Surah al-A‘raf (80-122)

Surah al-A‘raf (80-122)

Qur'anic Exegesis

وَ لُوۡطًا اِذۡ قَالَ لِقَوۡمِہٖۤ اَتَاۡتُوۡنَ الۡفَاحِشَۃَ مَا سَبَقَکُمۡ بِہَا مِنۡ اَحَدٍ مِّنَ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ. اِنَّکُمۡ لَتَاۡتُوۡنَ الرِّجَالَ شَہۡوَۃً مِّنۡ دُوۡنِ النِّسَآءِ ؕ بَلۡ اَنۡتُمۡ قَوۡمٌ مُّسۡرِفُوۡنَ.وَ مَا کَانَ جَوَابَ قَوۡمِہٖۤ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ قَالُوۡۤا اَخۡرِجُوۡہُمۡ مِّنۡ قَرۡیَتِکُمۡ ۚ اِنَّہُمۡ اُنَاسٌ یَّتَطَہَّرُوۡنَ.فَاَنۡجَیۡنٰہُ وَ اَہۡلَہٗۤ اِلَّا امۡرَاَتَہٗ ۫ۖ کَانَتۡ مِنَ الۡغٰبِرِیۡنَ. وَ اَمۡطَرۡنَا عَلَیۡہِمۡ مَّطَرًا ؕ فَانۡظُرۡ کَیۡفَ کَانَ عَاقِبَۃُ الۡمُجۡرِمِیۡنَ (80-84)

[Similarly,] We sent Lot when he said to his nation:[1]"Do you commit this vulgarity?[2]No nation before you has perpetrated it.[3] Do you fulfill your desire through men leaving aside women. [In reality, you have lost your sight;] in fact, you are those who have totally crossed the limits."[4]But his nation replied: "Expel these people from our settlement; they pose to be very pious."[5]So, We saved him and his family[6]except his wife. She was among those who were left behind.[7]And We showered a [stone-hurling] rain onthem.[8]Then observe the fate met by these wrongdoers. (80-84)

وَ اِلٰی مَدۡیَنَ اَخَاہُمۡ شُعَیۡبًا ؕ قَالَ یٰقَوۡمِ اعۡبُدُوا اللّٰہَ مَا لَکُمۡ مِّنۡ اِلٰہٍ غَیۡرُہٗ ؕ قَدۡ جَآءَتۡکُمۡ بَیِّنَۃٌ مِّنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡفَاَوۡفُوا الۡکَیۡلَ وَ الۡمِیۡزَانَ وَ لَا تَبۡخَسُوا النَّاسَ اَشۡیَآءَہُمۡ وَ لَا تُفۡسِدُوۡا فِی الۡاَرۡضِ بَعۡدَ اِصۡلَاحِہَا ؕ ذٰلِکُمۡ خَیۡرٌ لَّکُمۡ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ مُّؤۡمِنِیۡنَ.وَ لَا تَقۡعُدُوۡا بِکُلِّ صِرَاطٍ تُوۡعِدُوۡنَ وَ تَصُدُّوۡنَ عَنۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ مَنۡ اٰمَنَ بِہٖ وَ تَبۡغُوۡنَہَا عِوَجًا ۚ وَ اذۡکُرُوۡۤا اِذۡ کُنۡتُمۡ قَلِیۡلًا فَکَثَّرَکُمۡ ۪ وَ انۡظُرُوۡا کَیۡفَ کَانَ عَاقِبَۃُ الۡمُفۡسِدِیۡنَ.وَ اِنۡ کَانَ طَآئِفَۃٌ مِّنۡکُمۡ اٰمَنُوۡا بِالَّذِیۡۤ اُرۡسِلۡتُ بِہٖ وَ طَآئِفَۃٌ لَّمۡ یُؤۡمِنُوۡا فَاصۡبِرُوۡا حَتّٰی یَحۡکُمَ اللّٰہُ بَیۡنَنَا ۚ وَ ہُوَ خَیۡرُ الۡحٰکِمِیۡنَ.قَالَ الۡمَلَاُ الَّذِیۡنَ اسۡتَکۡبَرُوۡا مِنۡ قَوۡمِہٖ لَنُخۡرِجَنَّکَ یٰشُعَیۡبُ وَالَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا مَعَکَ مِنۡ قَرۡیَتِنَاۤ اَوۡ لَتَعُوۡدُنَّ فِیۡ مِلَّتِنَا ؕ قَالَ اَوَلَوۡ کُنَّا کٰرِہِیۡنَ.قَدِ افۡتَرَیۡنَا عَلَی اللّٰہِ کَذِبًا اِنۡ عُدۡنَا فِیۡ مِلَّتِکُمۡ بَعۡدَ اِذۡ نَجّٰنَا اللّٰہُ مِنۡہَا ؕ وَمَا یَکُوۡنُ لَنَاۤ اَنۡ نَّعُوۡدَ فِیۡہَاۤ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ یَّشَآءَ اللّٰہُ رَبُّنَا ؕ وَسِعَ رَبُّنَا کُلَّ شَیۡءٍ عِلۡمًا ؕ عَلَی اللّٰہِ تَوَکَّلۡنَا ؕرَبَّنَا افۡتَحۡ بَیۡنَنَا وَ بَیۡنَ قَوۡمِنَا بِالۡحَقِّ وَ اَنۡتَ خَیۡرُ الۡفٰتِحِیۡنَ.وَ قَالَ الۡمَلَاُ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا مِنۡ قَوۡمِہٖ لَئِنِ اتَّبَعۡتُمۡ شُعَیۡبًا اِنَّکُمۡ اِذًا لَّخٰسِرُوۡنَ .فَاَخَذَتۡہُمُالرَّجۡفَۃُ فَاَصۡبَحُوۡافِیۡدَارِہِمۡ جٰثِمِیۡنَ.الَّذِیۡنَ کَذَّبُوۡا شُعَیۡبًا کَاَنۡ لَّمۡ یَغۡنَوۡا فِیۡہَا ۚۛ اَلَّذِیۡنَ کَذَّبُوۡا شُعَیۡبًا کَانُوۡا ہُمُ الۡخٰسِرِیۡنَ.فَتَوَلّٰی عَنۡہُمۡ وَ قَالَ یٰقَوۡمِ لَقَدۡ اَبۡلَغۡتُکُمۡ رِسٰلٰتِ رَبِّیۡ وَنَصَحۡتُ لَکُمۡ ۚ فَکَیۡفَ اٰسٰی عَلٰی قَوۡمٍ کٰفِرِیۡنَ (85-93)

