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Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Surat Al-A’raf/The Heights (The Wall with Elevations) 7- Meccan – Ayats 206-Section Ten – Verses from 130-141


And indeed We punished the people of Pharaoh with years of draught and shortness of crops, that they might receive admonition/remember/take heed.(130)

وَلَقَدْ أَخَذْنَا آَلَ فِرْعَوْنَ بِالسِّنِينَ وَنَقْصٍ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ (130)

But whenever good (times) came to them they say: “This is due to us”. But if evil afflicted them/gripped by calamity, they ascribed it evil omens connected with Moses and those with him! Verily, behold in truth, the evil omens are theirs in God’s Sight, but  most of them do not know/understand. (131)

فَإِذَا جَاءَتْهُمُ الْحَسَنَةُ قَالُوا لَنَا هَذِهِ وَإِنْ تُصِبْهُمْ سَيِّئَةٌ يَطَّيَّرُوا بِمُوسَى وَمَنْ مَعَهُ أَلَا إِنَّمَا طَائِرُهُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ (131)

They said [to Moses]:”Whatever be the Signs you bring to us to work there-with your sorcery on us, we shall never believe in you”. (132)

وَقَالُوا مَهْمَا تَأْتِنَا بِهِ مِنْ آَيَةٍ لِتَسْحَرَنَا بِهَا فَمَا نَحْنُ لَكَ بِمُؤْمِنِينَ (132)

So We sent (plagues) on them, (Wholesale Death) the flood, the locusts, the lice, the frogs, and the blood, (as a succession) of Signs openly self-explained; but they still remained steeped in arrogance, a criminal people given sin. (133)   

فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ الطُّوفَانَ وَالْجَرَادَ وَالْقُمَّلَ وَالضَّفَادِعَ وَالدَّمَ آَيَاتٍ مُفَصَّلَاتٍ فَاسْتَكْبَرُوا وَكَانُوا قَوْمًا مُجْرِمِينَ (133)

And when (every time) the punishment fell on them, they said:”O’ Moses! (on our behalf) invoke your Lord in virtue of His promise to you; if you will remove the penalty from us, we shall truly believe in you, and we shall send away the Children of Israel with you”. (134) 

وَلَمَّا وَقَعَ عَلَيْهِمُ الرِّجْزُ قَالُوا يَا مُوسَى ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ بِمَا عَهِدَ عِنْدَكَ لَئِنْ كَشَفْتَ عَنَّا الرِّجْزَ لَنُؤْمِنَنَّ لَكَ وَلَنُرْسِلَنَّ مَعَكَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ (134)

But (every time) when We removed the penalty from them –according to a fixed term which they had to fulfill/reach. Behold! They broke their word! (135) 

فَلَمَّا كَشَفْنَا عَنْهُمُ الرِّجْزَ إِلَى أَجَلٍ هُمْ بَالِغُوهُ إِذَا هُمْ يَنْكُثُونَ (135)

So We exacted retribution from them: We drowned them in the sea, because they rejected and denied Our Signs, and were heedless and failed to take warning from them. (136)

فَانْتَقَمْنَا مِنْهُمْ فَأَغْرَقْنَاهُمْ فِي الْيَمِّ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَذَّبُوا بِآَيَاتِنَا وَكَانُوا عَنْهَا غَافِلِينَ (136)

And We made the people who were considered weak (and of no account) the inheritors of lands in both East and Western parts, whereof which We have blessed. And the fair word of your Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel because of their endurance. And We destroyed completely all the great works and fine buildings which Pharaoh and his people had constructed/erected.(137)  

وَأَوْرَثْنَا الْقَوْمَ الَّذِينَ كَانُوا يُسْتَضْعَفُونَ مَشَارِقَ الْأَرْضِ وَمَغَارِبَهَا الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَةُ رَبِّكَ الْحُسْنَى عَلَى بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ بِمَا صَبَرُوا وَدَمَّرْنَا مَا كَانَ يَصْنَعُ فِرْعَوْنُ وَقَوْمُهُ وَمَا كَانُوا يَعْرِشُونَ (137)

