Surah al-A’raf (184-205)

Surah al-A’raf (184-205)


Qur'anic Exegesis

اَوَ لَمۡ یَتَفَکَّرُوۡاٜمَا بِصَاحِبِہِمۡ مِّنۡ جِنَّۃٍ ؕاِنۡ ہُوَ اِلَّا نَذِیۡرٌ مُّبِیۡنٌ ﴿۱۸۴﴾ اَوَ لَمۡ یَنۡظُرُوۡا فِیۡ مَلَکُوۡتِ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ وَ مَا خَلَقَ اللّٰہُ مِنۡ شَیۡءٍۙ وَّ اَنۡ عَسٰۤی اَنۡ یَّکُوۡنَ قَدِ اقۡتَرَبَ اَجَلُہُمۡۚ فَبِاَیِّ حَدِیۡثٍۭ بَعۡدَہٗ یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ﴿۱۸۵﴾ مَنۡ یُّضۡلِلِ اللّٰہُ فَلَا ہَادِیَ لَہٗ ؕوَیَذَرُہُمۡ فِیۡ طُغۡیَانِہِمۡ یَعۡمَہُوۡنَ﴿۱۸۶﴾ یَسۡـَٔلُوۡنَکَ عَنِ السَّاعَۃِ اَیَّانَ مُرۡسٰہَاؕ قُلۡ اِنَّمَا عِلۡمُہَا عِنۡدَ رَبِّیۡ ۚلَا یُجَلِّیۡہَا لِوَقۡتِہَاۤ اِلَّا ہُوَؕۘؔ ثَقُلَتۡ فِی السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِؕ لَا تَاۡتِیۡکُمۡ اِلَّا بَغۡتَۃً ؕ یَسۡـَٔلُوۡنَکَ کَاَنَّکَ حَفِیٌّ عَنۡہَاؕ قُلۡ اِنَّمَا عِلۡمُہَا عِنۡدَ اللّٰہِ وَ لٰکِنَّ اَکۡثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا یَعۡلَمُوۡنَ﴿۱۸۷﴾ قُلۡلَّاۤ اَمۡلِکُ لِنَفۡسِیۡ نَفۡعًا وَّ لَا ضَرًّا اِلَّا مَا شَآءَ اللّٰہُؕ وَ لَوۡ کُنۡتُ اَعۡلَمُ الۡغَیۡبَ لَاسۡتَکۡثَرۡتُ مِنَ الۡخَیۡرِۚۖۛ وَ مَا مَسَّنِیَ السُّوۡٓءُۚۛ اِنۡ اَنَا اِلَّا نَذِیۡرٌ وَّ بَشِیۡرٌ لِّقَوۡمٍ یُّؤۡمِنُوۡنَ﴿۱۸۸﴾

Have they not reflected that their companion is not inflicted with any lunacy?[1]He is only an open warner. Have they not observed the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and all the things created by God [so that it may have become evident to them that God has not created all this without purpose] and not thought that their time period may well have drawn near?[2] So, [if this period expires, then] in what word will they profess faith? [In reality,] none can guide those whom God leads astray [according to His law]. He leaves them to wander in their rebelliousness. They ask you about the hereafter [to make fun of you:] "When will it come to port?"[3] Say: "Its knowledge rests with my Lord alone." Only He will bare it at its appointed time.[4] The heavens and the earth are burdened with its weight.[5] It will come upon you suddenly. They ask you [about it] as if you are researching into it.[6] Say: "Its knowledge rests with God alone but the majority of people do not know this [fact]." Say: "[Do not demand from me what is in the knowledge and power of God.] I do not have any authority to even benefit or to harm my own self except what God intends. Had I been aware of all the unknown, I would have gathered a great amount of good and no harm would have ever come to me.[7] [In reality,] I am only a warner and a deliverer of glad tidings to those who are desirous of accepting faith. (184-188)