And to Madyan[9]sent their brother, Shu'ayb. He called out: "O People of My Nation! Worship God. You have no other God than Him. A clear proof[10]has come to you from your Lord. So, weigh and measure full. Do not give things to people by reducing[11]them and do not spread disorder in the land after it has been set right.[12]This is what is better for you if you have accepted faith.[13]And do not sit on every path to intimidate people and to stop those who have accepted faith from the path of God and to find fault in His way.[14]Remember when you were few. Then God increased you and observe the fate of those who were mischief-mongers.[15]If one group from among you has professed faith in what I have been sent with and another has not, then wait till God passes His judgement between us and He is the best of judges."[16]The elders of his nation who had turned arrogant said to him: "Shu'ayb! We shall turn out from this settlement you and those who have professed faith with you or you would have to return to our ways." He replied: "Even in the case when we are averse [to it]? If we return to your ways after God has delivered us from it, then [this will mean that] we have imputed falsehood on God.[17][No] this is not possible for us except only if our Lord intends. The knowledge of our Lord embraces everything.[18]We have trusted in God. Lord! Judge fairly between us and our nation. You are the best of judges. The elders of his nation who had decided to deny warned [people] that if they followed Shu'ayb, they will end up in great loss.[19]At last, a violent jolt[20]shook them and they were left lying face-down in their houses. Those who denied Shu'ayb were such as if they never lived in that settlement. Those who denied Shu'ayb finally ended up as losers.[21]At that time, Shu'ayb left them saying: "O People of My Nation! I have delivered the messages of my Lord to you and have been your well-wisher.[22]Now, what sorrow should I express on those who are disbelievers." (85-93)

وَ مَاۤ اَرۡسَلۡنَا فِیۡ قَرۡیَۃٍ مِّنۡ نَّبِیٍّ اِلَّاۤ اَخَذۡنَاۤ اَہۡلَہَا بِالۡبَاۡسَآءِ وَ الضَّرَّآءِ لَعَلَّہُمۡ یَضَّرَّعُوۡنَ.ثُمَّ بَدَّلۡنَا مَکَانَ السَّیِّئَۃِ الۡحَسَنَۃَ حَتّٰی عَفَوۡا وَّقَالُوۡا قَدۡ مَسَّ اٰبَآءَنَا الضَّرَّآءُ وَالسَّرَّآءُ فَاَخَذۡنٰہُمۡ بَغۡتَۃً وَّہُمۡ لَا یَشۡعُرُوۡنَ.وَلَوۡ اَنَّ اَہۡلَ الۡقُرٰۤی اٰمَنُوۡا وَ اتَّقَوۡا لَفَتَحۡنَا عَلَیۡہِمۡ بَرَکٰتٍ مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ وَ لٰکِنۡ کَذَّبُوۡا فَاَخَذۡنٰہُمۡ بِمَا کَانُوۡا یَکۡسِبُوۡنَ(95-96)

