By February 13, 2023 Read More →

Section Al A’raf – Part 35

We will continue to study the verses of section A’raf (Cognizant) and look into the following verse:

وَلَا تَقْعُدُوا۟ بِكُلِّ صِرَٰطٍۢ تُوعِدُونَ وَتَصُدُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ مَنْ ءَامَنَ بِهِۦ وَتَبْغُونَهَا عِوَجًۭا ۚ وَٱذْكُرُوٓا۟ إِذْ كُنتُمْ قَلِيلًۭا فَكَثَّرَكُمْ ۖ وَٱنظُرُوا۟ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَـٰقِبَةُ ٱلْمُفْسِدِينَ

7:86 And do not lie in ambush on every road, threatening and trying to turn away all who believe in God from His path and trying to make it appear crooked. Remember when you were few and He made you many. Look at what happened in the end to those who spread corruption.

This verse is picturing the prophetic struggle with the denying nobles who were preventing the prophets from spreading the message of God and threatening them and their followers. The denying nobles have their own prejudice and biases. They don’t want a situation where they would lose their power and position. Now, let’s bring this to our situation as the Quran speaks to you and me. It addresses everyone including the believers and unbelievers, although the unbelievers will likely not read and benefit from the message since they don’t believe in God. As for the believers, they will understand that there are people who will lie in ambush on their way, they will threaten those who take the believing path.

Nowadays, we don’t see any such ambush being done on believers that would threaten us. We see that the social, political systems are established in a way where there is freedom of belief. However, what is happening nowadays is that these economic, political, and social systems may put us in a way where you and I may find ourselves threatened. I may be deprived of opportunities and facilities when I don’t follow the systems which encourage a certain way of life but follow the way of life prescribed by God and His prophets. There are many obstacles one faces in this civilization. For example, in the education system, one cannot teach as they believe. In academic studies, one cannot say anything that they want. Then there are fashion trends that are shaping each and every one of us, especially the youth. I need to be careful not to be carried away by those trends and take precautions to preserve myself, my family and loved ones. 

The phrase “وَتَبْغُونَهَا عِوَجًۭا ۚ”, translated as “They make it appear crooked”. This means that the different establishments, societal trends may give the wrong impressions. For example, the media may distort the truth, political stratagems are played out, etc. This verse is a reminder for the believers as if it is saying “be careful they will make it appear crooked, take precautions.”

The verse follows with “وَٱذْكُرُوٓا۟ إِذْ كُنتُمْ قَلِيلًۭا فَكَثَّرَكُمْ ۖ”, translated as “Remember when you were few and We made you many.” Historically we see that at the beginning of Islam, there were about a handful of people around the prophet Muhammad (pbuh). After a few years, the number increased to hundreds and continued to increase gradually. The prophet (pbuh) and the believers were patient. When I am patient, I am tried by my Lord in the sense that, do I keep my connection with Him or do I lose hope from any help from my Lord. I have to take on the responsibility and keep my duty to spread the message as much as I can. I must convey the message to others in the best way possible; be the best example in my personal life as an honest, God conscious individual. This is as much as I can do in this life. The result is all created by my Lord. 

For example, we cannot change people’s minds and hearts. I should try my best to understand how I can take precautions to protect myself and leave the result to God, He decides. That is what it means when the Quran mentions that only God changes people’s situation if only they change themselves (Quran 13:11), i.e. when I make the effort to change. If I do not prepare myself to have the right attitude, have the right way of life in this world, I see that God doesn’t create anything for me. Why? That is God’s order in creation. When I don’t follow the order, the result is not created. 

We see that the men of truth most of the time in this world were always triumphant, winners (Falah). As I perform my duty of what I am supposed to do, I am successful in fulfilling the purpose of my life. I should not be concerned whether others are following me or not but I need to worry about fulfilling my purpose of living. We see that millions are following in whatever capacity the message of the prophets such as Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed (peace be upon all of them). In the universe we see the increase in number and value always taking place. For example, from one seed we see a plant that is given thousands of fruits which contain many new seeds. I always wonder at this amazing phenomenon of multiplicity where God is telling me to do my duty, leave the result to God for success if not here than in the hereafter.

