Wednesday 8 April 2020

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

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 IV, covering Ruku / Sections 20-21 [Verses 158-171] The people of Moses frequently lapsed from Allah's Law as promulgated to them, and transgressed Allah's Covenant, and they were scattered through the earth in sections.
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"

Ruku / Section 20 [Verses 158-162]: Prophet Muhammad is the Universal Prophet.  Some among the people of Prophet Moses were guided by the truth and lived with justice.

Verses 158 Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Prophet for the whole of mankind. Allah says to Prophet Muhammad (peace 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:

قُلۡ يٰۤاَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اِنِّىۡ رَسُوۡلُ اللّٰهِ اِلَيۡكُمۡ جَمِيۡعَاْ ۨالَّذِىۡ لَهٗ مُلۡكُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ​ۚ لَاۤ اِلٰهَ اِلَّا هُوَ يُحۡىٖ وَيُمِيۡتُ​فَاٰمِنُوۡا بِاللّٰهِ وَرَسُوۡلِهِ النَّبِىِّ الۡاُمِّىِّ الَّذِىۡ يُؤۡمِنُ بِاللّٰهِ وَكَلِمٰتِهٖ وَاتَّبِعُوۡهُ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَهۡتَدُوۡنَ‏ 
( 158 )   Say, [O Muhammad], "O mankind, indeed I am the Messenger of Allah to you all, [from Him] to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is no deity except Him; He gives life and causes death." So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered prophet, who believes in Allah and His words, and follow him that you may be guided.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Our attention having been directed to various prophets, who were sent with missions to their several peoples, and in each of whose careers there is some prefigurement of the life of the last and greatest of them, we are now asked to listen to the proclamation of Muhammad's universal mission. We contemplate no longer, after this, partial truths. It is not now a question of saving Israel from the bondage of Egypt, nor teaching Median the ethics of business, nor reclaiming the people of Lot from sexual sin or Thamud from the sin of oppression in power, or 'Ad from arrogance and ancestor-worship. Now are set forth plainly the issues of Life and Death, the Message of Allah, the One Universal God to all mankind.

"Unlettered," as applied to the Prophet here and in verse 157 above, has three special significations. (1) He was not versed in human learning: yet he was full of the highest wisdom, and had a most wonderful knowledge of the previous Scriptures. This was a proof of his inspiration. It was a miracle of the highest kind, a "Sign", which every one could test then, and every one can test now. (2) All organised human knowledge tends to be crystallized, to acquire a partial bias or flavour of some "school" of thought. The highest Teacher had to be free from any such taint, just as a clean slate is necessary if a perfectly clear and bold message has to be written on it. (3) In iii.20 and lxii. 2, the epithet is applied to the Pagan Arabs, because, before the advent of Islam, they were unlearned.

Summary of Verses 159 – 168 (The Children of Israel are tested):
In the nation of Moses there were some who were guided and thereby established justice.  God divided them into twelve tribes.  When the thirsty people asked for water God revealed to Moses where to strike the rock with his staff.  Twelve springs gushed forth and each tribe had its own drinking place.  God sent down mana (pure things) from heaven for them to eat.  They rebelled, but they did not harm God by their rebellion; they harmed only themselves.

God said to them, reside in this town, eat whatever you please, ask for forgiveness and enter the gate with humility.  God would then forgive their sins and multiply the reward of the good-doers but there were wicked among them who changed the wording of God’s commandment.  So God sent down upon them a scourge from heaven.  God tells Prophet Muhammad to ask them about the town by the sea and what happened when they transgressed the laws of the Sabbath.  They were tested because of their disobedience.  On the Sabbath the fish came easily but did not appear on other days.  Ask them also, God said, about the warners and why they preached to a people who surely would be destroyed or punished by God.  The warners said they wanted to discharge their duty to God and they hoped some would take admonition.  However they disregarded the warning, continued with their behaviour and God said to them "Be thee detested apes".

Remind them also that God said he would raise against them those who would inflict them with grievous harm right up until the Day of Resurrection.  God broke their unity as a nation and dispersed them all over the world.  Some are righteous and others are not, they were tested with both blessings and misfortunes. 

