Surah Al-A’raf Part 9 Ayat 158 -179

{158. Say: “O mankind! Verily, I am sent to you all as the Messenger of Allah – to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. None has the right to be worshipped but He. It is He Who gives life and causes death. So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, who believes in Allah and His Words, and follow him so that you may be guided.”}

Muhammad’s Message is Universal

Allah says to His Prophet and Messenger Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, “Say”, O Muhammad, “O mankind!”, this is directed to mankind red and black, and the Arabs and non-Arabs alike, “I am sent to you all as the Messenger of Allah” This Ayah mentions the Prophet’s honor and greatness, for he is the Final Prophet who was sent to all mankind [and the Jinns]. Allah said, “Say, “Allah is Witness between you and I; this Qur’an has been revealed to me that I may therewith warn you and whomsoever it may reach.” (6:19), “but those of the sects that reject it, the Fire will be their promised meeting place” (11:17) and, “And say to those who were given the Scripture and to the illiterates (Arab pagans): “Do you (also) submit yourselves (to Allah in Islam)” If they do, they are rightly guided; but if they turn away, your duty is only to convey the Message.” (3:20) There are many other Ayat and more Hadiths than can be counted on this subject. It is also well-known in our religion that the Messenger of Allah was sent to all mankind [and the Jinns]. Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Ad- Darda’ said, “Abu Bakr and Umar had an argument in which Abu Bakr made Umar angry. So Umar went away while angry and Abu Bakr followed him asking him to forgive him, but Umar refused. Umar shut his door closed in Abu Bakr’s face and Abu Bakr went to the Messenger of Allah while we were with him. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“This fellow of yours (Abu Bakr) has made someone angry!”

Umar became sorry for what he did, went to the Prophet and greeted him with the Salam and sat next to him, telling him what had happened. The Messenger of Allah became angry (at Umar), and realizing that, Abu Bakr said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! It was me who was unjust.’ The Messenger of Allah said,

”Will you leave my Companion (Abu Bakr) alone! I said, ‘O People! I am the Messenger of Allah to you all,’ and you said, ‘You lie,’ but Abu Bakr declared, ‘You said the truth.”

Al-Bukhari recorded it. (Fath Al-Bari 8:153) Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn Abbas said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“I have been given five things which were not given to any Prophet before me, and I do not say it out of pride. I was sent to all mankind (their) black and white alike. Allah made me victorious by fright, (by His frightening my enemies) for a distance of one month’s journey. The spoils of war are lawful for me, yet it was not lawful for anyone else before me. The earth has been made for me (and for my followers) a place for praying and a thing to perform purification with. I have been given the Shafa’ah (right of intercession), and I saved it for my Ummah on the Day of Resurrection. Therefore, the Shafa’ah will reach those who associate none with Allah in worship.” (Ahmad 1:301)

This Hadith’s chain of narration is suitable, but the Two Sahihs did not record it. Allah’s statement, “to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. None has the right to be worshipped but He. It is He Who gives life and causes death.” describes Allah by the words of the Messenger that He Who has sent him is the Creator, Lord and King of all things and in His Hand is the control, life, death and the decision. Just as Allah said “So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write” Allah proclaims here that Muhammad is His Messenger and reiterates this fact by commanding that he be believed in and followed. Allah said, “The Prophet who can neither read nor write” who you were promised and given the good news of in previous revealed books. Certainly, Muhammad was amply described in the previous books, including his description as being the unlettered Prophet. Allah’s statement, “who believes in Allah and His Words”, means, his actions conform with his words and he believes in what he was given from his Lord. “And follow him”, embrace his path and guidance, “so that you may be guided” to the Straight Path.

