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Wednesday, 14 November 2018
 

Surat Al-A’raf/The Heights (The Wall with Elevations) 7- Meccan – Ayats 206-Section Twelve – Verses from 150-162

 

And when Moses returned/came back to his people, angry and grieved, he said:”How wretched, miserable and evil is that you have done in my place in my absence? Were you hasty and impatient to bring (hasten) the Judgment of your Lord?”;- and he threw/ put down the Tablets, and seized his brother (by the hair of) his head, and dragged him towards him. (Aaron said):”O’ son of my mother! Indeed the people oppressed me, reckoned and judged me as weak and naught, and went near to slaying me! So let not the enemies over my misfortune, nor count me amongst the people of sin/wrongdoers/iniquitous. (150) 

وَلَمَّا رَجَعَ مُوسَى إِلَى قَوْمِهِ غَضْبَانَ أَسِفًا قَالَ بِئْسَمَا خَلَفْتُمُونِي مِنْ بَعْدِي أَعَجِلْتُمْ أَمْرَ رَبِّكُمْ وَأَلْقَى الْأَلْوَاحَ وَأَخَذَ بِرَأْسِ أَخِيهِ يَجُرُّهُ إِلَيْهِ قَالَ ابْنَ أُمَّ إِنَّ الْقَوْمَ اسْتَضْعَفُونِي وَكَادُوا يَقْتُلُونَنِي فَلَا تُشْمِتْ بِيَ الْأَعْدَاءَ وَلَا تَجْعَلْنِي مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ (150)

Moses (prayed) said:”O my Lord! Forgive me and my brother! And admit us into Your Mercy! For You are the Most Merciful of those who show mercy!” (151)

قَالَ رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِأَخِي وَأَدْخِلْنَا فِي رَحْمَتِكَ وَأَنْتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ (151)

Certainly, those who took the calf (for worship) will indeed be overwhelmed with wrath from their Lord, and with humiliation and shame upon them in this life /world. Thus We do recompense those who invent falsehood. (152)  

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا الْعِجْلَ سَيَنَالُهُمْ غَضَبٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَذِلَّةٌ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَكَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُفْتَرِينَ (152)

But those who did wrong and committed evil deeds, and then repented thereafter and (truly) believed, verily, your Lord thereafter is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful. (153)  

وَالَّذِينَ عَمِلُوا السَّيِّئَاتِ ثُمَّ تَابُوا مِنْ بَعْدِهَا وَآَمَنُوا إِنَّ رَبَّكَ مِنْ بَعْدِهَا لَغَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (153)

And when the anger of Moses was appeased and calmed down; he took up the Tablets, and in their writing/inscription thereon was Guidance and Mercy for those who fear their Lord. (154)

وَلَمَّا سَكَتَ عَنْ مُوسَى الْغَضَبُ أَخَذَ الْأَلْوَاحَ وَفِي نُسْخَتِهَا هُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِلَّذِينَ هُمْ لِرَبِّهِمْ يَرْهَبُونَ (154)

And Moses chose seventy out (of the best) men of his people for Our appointed time and place of meeting; and when they were seized with a violent (earth) quaking, he (prayed) said:”O’ my Lord! If it had been Your Will, You could have destroyed –long before-both them and me; would You destroy us for the deeds of the foolish ones among us? It is only Your trial; by which You lead/send astray whom You Will, and You Will lead and guide whom You Will into the right path. You are our Protector; so forgive us, and give us Your Mercy;- for You are the Best of those who forgive”. (155)       

وَاخْتَارَ مُوسَى قَوْمَهُ سَبْعِينَ رَجُلًا لِمِيقَاتِنَا فَلَمَّا أَخَذَتْهُمُ الرَّجْفَةُ قَالَ رَبِّ لَوْ شِئْتَ أَهْلَكْتَهُمْ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَإِيَّايَ أَتُهْلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ السُّفَهَاءُ مِنَّا إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا فِتْنَتُكَ تُضِلُّ بِهَا مَنْ تَشَاءُ وَتَهْدِي مَنْ تَشَاءُ أَنْتَ وَلِيُّنَا فَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَا وَأَنْتَ خَيْرُ الْغَافِرِينَ (155)

