Showing posts with label Sürah Al-A'raf. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sürah Al-A'raf. Show all posts

Monday 13 April 2020

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

Sürah Al-A'raf " ٱلْأَعْرَاف " is the seventh surah with 206 ayahs with 24 ruku, 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 last part that is Part V: Ruku / Sections 22-24 [Verses 172-206] The theme of this last part is very meaningful as it is about the children of Adam 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.
    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 22 [Verses 172-181]: The eternal covenant of Allah was taken from all human beings.

    Verses 172-174 Mankind's testimony that Allah is their Rabb at the time of Adam's creation:

    وَ اِذۡ اَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِنۡۢ بَنِىۡۤ اٰدَمَ مِنۡ ظُهُوۡرِهِمۡ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمۡ وَ اَشۡهَدَهُمۡ عَلٰٓى اَنۡفُسِهِمۡ​ ۚ اَلَسۡتُ بِرَبِّكُمۡ​ ؕ قَالُوۡا بَلٰى​ ۛۚ شَهِدۡنَا ​ۛۚ اَنۡ تَقُوۡلُوۡا يَوۡمَ الۡقِيٰمَةِ اِنَّا كُنَّا عَنۡ هٰذَا غٰفِلِيۡنَ ۙ‏ 
    ( 172 )   And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], "Am I not your Lord?" They said, "Yes, we have testified." [This] - lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, "Indeed, we were of this unaware."
    The preceding discourse concluded with the note that God made the Israelites enter into a covenant with their Lord. In the following passages all men are told that a covenant with God is not the exclusive privilege of Israel. In fact all human beings are bound in a covenant with God and a Day will come when they will be made to answer how well they were able to observe that covenant.

    This event, according to several traditions, took place at the time of the creation of Adam. Apart from the prostration of the angels before Adam and the proclamation that man would be God's vicegerent on earth, all the future progeny of Adam were gathered, and were endowed with both existence and consciousness in order to bear witness to God's lordship. The best interpretation of this event is found in a statement by, 'Ubayy b. Ka'b, who has probably given the substance of what he had heard from the Prophet (peace be on him):

    God gathered all human beings, divided them into different groups, granted them human form and the faculty of speech, made them enter into a covenant, and then making them witnesses against themselves He asked them: 'Am I not your Lord?' They replied: 'Assuredly you are Our Lord.' Then God told them: 'I call upon the sky and the earth and your own progenitor, Adam, to be witness against you lest you should say on the Day of Judgement that you were ignorant of this. Know well that no one other than Me deserves to he worshipped and no one other than Me is your Lord. So do not ascribe any partner to Me. I shall send to you My Messengers who will remind you of this covenant which you made with Me. I shall send down to you My Books.' In reply all said: 'We witness that You are Our Lord and our Deity. We have no lord or deity other than You.' (Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 5, p. 135 - Ed.)

    This event has also been interpreted by some commentators in a purely allegorical sense. They are of the opinion that the purpose of the Qur'an is merely to emphasize that the acceptance of God's lordship is innate in human nature. However, this was narrated in such a way as to suggest that the event did actually take place. We do not subscribe to this allegorical interpretation of the primordial covenant of man with God. For both the Qur'an and Hadith recount it not only as an actual happening, but also affirm that the covenant would be adduced as an argument against man on the Day of Judgement. There remains, therefore, no ground whatsoever to interpret the event in terms of mere allegory.

    In our own view the event did take place. God caused all human beings whom He intended to create until the Last Day to come into existence. He endowed upon them life, consciousness and the faculty of speech, and brought home to them that there is no god or lord besides Him, and that Islam alone is the right way to serve Him.

    If someone considers calling all human beings together in one assembly impossible, that shows, more than anything else the woeful paucity of his imagination. For if someone accepts that God has the power to create countless human beings in succession, there is no reason to suppose that He did not have the power to create them all at some given moment prior to the creation of the universe, or that He will be unable to resurrect them all at some given moment in the future. Again, it stands to reason that at a time when God wanted to designate man as His vicegerent on earth after endowing him with reason and understanding, He took from him an oath of allegiance. All this is so reasonable that the actual occurrence of the covenant should not cause any wonder. On the contrary, one should wonder if the event did not take place.

    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    This passage has led to differences of opinion in interpretation. According to the dominant opinion of commentators each individual in the posterity of Adam had a separate existence from the time of Adam, and a Covenant was taken from all of them, which is binding accordingly on each individual. The words in the text refer to the descendants of the Children of Adam, i.e., to all humanity, born or unborn, without any limit of time. Adam's seed carries on the existence of Adam and succeeds to his spiritual heritage. Humanity has been given by Allah certain powers and faculties, whose possession creates on our side special spiritual obligations which we must faithfully discharge: see v. 1. and n. 682. These obligations may from a legal point of view be considered as arising from implied Covenants. In the preceding verse (vii. 171) a reference was made to the implied Covenant of the Jewish nation. Now we consider the implied Covenant of the whole of humanity, for the Holy Prophet's mission was world-wide.

    The Covenant is completed in this way. We acknowledge that Allah is our Creator, Cherisher, and Sustainer: therefore we acknowledge our duty to Him: when we so testify concerning ourselves, the obligation is as it were assumed by us; for it follows from our very nature when it is pure and uncorrupted.

    اَوۡ تَقُوۡلُوۡۤا اِنَّمَاۤ اَشۡرَكَ اٰبَآؤُنَا مِنۡ قَبۡلُ وَكُنَّا ذُرِّيَّةً مِّنۡۢ بَعۡدِهِمۡ​ۚ اَفَتُهۡلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ الۡمُبۡطِلُوۡنَ‏
    ( 173 )   Or [lest] you say, "It was only that our fathers associated [others in worship] with Allah before, and we were but descendants after them. Then would You destroy us for what the falsifiers have done?"
    The verse describes the purpose of the primordial covenant. The purpose is to make every person responsible for his deeds so that if he rebels against God he will be held fully accountable for that rebel from. Because of the covenant, no one will be able either to plead for acquittal on grounds of ignorance, or blame his misdeeds on his ancestors. In other words, this primordial covenant has been mentioned as the reason for the inherent awareness in every single person that God is the only Lord and Deity. Thus, none can totally absolve himself of his responsibility on the plea that he was altogether ignorant, or transfer the blame for his error to the corrupt environment in which he was brought up. Now, it can be argued that even if the covenant did take place, no human being remembers its occurrence. No human being is aware that a long time ago, at the time of creation, he had affirmed, in response to God's query, that God indeed was his Lord. This being the case, it can be further argued that no charge can be legitimately brought against man on the ground of a covenant with God which he no longer remembers to have made. In response to this it can be said that had the covenant been made fully in man's conscious memory, it would be meaningless for God to put man to the test in this world. Hence, there can be no denying that the covenant is not preserved in man's conscious memory. But it has doubtlessly been preserved in man's sub-conscious mind. In this respect the primordial covenant is no different from other pieces of knowledge in man's sub-conscious mind. Whatever man has so far achieved in the way of culture and civilization can be attributed to his latent potentialities. All external factors and internal motivations simply account for helping the actualization of those potentialities. Neither education nor training nor environmental factors can bring out anything which is not potentially found in the human mind. Likewise, external factors have no power to root out man's latent potentialities. External factors may, at the most, cause a person to deflect from the course dictated by sound human nature. However, man's sound nature is inclined to resist the pressure of external forces and exert itself in order to find an outlet. As we have said earlier, this is not peculiar to man's religious propensity alone, but is equally true of all his mental potentialities. In this regard the following points are particularly noteworthy:

    (1) All man's potentialities exist in the sub-conscious mind and prove their existence when they manifest themselves in the form of human action.