In whichever settlement We sent a prophet as a messenger, We inflicted its inhabitants with financial and corporal[23]trials so that they may show humility.[24]Then We changed their sorrow into happiness until they greatly prospered and said: "Good and bad days did come to our forefathers as well." Finally, We suddenly seized them while they were not even aware.[25][In reality,] had these people of the settlements professed faith, We would have opened the doors of blessings of the heavens and the earth.[26]But they denied; so, We seized them because of their misdeeds. (94-96)

اَفَاَمِنَ اَہۡلُ الۡقُرٰۤی اَنۡ یَّاۡتِیَہُمۡ بَاۡسُنَا بَیَاتًا وَّ ہُمۡ نَآئِمُوۡنَ .اَوَ اَمِنَ اَہۡلُ الۡقُرٰۤی اَنۡ یَّاۡتِیَہُمۡ بَاۡسُنَا ضُحًی وَّ ہُمۡ یَلۡعَبُوۡنَ.اَفَاَمِنُوۡا مَکۡرَ اللّٰہِ ۚ فَلَا یَاۡمَنُ مَکۡرَ اللّٰہِ اِلَّا الۡقَوۡمُ الۡخٰسِرُوۡنَ.اَوَ لَمۡ یَہۡدِ لِلَّذِیۡنَ یَرِثُوۡنَ الۡاَرۡضَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ اَہۡلِہَاۤ اَنۡ لَّوۡ نَشَآءُ اَصَبۡنٰہُمۡ بِذُنُوۡبِہِمۡ ۚ وَ نَطۡبَعُ عَلٰی قُلُوۡبِہِمۡ فَہُمۡ لَا یَسۡمَعُوۡنَ.تِلۡکَ الۡقُرٰی نَقُصُّ عَلَیۡکَ مِنۡ اَنۡۢبَآئِہَا ۚ وَ لَقَدۡ جَآءَتۡہُمۡ رُسُلُہُمۡ بِالۡبَیِّنٰتِ ۚ فَمَا کَانُوۡا لِیُؤۡمِنُوۡا بِمَا کَذَّبُوۡا مِنۡ قَبۡلُ ؕ کَذٰلِکَ یَطۡبَعُ اللّٰہُ عَلٰی قُلُوۡبِ الۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ.وَ مَا وَجَدۡنَا لِاَکۡثَرِہِمۡ مِّنۡ عَہۡدٍ ۚ وَ اِنۡ وَّجَدۡنَاۤ اَکۡثَرَہُمۡ لَفٰسِقِیۡنَ . (97-102)

Then [tell us whether] the people of these settlements could remain secure from Our punishment that it may visit them at night when they are fast asleep? Or could the people of the settlements remain secure from Our punishment that it may come to them right in the daytime when they would be busy playing?[27]Then could they remain secure from God's plan? So [remember that] only those people are secure from God's plan[28] who are to become losers. Did this not teach a lesson to those who inherit the earth from its previous inhabitants that had We intended We would have seized them too because of their sins?[29][No they do not seek a lesson] and as a result of this We put a seal on their hearts; then they are not able to hear anything.[30]These are the settlements a part of whose tale We are narrating before you. Their messengers had come to them with open signs but it did not happen that they accept faith. This is because they had been denying earlier. In such a manner, God seals the hearts of the disbelievers.[31][In reality,] in most of them We did not find those who abide by promises;[32]in fact, most of them We found to be those who break[33]promises. (97-102)