وَ مِنۡ قَوۡمِ مُوۡسٰٓى اُمَّةٌ يَّهۡدُوۡنَ بِالۡحَـقِّ وَبِهٖ يَعۡدِلُوۡنَ‏  
( 159 )   And among the people of Moses is a community which guides by truth and by it establishes justice.
This marks the resumption of the main theme of the discourse which had been interrupted by the parenthesis see (verses 157-8)calling people to affirm the prophet-hood of Muhammad (peace be on him).

The translators generally render the verse as the following:

Of the people of Moses there is a section who guide and do justice in the light of truth. (Translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali.)

They do so because, in their view, the present verse describes the moral and intellectual state of the Israelite at the time when the Qur'an was revealed. However, the context seems to indicate that the above account refers to the state of the Israelite at the time of the Prophet Moses. Thus, the purpose of the verse is to emphasize that even in the days of their calf-worship when God rebuked them, all members of Israel were not corrupt; that a sizable section of them was righteous.

وَقَطَّعۡنٰهُمُ اثۡنَتَىۡ عَشۡرَةَ اَسۡبَاطًا اُمَمًا​ ؕ وَاَوۡحَيۡنَاۤ اِلٰى مُوۡسٰٓى اِذِ اسۡتَسۡقٰٮهُ قَوۡمُهٗۤ اَنِ اضۡرِبْ بِّعَصَاكَ الۡحَجَرَ​ ۚ فَاْنۢبَجَسَتۡ مِنۡهُ اثۡنَتَا عَشۡرَةَ عَيۡنًا​ ؕ قَدۡ عَلِمَ كُلُّ اُنَاسٍ مَّشۡرَبَهُمۡ​ؕ وَظَلَّلۡنَا عَلَيۡهِمُ الۡغَمَامَ وَاَنۡزَلۡنَا عَلَيۡهِمُ الۡمَنَّ وَالسَّلۡوٰىؕ كُلُوۡا مِنۡ طَيِّبٰتِ مَا رَزَقۡنٰكُمۡ​ؕ وَ مَا ظَلَمُوۡنَا وَلٰـكِنۡ كَانُوۡۤا اَنۡفُسَهُمۡ يَظۡلِمُوۡنَ‏ 
( 160 )   And We divided them into twelve descendant tribes [as distinct] nations. And We inspired to Moses when his people implored him for water, "Strike with your staff the stone," and there gushed forth from it twelve springs. Every people knew its watering place. And We shaded them with clouds and sent down upon them manna and quails, [saying], "Eat from the good things with which We have provided you." And they wronged Us not, but they were [only] wronging themselves.
This refers to the organization of the people of Israel which has been mentioned in the Qur'an in (Surah al-Ma'idah 5:12 )and also described, at length, in the Bible in Numbers. According to these sources, in compliance with God's command the Prophet Moses first conducted the census of the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai. He registered their twelve tribes, ten of whom were descendants of the Prophet Jacob, and the remaining two descendants of the Prophet Joseph, as separate and distinct tribes. He appointed a chief for each tribe and assigned to him the duty to maintain moral, religious, social and military discipline within each tribe and to enforce the Law. The Levites, who were descendants of the Prophets Moses and Aaron, however, were organized as a distinct group entrusted with the task of providing religious guidance to all tribes.

This organization was one of the numerous favours which God had bestowed upon the Israelites. Mention is made of three other favours bestowed upon them. First, an extraordinary arrangement for their water supply was made in the otherwise arid Sinai peninsula. Second, the sky was covered with clouds such that they were protected from the scorching heat of the sun. Third, a unique meal, consisting of manna and quails was sent down on them. Had this Divine arrangement, catering as it did for the millions of wandering Israelites' basic necessities of life, not been made, they would certainly have perished.

On visiting that land even today it is difficult to visualize how such an arrangement providing shelter, food and water for millions of people was made. The population of this peninsula stands even today at a paltry, 55,000 people. (it may be noted that this statement was made in the fifties of the present century. However, the present population of the Sinai is 200,000 - Ed.) If a five or six hundred thousand strong army, were to camp there today, it would be quite a task for those at the helm to provide the necessary supplies for the army. Little wonder, then, that many scholars who believe neither in the Scripture nor in miracles, rule out the historical accuracy of the event. For them, the people of Israel camped in an area lying south of Palestine and north of Arabia. In view of the physical and economic geography of the Sinai peninsula, they consider it totally incredible that such a large population could have stayed there for years. What has made these scholars even more skeptical about the event is the fact that the Israelite were not then in a position to procure supplies from either the Egyptians or the 'Amaliqah' who inhabited respectively the eastern and northern parts of the peninsula, since both groups were hostile to them. It is against this background that one may appreciate the immense importance of the favours God conferred on the Israelite. Likewise, it also gives one some idea of the blatant ingratitude of the people of Israel since they consistently defied and betrayed God even though they had witnessed a great many divine signs.