ہُوَ الَّذِیۡ خَلَقَکُمۡ مِّنۡ نَّفۡسٍ وَّاحِدَ ۃٍوَّ جَعَلَ مِنۡہَا زَوۡجَہَا لِیَسۡکُنَ اِلَیۡہَاۚ فَلَمَّا تَغَشّٰہَا حَمَلَتۡ حَمۡلًا خَفِیۡفًا فَمَرَّتۡ بِہٖ ۚفَلَمَّاۤ اَثۡقَلَتۡدَّعَوَا اللّٰہَ رَبَّہُمَا لَئِنۡ اٰتَیۡتَنَا صَالِحًا لَّنَکُوۡنَنَّ مِنَ الشّٰکِرِیۡنَ﴿۱۸۹﴾ فَلَمَّاۤ اٰتٰہُمَا صَالِحًا جَعَلَا لَہٗ شُرَکَآءَفِیۡمَاۤ اٰتٰہُمَاۚ فَتَعٰلَی اللّٰہُ عَمَّا یُشۡرِکُوۡنَ﴿۱۹۰﴾ اَیُشۡرِکُوۡنَ مَا لَا یَخۡلُقُ شَیۡئًا وَّ ہُمۡ یُخۡلَقُوۡنَ﴿۱۹۱﴾۫ۖ وَ لَا یَسۡتَطِیۡعُوۡنَ لَہُمۡ نَصۡرًا وَّ لَاۤ اَنۡفُسَہُمۡ یَنۡصُرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۹۲﴾ وَاِنۡ تَدۡعُوۡہُمۡ اِلَی الۡہُدٰی لَا یَتَّبِعُوۡکُمۡؕ سَوَآءٌعَلَیۡکُمۡ اَدَعَوۡتُمُوۡہُمۡ اَمۡ اَنۡتُمۡ صَامِتُوۡنَ﴿۱۹۳﴾ اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ تَدۡعُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ عِبَادٌ اَمۡثَالُکُمۡ فَادۡعُوۡہُمۡ فَلۡیَسۡتَجِیۡبُوۡا لَکُمۡ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ صٰدِقِیۡنَ﴿۱۹۴﴾ اَلَہُمۡ اَرۡجُلٌ یَّمۡشُوۡنَ بِہَاۤ ۫ اَمۡ لَہُمۡ اَیۡدٍ یَّبۡطِشُوۡنَ بِہَاۤ ۫اَمۡ لَہُمۡ اَعۡیُنٌ یُّبۡصِرُوۡنَ بِہَاۤ ۫اَمۡ لَہُمۡ اٰذَانٌ یَّسۡمَعُوۡنَ بِہَاؕ قُلِ ادۡعُوۡا شُرَکَآئَکُمۡ ثُمَّ کِیۡدُوۡنِ فَلَا تُنۡظِرُوۡنِ﴿۱۹۵﴾ اِنَّ وَلِیَِّۧ اللّٰہُ الَّذِیۡ نَزَّلَ الۡکِتٰبَ۫ۖ وَ ہُوَ یَتَوَلَّی الصّٰلِحِیۡنَ﴿۱۹۶﴾ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ تَدۡعُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِہٖ لَا یَسۡتَطِیۡعُوۡنَ نَصۡرَکُمۡ وَ لَاۤ اَنۡفُسَہُمۡ یَنۡصُرُوۡنَ﴿۱۹۷﴾ وَ اِنۡ تَدۡعُوۡہُمۡ اِلَی الۡہُدٰی لَا یَسۡمَعُوۡاؕ وَ تَرٰىہُمۡ یَنۡظُرُوۡنَ اِلَیۡکَ وَ ہُمۡ لَا یُبۡصِرُوۡنَ﴿۱۹۸﴾ خُذِ الۡعَفۡوَ وَ اۡمُرۡ بِالۡعُرۡفِ وَاَعۡرِضۡ عَنِ الۡجٰہِلِیۡنَ﴿۱۹۹﴾ وَاِمَّا یَنۡزَغَنَّکَ مِنَ الشَّیۡطٰنِ نَزۡغٌ فَاسۡتَعِذۡ بِاللّٰہِؕ اِنَّہٗ سَمِیۡعٌ عَلِیۡمٌ﴿۲۰۰﴾ اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ اتَّقَوۡا اِذَا مَسَّہُمۡ طٰٓئِفٌ مِّنَ الشَّیۡطٰنِ تَذَکَّرُوۡا فَاِذَا ہُمۡ مُّبۡصِرُوۡنَ﴿۲۰۱﴾ۚ وَاِخۡوَانُہُمۡ یَمُدُّوۡنَہُمۡ فِی الۡغَیِّ ثُمَّ لَا یُقۡصِرُوۡنَ﴿۲۰۲﴾