{159. And of the people of Musa there is a community who lead (the men) with truth and establish justice therewith.}

 

Allah stated that of the Children of Israel there are some who follow the truth and judge by it, just as He said in another Ayah, “A party of the people of the Scripture stand for the right, they recite the verses of Allah during the hours of the night, prostrating themselves in prayer” (3:113) “And there are, certainly, among the People of the Scripture, those who believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to you, and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before Allah. They do not sell the verses of Allah for a small price, for them is a reward with their Lord. Surely, Allah is Swift in account.” (3:199) “Those to whom We gave the Scripture before it, they believe in it (the Qur’an). And when it is recited to them, they say: “We believe in it. Verily, it is the truth from our Lord. Indeed even before it we have been from those who submit themselves. These will be given their reward twice over, because they are patient.” (28:52-54), and, ”Verily, those who were given knowledge before it, when it (this Qur’an) is recited to them, fall down on their faces in humble prostration. And they say: “Glory be to our Lord! Truly, the promise of our Lord must be fulfilled.” And they fall down on their faces weeping and it increases their humility.” (17:107-109)

{160. And We divided them into twelve tribes (as distinct) nations. We revealed to Musa when his people asked him for water (saying): “Strike the stone with your stick,” and there gushed forth out of it twelve springs, each group knew its own place for water. We shaded them with the clouds and sent down upon them the manna and the quail (saying): “Eat of the good things with which We have provided you.” They harmed Us not but they used to harm themselves.

161. And (remember) when it was said to them: “Dwell in this town (Jerusalem) and eat therefrom wherever you wish, and say, ‘(O Allah) forgive our sins’; and enter the gate prostrating (bowing with humility). We shall forgive you your wrongdoings. We shall increase (the reward) for the good-doers.”

162. But those among them who did wrong, changed the word that had been told to them. So We sent on them a torment from the heaven in return for their wrongdoings.}

 

We discussed these Ayat in Surat Al-Baqarah, [See the Tafsir of Surah Al-Baqarah 2:60] which was revealed in Al- Madinah, while these Ayat were revealed in Makkah. We also mentioned the difference between the two narrations, and thus we do not need to repeat it here, all thanks are due to Allah and all the favors are from Him.

 

{163. And ask them about the town that was by the sea; when they transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: when their fish came to them openly on the Sabbath day, and did not come to them on the day they had no Sabbath. Thus We made a trial for them, for they used to rebel against Allah’s command.}

The Jews transgress the Sanctity of the Sabbath

This Ayah explains Allah’s statement, “And indeed you knew those among you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath…” (2:65) Allah says to His Prophet here, ”And ask them” ask the Jews who are with you, about the story of their fellow Jews who defied Allah’s command, so that His punishment overtook them all of a sudden for their evil actions, transgression and defiance by way of deceit. Also, warn the Jews (O Muhammad) against hiding your description that they find in their books, so that they do not suffer what their forefathers suffered. The village mentioned here is Aylah, on the shore of the Qulzum (Red) Sea. Muhammad bin Ishaq recorded from Dawud bin Al-Husayn from Ikrimah that Ibn Abbas commented on Allah’s statement, ”And ask them about the town that was by the sea…” “A village called Aylah between Madyan and At-Tur (which is in Sinai). (At-Tabari 13:180) Ikrimah, Mujahid, Qatadah and As-Suddi said similarly. (At-Tabari 13:180-181) Allah’s statement , ”when they transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath” means, they transgressed in the Sabbath and defied Allah’s command to them to keep it sanctified, ”when their fish came to them openly on the Sabbath day” visible on top of the water, according to Ad-Dahhak who reported it from Ibn Abbas. (At-Tabari 13:183) Ibn Jarir said, “Allah’s statement, ”and did not come to them on the day they had no Sabbath. Thus We made a trial of them,” means, this is how We tested them by making the fish swim close to the surface of the water , on the day which they were prohibited to fish. The fish would be hidden from them on the day when they were allowed to fish, ”Thus We made a trial for them,” so that We test them, ”for they used to rebel against Allah’s command” by defying His obedience and rebelling against it.” (At-Tabari 13:183) 

Therefore, these were a people who used a trick to violate Allah’s prohibitions, taking an action that seemed legal on the surface. However, in reality, this action was meant to transgress the prohibition. Imam and scholar Abu Abdullah Ibn Battah reported that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

”Do not repeat what the Jews committed, and violate Allah’s prohibitions using deceitful tricks.” (Adab Az-Zafaf p192)

This Hadith has a reasonable chain.