And We took the Children of Israel (with safety) across the Se, and they came upon a people devoted entirely to some idols (in worship), they said:”O’ Moses! Fashion/make for us a god like the gods they have!”. He said:”Surely, you are a people without knowledge”. (138)  

وَجَاوَزْنَا بِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْبَحْرَ فَأَتَوْا عَلَى قَوْمٍ يَعْكُفُونَ عَلَى أَصْنَامٍ لَهُمْ قَالُوا يَا مُوسَى اجْعَلْ لَنَا إِلَهًا كَمَا لَهُمْ آَلِهَةٌ قَالَ إِنَّكُمْ قَوْمٌ تَجْهَلُونَ (138)

[Moses added] ”Verily, as to these peoples/folks will be destroyed, the cult they are in is (but) a fragment of ruin, and vain is the (worship) which they are practice”. (139)  

إِنَّ هَؤُلَاءِ مُتَبَّرٌ مَا هُمْ فِيهِ وَبَاطِلٌ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ (139)

He said:”shall I seek for you a god other than the (true) God? While He has endowed you with gifts and given you supremacy over the nations!”. (140)

قَالَ أَغَيْرَ اللَّهِ أَبْغِيكُمْ إِلَهًا وَهُوَ فَضَّلَكُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ (140)

And (remember) when we have rescued you from Pharaoh’s people who were afflicting you with the worst of penalties; who slew your male children and saved alive your females. And in that was a momentous and great trial from your Lord. (141)

وَإِذْ أَنْجَيْنَاكُمْ مِنْ آَلِ فِرْعَوْنَ يَسُومُونَكُمْ سُوءَ الْعَذَابِ يُقَتِّلُونَ أَبْنَاءَكُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيُونَ نِسَاءَكُمْ وَفِي ذَلِكُمْ بَلَاءٌ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ عَظِيمٌ (141)


(Verses 130-131)- Their superstition ascribed the punishment of their own wickedness to some evil omen. They thought Moses and his people brought them ill-luck. They did not look within themselves to see the root of evil, and the cause of their punishment! So it happens in all ages. People blame the righteous for something which they do –different from other men- instead of searching out their own lapses from rectitude, which are punished by God.

(Verse 132)- A type of obstinacy to God’s Message. As they believed in sorcery and magic, they thought anything unusual was but sorcery and magic, and hardened their hearts against Truth.

(Verse 133)-A/ الطوفان= al-Taofan: a widespread calamity, causing wholesale death and destruction. It may be flood, or a typhoon, or an epidemic –among men or cattle. Perhaps the last is meant, if we may interpret by the Old Testament story (Exod. ix – 1-then the Lord will use his power against your animals in the fields. The Lord will cause all of your horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, and sheep to become sick with a terrible disease. 9-This will become dust that will go throughout the land of Egypt. Whenever the dust touches a person or an animal in Egypt, boils (sores) will break out on the skin. 15- I could use my power and cause a disease that would wipe you and your people off the earth. And Exod. xii – 29-at midnight, the Lord killed all the firstborn sons in Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh (who ruled Egypt) to the firstborn son of the prisoner sitting in jail. Also all the firstborn animals died). B/In Surat al-Isra’a 17 verse 101, the reference is to nine Clear Signs. These are: (1) the Rod, verse 107, (2) the Radiant Hand, verse 108, (3) the years of draught or shortage of water, verse 130, (4) short crops, verse 130, and the five mentioned in the verse, (5) epidemics among men and beasts, (6) locusts, (7) lice, (8) frogs, and (9) the water running to blood.    

(Verse 134)- The demand of Moses was two-fold: (1) come to God and cease from oppression, and (2) let me take Israel out of Egypt. At first it was laughed at and rejected with scorn. When the Plagues came for punishment, each time the Egyptians suffered, they promised amendment and begged Moses to intercede and cause the plague to cease. But every time it ceased, they went back to their evil attitude, until the final retribution came. This is a type of the sinners’ attitude for all times.

(Verse 135)- The intercession of Moses was limited to prayer. Each plague or penalty had its appointed term in God’s decree. That term was duly fulfilled before the plague ceased. God’s Law is firm: it does not vacillate like the human will. The intercession only meant two things: (1) that God’s name was invoked and His presence duly brought home to the mind and heart of the sinner who promised repentance, and (2) that the sinner was given a further chance if the prayer was accepted. This again is universal truth.

