By March 26, 2023 Read More →

Section Al A’raf – Part 41

We will continue studying the following verses of the Quran from section A’raf (Cognizant) as they relate to my practical life:

قَالُوٓا۟ أُوذِينَا مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَأْتِيَنَا وَمِنۢ بَعْدِ مَا جِئْتَنَا ۚ قَالَ عَسَىٰ رَبُّكُمْ أَن يُهْلِكَ عَدُوَّكُمْ وَيَسْتَخْلِفَكُمْ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ فَيَنظُرَ كَيْفَ تَعْمَلُونَ

7:129 [The Children of Israel] said, “We were harmed before you came to us and (even) after you came to us.” [Moses] said, “It may be that your Lord will destroy your enemy and make you successors in the land, and see how you act.”

The first part of the verse is like a complaint towards the prophet by the children of Israel. Prophet Moses tried his best to save the children of Israel from slavery. However, they understood that it is the physical, material and financial side that is more important than the message from the prophet. 

This is a message applicable to me right now where I may not appreciate the prophetic message to address my human problems that I may be facing now. Unfortunately, we may only see the material and physical benefit to our living in this world. The children of Israel are described as gaining freedom from slavery and traveling the lands as free individuals. They did not have a settled life physically but God guaranteed their provision. Despite food and water being guaranteed, they did not see the benefit of the message and the bounties of God. We can put ourselves in their shoes and assess how much we appreciate the blessings of God continuously being given to us. 

The verse states that: “after Moses came to them, they felt that they were harmed.” As humans we may be carried away with feelings that demand immediate satisfaction rather than eternal satisfaction. I may only be looking for immediate pleasure and satisfaction and not pay much attention to the prophetic message in its entirety. For example, one may look at the inheritance laws and say that it is unjust to the females and makes one’s life difficult, without really knowing why the Qur’an prescribes these rulings and in which conditions they need to be practiced. Another example is when the Quran asks us to do something such as to give zakat (charity) to needy people. I can make the excuse that I work so hard, they are not working so why should I give to charity. The Quran also prescribes certain rules for living in this world. We may not see that the giver of our existence gives meaning to our living in this world and is for our benefit. These kinds of criticisms of the prophetic messages may seem to be legitimate concerns just because the reader may put these rulings within the context of their immediate environment which has nothing to do with the world view of the Qur’an; without considering the purpose of the teachings of the Qur’an which establishes a completely different world view. Why are we here, who is our owner, what is the future that is meant for us? Is death the end of our existence? What happens after death?  The Lord of the universe makes our life so meaningful but we pay more attention to inheritance laws for example which I may complain about, as to why does my brother get more than I do? We sell out our infinite freedom for a handful of material, transient things and not see the spiritual side of the message, many beneficial wisdoms for my human side. 

In an Islamic administrative government, there are many things that need to be taken care of. However, we are so concerned with the material, temporary things. We may be taking the literal translation of the verses, we may not see the context within the whole vision of the Quranic Sharia structure but just pick a few things out of context and put it into a secular world view and life. Many are so busy with taking topics from the Quran out of context, arguing and debating over them without considering what the message of the Quran as a whole is and what it brings to one’s human life. Sharia rules only make sense within the Sharia worldview for those who are experiencing  Sharia worldview in their lives. Like secular laws only makes sense and looks reasonable within a secular worldview.

This case is presented in the attitude of the children of Israel towards prophet Moses. Just by not having a few things, one may not pay attention to the many things that one has been blessed with. For example, when the Quran tells me to be mindful of my Creator who has created me to be a candidate for an eternal life, I may completely forget my purpose here. My responsibilities in this world are so simple, which are to be thankful to my Creator and not to worship anything in this world but worship the Creator of the universe alone who also is my Creator as I am within the universe. I have to be thankful and should devote my life to my Creator.

Moses’s response to the children of Israel is that: “It may be your Lord will destroy your enemy and make you successors in the land, then see how you act”. The prophetic response indicates that you are going through an education whether you will be loyal to your prophet who demonstrated miracles to you in front of your eyes, He set you free from slavery. The necessary things such as food and water have been provided. You wouldn’t know what will come after these difficult days. You have seen the army of Pharaoh who was oppressing you, had enslaved you and God set you free from slavery and destroyed his army. Don’t you notice all this? You will be a successor in the land in this life.

What is being “successor in the land”? This is related to being a candidate for paradise with the belief in God. In this world any ownership of property is temporary but the prophetic message says that after one is given death, they will be able to get the best land in the hereafter. A few verses from section Zumar of the Quran describes:

وَسِيقَ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱتَّقَوْا۟ رَبَّهُمْ إِلَى ٱلْجَنَّةِ زُمَرًا ۖ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا جَآءُوهَا وَفُتِحَتْ أَبْوَٰبُهَا وَقَالَ لَهُمْ خَزَنَتُهَا سَلَـٰمٌ عَلَيْكُمْ طِبْتُمْ فَٱدْخُلُوهَا خَـٰلِدِينَ

39:73 And those who were mindful of their Lord will be led to Paradise in [successive] groups. When they arrive at its already open gates, its keepers will say, “Peace be upon you! You have done well, so come in, to stay forever.

