Surah al-A‘raf (123-153)

Surah al-A‘raf (123-153)

Qur'anic Exegesis

قَالَ فِرۡعَوۡنُ اٰمَنۡتُمۡ بِہٖ قَبۡلَ اَنۡ اٰذَنَ لَکُمۡ ۚ اِنَّ ہٰذَا لَمَکۡرٌ مَّکَرۡتُمُوۡہُ فِی الۡمَدِیۡنَۃِ لِتُخۡرِجُوۡا مِنۡہَاۤ اَہۡلَہَا ۚ فَسَوۡفَ تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۲۳﴾لَاُقَطِّعَنَّ اَیۡدِیَکُمۡ وَ اَرۡجُلَکُمۡ مِّنۡ خِلَافٍ ثُمَّ لَاُصَلِّبَنَّکُمۡ اَجۡمَعِیۡنَ ﴿۱۲۴﴾قَالُوۡۤا اِنَّاۤ اِلٰی رَبِّنَا مُنۡقَلِبُوۡنَ ﴿۱۲۵﴾ۚوَ مَا تَنۡقِمُ مِنَّاۤ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ اٰمَنَّا بِاٰیٰتِ رَبِّنَا لَمَّا جَآءَتۡنَا ؕ رَبَّنَاۤ اَفۡرِغۡ عَلَیۡنَا صَبۡرًا وَّ تَوَفَّنَا مُسۡلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۲۶﴾

The Pharaoh said: "You have professed faith in Him without my permission? This surely is a conspiracy which you have hatched in this city so that you expel its inhabitants from there.[1]So, you will now know [its consequences]. I will chop your hands and feet from alternate sides and then crucify all of you." They replied: "[Then what will happen is that] we will only return to our Lord. You are harming us in anger because when the signs of our Lord came to us, we professed faith in them. Lord! [Now] bless us patience and let us die as Muslims."[2](123-126)

وَ قَالَ الۡمَلَاُ مِنۡ قَوۡمِ فِرۡعَوۡنَ اَتَذَرُ مُوۡسٰی وَ قَوۡمَہٗ لِیُفۡسِدُوۡا فِی الۡاَرۡضِ وَ یَذَرَکَ وَ اٰلِہَتَکَ ؕ قَالَ سَنُقَتِّلُ اَبۡنَآءَہُمۡ وَ نَسۡتَحۡیٖ نِسَآءَہُمۡ ۚ وَ اِنَّا فَوۡقَہُمۡ قٰہِرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۲۷﴾قَالَ مُوۡسٰی لِقَوۡمِہِ اسۡتَعِیۡنُوۡا بِاللّٰہِ وَ اصۡبِرُوۡا ۚ اِنَّ الۡاَرۡضَ لِلّٰہِ ۟ۙ یُوۡرِثُہَا مَنۡیَّشَآءُ مِنۡعِبَادِہٖ ؕوَ الۡعَاقِبَۃُ لِلۡمُتَّقِیۡنَ ﴿۱۲۸﴾قَالُوۡۤا اُوۡذِیۡنَا مِنۡ قَبۡلِ اَنۡ تَاۡتِیَنَا وَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جِئۡتَنَا ؕ قَالَ عَسٰی رَبُّکُمۡ اَنۡ یُّہۡلِکَ عَدُوَّکُمۡ وَ یَسۡتَخۡلِفَکُمۡ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ فَیَنۡظُرَ کَیۡفَ تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۲۹﴾

The chiefs of the Pharaoh's nation said to him: "Will you leave Moses (sws) and his people in this manner to spread disorder in the land and forsake you and your deities?"[3] The Pharaoh replied: "We shall mercilessly kill their sons and let their women live. In reality, We are fully dominant on them."[4][At this,] Moses advised his people: "Seek help from God[5]and remain steadfast. The earth belongs to God. He makes whomsoever He wills from His servants to be its inheritors and [remember that] success finally belongs to those who fear [Him]."[6]They said: "We were harassed before you came and are being harassed even after your arrival."[7]Moses replied: "Hopefully, your Lord kills your enemy and grants you authority in the land and then sees how you behave."[8](127-129)