“And ordain for us that which is good in this life, and in the Hereafter; for we have turned to you”. He said: “(as to) My punishment I afflict therewith whom I Will, and My Mercy embraces all things, that (Mercy extended) I shall Ordain for those who are pious who do right and practice regular charity, and those who believe in Our Signs”. (156)   

وَاكْتُبْ لَنَا فِي هَذِهِ الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآَخِرَةِ إِنَّا هُدْنَا إِلَيْكَ قَالَ عَذَابِي أُصِيبُ بِهِ مَنْ أَشَاءُ وَرَحْمَتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَسَأَكْتُبُهَا لِلَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ بِآَيَاتِنَا يُؤْمِنُونَ (156)

“Those who follow the Apostle –the unlettered Prophet- whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures), in the Law and the Gospel; for he commands them what is Just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure);- he releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honor him, help him, and follow the Light which is sent down with him. It is they who (are successful) will prosper. (157)   

الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الرَّسُولَ النَّبِيَّ الْأُمِّيَّ الَّذِي يَجِدُونَهُ مَكْتُوبًا عِنْدَهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنْجِيلِ يَأْمُرُهُمْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَاهُمْ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَائِثَ وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالْأَغْلَالَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ فَالَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا بِهِ وَعَزَّرُوهُ وَنَصَرُوهُ وَاتَّبَعُوا النُّورَ الَّذِي أُنْزِلَ مَعَهُ أُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ (157)

Say [O’ Muhammad PBUH]:”O’ mankind! Verily, I am sent to you all, as the Apostle/Messenger of God –to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, there is no God but Him, it is He Who gives life and causes death. So believe in God and His Apostle/ Messenger [Muhammad PPBUH]; the unlettered Prophet, who believes in God and His Words;- and follow him so that you may be guided”. (158)  

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ فَآَمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ النَّبِيِّ الْأُمِّيِّ الَّذِي يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَكَلِمَاتِهِ وَاتَّبِعُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ (158)

And of the people of Moses there is a community (section) who guide/lead (the men) with truth and establish justice in the light of truth. (159)

وَمِنْ قَوْمِ مُوسَى أُمَّةٌ يَهْدُونَ بِالْحَقِّ وَبِهِ يَعْدِلُونَ (159)

And We divided them into twelve tribes (as distinct) nations. And We revealed/directed Moses by inspiration, when his (thirsty) people asked him for water (saying):”Strike the rock/stone with your staff/ stick”, and there gushed forth out twelve springs, each group knew its own place for water/drinking place. We gave the shad of clouds, and sent down to them Manna (sweet gum) and the quails (saying): ”Eat of the good things which We have provided for you” (But they rebelled); to Us they did not harm, but they harmed their own souls (themselves). (160)

وَقَطَّعْنَاهُمُ اثْنَتَيْ عَشْرَةَ أَسْبَاطًا أُمَمًا وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى مُوسَى إِذِ اسْتَسْقَاهُ قَوْمُهُ أَنِ اضْرِبْ بِعَصَاكَ الْحَجَرَ فَانْبَجَسَتْ مِنْهُ اثْنَتَا عَشْرَةَ عَيْنًا قَدْ عَلِمَ كُلُّ أُنَاسٍ مَشْرَبَهُمْ وَظَلَّلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ الْغَمَامَ وَأَنْزَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَنَّ وَالسَّلْوَى كُلُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ وَمَا ظَلَمُونَا وَلَكِنْ كَانُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ (160)

And remember when it was said to them:”Dwell in this town (Jerusalem), and eat therein as you wish/ wherever you wish, but say the word of humility; [O’ God forgive our sins]- and enter the gate in a prostrate of humility, We shall forgive your faults/ wrongdoings; We shall increase (the reward/the portion) to those who are good-doers- the Beneficent. (161)  

وَإِذْ قِيلَ لَهُمُ اسْكُنُوا هَذِهِ الْقَرْيَةَ وَكُلُوا مِنْهَا حَيْثُ شِئْتُمْ وَقُولُوا حِطَّةٌ وَادْخُلُوا الْبَابَ سُجَّدًا نَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ خَطِيئَاتِكُمْ سَنَزِيدُ الْمُحْسِنِينَ (161)

But the transgressors among them changed the word from that which had been given/told to them. So We sent to them a plague from heaven, for that they repeatedly transgressed. (162)

فَبَدَّلَ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنْهُمْ قَوْلًا غَيْرَ الَّذِي قِيلَ لَهُمْ فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ رِجْزًا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ بِمَا كَانُوا يَظْلِمُونَ (162)

