7:22 “He lured them with lies. Their nakedness became exposed to them when they had tasted from the tree: they began to put together leaves from Paradise to cover themselves. Their Lord called to them, did I not forbid you to approach that tree? Did I not warn you that Satan was your open enemy?”
What is the difference between “Ghuroor” (being lured) and “Kizb” (telling a deliberate lie)?
Kizb is you knowing that something is either true or false. Kizb needs a conscious decision, whereas “ghuroor” is slightly different from kizb. Example: you are telling a lie, and for you to choose the option of lying, you should know the truth. The Quran uses these words (mukazzibeen, tukazeeboon…) so frequently that we should know what it means in the specific context. Example: Adam and Eve were told that they should not approach the tree. In other words, the tree represents the material side of existence, rather than the creator of the satisfaction or fruits/matter. But desiring eternity is human, they fell into the trap of Satan’s suggestion that the tree is the way to reach eternity. They did not know that the tree, the wood cannot give eternity to anything. Only after trying did they realize that it was not.
“kafir” or disbeliever must be a person who lies. Example: there are many people in the world who do not know why they are doing what they are doing. In other words, they do not know the truth of the matter. The general public is not aware of the truthfulness of the matter, hence they should not be considered as “kafir”. They find religion to be funny because of the way that it is presented. Most people join a particular religion based on social satisfaction. Nowadays, following a religion is like following a culture. It is very rare that people follow a religion based on internal/existential satisfaction. The Quran keeps emphasizing that the life of this world should not delude us. Yes, we need satisfaction, we need some means of living standards. The Quran says that this life should not lure you means that you should not think that this life will provide some sort of eternal satisfaction. It may provide temporary satisfaction, which is true bodily-wise, however, mistakenly I have taken it as to satisfy my whole being, that is “ghuroor,” being deluded.
In some languages, ghuroor means being proud of something but the Quran does not mean that in the context of this verse. Rather, this verse pokes one’s consciousness to inquire about the need for eternal happiness. Do you need eternal happiness? Yes. Kizb means knowing that this world cannot satisfy you, and you choose to deny that. Here, you know that something is not true and you say that I am not going to confirm it. Hence, such people can be classified as “kafir”. Kafir and kizb share the same denomination, i.e., knowing that something is true or false but choosing its opposite.
Comment: Someone knowing that something is wrong, but they still choose it and later it becomes a source of regret.
Example: I have some sort of knowledge and I take pride in it. Is there something wrong? Well, I am better than the illiterate person for sure, however, taking pride in it and not being thankful for it is a misconception, it is not telling a lie.
Comment: If I know that I should do something but I do not do it. Is it a kizb or ghuroor?
Openly denying people are “kafir”. Example: we know that we must pray if we consider ourselves as believers and followers of the Islamic Sharia. I belong to this religion which requires me to pray. Here, there is no denial (kufr) here, it is only negligence or weakness. That is, not being decisive about your stance. Did they deny that God did not ask them to approach the tree? No. Most of the people, we just see how beautiful something is. Example: This is a beautiful tree. Without realizing, I may attribute beauty to the tree itself. Am I denying the Source of Existence of beauty and the tree? No. That is just carelessness and negligence. I need to learn, and be alarmed about, the truth. In our practical life, we are aware when we mention the theory. We may get carried away with events of this world, get upset about something or overjoyed, although we may know intellectually the message of the Quran that I should not be carried away by this world. However, when it comes to practical life, how many people can control their emotions all the time? Not that easy to practice the message. Even the Prophets struggled with keeping their calm.
The young people are very quick to classify people as religious or not, because they are not aware of what religion entails, which is a personal matter. Also, they do not know what the Quran is emphasizing on. Some people deliberately say out that religion is for dumb people, and they do not have substantial evidence to support their claims. Example: the qualities in the universe do not belong to matter. These people would not point that out, rather they will just go on pinpointing how the qualities are manifested within the universe.
Comment: What does “ghuroor” mean in in this context of the Quran?
It means to mistake it for the truth because there is a small truth in it, but it is not the whole truth. Example: I am proud of my property. The Quran emphasizes on not being deceived with it because there is some truth in it. This truth may attract us, that is why we need reminders from our Creator. That is, if I am proud of my property, I am mistakenly appropriating it to myself and being proud of it. It belongs to God although I accept it as created by God.
Going back to the example of having knowledge about something, yes, I am in a better position than others who do not know it, however, taking pride over it is wrong. Also, the Quran uses it in a way that is different from lying, because people may think that this worldly life will satisfy them. That is not completely wrong, because everyone tries to work in this world to get some sort of bodily satisfaction. They do not make the distinction between spiritual and worldly satisfaction. That is the Quranic “ghuroor”. That is, the worldly life should not delude you, means that be careful, you do not mean it, but you are making a mistake.