وَ لَقَدۡ اَخَذۡنَاۤ اٰلَ فِرۡعَوۡنَ بِالسِّنِیۡنَ وَ نَقۡصٍ مِّنَ الثَّمَرٰتِ لَعَلَّہُمۡ یَذَّکَّرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳۰﴾فَاِذَا جَآءَتۡہُمُ الۡحَسَنَۃُ قَالُوۡا لَنَا ہٰذِہٖ ۚوَ اِنۡ تُصِبۡہُمۡسَیِّئَۃٌ یَّطَّیَّرُوۡا بِمُوۡسٰی وَ مَنۡ مَّعَہٗ ؕ اَلَاۤ اِنَّمَا طٰٓئِرُہُمۡ عِنۡدَ اللّٰہِ وَ لٰکِنَّ اَکۡثَرَہُمۡ لَا یَعۡلَمُوۡنَ﴿۱۳۱﴾وَ قَالُوۡا مَہۡمَا تَاۡتِنَا بِہٖ مِنۡ اٰیَۃٍ لِّتَسۡحَرَنَا بِہَا ۙ فَمَا نَحۡنُ لَکَ بِمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ﴿۱۳۲﴾فَاَرۡسَلۡنَا عَلَیۡہِمُالطُّوۡفَانَ وَ الۡجَرَادَ وَالۡقُمَّلَ وَ الضَّفَادِعَوَ الدَّمَ اٰیٰتٍ مُّفَصَّلٰتٍ فَاسۡتَکۡبَرُوۡاوَ کَانُوۡا قَوۡمًا مُّجۡرِمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۳۳﴾وَ لَمَّا وَقَعَ عَلَیۡہِمُ الرِّجۡزُ قَالُوۡا یٰمُوۡسَی ادۡعُ لَنَا رَبَّکَ بِمَا عَہِدَ عِنۡدَکَ ۚ لَئِنۡ کَشَفۡتَ عَنَّا الرِّجۡزَ لَنُؤۡمِنَنَّ لَکَ وَ لَنُرۡسِلَنَّ مَعَکَ بَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ ﴿۱۳۴﴾ۚفَلَمَّا کَشَفۡنَا عَنۡہُمُ الرِّجۡزَ اِلٰۤی اَجَلٍ ہُمۡ بٰلِغُوۡہُ اِذَا ہُمۡ یَنۡکُثُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳۵﴾فَانۡتَقَمۡنَا مِنۡہُمۡ فَاَغۡرَقۡنٰہُمۡ فِی الۡیَمِّ بِاَنَّہُمۡ کَذَّبُوۡا بِاٰیٰتِنَا وَ کَانُوۡا عَنۡہَا غٰفِلِیۡنَ ﴿۱۳۶﴾وَ اَوۡرَثۡنَا الۡقَوۡمَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَانُوۡا یُسۡتَضۡعَفُوۡنَ مَشَارِقَ الۡاَرۡضِ وَ مَغَارِبَہَا الَّتِیۡ بٰرَکۡنَا فِیۡہَا ؕ وَ تَمَّتۡ کَلِمَتُ رَبِّکَ الۡحُسۡنٰی عَلٰی بَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ ۬ۙ بِمَا صَبَرُوۡا ؕ وَ دَمَّرۡنَا مَا کَانَ یَصۡنَعُ فِرۡعَوۡنُ وَ قَوۡمُہٗ وَ مَا کَانُوۡا یَعۡرِشُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳۷﴾

We inflicted the people of the Pharaoh with [torment of] famine and reduction in production so that they pay heed.[9]But [what happened was] when good days came, they would say: "This is our right." And when bad days came, they would regard them to be because of the ill omen of Moses and his companions. Listen! The ill omen of these people lies with God but most of them do not know.[10]They only said: "Whatever sign you bring to cast a spell on us, we will not listen to you." So, We sent a storm on them and let loose on them locusts, lice and frogs and rained down blood on them. All these were signs which have been set in detail [in the scriptures of the Israelites].[11]But they continued to show arrogance and [in reality] they were wrongdoers. When a calamity struck them,[12]they would say: "O Moses! Pray to God for us on the basis of the covenant He had made with you:[13]if [now] you put off this calamity from us, we will definitely listen to you and let the Israelites go with you." Then for some period, which they had to reach,[14]We would have put off that calamity they would immediately break their promise.[15]So, We sought revenge from them[16]and drowned them in the sea because they had denied Our signs and remained indifferent to them. And We made those who had been oppressed the heirs of the East and West of that land We had blessed.[17]In this way, the gracious word of your Lord with the Israelites was fulfilled[18]because they remained steadfast. And We ruined everything the Pharaoh and his people made [in their cities] and whatever they enwrap [on the thatched screens of the orchards and cultivated lands of the villages].[19](130-137)

وَ جٰوَزۡنَا بِبَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ الۡبَحۡرَ فَاَتَوۡا عَلٰی قَوۡمٍ یَّعۡکُفُوۡنَ عَلٰۤی اَصۡنَامٍ لَّہُمۡ ۚ قَالُوۡا یٰمُوۡسَی اجۡعَلۡ لَّنَاۤ اِلٰـہًا کَمَا لَہُمۡ اٰلِـہَۃٌ ؕ قَالَ اِنَّکُمۡ قَوۡمٌ تَجۡہَلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳۸﴾اِنَّ ہٰۤؤُلَآءِ مُتَبَّرٌ مَّا ہُمۡ فِیۡہِ وَ بٰطِلٌ مَّا کَانُوۡا یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳۹﴾قَالَ اَغَیۡرَ اللّٰہِ اَبۡغِیۡکُمۡ اِلٰـہًا وَّ ہُوَ فَضَّلَکُمۡ عَلَی الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۴۰﴾وَ اِذۡ اَنۡجَیۡنٰکُمۡ مِّنۡ اٰلِ فِرۡعَوۡنَ یَسُوۡمُوۡنَکُمۡ سُوۡٓءَ الۡعَذَابِ ۚ یُقَتِّلُوۡنَ اَبۡنَآءَکُمۡ وَ یَسۡتَحۡیُوۡنَ نِسَآءَکُمۡ ؕ وَ فِیۡ ذٰلِکُمۡ بَلَآءٌ مِّنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ عَظِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۴۱﴾

