those who spread corruption.  Moses told Pharaoh that he (Moses) was a messenger from the Lord of all the worlds and Pharaoh asked for a sign.  Moses threw his staff to the ground and it tuned into a slithering serpent.  Then he pulled his hand out from under his robe and it was shining white and radiant.  The leaders around Pharaoh said that Moses was a sorcerer and suggested a competition.  Pharaoh’s sorcerers arrived and were promised a place in the inner circle if they won.

The sorcerers threw their sticks and they turned into snakes.  God inspired Moses and he threw down his staff that turned into a snake that devoured all the snakes the sorcerers had conjured.  The sorcerers were defeated; the truth was clear so they fell to their knees saying that they believe in the Lord of the worlds, the Lord of Moses.  Pharaoh declared that he would cut off their hands and feet on opposite sides and crucify them all because they believed before he (Pharaoh) had given his permission for them to do so.  They cried out to God asking Him to keep them steadfast and let them die devoted to Him alone.

Ruku / Section 13 [Verses 100-108]: Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) and his encounter with Pharaoh of Egypt.

Verses 100-102 Stories of prior nations are narrated to teach a lesson:
( 100 )   Has it not become clear to those who inherited the earth after its [previous] people that if We willed, We could afflict them for their sins? But We seal over their hearts so they do not hear.
Every nation which rises in place of one that falls, can perceive the misdeeds which brought about the preceding nation's fall. Were such a people to make use of their reason, to appreciate the false ideas and misdeeds which led to the undoing of those who once strutted abroad in vainglory, they would have realized that the Supreme Being Who had once punished them for their misdeeds and deprived them of power and glory had not ceased to exist. Nor has that Supreme Being been deprived of the power to inflict a punishment on the people of the present times, a power with which He smote the nations of the past. Nor has God become bereft of the capacity to dislodge the wicked nations of today in the manner He did in the past.

Those people who derive no lesson from history, who thoughtlessly pass over the ruins of the past, remaining engrossed in heedlessness, are deprived by God of the capacity to think correctly and to pay due attention to the counsel of well-wishers. Such is the God-made law of nature that if someone closes his eyes, not even a single ray of sun-light will reach his sight. Similarly, if someone is bent upon closing his ears none can make him hear even a word.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The stories which have been related should give a warning to present and future generations which have inherited the land, the power, or the experience of the past. They should know that if they fall into the same sins they will meet with the same fate: when through their contumacy their hearts are hardened, they do not listen to the advice that falls on their ears.
( 101 )   Those cities - We relate to you, [O Muhammad], some of their news. And certainly did their messengers come to them with clear proofs, but they were not to believe in that which they had denied before. Thus does Allah seal over the hearts of the disbelievers.
The purpose behind the 'sealing of hearts' mentioned in the preceding verse is also explained in the present verse. It is clear from the two verses that the 'sealing of hearts' means that man's capacity to hear and understand the truth is seriously, impaired because of the operation of natural, psychological laws. Because of these laws, once a person turns away from the truth because of his irrational prejudices and the dominance of lust, he becomes enmeshed in his own obstinacy and adamance. With the passage of time this adamance is compounded to such an extent that despite all rational and empirical evidence in support of the truth, he continues to reject it.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Those who have heard the Message and rejected it find it more difficult afterwards to retrace their steps. Evil has blocked the channels of Allah's grace to them. It begins with their breaking their Covenant with Allah; with each step afterwards they fall deeper and deeper into the mire.
( 102 )   And We did not find for most of them any covenant; but indeed, We found most of them defiantly disobedient.
The statement that 'We did not find most of them true to their covenants' signifies the general propensity of people not to honour their commitments. They are neither faithful to the primordial covenant which they made with God see (Al-A'raf 7: 172) which is binding on every mortal as God's servant and creature, nor faithful to the collective covenant which is binding on every human being as a member of the human fraternity. Nor are men generally faithful to the commitments which they make to God in hours of distress or in moments when their moral instincts are awake and astir. Violation of any of these covenants has been termed fisq (transgression).

 Verses 103-108 Prophet Moses was sent for the guidance of Pharaoh and his chiefs:
( 103 )   Then We sent after them Moses with Our signs to Pharaoh and his establishment, but they were unjust toward them. So see how was the end of the corrupters.
The stories narrated in the Qur'an bring home unmistakenly the point that people who reject God's Message are not spared; rather they are destroyed. In narrating at length the story of Moses, Pharaoh and the Israelites, the Qur'an provides some important lessons for the unbelieving Quraysh, the Jews, and also the believers.

The Quraysh are advised that the apparently large differences in the numerical strength of the forces of truth and falsehood in the early phase of the Islamic movement should not lead them to entertain any kind of illusion. History, provides ample testimony that the Message of truth has always had a very humble beginning. That its proponent, initially, is in the hopelessly small minority of one; in fact, one in the whole world. He then proceeds, despite his resource shortage, to challenge the hegemony of falsehood, to declare war against it, despite the fact that falsehood is backed by powerful states and empires. And ultimately the truth triumphs. The Quraysh are also reminded that all conspiracies hatched against the Prophets and all the means employed to suppress the Message of truth are ultimately foiled. They are further told that God grants long terms of respite to the evil-doing nations so that they might mend their ways and reform themselves. But when they persistently disregard all warnings and learn no lesson from instructive events, He smites them with an exemplary punishment.

Some further lessons are meant to be conveyed to those who believed in the Prophet (peace be on him). First, that they should not feel disheartened by the paucity of resources, nor be overawed by the impressive numerical strength, pomp and grandeur of their enemies. Nor should they lose heart if they find that God's help does not come at the expected hour. Second, that those who follow in the footsteps of the Jews are bound, ultimately, to be seized by the same curse which afflicted the Jews.

As for the Israelites, they are warned against the evil effects of clinging to falsehood. Illustrations of this were provided by important events in their own history. They are also asked to purge the Message of the earlier Prophets of all accretions and distortions and to restore it to its original purity.

'They dealt with Our signs unjustly' refers to their rejection of God's signs and to the fact that they dismissed them as sheer sorcery. If a person scoffs at a beautiful couplet, and dubs it as amateurish rhyming, this amounts to committing an offence against poetry itself. Likewise, to brand those extraordinary acts of God as sorcery and magic - even though magicians declared that those acts were beyond their ability - constitutes a serious offence not only against God's signs but also against common sense and truth.
( 104 )   And Moses said, "O Pharaoh, I am a messenger from the Lord of the worlds
'Pharaoh' literally means 'the offspring of the sun-god'. The ancient Egyptians called the sun 'Ra', worshiped it as their supreme deity', and Pharaoh - Ra's physical manifestation and representative - was named after it. It was for this reason that all Egyptian rulers claimed their authority on the basis of their association with Ra, and every ruler who mounted the Egyptian throne called himself Pharaoh, trying thereby to assure his people that he was their supreme deity.

It may be noted that the Qur'anic narrative regarding Moses refers to two Pharaohs. The first of these was one during whose reign Moses was born and in whose palace he was brought up. The second Pharaoh to Whorn reference is made is the one whom Moses invited to Islam and who was asked to liberate the Israelites. It is this latter Pharaoh who was finally drowned. Modern scholarship is inclined to the view that the first Pharaoh was Rameses II who ruled over Egypt from 1292 B.C. to 1225 B.C. while the second Pharaoh was Minpetah, his son, who had become a co-sharer in his father's authority during the latter's lifetime and who, after his death, became the fully-fledged ruler of Egypt. This, however, is not fully established since Moses, according to the Egyptian calendar, died in 1272 B.C. In any case these are merely historical conjectures. It is quite difficult to establish a clear chronological framework owing to discrepancies in the Egyptian, Israeli and Christian calendars.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The story of Moses is told in many places in the Holy Qur'an, with a special lesson in each context. In ii. 49-71, the story is an appeal to the Jews from their own scripture and traditions, to show their true place in the religious history of mankind, and how they forfeited it. Here we have an instructive parallelism in that story to the story of Muhammad's mission,-how both these men of Allah had to fight against (1) a foreign foe, arrogant, unjust, faithless, and superstitious, and (2) against the same class of internal foe among their own people. Both of them won through. In the case of Moses, the foreign foe was Pharaoh and his Egyptians, who boasted of their earlier and superior civilization; in the case of the Prophet Muhammad the foreign foes were the Jews themselves and the Christians of his day. Moses led his people nearly to the land of promise in spite of rebellions among his own people; Muhammad succeeded completely in overcoming the resistance of his own people by his own virtues and firmness of character, and by the guidance of Allah. What was a hope when these Makkan verses were revealed became an accomplishment before the end of his life and mission on earth.