Again, what was the purpose of approaching the tree in Adam & Eve? To gain permanent satisfaction and become perfect, an Angel. There is nothing wrong with expecting that the tree may satisfy me. Satan suggests that because we need eternal satisfaction, don’t we? Their mistake was not taking God’s prohibition of approaching the tree seriously. Human beings get carried away with this whispering, and as a result, their nakedness gets exposed. What does it mean?
There is a difference between eating and tasting. Tasting means to try it, whereas eating refers to getting engaged with it. Human beings usually try things, let me see if this satisfies me. Yes, it satisfies you temporarily, but when you get older with experiences, you realize that this tree (the world) will just stay here, and is not a source of permanent satisfaction. As the Quran says that you have been inheriting things generation by generation. God has made a promise to those among you who believe and do good deeds: He will make them successors to the land, as He did those who came before them…” (24: 55) Example: this house has been here for decades, and the people who lived here passed away. I live here now, and I will pass away as well.
If someone tells you that you will not be living in this house anymore, so give it to me? Will you give it to him? No, it is your right to live there, however, if I see that living in this house is a source of permanent satisfaction, then that is “ghuroor”. In other words, translating the temporary satisfaction to permanent satisfaction is wrong. Is that right? No.
When they tasted from the trees, they realized their “nakedness” or “mistakes”.
What is our nakedness?
What should be covered is exposed. What are they?
- Weak points, expectations of satisfaction of this world.
- Our mistakes, shortcomings etc.
- Our egoistic behaviors; we sugar-cover them.
- The things that we should not be struggling for.
- The side we do not like to expose.
If I choose the wrong option, my nakedness is exposed. Do I know that my nakedness is exposed? Yes. No one wants to be on the wrong side, that is the human capacity which knows what is right/wrong. We may choose not to listen to our human qualities, and choose the wrong option which is also within my human capacity. When I take the wrong option, I realize I made a mistake picking this option. People may think that this is true, but human reality knows when they are telling a lie. When I make a mistake, I know it is a mistake. Human beings can make the distinction between right or wrong, it is so clearly distinguished in creation, but the social culture may obscure it.
Example: Can I steal? Yes. Should I do it? No. If I steal, do I know that I did something wrong? Yes. And do I want other people to know that I am a thieve. No. That is why, nakedness means that whatever I should hide.
Mostly, people do not deny but delude themselves. That is, not being careful and diligent. Negligence is the main problem for people who are believers, it is the most fertile area where ghuroor takes place, not in the field of denial (kizb). In the field of negligence, ghuroor always works. We do not want to expose it, and as soon as we become aware of it, that we should not have done it or approached it again, i.e. God did not want this for us, and we still approach it, then we realize our mistakes and become ashamed of ourselves. That is our reality. Now, in practical terms, is a baby aware of their weak points? No, they just act, and do not know right and wrong in terms of denial and confirmation. They are naughty, and that is not related to “ghuroor”. However, when they reach the age of puberty, they know what is right and wrong, and they realize that they are doing something wrong because they decide according to their free choice now. A child too has a free choice but they do not know the responsibilities yet. Although in creation, when they do something nasty, they know it, and that is how this sense of right/wrong develops. We start tasting the tree when we reach the age of puberty (depending on the climate and environment…). We must know that reaching the age of puberty is becoming aware of one’s nakedness and we are aware of what we are doing in our choices, right or wrong.
What are the leaves of Paradise, what do they represent?
What is it that the uncorrupted human nature wants to cover up as far as our exposed mistakes are concerned? How do we repair ourselves when our mistakes are exposed?
- Through repentance.
What is repentance based on? Acknowledging the truth, leads us to repentance. That is why, acknowledging the truth is “belief,” or “iman” in the language of the Quran. Repentance comes from belief. If there is no belief, i.e., if someone does not acknowledge the truth, then s/he does not repent because s/he does not acknowledge that s/he has done something wrong. Although s/he is aware of it, s/he does not accept his/her mistake. If someone prefers not to accept their mistakes, they do not repent. The necessary conclusion of accepting one’s mistake is that we do not want to return to it. “I should not have done it” is an acknowledgment which consequently means repentance. Belief gives birth to repentance. No belief, no repentance. Belief is confirming the truth, if someone does not accept their reality, s/he does not repent. Belief is using our human qualities and directly connecting them to their source, God, the Creator. I should use my human qualities correctly, without deviating, and remember that I am a created being, and my Creator is an Absolute One, He is the Source of Existence of everything, and He can give me permanent satisfaction, not the tree.
Here, I am expected to attach my human qualities to its Creator in order to understand that whenever I start owning anything good rather than returning it to my Creator, I am on the wrong track. For example, I am going to gain permanent satisfaction by myself, or by hoping that anything of this world, not that the Creator is going to give me Permanent satisfaction (khud, Paradise, permanent satisfaction)
If I do not attach myself and my qualities to its Creator, inevitably I have to declare that I am the owner of my own satisfaction. Paradise represents full manifestations of God’s names with no veil on it. A direct connection to God’s name is declaring that all the qualities that we have belong to God, not to us, nor to this created world. Therefore, the tree cannot create anything as well, only the Creator of the tree can create it. When becoming aware of this, take each leave as a manifestation of God’s name, depending on what I need. If I need eternal happiness, I need to refer to “Al-Baaqee”, the Eternal One. Hence, we must refer everything to its Creator, rather than the matter itself.