[On the other hand,] We led the Israelites across the sea.[20]Then they passed by a people who [were so foolish that] they had taken to worshipping some of their idols.[21][When] the Israelites [saw this, they] said: "Just as they have gods, make a god for us also."[22]Moses said: "You are a very ignorant people. What they are involved in will be ruined and what they are doing is totally wrong." He said: "Should I find some other deity for you than God even though it is He Who has granted you superiority over other nations of the world?" Remember when We saved you from the people of the Pharaoh who had inflicted you with great torment: they would mercilessly kill your sons and would let your women live and in this there was a great favour [for you] from your Lord.[23](138-141)

وَ وٰعَدۡنَا مُوۡسٰی ثَلٰثِیۡنَ لَیۡلَۃً وَّ اَتۡمَمۡنٰہَا بِعَشۡرٍ فَتَمَّ مِیۡقَاتُ رَبِّہٖۤ اَرۡبَعِیۡنَ لَیۡلَۃً ۚ وَ قَالَ مُوۡسٰی لِاَخِیۡہِ ہٰرُوۡنَ اخۡلُفۡنِیۡ فِیۡ قَوۡمِیۡ وَ اَصۡلِحۡ وَ لَا تَتَّبِعۡ سَبِیۡلَ الۡمُفۡسِدِیۡنَ ﴿۱۴۲﴾وَ لَمَّا جَآءَ مُوۡسٰی لِمِیۡقَاتِنَا وَ کَلَّمَہٗ رَبُّہٗ ۙ قَالَ رَبِّ اَرِنِیۡۤ اَنۡظُرۡ اِلَیۡکَ ؕ قَالَ لَنۡ تَرٰىنِیۡ وَ لٰکِنِ انۡظُرۡ اِلَی الۡجَبَلِ فَاِنِ اسۡتَقَرَّ مَکَانَہٗ فَسَوۡفَ تَرٰىنِیۡ ۚ فَلَمَّا تَجَلّٰی رَبُّہٗ لِلۡجَبَلِ جَعَلَہٗ دَکًّا وَّ خَرَّ مُوۡسٰی صَعِقًا ۚ فَلَمَّاۤ اَفَاقَ قَالَ سُبۡحٰنَکَ تُبۡتُ اِلَیۡکَ وَ اَنَا اَوَّلُ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ ﴿۱۴۳﴾قَالَ یٰمُوۡسٰۤی اِنِّی اصۡطَفَیۡتُکَ عَلَی النَّاسِ بِرِسٰلٰتِیۡ وَ بِکَلَامِیۡ ۫ۖ فَخُذۡ مَاۤ اٰتَیۡتُکَ وَ کُنۡ مِّنَ الشّٰکِرِیۡنَ ﴿۱۴۴﴾وَ کَتَبۡنَا لَہٗ فِی الۡاَلۡوَاحِ مِنۡ کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ مَّوۡعِظَۃً وَّ تَفۡصِیۡلًا لِّکُلِّ شَیۡءٍ ۚ فَخُذۡہَا بِقُوَّۃٍ وَّ اۡمُرۡ قَوۡمَکَ یَاۡخُذُوۡا بِاَحۡسَنِہَا ؕ سَاُورِیۡکُمۡ دَارَ الۡفٰسِقِیۡنَ﴿۱۴۵﴾سَاَصۡرِفُ عَنۡ اٰیٰتِیَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَتَکَبَّرُوۡنَ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ بِغَیۡرِ الۡحَقِّ ؕ وَ اِنۡ یَّرَوۡا کُلَّ اٰیَۃٍ لَّا یُؤۡمِنُوۡا بِہَا ۚ وَ اِنۡ یَّرَوۡا سَبِیۡلَ الرُّشۡدِ لَا یَتَّخِذُوۡہُ سَبِیۡلًا ۚ وَ اِنۡ یَّرَوۡا سَبِیۡلَ الۡغَیِّ یَتَّخِذُوۡہُ سَبِیۡلًا ؕ ذٰلِکَ بِاَنَّہُمۡ کَذَّبُوۡا بِاٰیٰتِنَا وَ کَانُوۡا عَنۡہَا غٰفِلِیۡنَ ﴿۱۴۶﴾ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَذَّبُوۡا بِاٰیٰتِنَا وَ لِقَآءِ الۡاٰخِرَۃِ حَبِطَتۡ اَعۡمَالُہُمۡ ؕ ہَلۡ یُجۡزَوۡنَ اِلَّا مَا کَانُوۡا یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۴۷﴾

