وَنَصَرُوهُ وَاتَّبَعُوا النُّورَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ مَعَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْمُفْلِحُونَ (الأعراف: 157).
قُلْ يَاأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ يُحْيِ وَيُمِيتُ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ النَّبِيِّ الأُمِّيِّ الَّذِي يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَكَلِمَاتِهِ وَاتَّبِعُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ (الأعراف: 158).
وَمِنْ قَوْمِ مُوسَى أُمَّةٌ يَهْدُونَ بِالْحَقِّ وَبِهِ يَعْدِلُونَ (الأعراف: 159).
وَقَطَّعْنَاهُمُ اثْنَتَيْ عَشْرَةَ أَسْبَاطًا أُمَمًا وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى مُوسَى إِذْ اسْتَسْقَاهُ قَوْمُهُ أَنْ اضْرِب بِعَصَاكَ الْحَجَرَ فَانْبَجَسَتْ مِنْهُ اثْنَتَا عَشْرَةَ عَيْنًا قَدْ عَلِمَ كُلُّ أُنَاسٍ مَشْرَبَهُمْ وَظَلَّلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ الْغَمَامَ وَأَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَنَّ وَالسَّلْوَى كُلُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ وَمَا ظَلَمُونَا وَلَكِنْ كَانُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ (الأعراف: 160).
وَإِذْ قِيلَ لَهُمْ اسْكُنُوا هَذِهِ الْقَرْيَةَ وَكُلُوا مِنْهَا حَيْثُ شِئْتُمْ وَقُولُوا حِطَّةٌ وَادْخُلُوا الْبَابَ سُجَّدًا نَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ خَطِيئَاتِكُمْ سَنَزِيدُ الْمُحْسِنِينَ (الأعراف: 161).
فَبَدَّلَ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنْهُمْ قَوْلاً غَيْرَ الَّذِي قِيلَ لَهُمْ فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ رِجْزًا مِنْ السَّمَاءِ بِمَا كَانُوا يَظْلِمُونَ (الأعراف: 162).
وَاسْأَلْهُمْ عَنْ الْقَرْيَةِ الَّتِي كَانَتْ حَاضِرَةَ الْبَحْرِ إِذْ يَعْدُونَ فِي السَّبْتِ إِذْ تَأْتِيهِمْ حِيتَانُهُمْ يَوْمَ سَبْتِهِمْ شُرَّعًا وَيَوْمَ لاَ يَسْبِتُونَ لاَ تَأْتِيهِمْ كَذَلِكَ نَبْلُوهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْسُقُونَ (الأعراف: 163).
وَإِذْ قَالَتْ أُمَّةٌ مِنْهُمْ لِمَ تَعِظُونَ قَوْمًا اللَّهُ مُهْلِكُهُمْ أَوْ مُعَذِّبُهُمْ عَذَابًا شَدِيدًا قَالُوا مَعْذِرَةً إِلَى رَبِّكُمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ (الأعراف: 164).
فَلَمَّا نَسُوا مَا ذُكِّرُوا بِهِ أَنْجَيْنَا الَّذِينَ يَنْهَوْنَ عَنْ السُّوءِ وَأَخَذْنَا الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا بِعَذَابٍ بَئِيسٍ بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْسُقُونَ (الأعراف: 165).
فَلَمَّا عَتَوْا عَنْ مَا نُهُوا عَنْهُ قُلْنَا لَهُمْ كُونُوا قِرَدَةً خَاسِئِينَ (الأعراف: 166).
وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكَ لَيَبْعَثَنَّ عَلَيْهِمْ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ مَنْ يَسُومُهُمْ سُوءَ الْعَذَابِ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَسَرِيعُ الْعِقَابِ وَإِنَّهُ لَغَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (الأعراف: 167).
وَقَطَّعْنَاهُمْ فِي الأَرْضِ أُمَمًا مِنْهُمُ الصَّالِحُونَ وَمِنْهُمْ دُونَ ذَلِكَ وَبَلَوْنَاهُمْ بِالْحَسَنَاتِ وَالسَّيِّئَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ (الأعراف: 168).
فَخَلَفَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ وَرِثُوا الْكِتَابَ يَأْخُذُونَ عَرَضَ هَذَا الأَدْنَى وَيَقُولُونَ سَيُغْفَرُ لَنَا وَإِنْ يَأْتِهِمْ عَرَضٌ مِثْلُهُ يَأْخُذُوهُ أَلَمْ يُؤْخَذْ عَلَيْهِمْ مِيثَاقُ الْكِتَابِ أَنْ لاَ يَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ إِلاَّ الْحَقَّ وَدَرَسُوا مَا فِيهِ وَالدَّارُ الآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لِلَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ أَفَلاَ تَعْقِلُونَ (الأعراف: 169).
وَالَّذِينَ يُمَسِّكُونَ بِالْكِتَابِ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلاَةَ إِنَّا لاَ نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُصْلِحِينَ (الأعراف: 170)
(7:157) [To-day this mercy is for] those who follow the ummi Prophet, “2 whom they find mentioned in the Torah and the Gospel with them. He enjoins upon them what is good and forbids them what is evil. He makes the clean things lawful to them and prohibits all corrupt things,4 and removes from them their burdens and the shackles that were upon them.45 So those who believe in him and assist him, and succor him and follow the Light which has been sent down with him, it is they who shall prosper.
112. The preceding verse concludes God’s response to Moses’ prayer. This was the appropriate moment to invite the Israelites to follow the Message preached by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). The upshot of what is being said here is that people can even now attain God’s mercy exactly as they could in the past. These conditions require that people should now follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), since refusal to follow a Prophet after his advent amounts to gross disobedience to God. Those who do not commit themselves to follow the Prophet (peace be on him) cannot attain the essence of
piety, no matter how hard they try to make a pretense of it by observing the minor details of religious rituals generally associated with piety.
Likewise, the Israelites had been told that paying Zakah was essential to win God’s mercy.
However, payment of Zakah is meaningless unless one supports the struggle to establish the hegemony of truth which was being carried on under the leadership of the Prophet (peace be on him). For unless one spends money to exalt the word of God, the very foundation of
Zakah are lacking, even if a person spends huge amounts in the way of charity. They were also reminded that they had been told in the past that God’s mercy was exclusively for those who believed in His Revelation. Now those who rejected the Revelation received by
Muhammad (peace be on him) could never be considered believers in Revelation no matter how zealously they claim to believe in the Torah.
Reference to the Prophet (peace be on him) in this verse as umimi is significant as the Israelites branded all other nations as Gentiles (ummis). Steeped in racial prejudice, they did not consider members of other nations as their equals, let alone accept any person not belonging to them as a Prophet. The Qur’an also states the Jewish belief that they would not be taken to ask for whatever they might do to non-Jews. See (Al’Imran 3: 75). Employing the same term which they themselves had used, the Qur’an tells them that their destiny was
linked with the ummi Prophet. By obeying him they would become deserving of God’s mercy. As for disobedience to the Prophet (peace be on him). it would continue to arouse God’s wrath which had been afflicted upon them for centuries.
113. Pointed and repeated reference to the coming of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) is made in the Bible. (See Deuteronomy 18: 19; Matthew 21: 33-46; John 1: 19-25; 14: 15-17, 25-30; 15: 25-26; 16: 7-15.)
114. The Prophet declares the pure things which they had forbidden as lawful, and the impure things which they had legitimized as unlawful.
115. The Israelites had fettered their lives by undue restrictions which had been placed on them by the legal hair-splitting of their jurists, the pietistic exaggerations of their spiritual leaders, the introduction of superstitions and self-contrived laws and regulations by, their masses. The Prophet, by relieving them of every unnecessary burden and releasing them from every unjustified restriction, in fact liberated their shackled lives.
(7:158) [Say, O Muhammad]: ‘O men! I am Allah’s Messenger to you all – of Him to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is no god but He. He grants life and deals death. Have faith then, in Allah and in His Messenger, the ummi Prophet who believes in Allah and His words; and follow him so that you may be guided aright.’
(7:159) Among the people of Moses’“« there was a party who guided others in the way of the truth and established justice in its light. 1
116. This marks the resumption of the main theme of the discourse which had been interrupted by the parenthesis see (verses 157- )calling people to affirm the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be on him).
117. The translators generally render the verse as the following:
Of the people of Moses there is a section who guide and do justice in the light of truth. (Translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali.)
