Surah al-A`raf (The Elevated Places) 7 : 176

وَلَوْ شِئْنَا لَرَفَعْنَٰهُ بِهَا وَلَٰكِنَّهُۥٓ أَخْلَدَ إِلَى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَٱتَّبَعَ هَوَىٰهُ ۚ فَمَثَلُهُۥ كَمَثَلِ ٱلْكَلْبِ إِن تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْهِ يَلْهَثْ أَوْ تَتْرُكْهُ يَلْهَث ۚ ذَّٰلِكَ مَثَلُ ٱلْقَوْمِ ٱلَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا۟ بِـَٔايَٰتِنَا ۚ فَٱقْصُصِ ٱلْقَصَصَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
And if We had willed, We could have elevated him thereby, but he adhered [instead] to the earth and followed his own desire. So his example is like that of the dog: if you chase him, he pants, or if you leave him, he [still] pants. That is the example of the people who denied Our signs. So relate the stories that perhaps they will give thought.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

This is a remarkable scene, absolutely new to all that human language knows of vocabulary, expression and image. Here we see a man on whom God bestows His grace, giving him His revelations and favouring him with knowledge to give him a perfect chance to follow the right path and to exalt himself. But he discards it all. The Qur’ānic description shows this man’s action as if he is peeling God’s guidance off his own body, as if those revelations form a skin that gives him his appearance. Therefore, discarding them requires a very strong action and the exercise of much effort. It is like taking the skin off of a person who is still alive. But this is an apt description, because believing in God is so essential to human existence as a skin to a living creature. Nevertheless, this man, given God’s revelations, is exercising a strong effort to take off his protective shield in order to follow his desire and deviate from God’s guidance. Thus he falls from the bright and sunny horizon in order to cling to the dark clay. He becomes easy prey for Satan, without any protection from his designs. Satan thus catches up with him and exercises his power over him.

We then look at a miserable and horrific scene in which this creature appears covered with mud, clinging to the earth, taking the shape of a dog that pants away whether he is driven off or left alone. All these scenes follow in quick succession and we follow the rapid change from one scene to the other with complete amazement. When the last scene of a dog always panting away is raised before our eyes, we have the highly significant comment on the whole panorama.

That example is certainly applicable to them. Signs indicating guidance and pointers guiding to faith have been provided for them in such a way that these are felt within their own nature and constitution as well as the whole universe around them. They, nevertheless, discard all these to corrupt their own souls and to fall from the position of man to the position of animals. They find themselves just like a dog covered with mud. Faith would have provided them with wings to fly up to an elevated position, and their nature would have ensured for them the fairest form and the best position, but they have chosen instead to come down and occupy a position that can only be described as ‘the lowest of the low.’

What can all these be other than examples confirming the story of the person who had discarded God’s revelations after having received them? Hence, Satan is able to catch up with him and push him further into error. How can such a person be described except in the terms stated by God about the original person in the Qur’ānic example. 
 
Had it been God’s will to exalt him by means of the knowledge he had received, He would have done so, but He has not, because the person who has received knowledge of God’s revelations had chosen to cling to the earth and to follow his own desires in preference to following God’s teachings. He is, then, an example of everyone who turns his back on divine religion after having learnt it. Instead of following God’s guidance, he pulls himself away from God’s blessings in order to be a humiliated follower of Satan and ends up in the derogatory state of animals.
 
What about the panting that never ceases? As we understand the story and contemplate its various scenes as painted in the Qur’ān, we feel that it refers to that continuous coveting of the worldly pleasures of this life. It is for such pleasures and other trivialities of this world that people discard their knowledge of God’s revelations. It is a worried coveting that is never satisfied. Whatever advice you give to such covetous people, they will continue to run after these pleasures and trivialities.

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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