 

{164. And when a community among them said: “Why do you preach to a people whom Allah is about to destroy or to punish with a severe torment?” (The preachers) said: “In order to be free from guilt before your Lord (Allah), and perhaps they may fear Allah.”

165. So when they forgot the reminder that had been given to them, We rescued those who forbade evil, but with a severe torment We seized those who did wrong, because they used to rebel against Allah’s command.

166. So when they exceeded the limits of what they were prohibited, We said to them: “Be you monkeys, despised.”}

 

Those Who breached the Sabbath were turned into Monkeys, but Those Who prohibited Their Actions were saved

Allah said that the people of this village were divided into three groups, a group that committed the prohibition, catching fish on the Sabbath, as we described in the Tafsir of Surat Al-Baqarah. [See the Tafsir of Surah Al-Baqarah 2:65-66) Another group prohibited them from transgression and avoided them. A third group neither prohibited them, nor participated in their action. The third group said to the preachers, “Why do you preach to a people whom Allah is about to destroy or to punish with a severe torment?”. They said, ‘why do you forbid these people from evil, when you know that they are destroyed and have earned Allah’s punishment?’ Therefore, they said, there is no benefit in forbidding them. The preachers replied, “In order to be free from guilt before your Lord (Allah),” ‘for we were commanded to enjoin righteousness and forbid evil,’ “and perhaps they may fear Allah” for on account of our advice, they might stop this evil and repent to Allah. Certainly, if they repent to Allah, Allah will accept their repentance and grant them His mercy.’ Allah said,So when they forgot the reminder that had been given to them,” when the evil doers refused the advice, ”We rescued those who forbade evil, but We seized who did wrong,” who committed the transgression, ”with a severe torment”. Allah stated that those who enjoined good were saved, while those who committed the transgression were destroyed, but He did not mention the end of those who were passive (the third group), for the compensation is comparable to the deed. This type did not do what would warrant praise, nor commit wrong so that they are admonished.

Ikrimah said, “Ibn Abbas said about the Ayah: ‘I do not know whether or not the people were saved who said; “Why do you preach to a people whom Allah is about to destroy…” So I continued discussing it with him until I convinced him that they were. Then he gave me [the gift of] a garment.” (At-Tabari 13:187) Allah said, ”and We seized those who did wrong with a Ba’is torment” indicating that those who remained were saved. As for ‘Ba’is’, it means ‘severe’, according to Mujahid, (At-Tabari 13:202) or ‘painful’, according to Qatadah. (At-Tabari 13:202) These meanings are synonymous, and Allah knows best. Allah said next, “despised”, humiliated, disgraced and rejected.

{167. And (remember) when your Lord declared that He would certainly keep on sending against them, till the Day of Resurrection, those who would afflict them with a humiliating torment. Verily, your Lord is quick in retribution and certainly He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.}

 

Eternal Humiliation placed on the Jews

”Ta’dhdhana” means ‘declared’, according to Mujahid, or ‘ordained’, according to others. This part of the Ayah indicates a vow, ”till the Day of Resurrection, those who would afflict them with a humiliating torment” on account of their disobedience, defying Allah’s orders and Law and using tricks to transgress the prohibitions. It was reported that Musa required the Jews to pay the production tax for seven or thirteen years, and he was the first to do so. Also, the Jews fell under the humiliating rule of the Greek Kushdanin, [perhaps it refers to the Kushite Dynasty, and Allah knows best.] Chaldeans and later on the Christians, who subjugated and disgraced them, and required them to pay the Jizyah (tribute tax). When Islam came and Muhammad was sent, they became under his power and had to pay the Jizyah, as well. Therefore, the humiliating torment mentioned here includes disgrace and paying the Jizyah, as Al-Awfi narrated from Ibn Abbas. (At-Tabari 13:205) In the future, the Jews will support the Dajjal (False Messiah); and the Muslims, along with Isa, son of Mary, will kill the Jews. This will occur just before the end of this world. Allah said next, “that He will keep on sending against them” against the Jews, “Verily, your Lord is quick in retribution”, with those who disobey Him and defy His Law, “and certainly He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” for those who repent and go back to Him. This Ayah mentions both the mercy, as well as, the punishment, so that no despair is felt. Allah often mentions encouragement and warning together, so that hearts always have a sense of hope and fear.