Comments: Repentance is acknowledgment, and that is what we need. When we become aware of our human reality during puberty, we are walked towards our human journey. The connection between belief and repentance is amazing because we learn from our mistakes as it is also propagated in the education system as well. Mistakes are part of the learning process, however they still carry a negative connotation. Similarly, repentance is needed to understand my reality and confirm one’s belief. Everything is just an acknowledgment of what I am.
Let us take this point one step ahead, because acknowledgment is not enough. Acknowledgment should give a conclusion, fruit and harvest of repentance. Firstly, we need to understand the following. Let’s say a student comes to you and says: “O teacher, I am sorry, I did not do my assignments.” Is this enough? No, it is just the first step.
Knowing the details of Arabic rhetoric, metaphoric, makes the case clearer and easier to understand but not essential for non professionals. Even if I read from commentaries without referring to my realities, it does not help me much to understand the case to be able to apply it to my practical life. In the verse, why would you want to put the leaves from Paradise? To practice repentance (i.e., I should not have done this, sorry) and going one step ahead would be to submit and act, i.e., put our acknowledgment into practice. Belief means direct acknowledgment of the Source of the qualities that we have. Only my Creator can satisfy me, I cannot satisfy myself, and nothing in this universe can satisfy me either. This is acknowledgment and I have to put it into practice in my life. Only God can satisfy me and give me eternal happiness. Now, I must connect and return my qualities consciously back to its Source and live accordingly and practice it. That is worship, connection between me and my Creator which must be physically acknowledged and practiced as well, should not remain only at the level of an intellectual satisfaction.
One of the forms of worship is repentance, “please God forgive me, I am going to repair my mistake, and act on it”. That is why we must act on it because acknowledgment is not enough. For instance, we must pray. Why do we pray? We need to express our feelings physically in this world. We must practice all actions that are contrary to human nature such as lying, gambling by not doing those…. Example: you protect your chastity, and you must practice it. People may say that I have no intention at all to expose myself on the opposite gender, that is why I protect my chastity, I am sure of it, but I am not going to protect my private parts. Sharia says that you have to protect your private part by covering them physically as well. Practically, we should do it. That is why worship is one step ahead of acknowledgment. Belief is acknowledgment and worship (‘uboodiya) is practice of this acknowledgment while I am here on Earth. Practically I have to say, please God, forgive me, it was my mistake and I should have done this way, that is repair. Example: if I cut my finger, I know that God will repair it. But I still need to practically work on it, i.e., I have to clean it and cover it with special materials.
We need to be reminded that is why “zikr” or remembrance or recalling is important. zikr does not mean repetition. Did I not warn you that Satan was your open enemy? That is why the Quran is called a “reminder”, “zikra”, recalling, and remembering, because we need to be reminded. We must get together with like-minded people and be open to listening to others. For example, if someone tells you not to miss your prayer, you should say, thank you, rather than defending yourself that you always pray because you never miss your prayers. It is all a reminder and we need reminders! If we deny this, then at some point we may fall into the mistake of not praying, we must acknowledge and practically accept it and be thankful to the reminders. That is why the Quran says that I am Mercy to you, for you know the truth potentially. As a reminder, I am reminding you so you know what is in your reality because you need it.
Again, as a Mercy, God is enforcing that you should not contradict your nature, the way that I created you, so you keep your primordial nature. Did I not tell you to watch out from Satan? I know I should not contradict my human reality but God is just reminding me. Hence, the Quran is reminding me of what my reality and how pure the spirit is. If there was no reminder, I will ignore all messages within me. Or I may use them in the wrong way. While God reminds me what is within my Spirit, He helps me discover the details of the content of my spirit. Finally, someone must remind me, so that I become aware of what my reality is, that is why my God should speak to me and help me recover and see what is in my reality.
Comment: Gathering together the leaves also signifies that the need to look for perfection (the Names (the Absolute Qualities of God) must be acknowledged and we must connect the names of the Creator with each other. Because we do not make one mistake, rather within one action there are many processes involved with each other (connecting all the Names/qualities of the Creator). Rather than falling into despair about my mistakes, I need to look for the Names of the Creator and apply them to my mistakes to repair them by attaching them to those Names. In other words, look for a cure, what type of medicine is required to heal, for example. The leaves/manifested names of God are waiting to be acknowledged.
Comment: We must extend the acknowledgment to an intimate communication, relationship and connection with the Source of our Existence, hence the practical side. I must perform this acknowledgment in practical form.
With what we discussed here does not mean that we have exhausted the meaning of this verse. We just shared what we could grasp.
Tags: A'raf Series, Al-Araf, Meaning of Existence, Message, Prophetic Message, Reality, Truth