It is God alone Who has made you from a single soul and created its pair from its species so that it may receive comfort from it.[8] Then [many a time it happened that] when the man covered the woman, a slight burden remained in her. So, she kept moving about with it. When she became more burdened, both prayed to God, their Lord: "[Lord!] If You grant us a healthy child, we will remain among those grateful to You." But when God gave them healthy children, they started to associate others in what they had been blessed with.[9] So, [in reality,] exalted is God from the things they associate.[10] Do they associate those who do not create anything and are in fact created themselves? They can neither help them nor their own selves. And if you call them for guidance, they will not come after you.[11] Whether you call them or remain silent, it is the same for you. Whomsoever you call besides God are people like you.[12] So call them; they should reply to you if you are truthful.[13] [Have you not reflected:] Do they have feet with which they walk? Do they have hands with which they grasp? Do they have eyes with which they see? Do they have ears with which they hear?[14] Say [O Prophet:] "Bring all your partners you associate with God. Then execute all your schemes against me and do not give me any respite.[15] My guardian is God Who has revealed this Book in a very thorough manner and He is a guardian of the righteous.[16] [On the contrary,] those whom you call besides God, cannot help you nor can they help their own selves. If you call them for guidance, they will not hear [your words]. It seems to you that they are looking towards you; yet [in reality] they see nothing.[17] [What else can their followers be made to understand? So,] forgive them [O Prophet!], enjoin good[18] and ignore these ignorant. In spite of this, if Satan tempts, seek refuge with God. He knows and hears all. [Bear in mind that] those who are God-fearing, when they are tempted by Satan they immediately turn their attention [to their Lord and at once their hearts light up. [On the contrary,] the brothers [among devils] of these [ignorant] keep pulling them into error; then they do not relent [in this] in any way. (189-202)

وَاِذَا لَمۡ تَاۡتِہِمۡ بِاٰیَۃٍ قَالُوۡا لَوۡ لَا اجۡتَبَیۡتَہَاؕ قُلۡ اِنَّمَاۤ اَتَّبِعُ مَا یُوۡحٰۤی اِلَیَّ مِنۡ رَّبِّیۡ ۚہٰذَا بَصَآئِرُ مِنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ وَ ہُدًی وَّ رَحۡمَۃٌ لِّقَوۡمٍ یُّؤۡمِنُوۡنَ﴿۲۰۳﴾وَاِذَا قُرِیَٔ الۡقُرۡاٰنُ فَاسۡتَمِعُوۡا لَہٗوَ اَنۡصِتُوۡا لَعَلَّکُمۡ تُرۡحَمُوۡنَ﴿۲۰۴﴾

When [at their demand] you do not present a sign to them when [they ask for it], they say: "Why did you not fabricate a sign [for your self]?"[19] Say: "I only follow what is revealed to me by my Lord." These are eye-opening revelations from your Lord and are guidance and mercy for those who want to believe.[20] [Therefore,] when the Qur'an is recited to you, listen attentively to it and remain silent so that you may be shown mercy. (203-204)

