By August 21, 2023 Read More →

Section Al A’raf – Part 58

We last studied from section Al A’raf (The Cognizant) what the verse “raising of the mountain over them as if it were a cloud” meant for us in our living. Within the verse we contextualized it and understood that the mountain and the cloud refer to the Scripture of God. If we take the message of the revelation into our hearts and put it into practice, the revelation becomes a cloud that protects us from the harmful sun beams, an external factor that may damage us. The damaging factors can also be our egoistic tendencies which may direct us to the wrong side rather than listening to the advice of the spirit. When we don’t observe the teachings of revelation then the scripture becomes a burden on us. We know the truth and may deny it. The revelation keeps reminding us, our conscience knows what is right but we may keep ignoring it, neglecting it, denying it where the revelation now becomes a burden on us. We may keep ourselves busy with the transient affairs of this universe neglecting the teachings of revelation; not taking them into our hearts. Thus, the message of the Revelations becomes a tenacious load on us as if a mountain is on our shoulder and never leaves us alone with our ignoring the reality. This is the way we are reminded that what we are doing is against the purpose of our existence in this world.

From another perspective, the verse tells us not to be among those people who study the universe and not see the message in it, i.e. do not take the meaning of the universe. They thus put themselves under the burden of matter, like the mountain as it is described in the Qur’an. In order to get rid of this burden, they invent a myriad of irrational explanations, superficial, imaginary and speculative concepts. For example, things are accidentally happening. An atom is full of energy and then explodes by itself. Is there any evidence of this? Their explanation comes with mathematical equations but is that the explanation? The mathematical equations necessitate that there must be a source of existence not of the nature of this universe. This universe needs to be created as it cannot sustain its existence. By ignoring this reality, denying it, one puts the burden of reality on themselves and suffers from it. If one tries to understand the qualities observed in the universe with a free mind, one cannot say that they happen to be existing by themselves. One cannot say that matter is the source of existence of an idea, an understanding, or feelings and instincts of living beings. Matter cannot be the source of satisfaction for the human spirit, it only satisfies the needs of the human body which is transient.

We should take to heart the teachings of the Scripture as emphasized in the verse as well as get the meaning of the universe and put it into practice, i.e. enjoy living with the connection with my Lord. Rather than making the mountain (Scripture) a burden for me, I can climb up the mountain similar to how prophet Moses climbed mount Sinai to receive the revelation of God. I am free to either take the mountain over my shoulder and suffer from its burden or I can climb the mountain to receive the message of the Creator of the universe. I am left completely free with the options out there for me to choose from, i.e. I am free to either accept the truth, the reality of what the revelation teaches me or choose to deny it. 

Let us continue with the following verse:


وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِنۢ بَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ مِن ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ ۖ قَالُوا۟ بَلَىٰ ۛ شَهِدْنَآ ۛ أَن تَقُولُوا۟ يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَـٰمَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَـٰذَا غَـٰفِلِينَ

7:172 Whenever your Lord takes out the offspring from the loins of the Children of Adam and makes them bear witness about themselves, He says, “Am I not your Lord?” and they reply “Yes, we bear witness.” So, you cannot say on the Day of Resurrection, “We were not aware of this.”

After emphasizing on the reality of the mountain where I can suffer under the mountain because I cannot really deny the truth. This hurts my feelings, hurts my consciousness, i.e. my human side suffers under this burden. The other option is that I can climb up the mountain and receive as the Quran describes prophet Moses climbing the mountain to receive the revelation of God. This verse addresses me as the children of Adam reminding me that I was born, sent to this world. I am made to witness my reality. The order in creation is such that we are coming out of a mother and father coming together, an apparent cause and effect result of them getting together. The father and mother have no say in the creation of the child.

This verse cannot be taken simply and read literally which is the case for most of the other verses of the Quran besides a few which deal with rulings on practical matters such as on distribution of inheritance, relationships with family and relationships in society. The historical reading of these verses prescribing the rulings must be contextualized under the background, under what conditions these verses were revealed so that I may transfer the method practiced there and apply it to my living conditions. This requires specialty and expertise. The great majority of the Quran speaks with a variety of language styles, figures of speech such as metaphors, analogies, parables, allegories, allusions, metonymies (such as the mountain representing the Revelations), that need interpretation and need work on understanding them. 