They do so because, in their view, the present verse describes the moral and intellectual state of the Israelites at the time when the Qur’an was revealed. However, the context seems to indicate that the above account refers to the state of the Israelites at the time of the
Prophet Moses. Thus, the purpose of the verse is to emphasize that even in the days of their calf-worship when God rebuked them, all members of Israel were not corrupt; that a sizeable section of them was righteous.
(7:160) And We divided them into twelve tribes, forming them into communities.8 When his people asked Moses for water We directed him: ‘Smite the rock with your rod.’ Then twelve springs gushed forth from the rock and every people knew their drinking-places. And We caused thick clouds to provide them shade, and We sent down upon them manna and quails,” saying: ‘Eat of the clean things that We have provided you.’ They wronged not Us, but it was themselves that they wronged.
118. This refers to the organization of the people of Israel which has been mentioned in the Qur’an in (al-Ma’idah 5:12 )and also described, at length, in the Bible in Numbers. According to these sources, in compliance with God’s command the Prophet Moses first conducted the census of the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai. He registered their twelve tribes, ten of whom were descendants of the Prophet Jacob, and the remaining two descendants of the Prophet Joseph, as separate and distinct tribes. He appointed a chief for each tribe and
assigned to him the duty to maintain moral, religious, social and military discipline within each tribe and to enforce the Law. The Levites, who were descendants of the Prophets Moses and Aaron, however, were organized as a distinct group entrusted with the task of
providing religious guidance to all tribes.
119. This organization was one of the numerous favors which God had bestowed upon the Israelites. Mention is made of three other favours bestowed upon them. First, an extraordinary arrangement for their water supply was made in the otherwise arid Sinai peninsula. Second, the sky was covered with clouds such that they were protected from the scorching heat of the sun. Third, a unique meal, consisting of manna and quails was sent down on them. Had this Divine arrangement, catering as it did for the millions of wandering Israelites’ basic necessities of life, not been made, they would certainly have
On visiting that land even today it is difficult to visualize how such an arrangement providing shelter, food and water for millions of people was made. The population of this peninsula stands even today at a paltry, 55,000 people. (it may be noted that this statement was made in the fifties of the present century. However, the present population of the Sinai is 200,000 – Ed.) If a five or six hundred thousand strong army, were to camp there today, it would be quite a task for those at the helm to provide the necessary supplies for the army.
Little wonder, then, that many scholars who believe neither in the Scripture nor in miracles, rule out the historical accuracy of the event. For them, the people of Israel camped in an area lying south of Palestine and north of Arabia. In view of the physical and economic
geography of the Sinai peninsula, they consider it totally incredible that such a large population could have stayed there for years. What has made these scholars even more skeptical about the event is the fact that the Israelites were not then in a position to procure
supplies from either the Egyptians or the ‘Amaligah’ who inhabited respectively the eastern and northern parts of the peninsula, since both groups were hostile to them. It is against this background that one may appreciate the immense importance of the favors God conferred on the Israelites. Likewise, it also gives one some idea of the blatant ingratitude of the people of Israel since they consistently defied and betrayed God even though they had witnessed a great many divine signs. (See Towards Understanding the Qur’an, vol. 1, (al-
Bagarah 2: nn. 72-3 and 76, pp. 76-7 – Ed.)
(7:161) And recall 22 when it was said to them: ‘Dwell in this town and eat plentifully of whatever you please, and say: “Repentance”, and enter the gate prostrate. We shall forgive you your sins and shall bestow further favors on those who do good.’
120. This alludes to their constant defiance and rebellion in face of God’ favors which eventually brought about their destruction.
(7:162) Then the wrong-doers among them substituted another word in place of the one told them. So We sent upon them a scourge from the heaven as a punishment for their Wrong-doing. 124
121. For details see Towards Understanding the Qur’an, vol. 1, (al-Bagarah 2: nn. 74-5, pp. 76-7).
(7:163) And ask the people of Moses concerning the town situated along the seal 2 how its people profaned the Sabbath when fish came to them breaking the water’s surface on Sabbath days,!3 and would not come to them on other than Sabbath-days. Thus did We try them because of their disobedience.14
122. Most scholars identify this place with Eilat, Eilath or Eloth. (Cf. Encyclopedia Britannica, XV edition, ‘Macropaedia’, vol. 3, art. ‘Elat’ -Ed.) The seaport called Elat which has been built by the present state of Israel (which is close to the Jordanian seaport, Aqaba), stands on the same site. It lies at the end of that long inlet of the Red Sea situated between the eastern part of the Sinai peninsula and the western part of Arabia. It was a major trading center in the time of Israelite ascendancy. The Prophet Solomon took this city as the chief
port for his fleet in the Red Sea.