    (2) The external manifestation of these potentialities requires external stimuli such as instruction, upbringing. and attitudinal orientation. In other words, our actions consist of the responses of our inherent potentialities to external stimuli.

    (3) Man's inner potentialities can be suppressed both by false urges within him as well as external influences by trying to pervert and distort those latent potentialities. The potentialities themselves, however, cannot he totally rooted out.

    The same holds true of man's intuitive knowledge regarding his position in the universe and his relationship with his Creator. In this connection the following points should be borne in mind:

    (1) That man has always had such intuitive knowledge is evident from the fact that this knowledge has surfaced throughout history in every period and in every part of the world, and which no power has so far been able to extirpate.

    (2) That this intuitive knowledge conforms to objective reality, is borne out by, the fact that whenever this knowledge has influenced human life, it has had beneficial results.

    (3) That in order to manifest itself in his practical life, man's intuitive knowledge has always required external stimuli. The stimuli have consisted of the advent of the Prophets (peace be on them), the revelation of the Heavenly Books, and the striving of those who have tried to follow them and invite others to do the same. It is for this reason that the Qur'an has been desienated as mudhakkir (the reminder): dhikr (remembrance); tadhkirah (admonition). and the function of the Qur'an has been characterized as tadhkir(reminding). What this suggests is that the Prophets, the Heavenly Books and those who invite people to the truth do not seek to provide human beings with something new, something which exists outside of them. Their task rather consists of bringing to the surface and rejuvenating what is latent, though dormant, in man himself.

    Throughout the ages man has always positively responded to this 'Reminder'. This itself is testimony to the fact that it is embodied in a knowledge which has always been recognized by; man's soul.

    Forces arising from ignorance and obscurantism, lust and bigotry, and the erroneous teachings and promptings of devils - human as well as jinn - have always attempted to suppress, conceal, and distort the fact that the truth preached by the Prophets is embedded in man's soul. These attempts gave rise to polytheism, atheism, religious misdirection and moral corruption. Despite the combined efforts of the forces of falsehood, however, this knowledge has always had an imprint on the human heart. Hencel, whenever any effort was made to revive that knowledge, it has proved successful.

    Doubtlessly those who are bent on denying the truth can resort to a great deal of sophistry in order to deny or at least create doubt and confusion about the existence of this knowledge. However on the Day of Resurrection the Creator will revive in man the memory of the first assembly when man made his covenant with God and accepted Him as his Only Lord. On that occasion God will provide evidence to the effect that the covenant always remained imprinted on man's soul. He will also show how from time to time man tried to suppress his inner voice which urged him to respond to the call of the covenant; how again and again his heart pressed him to affirm the truth; how his intuition induced him to denounce the errors of belief and practice; how the truth ingrained in his soul tried to express itself and respond to those who called to it; and how on each occasion he lulled his inner self to sleep because of his lust and bigotry.

    However a Day will come when man will no longer be in a position to put forth specious arguments to justify his false claims. That will be the Day when man will have no option but to confess his error. It will then be impossible for people to say that they were ignorant, or negligent. In the words of the Qur'an: '...and they will bear witness against themselves that they had disbelieved' (al-An'am 6: 130).

    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    The latent faculties in man are enough to teach him the distinction between good and evil, to warn him of the dangers that beset his life. But to awaken and stimulate them, a personal appeal is made to each individual through the "still small voice" within him. This in its uncorrupted state acknowledges the truth and, as it were, swears its Covenant with Allah. There is, therefore, no excuse for any individual to say, either (1) that he was unmindful, or (2) that he should not be punished for the sins of his fathers, because his punishment (if any) comes from his personal responsibility and is for his own rejection of faith and the higher spiritual influences.

    وَكَذٰلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الۡاٰيٰتِ وَلَعَلَّهُمۡ يَرۡجِعُوۡنَ‏ 
    ( 174 )   And thus do We [explain in] detail the verses, and perhaps they will return.
    'Signs' here refer to the imprints made by knowledge of the truth on the human heart which help towards cognition of the truth.

     'To return' here signifies giving up rebellion, and reverting to obedience to God.

    Verses 175-178 Example of those who deny Allah's revelations:

    وَاتۡلُ عَلَيۡهِمۡ نَبَاَ الَّذِىۡۤ اٰتَيۡنٰهُ اٰيٰتِنَا فَانْسَلَخَ مِنۡهَا فَاَتۡبَعَهُ الشَّيۡطٰنُ فَكَانَ مِنَ الۡغٰوِيۡنَ‏ 
    ( 175 )   And recite to them, [O Muhammad], the news of him to whom we gave [knowledge of] Our signs, but he detached himself from them; so Satan pursued him, and he became of the deviators.
    The words of the text seem to indicate that the person mentioned must indeed be a specific rather than an imaginary figure mentioned for the sake of parable. It may, be borne in mind that God and His Messenger (peace be on him) usually mention evil without specific references to any individual. This is obviously in keeping with their dignity. Only examples of evil are mentioned since those examples are meant for didactic purposes, and this is done without smearing anyone's reputation.

    Some commentators on the Qur'an, however, have applied the statement made here to some persons who lived in the time of the Prophet (peace be on him) as well as before him. Some of them mention the name of Bal'am b. Ba'ura', others that of Umayyah b. Abi al-Salt, and still others that of Sayfi b. al-Rahib. (See the comments of Qurtubi on (verses 175 and 176) Nonetheless, in the absence of any authentic information about the identity of the persons under discussion, we might as well consider the description made here to fit a certain type of person.

    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    Commentators differ whether this story or parable refers to a particular individual, and if so, to whom. The story of Balaam the seer, who was called out by Israel's enemies to curse Israel, but who blessed Israel instead, (Num. xxii., xxiii., xxiv,) is quite different. It is better to take the parable in general sense. There are men, of talents and position, to whom great opportunities of spiritual insight come, but they perversely pass them by. Satan sees his opportunity and catches them up. Instead of rising higher in the spiritual world, their selfish and worldly desires and ambitions pull them down, and they are lost.

    وَلَوۡ شِئۡنَا لَرَفَعۡنٰهُ بِهَا وَلٰـكِنَّهٗۤ اَخۡلَدَ اِلَى الۡاَرۡضِ وَاتَّبَعَ هَوٰٮهُ​ ۚ فَمَثَلُهٗ كَمَثَلِ الۡـكَلۡبِ​ ۚ اِنۡ تَحۡمِلۡ عَلَيۡهِ يَلۡهَثۡ اَوۡ تَتۡرُكۡهُ يَلۡهَث ​ؕ ذٰ لِكَ مَثَلُ الۡقَوۡمِ الَّذِيۡنَ كَذَّبُوۡا بِاٰيٰتِنَا​ۚ فَاقۡصُصِ الۡقَصَصَ لَعَلَّهُمۡ يَتَفَكَّرُوۡنَ‏ 
    ( 176 )   And if We had willed, we could have elevated him thereby, but he adhered [instead] to the earth and followed his own desire. So his example is like that of the dog: if you chase him, he pants, or if you leave him, he [still] pants. That is the example of the people who denied Our signs. So relate the stories that perhaps they will give thought.
    Since the statement here embodies a very significant point, it needs to be carefully examined. The person mentioned in the verse as the representative of the evil type possessed knowledge of God's signs, and hence of the truth. This should have helped him to give up an attitude which he knew to be wrong, and to act in a manner which he knew to be right. Had he followed the truth and acted righteously God would have enabled him to rise to higher levels of humanity. He, however, overly occupied himself with the advantages, pleasures, and embellishments of the worldly life. Instead of resisting worldly temptations, he totally, succumbed to them so much so that he abandoned altogether his lofty spiritual ambitions and became indifferent to the possibilities of intellectual and moral growth. He even brazenly, violated all those limits which, according to his knowledge. should have been observed. Hence when he deliberately turned away from the truth merely because of his moral weakness, he was misled by Satan who is ever ready to beguile and mislead man. Satan continually led him from one act of depravity to another until he landed him in the company of those who are totally under Satan's control and who have lost all capacity for rational judgement.