For example, reading the above verse literally is not confirmable where many would say that I don’t remember saying this or having this conversation with God. Some scholars narrated this to have happened in the spiritual world (Aalam-e-Arwah) where it is still not confirmable. The verse starts to make sense once I start questioning why my God tells me this. Why do you give me the burden of responsibility to confirm this message? I have no sign in my life that I said this at all. I have not seen anyone else bearing witness that “I witness that you are my Lord.” I question what does this communication with my Lord mean to me in my living? 

Building on the previous verse, I have the option to make the mountain as my ride to receive revelation similar to the “Buraq” (ride) of the prophet (pbuh) used for his ascension. The description of receiving the message, popularly known as the ascension in the Quran and this verse are supporting the idea of benefitting from the revelation. The ideas in the Quran are all interconnected with each other as long as we don’t read the Quran literally, because it is a book that uses many literary devices such as analogies, similes, metaphors… to convey its message. Let us see how we can relate this verse to our lives.

The verse continues with the phrase “ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ“, translated as, He says, “Am I not your Lord?” When we understand that we are created, introduced to this world as we go through the stages of a baby trying to learn as many things in the universe to perfect ourselves to being an adult, a full-fledged human being. It is at the maturity age when I start as though hearing “the voice” of my Creator, “Am I not your Lord?” As a child, we don’t really know what we are choosing but at the age of maturity, we come to  know what is right and what is wrong. We are conscious of what we are choosing and the consequence of that choice. We come to realize that there is something right or wrong and question which way should I choose since I have free will. This reality of creation is such that my creator makes me question, teaching me to think about my life, about myself and I should hear the voice from my own inborn conscience that “I have a Lord”. As a complete human being, I understand that I cannot be here by chance, to be meaningless, purposeless. I have no excuse not to accept the reality. I am given the free will to choose that I either have a Lord that creates me and sustains me or not. I am given the opportunities to choose from the universe, from the given bounties where I can use my reasoning, intelligence, conscience and feelings. All these reminders come to my mind as a human being. 

If I read this phrase literally, the Quran says that God asks me “Am I not your Lord?”. I would say I haven’t heard anything, No one speaks to me, only humans talk to me and no one asked me this or claimed to be my Lord. The literal way of reading the verse does not help me.

As we discussed that, in our adulthood, our human spiritual side questions that do I have a Lord? Do I have meaning in my life? Am I here for nothing? I am changing, aging, I see my grandparents’ old pictures when they were young like me and now they have grown out of that stage. Some have died, others will die soon. What is my future then, is it to just die and leave this world? Is the consequence of my life to disappear at the end of my existence? Am I just experiencing here only a bad joke? What is going on? These are the questions that bother the mind of an adult human being. We may try to choose to ignore it, not reflect on it. Most people don’t take heed of this voice, this reality. Some see that there is something serious here in the voice of my Creator speaking to me but don’t want to accept a Lord; they ignore this voice and deny it. Some may accept the reality that I am a transient being, perfectly created, I have been given the qualities to know what is right and what is wrong. How can I reduce myself to just a body?

The verse continues with the phrase “قَالُوا۟ بَلَىٰ” translated as “Yes, we bear witness.”, i.e. all of us bear witness that: “You are our Lord”.  Really, do I bear witness that I have a Lord? The word “bala” does not mean only “Yes”. In Arabic language, when a question is asked in a negative form, the answer is “bala”, meaning that “yes, I know that You are my Lord”. Human potential acknowledges this reality that I have a Lord. We are created with a spirit that acknowledges the Creator. It is not just my mouth that says but my human reality witnesses that “You are my Lord”. However, we should know that we have free will. For any solution that concerns the reality of this universe, as far as human beings are involved, the element of free will must be considered. In the earlier verse that we studied relating to either climbing the mountain or carrying it as a burden also involves the human free will. 

The verse continues with “ أَن تَقُولُوا۟ يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَـٰمَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَـٰذَا غَـٰفِلِينَ”, translated as “So you cannot say on the Day of Resurrection, ‘We were not aware of this,’”. We are usually concerned with things outwardly, i.e. we look at the matter and not extract meaning from it. If there was no matter we cannot deduce anything. Our feelings communicate with the meaningful side of the universe which is also referred to as the angelic side. If there was no universe, there would be no communication and thus no meaning. In this creation, I may feel that I have a Creator and if I confirm this I would become a follower of religion. I look at the institutionalized religions and think that I don’t want to be a member of the religion of such institutions. However, in my reality it is a serious option that I have a Creator though I may tell others that I don’t believe in a Creator. Hypothetically, in the court when a judge asks me, “Did you live according to the understanding that you have a Creator?” I would say, “I felt it within myself but I was lazy and didn’t practice it.”  The point being made is that only my thoughts, feelings  do not bring any evidence to my reality, i.e. we have to physically practice the confirmation of truth as God takes our physical practice, not just the ideas that I have in my mind and feelings. 

