Surah al-A`raf (The Elevated Places) 7 : 148

وَٱتَّخَذَ قَوْمُ مُوسَىٰ مِنۢ بَعْدِهِۦ مِنْ حُلِيِّهِمْ عِجْلًا جَسَدًا لَّهُۥ خُوَارٌ ۚ أَلَمْ يَرَوْا۟ أَنَّهُۥ لَا يُكَلِّمُهُمْ وَلَا يَهْدِيهِمْ سَبِيلًا ۘ ٱتَّخَذُوهُ وَكَانُوا۟ ظَٰلِمِينَ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
And the people of Moses made, after [his departure], from their ornaments a calf - an image having a lowing sound. Did they not see that it could neither speak to them nor guide them to a way? They took it [for worship], and they were wrongdoers.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

When Moses was on this unique trip, attending with all his faculties to his meeting with his Lord, something else was happening with his people. He was fully engaged with a mission that our minds can only contemplate but we cannot visualize; a mission our thoughts cannot conceive, but to which our spirits warm. But at that very same time, his people were relapsing into paganism, and taking to themselves a lifeless calf that issues a lowing sound, making of it a deity for worship in place of God. There is, then, a wide gulf between the ninth and tenth scenes of the story. The former took us into a sublime horizon in which we look up to the resplendent glory of God, while the latter brings us to a low depth of deviation, superstition and disbelief. That was typical of the nature of the Israelites who could hardly move one step along the straight path before they deviated. They were hardly able to elevate themselves, in their beliefs and concepts, above what is physical and tangible. Even a short lull in exhortation and reminders could see them relapsing into disbelief.
 
We saw earlier how they tried to persuade their Prophet to set up a deity for them to worship. They did so only because they saw pagan people worshipping idols. Their Prophet rebuked them severely for entertaining such thoughts. But when they were left to themselves and saw a mere body of a calf of gold made by the Sämirī in a way that allowed the calf to make a lowing sound, they were so excited and addressed their worship to it. The Sarnia said to them: “This is your and Moses’s God, whom Moses has gone to meet, but has forgotten his appointment.” Perhaps this was said because of the ten extra nights that were added to the period appointed for Moses, of which his people were not aware. When Moses did not return after the thirty original nights, the Sarnia said to his people: “Moses has forgotten his appointment with his God, so now his God is here. This is it.” The strange thing is that those people forgot all the teachings of their Prophet who had repeatedly told them that they must only worship their Lord, the Lord of the universe, who cannot be seen by the naked human eye. They did not even reflect on the nature of that calf which was shaped and fashioned by a man among them. They belonged to a disgraceful type of people. The Qur’ān wonders at such people as they are presented to the unbelievers in Makkah who worshipped idols and statues.
 
“Did they not see that it could neither speak to them nor give them any guidance? Yet they took to worshipping it, for they were evildoers.” (Verse 148) Who is a worse evildoer than one who worships something made by a human hand, when it is God who has created human beings and all that they do?
 
Aaron, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was still among them, but he was unable to stop them from sinking into this stupid idiocy. There were also a few wise people, but these could not restrain the masses who scrambled to touch the golden calf, particularly because it was made of gold, the true idol of the Israelites.

2. Linguistic Analysis

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Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *


3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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A study of its contents clearly shows that the period of its revelation is about the same as that of Surah 6: al-An’am (The Grazing Livestock), i.e. the last year of the Prophet's life at Makkah, but it cannot be asserted with certainty which of these two were sent down earlier. The manner of its admonition clearly indicates that it belongs to the same period. [Ref: Mawdudi]

It is considered the longest surah revealed during the Makkan period. Some consider this surah to have been revealed after Surah 38: Sad. [Ref: Tafsir al-Maudheei, Dr. Mustafah Muslim, vol. 3, p. 2]

8. Reasons for Revelation

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9. Relevant Hadith

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10. Wiki Forum

Comments in this section are statements made by general users – these are not necessarily explanations of the Ayah – rather a place to share personal thoughts and stories…

11. Tafsir Zone

 

12. External Links

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