COMMENTARY:-
(Verse 150)- A/Did you make haste…? ‘In your impatience, could you not wait for me? Your lapse into idolatry has only hastened God’s wrath. If you had only waited, I was bringing to you in the Tablets the most excellent teaching in commands of God.’ There is subtle irony in the speech of Moses. There is also a play upon words: ‘ajil-???  = calf; ‘ajila-????? = to make haste; no translation can bring out these niceties. B/Threw/Put down the Tablets: we are not told that the Tablets were broken; in fact in the coming verse 154 shows that they were whole. They contained God’s Message. There is a touch of disrespect (if not blasphemy) in supposing that God’s Messenger broke the Tablets in his incontinent rage, as is stated in the Old Testament: “Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands, and brake them beneath the Mount”(Exod. xxxii-10). On this point and also on the point that Aaron (in the Old Testament story) ordered the gold to be brought, made a molten calf, fashioned it with a graving tool, and built an altar before the calf (Exod. xxxii. 2-5), our version differs from that of the Old Testament. We cannot believe that Aaron –who was appointed by God to assist Moses as God’s Messenger- could descend so low as to seduce the people into idolatry, whatever his human weaknesses might be. C/Moses was but human. Remembering the charge he had given to Aaron (verse 142), he had a just grievance at the turn events had taken. But he did not wreak his vengeance on the Tablets of God’s Law by breaking them. He laid hands on his brother, and his brother at once explained. D/Aaron’s speech is full of tenderness and regret. He addresses Moses as “son of my mother”, an affectionate term. He explains how the turbulent people nearly killed him for resisting them. And he states in the clearest terms that the idolatry neither originated with him nor had his consent. In Surat Taha 20 verse 85 we are told that a fellow described as the Samiri = ??????? had led them astray. We shall discuss this when we come to that passage.
(Verse 151)- As Moses was convinced that his brother was guiltless, his wrath was turned to gentleness. He prayed for forgiveness, for himself and his brother; for himself because of his wrath and for his brother because he had been unable to suppress idolatry among his people. And like a true leader that he is, he identifies himself with his lieutenant for all that has happened. Even more, he identifies himself with his whole people in his prayer [as in verse 155 to come]. Herein, again, is a type of what the Holy Prophet Muhammad [PPBUH] did for his people.
(Verses 152-153-154)- The consequences were twofold: (1) spiritual, in that God’s grace is withdrawn, and (2) even in the present life of this world, in that godly men also shun the sinner’s company, and he is isolated.
(Verse 155)- A/ Seventy of the elders were taken up to the Mount, but left at some distance from the place where God spoke to Moses. They were to be silent witnesses, but their faith was not yet complete, and they dared to say to Moses: “We shall never believe in you until we see God in public”-(Al-Bagara 2- verse 55). They were dazed with thunder and lightning, and might have been destroyed but for God’s Mercy on the intercession of Moses. B/ Al-Rajfatu= Violent quaking- earthquake. I take it to refer to the same event as described by the Sa’igatu= in Surat Al-Bagara 2 verse 55, the Thunder and Lightning that shook the mountain-side. C/ Moses was guiltless, but he identifies himself with his whole people, and intercedes with God on their behalf. He recognizes that it was a trial, in which some of his people failed to stand the test. Such failure was worthy of punishment. But he pleads for mercy for such a erred from weakness and not from contumacy, and were truly repentant; although all who erred were in their several degrees worthy of punishment. D/ See in Surat Al-Bagara 2 verse 26.
(Verse 156)- A/ God’s Mercy is in and for all things. All nature subservices a common purpose, which is for the good of all His creatures. Our faculties and our understandings are all instances of His Grace and Mercy. Each unit or factor among his creatures benefits from the others and receives them as God’s Mercy to itself; and in its turn, each contributes to the benefit of the others and is thus an instance of God’s mercy to them. His mercy is universal and all-pervasive; while His justice and punishment are reserved for those who swerve from His Plan and (to use a medieval juridical formula) go out of His Peace. B/ The personal grace and mercy –and their opposite- are referred to the singular pronoun “I”, while the impersonal Law –by which God’s Signs operate in His universe- is referred to the plural pronoun of authority and dignity “WE”.