"Pharaoh" (Arabic, Fir'aun) is a dynastic title, not the name of any particular king in Egypt. It has been traced to the ancient Hieroglyphic words, Per-aa, which mean "Great House." The nun is an "infirm" letter added in the process of Arabisation. Who was the Pharaoh in the story of Moses? If the Inscriptions had helped us, we could have answered with some confidence, but unfortunately the Inscriptions fail us. It is probable that it was an early Pharaoh of the XVIIIth Dynasty, say Thothmes 1, about 1540 B.C. See appendix IV on Egyptian Chronology and Israel, printed at the end of this Surah.
( 105 )   [Who is] obligated not to say about Allah except the truth. I have come to you with clear evidence from your Lord, so send with me the Children of Israel."
Moses was sent to Pharaoh to invite him to two things; first, to surrender himself to God (i.e. Islam); and second, to release the Israelites - who were already Muslims - from his oppressive bondage. The Qur'an refers occasionally to both these objectives, and occasionally confines itself to mentioning either of the two.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Notice that Moses, in addressing Pharaoh and the Egyptians, claims his mission to be not from his God, or his people's God but from "your Lord," from "the Lord of the Worlds." And his mission is not to his people only: "I come unto you (Egyptian people) from your Lord." "The spirit of our version is entirely different from the spirit of the same story as told in the Old Testament (Exod. chapters i. to xv.). In Exod. iii. 18, the mission of Moses is expressed to be as from "the Lord God of the Hebrews." The essence of the whole Islamic story is this: Joseph's sufferings and good fortune were not merely a story in a romance. Joseph was a prophet; his sufferings and his subsequent rise to power and position in Egypt were to be a lesson (a) to his wicked brothers who sold him into slavery, (b) to his people who were stricken with famine and found a welcome in Egypt, and (c) to the Egyptians, who were arrogant over their high material civilization, but had yet to be taught the pure faith of Abraham. Israel prospered in Egypt, and stayed there perhaps two to four centuries. (Renan allows only one century). Times changed, and the racial bigotry of the Egyptians showed its head again, and Israel was oppressed. Moses was raised up with a threefold mission again (a) to learn all the learning of the Egyptians and preach Allah's Truth to them as one who had been brought up among themselves, (b) to unite and reclaim his own people, and (c) to rescue them and lead them to a new world, which was to open out their spiritual horizon and lead them to the Psalms of David and the glories of Solomon.
( 106 )   [Pharaoh] said, "If you have come with a sign, then bring it forth, if you should be of the truthful."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The ensuing dialogue shows the psychology on the two sides. Pharaoh is sitting in his court, with his ministers and chiefs around him. In their arrogance they are only amused at the effrontery and apparent revolt of the Israelite leaders, and they rely upon their own superior worldly power, aided by the magic which was a part of the Egyptian religion. Confronting them stand two men, Moses with his mission from Allah, and his brother Aaron who was his lieutenant. They are confident, not in their own powers, but in the mission they had received. The first thing they have to do is to act on the subjective mind of the Egyptians, and by methods which by Allah's miracle show that Egyptian magic was nothing before the true power of Allah.
( 107 )   So Moses threw his staff, and suddenly it was a serpent, manifest.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The serpent played a large part in Egyptian mythology. The great sun-god Ra won a great victory over the serpent Apophis, typifying the victory of light over darkness. Many of their gods and goddesses took the forms of snakes to impress their foes with terror. Moses's rod as a type of a serpent at once appealed to the Egyptian mentality. The contempt which the Egyptians had entertained in their minds before was converted into terror. Here was some one who could control the reptile which their great god Ra himself had such difficulty in overcoming!
( 108 )   And he drew out his hand; thereupon it was white [with radiance] for the observers.
Moses was granted these two miraculous signs in order to provide testimony to his being a Messenger of God, the creator and sovereign of the universe. As we have mentioned earlier, whenever the Prophets introduced themselves as God's Message-bearers, people asked them to produce some miraculous sign, to perform something supernatural. In response to those demands the Prophets produced what the Qur'an terms as 'signs', and which are called 'miracles' by theologians.

Those who tend to play down the supernatural character of such signs or miracles, and who try to explain them in terms of natural laws of causation, in fact attempt to build a mid-way house between believing and disbelieving in the statements of the Qur'an. Such an approach can hardly be considered reasonable. What it does demonstrate, however, is how such people can be pulled in two opposite directions. On the one hand, they are not inclined to believe in a Book which abounds in narrations of a supernatural kind. On the other hand, being born followers of their ancestral religion, they are not inclined to reject the Book which carries supernatural narrations.

With regard to miracles, there are two basic questions that people should ask themselves. Did God, after creating the universe and establishing a system of natural causations therein, suspend Himself such that it is no longer possible for Him to interfere in the workings of the universe? Or does He still hold the reins to His realm in His owns Hands so that His command is enforced every moment, and He does retain the power to alter the shape of things and the normal course of events - either partially or fully, - as and when He wills?

It is impossible for those who respond in the affirmative to the first question to accept the idea of miracles. For clearly miracles do not fit in with their concept of God and the universe. Honesty demands that instead of indulging in far-fetched explanations of Qur'anic statements on miracles, such people should clearly declare that they do not believe in the Qur'an. For quite obviously the Qur'an is explicit, even quite emphatic in affirming the former concept of God.

As for those who, being convinced by Qur'anic arguments, respond in the affirmative to the second question regarding God and the universe, for them there is no difficulty in accepting miracles. Let us take the instance mentioned in verse 107, namely, that the rod of Moses turned into a serpent. Now, there are those who believe that serpents can come into being only through one process - the known biological process. Such people are bound to reject the statement that Moses' rod changed into a serpent and later reverted to its original shape. On the contrary, if you are fully convinced that it is God's command alone which causes life to arise from lifeless matter, and that God has full power to confer whichever kind of life He wills, the transformation of the rod into a serpent and its subsequent reversion to its original state is no stranger than the transformation of any other lifeless matter into a living entity. The fact that the latter happens virtually every day whereas the former took place only a few times in history is not enough to declare the first as incredibly, strange and the second as 'natural'.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
But the second Sign displayed by Moses was even more puzzling to the Egyptians. Moses drew out his hand from the folds of the garments on his breast, and it was white and shining as with divine light! This was to counter any suggestions of evil, which the serpent might have created. This was no work of evil, of black magic, or a trick or illusion. His hand was transfigured with a light which no Egyptian sorcerers could produce. In Islamic literature the "white hand" of Moses has passed into a proverb, for a symbol of divine glory dazzling to the beholders.

Ruku / Section 14 [Verses 109-126]: Pharaoh and his magicians were defeated.

Verses 109-126 Moses' confrontation with the magicians of Pharaoh:
( 109 )   Said the eminent among the people of Pharaoh, "Indeed, this is a learned magician
 ( 110 )   Who wants to expel you from your land [through magic], so what do you instruct?"
The above account raises the question as to how a destitute member of the slave Israeli nation could pose such a serious threat to an emperor as mighty as Pharaoh. This is especially so when one considers that Pharaoh was not only an absolute ruler over territory which stretched in one direction from Syria to Libya and in the other from the Mediterranean coast to Ethiopia, but was even considered a deity deserving of worship,

One might also wonder how the transformation of Moses' rod into a serpent could he considered an event of such magnitude as to give rise to the fear that Moses would overthrow the entrenched empire and unseat the royal family as well as the entire ruling class. It might further seem strange that the mere declaration of prophethood and the demand to liberate the people of Israel caused such a furore even though no other political question had been touched upon.

The answer here lies in the fact that Moses' claim to prophethood implied the call to total change, obviously, including political change. For if a person lays claim to be God's Messenger, it implies that people obey him unreservedly. For God's Messengers are not sent to the world to obey other human beings and live in subordination to them; they rather ask others to accept them as their leaders and rulers. It is this which explains why Pharaoh and his coteric felt threatened by an all-out revolution -political, economic and social - when Moses came forth with his call.