[When the Israelites moved ahead from there,] We took a promise of thirty nights from Moses and completed it with ten further nights; so, [as a result of this] forty nights were completed as the time appointed by his Lord.[24][When he was going to fulfill this promise,] Moses said to his brother: "After me, you will be in my place among my people and will keep reforming [people] and will not tread the path of the mischief-mongers."[25]When Moses reached at the time appointed by Us and his Lord conversed with him, he pleaded: "Give me the opportunity to see you."[26]God said: "You shall never be able to see Me. But look at this mountain; if it stays in its place you shall be able to see Me in future." Then when His Lord revealed His radiance on [one part of the mountain], it shattered it to pieces and Moses fell down unconscious. When he regained consciousness, he said: "Exalted are you. I seek repentance before You and [bear witness that] I am the first of the believers."[27]God said: "Moses! I have given you preference among people by My message and conversation. So, take whatever I have given you and remain among the grateful."[28] [Thus,] We wrote on the tablets every type of counsel and every detail [about religion and shari'ah] for him.[29]Then [directed him:] "Hold fast to it, and ask your people to befittingly follow the good way written [in it]."[30][Move ahead alittle with your people;] I will soon show you the houses of the defiant.[31][You will see that] soon I will turn them away from My signs who unjustly show arrogance in the land and [are such that] if they see signs of all kind, even then they will not believe; if they see the path of guidance they will not adopt it and if they see the path of error they will tread on it. This is because they denied Our revelations [earlier] and paid no heed to them.[32]Wasted are the deeds of all those who denied Our signs and rejected the meeting of the Hereafter. Now will they receive something else in reward for what they have been doing?[33](142-147)

وَ اتَّخَذَ قَوۡمُ مُوۡسٰی مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِہٖ مِنۡ حُلِیِّہِمۡ عِجۡلًا جَسَدًا لَّہٗ خُوَارٌ ؕ اَلَمۡ یَرَوۡا اَنَّہٗ لَا یُکَلِّمُہُمۡ وَ لَا یَہۡدِیۡہِمۡ سَبِیۡلًا ۘ اِتَّخَذُوۡہُ وَ کَانُوۡا ظٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۴۸﴾وَ لَمَّا سُقِطَ فِیۡۤ اَیۡدِیۡہِمۡ وَ رَاَوۡا اَنَّہُمۡ قَدۡ ضَلُّوۡا ۙ قَالُوۡا لَئِنۡ لَّمۡ یَرۡحَمۡنَا رَبُّنَا وَ یَغۡفِرۡ لَنَا لَنَکُوۡنَنَّ مِنَ الۡخٰسِرِیۡنَ ﴿۱۴۹﴾وَ لَمَّا رَجَعَ مُوۡسٰۤی اِلٰی قَوۡمِہٖ غَضۡبَانَاَسِفًا ۙقَالَ بِئۡسَمَاخَلَفۡتُمُوۡنِیۡ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِیۡ ۚ اَعَجِلۡتُمۡ اَمۡرَ رَبِّکُمۡ ۚ وَ اَلۡقَی الۡاَلۡوَاحَ وَ اَخَذَ بِرَاۡسِ اَخِیۡہِ یَجُرُّہٗۤ اِلَیۡہِ ؕ قَالَ ابۡنَ اُمَّ اِنَّ الۡقَوۡمَ اسۡتَضۡعَفُوۡنِیۡ وَ کَادُوۡا یَقۡتُلُوۡنَنِیۡ ۫ۖ فَلَا تُشۡمِتۡ بِیَ الۡاَعۡدَآءَ وَ لَا تَجۡعَلۡنِیۡ مَعَ الۡقَوۡمِ الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۵۰﴾قَالَ رَبِّ اغۡفِرۡ لِیۡ وَ لِاَخِیۡ وَ اَدۡخِلۡنَا فِیۡ رَحۡمَتِکَ ۫ۖ وَ اَنۡتَ اَرۡحَمُ الرّٰحِمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۵۱﴾

[While] Moses [was still in the presence of God,] his people behind him carved out a calf from jewelry:[34]a body from which a sound similar to that of a calf would come.[35]Did they not see that it can neither speak to them nor guide them?[36][In spite of this,] they made him [a god] and they were very unjust. Then when regret overcame them and saw that they had been led astray, they said: "If our Lord does not show mercy on us and does not pardon our mistake, we will end up among losers."[37][After this,] when Moses returned to his nation, full of anger and sorrow,[38]he said [as soon as he came to them:] "You have represented me very badly in my absence. Did you show haste even before your Lord's directive?"[39]He threw down the tablets and began pulling his brother [Aaron] to himself by his head.[40]Aaron said: "O son of my mother! People overpowered me and almost killed me.[41]So, do not give the enemies an opportunity to laugh at me and do not regard me with these unjust."[42][Then] Moses prayed: "My Lord! Forgive me and my brother[43]and enter us in your mercy. You are the most merciful of all those who show mercy." (148-151)

اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ اتَّخَذُوا الۡعِجۡلَ سَیَنَالُہُمۡ غَضَبٌ مِّنۡ رَّبِّہِمۡ وَ ذِلَّۃٌ فِی الۡحَیٰوۃِ الدُّنۡیَا ؕ وَ کَذٰلِکَ نَجۡزِی الۡمُفۡتَرِیۡنَ ﴿۱۵۲﴾وَ الَّذِیۡنَ عَمِلُوا السَّیِّاٰتِ ثُمَّ تَابُوۡا مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِہَا وَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا ۫ اِنَّ رَبَّکَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِہَا لَغَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۵۳﴾

[God said:] "Those who regarded the calf as god, the wrath of God is bound to reach them and they will be afflicted with humiliation in this world. This is how we punish those who fabricate falsehoods."[44][On the contrary,] those who did evil deeds and then repented and then accepted faith,[45]then after this your Lord is Forgiving and Ever-Merciful." (152-153)

(Translated by Dr Shehzad Saleem)

[1].This is what the Pharaoh said as a clever politician would say to dispel the effect created on the gathering by the confession of the magicians and the way his courtiers were humiliated as a result. To do away with the embarassment created and to take matters once again in his control he blamed the magicians for conspiring with Moses (sws). He accused them of rebellion because they never even waited for his permisision to profess faith in Moses (sws). He asserted that he will administer the same punishment to the magicians which is given to those who rebel against the kingdom.