Cf (2:57, 60 and 51)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
We now come to some incidents in Jewish history, which have been referred to in ii. 57-60. Here they have special reference to their bearing on the times when early Islam was preached. The Twelve Tribes and the parable drawn from them have been explained in ii. 60.

Cf. ii. 57

وَاِذۡ قِيۡلَ لَهُمُ اسۡكُنُوۡا هٰذِهِ الۡقَرۡيَةَ وَكُلُوۡا مِنۡهَا حَيۡثُ شِئۡتُمۡ وَقُوۡلُوۡا حِطَّةٌ وَّادۡخُلُوا الۡبَابَ سُجَّدًا نَّـغۡفِرۡ لَـكُمۡ خَطِيْٓـٰٔـتِكُمۡ​ؕ سَنَزِيۡدُ الۡمُحۡسِنِيۡنَ‏ 
( 161 )   And [mention, O Muhammad], when it was said to them, "Dwell in this city and eat from it wherever you will and say, 'Relieve us of our burdens,' and enter the gate bowing humbly; We will [then] forgive you your sins. We will increase the doers of good [in goodness and reward]."
This alludes to their constant defiance and rebellion in face of God' favours which eventually brought about their destruction.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
This alludes to their constant defiance and rebellion in face of God' favours which eventually brought about their destruction.

فَبَدَّلَ الَّذِيۡنَ ظَلَمُوۡا مِنۡهُمۡ قَوۡلًا غَيۡرَ الَّذِىۡ قِيۡلَ لَهُمۡ فَاَرۡسَلۡنَا عَلَيۡهِمۡ رِجۡزًا مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ بِمَا كَانُوۡا يَظۡلِمُوۡنَ‏  
( 162 )   But those who wronged among them changed [the words] to a statement other than that which had been said to them. So We sent upon them a punishment from the sky for the wrong that they were doing.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Cf. ii, 58-59. The story is here told by way of parable for the times of Islam. Hence we have a few verbal changes: e.g., "dwell in this town" instead of "enter this town." etc.

Ruku / Section 21 [Verses 163-171]: Some Israelite transgressed Allah's laws and they suffered the consequences.

Verses 163-168 Jewish Sabbath, the violation, and Allah's scourge:

وَسۡـئَلۡهُمۡ عَنِ الۡـقَرۡيَةِ الَّتِىۡ كَانَتۡ حَاضِرَةَ الۡبَحۡرِ​ۘ اِذۡ يَعۡدُوۡنَ فِى السَّبۡتِ اِذۡ تَاۡتِيۡهِمۡ حِيۡتَانُهُمۡ يَوۡمَ سَبۡتِهِمۡ شُرَّعًا وَّيَوۡمَ لَا يَسۡبِتُوۡنَ​ ۙ لَا تَاۡتِيۡهِمۡ​​ ۛۚ كَذٰلِكَ ​ۛۚ نَبۡلُوۡهُمۡ بِمَا كَانُوۡا يَفۡسُقُوۡنَ‏ 
( 163 )   And ask them about the town that was by the sea - when they transgressed in [the matter of] the sabbath - when their fish came to them openly on their sabbath day, and the day they had no sabbath they did not come to them. Thus did We give them trial because they were defiantly disobedient.
Most scholars identify this place with Eilat, Eilath or Eloth. (Cf. Encyclopaedia Britannica, XV edition, 'Macropaedia', vol. 3, art. 'Elat' -Ed.) The seaport called Elat which has been built by the present state of Israel (which is close to the Jordanian seaport, Aqaba), stands on the same site. It lies at the end of that long inlet of the Red Sea situated between the eastern part of the Sinai peninsula and the western part of Arabia. It was a major trading centre in the time of Israelite ascendancy. The Prophet Solomon took this city as the chief port for his fleet in the Red Sea.