The phrase “ وَٱنظُرُوا۟ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَـٰقِبَةُ ٱلْمُفْسِدِينَ”, translated as “Look at what happened in the end to those who spread corruption.” We know that this universe is not going to last but must continue in another form. We don’t see any kind of punishment coming to someone who openly denies or spreads corruption. I can enjoy the bodily, worldly life now but the spirit may be suffering from meaninglessness. We can see someone laughing and enjoying but we don’t know what is going on within that person. The believers will be living in peace in their spirit and hope for the next form of existence where they will enjoy in bodily form as well. While living here, we are getting ready for the next life. 


وَإِن كَانَ طَآئِفَةٌۭ مِّنكُمْ ءَامَنُوا۟ بِٱلَّذِىٓ أُرْسِلْتُ بِهِۦ وَطَآئِفَةٌۭ لَّمْ يُؤْمِنُوا۟ فَٱصْبِرُوا۟ حَتَّىٰ يَحْكُمَ ٱللَّهُ بَيْنَنَا ۚ وَهُوَ خَيْرُ ٱلْحَـٰكِمِينَ

7:87 If some of you believe the message I bring and others do not, then be patient in hard times till God judges between us. He is the best of all judges.

When I die, judgment day is there for me. The Quran repeatedly reminds that those who did not believe in God, did not worship God – what did you worship? Where are your properties, your families, the opportunities that you had in this world? What is important here is the word “فَٱصْبِرُوا۟”, translated as “to be patient”. Everyone can experience that this world is transient. To be patient is when I keep my consistency in connecting with my Lord. I should be happy within myself to whatever is created, spiritually, emotionally and be consistent by not contradicting myself. I may be struggling in this life but should see that everything is created by God with wisdom and mercy which are two dominant qualities that I must be aware of. Creation itself is mercy, not that I am given something materially or immaterially. For example, guidance is one of the most important blessings given by God, being conscious of God, knowing who owns me, knowing the purpose of my life. This does not mean that I will be enjoying and the disbelievers will be miserable because of the worldly life. Worldly life cannot be my criteria.  My state of feelings, heart, mind to feel secure in my existence should be taken care of in this world. I will be treated according to what I have with me, my feelings, heart and mind; my body will leave me when I die. Accordingly, everyone will be given their share with justice. He is the Creator and thus decides, judges with the best wisdom (خَيْرُ ٱلْحَـٰكِمِينَ) again and again while creating everything in the universe. We see that nothing happens without any purpose. I need to remember that I believe in the Owner, Creator of the whole universe (Rab ul Alameen). Plurality of the “worlds” (Alameen) includes everything in this world and must also include the hereafter.

How can I be patient? 

  1. By following the order in the universe, with the way things are created which is the will of God. 
  2. Focusing on myself to be consistent in my beliefs. Reflect that belief as much as I can in my life.
  3. Consider the capacity of others, what their values are and present myself accordingly. The sharing of ideas must not contradict what the order in the universe teaches me. 

In my practice of belief, I should not be alienating myself from the rest of society. That means by doing something strange that may not make sense to people. I must know what I am doing, why am I doing it. I must act according to wisdom taught through the order that God creates and educates me through, without using strange language, attitude, and performing acts that other people might see as alienating. We have to respect people’s honor, appreciate their good actions, and speak to them kindly, respectfully. If I am in a position of authority, never exercise that authority over someone. Even when one is arrogant, we should speak to them kindly. None of the prophets threatened anyone that they themselves are going to harm the deniers, i.e.  there is no personal revenge. None of the prophets ever performed any such action. They only conveyed the message and warned them about punishment not coming from them but from their Creator, from His authority: “I am like you, cannot create anything but your Creator can create as you see all around you in the universe.” 