[2].It can be gauged from these words what true faith can do: how it can make a person rise high in the blink of an eye. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

...These are the same magicians whose meanness and faintheartedness was such that just a few minutes before, for displaying their skill, they requested for a handsome reward from the Pharaoh like jesters and mimmicers. And now as soon as faith entered their hearts every portion of their inner self dazzles in such a manner that it seems that darkness never enveloped their hearts and that they are not ordinary mortals but are actually paragons of steadfastness and determination and as noble and pure as the angels. One can see how big a threat the Pharaoh but their answer was that they are not the slightest bothered if the Pharaoh has their hands and feet severed and crucifies them for this will only take them to God. They challenged the Pharaoh to do whatever he likes since his wrath on them is because of their crime of believing in their Lords signs when they have come to them. If this was the punishment of this crime, they welcome it. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 347)

[3]. This refers to the statues of the Pharaoh himself who as the avatar of the Sun God was being worshipped in the whole country. In the Arabic language, the annexure (idafah)) occurs in such meanings as well.

[4].The same scheme for the genocide of the Israelites was adopted before the birth of Moses in the times of the Ramses II. After being defeated in an area they had chosen themselves, when the courtiers demanded a very stern action against Moses (sws) and his nation, the Pharaoh announced that he would enforce the same barbaric scheme once again. These courtiers also assured the Pharaoh that there was no chance of any rebellion in the wake of this scheme because their political power and authority had totally suppressed them.

[5].Ie., prostrate before God in the prayer and request His help. The same way has been mentioned in the Qur'an to seek help from God. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... It is very difficult to remain steadfast during trials and tribulations. It is not possible without God's help. The Qur'an mentions this fact in the following words in verse 127 of Surah al-Nahl: وَمَا صَبْرُكَ إلاَّ بِللّه(You can only acquire patience through God's help). This means asking for God's help is the prayer. In fact, it also refers to that special prayer to which the Prophet (sws) and his companions were directed to in the early part of the Makkan period that was replete with trials and difficulties. It is precisely this which Moses (sws) and Aaron (sws) were directed to as well. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 351)

[6]. Moses (sws) was a Messenger of God. Hence, this is a reference to the established practice of God in accordance with which He necessarily grants dominance to the messenger and his followers over their enemies.

[7].This answer of the Israelites is an expression of their traditional lack of conviction and weakness of faith.

[8].This is a forthwith warning: if they support the messenger of God, they will be given authortiy and a kingdom but this will only remain intact when the obligations they owe to it are fulfilled by them. If they get inebriated by their status and spread anarchy in the land like the previous nations, then this will be taken away from them the way it was from the previous nations.

[9].This established practice of God has been stated earlier that when their preaching endeavour enters the phase of open warning (indhar 'am) such calamities are sent on the pople to shake and awaken them.

[10]. The implication is that they try to ascribe their ill-fate to others and do not think that it is God's judgement that has been passed against their misdeeds.

[11].The actual words are: آيَاتٍ مُفَصَّلاتٍ. They occur as an accusative of state (hal) and occasion and context evidence that the locus (zarf) of مُفَصَّلاتٍ is suppressed ie. their details have been mentioned the scriptures of the Israelites. Thus the details of the storm are mentioned thus in the Book of Exodus:

Then theLordsaid to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt—on people and animals and on everything growing in the fields of Egypt."When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, theLordsent thunderand hail,and lightning flashed down to the ground. So theLordrained hail on the land of Egypt;hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation.Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields—both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. (Exodus, 9:22-25)

The onslaught of the locusts is mentioned thus:

And theLordsaid unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land,evenall that the hail hath left. And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and theLordbrought an east wind upon the land all that day, and allthatnight;andwhen it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. And thelocustswent up over all the land of Egypt, and restedin all the coastsof Egypt: very grievouswere they;before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such. 15 For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt. (Exodus, 10:12-15)

The details of the lice attack are stated thus:

Then theLordsaid to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,' and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats." They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnatscame on people and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats.(Exodus, 10:16-17)

The torment of the mosquitoes is related thus:

Then theLordsaid to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and say to him, 'This is what theLordsays: Let my people go, so that they may worshipme.If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague

of frogson your whole country.The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people,

and into your ovens and kneading troughs.The frogs will come up on you and your people and all your officials.'"Then theLordsaid to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Stretch out your hand with your staffover the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogscome

up on the land of Egypt.'"So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogscame up and covered the land.(Exodus, 8:1-6)

The way the torment of the blood manifested itself is mentioned thus:

TheLordsaid to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Take your staffand stretch out your handover the waters of Egypt—over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs—and they will turn to blood.' Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vesselsof wood and stone. Moses and Aaron did just as theLordhad commanded.He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile,and all the water was changed into blood.The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.(Exodus, 7:19-21)

[12].The actual words are:ُلَمَّا وَقَعَ عَلَيْهِمُ الرِّجْز . Here the word لَمَّا means كُلَّمَا. The purpose is to portray the situation. An example of this usage can be seen in verse 189 ahead.

