Surah al-A`raf (The Elevated Places) 7 : 203

وَإِذَا لَمْ تَأْتِهِم بِـَٔايَةٍ قَالُوا۟ لَوْلَا ٱجْتَبَيْتَهَا ۚ قُلْ إِنَّمَآ أَتَّبِعُ مَا يُوحَىٰٓ إِلَىَّ مِن رَّبِّى ۚ هَٰذَا بَصَآئِرُ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
And when you, [O Muhammad], do not bring them a sign [i.e., miracle], they say, "Why have you not contrived it?" Say, "I only follow what is revealed to me from my Lord. This [Qur’ān] is enlightenment from your Lord and guidance and mercy for a people who believe."

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

The unbelievers were very persistent in demanding miracles from God’s Messenger (peace be upon him). The sūrah quotes here some of their statements that betray their ignorance of the nature of God’s message and the role of His Messenger: “When you do not bring them a sign, they say: ‘Why do you not seek to have one?’” (Verse 203) They suggest to the Prophet that he should pray to God to give them a miracle, or they even suggest to him that he himself should perform a miracle. To them, he should be able to do so, since he claims to be a Prophet. This shows that they do not understand the Prophet’s role. They certainly could not appreciate his humble attitude towards his Lord, nor that he only takes what God gives him. He does not suggest approaches or measures to his Lord, nor does he initiate matters at his own behest. God orders him to explain this to them: “Say:’ I only follow what is revealed to me by my Lord.’” (Verse 203) I am not one to suggest to Him or to invent matters. I only have what is revealed to me, and I only do what I am commanded. For their part, they could only think of those impostors who claimed to be prophets in every period of ignorance. Hence, their demands.
 
The Prophet is also commanded to explain to them the nature of the Qur’ān that has been revealed to him. If they would only consider the plain guidance that is contained in the Qur’ān, they would certainly stop making foolish requests for signs and miracles: “This [revelation] is a means of clear insight from your Lord, and a guidance and grace for people who will believe.” (Verse 203) It provides clear insight and it is an aspect of overflowing blessings and grace. But that is the case only for those who believe and avail themselves of its unending blessing.

In their ignorance, the Arabs at the time of the Prophet turned away from the Qur’ān and sought to have a physical miracle like the ones given to earlier prophets. Those earlier prophets preached the divine message when humanity was still in its infancy, and were sent to certain communities, not to mankind as a whole. Their miracles could serve their purpose only at the time and place they were given, and could be appreciated only by those who witnessed them. What can be said about later generations and nations?

No physical miracle can be as superb or miraculous as the Qur’ān, no matter what type of miracle people required. Besides, it gives its message to all mankind in all generations till the end of time.

Given the importance the Arabs attached to fine, literary style, which was a source of pride for them, the artistic expression of the Qur’ān was perhaps the most immediately apparent aspect of its miraculous nature. But the Qur’ān remains a book of surpassing excellence, posing a challenge that defies human ability. God challenged the Arabs then, and the challenge continues today, to produce anything similar to it. Human beings who have the gift of fine expression and appreciate the depth of human ability in this field are the ones who can best recognize that the Qur’ānic style is uniquely superb, refined, outstanding. This applies to all people with a natural taste for fine speech, whether they believe in Islam or not. The challenge is based on objective criteria that challenge believers and unbelievers alike. In their ignorance, the elders of the Quraysh found themselves utterly powerless when faced with the Qur’ān. They hated such a position but they could not help it. The same thing is experienced today and will continue to be experienced by everyone who adopts the same attitude.
 
 

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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