وَقَالُوا۟ ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ ٱلَّذِى صَدَقَنَا وَعْدَهُۥ وَأَوْرَثَنَا ٱلْأَرْضَ نَتَبَوَّأُ مِنَ ٱلْجَنَّةِ حَيْثُ نَشَآءُ فَنِعْمَ أَجْرُ ٱلْعَـٰمِلِينَ

39: 74 The righteous will say, “Praise be to God Who has fulfilled His promise to us, and made us inherit the everlasting land to settle in Paradise wherever we please.” How excellent is the reward of those who work [righteousness]!

The result of worshiping your Lord in this world, being mindful of Him will lead you to Paradise. Those who don’t see this world as a result of a conscious Creator, will not be able to become the successor on earth. Why? They may have the property but when they die, they will not have it; only live as a temporary tenant in this world. We are benefitting and using this earth but will lose it. Anyone who listens to the prophetic message understands that this is a transient world, we will die and have land in Paradise which is eternal. 

The difference between a believer and a disbeliever, as far as owning a piece of  land is concerned, is that the believers realize that it is a temporary place, the real inheritance will happen in the eternal life after death. Whereas, a disbeliever thinks that he will live in a land and when he dies he will lose it. The disbeliever cannot understand that he is going to have any permanent “land” because of the denial of his Absolute Conscious Creator.

This concept of eternal land in the form of Paradise is missing for many. The promised land is an obsession for the children of Israel. Some Muslims also think this way because of the influence from the Judaic tradition where a specific geographic area is seen as the promised land. The prophetic message cannot be limited to this earth. It brings the news that Paradise is “the promised land” for the believers where one can enjoy eternally. Any land in this universe is only temporary land, it cannot be “the promised land.”

وَلَقَدْ أَخَذْنَآ ءَالَ فِرْعَوْنَ بِٱلسِّنِينَ وَنَقْصٍۢ مِّنَ ٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ

7:130 Indeed, We afflicted Pharaoh’s people with famine and shortage of crops so they might be mindful.

Why does God give us some sort of “calamities”?

The Creator of the universe takes things away from us from time to time to make us realize that we cannot hold onto the things. For me it is the only way to realize who is the true Provider.  If I don’t understand the reality of this world, I may theoretically think that at the end I will die and everything will be left behind. Practically, I may be engaged with this world without really thinking as if I am not going to die, not going to lose whatever properties that I have. When I have it, I say that is what I wanted, worked for it and now I have it. When someone asks me if I will die one day, I would agree and say: “yes everyone dies”. However, it never comes to my mind that whatever I possess and enjoy now will leave me. I may be engaging with my phone for many moments of my life but I forget that this is a transient thing, I should not lose my feelings on the transient things but orient them for eternal satisfaction. Practically, I need reminders that wake me up from my negligence of the reality of this world.

As a result of the mercy of the Creator, the best way of teaching me, educating me, before I die, some apparent “calamities” are created occasionally. They are meant to remind me physically where I need to realize that I cannot guarantee anything by myself. In my relationship with this world, I have to keep the relationship between me and the Creator of my existence. This world is a training place that prepares me for eternal life. Occasionally, I may need reminders as practically I may not apply my being to keep my relation with my Lord by ignoring my reality.

فَإِذَا جَآءَتْهُمُ ٱلْحَسَنَةُ قَالُوا۟ لَنَا هَـٰذِهِۦ ۖ وَإِن تُصِبْهُمْ سَيِّئَةٌۭ يَطَّيَّرُوا۟ بِمُوسَىٰ وَمَن مَّعَهُۥٓ ۗ أَلَآ إِنَّمَا طَـٰٓئِرُهُمْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

7:131 In times of prosperity, they [Pharaoh’s people] said, “This is what we deserve,” but in adversity, they blamed it on Moses and those with him. Surely all is destined by God. Yet most of them did not know.

In times of prosperity, I may claim that I worked hard so I deserve the blessings. In hard times when something doesn’t happen according to my expectations, I may put the blame on other people or things. I don’t necessarily blame the prophets but may criticize the message of the prophets. Contradict the message and criticize the prophet. I don’t blame in good times on the mercy of God, but in hard times, I may ask where is the Mercy of God? Why does He put me in a situation that goes against my expectations? My blame gets directed towards the prophetic message and eventually towards God. I lose my understanding of the blessings of God which I have been taking for granted. These are the blames that nowadays go on where the message of the prophet is neglected. We may not see the signs and blessings of God that we enjoy as the prophetic message teaches us. I need to listen to the prophetic message and apply to my life right now. The prophet is not giving me details of some historical event which must have been true during their time but it must be applicable to me now. Whether things are good or bad, according to my expectations or not, is nothing but the will of God, decided by Him to help me be aware of my reality and the reality of this world. These kinds of creations are to be taken as the means of educating me and preparing me for the permanent life after death. This is nothing but Mercy for me.

