By January 9, 2023 Read More →

Section Al A’raf – Part 30

To continue with our study of section A’raf (cognizant) where the prophets are performing their duties by conveying the message of God. The following verse looks at the attitude we may take in our practical lives.

قَالُوٓا۟ أَجِئْتَنَا لِنَعْبُدَ ٱللَّهَ وَحْدَهُۥ وَنَذَرَ مَا كَانَ يَعْبُدُ ءَابَآؤُنَا ۖ فَأْتِنَا بِمَا تَعِدُنَآ إِن كُنتَ مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰدِقِينَ

7:70 They answered, “Have you come to us asking that we worship God alone and give up all that our forefathers worshiped? Then bring the [punishment] with which you have threatened us, if you are a man of truth.”

The usage of the words “God Alone” is important and a good translation to the phrase “ٱللَّهَ وَحْدَهُۥ”. People, including the secular minded, do not mind accepting that the universe has a creator. However, it sounds like there is a problem with changing one’s way of living, certain values that are highly deemed in civilization. The people’s response: “You say to believe in God as the Creator of the universe but other values will not be accepted? We do not want to leave our comfort zone, cultural background, the way we are accustomed to.”  One of the main objections of the Quran is with people who don’t want to leave their ancestral way of living behind. I am used to living according to the customary way of society, and I learnt the family habits which are my comfort zone. Why should I cause a conflict between my family, cultural, society, background and become a strange weird individual? I can just believe in God in my heart. I don’t have to show it. When it is said to believe in God, it is not bothersome but when “only God” then that causes disturbance.  Why? Because belief is now taken into one’s practical life. It is difficult not only for those who oppose the prophetic message but for me as well. To stand by my belief and not follow anything else is difficult. One can imagine sitting in a family which follows tradition and you will be following completely different values, way of life, using a different language than what the society uses. I should make sure of what I believe; whatever I have chosen must be based on what I am convinced about. If one doesn’t reach this satisfaction, their conclusion does not mean much. I must look for evidence to confirm my conclusions. If I have the scripture available, we may keep  practicing it but in the course of time we need to investigate and see if we can confirm its message with the evidence in the universe, only then can we follow this scripture.

The phrase “وَنَذَرَ مَا كَانَ يَعْبُدُ ءَابَآؤُنَا ۖ”, translated as “and give up all that our forefathers worshiped?” This means to give up on the cultural background, traditional values inherited from society. The worship of forefathers includes the upholding of certain values based on social, political and economic life they are in. We must have our own belief system established by our study of the scripture.  I cannot decide based on my cultural background, because my family does it this way, the society does it this way; but it must be my own decision based on what I am convinced about to believe. I must have my own belief system that I worked on myself.

The phrase  فَأْتِنَا بِمَا تَعِدُنَآ إِن كُنتَ مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰدِقِين” ” translated as “bring the punishment with which you have threatened us, if you are a man of truth”. The general expectation of the punishment or calamities is in physical terms but it could be economic, psychological, political, financial, etc.

Nowadays we don’t realize that we are encouraged to keep spending, Consumerism and Capitalism are shown to improve our physical living more than what may be needed. We are working at least 40 hours a week and put into a sort of voluntary slavery which is also a calamity. Society is constructed in such a way imposing on you and I that we need this and that to live a comfortable life. It is not going to be some storm that will destroy the property that I have but the situation I may be in life by becoming the slave to money and wealth by spending all my valuable hours to satisfy the artificial life of civilization. That destroys my whole life.

Some may choose to keep themselves busy and are happy with voluntary slavery but are empty inside. Having no purpose in existence, emptiness of feelings, no incentive to sit, reflect about the purpose of life, and study because there are many things available for entertainment. A way to escape from one’s reality which would seem painful so conditioning to keep oneself busy with other attractions. In this situation, we cannot be with God and enjoy His wonderful creation. 