ثُمَّ بَعَثۡنَا مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِہِمۡ مُّوۡسٰی بِاٰیٰتِنَاۤ اِلٰی فِرۡعَوۡنَ وَ مَلَا۠ئِہٖ فَظَلَمُوۡا بِہَا ۚ فَانۡظُرۡ کَیۡفَ کَانَ عَاقِبَۃُ الۡمُفۡسِدِیۡنَ .وَ قَالَ مُوۡسٰی یٰفِرۡعَوۡنُ اِنِّیۡ رَسُوۡلٌ مِّنۡ رَّبِّ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ.حَقِیۡقٌ عَلٰۤی اَنۡ لَّاۤ اَقُوۡلَ عَلَی اللّٰہِ اِلَّا الۡحَقَّ ؕ قَدۡ جِئۡتُکُمۡ بِبَیِّنَۃٍ مِّنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ فَاَرۡسِلۡ مَعِیَ بَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ.قَالَ اِنۡ کُنۡتَ جِئۡتَ بِاٰیَۃٍ فَاۡتِ بِہَاۤ اِنۡ کُنۡتَ مِنَ الصّٰدِقِیۡنَ.فَاَلۡقٰی عَصَاہُ فَاِذَا ہِیَ ثُعۡبَانٌ مُّبِیۡنٌ.وَّ نَزَعَ یَدَہٗ فَاِذَا ہِیَ بَیۡضَآءُ لِلنّٰظِرِیۡنَ .قَالَ الۡمَلَاُ مِنۡ قَوۡمِ فِرۡعَوۡنَ اِنَّ ہٰذَا لَسٰحِرٌ عَلِیۡمٌ. یُّرِیۡدُ اَنۡ یُّخۡرِجَکُمۡ مِّنۡ اَرۡضِکُمۡ ۚ فَمَا ذَا تَاۡمُرُوۡنَ.قَالُوۡۤا اَرۡجِہۡ وَ اَخَاہُ وَ اَرۡسِلۡ فِی الۡمَدَآئِنِ حٰشِرِیۡنَ. یَاۡتُوۡکَ بِکُلِّ سٰحِرٍ عَلِیۡمٍ. وَ جَآءَ السَّحَرَۃُ فِرۡعَوۡنَ قَالُوۡۤا اِنَّ لَنَا لَاَجۡرًا اِنۡ کُنَّا نَحۡنُ الۡغٰلِبِیۡنَ. قَالَ نَعَمۡ وَ اِنَّکُمۡ لَمِنَ الۡمُقَرَّبِیۡن.(103-114)

After these [nations which have been mentioned earlier], We sent Moses with Our signs[34]to the Pharaoh[35]and His chiefs [as Our messenger]. But they were unjust to their souls and denied these [signs].[36]Then observe the fate of these who spread disorder.[37]Moses said: "Pharaoh! I have been sent by the Lord of the worlds. This is what I should do and this is precisely my craving[38]that I say to you nothing but the truth from God. I have come to you from your Lord with a certain sign[39][of this status of mine]; so, let the Israelites go with me."[40]He replied: "If you have brought a sign, present it, if you are truthful." At this, Moses placed his rod [on the ground]; then, it suddenly turned into a vibrant serpent[41]and he pulled out his hand [from the arm of his robe]; so, it suddenly appeared dazzling to the onlookers.[42]When the chiefs of the Pharaoh's nation [saw this,] they said: "He is a very adept magician; he wants to expel you from your country;[43]so, what is your opinion?" Then all of them advised [the Pharaoh]: "Put him off and his brother also[44]and send forth workers in every city who gather and bring to you all adept magicians." [Thus, this is what happened,] and the magicians came to the Pharaoh. They said: "If we win, we will certainly be abundantly rewarded?"[45] The Pharaoh replied: "Yes, surely and you will be regarded as my favoured ones." (103-114)

قَالُوۡا یٰمُوۡسٰۤی اِمَّاۤ اَنۡ تُلۡقِیَ وَ اِمَّاۤ اَنۡ نَّکُوۡنَ نَحۡنُ الۡمُلۡقِیۡنَ.قَالَ اَلۡقُوۡا ۚ فَلَمَّاۤ اَلۡقَوۡا سَحَرُوۡۤا اَعۡیُنَ النَّاسِ وَ اسۡتَرۡہَبُوۡہُمۡ وَ جَآءُوۡ بِسِحۡرٍ عَظِیۡمٍ.وَ اَوۡحَیۡنَاۤ اِلٰی مُوۡسٰۤی اَنۡ اَلۡقِ عَصَاکَ ۚ فَاِذَا ہِیَتَلۡقَفُ مَا یَاۡفِکُوۡنَ. فَوَقَعَ الۡحَقُّ وَ بَطَلَ مَا کَانُوۡا یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ. فَغُلِبُوۡا ہُنَالِکَ وَ انۡقَلَبُوۡا صٰغِرِیۡنَ. وَ اُلۡقِیَ السَّحَرَۃُ سٰجِدِیۡنَ.قَالُوۡۤا اٰمَنَّا بِرَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ.رَبِّ مُوۡسٰی وَ ہٰرُوۡنَ. (115-122)

[At this,] the magicians said: "O Moses! Will you throw or [if you want] we can throw?"[46]He said: "You throw."[47]Thus they threw and the eyes of the people were deluded[48]and it terrified them and they brought forth a great magic. We signaled to Moses: "Throw down your staff." As soon as he threw it, it engulfed the trick they had played. So, the truth manifested [itself] and whatever they were doing was all nullified.[49][On that day,] the Pharaoh and his companions were vanquished there and were humiliated and the magicians [upon seeing God's sign] fell down in prostration.[50]They [at once] said: "We believe in the Lord of the worlds who is the Lord of Moses and Aaron."[51](115-122)