There remains the question as to why the claim to prophethood was considered such a potential threat when Moses enjoyed the support of none except his brother, Aaron, and his claim was reinforced by only two miracles - those of the shining hand and the rod which turned into a serpent. This can be explained by two things. First, that Pharaoh and his courtiers knew very well about Moses. All were aware of his extraordinary abilities and his inherent calibre as a leader of men. Also, according to the traditions of the Talmud and Josephus - provided they are authentic -Moses had also learnt the martial arts and other skills which were available only exclusively to royalty and which were required in connection with their political and military leadership. Moreover, he had proved his mettle as a good general during the expedition to Ethiopia. Furthermore, during the course of his eight years of life in Midian - rigorous years in the desert working as a shepherd - he had purged himself of all his weaknesses because of his association with the Pharaonic svstern. Hence. when the Pharaonic court was confronted by a mature, serene and pious man who came forth with the claim of prophethood, it was obviously impossible for them to give short shrift to his claim. Second, the miracles of the rod and the shining hand overawed Pharaoh and his courtiers to such an extent they were almost convinced that Moses did indeed enjoy the support of some supernatural power. That they were unnerved by the very first proof of his prophethood is borne out by the contradictions in their charges against Moses. On the one hand they dubbed Moses a sorcerer, and on the other hand they accused him of plotting to banish them from their own land. It is clear that had they taken Moses for a mere sorcerer, they would not have expressed fears of political upheaval. For sorcery has never brought about any political change in the world.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The two Signs had the desired effect on the Egyptians. They were impressed, but they judged them by their own standards. They thought to themselves, "These are ordinary sorcerers: let us search out our best sorcerers and show them that they have superior power." But like all worldly people, they began to fear for their own power and possessions. It was far from Moses's intention to drive out the Egyptians from their own land. He merely wanted to end the Egyptian oppression. But the Egyptians had a guilty conscience, and they judged other people's motives by their own. They discussed the matter in Council on quite wrong premises.
( 111 )   They said, "Postpone [the matter of] him and his brother and send among the cities gatherers 
( 112 )   Who will bring you every learned magician."
The plan of Pharaoh's courtiers clearly suggests that they knew the difference between mere sorcery and a miracle. They were well aware that miracles are effective and have the capacity to bring about actual transformation whereas sorcery results merely in optic illusion. Hence, they dubbed Moses a sorcerer so as to refute his claim to prophethood. They claimed instead that the transformation of the rod into a serpent was not a miracle; that it was rather a magical performance which could be undertaken by any sorcerer. Therefore, they asked all the sorcerers of the land to come together and display how rods could be magically transformed into serpents. They believed that such a magical show would remove the awesome effect created by Moses' miracles on the people, or at least sow doubts in their minds about those miracles.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The advice of the Council to Pharaoh shows a misreading of the situation. They were in a panic about what the magic of this evidently powerful sorcerer could do against them. So they advised the Pharaoh to summon their most powerful sorcerers from all over the country, and in the meantime to hold Moses and Aaron in suspense,-neither to yield to them nor definitely to oppose them. The Prophets of Allah could well afford to wait. Time is always in favour of Truth.
( 113 )   And the magicians came to Pharaoh. They said, "Indeed for us is a reward if we are the predominant."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The most noted sorcerers of Pharaoh came. Their art was built up on trickery and imposture, and the first thing they could think of was to make a selfish bargain for themselves. The Pharaoh and his Council would in their present state of panic agree to anything. And so they did. Pharaoh not only promised them any rewards they desired if they foiled the strange power of these men, but he also promised them the highest dignities round his own person. And so the contest begins, with due observance of the amenities observed by combatants before they come to close grips.
( 114 )   He said, "Yes, and, [moreover], you will be among those made near [to me]."( 115 )   They said, "O Moses, either you throw [your staff], or we will be the ones to throw [first]." 
( 116 )   He said, "Throw," and when they threw, they bewitched the eyes of the people and struck terror into them, and they presented a great [feat of] magic. 
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Moses and his brother Aaron were pitted against the most skillful magicians of Egypt, but they were calm and confident and let the magicians have their innings first. As is usual in this world, the magicians trickery made a great impression on the people, but when Moses threw his rod, the illusion was broken, and the falsehood was all shown up. In the Old Testament story (Exod. vii. 10-12) it was Aaron that threw the rod, and he threw it before the magicians. Aaron's rod became a serpent. Then the magicians threw their rods, and they became serpents, but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods. The story given to us is more dramatic and less literal. We are told in general terms that Moses first allowed the magic-men to play their tricks. It was a simple shepherd's crook with which he used to feed his flocks. With Allah's grace behind him, he was able to expose all false trickery and establish the Truth.
( 117 )   And We inspired to Moses, "Throw your staff," and at once it devoured what they were falsifying.
 It would be a mistake to believe that the rod of Moses swallowed up the rods and ropes cast by the other sorcerers and which had looked like serpents. The Qur'anic statement means that the rod of Moses swallowed up the falsehood faked by them. This clearly shows that wherever Moses' rod moved, it destroyed the magical effect which had caused the transformation of their ropes and rods. One blow of Moses' rod caused every other rod to revert to a rod, and every rope to revert to a rope. (For further elaboration see Tafhim al-Qur'an, (Ta Ha 20, n. 42)
( 118 )   So the truth was established, and abolished was what they were doing. 
( 119 )   And Pharaoh and his people were overcome right there and became debased.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The proud ones of the Court-Pharaoh and his chiefs-were hard-hearted, and the exposure of the imposture only made them wreak their rage on those whom they could reach. On the other hand the effect on the humbler ones-those who had been made the dupes and instruments of the imposture-was quite different. Their conscience was awakened. They fell down to the ground in adoration of the Lord of the Worlds, and confessed their faith.
( 120 )   And the magicians fell down in prostration [to Allah].( 121 )   They said, "We have believed in the Lord of the worlds, 
( 122 )   The Lord of Moses and Aaron."
Thus God turned the tables on Pharaoh and his courtiers they arranged the magic show in the hope that it would convince the people that Moses was just a sorcerer, and thus make them skeptical about his claim to prophethood. But the actual outcome was quite the opposite. The sorcerers who had been assembled were defeated. Not only that, it was also unanimously acknowledged that the signs displayed by Moses in support of his claim were not feats of magic. Rather, his signs rather manifested the might of God, the Lord of the universe, and hence could not be overcome by magic.
( 123 )   Said Pharaoh, "You believed in him before I gave you permission. Indeed, this is a conspiracy which you conspired in the city to expel therefrom its people. But you are going to know.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Pharaoh and his Court were doubly angry: first because they were made to look small when confronted by the power of Allah, and secondly, because their dupes and instruments were snatched away from them. These men, the sorcerers, at once recognised the Signs of Allah, and in their case the mission of Moses, and Aaron was fulfilled. They turned back on their past life of false worship, and oppression of the weak, and confessed the One true God. As usually happens, hardened sinners resent all the more the saving of any of their companions from sin and error. Judging other people's motives by their own, they accuse them of duplicity, and if they have the power, they take cruel revenge. Here the Pharaoh threatens the repentant sinners with the extreme punishment for treason and apostasy (cutting off of hands and feet, combined with an ignominious death on the cross, as in the case of the worst malefactors). But they remained firm, and prayed to Allah for patience and constancy. Probably their influence spread quietly in the commonalty. Ultimately it appeared on the throne itself, in the person of Amenophis IV about five or six generations afterwards.
( 124 )   I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides; then I will surely crucify you all."( 125 )   They said, "Indeed, to our Lord we will return. 
( 126 )   And you do not resent us except because we believed in the signs of our Lord when they came to us. Our Lord, pour upon us patience and let us die as Muslims [in submission to You]."
Faced with utter failure Pharaoh finally resorted to branding the whole magic tournament as a conspiracy concocted by Moses and his accomplice sorcerers. Under threat of death and physical torture he asked the sorcerers to confess that they had acted in collusion with Moses. This last move by Pharaoh was ineffectual. For the sorcerers readily agreed to endure every torture, clearly proving thereby that their decision to accept Moses' message reflected their sincere conviction and that no conspiracy was involved. Pharaoh was hardly left with any choice. He, therefore, gave up all pretence to follow truth and justice, and brazenly resorted to persecution instead.

The tremendous and instantaneous change which took place in the characters of the sorcerers is also of significance. The sorcerers had come all the way from their homes with the purpose of vindicating their ancestral faith and receiving pecuniary reward from Pharaoh for overcoming Moses. However, the moment true faith illumined their hearts, they displayed such resoluteness of will and love for the truth that they contemptuously turned down Pharaoh's offer, and demonstrated their full readiness to endure even the worst punishments for the sake of the truth that had dawned upon them.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
These Egyptians, by their patience and constancy, show that their repentance was true. Thus in their case the mission of Moses was fulfilled directly, and their number must have amounted to a considerable figure. They were martyrs to their faith, and their martyrdom affected their nation in two ways. In the first place, as they were the pick of those who practiced magic in Egypt, their conversion and disappearance dealt a staggering blow to the whole system. Secondly, the indirect effect of their martyrdom on the commonalty of Egypt must have been far greater than can be measured by numbers. The banner of Allah was planted, and the silent spiritual fight must have gone on ever since, though history, in recording outward events, is silent on the slow and gradual processes of transformation undergone by Egyptian religion. From a chaotic pantheon of animals and animal gods, the worship of the sun and the heavenly bodies, and the worship of the Pharaoh as the embodiment of power, they gradually came to realize the oneness and mercy of the true God. After many glimpses of Monotheism on Egyptian soil itself, the (gospel of Jesus reached them, and eventually Islam.)

Summary Verses 127 – 137 Plagues afflict Egypt:
The leaders among Pharaoh’s people asked if he intended to let Moses and his people cause corruption in the land.  He answered that he would put their sons to death and spare their daughters.  Moses advised his people to be steadfast and turn to God for help.  Moses’ people complained that they were used to persecution before and are still being persecuted, but Moses gives them hope. 

Pharaoh’s people were afflicted with several years of famine in the hope that they would come to their senses but they thought good provision their right and bad circumstances were due to Moses (an evil omen).  Their fortune however was in the hands of God but still they did not recognize it.

Next the people of Pharaoh were inflicted with a flood, followed by plagues of locusts, and lice, and frogs, and blood.  Pharaoh’s people asked Moses to intervene with his Lord and have Him remove the punishment, saying that if he did so they would let the enslaved people of Israel go.  However when the punishment was removed they broke their promise.  God drowned them and caused those who had been oppressed to inherit the land.