[13].Ie., the promise by God to him in his capacaity of His messenger to listen to what he says and maintains its sanctity.

[14].Ie., which nevertheless had to expire and after which their deception and fraud would be exposed.

[15].This has also been mentioned in the Bible:

Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Prayto theLordto take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrificesto theLord."(Exodus, 8:8)

Pharaoh said, "I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me."

But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go. (Exodus, 8:28-32)

[16].Ie., took revenge from them for the crimes they remained adamant upon even after the truth had been conclusively conveyed to them.

[17]. This refers to the land of Palestine which was selected for the Israelites as their centre for monotheism and in which God placed His special favours – both material and spiritual – for them. The words مَشَارِقَ and مَغَارِبَ occur in the verse to express the vastness of the land. This is a very clear example of a plural occuring in this manner in the Arabic language.

[18].This is a reference to the promise mentioned in earlier in verses 128-129.

[19].Ie., the production of grapes for which Egypt was very prominent in those times. This style is one in which a thing is called after its dominant element; otherwise, the purport is that all their cities and orchards were decimated. It is evident from this that after the truth had been conclusively communicated by Moses (sws), it was not just the Pharaoh and his armies that were drowned; in fact, the whole country was routed and all edifices and orchards were ruined.

[20].After mentioning the fate of the Pharaoh, from here begins that part of history of the Israelites which is an account of the manifestation of the worldly retribution of God.

[21]. The actual words are: يَعْكِفُوْنَ عَلَي أَصْنَامٍ لَهُمْ. This style has an elementof derision in it. I have tried to do justice to it in the translation. It may also be kept in mind that in this sentence the verb عَكَفَ occurs with the preposition عَلَي. This incoporates in it the meaning of strongly adhering to something. This is perhaps a mention of a place near the current city of Ṭur and Abu Zaynamah by which the Israelites passed through while going to the southern part of the Sinai peninsula, a very old place of idol worship of the Egyptians and a place of worship for the moon God for all the Semitic nations since ancient times.

[22].It is evident from this that the Israelites proved to be even more foolish than them and even after witnessing the signs of God's majesty and power were not prepared to come out of their mental decadence which the slavery in Egypt had cast them into. It is evident from the Bible that during their stay in Egypt they began worshipping the idols of the Egyptians also. Thus when they encountered a place of idol worship as soon as they came out of Egypt their foreheads wanted to spontanesouly bend down in prostration to their old idols.

[23].Here a point of eloquence may be kept in mind. Slaughtering of boys is mentioned by using the word "sons" and the keeping alive girls is mentioned by the words "your women."Deliberation shows that the first of this incites fatherly love and the second, one's honour. The style of the sentence also needs to be noted. By joining His own words with that of Moses (sws), it is as if the Almighty has made Moses (sws) utter these words.

[24]. This is a mention of the promise which the Almighty made with the Israelites in order to give them the shari'ah once they had crossed the river. This period of forty nights was for the mental and emotionl preparation that was needed to become the recipients of the Book of God. Initially, this promise was for thirty days. However, it is evident from verse 20 of Surah Ṭaha that in his eagerness to meet the Almighty, Moses (sws) reached before the appointed time. Thus, in order to train and instruct him for showing hastiness, the Almighty increased the period from thirty nights to forty nights.

[25]. This is a mention of the system of protection which Moses (sws) made for his people before he left. It has been specially mentioned so that it becomes evident that the curse of worshipping the calf with which the Israelites inflicted themselves was in spite of this arrangement.

[26].This desire was a natural one. For this reason, the Almighty did not rebuke him and only made him understand.

[27]. Why did the Almighty adopt this method? Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… The Almighty revealed Himself in this manner to assure Moses (sws) that even mountains are not able to bear the vision of God – mountains which are the most solid and firm structures of this earth; so how can man who is so feeble an entity before these mountains bear this vision? Man has a limited power of tolerance. His eyes can see light; however, if the intensity of this light exceeds a certain limit his eyes are dazed by it and at times he even loses his sight. Similarly, his ears are able to hear sounds; however, his ears can only hear to a certain extent. If the roar of thunder, for example, exceeds a limit it can shatter his ear-drums. The sun is an essential requirement of man; however, its light and heat are only beneficial to him if the sun remains at a certain distance from him and passes on its light and warmth through many many layers and filters of the atmosphere. If some day, the sun comes a little near to the earth, all life forms will be burnt down. So when man is such a feeble entity how can he have the strength and ability to see the pure and untainted being of the Almighty who is absolute light and is beyond and above this universe and what is going on in it? (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 360)

[28].This style of the discourse is also worthy of note. In it, Moses (sws) has been very subtly told that whatever he is being given is not little; he should content himself with it and not desire to see the Almighty.