وَ اذۡکُرۡ رَّبَّکَ فِیۡ نَفۡسِکَ تَضَرُّعًا وَّ خِیۡفَۃً وَّ دُوۡنَ الۡجَہۡرِ مِنَ الۡقَوۡلِ بِالۡغُدُوِّ وَ الۡاٰصَالِ وَ لَا تَکُنۡ مِّنَ الۡغٰفِلِیۡنَ﴿۲۰۵﴾ اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ عِنۡدَ رَبِّکَ لَا یَسۡتَکۡبِرُوۡنَ عَنۡ عِبَادَتِ ہٖوَ یُسَبِّحُوۡنَ ہٗوَ لَہٗ یَسۡجُدُوۡنَ﴿۲۰۶﴾

Remember your Lord morning and evening [O Prophet!] in your heart with humility and with fear and in a low voice and do not be among those who are in error.[21] In reality, [the angels] who are in the presence of your Lord do not show disdain in worshipping Him. They glorify him and remain in prostration before Him.[22] (205-206)

Kuala Lumpur

28th March 2011

(Translated by Dr Shehzad Saleem)

[1].Reference is to the Prophet Muhammad (sws). Seeing his tremendous zeal to warn his people about the punishment that necessarily visits a people who deny their messenger, the Quraysh leaders in order to reduce his influence on people and make their own influence stronger in their hearts, would say that even though this person seems all right yet he seems to be a fanatic with regard to punishment and the Hereafter. The verse thus refutes this childish assurance of the Quraysh and for this very reason the word companion has been used for the Prophet (sws). Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… This word is used to direct the attention of the Quraysh that this prophet of God is not a stranger to them. In fact, he is their everyday companion. His childhood and adult age were spent among them and with them. They have seen and tested him in every period and at every stage and he was tried in all sorts of circumstances. Why then do they not reflect that how can this person who was the best among them in uprightness, veracity, selflessness, purity, determination and wisdom has suddenly gone mad and crazy? (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 400)

[2].The implication is that had they reflected on God's universe, they would have definitely reached the conclusion that neither does it have a purposeless existence so that it may continue without any reward and punishment and no judgement day comes for the oppressive, unjust, rebellious and enemies of truth and justice nor does the knowing and wise God who has given human beings the awareness of good and evil will become devoid of this awareness Himself and leave this word to continue like this. Thus it is said with sorrow and yearning that if they had reflected on these aspects, it would have become evident to them that it may well be that the fate about which the messenger is warning them is at hand and the verdict of God is about to be passed for them which was passed earlier for those who denied their messengers. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... This is like a testimony of this world in corroboration of the Prophet (sws): whatever he is doing should not be regarded by people to be madness. In fact, they should mourn their thick-headedness and naivety. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 403)

[3].The actual words are: اَیَّانَ مُرۡسٰہَا. The word اَیَّانَ connotes متی (when). However, it is used when the purpose is to ask about something in order to express amazement and improbability about it. Similarly, the word مُرْسیis used for the anchoring of a ship. The sarcasm concealed in the question can well be gauged from this word. In the words of Amin Ahsan Islahi it is as if it is being said: when will that threatened warning materialize? Where has this ship got stuck? When will it come to the shore to anchor?

[4].The implication is that only God has its knowledge and only He has the power to bring it about. Neither does the Prophet (sws) know its time of arrival nor does he have the strength to bring it about wheneverhe wants to.

[5].What does this mean? Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi has explained it. He writes:

... Just as a pregnant woman puts on weight near delivery because of the child she is carrying even though no one knows the exact time of delivery – yet every person with eyes can see and is certain that this woman will deliver the child and this will happen soon – the case of discerning minds who reflect on the heavens and the earth regarding the Day of Judgement and punishment is no different. They see that the heavens and the earth are burdened with this weight. And even though they cannot say with certainty when the heavens and the earth will be able to relieve their burden, yet just as a pregnant woman in her final days anxiously awaits the time of delivery, a similar anxiety and longing is prominent in the heavens and the earth. Hidden in this verse is also a subtle indication for those who are not able to see the signs of the Day of Judgement and punishment in the heavens and the earth. They are similar to those who are not able to see the bulge of a pregnant lady who is about to deliver. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 404)

[6].Ie., in spite of the fact that a person who is blessed with knowledge and intellect from God can never go after something which is beyond the limits of his knowledge and research. And it is befitting that he does not adopt this attitude because what can be more foolish than a person instead of focusing his attention on things he can know diverts it to seeking those he can neither know nor are they his business to know.