Ruku / Section 15 [Verses 127-129]Pharaoh's revenge against the people of Moses:
( 127 )   And the eminent among the people of Pharaoh said," Will you leave Moses and his people to cause corruption in the land and abandon you and your gods?" [Pharaoh] said, "We will kill their sons and keep their women alive; and indeed, we are subjugators over them."
There were two periods of persecution. The first was during the reign of Rameses II and took place before Moses' birth, whereas the second period of persecution started after Moses' assumption to the office of prophethood. Common to both periods is the killing of the male issue of Israelites while the female was spared. It was a calculated design to rob the Israelites of their identity and to bring about their forcible assimilation. An inscription discovered during the archaeological excavations of 1896 probably belongs to this period. According to this inscription, Pharaoh Minpetah rounds off the narration of his achievements and victories in these words: 'The Israel have been exterminated, and no seed of them is left.' For further explanation see (al-Mu'min 40: 25)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Pharaoh's order against the sorcerers was drastic enough. But his Council is not satisfied. What about Moses and the Israelites? They had a seeming victory, and will now be more mischievous than ever. They appeal to Pharaoh's vanity and his superstition and sense of power. "If you leave them alone," they say, "where will be your authority? You and your gods will be defied!" Pharaoh has a ready answer. He was really inwardly cowed by the apparent power of Moses. He dared not openly act against him. But he had already, before the birth of Moses, passed a cunning order to destroy the whole people of Israel. Through the instrumentality of midwives (Exod. i. 15) all the male children were to be destroyed, and the females would then be for the Egyptians: the race of Israel would thus be at an end. This order was still in force, and would remain in force until the despised race was absorbed. But Egyptian cunning and wickedness had no power against Allah's Plan for those who had faith. See verse 129 below.
( 128 )   Said Moses to his people, "Seek help through Allah and be patient. Indeed, the earth belongs to Allah. He causes to inherit it whom He wills of His servants. And the [best] outcome is for the righteous."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Notice the contrast between the arrogant tone of Pharaoh and the humility and faith taught by Moses. In the end the arrogance was humbled, and humility and faith were protected and advanced.
( 129 )   They said, "We have been harmed before you came to us and after you have come to us." He said, "Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy and grant you succession in the land and see how you will do."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
There is a slight note of querulousness in the people's answer. But Moses allays it by his own example and courage, and his vision of the future: which was amply fulfilled in time. See verse 137 below.

The Israelites, despised and enslaved, were to be rescued and made rulers in Palestine. David and Solomon were great kings and played a notable part in history. But the greatness of Israel was conditional: they were to be judged by their deeds. When they fell from grace, other people were given honour and power. And so it came to be the turn of the Muslims, and so on. Allah gives His gifts to those who are righteous and obey His Law.

Ruku / Section 16 [Verses 130-141]: Some more signs shown to Pharaoh and his people.

130-137 Scourge of Allah against Pharaoh and his chiefs, and their final destruction:
( 130 )   And We certainly seized the people of Pharaoh with years of famine and a deficiency in fruits that perhaps they would be reminded. 
( 131 )   But when good came to them, they said, "This is ours [by right]." And if a bad [condition] struck them, they saw an evil omen in Moses and those with him. Unquestionably, their fortune is with Allah, but most of them do not know. 
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Their superstition ascribed the punishment of their own wickedness to some evil omen. They thought Moses and his people brought them ill-luck. They did not look within themselves to see the root of evil, and the cause of their punishment! So it happens in all ages. People blame the righteous for something which they do, different from other men, instead of searching out their own lapses from rectitude, which are punished by Allah.
( 132 )   And they said, "No matter what sign you bring us with which to bewitch us, we will not be believers in you."
Pharaoh's courtiers obstinately persisted in branding Moses' signs as sorcery although they knew well that sorcery had nothing in common with the miraculous signs granted to Moses. Even a fool would not he ready to believe that the country-wide famine and the consistent decrease in agricultural output could have been caused by magic. It is for this reason that the Qur'an says:
But when Our signs, which should have opened their eyes, came to them they said: 'This is clear sorcery! And they rejected those signs out of iniquity and arrogance even though they were inwardly convinced of it' (al-Naml 27: 13-14). 
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
A type of obstinacy and resistance to Allah's message. As they believed in sorcery and magic, they thought anything unusual was but sorcery and magic, and hardened their hearts against Truth.

فَاَرۡسَلۡنَا عَلَيۡهِمُ الطُّوۡفَانَ وَالۡجَـرَادَ وَالۡقُمَّلَ وَالضَّفَادِعَ وَالدَّمَ اٰيٰتٍ مُّفَصَّلٰتٍ فَاسۡتَكۡبَرُوۡا وَكَانُوۡا قَوۡمًا مُّجۡرِمِيۡنَ‏  
( 133 )   So We sent upon them the flood and locusts and lice and frogs and blood as distinct signs, but they were arrogant and were a criminal people.
This probably refers to the torrential rain accompanied by hailstorm. While we do not totally exclude the possibility of other kinds of storms, we are inclined to the view, that it probably signifies hailstorm since the Bible specifically mentions that. (See Exodus 9: 23-4 - Ed.)

The word used in the text - qummal - denotes lice, fleas, small locusts, mosquitoes, and weevil. This rather general term has been used in the Qur'an probably to suggest that while men were afflicted with lice and fleas, weevil destroyed the barns. (Cf. Exodus 7-12)

Also see under the explanation of similar verse from Surah 43 al-Zukhruf :

This implies the signs which Allah showed them through the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) afterwards, and these were the following:
(1) A public encounter of Allah’s Prophet with the magicians, who believed after their defeat. For details, see (Surah TaHa, Ayats 68-73); (Surah Ash Shuara, Ayats 37-51).
(2) A severe famine which hit the land of Egypt according to Prophet Moses’ (peace be upon him) announcement and which left the country only by his prayer.
(3) Dreadful rain and hail-storms accompanied by lightning and thunder struck the country even as Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) had announced, which destroyed the crops and dwellings and which also was removed only by his prayer.
(4) The sudden appearance of locusts in the land. This calamity was also not removed when Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) prayed to Allah.
(5) Lice and weevils spread throughout the country according to the announcement made by Moses (peace be upon him), which afflicted men and animals on the one hand, and destroyed granaries on the other. This torment was also averted when Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was requested to pray for its removal.
(6) Frogs appeared everywhere in the country according to the warning given by Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), which put the whole population to great distress. This calamity did not also retreat until Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) prayed for it.
(7) The torment of blood appeared precisely as foretold by Moses (peace be upon him), which turned the water of all canals, wells, springs, pools and cisterns into blood. The fish died and the water smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink from it for a full week. This evil was also averted when the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was asked to pray for its removal. For details, see (Surah An-Naml, Ayat 12)
Chapters 7 to 10 of Exodus also contain the details of these calamities, but it is a combination of gossip and truth. It says that when the calamity of blood appeared, the magicians also worked a similar miracle, but when the calamity of the lice came, the magicians could not produce lice in response, and they said that it was God’s work. Even more strange than this is that when the storm of the frogs came, the magicians also brought about frogs, but in spite of that Pharaoh requested only the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) to pray to God to take away the frogs. The question is when the magicians could produce frogs, why didn’t Pharaoh get the frogs taken away through them? And how did it become known which of the frogs were Allah’s work and which of the magicians’ work? The same question arises about the blood. When according to the warning of Moses (peace be upon him) water became blood everywhere, which water did the magicians turn into blood? And how was it known that the water of a particular place had turned blood by the power of the magicians? Such are the things which show that the Bible does not consist of purely divine revelation, but the people who wrote it mixed up many things in it from their own imagination. The pity, however, is that the authors also were people of ordinary intelligence, who did not even know how to invent a story.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Tufan = a widespread calamity, causing wholesale death and destruction. It may be a flood, or a typhoon, or an epidemic, among men or cattle. Perhaps the last is meant, if we may interpret by the Old Testament story. See also Exod. ix. 3, 9, 15; xii. 29.

In Surah xvii. Al-Israa 101, the reference is to nine Clear Signs. These are: (1) the Rod (vii. 107), (2) the Radiant Hand (vii. 108), (3) the years of drought or shortage of water (vii, 130), (4) short crops (vii. 130), and the five mentioned in this verse, viz., (5) epidemics among men and beasts, (6) locusts, (7) lice, (8) frogs, and (9) the water turning to blood.
( 134 )   And when the punishment descended upon them, they said, "O Moses, invoke for us your Lord by what He has promised you. If you [can] remove the punishment from us, we will surely believe you, and we will send with you the Children of Israel."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The demand of Moses was two-fold: (1) come to Allah and cease from oppression, and (2) let me take Israel out of Egypt. At first it was laughed at and rejected with scorn. When the Plagues came for punishment, each time the Egyptians suffered, they promised amendment and begged Moses to intercede and cause the plague to cease. But every time it ceased, they went back to their evil attitude, until the final retribution came. This is a type of the sinner's attitude for all times.
( 135 )   But when We removed the punishment from them until a term which they were to reach, then at once they broke their word.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The intercession of Moses was to pray. Each plague or penalty had its appointed term in Allah's decree. That term was duly fulfilled before the plague ceased. The intercession meant two things: (1) that Allah's name was invoked and His presence duly brought home to the mind and heart of the sinner who promised repentance, and (2) that the sinner was given a further chance when the prayer was accepted. This again is a universal truth.
( 136 )   So We took retribution from them, and We drowned them in the sea because they denied Our signs and were heedless of them. 
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
When at last Pharaoh let Israel go, they selected, not the highway to Canaan, along the Mediterranean and by Gaza, because they were unarmed and would have encountered immediate opposition there, but by way of the wilderness of Sinai. They crossed the Red Sea, while Pharaoh's host which came in pursuit was drowned. Cf. ii. 50.

