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

Naming Convention of the Surah

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The surah is named after the story of the men awaiting on the “Elevations” between Paradise and Hell.

It comprises of 206 Ayat.

Overview

Total Ayat206
Total Words3320
Root Words489
Unique Root Words13
Makki / MadaniMakki
Chronological Order* 39th (according to Ibn Abbas)
Year of Revelation* 13th year of Prophethood
Events during/before this Surah*
, 2nd Pledge of Aqabah, 1st Pledge of Aqabah, Death of Abu Talib - Death of Khadijah - Stoning at Ta'if - al-Isra wal Mi'raj - Night Journey, Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 3, Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 2, Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 1, 2nd Migration to Abyssinia, Physical beating and torture of some Muslims - 1st Migration of Muslims to Abyssinia, Public Invitation to Islam - Persecution of Muslims; antagonism - ridicule - derision - accusation - abuse and false propaganda., Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam , Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam , Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam ,
Events during/after still to occur*
Migration from Makkah to Madinah - Building of Masjid Nabi in Madinah - Treaty with Jews of Madinah - Marriage of Prophet to Aishah, Change of Qiblah from Jerusalem to Makkah - Battle of Badr, Battle of Uhud, , Battle of Ahzab - Expedition of Banu Quraydhah, Treaty of Hudaiybiyah - Letters to Kings and Rulers, , Conquest of Makkah - Battle of Hunain, Hajj led by Abu Bakr - Expedition of Tabuk, Farewell Hajj by Prophet - Death of Prophet - End of Divine Revelation,
Names of Prophets Mentioned
Adam, Nuh, Hud, Salih, Lut, Shuaib, Musa, Harun,
Surah Index
‘Aad, Aaron, Adam, Adam (angels to prostrate before) , Adam (tree of knowledge) , Adam (banishment from Garden (no blame to Eve)) , Adversity (not burdened beyond capability to withstand) , Adversity (patience during) , God (made no laws regarding that of which He didn’t speak) , Apes (despicable) , Astronomy (celestial mechanics) , Children (of Israel) , Clothing, Commandments (general religious) , Disbelievers, Dogs, Earth, Earth (creation of) (in six days), Earth (rotation of) , Earthquake, Golden Calf, Gospel, Hell, Hud, Humankind (creation of) , Humankind (creation of) (from clay), Iblis, Jinn, Jordan (enter humbly) , Judgement (Day) , Knowledge (obligation upon man to obtain and impart) , Life (good things made lawful) , Lot, Madyan, Manna, Moses, Moses (bringing forth water from the rock) , Moses (duel by sorcery with Pharaoh’s magicians) , Moses (forty nights upon Mt. Sinai) , Moses (plagues) , Muhammad (not a madman) , Muhammad (only a prophet) , Muhammad (unlettered prophet) , Noah, Noah (ark) , Noah (flood) , Pharaoh, Prayer (beautify (adorn) yourselves for) , Prayer (prostration) , Pregnancy, Prophet (people who are false prophets are wicked) , Quail, Qur’an, Religion, Religion (is not play and transient delight) , Resurrection (Day) , Resurrection (of soul) , Revelation, Sabbath (breakers) , Salih, Sea, Shu’ayb, Sin, Ten Commandments, Thamud, Thamud (rock dwellings) , Thamud (she camel) , Thamud (she camel) (killing of), Thamud (she camel) (punishment for), Torah, Twelve tribes, Twelve tribes (scattering of) , Weather (clouds) , Weather (rain) , Weather (wind) ,

Central Theme

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The central theme of both Surah al-An’am and al-A’raf deal with the core issues of Faith but from different perspectives. Surah al-An’am presents the topic of Aqeedah and its realities by primarily focusing on the Jahilliyah [ignorance] of the Arabs whilst Surah al-A’raf deals with the Jahilliyah [ignorance] from a wider historical perspective, hence we find mention of Adam, Nuh People of Thamud, Lut, Madyan and Pharoah and his people.

Connection of the name of the Surah and its Ayaat

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Al-A'raf - The Elevations. Allah mentions Paradise and Hellfire and then speaks of the 'elevations' between them reserved for some amongst humanity. These people not knowing what will happen to them. The people of Hell-fire will be refused water as it will be prohibited for the disbelievers in the after-life.

Connection between the beginning and the ending of the Surah

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Manuscripts / Inscriptions

Connection of the Surah to the Surah before/after it

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The central theme of both Surah al-An’am and al-A’raf deal with the core issues of Faith but from different perspectives. Surah al-An’am presents the topic of Aqeedah and its realities by primarily focusing on the Jahilliyah [ignorance] of the Arabs whilst Surah al-A’raf deals with the Jahilliyah [ignorance] from a wider historical perspective, hence we find mention of Adam, Nuh People of Thamud, Lut, Madyan and Pharoah and his people.