(Verse 157)- A/ In this verse is a pre-figuring to Moses of the Arabian Apostle, the last and greatest of the Apostles of God [Muhammad Al-Mustafa PPBUH]. Prophecies about him will be found in the Taurat and the Injil. In the reflex of the Taurat –as now accepted by the Jews- Moses says:”The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me” (Deut. Xviii, 15); the only Prophet who brought a Sharia’t like that of Moses was Muhammad Al-Mustafa [PPBUH], and he came of the house of Ismail, the brother of Isaac the father of Israel. In the reflex of the Gospel as now accepted by the Christians; Christ promised another Comforter: (I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper. He will give you this Helper to be with you forever. John xiv. 16), the Greek word (Paraclete) which the Christians interpret as referring to the Holy Spirit is by our Doctors/Scholars taken to be (periclyte), which would be the Greek form of Ahmed. (See Surat Al-Saff -61 verse 6). B/ Aghlal- ?????= a yoke, an iron collar, iron chains. In the formalism and exclusiveness of the Jews there were many restrictions which were removed by Islam, a religion of freedom in the faith of God, of universality in the variety of races, languages, manners and customs. C/ Light which is sent down with him: the words are “with him” not “to him”, emphasizing the fact that the Light which he brought illuminates everyone who has the privilege of joining his great and universal Fellowship. D/ Falah
{With the advent of the Holy Apostle, the light and guidance which he brought for all mankind from God superseded the earlier Law of the Jews. The good and the upright among them followed the new Light, but the rest were scattered through the earth.}
(Verses 158/159)- A/ ???Falah= prosperity in its general sense as well as in its spiritual sense. In the general sense it means that right conduct is the only door to happiness and well-being. In the spiritual sense it means that Faith and its fruits (right conduct) are the only gates to salvation. B/ Our attention having being directed to various apostles, who were sent with missions to their several peoples, and in each of whose careers there is some pre-figurement of the life of the last and greatest of them, we are now asked to listen to the proclamation of Muhammad’s universal mission. We contemplate no longer –after this- partial truths. It is not now a question of saving Israel from the bondage of Egypt, nor teaching Midian the ethics of business, nor reclaiming the people of Lot from sexual sin, or Thamud from the sin of oppression in power, or Ad from arrogance and ancestor-worship. Now are set forth plainly the issues of Life and Death, the Message of the ONE UNIVERSAL GOD to all mankind. C/ The “unlettered”, as applied to the Prophet [PPBUH] here and in verse 157 above, has three special significations: (1) He was not versed in human learning; yet he was full of the highest wisdom, and had a most wonderful knowledge of the previous Scriptures. This was a proof of his inspiration. It was a miracle of the highest kind, a “Sign”, which everyone could test then, and everyone can test now. (2) All organized human knowledge tends to be crystallized to acquire a partial bias or flavor of “school” of thought. The highest Teacher had to be free from any such taint, just as a clean slate is necessary if perfectly clear and bold message has to be written on it. (3) In Surat Al-Imran 3- verse 20, and in Surat Al-Israa 17 verse 2, the epithet is applied to the Pagan Arabs, because –before the advent of Islam- they were unlearned. That the last and greatest of the Prophets should arise among them, and they –and their language- be made the vehicle of the new, full, and universal light; has also a meaning, which is a great healing light shone among a people steeped in ignorance, brave and free, but without cohesion or union, simple and rude, but with an easy familiarity with Nature, accustomed to Nature’s hardships and her rugged resistance to man, but dreaming of the delights of the gardens and fruitful fields; cruel, yet with a rough sense of equality, and wielding a tongue flexible, beautiful, and able to respond –with brevity and eloquence- to the sublimated thoughts which man could conceive.
(Verse 160)- A/ We now come to some incidents in Jewish history, which have been referred to in Surat Al-Bagara 2 – verses 57-60. Here they have special reference to their bearing on the times when early Islam was preached. The Twelve Tribes and the parable drawn from them have been explained in the commentary of Surat Al-Bagara 2- verse 60. B/ See Suart Al-Bagara 2- verse 57 and commentary.
(Verse 161)- As in verse 19, we may construe “eat” here to mean not only eating literally, but enjoying the good things of life.
(Verse 162)- In Surat Al-Bagara 2 – verses 58-59 and commentary. The story is here told by way of parable for the times of Islam. Hence we have a few verbal changes: e.g. “dwell in this town” instead of “enter this town”, etc…