The event referred to in the above verse is not reported in Jewish Scriptures. Nor do historical accounts shed any light on it. Nonetheless, it appears from the way it has been mentioned in the above verse and in al-Baqarah that the Jews of the early days of Islam were quite familiar with the event. (See Towards Understanding the Qur’an, vol. 1, (al-Bagarah 2: 65 and _n.83, pp. 81-2 – Ed)). This view is further corroborated by the fact that even the Madinahn Jews who spared no opportunity to criticize the Prophet (peace be on him) did not
raise any objection against this (Qur’anic account.
123. ‘Sabbath’, which means Saturday, was declared for the Israelites as the wholi day of the week. God declared the Sabbath as a sign of the perpetual covenant between God and Israel.
(Exodus 31: 12-16.) The Israelites were required to strictly keep the Sabbath which meant that they may not engage in any worldly activity; they may not cook, nor make their slaves or cattle serve them. Those who violated these rules were to be put to death. The Israelites,
however, publicly violated these rules. In the days of the Prophet Jeremiah (between 628 and 586 B.C.), the Israelites carried their merchandise through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day itself. Jeremiah, therefore, warned them that if they persisted in their flagrant
violation of the Law, Jerusalem would be set on fire. (Jererniah 17: 21-7.) The same complaint is voiced in the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (595-536 B.C.) who referred to their violation of the Sabbath rules as their major sin. (Ezekiel 20: 12-24.) In view of these Scriptural references it seems plausible that the event mentioned in the above Qur’anic verse is related to the same period.
124. Men are tested by God in a variety of ways. When a person or group of people begin to turn away from God and incline themselves towards disobedience, God provides abundant opportunities for them to disobey. This is done in order that the full potential for disobedience, which had remained hidden because of lack of such an opportunity, might come to the surface.
(7:164) And recall when a party of them said: ‘Why do you admonish a people whom Allah is about to destroy or punish severely?’ They said: ‘We admonish them in order to be able to offer an excuse before Your Lord, and in the hope that they will guard against disobedience.’
(7:165) Then, when they forgot what they had been exhorted, We delivered those who forbade evil and afflicted the wrong-doers with a grievous chastisement!25 because of their evildoing.
125. This shows that the people in that town were of three categories. One, those who flagrantly violated God’s commands. Two, those who were silent spectators to such violations and discouraged those who admonished the criminals, pleading that their efforts were fruitless. Three, those who, moved by their religious commitment, actively enjoined good and forbade evil so that the evil-doers might make amends. In so doing, they were prompted by, a sense of duty, to bring back the evil-doers to the right path, and if the latter did not respond to their call, they would at least be able to establish before their Lord that for their part they had fulfilled their duty to admonish the evil-doers. So, when the town was struck by God’s punishment, only the people belonging to the last category were spared for they had displayed God-consciousness and performed the duties incumbent upon them.
As for the people of the other two categories, they were reckoned as transgressors and were punished in proportion to their crimes.
Some commentators on the Qur’an are of the opinion that whereas the Qur’an specifically, describes the fate of the people belonging to the first and third categories, it is silent about the treatment meted out to the people of the second category. It cannot be said, therefore, with certainty, whether they were spared or punished. It is reported that Ibn ‘Abba’s initially believed that God’s punishment included the second category as well. It is believed that later his disciple Ikramah convinced him that only the people of the second category would be delivered in the same manner as the people of the third category.
A closer study of the Qur’anic account, however, shows that Ibn ‘Abba’s earlier viewpoint is sound. It is evident that the people of the town would inevitably have been grouped into two categories on the eve of God’s punishment: those who were spared and those who were
not. Since the Qur’an states that the people of the third category, had been spared, it may be legitimately assumed that the people belonging to both the first and the second categories were punished. This view is also corroborated by the preceding verse:
Also recall when a party of them said: ‘Why do you admonish a people whom Allah is about to destroy or punish severely? They said: ‘We admonish them in order to he able to offer an excuse before your Lord, and in the hope that they will guard against disobedience.’ (Verse
Thus it clearly emerges from the above discussion that all the people of the place where evil deeds are publicly committed stand guilty, One cannot be absolved merely on the basis that one had not committed any evil. One may be acquitted only, in the event that one made
every possible effort to bring about reform and actively worked in the cause of the truth.