[7].The implication is that the Prophet (sws) would have gathered all the treasures of knowledge and good deeds; yet they know that harm can come his way and he can tread the path of goodness to the extent he has been divinely guided. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... The desire of gathering as much good (خَيْر) as possible mentioned in لَاسۡتَکۡثَرۡتُ مِنَ الۡخَیۡ رِis in accordance with the capacity and desire of a prophet. Such is the lofty status of a prophet with respect to his courage and desire that he does not want to leave out any good that he can gather; yet he is aware of good to the extent he has been divinely guided. If he is made aware of all the unknown (ghayb), it is quite obvious that he will try his best to get hold of as much good as is possible. However, outside the sphere of divine guidance, he too has to rely on his discretion and depend on his intellect in which both options of success and failure are present. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 405)

[8]. The implication is that none other than God could have done this that he create two independent beings and produce such harmony, accord and consonance between them that both become a means of comfort and assurance for one another. This is a clear evidence of the fact that it is through the intention of a single all-knowing and all-wise being that has created the two beings for a pre-planned project envisaged by him. He has developed and nurtured them in a way that both become soul and body for one another. The words "single soul" of the verse refers to Adam (sws). Verse 4 of Surah al-Nisa' states precisely what is said here.

[9].This is a common attitude of the idolaters. For their primary need and requirement, they always turn to God, Lord of the worlds and pray to Him. Yet, when their need is fulfilled, they start ascribing it to be the blessing of someone else and to their own knowledge and wisdom.

[10].Whatever be the nature of polytheism, it totally negates the attributes of perfection of the Almighty. Thus it is stated here that God is beyond all such ascriptions and associations. Nothing of this sort can be attributed to Him.

[11].The actual word is: لَا یَتَّبِعُوۡکُمۡ. Here the word اِتِّبَاعis in its initial literal meaning, ie. مشی خلفه (he walked behind him). The translation keeps this aspect in consideration. In English also we say: I called him in adversity but no one came after him.

[12]. This is a comment on the beings whom the idolaters associated in the divinity of God, and worshipped as deities ie the angels and the jinn.

[13].This is the same sort of challenge that was thrown in verse 23 of Surah al-Baqarah. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... The implication is that till now you accorded your alleged deities whatever status you desiredand also asked others to accept this status. However, now the Prophet and the Qur'an has challenged the divinity of all these deities. Now is the time that they come to your help and rescue and get hold of you as well as themselves. If they are able to save their divinity, it will surely show that you are truthful. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 409)

[14].Earlier verses commented on the beings the idolaters worshipped. A comment is now made on the manifestations and forms of these beings. The idolaters would carve them in the form of idols made from gold, silver, iron and stone. They contended that these beings have descended into the idols they carved. The Psalms point to this aspect in the following words:

But their idols are silver and gold.

made by human hands.

They have mouths, but cannot speak

eyes, but cannot see.

They have ears, but cannot hear,

noses, but cannot smell.

They have hands, but cannot feel,

feet, but cannot walk,

nor can they utter a sound with their throats.

Those who make them will be like them,

and so will all who trust in them.(Psalms, 15:5-8)

[15]. This is an answer to the threats given by the idolaters to Muhammad (sws). They would say that he regards their deities to be evil and is spoiling the beliefs of people in them. So, he should remember that one day he will face their wrath and will not be able to escape.

[16].The implication is that the deities of the idolaters do not even have the power to divert a fly from their faces whereas as the Prophet's helper is the God Who guided him in his greatest human need by blessing him with a book of guidance. It is His majesty that He protects and helps His righteous people.

