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

Tafsir Zone

Surah al-A`raf 7:55

Overview (Verses 55 - 56)

Calling on God with Fear and Hope

Thus, the human consciousness is overawed by the lively scenes of the universe which it used to look at in a dull inattentive way. Coupled with this is the realization that all these great creatures submit to the authority of the Creator. At this point, the sūrah reminds human beings of their only Lord and directs them to call upon Him with humility and full submission. They must acknowledge His Lordship in order to keep within the limits of their submission to Him, recognizing His authority and refraining from creating or spreading corruption in the land by abandoning His law and following their own capricious desires. “Call upon your Lord with humility, and in the secrecy of your hearts. He does not love those who transgress the bounds of what is right. Do not spread corruption on earth after it has been so well ordered. Call on Him with fear and hope. Truly, God’s grace is ever near to the righteous.” (Verses 55-56)

This directive is made at the most appropriate point, with human beings in the proper frame of mind. They are directed to call upon their Lord and address Him with humility and submission. They should also call on Him in the secrecy of their hearts, not making loud noises. A secret appeal to God is much more befitting because it affirms the close relationship between man and his Lord. Muslim, the renowned ĥadīth scholar, relates this authentic ĥadīth on the authority of Abū Mūsā who reports: “We were with God’s Messenger on one of his travels — (in one version it is stated that this took place when they were on a military expedition) — and people started to glorify God out loud. God’s Messenger said to them: O you people, gently and quietly. You are not calling on someone who is deaf or absent. You are calling on the One who hears all and is close at hand. He is indeed with you.”

The Qur’ānic drift stresses the consciousness that God, in His Majesty, is so close to man. This is described here in its practical form as we make our supplication to God. A person who is conscious of God’s majesty feels too modest to appeal to Him in a loud voice. If we realize that He is so close to us we can have no reason for appealing to Him loudly. Along with this scene of sincere supplication to God and complete humiliation before Him, an order is issued not to try to usurp His authority as the Arabs used to do in their days of ignorance, when they claimed sovereignty for themselves, while all sovereignty belongs to God alone. They are further commanded not to spread corruption in the land by following their capricious desires, after God has set the earth in proper order and laid down the law to govern both the earth and human life. A believing soul, which calls on its Lord with humility and in secrecy, feeling His closeness and ready response, is not given to aggression and corruption. The two attitudes are closely related in the depth of the human soul and feelings. In its approach, the Qur’ān touches on those feelings. It is an approach designed by the Creator who knows His creation and is fully aware of everything.

“Call on Him with fear and hope,” (Verse 56), fearing to incur His anger and punishment, and hoping to earn His pleasure and reward. “Truly, Gods grace is ever near to the righteous,” (Verse 56), who worship God as though they actually see Him. If they do not see him, they are fully aware that He sees them. This is the attitude defined by the Prophet as belonging to the righteous.