(Translated by Dr Shehzad Saleem)

[1].Lot (sws) was a paternal nephew of Abraham (sws). His people lived in the area that lies to the North of Syria between Iraq and Palestine and which today is called Sharq Urdan. In the Bible, its biggest city is called Soddom. The prophets who are alluded to earlier are mentioned by the words أَخَاهُمْ هُوْدًا and أَخَاهُمْ صَالِحًا in relation to their nations. However,Lot (sws) is not mentioned thus. The reason for this is that though he spent a long time among them he did not belong to their nation. His relationship with his nation was precisely the same as Moses (sws) had with the Pharaoh's nation. Further ahead the manner in which his wife is mentioned shows that he was married into them and in this respect had become one of them. It is for this reason the words nation of Lot (sws) are used by the Qur'an.

[2].This question is to express hatred and abhorrence and the use of the word الفَاحِشَة in the verse shows that this form of sexual lewdness was so rampant in them that both the speaker and the the spoken to would understand what was implied by it.

[3]. Like the previous sentence, this too is to express hatred and abhorrence and the style has an element of amazement in it. The words اَحَدٍ مِّنَ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ can refer to both a person among persons and a nation among nations. Here, they are used in the latter meaning. In the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi no society of the past had made this filth a part and parcel of its lifeto such an extent as they. It is evident from other instances in the Qur'an that this evil had become a fashion and a cultural tradition among them. Its perpetrators would openly mention it in their gatherings and wouldnot feel any shame in it. It is for this reason that unlike other prophets who began their call with the message of monotheim, the Prophet Lot (sws) warned them on this evil. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... One type of evil, however grave it may be, is the one that afflicts human nature and is found in human beings. The second type is one which is so horrible in extent that if it is found as a habit in a person or as a fashion in a society, then this is only possible if the nature of that person and that society has been completely perverted. Where such people exist, the real need is to set right their evil habit however much important other deviations may be. They will all be regarded as secondary. If you go to a person and see that he is standing eating filth, will you urge him to be more religious or will this pathetic situation attract your attention foremost? Lot (sws) was faced with such an ordeal. His people were inflicted with the evils of polytheism and disbelief and other evils too which were the consequence of polytheism and disbelief. However, people whose nature has been perverted to the extent that men seek men for sexual pleasure, the need is to take them out of this quicksand of filth first of all. Any other discussion with them must relate to a second phase. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 307)

[4].This is the third sentence in which Lot (sws) has expressed his abhorrence and amazement on the evil ways of his people. The implication is that for the purpose of sex the Almighty has created pairs of men and women but the men of Lot's nation are showing a perverse nature by forsaking women for this purpose. Not only their boys but also their men are afflicted with this filth. What sort of perversion is this that has inflicted them with this obnoxious ailment? The reason for such extreme abhorrence and hate and amazement by Lot is that as far as adultery is concerned, in spite of its great evil, it does not disrupt the basic nature of human beings. However, this ailment totally disrupts it.

[5].This is the last limit of the moral decadence of a society in which vice becomes a requisite of fashion and culture, and virtue is condemned. In spite of knowing what purity is, people do not want it to become part of them and want to expel its advocates from their cities so that just as they have taken off their clothes others too follow suit and no one remains to tell them that clothes are something that must be worn.

[6].Earlier the words أنَاسٌ يَتَطَهَّرُوْن are mentioned. It is evident from them that there were some who had also accepted faith with Lot (sws). However, this verse tells us that the ones to accept faith were his family members and no one except them.

[7].This is an expression of the impartial justice of God. The wife of Lot (sws) did not accept faith most probably because of bias for her clan and family. However, being the wife of a prophet could not save her. Like Noah's (sws) son and Abraham's (sws) father, she reached the same fate that was ordained for her nation.

[8].After conclusive communication of the truth by the respective messengers, their nations have generally been destroyed by stone-hurling winds. At another instance, the Qur'an has called it حاصب. This is precisely what is stated here.

[9].This settlement is called Madyan or Madyan after Madyan, Abraham's son from his third wife Keturah. It was mostly inhabited by his descendends. Its actual territory was along the shores of the Red Sea and the Gulf of 'Uqbah in the North West of Hijaz and south of Palestine. However, some part of it also extended to the southern shores of the Sinai peninsula. Two prominent trade routes of those times passed through this territory. For this reason, the people of Madyan had also become very advanced in trade.

[10].Ie., the call of God's messenger which comes with incontestable testimonies of God's assistance and help. That is why it has been called "clear proof."

[11]. Since this was a nation of traders by profession, their moral misconduct manifested itself in the form of dishonesty in weighing and measuring. This was an indication of the fact that the whole nation had become devoid of the concept of justice and fairness and also of the belief that God's universe is based on these concepts.