    This is followed by a statement in which God likens the person in question to a dog. A dog's protruding tongue and the unceasing flow of saliva from his mouth symbolize unquenchable greed and avarice. The reason for likening the human character described above to a dog is because of his excessive worldliness. It is known that in several languages of the world it is common to call people overly devoted to worldliness as 'dogs of the world'. For what, after all, is the characteristic of a dog? It is nothing else but greed and avarice. Just look at the dog! As he moves around, he continuously sniffs the earth. Even if a rock is hurled at him he runs at it in the hope that it might be a piece of bone or bread. Before he discovers it to be a rock, he hastens to seize it in his mouth. Even a person's indifference does not deter a dog from waiting expectantly for food - panting for breath, his tongue spread out and drooping, and a whole world from one perspective alone - that of his belly! Even if he discovers a large carcass, he would not be content with his portion of it, but would try to make it exclusively his and would not let any other dog even come close. It seems that if any urge other than appetite tickles him, it is the sexual urge. This metaphor of the dog, highlights the fate of the worldly man who breaks loose from his faith and knowledge, who entrusts his reins to blind lust and who ends up as one wholly devoted to gratifying his own appetite.

    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    Notice the contrast between the exalted spiritual honours which they would have received from Allah if they had followed His Will, and the earthly desires which eventually bring them low to the position of beasts and worse.

    The dog, especially in the hot weather, lolls out his tongue, whether he is attacked and pursued and is tired, or he is left alone. It is part of his nature to slobber. So with the man who rejects Allah. Whether he is warned or left alone, he continues to throw out his dirty saliva. The injury he will do will be to his own soul. But there may be infection in his evil example. So we must protect others. And we must never give up hope of his own amendment. So we must continue to warn him and make him think.

    سَآءَ مَثَلَاْ ۨالۡقَوۡمُ الَّذِيۡنَ كَذَّبُوۡا بِاٰيٰتِنَا وَاَنۡفُسَهُمۡ كَانُوۡا يَظۡلِمُوۡنَ‏ 
    ( 177 )   How evil an example [is that of] the people who denied Our signs and used to wrong themselves.
    مَنۡ يَّهۡدِ اللّٰهُ فَهُوَ الۡمُهۡتَدِىۡ​ۚ وَمَنۡ يُّضۡلِلۡ فَاُولٰۤـئِكَ هُمُ الۡخٰسِرُوۡنَ‏  
    ( 178 )   Whoever Allah guides - he is the [rightly] guided; and whoever He sends astray - it is those who are the losers.
    Those who reject Allah will be deprived of Allah's grace and guidance. His Mercy is always open for sincere repentance. But with each step downwards, they go lower and lower, until they perish.

    Verses 179-181 Misguided people are like animals or even worse:

    وَلَـقَدۡ ذَرَاۡنَا لِجَـهَنَّمَ كَثِيۡرًا مِّنَ الۡجِنِّ وَالۡاِنۡسِ​ ​ۖ  لَهُمۡ قُلُوۡبٌ لَّا يَفۡقَهُوۡنَ بِهَا  وَلَهُمۡ اَعۡيُنٌ لَّا يُبۡصِرُوۡنَ بِهَا  وَلَهُمۡ اٰذَانٌ لَّا يَسۡمَعُوۡنَ بِهَا ؕ اُولٰۤـئِكَ كَالۡاَنۡعَامِ بَلۡ هُمۡ اَضَلُّ​ ؕ اُولٰۤـئِكَ هُمُ الۡغٰفِلُوۡنَ‏ 
    ( 179 )   And We have certainly created for Hell many of the jinn and mankind. They have hearts with which they do not understand, they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear. Those are like livestock; rather, they are more astray. It is they who are the heedless.
    This does not mean that God has created some people for the specific purpose of fueling Hell. What it does mean is that even though God has bestowed upon men faculties of observation, hearing and reasoning, some people do not use them properly. Thus, because of their own failings, they end up in Hell.

    The words employed to give expression to the idea are ones which reflect deep grief and sorrow. This can perhaps be grasped by the occasional outbursts of sorrow by human beings. If a mother is struck by the sudden death of her sons in a war, she is prone to exclaim: 'I had brought up my sons that they might serve as cannon fodder!' Her exclamatory, utterance does not mean that that was the real purpose of the upbringing. What she intends to convey by such an utterance is a strong condemnation of those criminals because of whom all her painful efforts to bring up her sons have gone to waste.

    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    Cf. ii. 18. Though they have apparently all the faculties of reason and perception, they have so deadened them that those faculties do not work, and they go headlong into hell. They are, as it were, made for Hell.

    وَلِلّٰهِ الۡاَسۡمَآءُ الۡحُسۡنٰى فَادۡعُوۡهُ بِهَا​ وَذَرُوا الَّذِيۡنَ يُلۡحِدُوۡنَ فِىۡۤ اَسۡمَآئِهٖ​ ؕ سَيُجۡزَوۡنَ مَا كَانُوۡا يَعۡمَلُوۡنَ‏ 
    ( 180 )   And to Allah belong the best names, so invoke Him by them. And leave [the company of] those who practice deviation concerning His names. They will be recompensed for what they have been doing.
     Here the present discourse is nearing its end. Before concluding, people are warned in a style which combines admonition with censure against some basic wrongs. People are here being warred particularly against denial combined with mockery which they, had adopted towards the teachings of the Prophet (peace be on him).

    The name of a thing reflects how it is conceptualized. Hence, inappropriate concepts are reflected in inappropriate names, and vice versa. Moreover, the attitude a man adopts towards different things is also based on the concepts he entertains of those things. If a concept about a thing is erroneous, so will be man's relationship with it. On the other hand. a right concept about a thing will lead to establishing, the right relationship with it. In the same way, as this applies to relationships with worldly objects, so it applies to relationships with God. If a man is mistaken about God - be it about His person or attributes - he will choose false words for God. And the falsity of concepts about God affects man's whole ethical attitude. This is understandable since man's whole ethical attitude is directly related to man's concept of God and God's relationship with the universe and man. It is for this reason that the Qur'an asks man to shun profanity in naming God. Only the most beautiful names befit God, and hence man should invoke Him by them. Any profanity in this respect will lead to evil consequences.

    The 'most excellent names' used of God express His greatness and paramountcy, holiness, purity, and the perfection and absoluteness of all His attributes. The opposite trend has been termed ilhad in this verse. The word ilhad literally means 'to veer away from the straight direction'. The word is used, for instance, when an arrow misses the mark and strikes elsewhere.  The commitment of ilhad in naming God mentioned in the verse consists of choosing names which are below His majestic dignity and which are inconsistent with the reverence due to Him; names which ascribe evil or defect to God, or reflect false notions about Him. Equally blasphemous is the act of calling some creature by a name which befits God alone, The Qur'anic exhortation in the above verse to 'shun those who distort God's names' implies that if misguided people fail to see reason, the righteous should not engross themselves in unnecessary argumentation with them. For such men will themselves suffer dire consequences.