The event referred to in the above verse is not reported in Jewish Scriptures. Nor do historical accounts shed any light on it. Nonetheless, it appears from the way it has been mentioned in the above verse and in Surah 2 al-Baqarah that the Jews of the early days of Islam were quite familiar with the event. (See Surah al-Baqarah 2: 65). This view is further corroborated by the fact that even the Madinan Jews who spared no opportunity to criticize the Prophet (peace be on him) did not raise any objection against this (Qur'anic account.

'Sabbath', which means Saturday, was declared for the Israelites as the holiday of the week. God declared the Sabbath as a sign of the perpetual covenant between God and Israel. (Exodus 31: 12-16.) The Israelites were required to strictly keep the Sabbath which meant that they may not engage in any worldly activity; they may not cook, nor make their slaves or cattle serve them. Those who violated these rules were to be put to death. The Israelites, however, publicly violated these rules. In the days of the Prophet Jeremiah (between 628 and 586 B.C.), the Israelites carried their merchandise through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day itself. Jeremiah, therefore, warned them that if they persisted in their flagrant violation of the Law, Jerusalem would be set on fire. (Jererniah 17: 21-7.) The same complaint is voiced in the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (595-536 B.C.) who referred to their violation of the Sabbath rules as their major sin. (Ezekiel 20: 12-24.) In view of these Scriptural references it seems plausible that the event mentioned in the above Qur'anic verse is related to the same period.

Men are tested by God in a variety of ways. When a person or group of people begin to turn away from God and incline themselves towards disobedience, God provides abundant opportunities for them to disobey. This is done in order that the full potential for disobedience, which had remained hidden because of lack of such an opportunity, might come to the surface.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Cf. ii. 65. Fishing, like every other activity, was prohibited to Israel on the Sabbath day. As this practice was usually observed, the fish used to come up with a sense of security to their water channels or pools openly on the Sabbath day, but not on other days when fishing was open. This was a great temptation to the law-breakers, which they could not resist. Some of their men of piety protested, but it had no effect. When their transgressions, which we may suppose, extended to other commandments, passed beyond bounds, the punishment came.

وَاِذۡ قَالَتۡ اُمَّةٌ مِّنۡهُمۡ لِمَ تَعِظُوۡنَ قَوۡمَاْ ​ ۙ اۨللّٰهُ مُهۡلِكُهُمۡ اَوۡ مُعَذِّبُهُمۡ عَذَابًا شَدِيۡدًا​ ؕ قَالُوۡا مَعۡذِرَةً اِلٰى رَبِّكُمۡ وَلَعَلَّهُمۡ يَتَّقُوۡنَ‏ 
( 164 )   And when a community among them said, "Why do you advise [or warn] a people whom Allah is [about] to destroy or to punish with a severe punishment?" they [the advisers] said, "To be absolved before your Lord and perhaps they may fear Him."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
There are always people who wonder, no doubt sincerely, what good it is to preach to the wicked. The answer is given to them here: (1) every man who sees evil must speak out against it; it is his duty and responsibility to Allah; (2) there is always a chance that the warning may have effect and save a precious soul. This passage has a special meaning for the times when our Holy Prophet was preaching in Makkah, apparently without results. But it applies to all times.

فَلَمَّا نَسُوۡا مَا ذُكِّرُوۡا بِهٖۤ اَنۡجَيۡنَا الَّذِيۡنَ يَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنِ السُّوۡۤءِ وَاَخَذۡنَا الَّذِيۡنَ ظَلَمُوۡا بِعَذَابٍۭ بَـئِيۡسٍۢ بِمَا كَانُوۡا يَفۡسُقُوۡنَ‏ 
( 165 )   And when they forgot that by which they had been reminded, We saved those who had forbidden evil and seized those who wronged, with a wretched punishment, because they were defiantly disobeying.
This shows that the people in that town were of three categories: One, those who flagrantly violated God's commands. Two, those who were silent spectators to such violations and discouraged those who admonished the criminals, pleading that their efforts were fruitless. Three, those who, moved by their religious commitment, actively enjoined good and forbade evil so that the evil-doers might make amends. In so doing, they were prompted by, a sense of duty, to bring back the evil-doers to the right path, and if the latter did not respond to their call, they would at least be able to establish before their Lord that for their part they had fulfilled their duty to admonish the evil-doers. So, when the town was struck by God's punishment, only the people belonging to the last category were spared for they had displayed God-consciousness and performed the duties incumbent upon them. As for the people of the other two categories, they were reckoned as transgressors and were punished in proportion to their crimes.