[17].The actual words are: وَ تَرٰىہُمۡ یَنۡظُرُوۡنَ اِلَیۡکَ وَ ہُمۡ لَا یُبۡصِرُوۡنَ. Here though the the word تَرٰىہُمۡ is singular but since it has come not specifying a particular entity (khiṭab li ghayr mu'ayyan) it is in the plural sense and it addresses the idolaters. In the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, the words ويتر, نظر and ابصار are used with such beauty in this sentence that they reflect the supreme eloquence of the Qur'an. The implication is: "O People without any Insight! You think they are staring at you, whereas they are not aware of anything around them."

[18].The actual word is: عرف. It refers to all those practices which are regarded to be pious and noble in the eyes of all upright people, and in this regard are something known and recognized. The implication is that come what may the Prophet (sws) must diligently adhere to calling them to the right path until the directive of God arrives. He must desist in his mission to call them because of their unbecoming and foolish response.

[19]. This is a statement of absolute censure and allegation. The implication is that if he can concoct the Qur'an, then he should also fabricate a miracle to validatee his claim to prophethood. The word used to convery this meaning is: اِجْتَبَاء. Linguistically, it means to choose something but the sarcasm in style found here has incorporated the meaning of fabrication and concoction in it. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... What these wrongoers would imply through this statement was that as far as the Qur'an is concerned, its matter is quite simple: whatever the Prophet (sws) liked from among the incidents of earlier people and from the traditions of soothsayers and the People of the Book, he gathered from here and there and knitted them together into a discourse; he brought forth all this material and recited it out to them with the claim that this has been sent to him by God as a revelation through His special angel. However, now that they have demanded from him a miracle as a sign for his propethood, he is not being able to present any. This is because putting together a discourse from here and there is something different and showing a miracle is another. This cannot be put together by selecting it from here and there that it may be assembled from somewhere and then be shown to them on demand. In other words, found in this allegation and censure is not merely the blame of not being able to show a miracle but a more poisonous blame in it is that, God forbid, the Qur'an is a fabrication that has been put together after selecting material from here and there. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 412)

[20].Ie., it is guidance with respect to the beginning and mercy with respect to the consequences. This actually is an answer to the sarcasm cited earlier. Readers may note how majestic and honourable this response is. It had been said that the Prophet (sws) should urge people to virtue and disregard the ignorant. This is a wonderful example of how this directive should be obeyed. Since what they were saying was foolish to the ultimate extent, hence it was not taken notice of and the reality is stated in very simple words: the Prophet (sws) has not come with miracles; he has come with insightful arguments, guidance and mercy. So, if they want, they can accept them. The good fortunes of this world and the next are concealed in them. However, for this, it is necessary that the problem in the hearts be removed and the problem is that they do not want to accept the truth.

[21].In the closing verses of the surah, the Prophet (sws) is directed to keep God in eternal remembrance and the manner in which this should be done is that this should not be done with pride and vanity but with humility, fear and meekness. The voice should be in a low tone so that the heart is able to concentrate as well. This remembrance is essential for the life of the soul just as breathing is necessary for the life of the body. It is this remembrance which protects a person from the onslaughts of Satan and makes him persevere in calling people to the truth. Many surahs of the Qur'an end on this exhortation because this is the guiding light in the cause of preaching and calling people to the truth. The purpose is that those who want to awaken people from their slumber do not doze off themselves and not end up in the forgetfulness they want to save others from.

[22].The implication is that this is the faction of those who keep God in remembrance. They dwell on earth but belong to the holy gathering of the angels who never forsake worshipping God. From the depth of their hearts, they admit that their creator is flawless and perfect and is devoid of all types of shortcomings. He has no partner and parallel and is unique. They acknowledge and proclaim this fact forever with their their tongues and also prostrate before Him alone. This is a sarcastic comment on the idolaters who would associate partners with God – partners who themselves would prostrate before God and praise and extol Him.

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