[12]. The implication is that they should not adopt a rebellious attitude against God even after conclusive communication of the truth by the messengers. People who have adopted such an attitude have been exterminated from this earth several times.

[13]. This has been said because the people of Madyan not only were descendents of Abraham (sws) but also claimed to be the recipients of prophetic teachings. It was a misguided Muslim nation and at the advent of Shu'ayb (sws) was in the same state as the Israelites were at the advent of Moses (sws)

[14]. This is a reference to the misdeeds that the evil people of that nation indulged in in order to threaten the companions of Shu'ayb (sws) and to stop them from the path of faith.

[15]. Ie., they should express gratitude for the favours of God and not adopt the same attitude in response to the call of God's messenger as was adopted by previous nations. They should keep in mind their fate – how they were wrecked and destroyed when they took to rebelliousness against God and His messengers.

[16]. The implication is that if some people have accepted faith and others have not, then it is still possible that the latter too accept faith by God's grace. So, they should not hasten the torment. It is in this expectation that they have been granted this reprieve. After the advent of the messenger, the decision of God has to be made come what may. They should show patience. Some phases of trial and test remain. Once these pass, the decision of God too will be issued at its time and with total justice.

[17]. Shu'ayb (sws) replied that if they returned to the ways of his people, it would mean that whatever he is saying and the realities in which he is professing faith are falsehoods and lies; the fact is that it is the other way round. It is his people who represent a pack of lies and falsities; how can he return to them leaving the truth and that he is disenchanted by them to the utmost. This reply by Shu'ayb (sws) was also given on behalf of his companions. That is why he said:بَعۡدَ اِذۡ نَجّٰنَا اللّٰہُ مِنۡہَاotherwise prophets of God are on the right path on the basis of their innate guidance even before they are assigned prophethood.

[18]. These statements are meant to consign matters to God. A believer can express a decision with great emphasis and determination but can never forget that God's will prevails over everything and His knowledge embraces all periods of the past, present and future. Only He knows what is ordained for whom and the fate people will come to. Thus if the good intentions of someone are to materialize, then this too is dependent on the will of God. Only if God grants the person the urge and circumstances will he succeed; otherwise, he will end up in failure.

[19]. These words carry a threat in them as well as a pretentious display of sympathy. The implication is that these elders have have informed the commoners of his nation about good and evil. If even after this they do not believe them, then they should get ready to bear the consequences after forsaking the elders and leaders of the nation.

[20].This is a mere expression of torment. I have mentioned its details earlier while explaining the account of the nation of Ṣalih (sws).

[21].Stated here is the consequence of the torment. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... Both these sentences contain a veiled reference to the threats made to Shu'ayb (sws) and his followers by the disbelievers of their nation. They threatened them that they would turn them out from their settlement. While referring to this threat, it is said that they themselves were wiped out from their settlement as if they never existed. They had threatened the companions of Shu'ayb (sws) that if they did not stop following him, they would incur a great loss. While referring to this, it was said that those who rejected Shu'ayb (sws) were the ones who had incurred a loss. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 314)

[22].This motif appears in the account of the Prophet Ṣalih (sws) earlier as well and I have explained it there.

[23].The actual words are: بِالۡبَاۡسَآء وَ الضَّرَّآءِ. When they occur together, the former refers to financial and the latter of bodily trial.

[24].This is a statement of the established practice of God that necessarily manifests itself after the advent of messengers of God. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… As per this established practice, when a prophet begins asking people to repent or face God's wrath, factors which facilitate this call also start to appear in this universe. On the one hand, the prophet (sws) warns people of the consequences of negligence, forgetting God and spreading anarchy in the land as well as of God's punishment in this world and the next and on the other hand, the Almighty inflicts people with trials of famines, epidemics and storms so that people can see, if they have insight, that in this manner God can seize them whenever He wants to and then none but He can save them. In this way, events corroborate the Prophetic call and the effect of visual observation strengthens the evidence found in human intellect and nature. It is as if the heavens and the earth display whatever a prophet says so that those who have even the slightest ability to be influenced bend before God and reform themselves. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 317)