    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    As we contemplate Allah's nature, we can use the most beautiful names to express His attributes. There are hundreds of such attributes. In the opening Surah, we have this indicated in a few comprehensive words, such as Rahman (most Gracious), Rahim (most Merciful), Rabb-ul-'alamin (Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds). Our bringing such names to remembrance is part of our Prayer and Praise. But we must not associate with people who use Allah's names profanely, or so as to suggest anything derogatory to His dignity or His unity. Cf. xvii. 110. A) See also lxviii. 44.

    وَمِمَّنۡ خَلَقۡنَاۤ اُمَّةٌ يَّهۡدُوۡنَ بِالۡحَـقِّ وَبِهٖ يَعۡدِلُوۡنَ
    ( 181 )   And among those We created is a community which guides by truth and thereby establishes justice.
    Ruku / Section 23 [Verses 182-188]: The coming of the Last Hour

    Verses 182-188 Those who deny Allah's revelations are drawing closer to destruction and Prophet himself has no power to benefit anyone or to avert any harm:

    وَالَّذِيۡنَ كَذَّبُوۡا بِاٰيٰتِنَا سَنَسۡتَدۡرِجُهُمۡ مِّنۡ حَيۡثُ لَا يَعۡلَمُوۡنَ​ۖ ​ ۚ‏ 
    ( 182 )   But those who deny Our signs - We will progressively lead them [to destruction] from where they do not know.
    وَاُمۡلِىۡ لَهُمۡ ​ؕ اِنَّ كَيۡدِىۡ مَتِيۡنٌ‏  
    ( 183 )   And I will give them time. Indeed, my plan is firm.
     اَوَلَمۡ يَتَفَكَّرُوۡا​ مَا بِصَاحِبِهِمۡ مِّنۡ جِنَّةٍ​ؕ اِنۡ هُوَ اِلَّا نَذِيۡرٌ مُّبِيۡنٌ‏ 
    ( 184 )   Then do they not give thought? There is in their companion [Muhammad] no madness. He is not but a clear warner.
     اَوَلَمۡ يَنۡظُرُوۡا فِىۡ مَلَـكُوۡتِ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ وَمَا خَلَقَ اللّٰهُ مِنۡ شَىۡءٍ ۙ وَّاَنۡ عَسٰٓى اَنۡ يَّكُوۡنَ قَدِ اقۡتَرَبَ اَجَلُهُمۡ​ ۚ فَبِاَىِّ حَدِيۡثٍۢ بَعۡدَهٗ يُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ‏ 
    ( 185 )   Do they not look into the realm of the heavens and the earth and everything that Allah has created and [think] that perhaps their appointed time has come near? So in what statement hereafter will they believe?
     The word 'companion' here refers to the Prophet (peace be on him) who was born, brought up, grew into youth, in short, spent his whole life including his old age in their midst. Before the advent of his prophethood, Muhammad (peace be on him) was known to all the Quraysh as good natured and of sound mind. However, as he started calling people to accept the Message of God, they immediately dubbed him insane. Now it is obvious that they were not attributing insanity to him as regards his pre-prophetic life, for they had nothing evil to say about that period of his life. The charge of insanity, therefore, was leveled against the Message he began to preach when he was designated a Prophet.

    The Qur'an, therefore, asks them to give serious thought to the teachings of the Prophet (peace be on him) and to see if there is anything that is inconsistent with sanity, or is meaningless and irrational. Had people reflected on the order of the universe, or carefully considered even one single creation of God, they would have been convinced of the truth of the teachings of the Prophet (peace be on him). They would have realized that whatever he said to refute polytheism, or to establish God's unity or the accountability of man in the Hereafter, or about the necessity of man's surrender to God, was corroborated by the entire order of the universe and every single atom of God's creation.

    The unbelievers, feeble-minded as they are, fail to understand that no one knows when he will die. For death overtakes man totally unawares. This being the case, what will be the end of those who waste the time at their disposal until death overtakes them and fail to find the direction to their salvation?

    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    An appeal to Allah's most wonderful universe should at once convince a thinking mind of man's nothingness, and Allah's power, glory, and goodness. Man's term here is fleeting. If he is not warned by the great Signs, and the Messages which call his attention to them, is he capable of any faith at all?

    مَنۡ يُّضۡلِلِ اللّٰهُ فَلَا هَادِىَ لَهٗ ​ؕ وَ يَذَرُهُمۡ فِىۡ طُغۡيَانِهِمۡ يَعۡمَهُوۡنَ‏ 
    ( 186 )   Whoever Allah sends astray - there is no guide for him. And He leaves them in their transgression, wandering blindly.
    Cf. ii. 15. If Allah's light is removed, the best of them can only wander hither and thither, like blind men, in distraction.

     يَسۡـئَـلُوۡنَكَ عَنِ السَّاعَةِ اَيَّانَ مُرۡسٰٮهَا ​ؕ قُلۡ اِنَّمَا عِلۡمُهَا عِنۡدَ رَبِّىۡ​ ۚ لَا يُجَلِّيۡهَا لِوَقۡتِهَاۤ اِلَّا هُوَۘ ​ؕ ثَقُلَتۡ فِى السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ​ؕ لَا تَاۡتِيۡكُمۡ اِلَّا بَغۡتَةً ​ ؕ يَسۡـئَلُوۡنَكَ كَاَنَّكَ حَفِىٌّ عَنۡهَا ؕ قُلۡ اِنَّمَا عِلۡمُهَا عِنۡدَ اللّٰهِ وَلٰـكِنَّ اَكۡثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعۡلَمُوۡنَ‏ 
    ( 187 )   They ask you, [O Muhammad], about the Hour: when is its arrival? Say, "Its knowledge is only with my Lord. None will reveal its time except Him. It lays heavily upon the heavens and the earth. It will not come upon you except unexpectedly." They ask you as if you are familiar with it. Say, "Its knowledge is only with Allah, but most of the people do not know."
    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    The fact of its coming is a certainty: the exact time appointed for it is not revealed by Allah. If it were it would be so momentous as to disturb our thoughts and life. It would be a heavy burden to us. Our duty is to be prepared for it at all times. It will come when we least expect it. In the present Gospels Jesus says the same thing: he does not know the Hour, but it will come suddenly. "But of that day and that Hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is." (Mark. xiii. 32-33).

    Hafi is usually construed to mean; "eager or anxious in search of": the preposition following here is 'an = concerning, about. Some commentators (including Ragib) understand it in this passage to mean "well-acquainted." In xix. 47, with the preposition by following it, it signifies "well-disposed to", favourable to, good to, kind to."

    قُلْ لَّاۤ اَمۡلِكُ لِنَفۡسِىۡ نَـفۡعًا وَّلَا ضَرًّا اِلَّا مَا شَآءَ اللّٰهُ​ؕ وَلَوۡ كُنۡتُ اَعۡلَمُ الۡغَيۡبَ لَاسۡتَكۡثَرۡتُ مِنَ الۡخَيۡرِ ۖ ​ۛۚ وَمَا مَسَّنِىَ السُّۤوۡءُ​ ​ۛۚ اِنۡ اَنَا اِلَّا نَذِيۡرٌ وَّبَشِيۡرٌ لِّقَوۡمٍ يُّؤۡمِنُوۡنَ
    ( 188 )   Say, "I hold not for myself [the power of] benefit or harm, except what Allah has willed. And if I knew the unseen, I could have acquired much wealth, and no harm would have touched me. I am not except a warner and a bringer of good tidings to a people who believe."
    The time of the advent of the Last Day is known to God alone Who knows the Unseen which, in fact, is not known even to the Prophet (peace be on him). Being human, he is not aware what the morrow has in store for him and his family. Had his knowledge encompassed everything - even things that lie beyond the ken of sense-perception and events that lie hidden in the future - he would have accumulated immense benefit and would have been able to avoid a great deal of loss owing to such foreknowledge. That being the case, it is sheer naivety to ask the Prophet about the actual time for the advent of the Last Day.