This constitutes the divine law pertaining to collective evil as is evident from the teachings of the Qur’an and Hadith. The Qur’an says:
And guard against the mischief that will not only bring punishment to the wrong-doers among you. Know well that Allah is severe in punishment (Al-Anfal 8: 15).
Explaining the above verse the Prophet (peace be on him) remarked: ‘God does not punish the generality of a people for the evil committed by a particular section of that people until they observe others committing evil and do not denounce it even though they are in a
position to do so. And when they do that, God punishes all, the evil-doers and the people in general.’ (Ahmad b. Hanbal. Musnad, vol. 4, p. 192 – Ed.)
Moreover. the verse in question seems to suggest that God’s punishment afflicted the town concerned in two stages. The first stage is referred to as ‘grievous chastisement’, for in the next stage they were turned into apes. We may, therefore, hold that people belonging to
both the first and the second categories were subjected to punishment. But the punishment of transforming the persistent evil-doers into apes was confined only to the people of the second category. (God knows best. If I am right that is from God. If I err, that is from me alone. God is All-Forgiving, All-Merciful.)
(7:166) And when they persisted in pursuing that which had been forbidden We said: ‘Become despised apes.’126
126. For details see Towards Understanding the Quran, vol. 1, (al-Baqarah 2: n. 83 . 81-2),
(7:167) And recall when Your Lord proclaimed? that ‘He would continually set in authority over them, till the Day of Judgement, those who would ruthless oppress thern.’28 Surely, your Lord is swift in chastising; and yet He is All-Forgiving, All- Merciful.
127. The Qur’anic expression ‘ta’adhdhana’ means almost the same ‘he warned; he proclaimed.
128. Since the 8th century B.C. the Israelites were warned consistently. This is borne out by the contents of the Books of the Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and their successors. Jesus too administered the same warning which is borne out by many of his orations in the New
Testament, This was also later confirmed by the Qur’an. History bears out the veracity of the statement made both in the Qur’an and the earlier scriptures. For throughout history, since the time the Jews were warned, they have continually been subjected to abject persecution in
one part of the world or another.
(7:168) And We dispersed them through the earth in communities – some were righteous, others were not -and We tested them with prosperity and adversity that they may turn back (to righteousness).
(7:169) Then others succeeded them who inherited the scriptures, and yet kept themselves occupied in acquiring the goods of this world and kept saying: ‘We shall be forgiven.’ And when there comes to them an opportunity for acquiring more of those goods, they seize it.22 Was not the covenant of the Book taken from them that they would not ascribe to Allah anything but the truth? And they have read what is in the Book° and know that the abode of the Hereafter is better for the God- fearing.11 Do you not understand?
129. The Jews knowingly commit sins in the belief that being God’s chosen people they will necessarily be pardoned and spared God’s punishment. As a result of this misconception, they neither repent nor refrain from committing sins. How unfortunate the Jews are! They
received the Scriptures which could have made them leaders of all mankind. But they were so petty-minded that they aspired to nothing higher than paltry worldly benefits. Thus even though they had the potential of becoming the upholders of justice and righteousness across the world they ended up merely as worshippers of this world.
130. The people of Israel know well that the Torah does not unconditionally assure them salvation. They have never been promised by God or any of His Prophets that they will attain deliverance no matter what they do. Therefore they have absolutely no right to ascribe to God something which He never told them. What makes their crime even worse is that their claim to unconditional salvation constitutes a sacrilege of their covenant with God whereby they pledged never to attribute any false statement to God.
131. The above verse has two renderings. It may be either translated as above or it may be rendered thus: ‘For the righteous, only the home in the Hereafter is the best.’ Going by the first rendering, the verse means that salvation is not the exclusive privilege of a particular person or a family. It is absolutely out of the question that one will attain deliverance even if one commits sins, simply on account of being a Jew. A little reflection will help one realize that only the righteous and God-fearing will be rewarded in the Hereafter. In the light of the
second rendering, only the unrighteous prefer worldly, gains to reward in the Hereafter. As for the righteous, they are conscious of the importance of the Hereafter and hence forego worldly benefits for the sake of reward in the Next World.
(7:170) Those who hold fast to the Book and establish Prayer – We shall not allow the reward of such righteous men to go to waste.