[25].This is the other aspect of the established practice of God described above. When people do not benefit from the trials mentioned earlier and instead of paying heed to them shut their hearts and minds, God gives them reprieve so that the people who were not awakened by the admonitions are lulled to even deeper slumber because of the luxuries they enjoy, and the torment of God seizes them at a time when they do not even know when and where it came from. While describing its state, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... Prosperity replaces decadence, development and abundance of resources prevails and the days of travail and trial are erased from the minds. Then these arrogant people start to be merry and make fun of the prophet and his companions. They think that, God forbid, these naive people regard the previous famine or flood or some calamity to be the result of their deeds and warn them in various ways and strike weakness in their hearts, whereas what have these things got to do with faith and morality? Such change of fortunes do come in the life of nations. It is not that only they have encountered such problems; their forefathers too who were good and pious people went through them. These are all turns of fortune; sometimes constriction and sometimes abundance; at times, there is harvest and at times not; at times, there is flood and at times famine. To link these things with faith and morality is insanity and superstition. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 318)

[26].The implication is that just as the consequence of denying messengers of God is facing punishment in this world, in a similar way, if His message is accepted, the blessing of the heavens and the earth are necessarily gained. This is the established practice of God and will remain in force till Muhammad (sws), the last of His messengers. This was its last manifestation after which it has become fully proven with full certainty that one day reward and punishment will also manifest themselves like this in the Hereafter.

[27].Ie., whether at night or during the day, whenever it came, they were not able to save themselves, then what will the Quraysh do if such a torment visits them.

[28]. The actual word used is: مكر. It means a secret plan. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... Secret plan means that God captures a person from where he cannot even imagine. His established practice stated earlier in which He gives respite to a person after warning him is an example of this secret plan. People think that they have succeeded but in reality this is the very place where they will be decimated. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 320)

[29].Though the reference is to the Quraysh, the words used are general as to why the succeeding generations did not learn from the fate of the preceding ones and why they did not think that just as God had seized them, he can seize the succeeding ones too.

[30].This is because a seal is set on their hearts because of their sin of not learning from the fate of the previous people and followed the ways of people who had deviated from the path of God. This seal is a forerunner to the torment of God. After this, a person gets further entangled in the web of his obduracy and stubbornness. So much so that even after seeing the signs of God his heart does not open for the truth and he refuses to even hear the prophets of God.

[31]. This is a further explanation of when hearts are sealed and what are the type of people whose hearts are sealed. The verse states that those who were denying God's revelations and signs from before are the ones whose hearts are sealed. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... It is a person's trait that when he habitually denies and deviates from the general signs of the Almighty, gradually his heart is hardened so much that if special signs are shown by messengers of God even then he is not moved. The verse states that this is how God seals the hearts of people. The task of the heart is to reflect and draw lessons. If a group becomes a blind follower of its wishes that even reminders and admonitions do not awaken it, then the ears of people belonging to this group become deaf. It may be noted that here بِمَا کَذَّبُوۡا is not the object of يُؤْمِنُوا; ب is actually causative in nature. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 321)

[32].This refers to the promise which the people of these settlements mentioned earlier made with their messengers that if certain conditions are met and certain miracles shown, they will accept faith. In verses 134-135 ahead this motif is also brought up in the account of Moses (sws) and the Pharaoh. Verses 109-110 of Surah al-An'am further explain how these people have been breaking their promises after making them and were not ready in any way to accept faith.

[33]. The actual word is: فَاسِق. It means someone who is disobedient. However, here in the given context, disobedience means breaking promises.

[34]. The actual word is: آيات. It refers to those intellectual and natural arguments which Moses (sws) and Aaron (sws) presented to the Pharaoh and his chiefs as well as to the miracles which they showed to the Pharaoh and his people. Other instances in the Qur'an have furnished details of this.

[35]. The word Pharaoh (فرعون) is associated to: رع. The people of ancient Egypt regarded the sun to be their supreme God and sovereign deity. It was called: رع. Thus the word فرعون means the children of the sun God. The kings of Egypt presented themselves as the corporal manifestations and earthly representatives of رعand would vehemently tell people that they were their supreme Gods or sovereign deities. Present day researchers generally think that this Pharaoh was منفته or منفتاح.

[36]. The actual words are: فَظَلَمُوْا بِهَا. The preposition بhere evidences the fact that ظَلَمُوْا here encompasses the meaning of كفروا or جحدوا.

[37]. The attention of the addressees of the surah is directed here to the actual purpose of narrating this account. If rebelliousness is shown to God and His messengers, then the Qur'an calls it disorder as well. The word مُفْسِدِيْن here is used for the Pharaoh and his chiefs in this meaning.