Where was the Council of Pharaoh held in which Moses addressed Pharoah? Egypt's primary capital in the XVIIIth Dynasty was Thebes (=Not-Ammon), but that was more than 400 miles to the south of the Delta, in whose corner Israel dwelt. Memphis, on the apex of the Delta, a little south of where Cairo is now, was also over 100 miles from Israel's habitations. The interview must have been either in a Palace near Goshen, where the Israelites dwelt, or in Zoan (=Tanis), the Deltaic capital built by a former dynasty, which was of course still available for the reigning dynasty, and which was not far from the Israelite settlement.
( 137 )   And We caused the people who had been oppressed to inherit the eastern regions of the land and the western ones, which We had blessed. And the good word of your Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel because of what they had patiently endured. And We destroyed [all] that Pharaoh and his people were producing and what they had been building.
The Israelites were made the inheritors of Palestine. This has been interpreted by some commentators of the Qur'an to mean that the Israelites were made the rulers of Egypt as well. This view, however, is neither supported by, the Qur'an nor by any other historical and archaeological evidence. We have, therefore, serious reservations about the correctness of this opinion. (See Tafhim a]-Qur'an, (al-Kahf 18, n. 57), and (al-Shuara' 26, n. 45)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Israel, which was despised, became a great and glorious nation under Solomon. He had goodly territory, and was doubly blessed. His land and people were prosperous, and he was blessed with wisdom from Allah. His sway and his fame spread east and west. And thus Allah's promise to Israel was fulfilled. Note that Syria and Palestine had once been under the sway of Egypt. At the same time the proud and rebellious Pharaoh and his people were brought low. The splendid monuments which they had erected with so much skill and pride were mingled with the dust. Their great cities-Thebes (or No-Ammon), Memphis (or Noph, sacred to the Bull of Osiris), and the other splendid cities, became as if they had not existed, and archaeologists have had to dig up their ruins from the sands. The splendid monuments-temples, palaces, tombs, statues, columns, and stately structures of all kinds-were buried in the sands. Even monuments like the Great Sphinx, which seem to defy the ages, were partly buried in the sands, and owe their rescue to the comparatively recent researches of archaeologists. As late as 1743 Richard Pococke in his Travels in Egypt (p. 41), remarked: "Most of those pyramids are very much ruined."

Summary Verses 138 – 143 God rescues the Children of Israel and talks to Moses:
God took the Children of Israel across the sea where they came across people who worshiped idols.  The children of Israel asked Moses to make them an idol to which he replied that they were an ignorant people.  He told them the cult the idol worshipers were following was doomed to destruction.  God summoned Moses on the mountain for forty nights.  He asked his brother Aaron, who had been with him from the beginning, to take his place to lead the people and being careful to keep them away from the idol worshipers.  Moses arrived at the appointed time and asked God to show Himself.  God answered, you will not see Me, but look at the mountain, if it can look at me and remain in place you will see me.  The mountain crumbled before Moses’ eyes and he fell down unconscious.  When he recovered he said to God, ‘Glory be to You! To You I turn in repentance! I am the first to believe!’

Verses 138-141 Allah rescued the Children of Israel but they still disbelieved in One God:
( 138 )   And We took the Children of Israel across the sea; then they came upon a people intent in devotion to [some] idols of theirs. They said, "O Moses, make for us a god just as they have gods." He said, "Indeed, you are a people behaving ignorantly.
The point at which the Israelites probably crossed the Red Sea lies somewhere between the present Suez and Ismailia. After that they headed towards the south of the Sinai peninsula along the coastal route. The western and northern regions of the Sinai peninsula were then included in the Egyptian empire. In the southern part of the peninsula, in the area lying between the present towns of Tur and Abu Zanimah, there were copper and turquoise mines. Since these were of immense value to the Egyptians, a number of garrisons had been set up to ensure their security'. One such garrison was located at a place known as Mafqah, which also housed a big temple. The ruins of this temple can still be found in the south-western part of the peninsula. In its vicinity there was an ancient temple, dedicated to the moon-god of the Semites. Passing by these places the people of Israel, who had been subservient to the Egyptians for a long time and were thus considerably Egyptianized in their outlook, felt the desire to indulge in idol-worship.

The extent to which the Israelites had become degenerated as a result of their slavery may be gauged by Joshua's last address to the Israelites delivered seventy years after their exodus from Egypt:

Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24: 14-15).

This shows that even though the Israelites had been taught and trained by Moses for forty Years and by Joshua for twenty-eight years, they had still been unable to purge their minds of those influences which had warped their outlook and mentality during their period of bondage under Pharaoh. These Muslims had begun to look upon idol-worship as natural. Even after their exodus, the sight of a temple would incline them to indulge in the idolatrous practices which they had observed among their former masters.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Who were these people? We are now in the Sinai Peninsula. Two conjectures are possible. (1) The Amalekites of the Sinai Peninsula were at perpetual war with the Israelites. They were probably an idolatrous nation, but we have very little knowledge of their cult. (2) From Egyptian history we know that Egypt had worked from very ancient times some copper mines in Sinai. An Egyptian settlement may have been here. Like all mining camps it contained from the beginning the dregs of the population. When the mines ceased to be worked, the settlement, or what remained of it, must have degenerated further. Cut off from civilization, its cult must have become still narrower, without the refining influences which a progressive nation applies even to its idolatry. Perhaps Apis, the sacred bull of Memphis, lost all its allegorical meaning for them, and only gross and superstitious rites remained among them. The text speaks of "some idols they had," implying that they had merely a detached fragment of a completer religion. This was a snare in the path of the Israelites, whom many generations of slavery in Egypt had debased into ignorance and superstition.

اِنَّ هٰٓؤُلَۤاءِ مُتَبَّرٌ مَّا هُمۡ فِيۡهِ وَبٰطِلٌ مَّا كَانُوۡا يَعۡمَلُوۡنَ‏  
( 139 )   Indeed, those [worshipers] - destroyed is that in which they are [engaged], and worthless is whatever they were doing."
 Yusuf Ali Explanation:
If conjecture 2 in the last note is correct, this idolatrous worship was but the fragment of a ruin from Egypt, and Moses's reproach is biting: "You, who have been rescued from the bondage of living Egypt,-do you hanker after the bondage of a dead cult debased even from that from which you have been rescued?" Mutabbar = broken in pieces, smashed into fragments, destroyed.
( 140 )   He said, "Is it other than Allah I should desire for you as a god while He has preferred you over the worlds?" 
( 141 )   And [recall, O Children of Israel], when We saved you from the people of Pharaoh, [who were] afflicting you with the worst torment - killing your sons and keeping your women alive. And in that was a great trial from your Lord.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
This is Allah's reminder to Israel through the mouth of Moses. There was a double trial: (1) while the bondage lasted, the people were to learn patience and constancy in the midst of affliction: (2) when they were rescued, they were to learn humility; justice, and righteous deeds of prosperity.

Ruku / Section 17 [Verses 142-147]: The Torah was given to Prophet Moses- peace be upon him.

Verses 142-144 Communication of Moses with Allah:
( 142 )   And We made an appointment with Moses for thirty nights and perfected them by [the addition of] ten; so the term of his Lord was completed as forty nights. And Moses said to his brother Aaron, "Take my place among my people, do right [by them], and do not follow the way of the corrupters."
After the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt which marks, on the one hand, the end of the constraints of slavery and on the other, the beginning of their life as an independent nation, Moses was summoned by God to Mount Sinai in order that he might receive the Law for Israel. He was initially summoned for a period of forty days so that he might single-mindedly devote himself to worshipping, fasting, meditation and reflection and thus develop the ability to receive the revelation which was to put a very heavy burden upon him.

In compliance with God's command, Moses left the Israelites at the place now known as the Wadi al-Shaykh which lies between Nabi Salih and Mount Sinai. The place where the Israelites had camped is presently called

Maydan al-Rahah. At one end of the valley is a hillock where, according to local tradition, the Prophet Salih pitched his tent after his migration from the land of Thamud. A mosque built as a monument to the Prophet Salih still adorns the landscape. Mount Harun is located at the other end of the valley where, again, according to local tradition, the Prophet Harun (Aaron) stayed after his exasperation with the Israelites because of their cow-worship. The top of the towering Mount Sinai, standing 7,359 feet high, is mostly enveloped by clouds. The cave to which Moses retired for forty days to devote himself to worship and meditation is situated at the top of the mountain, and still attracts many pilgrims. Close to the cave are a mosque and a church. Moreover, a monastery built in the Justinian period stands even today at the foot of the mountain. (See excerpt from Surah 27 al-Naml 27 below).
The context shows that it was a cold wintry night and the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was passing through unfamiliar land. Therefore, he said to his family, “Let me go and find out what habitation it is where a fire is alight, and get some information about the traveling routes and the nearby habitations. I shall at least bring a few embers for you to light a fire and warm yourselves.”
The place where the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) had seen a burning bush is situated at about 5,000 ft. above sea level at the foot of Mt. Tur. Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of the Roman Empire, had a church built in about 365 A.D. right at the spot where this event had occurred. Two hundred years later Emperor Justinian had a monastery built which included the church built by Constantine as well. Both the monastery and the church stand even today and are under the control of the monks of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Although Aaron was senior to Moses in age by three years, he was placed under the direction of the Prophet Moses and was required to assist him in connection with his mission, As explained elsewhere in the Qur'an, Aaron was not assigned independent prophethood; he was rather appointed a Prophet by God in response to Moses' prayer that he be appointed as his assistant. See below (Ta Ha 20: 29-31):
"(20:29) and appoint for me, from my household, someone who will help me bear my burden - (20:30) Aaron, my brother. (20:31) Strengthen me through him"

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The forty nights' exclusion of Moses on the Mount may be compared with the forty days fast of Jesus in the wilderness before he took up his ministry (Matt. iv, 2). In each case the Prophets lived alone apart from their people, before they came into the full blaze of the events of their Ministry.