قَالَ ٱلْمَلَأُ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱسْتَكْبَرُوا۟ مِن قَوْمِهِۦ لَنُخْرِجَنَّكَ يَـٰشُعَيْبُ وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ مَعَكَ مِن قَرْيَتِنَآ أَوْ لَتَعُودُنَّ فِى مِلَّتِنَا ۚ قَالَ أَوَلَوْ كُنَّا كَـٰرِهِينَ

7:88 The arrogant notables among his people said, “O Shu’aib! We will certainly expel you and your fellow believers from our land, unless you return to our religion.” He [Shu’aib] replies, “Even if we hate it?”

The same concepts as the Quran presents about the arrogant notables who react to the message the prophets bring and want to expel the prophet and his believers. The arrogant notables are presenting their power whereas the believers are presenting God’s power. By expelling the messenger, how is that an answer to the message? Why not reply to the message? Come up with a counter argument that makes sense and defeats the arguments of the prophets. 

Nowadays, we see a lot of propaganda against belief in general which challenges human beings. There are two points:

  1. Those who believe in God and the hereafter do not come up with a reasonable presentation of their belief. So, the field of religion and belief stays empty.
  2. The opposite side comes with lots of opportunities, keeps offering solutions, though concerning this worldly life, to people through various means and presents the case in a way to mislead and cheat people.

When we carefully study what they are presenting, they are as the Quran says: names, technical terminologies, scientific terms, although the examples taken from the universe which are the work of God, without referring to God. However, they present it to us as: “It is happening in this way, I see no God there, no act of God operating that I can see physically. The way it comes into existence comes in a way so powerful that I can explain that it is happening naturally, always happens like this.” The order operating in the universe doesn’t change and is a promise of the Creator. I have to understand the manifestation of the qualities in creation and see if they can originate from anything in this universe. No one can demonstrate that matter has knowledge, will to choose, power to create. The things have no quality to themselves, they cannot give themselves existence and make themselves bound to the order that they find themselves in.

In the prophetic examples of the Quran, the people ask to show them what God gave the prophet as a miracle. The prophets are saying “I am not the creator or doer of the miracle. It is not my work, how can I decide what to create, when to  create a miracle? All this is my Creator’s work. I am just carrying the message of the Creator. In His speech, He taught me this and I have to follow this reasoning.” 

Nowadays, the Quran is neglected by general Muslims. In other scriptures, there is not much emphasis on evidence from the universe to reasonably explain belief matters. The bible does not mention much on this evidence-based belief. The Torah has some verses referring to creation that it is God’s beautiful work mostly by referring it to God’s mercy to us that we should benefit from and use it, not much into confirming the aspects of belief as the Quran mainly presents. There must be reasonably consistent evidence in the universe for me to confirm my belief in God. Evidence must be from the work of the Creator demonstrating that this world needs a Creator.

The phrase “ أَوْ لَتَعُودُنَّ فِى مِلَّتِنَا ۚ”, translated as “unless you return to our religion”. The word “مِلَّتِ” means religion but what does religion mean? The way society functions, the way we live, i.e.  our social norms, values. In a way, the people are saying: “you will save yourself when you turn to our values. Otherwise, we will expel you from this land.” Threatening to expel the believing scientists from their position such as nowadays to disable one from functioning according to their belief as free-thinking human beings .  

Even the countries that may claim to be religion oriented are teaching secular values to the mass population, the materialist, naturalistic explanation of creation. What is happening is they teach secular values and next to it teach religion. At its core, the understanding of the universe is filled with secular values. Although one may claim to believe in God but with the secular indoctrinated mind have the view that things are operating by themselves. This results in living the daily life, worldly life by following a material understanding with some form of “religious knowledge” to top it off.

Prophet Shuaib’s reply is “أَوَلَوْ كُنَّا كَـٰرِهِينَ “, translated as “Even if we hate it?”. I don’t want it, still you want to force it upon us. This is what the prophets can say: “I hate to turn back to your social values, secular values of life. It is unbearable for me to understand life as you understand, to live with that, it is unacceptable and hateful to me.” The prophets are demonstrating no personal revenge, no personal threat which is an important principle that we should learn from the Quran.