Some commentators on the Qur'an are of the opinion that whereas the Qur'an specifically describes the fate of the people belonging to the first and third categories, it is silent about the treatment meted out to the people of the second category. It cannot be said, therefore, with certainty, whether they were spared or punished. It is reported that Ibn 'Abba's initially believed that God's punishment included the second category as well. It is believed that later his disciple Ikramah convinced him that only the people of the second category would be delivered in the same manner as the people of the third category.

A closer study of the Qur'anic account, however, shows that Ibn 'Abba's earlier viewpoint is sound. It is evident that the people of the town would inevitably have been grouped into two categories on the eve of God's punishment: those who were spared and those who were not. Since the Qur'an states that the people of the third category, had been spared, it may be legitimately assumed that the people belonging to both the first and the second categories were punished. This view is also corroborated by the preceding verse:

Also recall when a party of them said: 'Why do you admonish a people whom Allah is about to destroy or punish severely? They said: 'We admonish them in order to he able to offer an excuse before your Lord, and in the hope that they will guard against disobedience.' (Verse 164).

Thus it clearly emerges from the above discussion that all the people of the place where evil deeds are publicly committed stand guilty, One cannot be absolved merely on the basis that one had not committed any evil. One may be acquitted only, in the event that one made every possible effort to bring about reform and actively worked in the cause of the truth. This constitutes the divine law pertaining to collective evil as is evident from the teachings of the Qur'an and Hadith. The Qur'an says:

And guard against the mischief that will not only bring punishment to the wrong-doers among you. Know well that Allah is severe in punishment (Al-Anfal 8: 15).

Explaining the above verse the Prophet (peace be on him) remarked: 'God does not punish the generality of a people for the evil committed by a particular section of that people until they observe others committing evil and do not denounce it even though they are in a position to do so. And when they do that, God punishes all, the evil-doers and the people in general.' (Ahmad b. Hanbal. Musnad, vol. 4, p. 192 - Ed.)

Moreover. the verse in question seems to suggest that God's punishment afflicted the town concerned in two stages. The first stage is referred to as 'grievous chastisement', for in the next stage they were turned into apes. We may, therefore, hold that people belonging to both the first and the second categories were subjected to punishment. But the punishment of transforming the persistent evil-doers into apes was confined only to the people of the second category. (God knows best. If I am right that is from God. If I err, that is from me alone. God is All-Forgiving, All-Merciful.)

فَلَمَّا عَتَوۡا عَنۡ مَّا نُهُوۡا عَنۡهُ قُلۡنَا لَهُمۡ كُوۡنُوۡا قِرَدَةً خٰسِـئِیْنَ‏
( 166 )   So when they were insolent about that which they had been forbidden, We said to them, "Be apes, despised."
The same has also been mentioned in Surah al-Baqarah ii. 65: The exact manner in which their transformation into apes took place is disputed. Some scholars are of the opinion that the transformation was a physical one, while others hold that they were invested with the attributes characteristic of apes. But both the words and the manner in which this incident is recounted in the Qur'an seem to suggest that what took place was a physical transformation of certain persons into apes rather than just a moral metamorphosis. What seems plausible is that while their minds were allowed to remain intact, their bodies were changed into those of apes.

وَاِذۡ تَاَذَّنَ رَبُّكَ لَيَبۡعَثَنَّ عَلَيۡهِمۡ اِلٰى يَوۡمِ الۡقِيٰمَةِ مَنۡ يَّسُوۡمُهُمۡ سُوۡٓءَ الۡعَذَابِ​ ؕ اِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَسَرِيۡعُ الۡعِقَابِ ​ ​ۖۚ وَاِنَّهٗ لَـغَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِيۡمٌ‏ 
( 167 )   And [mention] when your Lord declared that He would surely [continue to] send upon them until the Day of Resurrection those who would afflict them with the worst torment. Indeed, your Lord is swift in penalty; but indeed, He is Forgiving and Merciful.
 The Qur'anic expression 'ta'adhdhana' means almost the same 'he warned; he proclaimed'.