[38]. The actual words are: حَقِیۡقٌ عَلٰۤی اَنۡ لَّاۤ اَقُوۡلَ. The expressions of بهِحقيق and هو حقيق أن يفعل كذا mean "to be worthy of something." Here the preposition عَلٰۤی is used which incorporates in it the meaning of "craving," or "to be desirous." Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... It is but obvious that the person who is the messenger and representative of God is someone who is the most worthy of speaking on His behalf and does not impute forgery on Him because his knowledge is not based on conjecture but directly on God's revelation and inspiration. He is also very desirous that nothing except the truth come out of his tongue. This is because no one else can have the same fear of the extent of his accountablity. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 340)

[39]. This refers to the miracle of the staff and the white hand which is mentioned the verses ahead. In order to send Moses (sws) to a tyrannical ruler as the Pharaoh, it was essential that he be given such miracles and he also be able to demonstrate them at the very beginning so that the Pharaoh and his chiefs were led to lend ear to Moses (sws)

[40]. It is mentioned at other places in the Qur'an that this was not the only demand which Moses made. Besides this, in accordance with the general way of the messengers of God, he also invited the Pharaoh and his chiefs to profess faith in monotheism and in the Hereafter and to fear and be reminded of God. With the help of his extra-ordinary miracles he also conclusively communicated the truth to them. The demand to take the Israelites with him was also not the demand of anationalist leader to liberate his nation from slavery. It was done to make thethe scheme of God materialize according to which the progeny of Abraham (sws) was chosen for the global communication of religion and conclusive communication of the truth. It was essential as per this scheme that they be settled in a certain place which was to be made the headquarter of their mission. It is evident from the Book of Exodus of the Bible that Moses (sws) did not explicatethe full scheme to the Pharaoh and his courtiers and only told them that they wanted to go to a distance of three days to the desert for the ritual of animal sacrifice because if what was intended to be slaughtered was slaughtered in Egypt, they would be stoned to death by the Egyptians.

[41]. Ie., a serpent whose existence cannot be doubted. The attribute of مُبِيْنٌ for ثُعبَانٌ is meant for this qualification.

[42]. The actual words are: بَيْضَاءُ لِلْنَظِرِيْن. In the Arabic language, the verb نَظًرَ primarily means "to reflect and think deeply." The implication is that the shine that appeared on the hand was not a deception and if it is deeply observed and reflected upon, it would become absolutely evident that its shine was real.

[43]. Ie., he is not an ordinary magician; in fact, he is a very skilfull one and is demanding to take the israelites with him to organize them into an army and then attack the Pharaoh and his people and expel them from their country and take up the reins of power himself. This was a very logical conclusion keeping in view the extra-ordinary personality of Moses (sws) and the large number of the Israelites. Hence, it is quite probable that this was the actual opinion of the courtiers or it is also possible that they may have merely spread it as a ploy to take people away from the call of Moses (sws) – the way people at the helm of affairs do in every era.

[44]. The actual words are: أَرْجِهْ وَ أخَاهُ. The word أَرْجِهْ is actually أَرْجئِهْ. Such changes in the form of a word often occur in the Arabic language to lighten a word.

[45]. The Qur'an cited these words of the magicians to highlight their moral decadence and meanness. The implication is that like professionals usually do they expressed their hope for reward in a flattering style.

[46]. They gave this statement in accordance with professional ethics but such is its style that it expresses their wish that if Moses (sws) wants they can take the first turn.

[47]. Moses (sws) was fully confident that God was with him; so he gave them the opportunity to begin and show their skill. When magicians wanted to display their skill to people they would throw something like the arrows of gambling before them and show their magic to them. That is why the word إلقاءis used in the verse.

[48]. Here the Qur'an has clarified the nature of magic: it does not change the form of a thing. It only influences the eye and the faculty of imagination of the onlookers. As a result, they begin to see what the magician wants them to see.

[49]. Ie., wherever the snake of the staff went, it changed every rope and stick that was waving like a snake and converted back each rope and stick to what it actually was and the spell of magic was nullified. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... This is exactly the same as if the sun comes out to dispel a false moon. It is obvious that in the presence of the real sun the shine of thousands of artificial suns and moons will vanish. Thus, this is what actually happened. As soon as the miracles of Moses (sws) appeared the spell cast by the magicians vanished. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 347)

[50]. The actual words are: وَ اُلۡقِیَ السَّحَرَۃُ سٰجِدِیۡنَ. The verb اُلۡقِیَ occurs in the passive. It expresses the sentiments of respect and veneration of the magicians. Magic and wizardry are best understood by their experts. Thus a very clear criterion to distinguish them from miracles is that expert magicians acknowledge their own helplessness before it.

[51]. This was an open rejection of the Pharaoh's divinity. It is evident from verse 73 of Surah Taha that even before the competition, the magicians were to some extent aware that they are not pitted against someone of their own genre. The words مَا أَكْرَهْتَنَا عَلَيْهِ مِنَ السِّحر of that verse indicate this. They mean that the hidden spark in them awaited that someone show the true light to them and they light up. In the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, if even a speck of this yearning is found in a person, it ultimately shows its effect by God's grace.


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