Surah al-A`raf (The Elevated Places) 7 : 169

فَخَلَفَ مِنۢ بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ وَرِثُوا۟ ٱلْكِتَٰبَ يَأْخُذُونَ عَرَضَ هَٰذَا ٱلْأَدْنَىٰ وَيَقُولُونَ سَيُغْفَرُ لَنَا وَإِن يَأْتِهِمْ عَرَضٌ مِّثْلُهُۥ يَأْخُذُوهُ ۚ أَلَمْ يُؤْخَذْ عَلَيْهِم مِّيثَٰقُ ٱلْكِتَٰبِ أَن لَّا يَقُولُوا۟ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ إِلَّا ٱلْحَقَّ وَدَرَسُوا۟ مَا فِيهِ ۗ وَٱلدَّارُ ٱلْءَاخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لِّلَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ ۗ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
And there followed them successors who inherited the Book [while] taking the commodities of this lower life and saying, "It will be forgiven for us." And if an offer like it comes to them, they will [again] take it. Was not the covenant of the Book [i.e., the Torah] taken from them that they would not say about Allāh except the truth, and they studied what was in it? And the home of the Hereafter is better for those who fear Allāh, so will you not use reason?

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

This new generation of Israelites have certain characteristics that are described in the Qur’ān. They have inherited the Scriptures and learned them well. However, they did not take the Scriptures to heart, so that they would bring their behaviour and practices in line with their dictates. In other words, their approach to faith was an academic one, taking their faith as mere knowledge to be learned, but having no practical purpose. Whenever a worldly pleasure offered itself to them, they took it up and indulged in it. They then claimed that they would be forgiven by God.

This state of affairs was repeated time after time. Hence, the Qur’ān poses this rhetoric question: “Have they not solemnly pledged through their Scriptures to say nothing but the truth about God? And have they not studied well what is in [the Scriptures]?” (Verse 169) In their very Scriptures they pledged never to try to manipulate the provisions of divine law, or give them a false interpretation. They also vowed not to say anything about God but the plain truth. How is it possible, then, for them to claim that they will be forgiven when they are keen to indulge in every worldly pleasure that presents itself to them? How can they justify such indulgence by making a false statement about God, assuring themselves of His forgiveness, when they are well aware that God forgives only those who truly repent of their mistakes and resolve not to repeat them? This does not apply to them, because having studied the Scriptures well and known everything they contain, they remain ready to indulge in every fleeting pleasure of this low world.

“Surely the life in the hereafter is better for all who are God-fearing. Will you not use your reason?” (Verse 169) Indeed, the abode of the hereafter is the one to seek. Its value, as it is recognized by those who are God-fearing, is bound to tilt the scales. Seeking it provides the determination to resist the fleeting pleasures that present themselves now, in the life of this world. It is the motivation to gain admission into that abode of the hereafter that mends hearts and sets life on the proper footing. Without observing the requirements for such future life, this present life will go awry. How else can a human being resist the great pressure of indulging the immediate pleasures of this life?

Nothing can give such strength and help to believers to remain steadfast in the face of misfortunes and changing circumstances during an unabating battle with falsehood except the firm belief in the life to come and that it is far better and superior for those who are God- fearing. That abode belongs to those who forgive, rise above the fleeting pleasures of this world, show determination to follow the truth and to do what is good, remain unshakeable, as they go along the way, reassured that what God has for them is infinitely better than what they may have in this world.

Because the questions of the hereafter and fearing God are central to faith and life, the Qur’ān tells those who are keen to indulge in the fleeting pleasures of this world to use their minds: “Surely the lift in the hereafter is better for all who are God-fearing. Will you not use your reason?” (Verse 169) Had reason had the final say, and had the final verdict been that of true knowledge, rather than ignorance given the guise of knowledge, the hereafter would have been seen as far superior to the fleeting pleasures of this lower world. Fearing God would have been seen as strengthening faith and achieving success in this life.

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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  • The Prophet Muhammad [saw] said, تَعَلَّمُوا القرآنَ ، و سَلوا اللهَ بهِ الجنةَ ، قبلَ أنْ يَتَعَلَّمَهُ قومٌ ، يَسْأَلونَ بهِ الدنيا ، فإنَّ القرآنَ يَتَعَلَّمُهُ ثلاثَةٌ : رجلٌ يُباهِي بهِ ، و رجلٌ يَسْتَأْكِلُ بهِ ، و رجلٌ يقرأُهُ لِلَّهِ “Learn [study] the Qur’ān, and ask Allah [swt] to grant you Paradise by it, before when there comes people who learn it and ask by it, the worldy pleasures. Indeed, the Qur’ān is learnt by three types of people:

    - A man who shows off by it
    - A man who eats by it [money, dunyah]
    - A man who recites it for the sake of Allah [swt]” [Baihaqi, Shu’b al-Iman no. 2405 - صحيح [Sahih]

  • The Prophet Muhammad [saw] said, اقرؤوا القرآنَ و اعملوا به ، و لا تَجْفُوا عنه ، و لا تغْلوا فيه ، و لا تأْكلوا به ، و لا تسْتَكثروا به “Read the Qur’ān and act by it. And do not abandon it, do not exceed it’s limits, do not eat with it [i.e. money] and do not seek more by using it.” [Variation quoted by Nawawi in Tibyan, Sahih al-Jami no. 1168 - صحيح [Sahih]

  • The Prophet Muhammad [saw] said, ورجُلٌ تعلَّم العِلمَ وعلَّمه وقرَأ القرآنَ. فأُتِي به. فعرَّفه نِعَمَه فعرَفها. قال: فما عمِلتَ فيها ؟ قال: تعلَّمتُ العِلمَ وعلَّمتُه وقرَأتُ فيكَ القرآنَ. قال: كذَبتَ ولكنَّكَ تعلَّمتَ العِلمَ لِيُقالَ عالِمٌ. وقرَأتُ القُرآنَ لِيُقالَ هو قارِئٌ. فقد قيل. ثم أمَر به فسُحِبَ على وجهِه حتى أُلقِي في النارِ “...[on the Day of Judgement]…and a man who acquired knowledge and taught others, and read Qur’ān. He will be brought, and Allah will remind him of His blessings, and he will acknowledge them. He [swt] will say, ‘What did you do with them?’ He will say, ‘I acquired knowledge and taught others, and read the Qur’ān for Your sake.’ He [swt] will say, ‘You are lying. You acquired knowledge so that it would be said that you were a scholar; and you read Qur’ān so that it would be said that you were a Reciter, and it was said.’ Then He will order that he be dragged on his face and thrown into the Fire.” [Muslim no. 1905a - صحيح [Sahih]

  • The Prophet Muhammad [saw] said, خيرُكم مَن تعلَّم القرآنَ وعلَّمه  “The best of you are those who learn the Qur’ān and teach it.” [Bukhari no. 5027, Tirmidhee no. 2909 – صحيح [Sahih]

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