Surah al-A`raf (The Elevated Places) 7 : 158
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(is the) dominion
(of) the heavens
and the earth
He gives life
and causes death
and His Messenger
the one who
and His Words
and follow him
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
The sūrah pauses at this point in its relating of Moses and the Children of Israel’s story to address the unlettered Prophet himself, giving him God’s order to declare that his message applies to all mankind, in fulfilment of God’s promise.
This is, then, the final, universal message that is not confined to a particular community, area or generation. Earlier messages were limited to a certain community or a certain period of time which extended until the appearance of a new messenger. Mankind made certain limited progress in the light of those messages, in preparation for this last message. Every new message incorporated certain modifications of the divine law that took into account human progress. The final message is complete and perfect in essence leaving room for flexibility in the implementation of its details. It is meant for all mankind, and there will be no subsequent local messages for any particular community or generation. It responds to basic human nature, which means that it is suitable for all mankind. Hence, it was conveyed by the unlettered Prophet whose nature remained pure, refined only by the care he received from God. Hence, the Prophet’s pure nature conveyed the naturally pure message, addressing the very nature that is common to all mankind: “Say: ‘Mankind, I am indeed Gods Messenger to you all.’” (Verse 158)
Having commanded the Prophet to declare that his message applies to all mankind, the Qur’ānic verse continues to make it clear that the Prophet’s role is to make people fully aware of who is their true Lord: “It is to Him that sovereignty over the heavens and the earth belongs. There is no deity other than Him. He alone grants life and causes death.” (Verse 158)
The Prophet, then, is a Messenger to all mankind from their Lord who is the Sovereign of the whole universe to which they themselves belong. He is the only God to whom everything in the universe submits. The clearest manifestation of His Godhead and His power is seen in the fact that He alone grants life and causes death. His religion, which His Messenger conveys to mankind, is the one that deserves to be accepted by all humanity because it is the religion that makes people fully aware of the true nature of their Lord. Thus, their submission to Him is an enlightened one, entailing complete obedience to God’s Messenger: “Believe, then, in God and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, who believes in God and His words. And follow him, so that you may be rightly guided.” (Verse 158) This final address makes some important, though subtle, points which should be outlined. To start with, this address implies an order to believe in God and His Messenger. This is the same implication as the declaration that there is no deity other than God and that Muhammad is God’s Messenger. This is certainly the essence of faith. This order is preceded by an outline of God’s essential attributes: “It is to Him that sovereignty over the heavens and the earth belongs. There is no deity other than Him. He alone grants life and causes death.” (Verse 158) Hence, it is an order to believe in God, having learnt His true and essential attributes, and learnt that this message applies to all mankind.
It also implies that the unlettered Prophet (peace be upon him) believes in God and His word. While this goes without saying, drawing attention to it here is quite important. Before a person advocates a certain cause, he himself must believe in it and must have its essentials clear in his mind so that he knows the true nature of what he advocates. Hence, the Prophet sent as God’s Messenger to all mankind is described as one “who believes in God and His words.” (Verse 158) This is exactly what he calls on people to believe.
The address also refers to the practical requirements of the faith which the Prophet calls on people to accept. When they have accepted faith, they are required to abide by its law and to follow its teachings. This is stated clearly in God’s own words: “And follow him, so that you may be rightly guided.” (Verse 158) There is simply no way that people can benefit by the guidance given to them through God’s Messenger unless they follow in practice what that Messenger says. It is not sufficient that they should believe in it, unless that belief is endorsed by practice. This is the essence of Islam.
This faith of Islam makes its own nature clear at every occasion. It is not simply a set of beliefs that find their way into people’s minds and hearts. Nor is it merely a set of rituals that have to be observed. It means the complete adherence in practice to everything that God’s Messenger has conveyed to us as part of his message. The Prophet has not confined himself to telling people to believe in God and His Messenger, or merely to do the various aspects of worship, but he has also conveyed to them, in word and deed, God’s law which must be implemented in human life. There is no way that people can have full guidance unless they follow the Prophet in all these aspects, which, together, form the religion God has given them. This religion of Islam has no version other than that indicated by the command to believe in God and His Messenger, coupled with this order: “And follow him, so that you may be rightly guided.” (Verse 158) Had the Islamic faith been merely a matter of beliefs only, it would have been sufficient to say: “Believe, then, in God and His Messenger.” (Verse 158) But God has followed this by the order to follow the Prophet in everything that he has given us.
2. Linguistic Analysis[ edit ]
4. Miscellaneous Information[ edit ]
5. Connected/Related Ayat[ edit ]
6. Frequency of the word[ edit ]
7. Period of Revelation[ edit ]
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]