When for any reason the man of God is absent from his people, his duty of leadership (khilafat) should be taken up by his brother,-not necessarily a blood-brother, but one of his society or brotherhood. The deputy should discharge it in all humility, remembering three things: (1) that he is only a deputy, and bound to follow the directions of his Principal, (2) that right and justice are of the essence of power, and (3) that mischief gets its best chance to raise its head in the absence of the Principal, and that the deputy should always guard against the traps laid for him in the Principal's absence.
( 143 )   And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, "My Lord, show me [Yourself] that I may look at You." [Allah] said, "You will not see Me, but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me." But when his Lord appeared to the mountain, He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious. And when he awoke, he said, "Exalted are You! I have repented to You, and I am the first of the believers."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Even the best of us may be betrayed into overweening confidence of spiritual ambition not yet justified by the stage we have reached. Moses had already seen part of the glory of Allah in his Radiant White Hand, that shone with the glory of Divine light. But he was still in the flesh, and the mission to his people was to begin after the Covenant of Sinai.

But Allah-the Cherisher of all His creatures-treats even our improper requests with mercy, compassion, and understanding. Even the reflected glory of Allah is too great for the grosser substance of matter. The peak on which it shone became as powder before the ineffable glory, and Moses could only live by being taken out of his bodily senses. When he recovered from his swoon, he saw the true position, and the distance between our grosser bodily senses and the true splendour of Allah's glory. He at once turned in penitence to Allah, and confessed his faith.

"First to believe." Cf. the expression "first of those who bow to Allah in Islam" in vi. 14 and vi. 163. "First" means here not the first in time, but most zealous in faith. It has the intensive and not the comparative meaning.

Summary Verses 144 – 147
God told Moses that he was chosen, from among all of humankind, to be the one who could hear God and receive His message, thus he should be grateful for such an honour.   God inscribed all details and instructions on the tablets, saying hold firmly to them.  Those who deny the signs of God will be kept distracted.  The deeds of those who deny the signs and the meeting in the Hereafter will become worthless. 
( 144 )   [Allah] said, "O Moses, I have chosen you over the people with My messages and My words [to you]. So take what I have given you and be among the grateful."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
"Above (other) men": i.e. among his contemporaries. He had a high mission, and he had the honour of speaking to Allah.

Allah's revelation is for the benefit of His creatures, who should receive it with reverence and gratitude. While Moses was having these great spiritual experiences on the Mount, his people below were ungrateful enough to forget Allah and make a golden calf for worship (vii. 147).

Verses 145-147 Musa was given the written tablets of Taurat (Torah) and Arrogant people cannot get guidance:
( 145 )   And We wrote for him on the tablets [something] of all things - instruction and explanation for all things, [saying], "Take them with determination and order your people to take the best of it. I will show you the home of the defiantly disobedient."
The Bible categorically mentions that the tablets were of stone. The act of writing on these tablets is attributed in both the Qur'an and the Bible, to God. Nonetheless, it is not possible to ascertain whether the actual act of writing was as performed by God exercising His power directly, or by God in the sense of His assignment of the task to some angel or to Moses (cf. Exodus 31: 18, 32: 15-16; and Deuteronomy i, 5: 6-22).

The Israelites were asked to hold fast to the Law to follow it in its plain meaning, a meaning which can he grasped by an ordinary man of sound heart and good intent with the help of his common sense. This stipulation was added in order to discourage the chicanery and hair-splitting to which lawyers resort in order to accommodate the crooked aims of the people. The warning was necessary to emphasize that holding fast to the Law was not to be equated with following the chicanery of the lawyers.

The Israelites were told that on their way they would come across the ruins of earlier nations who had refused to turn to God and who had persisted in their evil way's. Observing those ruins would he instructive insofar as they eloquently spoke of the tragic end that meets those who indulge in such iniquity.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The Tablets of the Law contained the essential Truth, from which were derived the positive injunctions and prohibitions, explanations and interpretations, which it was the function of the prophetic office to hold up for the people to follow. The precepts would contain, as the Shari'at does, matters absolutely prohibited, matters not prohibited but disapproved, matters about which there was no prohibition or injunction, but in which conduct was to be regulated by circumstances; matters of positive and universal duty, matters recommended for those whose zeal was sufficient to enable them to work on higher than minimum standards. No soul is burdened beyond its capacity; but we are asked to seek the best and highest possible for us in conduct.

Notice the transition from the "We" of authority and honour and impersonal dignity, to the "I" of personal concern in specially guiding the righteous.

Literally, the homes of the wicked, both individuals and nations, lie desolate, as in the case of the ancient Egyptians, the 'Ad, and the Thamud.
( 146 )   I will turn away from My signs those who are arrogant upon the earth without right; and if they should see every sign, they will not believe in it. And if they see the way of consciousness, they will not adopt it as a way; but if they see the way of error, they will adopt it as a way. That is because they have denied Our signs and they were heedless of them.
 It is God's law that evil-doers do not and cannot take any lesson from the otherwise instructive events which they observe. The arrogance mentioned here refers to man's delusion that he is on a higher plane than God's creatures and servants. It is this which prompts him to disregard God's command and to adopt an attitude which suggests that he neither considers himself God's servant, nor God his Lord. Such egotism has no basis in fact; it is sheer vanity. For as long as man live on God's earth, what can justify his living as a servant of anyone other than the Lord of the universe? It is for this reason that the Qur'an declares this arrogance to be 'without any right'.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The argument may be simplified thus in paraphrase. The right is established on the earth as Allah created it: Nature recognizes and obeys Allah's law as fixed for each portion of Creation. But man, because of the gift of Will, sometimes upsets this balance. The root-cause is his arrogance, as it was in the case of Iblis. Allah's Signs are everywhere, but if they are rejected with scorn and blasphemy, Allah will withdraw His grace, for sin hardens the heart and makes it impervious to the truth. Want of faith produces a kind of blindness to spiritual facts, a kind of deafness to the warnings of a Day of Account. If we had contumaciously rejected faith, can we hope for anything but justice,-the just punishment of our sins.

Rejected Our Signs: again a return to the Plural of impersonal Dignity and Authority, from the singular of personal concern in granting grace and guidance to the Righteous.
( 147 )   Those who denied Our signs and the meeting of the Hereafter - their deeds have become worthless. Are they recompensed except for what they used to do?
That the acts of such persons are vain and fruitless is evident from the fact that the acceptance of man's acts by God is subject to two conditions. First, one's acts should conform to the Law laid down by God. Second, man should be prompted by the desire to achieve success in the Hereafter rather than merely in this world. If these conditions are not fulfilled, a person's acts will be of no consequence. He who performs an act in defiance of God's guidance, is guilty of rebellion and is undeserving of God's reward. He who acts only to obtain worldly success, is neither entitled to nor should expect any reward from God in the Hereafter. If someone uses another person's land contrary to his wish, what else can he expect from him than punishment? The same holds true for he who deliberately uses someone's land, knowing well that he is not entitled to any produce after the restoration of that land to its owner. There is no justification for him to expect any share of the produce of that land.

Summary Verses 148 – 156 The wrath of God:
Moses was gone the people began worshiping a shape like a calf made from their jewelry and ornaments but they perceived that they were doing wrong and when Moses returned they said if God does not forgive us we will be among the losers.  Moses was angry and upset with them but especially his brother Aaron.  He threw down the tablets, seized his brother by the hair and pulled towards him.  Aaron said, "Oh son of my mother, (reminding Moses of their kinship) they would have overpowered me and killed me".  Moses asked God to forgive both his brother and himself.

Those who worshiped the calf would gain the anger of their Lord but those who realized their misdeeds and repented would be forgiven.  When Moses had calmed down he picked up the tablets on which were inscribed guidance and mercy for those who feared their Lord.  Moses chose 70 men from among their number and they came towards Moses fearful and shaking.  They were supposed to apologise and beg forgiveness for worshiping the calf but instead they demanded to see God.  The mountain convulsed in a massive earthquake and they fell down dead.  Moses prayed for forgiveness and God’s mercy encompasses all things.  Mercy is for those who are God conscious, pay the prescribed alms and believe in the revelations.