When I say: “yes, we bear witness that You are my Lord” to acknowledge my Creator, I have to physically practice that witnessing. If I don’t, on the day of resurrection what do I say to my Lord: “I had the thought of it but got busy taking care of my worldly life. Physical practice of my confirmation of my Lord is necessary in this world since we are created in a physical world so that in the hereafter when I am taken to court, I have the evidence. I cannot provide as evidence that I believed in God in my heart because there was a possibility but I did not live according to that understanding. God will show me what I did practically. This is the way of the Qur’an that teaches us through metaphorical languages.

Failure and shortcomings in the practice of acknowledging my Lord is another subject because it is related to repentance and forgiveness. For example, if someone attended middle school and tried to graduate but couldn’t. By trying to pass, acknowledging the school and the teachers is a different case then the one who did not attend school at all. The mistakes, shortcomings, not completely practicing my belief is a different matter. We should understand that declaring that I have a Lord, an Owner who is taking care of me, sustains me needs physical declaration. That is why the Quran says that they said, “yes we bear witness that You are our Lord” which includes my physical practice.

أَوْ تَقُولُوٓا۟ إِنَّمَآ أَشْرَكَ ءَابَآؤُنَا مِن قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا ذُرِّيَّةًۭ مِّنۢ بَعْدِهِمْ ۖ أَفَتُهْلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ ٱلْمُبْطِلُونَ

7:173 or so that you do not say, “It was our forefathers who began to ascribe divinity to other beings beside God and we were only their children. Will You destroy us because of the falsehoods they invented?”

This verse is the continuation of the previous verse and is also important and practical to my life. As we understood, I cannot really have any excuse to not recognize the Lord of the universe. I have been given the consciousness, reasoning, intelligence in my spirit to be aware of the reality of the universe. I have been given the free will to choose, to either confirm or not, to act upon it or not. I should acknowledge by using my free will that I have to practice belief one way or another. 

Another option is that I know my feelings tell me otherwise but I say that I have inherited the understanding of the world from my forefathers. I cannot put my understanding of this universe and the practice of the reality on my forefathers or culture i.e. I cannot use their falsehoods as an excuse for not taking up my responsibility and thus destroying myself by claiming that I am just one of their descendant children that inherited their understanding. 

I cannot say that I don’t live in a Muslim country, and secular ideas are prevalent. Everyone is busy in their worldly life including the Muslim population. Secular ideas are epidemic in every community and part of the world. Everyone can say that I was raised in this culture so I follow this religion which is my inheritance. Someone born into a Muslim family may say that our forefathers transferred belief in One God to me. Can this person now say that I should be rewarded and not punished for what my forefathers have transferred to me? 

Can belief be transferred from one person to another? What is the logic of being rewarded for something the forefathers did? If one says that my father said that there is an Absolute Creator of the universe, there is no deity but God (la ilaha illallah).  That is the father’s conclusion. Did I come to this conclusion based on my own investigation and reasoning? To claim to be a follower of a religion based on family and culture is not justifiable. We should understand that everyone will be responsible for what they have consciously and deliberately chosen. If people follow a religious tradition just because they were born into it without investigating whether it makes sense for them or not, this is also their  deliberate choice of not taking their own responsibilities on their shoulders. 

The term “mushrik” is related to the assigning of partners to God which means that the things have some divine qualities to exist by themselves and, as an extension of this claim, to give existence to other things. The Quranic teachings are completely based on “tawhid”, the Absoluteness of the Creator where everything is given existence by this Absolute Being. I have to understand the creation of the universe accordingly. I should use the qualities within me accordingly and decide for myself whether I have a Lord or not. I cannot use my parent’s being a believer as a “defense mechanism” to get away from my own responsibility. For example, can someone born into a “disbeliever family” say that I was born into this family which is not of my choosing so why should I be punished? The parents taught me this, so why are you destroying me since you created me in this family? It is  equally valid to say that a person who is born into a believing family cannot expect to be treated with any reward of belief. As the previous verse teaches that I have been given the spirit that acknowledges that I have a Lord. My human potentiality, which has nothing to do with my parents, community, environment and country, tells me that I have a Lord. I as an individual can witness, can understand through my conscience that I have an Owner. I cannot make the excuse of the external environment I find myself in. I cannot say that I was with the believing community, friends of God, so I should be saved! Did I confirm myself that I have a Lord? Did I feel the same thing as my friends? Did I get the same understanding as them? Did I put into practice what I concluded myself? I cannot hide myself behind the values of good characters or wrong ideas and say that I am virtuous and would be excused because of the environment that I found myself in. I cannot expect to be virtuous by being in the presence of other virtuous people, unless I benefit within myself from the virtues being shared. The virtues of others belong to them, I have to take care of my virtuosity. 