(Verse 136)- A/ When at last Pharaoh let Israel go, they selected, not the highway to Canaan, along the Mediterranean and by Gaza, because they were unarmed and would have encountered immediate opposition there, but by way of the wilderness of Sinai. They had to cross the marshy end of the Red Sea, which they did, while Pharaoh’s host which came in pursuit was drowned, (see Surat Al-Bagara 2 verse 50). B/ Where was the Council of Pharaoh held in which Moses addressed Pharaoh? Egypt’s primary capital in 18th Dynasty was Thebes (-- No-Ammon), but that was more than 400 miles to the south of the Delta, a little south of where Cairo is now, was also over 100 miles from Israel’s habitations. The interview must have been either in a Palace near Goshen, where the Israelites dwelt, or in Zoan (-- Tansit), the Deltaic capital built by former dynasty, which was of course still available for the reigning dynasty, and which was not far from the Israelite settlement.

 (Verse 137)- Israel, which was despised, became a great and glorious nation under Solomon. He had goodly territory, and was doubly blest. His land and people were prosperous, and he was blessed with wisdom from God. His sway and his fame spread east and west. And thus God’s promise to Israel was fulfilled. Note that Syria and Palestine had once been under the sway of Egypt. At the same time the proud and rebellious Pharaoh and his people were brought low. The splendid monuments which they had erected with so much skill and pride were mingled with dust. Their great cities – Thebes (or No Ammon), Memphis (or Noph, sacred to the Bull of Osiris), and the other splendid cities, became as if they had not existed, and the archaeologists have had to dig up their ruins from the sands. The splendid monuments,- temples, palaces, tombs, statues, columns, and stately structures of all kinds – were buried in the sands. Even monuments like the Great Sphinx, which seem to defy the ages, were partly buried in the sands, and owe their rescue to the comparatively recent researched of archaeologists. As late as 1743 Richard Pococke in his {Travels in Egypt)- page 41 remarked “Most of those Pyramids are very much ruined”. The contrast between Egypt and Israel is one part of the story in the march of time. Israel also was found unworthy, and in course of time the Arabs –whom they despised as Ishmaelite- became their masters. The Jews in their Ghettos in Europe suffered much persecution. Nor are they out of the wood yet. If the Pogroms of the Slavs against them have ceased, their fate in Nazi Germany is the talk of the world. Nor had the Arabs or Turks or any nation a perpetual lease of power from God. The test is righteousness and the Muslims virtues taught in the Universal Religion of faith an right conduct.

(Verse 138)- Who were these people? We are now in the Sinai Peninsula. Two conjectures are possible: (1) the Amalekates of the Sinai Peninsula were at perpetual war with the Israelites. They were probably an idolatrous nation, but we have very little knowledge of their cult. (2) From Egyptian history we know that Egypt had worked from very ancient times some copper mines in Sinai. An Egyptian settlement may have been here. Like all mining camps it contained from the beginning the dregs of the population. When the mines ceased to be worked, the settlement, or what remained of it, must have degenerated further. Cut off from civilization, its cult must have become still narrower, without the refining influence which a progressive nation applies even to its idolatry. Perhaps Apis –the sacred bull of Memphis- lost all its allegorical meaning for them, and only gross and superstitious rites remained among them. The text speaks of “Some Idols they had”, implying that they had merely a detached fragment of a completer religion. This was a snare in the path of the Israelites, whom many generations of slavery in Egypt had debased into ignorance and superstition.

(Verses 139-140)- If conjecture (2) in the last note is correct, this idolatrous worship was but the fragment of a ruin from Egypt, and Moses’ reproach is biting: “You, who have been rescued from the bondage of living Egypt,- do you hanker the bondage of a dead cult debased even from that which you have been rescued?”. متبّر = Mutabbar= broken in pieces, smashed into fragments, destroyed.

(Verse 141)- This is God’s reminder to Israel through the mouth of Moses. There was a double trial: (1)while the bandage lasted, the people were to learn patience and constancy in the midst of affliction: (2) when they were rescued, they were to learn humility, justice, and righteous deeds of prosperity.