Ruku / Section 18 [Verses 148-151]: Worshiping of the calf by Israelites after witnessing their miraculous deliverance:


وَاتَّخَذَ قَوۡمُ مُوۡسٰى مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِهٖ مِنۡ حُلِيِّهِمۡ عِجۡلًا جَسَدًا لَّهٗ خُوَارٌ​ ؕ اَلَمۡ يَرَوۡا اَنَّهٗ لَا يُكَلِّمُهُمۡ وَلَا يَهۡدِيۡهِمۡ سَبِيۡلًا ۘ اِتَّخَذُوۡهُ وَكَانُوۡا ظٰلِمِيۡنَ‏ 
( 148 )   And the people of Moses made, after [his departure], from their ornaments a calf - an image having a lowing sound. Did they not see that it could neither speak to them nor guide them to a way? They took it [for worship], and they were wrongdoers.
Here reference is made to the forty days which Moses spent on Mount Sinai in compliance with God's command when his people remained in the plain at the foot of the mountain called Maydan al-Rahah.

Their cow-worship was another manifestation of the Israelites' slavish attachment to the Egyptian traditions at the time of the Exodus. It is well-known that cow-worship was widespread in Egypt and it was during their stay there that the Israelites developed this strange infatuation. The Qur'an also refers to their inclination to cow-worship: 'Their hearts were overflowing with love for the calf because of their unbelief' (al-Baqarah 2: 93). What is more surprising about their turn to idolatry is that it took place just three months after their escape from Egypt. During that time they had witnessed the parting of the sea, the drowning of Pharaoh, and their own deliverance from what otherwise seemed inescapable slavery, to the Egyptians. They knew well that all those events had taken place owing to the unmistakable and direct interference of the all-powerful God. Yet they had the audacity to demand that their Prophet should make for them a false god that they might worship. Not only that, soon after Moses left them for Mount Sinai, they themselves contrived a false god. Disgusted with such conduct on the part of the Israelites, some Prophets have likened their people to a nymphomaniac who loves all save her husband and who is unfaithful to him even on their nuptial night.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The making of the golden calf and its worship by the Israelites during the absence of Moses on the Mount were referred to in ii. 51, and some further details are given in xx. 95-97. Notice how in each case only those points are referred to which are necessary to the argument in hand. A narrator whose object is mere narration, tells the story in all its details, and is done with it. A consummate artist, whose object is to enforce lessons, brings out each point in its proper place. Master of all details, he does not ramble, but with supreme literary skill, just adds the touch that is necessary in each place to complete the spiritual picture. His object is not a story but a lesson. Here notice the contrast between the intense spiritual communion of Moses on the Mount and the simultaneous corruption of his people in his absence. We can understand his righteous indignation and bitter grief (vii. 150). The people had melted all their gold ornaments, and made the image of a calf like the bull of Osiris in the city of Memphis in the wicked Egypt that they had turned their backs upon.

Image of a Calf. Jasad is literally a body, especially the body of a man according to Khalil quoted by Ragib. In xxi. 8, it is used obviously for the human body, as also in xxxviii. 34; but in the latter case, the idea of an image, without any real life or soul, is also suggested. In the present passage I understand many suggestions: (1) that it was a mere image, without life, (2) as such, it could not low, therefore the appearance of lowing, mentioned immediately afterwards, was a fraud: (3) unlike its prototype, the bull of Osiris, it had not even the symbolism of Osiris behind it; the Osiris myth, in the living religion of Egypt, had at least some ethical principles behind it.

The lowing of the golden calf was obviously a deception practiced by the promoters of the cult. Lytton in his "Last Days of Pompeii" exposes the deception practiced by the priests of Isis. Men hidden behind images imposed on the credulity of the commonalty.
( 149 )   And when regret overcame them and they saw that they had gone astray, they said, "If our Lord does not have mercy upon us and forgive us, we will surely be among the losers." 
( 150 )   And when Moses returned to his people, angry and grieved, he said, "How wretched is that by which you have replaced me after [my departure]. Were you impatient over the matter of your Lord?" And he threw down the tablets and seized his brother by [the hair of] his head, pulling him toward him. [Aaron] said, "O son of my mother, indeed the people oppressed me and were about to kill me, so let not the enemies rejoice over me and do not place me among the wrongdoing people."
The above Qur'anic verse absolves Aaron of the charge levelled against him by the Jews. According to the Biblical version of the story of calf-worship, however, it was Aaron who had made the golden calf for the people of Israel. To quote:

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron, and said to him, 'Up, make up gods who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' And Aaron said to them, 'Take off the rings of gold which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.' So all the people took off the rings of gold which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made a molten calf; and they said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.' When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, 'Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.' And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play (Exodus 32: 1--6).

The Qur'an, however, refutes the above account at many places and points out that it was Samiri the rebel of God rather than Aaron the Prophet who committed that heinous sin. For details see (Ta Ha 20: 90 ff.)

Strange though it may appear, the Israelites maligned the characters of those very people whom they believed to be the Messengers of God. The accusations they hurled at them included such heinous sins as polytheism, sorcery, fornication, deceit and treachery. Needless to say, indulgence in any of these sins is disgraceful for even an ordinary believer and decent human being, let alone Prophets. In the light of the history of Israeli morals, however, it is quite understandable why they maligned their own Prophets. In times of religious and moral degeneration when both the clergy and laity were steeped in sin and immorality, they tried to seek justification for their misdeeds. In order to sedate their own consciences they ascribed the very sins of which they were guilty to their Prophets and then their own inability to refrain from sins on the grounds that not even the Prophets could refrain.

The same characteristic is evident in Hinduism. When the Hindus reached the lowest point in their moral degeneration, they produced a literature which presents a very perverted image of Hindu ideals. This literature portrayed their gods, hermits and monks as crass sinners. In doing so, they suggested that since such noble people could not refrain from indulging in grave sins, ordinary mortals are inevitably bound to commit them. Moreover, a person's indulgence in immoral acts should not make him remorseful for the same acts were committed earlier by their monks and hermits.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Did ye inake haste...? 'In your impatience, could you not wait for me? Your lapse into idolatry has only hastened Allah's wrath. If you had only waited, I was bringing to you in the Tablets the most excellent teaching in the commands of Allah.' There is subtle irony in the speech of Moses. There is also a play upon words: 'ijl = calf: and 'ajila = to make haste: no translation can bring out these niceties.

Put down the Tablets: we are not told that the Tablets were broken: in fact vii. 154 (below) shows that they were whole. They contained Allah's Message. There is a touch of disrespect (if not blasphemy) in supposing that Allah's Messenger broke the Tablets in his incontinent rage, as is stated in the Old Testament: "Moses's anger waxed hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands, and brake them beneath the Mount." (Exod. xxxii. 10). On this point and also on the point that Aaron (in the Old Testament story) ordered the gold to be brought, made a molten calf, fashioned it with a graving tool, and built an altar before the calf (Exd. xxxii. 2-5), our version differs from that of the Old Testament. We cannot believe that Aaron, who was appointed by Allah to assist Moses as Allah's Messenger, could descend so low as to seduce the people into idolatry, whatever his human weaknesses might he.

Moses was but human. Remembering the charge he had given to Aaron (vii. 142) he had a just grievance at the turn events had taken. But he did not wreak his vengeance on the Tablets of Allah's law by breaking them. He laid hands on his brother, and his brother at once explained.

Aaron's speech is full of tenderness and regret. He addresses Moses as "son of my mother."-an affectionate term. He explains how the turbulent people nearly killed him for resisting them. And he states in the clearest terms that the idolatry neither originated with him nor had his consent. In xx. 85, we are told that a fellow described as the Samiri had led them astray. We shall discuss this when we come to that passage.
( 151 )   [Moses] said, "My Lord, forgive me and my brother and admit us into Your mercy, for You are the most merciful of the merciful."
Ruku / Section 19 [Verses 152-157]: The Torah and Injil speak about the coming of Prophet Muhammad -peace be upon him.  Allah's promise for those who will follow the last Prophet.

Verses 152-156 Worshipers of the calf incurred the wrath of Allah:
( 152 )   Indeed, those who took the calf [for worship] will obtain anger from their Lord and humiliation in the life of this world, and thus do We recompense the inventors [of falsehood].
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The consequences were twofold: (1) spiritual, in that Allah's grace is withdrawn, and (2) even in the present life of this world, in that godly men also shun the sinner's company, and he is isolated.
( 153 )   But those who committed misdeeds and then repented after them and believed - indeed your Lord, thereafter, is Forgiving and Merciful. 
( 154 )   And when the anger subsided in Moses, he took up the tablets; and in their inscription was guidance and mercy for those who are fearful of their Lord. 
وَاخۡتَارَ مُوۡسٰى قَوۡمَهٗ سَبۡعِيۡنَ رَجُلًا لِّمِيۡقَاتِنَا​ ۚ فَلَمَّاۤ اَخَذَتۡهُمُ الرَّجۡفَةُ قَالَ رَبِّ لَوۡ شِئۡتَ اَهۡلَـكۡتَهُمۡ مِّنۡ قَبۡلُ وَاِيَّاىَ​ؕ اَ تُهۡلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ السُّفَهَآءُ مِنَّا ۚ اِنۡ هِىَ اِلَّا فِتۡنَـتُكَ ؕ تُضِلُّ بِهَا مَنۡ تَشَآءُ وَتَهۡدِىۡ مَنۡ تَشَآءُ ​ؕ اَنۡتَ وَلِيُّنَا فَاغۡفِرۡ لَـنَا وَارۡحَمۡنَا​ وَاَنۡتَ خَيۡرُ الۡغَافِرِيۡنَ‏  
( 155 )   And Moses chose from his people seventy men for Our appointment. And when the earthquake seized them, he said, "My Lord, if You had willed, You could have destroyed them before and me [as well]. Would You destroy us for what the foolish among us have done? This is not but Your trial by which You send astray whom You will and guide whom You will. You are our Protector, so forgive us and have mercy upon us; and You are the best of forgivers.
Moses was summoned for the second time to Mount Sinai along with seventy chiefs of the nation in order that they might seek pardon for their calf-worship and renew their covenant with God. Reference to this event is not found in the Bible and Talmud. They simply mention that Moses was summoned to receive new tablets as replacements for the ones he had thrown down and broken. (Cf. Exodus 34.)