Everyone is created within a certain environment according to God’s Will and His Justice and they are responsible within their environments. I cannot say that I didn’t know what is right as there is conscience, which acts like a compass within me that tells me the right from the wrong. This conscience makes me confirm that I have a Lord. By using my free will, my spirit responds: “Yes, I have a Creator”.

This verse addresses both the deniers of the truth and, at the same time, the opportunistic claims of those who call themselves believers. It speaks to everyone who is looking for guidance in their living.


وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

7:174 In this way We explain the messages, so that they may turn [to the right path]

The Quran mentions here that We are telling you this so that you have your own evidence and witnessing to confirm that you have a Lord and that you do not hide behind external excuses. Everyone is responsible for themselves so that hopefully they may turn to the right path, i.e. do not make any excuses, follow the conscience, be realistic to yourself, and practice it. 

I can read this verse and say that I am already a believer, I have read the message so I am already on the right path. Does this verse not apply to me anymore? I cannot guarantee that I am already on the right path. Who can claim that they are following the news from their spirit which is equipped with many senses that are waiting to be nourished, they are like seeds that need to grow into a tree. 

I should attempt to bear in my mind that I have to be with God, that I am a created being. I have nothing to own, I am always in need of guidance, help from my Creator. I should follow the news from my conscience and other qualities that God has implanted within me. Be aware that none of us can claim perfection, we are always lacking perfection. What is expected of us is to be on the right path which helps us to be with God. I should not deviate and avoid those paths that lead to worldly concerns and arouse egoistic attitudes.


وَٱتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ ٱلَّذِىٓ ءَاتَيْنَـٰهُ ءَايَـٰتِنَا فَٱنسَلَخَ مِنْهَا فَأَتْبَعَهُ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنُ فَكَانَ مِنَ ٱلْغَاوِينَ

7:175 Tell them the story of the man to whom We gave Our messages and who then cast them aside. And [only then] Satan catches up with him and consequently, becomes one of those who stray into error. 

I should read this verse as speaking to me, i.e. the man being mentioned is me. When I push away the revelation of God from my life, ignore it then I will fall astray. For example, I know that I am a created being but when something happens, I panic. I may declare that I am a successful person, this is my property, I am a good man. I may do all these things in my living. In my practical living, I need to be careful as I may take, for example, ownership of myself or the property that I am given. I may say that it is my property and I worked hard to get it. As soon as I have this attitude, this egoistic side, it is only then that Satan catches up with me and says that you are doing well. This option opens up the whisperings of Satan. It is correct that I have to take care of the worldly life but it doesn’t mean that in my relationship with the world, I should ignore my Creator, ignore that the universe belongs to Him, I belong to Him. If I choose to neglect the messages that I have received through my human spirit, becoming aware of the message and confirming the message, inevitably I find myself falling for the baseless claims which are explained in this verse as “Satanic.” 

My Creator sends a prophet and I have to take him as my model of living, set my life according to his teachings. Usually what I am doing has nothing to do with the prophet who doesn’t come to my mind. I do things the way I want and not the way the prophet demonstrated it to me. When I don’t follow the message, then, I am not on the right path. The Satanic ideas come with the whispering that you are doing very well as you worked for your degree and deserve it, you worked for the house, the car, your clothes, you deserve them well. As long as we push the message away from receiving guidance, it is automatically replaced with Satanic whisperings. As long as I deny the truth, all other options come one after the other. For example, if I deny that 2+2 is 4 then there are many other options that come such as: 3,5,6,7, etc. The wrong options follow one after the other. As long as I don’t acknowledge that all the good qualities within me are from my Creator, then I claim ownership on them, i.e. I am a good man, a smart man, I do the best things… all of which are the Satanic whisperings that fill in. 

There is no vacuum in creation, in the life of human beings, in denial and confirmation, between right or wrong. Either it is right as what exists or wrong which does not exist. The wrong that what Satan offers is an option that does not have any external reality.


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