قَدِ ٱفْتَرَيْنَا عَلَى ٱللَّهِ كَذِبًا إِنْ عُدْنَا فِى مِلَّتِكُم بَعْدَ إِذْ نَجَّىٰنَا ٱللَّهُ مِنْهَا ۚ وَمَا يَكُونُ لَنَآ أَن نَّعُودَ فِيهَآ إِلَّآ أَن يَشَآءَ ٱللَّهُ رَبُّنَا ۚ وَسِعَ رَبُّنَا كُلَّ شَىْءٍ عِلْمًا ۚ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ تَوَكَّلْنَا ۚ رَبَّنَا ٱفْتَحْ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَ قَوْمِنَا بِٱلْحَقِّ وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ ٱلْفَـٰتِحِينَ 

7:89 If we were to return to your religion after God has saved us from it, we would be inventing lies about Him: there is no way we could return to it- unless by the will of God our Lord: He encompasses everything in His knowledge. We put our trust in God. Our Lord! Expose the truth [by judging who is right] between us and our people, for You are the best judge.’

I learn from this verse that I cannot guarantee my belief. However, with my free choice, there is no way I can go back to your religion and values, i.e. go back to that horrible state. I have relieved myself from meaninglessness in my life with the horrible understanding that whatever I have, I will lose it permanently. This temporary nature of the universe is beautiful, it is one of the most important blessings of God. It attracts and teaches everyone with no exception. Whatever we are investing and gaining in this world is immediately leaving us behind, on the spot. We cannot hold on to anything. Everyday I hope to get something but there is an unknown aspect where at any time I may lose everything. Death can come at any time and I am approaching it, getting older, getting nearer to it. This world cannot be the ultimate purpose of anyone who is paying attention to his reality. 

Everyone can understand that we are going to an unknown future which is unknown by us, a definite end to this world that we are experiencing. How can one say, when we die, there is no feeling of pain? There is no need to wait and die to experience the pain. While living in this world, there is no real satisfaction for human expectations as whatever I have, I am losing them. Human beings want everything permanently for them which is not in this world. The One who created my feelings for permanence can satisfy them, nothing else. 

The phrase “ وَسِعَ رَبُّنَا كُلَّ شَىْءٍ عِلْمًا ۚ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ تَوَكَّلْنَا ۚ”, translated as “He encompasses everything in His knowledge. We put our trust in God”. We cannot trust or guarantee anything for ourselves by ourselves. I have to put my trust in the One who creates me.  As long as I live in this world, live with the consciousness that the things are deliberately given to me by my Creator. The reality that this universe has a Creator is the One that I put my trust in.

The phrase “رَبَّنَا ٱفْتَحْ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَ قَوْمِنَا بِٱلْحَقِّ وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ ٱلْفَـٰتِحِينَ”, translated as “Our Lord! Expose the truth [by judging who is right] between us and our people, for You are the best judge”. This is an interesting prayer of prophet Shu’aib. It is in Your hand to demonstrate the truth to us. Judge who is right and who is wrong, separate for us the truth from falsehood. This separation is not to be understood as a physical separation but ideological. The word “Fa-ta-ha”, translated here as judge, means to open up the truth between us and the believing people. Make it clear as to what I believe in.  Make the truth clear to me as the truth is many times mixed with falsehood in  the minds of people.. Believing people also may mix it with the worldly life similar to the secular ones. I may not be loyal to my belief so I need this prayer and ask God to judge or separate the truth and present it as pure and clear from the falsehood. Practically in my life, my duty is to make it clear to others on what I believe that will be reflected in how I live my life. Someone may invent a lie, may cheat; I should not do that or follow that. In my living and presentation, I should put things clearly where the presentation stands separate from the falsehood. 


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