    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    A warner to all, and a bringer of glad tidings to those who have faith, because they will profit by the glad tidings. As every one is invited to faith, the glad tidings are offered to all, but they are not necessarily accepted by all.

    Ruku / Section 24 [Verses 189-206]: Shirk has no logic. Ignore the wrongdoers, but invite to Allah with kindness.  Listen to the Qur'an and always remember Allah.

    Verses 189-198 Allah created the whole of mankind from a single soul and Reality of those gods whom people worship beside Allah and Allah is the Protecting Friend of the righteous: 

    هُوَ الَّذِىۡ خَلَقَكُمۡ مِّنۡ نَّـفۡسٍ وَّاحِدَةٍ وَّجَعَلَ مِنۡهَا زَوۡجَهَا لِيَسۡكُنَ اِلَيۡهَا​ ۚ فَلَمَّا تَغَشّٰٮهَا حَمَلَتۡ حَمۡلًا خَفِيۡفًا فَمَرَّتۡ بِهٖ​ ۚ فَلَمَّاۤ اَثۡقَلَتۡ دَّعَوَا اللّٰهَ رَبَّهُمَا لَـئِنۡ اٰتَيۡتَـنَا صَالِحًا لَّـنَكُوۡنَنَّ مِنَ الشّٰكِرِيۡنَ‏ 
    ( 189 )   It is He who created you from one soul and created from it its mate that he might dwell in security with her. And when he covers her, she carries a light burden and continues therein. And when it becomes heavy, they both invoke Allah, their Lord, "If You should give us a good [child], we will surely be among the grateful."
    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    Cf. iv. 1, where the construction is explained.

    The mystery of the physical birth of man, as it affects the father and the mother, only touches the imagination of the parents in the later stages when the child is yet unborn and yet the life stirs within the body of the expectant mother. The coming of the new life is a solemn thing, and is fraught with much hope as well as much unknown risk to the mother herself. The parents in their anxiety turn to Allah. If this feeling of solemnity, hope, and looking towards Allah were maintained after birth, all would be well for the parents as well as for the rising generation. But the attitude changes, as the verses following show.

    Goodly: salih: includes the following ideas: sound in body and mind; healthy; righteous; of good moral disposition.

    فَلَمَّاۤ اٰتٰٮهُمَا صَالِحًـا جَعَلَا لَهٗ شُرَكَآءَ فِيۡمَاۤ اٰتٰٮهُمَا​ۚ فَتَعٰلَى اللّٰهُ عَمَّا يُشۡرِكُوۡنَ‏  
    ( 190 )   But when He gives them a good [child], they ascribe partners to Him concerning that which He has given them. Exalted is Allah above what they associate with Him.
     The present and succeeding (verses 190-8) seek to refute polytheism. These verses are devoted to highlighting the implications of the postulate which even the polytheists affirmed - that it is God Who originally created the human species. They also acknowledge that every human being owes his existence to God. God also holds absolute power over the entire process leading to man's birth, right from the fertilization of the ovum in the uterus to its onward development in the form of a living being, then investing it with numerous faculties and ensuring its birth as a sound, healthy baby. No one has the power to prevent God, if He so willed, from causing a woman to give birth to an animal or to odd creature, or to a physically or mentally handicapped baby. This fact is also equally acknowledged by monotheists and polytheists. It is for this reason that in the final stage of pregnancy, people are inclined to turn to God and pray for the birth of a sound and healthy baby.

    It is, however, the very, height of man's ignorance and folly that after a sound and healthy baby has been born as a result of God's will, man makes offerings at the altars of false gods, goddesses, or saints. Occasionally the names given to the child (e.g., 'abd al-Rasul, 'abd al-'Uzza, 'abd Shams, etc.) also indicate that man feels grateful to others than God and regards the child as a gift either of some Prophet, some noted Companion of the Prophet (peace be on him), or some other noted personality such as his spiritual mentor rather than a gift from God.

    There has been some misunderstanding with regard to the point emphasized here. This misunderstanding has been further reinforced by traditions of doubtful authenticity. The Qur'an mentions that human being's are created from a single person, and obviously here that person means Adam (peace be on him). Now this reference to one person is soon followed by reference to his spouse, and that both prayed to God for the birth of a sound and healthy baby. And when that prayer was accepted, the couple are mentioned as having associated others with God in the granting of His favour.

    The misunderstanding consists in considering this couple, who fell prey to polytheism, to be Adam and Eve. People resorted to unauthentic traditions to explain the above verse and the story which thus gained acceptance was the following. It was claimed that Eve suffered several mishaps since her offspring would die after birth. Satan seized this opportunity to mislead her into naming her baby Abd al-Harith (the slave of Satan). (See the comments of Ibn Kathir on verse 190. Cf. Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 5, p. 11 - Ed.) What is most shocking is that some of these unsubstantiated traditions have been ascribed to the Prophet (peace be on him). The fact, however, is that the above account does not have even an iota of truth. Nor is it, in any way, corroborated by the Qur'an itself. The only point brought home by the Qur'an is that it is God alone, to the total exclusion of every one else, Who brought the first human couple into being. And again it is God alone Who causes the birth of each baby born out of the intercourse between a man and a woman. The Qur'an also points out that the of this truth is innate in human nature which is evident from the fact that in states of distress and crisis man turns prayerfully to God alone. Ironically, however, after God blesses those prayers with acceptance, a number of people associate others with God in His divinity. The fact is that the present verses do not refer to any particular man and woman. The allusion is in fact to every man and woman enmeshed in polytheism.

    Here another point deserves attention. These verses condemn the Arabian polytheists on account of the fact that when God granted them sound children in response to their prayers they associated others with God in offering thanks. But what is the situation of many Muslims of today who strongly believe in the unity of God? Their situation seems even worse. It is not uncommon for them to ask others than God to grant children. They, make vows during pregnancy to others than God, and make offerings to others than God after child-birth. Yet they are satisfied that they have a full guarantee of Paradise since they are believers in the One True God whereas the Arabian polytheists would inevitably be consigned to Hell. It is only the doctrinal errors of the pre-Islamic Arabian polytheists which may be condemned. The doctrinal errors of Muslims are beyond all criticism and censure.

    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    When the child is born, the parents forget that it is a precious gift of Allah - a miracle of Creation, which should lift their minds up to the higher things of Allah. Instead, their gradual familiarity with the new life makes them connect it with many superstitious ideas or rites and ceremonies, or they take it as a matter of course, is a little plaything of the material world. This leads to idolatry or false worship, or the selling up of false standards, in derogation of the dignity of Allah.