Surah al-A’raf adopts a totally different approach as it discusses the same question of Faith. It provides for it with the panoramic setting of human history. It starts with mankind’s journey as it begins in heaven and where it aims to return. Along this great expanse, we see the procession of faith starting with the Prophet Adam to the last of all prophets and messengers, Muhammad (peace be upon him). The procession holds the banner of faith and advocates, throughout human history, that the only way to human happiness is for people to adopt the faith based on God’s oneness. The surah outlines what reception this call received in different periods of history; how the leaders of this procession put the message across to mankind, and the responses they received; how the people in power went about conducting their campaigns of opposition and how the procession of believers brushed them aside and went along its way. This surah also portrays the fate that befell opponents of faith in this life and the different destinies in the hereafter of both believers and unbelievers.

It is a very long journey, but the surah takes us along, stage by stage, making a stop at every landmark to indicate that the road is clearly demarcated with well known starting and finishing lines. All mankind travels along, aiming to return to the point where it started, in heaven, with the Supreme society. [REF: Qutb, Fi Dhilal al-Qur’an]

  • The previous surahs contain the new Mithaq [covenant] between Allah and the Muslim Ummah. This surah chronicles just how the previous nation, Bani Israel behaved with this Mithaq and how a person from amongst them [7:175] detached himself from the Revelation and the consequences of such actions.

The Virtues of the Surah

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It has been reported that the Prophet reciting this surah during Salatul Maghrib. [Sunan an-Nisai al-Kubra no.1061, Tafsir al-Maudhui, Dr. Mustafah Muslim.]

Special Features of the Surah

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  • Interesting note in connection to the central theme: we find this surah has used the word قرية (Qaryah)  [and its various grammitical forms – meaning city, town] 10 times – the most frequent compared to any other surah.
  • We also find the word أمة (nation) used 8 times in its various forms – also more than any other surah. This is revealed in the last year of the Makkan period and on the eve of the creation of the Islamic state and birth of the Muslim Ummah – hence the most important lessons.
  • This Surah has mentioned 'Adam' seven times - more than any other Surah.
  • There are more mentions of Musa in this Surah than any other Surah of the Qur'an.

Important key and unique words of the Surah

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  • وَإِلَىٰ عَادٍ أَخَاهُمْ هُودًا ۗ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرُهُ ۚ أَفَلَا تَتَّقُونَ "And to the 'Aad [We sent] their brother Hud. He said, "O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. Then will you not fear Him?" (7:65)

    This is the first mention of the Prophet Hud in the Qur'an (the Prophet Hud is mentioned most in Surah Hud, a total of five times).

 
Total Word Count per Ayat (shows how many words per Ayat)

Unique Root Words to this Surah only


13 unique root words that do not appear in any other Surah

Top 10 Most Frequent Root Words used in this Surah

Root Word Frequency
in Surah
Frequency
in Qur'an
ق و ل 110 1722
ك و ن 74 1390
أ ل ه 70 2851
ٱلَّذِى 67 1464
ر ب ب 65 980
ق و م 55 660
أ م ن 36 879
ر س ل 30 513
أ ي ي 29 382
أ خ ذ 29 273

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]

Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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Lessons/Guidance/Major-Issues/Reflections

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  • An invitation is given to the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) to become Muslims.
  • A warning is given to the unbelievers about the consequences of their denial through citing the example of punishments which were inflicted upon former people for their wrong attitude towards their Rasools.
  • The Jews are warned about the consequences of their hypocritical conduct towards the Prophets.
  • Commandment to propagate the message of Islam with wisdom.
  • The fact that the Rasools as well as the people to whom they are sent will be questioned on the Day of Judgement.
  • Commandment to the Believers that they should wear decent and proper dress and eat pure and good food.
  • Dialogue between the residents of paradise, the inmates of hell and the people of A'raf (a place between the Paradise and hell).
  • The fact that affluence and adversity are the reminders from Allah.
  • The fact that Muhammad (pbuh) is the Rasool for the all of mankind.
  • The fact that the advent of Muhammad (pbuh) was described in Torah and the Gospel (Bible).
  • The fact that the Jews have fabricated a wrong belief about Allah's forgiveness.
  • Mankind's testimony about Allah at the time of Adam's creation.
  • The fact that Allah created all of mankind from a single soul.
  • Allah's commandment to show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant.
  • Allah's commandment about listening to the recitation of The Qur'an with complete silence.

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Miscellaneous Issues

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