[29].The actual words are مِنۡ کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ and لِّکُلِّ شَیۡءٍ. In such a context, they relate to the topic that is being discussed and do not have a general connotation. The translation has been done keeping in view this aspect. Whether the Almighty Himself wrote on the tablets or were written by Moses (sws) at the behest of the Almighty – both can be the case if the Bible is considered. The words of the Qur'an also support both of these possibilites:

When Moses went and told the people all the Lord's words and laws, they responded with one voice, "Everything theLordhas said we will do."Moses then wrotedown everything theLordhad said.(Exodus, 24:3-4)

Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant lawin his hands.They were inscribedon both sides, front and back.The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.(Exodus, 32:15-16)

However, it should be kept in mind that the words of the Qur'an do not corroborate that only the ten commandments had been written on the tablets; in fact, it is evident that all directives of religion that were intended to be communicated at that time, all of them were inscribed in them.

[30].The actual words مِنۡ کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ are: لِّکُلِّ شَیۡءٍ. The superlative tense here is in its absolute meaning and these words occur in contrast to the ways people had adopted in those times. In the Arabic language this use of the superlative tense is common. In the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, the implication is that the Israelite should be told to not be lured by the foolish acts of the idol worshipping nations; on the contray, they should follow the good and noble way which these tablets guide them to.

[31].Reference is to the nations by whose areas the Israelites will pass by in their journey towards Palestine.

[32].Through the example of what was to happen in future, the law of guidance has been delineated: these people will observe the great signs of God's law of worldly retribution manifest around Moses (sws), but they will still deny them because most among them are rejecters and before these too they have rejected God's signs. God's law is that who arrogantly reject His signs, is deprived of guidance by Him.

[33]. The implication is that they will receive what they have been doing.

[34].It is evident from the Bible that the jewelry was donated by people so that whatever type of idol they wanted should be carved out.

[35].In those times, the skill of making idols had reached such an extent in Egypt that it was not difficult for any person adept in this art to carve out a calf which would also give out the sound of bellowing. Thus while fashioning out that calf, it was made sure that when the wind passed through it, this sound came out of it.

[36].This is a comment on the naivity of the Israelites. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi wrties:

The Qur'an has pointed out all these things to highlight the foolishness naivity as well as the ingratitude of the Israelites: this is how they valued the one and only God Who showed them the signs of His majesty described above that they fashioned out a calf from their own jewlery and that too such an artificial structure that merely resembled its physical shape and that produced its typical voice and then regarded it to be the God who had delivered the Israelites from the slavery of the Egyptians and it is this calf who, in its guidance, would obtain for them the kingdom of the promised land? In this way, they satisfied their desire which they expressed to Moses (sws) before he went to mount Sinai and on which they were scolded by him. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 365)

[37].Ie., they fashioned the calf themselves, but when it came before them bellowing and it became evident that it is now the god of the Israelites, then at the direction of Aaraon (sws) and other reformers, many among them who had some sense in them throughly regretted what they had done and began requesting the Almighty to forgive them.

[38].The Almighty informed Moses (sws) of this incident on the mount of Sinai. So, when he returned he was very angry on this trick successfully played by the mischief mongers and was full of grief and sorrow on the naivity and ignorance of his people.

[39].The question posed here is meant to scold and rebuke them. In other words, Moses (sws) meant: "Before the Almighty could give you His shari'ah and could inform you of the method of making His place of worship and of the ways they should adopt to worship Him, you carved out your own god?"

[40].This is a picture of Moses (sws) being overcome with emotion and with his passionate sense of honour: he threw the tablets to one side and started to shake Aaron (sws) by his hair telling him that it was he who was primarily responsible; why did he allow this mischief to spread?

[41].This is the excuse Aaron (sws) has presented. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... The style of address is very affectionate. Aaron (sws) did not callhim by the words يا أخي (my brother); instead, he used the words: ابْنَ أٌمّ (o son of my mother) evident from which are both affection and assurance. In his defence, he responded by saying: "People overpowered me and almost killed me." It is evident from these words that he not only tried to stop this mischief but also endangered his life in doing so but the majority of the nation was lured away by Samuri. Aaron (sws) was left with such a small number of companions that it was not possible for him to forcibly stop the perpetrators. For this reason, he deemed it appropriate to wait for Moses (sws) lest any measure that he takes may cause harm. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 368)

[42].The implication of Aaron's statement is that he totally renounces this mischief; it has been worked by their enemies; if he is punished, they will become very happy that though they were responsible for it yet Aaron (sws) has been regarded as the culprit. This has also negated in a passing way the allegation that was cast on him in the Book of Exodus (32:1-6) that all this mischief of manufacturing the calf was done under his supervision. At other places, the Qur'an has explained that this heinous crime was not perpetrated by Aaron (sws) but by Samuri. It was he who worked this mischief through his hypocrisy and deception.

[43].Ie., if my brother has committed any mistake in taking a decision or if I have committed any excess in holding him accountable, please forgive us.