     ​ۖ اَيُشۡرِكُوۡنَ مَا لَا يَخۡلُقُ شَيۡـئًـا وَّهُمۡ يُخۡلَقُوۡنَ​
    ( 191 )   Do they associate with Him those who create nothing and they are [themselves] created?
    وَلَا يَسۡتَطِيۡعُوۡنَ لَهُمۡ نَـصۡرًا وَّلَاۤ اَنۡفُسَهُمۡ يَنۡصُرُوۡنَ‏   
    ( 192 )   And the false deities are unable to [give] them help, nor can they help themselves.
    وَاِنۡ تَدۡعُوۡهُمۡ اِلَى الۡهُدٰى لَا يَتَّبِعُوۡكُمۡ​ ؕ سَوَآءٌ عَلَيۡكُمۡ اَدَعَوۡتُمُوۡهُمۡ اَمۡ اَنۡـتُمۡ صٰمِتُوۡنَ‏  
    ( 193 )   And if you [believers] invite them to guidance, they will not follow you. It is all the same for you whether you invite them or you are silent.
    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    When false worship takes root, the teacher of Truth finds much to discourage him. As far as he is concerned, it seems as if he has produced no effect. Yet his duty is to continue his work, in the spirit of verse 199 below, forgiving all opposition, teaching what is right, and not joining the ignorant in their attitude of doubt and indecision.

    اِنَّ الَّذِيۡنَ تَدۡعُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰهِ عِبَادٌ اَمۡثَالُـكُمۡ​ فَادۡعُوۡهُمۡ فَلۡيَسۡتَجِيۡبُوۡا لَـكُمۡ اِنۡ كُنۡتُمۡ صٰدِقِيۡنَ‏  
    ( 194 )   Indeed, those you [polytheists] call upon besides Allah are servants like you. So call upon them and let them respond to you, if you should be truthful.
    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    False gods, whether idols or deified men, or ideas and superstitions, have no existence of their own, independent of Allah's creation. They are Allah's creatures, and like servants are subject to His authority. Deified men are not real men, but false ideas of men. They cannot help themselves: how can they help others?

    اَلَهُمۡ اَرۡجُلٌ يَّمۡشُوۡنَ بِهَآ اَمۡ لَهُمۡ اَيۡدٍ يَّبۡطِشُوۡنَ بِهَآ اَمۡ لَهُمۡ اَعۡيُنٌ يُّبۡصِرُوۡنَ بِهَآ اَمۡ لَهُمۡ اٰذَانٌ يَّسۡمَعُوۡنَ بِهَا​ؕ قُلِ ادۡعُوۡا شُرَكَآءَكُمۡ ثُمَّ كِيۡدُوۡنِ فَلَا تُنۡظِرُوۡنِ‏  
    ( 195 )   Do they have feet by which they walk? Or do they have hands by which they strike? Or do they have eyes by which they see? Or do they have ears by which they hear? Say, [O Muhammad], "Call your 'partners' and then conspire against me and give me no respite.
     Polytheistic religions seem to have three characteristics: (1) idols and images that are held as objects of worship; (2) some persons and spirits that are considered deities represented in the form of idols and images, etc.; and (3) certain beliefs which underlie their polytheistic rites. The Qur'an denounces all these. At this place, however, the attack is directed against the objects to which the polytheists directed their worship.

    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    Here is a test and a challenge. If the false gods had any power or even existence, collect them all together, and, says the Prophet of Allah, "Let them do their worst against me." They cannot: because the whole thing is based on a superstition and a chimaera.

    اِنَّ وَلىِّۦَ اللّٰهُ الَّذِىۡ نَزَّلَ الۡـكِتٰبَ ​ۖ  وَهُوَ يَتَوَلَّى الصّٰلِحِيۡنَ‏ 
    ( 196 )   Indeed, my protector is Allah, who has sent down the Book; and He is an ally to the righteous.
     This is in response to the threats held out by the polytheists to the Prophet (peace he on him). They used to tell the Prophet (peace be on him) that if he did not give up opposing their deities and denouncing them, he would be overwhelmed by the wrath of those deities and court utter disaster.

    وَالَّذِيۡنَ تَدۡعُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِهٖ لَا يَسۡتَطِيۡعُوۡنَ نَـصۡرَكُمۡ وَلَاۤ اَنۡفُسَهُمۡ يَنۡصُرُوۡنَ‏ 
    ( 197 )   And those you call upon besides Him are unable to help you, nor can they help themselves."
    وَاِنۡ تَدۡعُوۡهُمۡ اِلَى الۡهُدٰى لَا يَسۡمَعُوۡا​ ؕ وَتَرٰٮهُمۡ يَنۡظُرُوۡنَ اِلَيۡكَ وَهُمۡ لَا يُبۡصِرُوۡنَ‏  
    ( 198 )   And if you invite them to guidance, they do not hear; and you see them looking at you while they do not see.
    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    The beauty and righteousness of Al-Mustafa's life were acknowledged on all hands, until he received the mission to preach and to fight against evil. What happened then? Evil erected barricades for itself. It had eyes, but it refused to see. It had ears, but it refused to hear. It had intelligence, but it blocked up its channels of understanding. Even now, after Fourteen Centuries, a life of unexampled purity, probity, justice, and righteousness is seen in false lights by blind detractors!

    Verses 199-206 Show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant and When the Quran is being recited listen to it with complete silence: 

    خُذِ الۡعَفۡوَ وَاۡمُرۡ بِالۡعُرۡفِ وَاَعۡرِضۡ عَنِ الۡجٰهِلِيۡنَ‏ 
    ( 199 )   Take what is given freely, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant.
    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    Allah comforts the Prophet and directs his mind to three precepts: (1) to forgive injuries, insults, and persecution; (2) to continue to declare the faith that was in him, and not only to declare it, but to act up to it in all his dealings with friends and foes; (3) to pay no attention to ignorant fools, who raised doubts or difficulties, hurled taunts or reproaches, or devised plots to defeat the truth: they were to be ignored and passed by, not to be engaged in fights and fruitless controversies, or conciliated by compromises.

     وَاِمَّا يَنۡزَغَـنَّكَ مِنَ الشَّيۡطٰنِ نَزۡغٌ فَاسۡتَعِذۡ بِاللّٰهِ​ؕ اِنَّهٗ سَمِيۡعٌ عَلِيۡمٌ‏ 
    ( 200 )   And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Satan, then seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He is Hearing and Knowing.
    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    Even a Prophet of Allah is but human. He might think that revenge or retaliation, or a little tactful silence when evil stalks abroad, or some compromise with ignorance, might be best for the cause. He is to reject such suggestions.

    اِنَّ الَّذِيۡنَ اتَّقَوۡا اِذَا مَسَّهُمۡ طٰۤـئِفٌ مِّنَ الشَّيۡطٰنِ تَذَكَّرُوۡا فَاِذَا هُمۡ مُّبۡصِرُوۡنَ​ۚ‏  
    ( 201 )   Indeed, those who fear Allah - when an impulse touches them from Satan, they remember [Him] and at once they have insight.
    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    Allah protects His own, as no one else can. He is the sure refuge-and the only one-for men of faith. If we are confused or angry, being blinded by this world, He will open our eyes.

    وَاِخۡوَانُهُمۡ يَمُدُّوۡنَهُمۡ فِى الۡغَىِّ ثُمَّ لَا يُقۡصِرُوۡنَ‏   
    ( 202 )   But their brothers - the devils increase them in error; then they do not stop short.
     Here some important directives are addressed to the Prophet (peace be on him) regarding how he should preach the Message of Islam and how he should guide and reform people. The object of these directives is not merely to instruct the Prophet (peace be on him), but also to instruct all those who would shoulder the same responsibility after the Prophet (peace be on him) was no longer amidst them. The major directives are as follows:

    (1) The most important qualities that must be cultivated by anyone who calls others to the truth are tenderness, magnanimity, and forbearing. Such a person should also have the capacity to tolerate the lapses of his companions and to patiently endure the excesses of his opponents. He should also be able to keep his cool in the face of grave provocation and gracefully connive at the offensive behaviour of others. In facing the angry words, slander, persecution and mischief of his opponents, he should exercise the utmost self-restraint. Harshness, severity, bitterness. and vindictive provocativeness on his part are bound to undermine his mission. The same point seems to have been made in a Hadith in which the Prophet (peace be on him) says that he has been commanded by his Lord: '...to say the just word whether I am angry, or pleased; to maintain ties with nim who severs ties with me; and to give to him who denies me (my right); and to forgive him who wrongs me.' (See the comments of Qurtubi in his Tafsir on the verse - Ed.) The Prophet (peace be on him) also instructed all those whom he deputized for preaching: 'Give good news rather than arouse revulsion: make things easy rather than hard.' (Muslim, Kitab al-Ilm, Bab fi al-amr bi al-Taysir wa Tark al-Ta'sir'- Ed.) This distinguishing feature of the Prophet's personality has also been mentioned in the Qur'an.