وَقَالُوا۟ مَهْمَا تَأْتِنَا بِهِۦ مِنْ ءَايَةٍۢ لِّتَسْحَرَنَا بِهَا فَمَا نَحْنُ لَكَ بِمُؤْمِنِينَ

7:132 They said [to Moses], “No matter what sign you may bring to deceive us, we will never believe in you”

For me I have to see that when anything comes to me, I have to see them as signs from my Lord. One may think that the message of the prophets is something supernatural that I may not be able to practice in my life. As an example, the people close to Pharaoh regarded the demonstration of miracles by the prophet as belonging to the prophet himself and him being a magician. Seeing the prophet as a magician distances him from his purpose as a messenger of God. It would prevent one to see the signs and be deprived from the prophetic message.


فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ ٱلطُّوفَانَ وَٱلْجَرَادَ وَٱلْقُمَّلَ وَٱلضَّفَادِعَ وَٱلدَّمَ ءَايَـٰتٍۢ مُّفَصَّلَـٰتٍۢ فَٱسْتَكْبَرُوا۟ وَكَانُوا۟ قَوْمًۭا مُّجْرِمِينَ

7:133 So we sent upon them [Pharaoh’s people] floods, locusts, lice, frogs, and blood – all as clear signs, but they persisted in arrogance and were a criminal people.

All the calamities are signs to tell us that we are not in control of our lives. We may not see calamities as signs but as warnings. What is the difference? Usually we may interpret the calamities or disasters as warnings rather than signs. The words “Nazr” (warning) and “Ayah” (sign) are both used in the Quran. This particular verse mentions clear signs. Why does it say signs rather than warnings? 

We should not see the warnings as something to shake us but see them as signs. Signs are there for us to get some meaning out of them. We see in the example of Pharaoh’s people who rejected prophet Moses by denying his message. Upon the rejection of the message, God sent them another kind of physical sign to demonstrate that they are not the owners or decision makers in this world. 

I cannot really stop the floods, the locusts, the lice, etc. I cannot have any say or control on what is created out there in the universe. The signs in the universe point to something else, i.e. not to themselves. I have to see the meaning in those signs and what they point to!

وَلَمَّا وَقَعَ عَلَيْهِمُ ٱلرِّجْزُ قَالُوا۟ يَـٰمُوسَى ٱدْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ بِمَا عَهِدَ عِندَكَ ۖ لَئِن كَشَفْتَ عَنَّا ٱلرِّجْزَ لَنُؤْمِنَنَّ لَكَ وَلَنُرْسِلَنَّ مَعَكَ بَنِىٓ إِسْرَٰٓءِيلَ

7:134 Whenever a plague struck them, they would say, “Moses, pray for us to your Lord by virtue of the covenant He has made with you. If you remove this plague from us. We will truly believe in you and will let the children of Israel go with you.”

The deniers of the prophetic message were fed up with their lives because of the creation of these signs. Rather than seeing and understanding the signs, they asked Moses to pray to his Lord. They don’t see all of what they are going through as coming from their Lord but see them as coming from Moses’ Lord. This is what the Quran is teaching us that the deniers of the message speak from their understanding and perspective. They see prophet Moses to be the cause of removal of the plagues and not the Lord of the universe who has the power to do so. Prophet Moses can only pray and ask God, only He can remove these plagues as their Creator. 

Pharaoh’s people are making promises to believe and free the children of Israel once the plague is removed. We have to watch out that whenever some plague or calamity is removed in our lives, we have to keep our covenant with God as the Lord of the universe.


فَلَمَّا كَشَفْنَا عَنْهُمُ ٱلرِّجْزَ إِلَىٰٓ أَجَلٍ هُم بَـٰلِغُوهُ إِذَا هُمْ يَنكُثُونَ

7:135 When we removed the plague from them, giving them time to fulfill their promise, they would break their word.

The Lord of the universe removed the plague but the promise to believe and free the children of Israel is not kept. I am given the time in this life to read the signs being presented to me.


فَٱنتَقَمْنَا مِنْهُمْ فَأَغْرَقْنَـٰهُمْ فِى ٱلْيَمِّ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَذَّبُوا۟ بِـَٔايَـٰتِنَا وَكَانُوا۟ عَنْهَا غَـٰفِلِينَ

7:136 So We inflicted punishment upon them, drowning them in the sea for denying Our messages and being heedless of them.

Not seeing the signs of the Lord of the universe results in punishment and drowning for the meaninglessness of the existence of this universe. When anything happens to me in this world which I don’t like, I have to see it as a sign from my Lord. I have to see which kind of meanings I am expected to get from the signs.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Post a Comment