[44].The Israelites had carved the calf as an idol after the truth had been conclusively communicated to them and in the presence of the messenger too. Moreover, the Almighty necessarily punishes people in this world who are bestowed the position for which the Israelites had been chosen. That is why it is said that they would be punished for this fabrication at all cost so that the group that had been chosen for bearing witness to God's religion is cleansed.

[45].Ie., revived their faith because such was this sin of the Israelites that it takes away faith. If this was not the nature of their sin, only a correction of attitude would have been sufficient.


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Surah Ahzab

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Surah al-Nur (1/2)

Surah Mu’minun (2/2)

Surah Mu’minun (1/2)

Surah al-Hajj (2/2)

Surah al-Hajj (1/2)

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Surah Taha (3/3)

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Surah Maryam (2/2)

Surah Maryam (1/2)

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Surah al-Kahf (1/2)

Surah Bani Isra’il (1/3)

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Surah al-Nahl (1/2)

Surah Ibrahim – Surah al-Hijr (2/2)

Surah Ibrahim – Surah al-Hijr (1/2)

Surah Yusuf (3/3)

Surah Yusuf (2/3)

Surah Yusuf (1/3)

Surah Hud (3/3)

Surah Hud (2/3)

Surah Hud (1/3)

Surah Yunus (2/2)

Surah Yunus (1/2)

Surah al-Tawbah (61-129) (2/2)

Surah al-Tawbah (61-129) (1/2)

Surah al-Tawbah (38-60)

Surah al-Tawbah (1-37) (2/2)

Surah al-Tawbah (1-37) (1/2)

Is Democracy Compatible with Islam?

Surah al-Anfal (41-75) (2/2)

Surah al-Anfal (41-75) (1/2)

Surah al-Anfal (31-40)

Surah Nisa’ (153-176)

Surahs Muzzammil and Muddaththir

Surah al-Anfal (1-30)

Surah al-A’raf (184-205)

Surah al-A’raf (163-183)

Islamic Punishments

Surah al-A’raf (152-162)

Surah al-A‘raf (123-153)

Surah al-A‘raf (80-122)

Surah al-A‘raf (57-79)

Surah al-A‘raf (26-56) (2/2)

Surah al-A‘raf (26-56) (1/2)

Surah al-A‘raf (1-25)

Surah An‘am (128-165) (2/2)

Surah An‘am (128-165) (1/2)

Surah An‘am (100-127)

Surah An‘am (74-99)

Surah An‘am (46-73)

Surah An‘am (25-45)

The Noble Wives of the Prophet (sws)

Surah An‘am (1-24)

Islamic Punishments

Surahs Falaq-Nas

Surahs Lahab-Ikhlas

Surahs Kafirun-Nasr

Surahs Ma‘un-Kawthar

Surah Fil – Surah Quraysh

Surah ‘Asr – Surah Humazah

Surah Qari‘ah – Surah Takathur

Surah Zilzal – Surah ‘Aadiyat


Surahs Qadr-Bayyinah

Surahs Tin – ‘Alaq

State and Government

Surahs Duha-Alam Nashrah

Surahs Shams-Layl

Islam and the State: A Counter Narrative

Surahs Fajr-Balad

The Basis of Legislation

The Shari‘ah of Preaching

Surahs A‘la - Ghashiyah

Variant Readings

Surahs Mutaffifin - Inshiqaq

Surahs Buruj – Tariq

Itmam al-Hujjah [1] of God’s Messengers

Theory of Evolution (2)

Surahs ‘Asr-Humazah

Theory of Evolution (2)

Surahs Nazi‘at-‘Abas

Surahs Mursalat-Naba

Dealings and Practices of God

Is Democracy Compatible with Islam?

Wudū and Nail Polish

Surahs Qiyamah-Dahr

Surahs Takwir - Infitar

Sūrahs Muzzammil and Muddaththir

Downfall of the Muslims

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi on Hadith

Your Questions Answered

Surahs Nuh and Jinn

Birth Control

An Interview with the Indian Media

Surahs Haqqah and Ma‘arij

Roles and Responsibilities of Muslims in the West

Surahs Mulk - Qalam

The Punishment of Intentional Murder

Hajj and ‘Umrah

Sūrahs Hashr – Mumtahinah

Religious Extremism

Sūrahs Hadīd – Mujādalah

The Right to make a Will

Talks of the Prophet Muhammad (sws)

Surah Waqi‘ah

The General and the Specific

Sūrah Qamar and Sūrah Rahmān

Surah Tur and Surah Najm

Inheritance of an Orphaned Grandchild

The Sharī‘ah of Preaching

The Source of Religion

Sūrah Mā’idah (90-120)

The Prayer

Sūrahs Qāf and Dhāriyāt (Part 2/2)

Sūrahs Qāf and Dhāriyāt (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Mā’idah (32-63) part (1/2)

Sūrah Mā’idah (32-63) part (2/2)

Dealings and Practices of God

Age of ‘Ā’ishah (rta) at her Marriage

Sūrah Mā’idah (1-31) part (1/2)

Sūrah Mā’idah (1-31) part (2/2)

Sūrah Nisā’ (153-176)