    It was thanks to Allah's mercy that you were gentle to them. Had you been rough, hard-hearted, they would surely have scattered away, from you (AI 'Imran 3:159).

    (2) The second key to the success in da'wah work is to stay away from excessive theorizing and intellectual hair-splitting. One should rather call people in clear and simple terms to those virtues which are recognized as such by the generality of mankind and appeal to common sense. The great advantage of this method is that the Message of Islam finds its way right to the hearts of people at all levels of understanding. Those who then seek to oppose the Message are soon exposed and end up antagonizing the common people. For when the common people obserse on the one hand decent and righteous people being opposed for the simple reason that they are inviting people to universally-known virtues, and on the other hand observe those opponents resorting to all kinds of immoral and inhuman means, they are bound to incline to support the standard bearers of truth and righteousness. This process goes on until a point where the only opponents left are those whose self-interest is inextricably linked with the prevailing unrighteous system, or those's who have been totally blinded by their bigoted adherence to ancestral tradition or by their irrational biases.

    The wisdom underlying the Prophet's method accounts for his phenomenal success and for the speedy spread of Islam in and around Arabia within a short span of time. People flocked to Islam in vast numbers so much so that in some lands eighty and ninety per cent of the population embraced Islam. In fact there are even instances of a hundred per cent of the population embracing Islam.

    (3) The interest of the Islamic mission requires, on the one hand, that righteousness should be enjoined on those who have the propensity to become righteous. On the other hand, it also requires that those who are overly insistent in their adherence to falsehood, should be left alone, and that their acts of provocation be ignored. Those who seek to spread Islam should confine their efforts to persuading only those who are prepared to consider the Message of Islam in

    reasonable manner. When someone becomes altogether unreasonable and quarrelsome, and resorts to indecent methods of taunting and reviling Islam, Muslims should simply refuse to become adversative. For all the time and effort devoted to reforming such people will be totally wasted.

    (4) The moment the proponent of the Islamic Message feels that he is being provoked by the excesses, mischief, and uncalled-for objections and accusation, he should realize that he is being influenced by Satan. In such a situation he should immediately seek refuge with God, and restrain himself lest his impulsiveness damage his cause. The cause of Islam can be served only by those who act cool-headedly. Only those steps are appropriate which have been taken after due consideration rather than under the influence of impulse and emotion. Satan, however, is ever on the look-out for opportunities to sabotage the efforts made in the cause of Islam. He, therefore, ensures that those who are working for the Islamic cause are subjected to unjust and mischievous attacks from their opponents. The purpose underlying this is to provoke the workers for the cause of Islam to engage in the senseless and harmful task of mounting counter-attacks against their opponents.

    The appeal that Satan makes to those well-meaning, religious people is often couched in religious phraseology and is backed up by religious argument. But the fact is that those counter-attacks are undertaken merely under the impulse of man's lower self. The last two verses, therefore, make it clear that those who are God-fearing are always very sensitive to provocations under the impulse of Satan, and as soon as they become aware of such a provocation, they promote the best interests of the cause of truth rather than satisfy their vengeful feelings. As for those who are driven by egotistical impulses, they succumb to the promptings of Satan and are eventually set on an erroneous path. They fall victim to Satan, act virtually as his puppet, and subsequently their degradation knows no limit. They pay their opponents back in the same coin, tit for tat.

    What has been said above also has another import. It seeks to remind the God-fearing that their ways should be perceptibly different from the ways of those who do not fear God. The God-fearing not only avoid evil, but the very idea of committing it pricks their conscience and rankles their hearts. They have an instinctive revulsion against evil, a revulsion similar to what a cleanliness-loving man feels at the sight of a big stain or a splash of filth on his clothes. This feeling causes the God-fearing to remove every stain of evil. Quite contrary are those who have no fear of God, who have no desire to stay away from evil and who are in harmony with the ways of Satan. Such people are always given to evil thoughts and wrong-doing.

    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    We go back to consider the ungodly, whom we left at verse 198, in order to be taught our behaviour towards evil. The forces of evil never relax their efforts to draw their "brethren" (those who go into their family) deeper and deeper into the mire of sin and destruction.

    وَاِذَا لَمۡ تَاۡتِهِمۡ بِاٰيَةٍ قَالُوۡا لَوۡلَا اجۡتَبَيۡتَهَا​ ؕ قُلۡ اِنَّمَاۤ اَتَّبِعُ مَا يُوۡحٰٓى اِلَىَّ مِنۡ رَّبِّىۡ ​ۚ هٰذَا بَصَآئِرُ مِنۡ رَّبِّكُمۡ وَهُدًى وَّ رَحۡمَةٌ لِّقَوۡمٍ يُّؤۡمِنُوۡنَ‏ 
    ( 203 )   And when you, [O Muhammad], do not bring them a sign, they say, "Why have you not contrived it?" Say, "I only follow what is revealed to me from my Lord. This [Qur'an] is enlightenment from your Lord and guidance and mercy for a people who believe."
     This question is a taunt rather than a simple query. What the utterance implies is that if the claim to prophethood is genuine, it should have been supported by some miracle. The next verse contains a fitting rejoinder to the taunt.

    The Prophet (peace be on him) is being made to tell his opponents in clear terms that he has no power to get whatever he wants. Being God's Messenger, he is required to follow the directives of the One Who has sent him and has granted him the Qur'an which has the light of guidance. The major characteristic of this Book is that those who seek guidance from it do indeed find the right way. The moral excellence visible in the lives of those people who accept the Qur'an is testimony to the fact that they have been blessed with God's mercy.

    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    "Ayat" here, I think, means specially an Ayat of the Holy Qur'an. The infidels did not believe in revelation, and used to taunt the Holy Prophet, as much as to say that he used to put together words and promulgate them as revelation. The answer is contained in the sentence that follows. No human composition could contain the beauty, power, and spiritual insight of the Qur'an. Without inspiration it is impossible to suppose that a man, with or without literary and philosophic training could produce such a book as the Qur'an. Commentators of the Qur'an, however, consider Ayah here to refer to miracle as the context seems to evidence.

    "Lights": eyes, faculty of spiritual insight. The revelation is for us (1) spiritual eyes, (2) guidance, and (3) mercy, (1) is the highest in degree: just as a blind man, if he is given eyes and the faculty of sight, is at once removed into an entirely new world, so those who can reach the stage of spiritual insight pass into and become citizens of a wholly new spiritual World, (2) is next in degree; the man of the world can act up to the teaching about right conduct and prepare for the Hereafter, (3) is the Mercy of Allah, free to every one, saint and sinner, who sincerely believes and puts his trust in Allah.