Since the 8th century B.C. the Israelites were warned consistently. This is borne out by the contents of the Books of the Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and their successors. Jesus too administered the same warning which is borne out by many of his orations in the New Testament, This was also later confirmed by the Qur'an. History bears out the veracity of the statement made both in the Qur'an and the earlier scriptures. For throughout history, since the time the Jews were warned, they have continually been subjected to abject persecution in one part of the world or another.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
See Deut, xi. 28: "A curse if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day": also Deut, xxviii. 49; "The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flight: a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand"; and many other passages.

وَقَطَّعۡنٰهُمۡ فِى الۡاَرۡضِ اُمَمًا​ ۚ مِنۡهُمُ الصّٰلِحُوۡنَ وَمِنۡهُمۡ دُوۡنَ ذٰ لِكَ​ وَبَلَوۡنٰهُمۡ بِالۡحَسَنٰتِ وَالسَّيِّاٰتِ لَعَلَّهُمۡ يَرۡجِعُوۡنَ‏ 
( 168 )   And We divided them throughout the earth into nations. Of them some were righteous, and of them some were otherwise. And We tested them with good [times] and bad that perhaps they would return [to obedience].
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The dispersal of the Jews is a great fact in the world's history. Nor has their persecution ended yet, nor is it likely to end as far as we can foresee.

Summary Verses 169 – 180 Including the covenant with the descendants of Adam:
Then they were succeeded by an evil generation.  They enjoyed a low life thinking everything would be forgiven.  Why do they not see that the Hereafter is better? Those who follow the Book and establish the prayer will never have their deeds go to waste.  And mention to them the mountain that was suspended over them as if it were an umbrella.  They thought it was going to fall on them but God said hold fast to what we have given to you and remember so that you will return to God consciousness.

Remind them Oh Prophet about the time when God brought into existence every single descendant of Adam (every human) and made them testify asking, "Am I not your Lord?" God did this, in case on the Day of Resurrection, anyone said, "but we were not aware".  Or in case they should try to blame their ancestors for idolatry or ascribing partners to God, saying we just followed our forefathers.  Everything is made clear.

Tell them also the story of the man in the time of Moses to whom we gave our stories but he chose to ignore them and Satan pursued him until he became one of the deviators.  He would have been exalted through the revelations but he clung to his earthly life.  He was like a dog; if you chase him he pants, if you leave him he still pants.  Tell them the stories that they may reflect, whomever God guides is truly guided, whoever he forsakes is a loser.

God says He created Hell for those of the jinn and humankind who have hearts but do not understand, eyes but do not see and ears but do not hear.  They are worse than animals because they are heedless.  And to God belong the best names, so invoke Him by them.  And leave the company of those who use them improperly.  

 Verses 169-171 Jews' wrong belief about Allah's forgiveness:

فَخَلَفَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِهِمۡ خَلۡفٌ وَّرِثُوا الۡكِتٰبَ يَاۡخُذُوۡنَ عَرَضَ هٰذَا الۡاَدۡنٰى وَيَقُوۡلُوۡنَ سَيُغۡفَرُ لَـنَا​ ۚ وَاِنۡ يَّاۡتِهِمۡ عَرَضٌ مِّثۡلُهٗ يَاۡخُذُوۡهُ​ ؕ اَلَمۡ يُؤۡخَذۡ عَلَيۡهِمۡ مِّيۡثَاقُ الۡـكِتٰبِ اَنۡ لَّا يَقُوۡلُوۡا عَلَى اللّٰهِ اِلَّا الۡحَـقَّ وَدَرَسُوۡا مَا فِيۡهِ​ ؕ وَالدَّارُ الۡاٰخِرَةُ خَيۡرٌ لِّـلَّذِيۡنَ يَتَّقُوۡنَ​ ؕ اَفَلَا تَعۡقِلُوۡنَ‏ 
( 169 )   And there followed them successors who inherited the Scripture [while] taking the commodities of this lower life and saying, "It will be forgiven for us." And if an offer like it comes to them, they will [again] take it. Was not the covenant of the Scripture taken from them that they would not say about Allah except the truth, and they studied what was in it? And the home of the Hereafter is better for those who fear Allah, so will you not use reason?
The Jews knowingly commit sins in the belief that being God's chosen people they will necessarily be pardoned and spared God's punishment. As a result of this misconception, they neither repent nor refrain from committing sins. How unfortunate the Jews are! They received the Scriptures which could have made them leaders of all mankind. But they were so petty-minded that they aspired to nothing higher than paltry worldly benefits. Thus even though they had the potential of becoming the upholders of justice and righteousness across the world they ended up merely as worshipers of this world.

