By November 6, 2022 Read More →

Section A’raf – Part 21

Studying the message of the Quran according to the chronological revelation of sections is a long journey. A point to note is that not every verse of a section was  revealed at the same time. As to where the sections chronologically fit was a subject of slight dispute among the scholars as to which section came before or after another. The “Mushaf” that we hold now to study is not organized as a chronologically revealed revelation of the Quran but the current organization of the sections was done very meticulously by the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) and has been generally accepted by the Quranic scholars.

In our study of section A’raf, the following verse is extremely important, very practical, directly related to our living in society. It describes my situation here and now within the communities that I am in.

وَبَيْنَهُمَا حِجَابٌۭ ۚ وَعَلَى ٱلْأَعْرَافِ رِجَالٌۭ يَعْرِفُونَ كُلًّۢا بِسِيمَىٰهُمْ ۚ وَنَادَوْا۟ أَصْحَـٰبَ ٱلْجَنَّةِ أَن سَلَـٰمٌ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ لَمْ يَدْخُلُوهَا وَهُمْ يَطْمَعُونَ

7:46 There will be a barrier between Paradise and Hell. And there will be persons who in life were endowed with the faculty of discernment between right and wrong, recognizing the residence of both (people of Paradise and Hell) by their appearance. And they call out unto the people of Paradise: “Peace be upon you!” – not having entered it themselves, but longing for it.

The Quran presents the scenario as if it is talking of some event to take place in the hereafter. We should not forget that every description of paradise or hell is the extreme form of the situation, that these things happen here in this world, the reality of what is going on in my life and within the social context I live in. 

When we contemplate on the first section in the “Mushaf”, “Al-Faitha”, starts first with “Bismillah Ar Rahman Ar Raheem, Al hamdu lillahe Rabil Alameen…”. When the Quran says God, that equals to the Lord of the whole universe, whoever owns this world is what we call God. The whole universe is brought to our attention as belonging to Him. Ar’Rahman, Ar’Rahim, consciously, compassionately and mercifully designs the universe. The whole creation in its entirety, with the biggest to the tiniest creature is existing out of His mercy; whatever happens to me is mercy.

“Malik-i Yawmiddin” in simple translation is “the Owner of the Day of Judgement.” When the debts are paid back, i.e. the auditing will be closed where everyone will account to what is credited or debited. Further meaning is that the reality of the creation and everything is presented in the best way in front of people’s eyes. Do we know the reality of what is presented to us in this universe? No, we see the signs to something according to my capacity and intention. No one can be aware of the reality (haqa’iul haqeeqah). The reality of the day of Judgment is such that whoever is the Owner of the universe will disclose Himself in front of everyone. Human beings are given the criterion as to what is right or wrong, what I do in the universe, how much I acknowledge or deny the reality of this world. That’s why we are here to avail the opportunities to accept this reality, get acquainted with it. My feelings say that I love to have an owner who lacks nothing to match my expectations; I love to have an Absolutely Powerful One as my owner.

A prayer we make: May Allah make us among the As-Saabeqoon – the ones who realize this reality at the highest humanly possible level.

The reality of an Absolute Creator is presented to us in the hereafter without any veil. For example, a tree going through several changes in different seasons is a veil as we don’t see the operator of those changes in this world. Can the particles be responsible for creating those changes? Impossible – we are given the tools to investigate the changes which are the veil to let us conclude about an Absolute Agent of change. We experience the qualities of Reality as much as we investigate. However, in the next creation, things would be without a veil, a direct manifestation of His qualities without following the accustomed order of creation at a hundred percent. 

The descriptions of paradise and hell in the Quran presents two extremes to human beings which they can picture while living in this world. 

The extreme descriptions of paradise and hell in the Quran are for me to see my position right now on where I fall in my life journey. Shall I follow this path of paradise or that path of hell is the choice I have to make continuously.