When a people are put to the test it is an occasion of crucial importance for it helps to distinguish the righteous from the wicked. Like a winnow, it separates out of the mass the useful from the useless. Hence in his wisdom God subjects people to tests. Those who successfully pass through them, owe their success to the support and guidance they receive from God. As for those who are unsuccessful, their failure is the result of their not receiving that support and guidance. This does not detract from the fact that men neither arbitrarily receive or are denied God's support and guidance. Both extending and withholding support and guidance follow a rule which is based on wisdom and justice. The fact, however, remains that man can succeed in the test to which he is put only if God supports and guides him.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Seventy of the elders were taken up to the Mount, but left at some distance from the place where Allah spoke to Moses. They were to be silent witnesses, but their faith was not yet complete, and they dared to say to Moses: "We shall never believe in thee until we see Allah in public" (ii.55). They were dazed with thunder and lightning, and might have been destroyed but for Allah's mercy on the intercession of Moses.

Rajfat: violent quaking, earthquake, I take it to refer to the same event as is described by the word Sa'iqat in ii. 55, the thunder and lightning that shook the mountainside.

Moses was guiltless, but he identifies himself with his whole people, and intercedes with Allah on their behalf. He recognizes that it was a trial, in which some of his people failed to stand the test. Such failure was worthy of punishment. But he pleads for mercy for such as erred from weakness and not from contumacy, and were truly repentant, although all who erred were in their several degrees worthy of punishment.
( 156 )   And decree for us in this world [that which is] good and [also] in the Hereafter; indeed, we have turned back to You." [Allah] said, "My punishment - I afflict with it whom I will, but My mercy encompasses all things." So I will decree it [especially] for those who fear Me and give zakah and those who believe in Our verses -
It is false to assume that the general rule underlying God's governance of His realm is that of wrath which is occasionally tempered with mercy and benevolence. On the contrary, the general rule is that of mercy and benevolence and wrath is the exception which is aroused when man's transgression and rebellion exceed all reasonable limits.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Allah's mercy is in and for all things. All nature subserves a common purpose, which is for the good of all His creatures. Our faculties and our understandings are all instances of His grace and mercy. Each unit or factor among his creatures benefits from the others and receives them as Allah's mercy to itself: and in its turn, each contributes to the benefit of the others and is thus an instance of Allah's mercy to them. His mercy is universal and all-pervasive; while His justice and punishment are reserved for those who swerve from His plan and (to use a medieval juridical formula) go out of His Peace.

The personal grace and mercy-and their opposite-are referred to the singular pronoun "I" while the impersonal Law, by which Allah's Signs operate in His universe, is referred to the plural pronoun of authority and dignity, "We".

Summary Verses 157 Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) in the Torah and Gospel:
Special mercy will be assigned to those who follow the unlettered Prophet who they will find mentioned in the Torah and the Gospel.  He enjoins them to good and forbids them from evil.  He makes good things lawful and bad things unlawful.  He relieves them of their burdens.  Those who follow him will succeed.   God says to Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, to declare to the people that he is the Messenger of God sent by the one who controls the heavens and the earth and that there is no true deity worthy of worship except God.

اَ لَّذِيۡنَ يَتَّبِعُوۡنَ الرَّسُوۡلَ النَّبِىَّ الۡاُمِّىَّ الَّذِىۡ يَجِدُوۡنَهٗ مَكۡتُوۡبًا عِنۡدَهُمۡ فِى التَّوۡرٰٮةِ وَالۡاِنۡجِيۡلِ يَاۡمُرُهُمۡ بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ وَيَنۡهٰٮهُمۡ عَنِ الۡمُنۡكَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبٰتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيۡهِمُ الۡخَبٰۤـئِثَ وَيَضَعُ عَنۡهُمۡ اِصۡرَهُمۡ وَالۡاَغۡلٰلَ الَّتِىۡ كَانَتۡ عَلَيۡهِمۡ​ؕ فَالَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا بِهٖ وَعَزَّرُوۡهُ وَنَصَرُوۡهُ وَ اتَّبَـعُوا النُّوۡرَ الَّذِىۡۤ اُنۡزِلَ مَعَهٗ ۤ​ ۙ اُولٰۤـئِكَ هُمُ الۡمُفۡلِحُوۡنَ‏ 
( 157 )   Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him - it is those who will be the successful.
The preceding verse concludes God's response to Moses' prayer. This was the appropriate moment to invite the Israelites to follow the Message preached by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). The upshot of what is being said here is that people can even now attain God's mercy exactly as they could in the past. These conditions require that people should now follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), since refusal to follow a Prophet after his advent amounts to gross disobedience to God. Those who do not commit themselves to follow the Prophet (peace be on him) cannot attain the essence of piety, no matter how hard they try to make a pretense of it by observing the minor details of religious rituals generally associated with piety.

Likewise, the Israelites had been told that paying Zakah was essential to win God's mercy. However, payment of Zakah is meaningless unless one supports the struggle to establish the hegemony of truth which was being carried on under the leadership of the Prophet (peace be on him). For unless one spends money to exalt the word of God, the very foundation of Zakah are lacking, even if a person spends huge amounts in the way of charity. They were also reminded that they had been told in the past that God's mercy was exclusively for those who believed in His Revelation. Now those who rejected the Revelation received by Muhammad (peace be on him) could never be considered believers in Revelation no matter how zealously they claim to believe in the Torah.

Reference to the Prophet (peace be on him) in this verse as umimi is significant as the Israelites branded all other nations as Gentiles (ummis). Steeped in racial prejudice, they did not consider members of other nations as their equals, let alone accept any person not belonging to them as a Prophet. The Qur'an also states the Jewish belief that they would not be taken to ask for whatever they might do to non-Jews. See (Al'Imran 3: 75). Employing the same term which they themselves had used, the Qur'an tells them that their destiny was linked with the ummi Prophet. By obeying him they would become deserving of God's mercy. As for disobedience to the Prophet (peace be on him). it would continue to arouse God's wrath which had been afflicted upon them for centuries.

Pointed and repeated reference to the coming of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) is made in the Bible. (See Deuteronomy 18: 19; Matthew 21: 33-46; John 1: 19-25; 14: 15-17, 25-30; 15: 25-26; 16: 7-15.)

The Prophet declares the pure things which they had forbidden as lawful, and the impure things which they had legitimized as unlawful.

The Israelites had fettered their lives by undue restrictions which had been placed on them by the legal hair-splitting of their jurists, the pietistic exaggerations of their spiritual leaders, the introduction of superstitions and self-contrived laws and regulations by, their masses. The Prophet, by relieving them of every unnecessary burden and releasing them from every unjustified restriction, in fact liberated their shackled lives.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
In this verse is a prefiguring, to Moses, of the Arabian Messenger, the last and greatest of the messengers of Allah. Prophecies about him will be found in the Torah (Taurat) and the Injil. In the reflex of the Taurat as now accepted by the Jews, Moses says: "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me" (Deut. xviii. 15): the only Prophet who brought a Shari'at like that of Moses was Muhammad Al- Mustafa, and he came of the house of Ismail the brother of Isaac the father of Israel. In the reflex of the Gospel as now accepted by the Christians, Christ promised another Comforter (John xiv. 16): the Greek word Paraclete which the Christians interpret as referring to the Holy Spirit is by our Doctors taken to be Periclyte, which would be the Greek form of Ahmad. See Q. lxi. 6.

Aglal: plural of gullun, a yoke, an iron collar. In the formalism and exclusiveness of the Jews there were many restrictions which were removed by Islam, a religion of freedom in the faith of Allah, of universality in the variety of races, languages, manners and customs.

Light which is sent down with him: the words are "with him", not "to him", emphasizing the fact that the Light which he brought illumines every one who has the privilege of joining his great and universal Fellowship.

Falah = prosperity in its general sense as well as in its spiritual sense. In the general sense it means that right conduct is the only door to happiness and well-being. In the spiritual sense it means that Faith and its fruits (right conduct) are the only gates to salvation.

We come o the end of Part III. Our next post, that is Part IV will cover Part IV: Ruku / Sections 20-21 [Verses 158-171] In this part the story of Prophet Moses will continue with special mention of the people of Moses who frequently lapsed from Allah's Law as promulgated to them, and transgressed Allah's Covenant, and they were scattered through the earth in sections.


You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sürah Al-A'raf with English subtitles:



You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary / exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Juzʼ / Part backwards for chapters in 30th Juzʼ / Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
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Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. 
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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