The people of Israel know well that the Torah does not unconditionally assure them salvation. They have never been promised by God or any of His Prophets that they will attain deliverance no matter what they do. Therefore they have absolutely no right to ascribe to God something which He never told them. What makes their crime even worse is that their claim to unconditional salvation constitutes a sacrilege of their covenant with God whereby they pledged never to attribute any false statement to God.

The above verse has two renderings. It may be either translated as above or it may be rendered thus: 'For the righteous, only the home in the Hereafter is the best.' Going by the first rendering, the verse means that salvation is not the exclusive privilege of a particular person or a family. It is absolutely out of the question that one will attain deliverance even if one commits sins, simply on account of being a Jew. A little reflection will help one realize that only the righteous and God-fearing will be rewarded in the Hereafter. In the light of the second rendering, only the unrighteous prefer worldly, gains to reward in the Hereafter. As for the righteous, they are conscious of the importance of the Hereafter and hence forego worldly benefits for the sake of reward in the Next World.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Merely inheriting a Book, or doing lip service to it, does not make a nation righteous. If they succumb to the temptations of the world, their hypocrisy becomes all the more glaring. "High finance" is one of these temptations. Cf. also ii. 80: "the Fire shall not touch us except for a few numbered days": and ii. 88, about their blasphemous self-sufficiency.

Cf- Exod. xix. 5-8; xxiv 3; xxxiv. 27; and many other passages.

وَالَّذِيۡنَ يُمَسِّكُوۡنَ بِالۡـكِتٰبِ وَاَقَامُوا الصَّلٰوةَ ؕ اِنَّا لَا نُضِيۡعُ اَجۡرَ الۡمُصۡلِحِيۡنَ‏
( 170 )   But those who hold fast to the Book and establish prayer - indeed, We will not allow to be lost the reward of the reformers.
وَاِذۡ نَـتَقۡنَا الۡجَـبَلَ فَوۡقَهُمۡ كَاَنَّهٗ ظُلَّةٌ وَّظَنُّوۡۤا اَنَّهٗ وَاقِعٌ ۢ بِهِمۡ​ ۚ خُذُوۡا مَاۤ اٰتَيۡنٰكُمۡ بِقُوَّةٍ وَّاذۡكُرُوۡا مَا فِيۡهِ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَّقُوۡنَ‏  
( 171 )   And [mention] when We raised the mountain above them as if it was a dark cloud and they were certain that it would fall upon them, [and Allah said], "Take what We have given you with determination and remember what is in it that you might fear Allah."
The allusion here is to the event which took place when Moses proclaimed God's Divine Law at the foot of Mount Sinai.

Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God; and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. And Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. (Exodus 19: 17-18.)

This awesome atmosphere was created by God at the time when He made the people of Israel enter into a covenant with Him in order to impress upon them the gravity of the event and the supreme importance of the covenant. It should not be mistakenly assumed, however, that the people of Israel, who were reluctant to make the covenant, were forced to enter into it. In fact they were all believers and had gone to the Mount merely to make the covenant. The extraordinary conditions which God created were such as to make the Israelites realize that making a covenant with God was not an ordinary matter. They were rather made to feel that they were entering into a covenant with none other than Almighty God and that violating it could spell their disaster.

This concludes the discourse especially addressed to the Israelites. From here on the discourse is directed to all mankind, and particularly to the people whom the Prophet (peace be on him) addressed directly.

Here we come to the end of Part IV. In last part, i.e. Part V: Ruku / Sections 22-24 [Verses 172-206], a mention of the children of Adam is made who have multiplied, but many of them have rejected truth and go by degrees to destruction in ways that they do not realize. The righteous listen to the Message of Allah, and serve Him in humility.

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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