Let us study the word “A’raf” which is used in this verse as “ya’rifoona”, which has the same root. A’raf is also the title of this section. The word “A’raf” as a noun literally means a high hill, i.e. something obvious, stands out from the rest of the environment. It is described in the Quran as a situation of certain human beings. The word comes from “Arafa”, being aware of the reality, those who realize the truth. It is presented in this scenario as people on the hill that would stand out are aware of the believing side and the denier’s side. There are only two sides, no third side in between heaven and hell. The verse refers to the situation of the people as knowing what is right and wrong. The word “Seema” represents one’s reality all together where everyone recognizes what they claim, think and the life they live.  

Those who confirm the truth, live by that truth, enjoy their life are the people of paradise. The scenario presents that as the people of “A’raf”, I know what is right and wrong and call out to the people of paradise: “Peace be upon you!” since I am longing and hoping to be with them. If only I was consistent in practicing what I know is true. For example, a medical student who wants to serve and help people is aware of the requirements of the medical program, has to be serious in his field. The student has the option not to invest in his studies as needed. 

On the one side are the People of paradise – those people who enjoy the truth and feel comfortable in their lives because of the truth. Whereas the ones hoping to be in paradise would express: if only I was honest, practicing accordingly. For example, I believe in God but what about belief in angels, hereafter about which I am ok but have not really thought about them. Not being consistent in my life, spare any time for eternal life, perhaps go to the Friday prayer, not realizing what I am saying. I have to be serious in studying the Quran, build upon what the translations may say, and go on how to use it, benefit from it. 

I should ask myself, how much effort, time am I spending to get to know what the reality of the Quranic message is, on implementing the Prophetic message? What am I doing for an eternal life besides the daily prayers, Friday prayers and fasting? I want to be happy but may live in contradiction to the message of realizing and practicing it. For example, how much am I conscious of my prayers? Most people say God orders us to pray – reducing the prayer to “Fiqh” rules as opposed to worshiping God by presenting my reality as a created, needy being. 

Benefit from the previous studies done by the scholars, study the Quran by looking into the Quranic Arabic language as opposed to the modern Arabic. The translations are a good start but we need to build on the conceptual meaning of the words by seriously studying and living the message accordingly by having the believing attitude. What am I doing with my life, piling up things, property, investments, degrees, career successes when I know that I will leave this world empty handed. What benefit do I get to improve my status in society, to be proud of myself which is nothing but feeding the ego. The Quran describes the piling up of worldly wealth by using the words “wa jama’a fa aw’aa” (and gathered and hoarded wealth) (70: 18), mentioning that they will be really sorry. 

 وَإِذَا صُرِفَتْ أَبْصَـٰرُهُمْ تِلْقَآءَ أَصْحَـٰبِ ٱلنَّارِ قَالُوا۟ رَبَّنَا لَا تَجْعَلْنَا مَعَ ٱلْقَوْمِ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ

7:47 And when their eyes are turned towards the people of the Fire, they will say, “Our Lord, do not let us join the evildoers”  

Now that I understand by looking at the people of paradise, I look at the people of Fire (Hell) and see how unbearable their life is and ask my Lord not to join the evildoers. In my practical life, I have to take eternal life seriously to make living meaningful and not just to satisfy bodily needs only for a temporary time period.


وَنَادَىٰٓ أَصْحَـٰبُ ٱلْأَعْرَافِ رِجَالًۭا يَعْرِفُونَهُم بِسِيمَىٰهُمْ قَالُوا۟ مَآ أَغْنَىٰ عَنكُمْ جَمْعُكُمْ وَمَا كُنتُمْ تَسْتَكْبِرُونَ

7:48 Those who have possessed this ability of discernment will call out to those they recognize by their marks [as evildoers], saying, “How has your collection [of wealth] and all your false pride benefitted you?

The word “tastakbiroon” translated as false pride – how much did I benefit from the achievements I worked for in this world having a good status? I am aware that when I die, I will have nothing with me, I won’t be taking anything with me, only as much as I was thankful, grateful, and benefit from the exemplary life of the prophets of God. I must investigate what the prophets brought to us. I know the data on his life stories, on where his grave is but how much am I benefitting from the message that he brings?


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Post a Comment