Monday 4 December 2023

[0 men!] Follow what has been revealed to you from your Lord and follow no masters other than Him

Surah Al A'raf is the seventh chapter of the Qur'an. The principal subject of this surah is "invitation to the Divine Message sent down to Muhammad" (Allah's peace be upon him), which is couched in a warning. This is because the Messenger had spent a long time admonishing the people of Makkah without any tangible effect on them. Nay, they had turned a deaf ear to his message and become so obdurate and antagonistic that, in accordance with the Divine Design, the Messenger was going to be commanded to leave them and turn to other people, That is why they are being admonished to accept the Message but, at the same time, they are being warned in strong terms of the consequences that followed the wrong attitude of the former people towards their Messengers. Thus, it begins with the caution from our Creator that:

"(7:2) This is a Book (The Qur'an) revealed to you. Let there be no impediment in your heart about it. (It has been revealed to you) that you may thereby warn [the unbelievers], that it may be a reminder to the believers."

Thereafter, the third verse comes with the strict warning to worship only One Master, Allah, and none should follow any other masters other than Him for He is the sole Creator of the universe and to whom we shall all return. Let us now read the third verse and its explanation by eminent Muslims exegetes and scholars:

اِتَّبِعُوۡا مَاۤ اُنۡزِلَ اِلَيۡكُمۡ مِّنۡ رَّبِّكُمۡ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوۡا مِنۡ دُوۡنِهٖۤ اَوۡلِيَآءَ​ ؕ قَلِيۡلًا مَّا تَذَكَّرُوۡنَ‏ 
(7:3) [0 men!] Follow what has been revealed to you from your Lord and follow no masters other than Him. Little are you admonished.
This is the main theme of this Surah. It invites the people to accept the Guidance that has been sent down by Allah through His Messengers, for this alone can impart the true knowledge to man about himself and the universe, and tell him the aim and object of his life and teach him the principles on which to build his morality, social life, culture and civilization. Man should acknowledge Allah alone as his Guide and follow only His Guidance that has been sent down through His Messengers. 'The discourse warns that it is basically wrong to turn to anyone other than Allah for guidance, for this has always resulted in utter ruin and will inevitably lead to ruin.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir
(Follow what has been sent down unto you from your Lord) meaning, follow and imitate the unlettered Prophet, who brought you a Book that was revealed for you, from the Lord and master of everything.

(and follow not any Awliya', besides Him (Allah)) meaning, do not disregard what the Messenger brought you and follow something else, for in this case, you will be deviating from Allah's judgment to the decision of someone else. 

Allah's statement, (Little do you remember!) is similar to: 
(And most of mankind will not believe even if you desire it eagerly) [12:103], and;
(And if you obey most of those on the earth, they will mislead you far away from Allah's path) [6:116], and,
(And most of them believe not in Allah except that they attribute partners unto Him) [12:106].

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Some of the great Muslim thinkers, and particularly Ibn Hazm and Ibn Taymiyyah, maintain that the expression awliya' (here rendered as "masters") denotes, in this context "authorities" in the religious sense of the word, implying a prohibition of attributing legal validity - side by side with Qur'anic ordinances - to the subjective opinions of any person below the Prophet. 

See in this connection 5:101, and its explanation.

Yusuf Ali Explanation
This is added in order that men might not be puffed up with such little knowledge as they possessed, for there are great heights to be scaled in the spiritual kingdom.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
It should be noted here that when the Prophet was addressed in person, the hook is described as having been sent down to him personally: “This is a book that has been bestowed on you from on high.” (Verse 2) At the same time, when all mankind is addressed, the book is described as having been sent down to them from their Lord: “Follow what has been sent down to you by your Lord.” (Verse 3) In the case of the Prophet (peace be upon him), the book is revealed to him so that he believes in it and warns people and reminds them of its message. In the case of other human beings, the book is revealed to them so that they believe in it and follow it to the exclusion of any other source. In both cases, honour is made by this revelation. A human being to whom God sends down a book, choosing him for this task and bestowing on him all this bounty and blessings, should remember and should be thankful. He must also address himself to the task with strength and resolution.
The task is great. It aims to bring about a total change in human communities, encompassing their concepts, ideals, values, moral standards, traditions, social systems, economic set-ups as well as their relationships with God, the universe and other human beings. Hence, the sūrah seeks to strongly shake people’s consciences so that they wake up to the task and start examining their situation. This is achieved by portraying the destinies of past communities who denied the divine message, how they were destroyed in this life and the sort of destiny awaiting them in the life to come.

Concluding remarks: The message is very clear - Follow what is been given in true letters and spirit and follow the Divine revelations only. No man-made laws are to be made superior to the laws given out in the Qur'an. Anyone who negates these laws or makes amends to suit the own or interest of a community is liable to severe punishment.
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān 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. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

You may refer to our reference page: Important DOs and Don'ts from Qur'an to read more directives on the subject.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages  and Understanding Al Qur'an for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Tafsir References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the 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, additional input has been interjected from the following sources: 
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Translation Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Qur'an Wiki
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
In addition, 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.

Disclaimer: The material for this post has been collected from the references given above. If anyone differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

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