In other verses, the people opposing the prophetic message are expecting an “ayah” which means a sign coming from the prophet. That is something extraordinary will happen to them thinking that the prophet would do it. They think that the prophet may be making up the message and that he will create some miraculous event in the form of a physical calamity. The prophet says that: “God is the one who will do it. It is under the decision of God, nothing to do with me.  I am an ordinary man like you. I am just conveying the message of God to you.” 

In our day and age, we are in a calamity that we are not aware of. We are in it either willingly or unwillingly, we found ourselves within it. I have to start questioning why I am doing whatever I am doing. I have to be conscious of my reality and purpose, aware of the artificiality of society and some of its values and keep my stand on worshiping God alone. 

Another point is to support the prophetic message, I have to study. Unfortunately, it is a common trend to leave the matters to religious leaders and scholars. I have my own job and the scholar’s job is to tell me mostly on Fridays. How will I be able to support the message if I don’t study? 


قَالَ قَدْ وَقَعَ عَلَيْكُم مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ رِجْسٌۭ وَغَضَبٌ ۖ أَتُجَـٰدِلُونَنِى فِىٓ أَسْمَآءٍۢ سَمَّيْتُمُوهَآ أَنتُمْ وَءَابَآؤُكُم مَّا نَزَّلَ ٱللَّهُ بِهَا مِن سُلْطَـٰنٍۢ ۚ فَٱنتَظِرُوٓا۟ إِنِّى مَعَكُم مِّنَ ٱلْمُنتَظِرِينَ

7:71 [Hud] said, “You are already set to receive your Lord’s condemnation and wrath. Do you argue with me about the names which you and your forefathers have invented, names for which God has given no authority? Wait then, I will wait with you.”

The phrase “وَقَعَ عَلَيْكُم “, means that “you are already in it”. The receiving of wrath is already there. The word “رِجْسٌۭ” is something unwanted, dirty, harming, anger of God which troubles me and puts me in a bad condition. When I forget God in my daily activities and don’t adjust my life according to God’s will then I will be in His wrath and condemnation. I thus have to adjust my life according to God’s guidance. I should bear in mind my position, understand who my Lord is, which values should I follow, what criteria should I have? I should be careful not to be a slave to any other artificial influences in my life. 

The word “غَضَبٌ” is also used in section “Fatiha” of the Quran where we pray not to be among those who receive God’s wrath. This means that I know what is going on, but I may forget God. It bothers me even more, my consciousness says that the universe is wonderful, why am I not happy? Why do I get into trouble, not enjoying my life? Why am I imprisoned in this world? I do not want stress, I want to be comfortable within? How do I live as a guest in the house of the Lord of the universe? Do I feel that I am a guest of the owner of the universe? He just gives, doesn’t say whether he should give it to me or not? I don’t even ask for things and I am being given all the time. Isn’t this the reality?

My God is so generous, try to be with God, get away from this artificial life. In secular life, we only work for this world. We don’t have time to study what my God is teaching me. We have no time to sit and study the prophetic exemplary life and adapt the principles to my life.

The phrase “أَتُجَـٰدِلُونَنِى فِىٓ أَسْمَآءٍۢ سَمَّيْتُمُوهَآ أَنتُمْ وَءَابَآؤُكُم “, translated as “Do you argue with me about the names which you and your forefathers have invented?” Following the forefathers has been mentioned in many places in the Quran. What are these names? They came up with certain names, certain values to do certain things in certain ways. “Nature” as an agent is only one of them. When I do certain things, this would happen, so my apparent conclusion would be those things are responsible for the result. We can find out from the universe where things happen in this way. The causal chains are called here as names, for example, because of this and that, things are happening in this world as if they have the power to create, not as a result of the will of the Creator of the universe including every part of it. 