    وَاِذَا قُرِئَ الۡقُرۡاٰنُ فَاسۡتَمِعُوۡا لَهٗ وَاَنۡصِتُوۡا لَعَلَّكُمۡ تُرۡحَمُوۡنَ‏  
    ( 204 )   So when the Qur'an is recited, then listen to it and pay attention that you may receive mercy.
     The unbelievers are asked to shed their prejudice and to abandon their deliberate indifference to the Qur'an. Whenever the Qur'an is recited to them, they stuff their fingers into their ears and make a lot of noise lest they or any others hear the Qur'an. They should better behave more maturely and make an effort to grasp the teachings of the Qur'an. It is quite likely that their study, of the Book would ultimately make them share with Muslims the blessings of the Qur'an. This is an excellent, subtle and heart-winning approach which simply cannot be over-praised. Those who are interested in learning the art of effective preaching can benefit immensely by, pondering over this Qur'anic verse.

    The main purpose of the verse has also been explained. By implication, however, the verse also enjoins people to be silent and to listen attentively to the Qur'an when it is being recited. The verse also provides the basis of the rule that when the leader (imam) is reciting verses of the Qur'an in Prayer, the followers in the congregation should (refrain from reciting and) listen to the recitation in silence. There is some disagreement among scholars on this issue. Abu Hanifah and his disciples are of the view that the followers in the congregation should remain silent, irrespective of whether the the imam is reciting the Qur'an aloud or silently in his mind. On the other hand, Malik and Ahmad b. Hanbal are of the opinion that the followers in the congregation should listen silently only when the Qur'an is being recited aloud. According to Shafi'i, the followers in the congrega tion should also recite the Qur'an regardless of whether the imam is reciting the Qur'an aloud or silently'. His view is based on the Hadith that Prayer without recitation of al-Fatihah is void. (See Ibn Rushd, Bidayat al-Mujtahid, vol. 1, pp. 149-50; Ibn Qudamah, al-Mughni, vol. 1, pp. 562-9 - Ed.)

    وَاذۡكُرْ رَّبَّكَ فِىۡ نَفۡسِكَ تَضَرُّعًا وَّخِيۡفَةً وَّدُوۡنَ الۡجَـهۡرِ مِنَ الۡقَوۡلِ بِالۡغُدُوِّ وَالۡاٰصَالِ وَلَا تَكُنۡ مِّنَ الۡغٰفِلِيۡنَ‏ 
    ( 205 )   And remember your Lord within yourself in humility and in fear without being apparent in speech - in the mornings and the evenings. And do not be among the heedless.
     The command to remember the Lord signifies remembrance in Prayer as well as otherwise, be it verbally or in one's mind. Again the directive to remember God in the morning and in the evening refers to Prayer at those times as well as remembering God at all times. The purpose of so saying is to emphasis constant remembrance of God. This admonition - that man ought to remember God always - constitutes the conclusion of the discourse lest man becomes heedless of God. For every error and corruption stems from the fact that man tends to forget that God is his Lord and that in his own part he is merely, a servant of God who is being tested in the world; that he will be made to render, after his death, a full account to his Lord of all his deeds. All those who care to follow, righteousness would, therefore, be ill-advised not to let these basic facts slip out of their minds. Hence Prayer, remembrance of God and keeping ones attention ever focused on God are frequently stressed in the Qur'an.

    ۩ اِنَّ الَّذِيۡنَ عِنۡدَ رَبِّكَ لَا يَسۡتَكۡبِرُوۡنَ عَنۡ عِبَادَتِهٖ وَيُسَبِّحُوۡنَهٗ وَلَهٗ يَسۡجُدُوۡنَ
    ( 206 )   Indeed, those who are near your Lord are not prevented by arrogance from His worship, and they exalt Him, and to Him they prostrate.
    It is Satan who behaves arrogantly and disdains to worship God, and such an attitude naturally brings about degradation and abasement. But an attitude marked by consistent surrender to God characterizes angels and leads people to spiritual elevation and proximity to God. Those interested in attaining this state should emulate the angels and refrain from following the ways of Satan.

    To celebrate God's praise signifies that the angels acknowledge and constantly affirm that God is beyond any flaw, free from every defect, error and weakness; that He has no partner or peer; that none is like Him.

    Whoever recites or hears this verse should fall in prostration so as to emulate the practice of angels. In addition. prostration also proves that one has no shred of pride, nor is one averse to the duty of being subservient to God.

    In all, there are fourteen verses in the Qur'an the recitation of which requires one to prostrate. That one should prostrate on reading or hearing these verses is, in principle, an incontrovertible point. There is, however, some disagreement about it being obligatory (wajib). Abu Hanifah regards it as obligatory, while other authorities consider it to be recommended (Ibn Qudamah, Al-Mughni, vol. 1. p. 663; Al-Jaziri, Kitab al-Fiqh 'ala al Madhahib al-arba'ah, vol. 1. p. 464 - Ed.) According to traditions, while reciting the Qur'an in large gatherings, when the Prophet (peace be on him) came upon a verse the recitation of which calls for prostration, he prostrated, and the whole gathering followed suit. The traditions mention that sometimes some people did not have room to prostrate. Such people prostrated on the backs of others. (See Bukhari, Abwab sujud al-Quran 'Bab Izdiham al-Nas Idh'a qara'a al-Imam al-Sajdah'- Ed.) It is reported in connection with the conquest of Makka that in the course of the Qur'an-recitation, as the Prophet (peace be on him) read such a verse, those standing fell into prostration while those who were mounted on horses and camels performed prostration in that very state. It is also on record that while delivering a sermon from the pulpit the Prophet (peace be on him) came down from the pulpit to offer prostration, and resumed his sermon thereafter. (Abu da'ud, Kitab al-Salah, 'Bab al-Sujud fi Sad' - Ed.)

    It is generally, believed that the conditions for this kind of prostration are exactly the same as required for offering Prayer - that one should be in a state of ritual purity, that one should be facing the Ka'bah, and that the prostration should be performed as in the state of Prayer. However, the traditions we have been able to find in the relevant sections of the Hadith collection do not specifically mention these conditions. It thus appears that one may perform prostration, irrespective of whether one fulfils these conditions or not. This view is corroborated by the practice of some of the early authorities. Bukhari, for instance, reports about 'Abd Allah b. 'Urnar that he used to perform prostration even though he would have required ablution if he wanted to perform Prayer. (See Bukhari, Abwab Sujud al-Quran, 'Bab Sujud al-Muslimin ma' al-Mushrikin'- Ed.) Likewise, it has been mentioned in Fath al-Bari about 'Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami that if he was reciting the Qur'an while moving, and he recited a verse calling for prostration, he would simply bow his head (rather than make full prostration). And he would do that even when he was required to make ablution for Prayer, and regardless of whether he was facing the Ka'bah or not.

    In our view, therefore, while it is preferable to follow the general opinion of the scholars on the question, it would not be blameworthy if someone deviates from that opinion. The reason for this is that the general opinion of the scholars on this question is not supported by well-established Sunnah, and there are instances of deviation from it on the part of the early authorities.

    Yusuf Ali Explanation:
    The higher you are in spiritual attainment, the more is your desire and your opportunity to serve and worship your Lord and Cherisher and the Lord and Cherisher of all the worlds: and the greater is your pride in that service and that worship.

    At this stage a Sajda or prostration is indicated, as a sign of our humble acceptance of the privilege of serving and worshiping Allah -a  fitting close to Surah in which we are led, through a contemplation of the stories of the Messengers of Allah, to the meaning of revelation and its relation to our moral and spiritual progress.

    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.
    Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
    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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    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.
    Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
    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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