We don’t usually see the will of the creator operating in the things. In everything there is God’s choice presenting Himself to me, getting in touch with me so that I may live in His presence. I may like something or dislike something, I would put myself in there and not see God’s choice in those things. An example is when one goes to get produce from the supermarket, witness the marvelous display of God’s grace, His production is displayed all over the place. Nowadays His grace is hidden by manufacturers in packages and jars. I am no longer facing what God is creating, the smells and taste in produce are no longer there. Isn’t that God’s calamity on us?

The phrase “مَّا نَزَّلَ ٱللَّهُ بِهَا مِن سُلْطَـٰنٍۢ ۚ”, translated as “God has given no authority”. These artificial notions that we developed have no authority but we gave them authority to rule us. This has something to do with our social life. For example, we are imposed with necessities that we may not need. We may follow the values of other people. We have to be aware of this.

The phrase “إِنِّى  مَعَكُم مِّنَ ٱلْمُنتَظِرِينَ”, translated as “, wait then, I will wait with you.” Know that at every moment we are all subject to God’s decision and will. I am a created being subject to this universe and what goes on in this universe.


فَأَنجَيْنَـٰهُ وَٱلَّذِينَ مَعَهُۥ بِرَحْمَةٍۢ مِّنَّا وَقَطَعْنَا دَابِرَ ٱلَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا۟ بِـَٔايَـٰتِنَا ۖ وَمَا كَانُوا۟ مُؤْمِنِينَ

7:72 By our grace, We saved him and those who stood by him, while We wiped out the last remnant of those who rejected Our messages and would not believe.

Prophet Hud and those who were with him were saved by God’ mercy. The word “مَعَهُۥ” refers to go along with somebody. Those who stood by the prophet and followed him all together are saved. The Quran describes that If the whole society rejects the prophetic message, then calamity comes to the society. If only the nobles oppose the message then the calamity does not come to the society. We see this example in the life of prophet Muhammad (pbuh) where in Mecca only those that opposed were some nobles fearing to lose their credibility in tribal life. The general public were indifferent to the prophet spreading the message. In tribal life, without the tribal leaders’ support, one can be enslaved by another at any moment. Thus, it is difficult to separate oneself from their tribal association. This made the migration from Mecca to Medina a challenging one where one had to leave their tribe and join another one there. The physical calamities are sent to societies when all of them reject the prophetic message but a few of them such as the prophet and a few of his followers are saved.

Nowadays, calamity comes to everyone as even the believers are almost willingly following the same lifestyle as everyone else. There is no physical calamity now such as a strong wind came, volcano erupted or a flood as we hear from the Quran. This calamity is not physical but general in the sense that we don’t realize what we are affected by it.

We can save ourselves from the influence of society by using our human abilities. I should keep my priorities and list of important things in life according to the criteria from revelation and prophetic exemplary life. I should ask myself, do I have to do this? Why? To fulfill what? I have to work on benefitting from the message of God and take pleasure in it.

The phrase “وَقَطَعْنَا دَابِرَ ٱلَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا۟ بِـَٔايَـٰتِنَا ۖ “, translated as “We wiped out the last remnant of those who rejected Our message”. The deniers were drawn into something physical such as a flood. These days, I may not realize that I am in a flood. Let’s make a list of our daily activities and see, for example in my case, how much was I connected with my Lord and happy with my existence during the day?  How much was I seeking permanent satisfaction, to consciously be before God, be with my God. Try to experience it. Even while I am praying I may not feel the pleasure of being in the presence of God. I need to work on assimilating the message revelation brings within my feelings.

The word “مُؤْمِنِينَ”, is translated as believing which is grammatically a noun and a present participle. It is a continuous event, not only once but my whole life is based on believing or denying. If one’s lifestyle is based on denial then they are destroyed. If it is occasional then God gives me the opportunity to seek forgiveness. If one makes it a profession of not believing, not taking notice of what God is teaching, not seeing in one’s life the presence of God as much as possible, then one would find themselves on the other side. I have to check my habits whether they are from my family background, from society, or the exemplary life of the prophets. We should strive to have the believer’s position, live in this world with a believer’s perspective. 


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