 

{168. And We have broken them (the Jews) up into various separate groups on the earth: some of them are righteous and some are away from that. And We tried them with good (blessings) and evil (calamities) in order that they might turn (to Allah).

169. Then after them succeeded an (evil) generation, which inherited the Book, but they chose (for themselves) the goods of this low life saying: “(Everything) will be forgiven to us.” And if (again) the offer of the like (evil pleasures of this world) came their way, they would (again) seize them (would commit those sins). Was not the covenant of the Book taken from them that they would not say about Allah anything but the truth? And they have studied what is in it (the Book). And the home in the Hereafter is better for those who have Taqwa. Do not you then understand?

170. And as to those who hold fast to the Book (act on its teachings) and perform the Salah, certainly We shall never waste the reward of those who do righteous deeds.}

 

The Children of Israel scatter throughout the Land

Allah states that He divided the Jews into various nations, sects and groups, “And We said to the Children of Israel after him (after Musa died): “Dwell in the land, then, when the final and the last promise comes near, We shall bring you altogether as a mixed crowd (gathered out of various nations).” (17:104) “some of them are righteous and some are away from that”, some of them are led aright and some are not righteous, just asthe Jinns declared, “There are among us some that are righteous, and some the contrary; we are groups having different ways (religious sects).” (72:11) Allah said here, “And We tried them”, and tested them, “with good and evil”, with times of ease, difficulty, eagerness, fear, well-being and affliction, “in order that they might turn (to Allah)” Allah said next, “Then after them succeeded an (evil) generation, which inherited the Book, but they chose (for themselves) the goods of this low life” This Ayah means, after the generation made up of righteous and unrighteous people, another generation came that did not have goodness in them, and they inherited the Tawrah and studied it. Mujahid commented on Allah’s statement, “They chose (for themselves) the goods of this low life” “They will consume anything they can consume in this life, whether legally or illegally. Yet, they wish for forgiveness, “Saying: “(Everything) will be forgiven for us.” And if (again) the offer of the like came their way, they would (again) seize them.” (At-Tabari 13:212)

Qatadah commented on Allah’s statement, “they chose (for themselves) the goods of this low life” “This, by Allah, is an evil generation, “which inherited the Book” after their Prophets and Messengers, for they were entrusted with this job by Allah’s command to them. Allah said in anot her Ayah, “Then, there has succeeded them a posterity who neglect the Salah (the prayers).” (19:59) Allah said next, “They chose the goods of this low life saying: “(Everything) will be forgiven to us.” They wish and hope from Allah, while deceiving themselves, “And if (again) the offer of the like came their way, they would (again) seize them.” Nothing stops them from this behavior, for whenever they are given an opportunity in this life, they will consume regardless of it being allowed or not.” (At-Tabari 13:213) As-Suddi said about Allah’s statement, “Then after them succeeded an (evil) generation” until, “and they have studied what is in it (the Book).” “Every time the Children of Israel appointed a judge, he used to take bribes. The best ones among them held a counsel and took covenants from each that they would not take bribes. However, when one of them would take bribes in return for judgment and was asked, ‘What is the matter with you; you take a bribe to grant judgment?’, he replied, ‘I will be forgiven.’ So the rest of his people would admonish him for what he did. But when he died, or was replaced, the one who replaced him would take bribes too. Therefore, Allah says, if the others “who admonished him” would have a chance to loot this world, they will take it.”’ (At-Tabari 13:213) Allah said, “Was not the covenant of the Book taken from them that they would not say about Allah anything but the truth?” thus, admonishing them for this behavior. Allah took a pledge from them that they would declare the truth to people and not hide it. Allah said in another Ayah “(And remember) when Allah took a covenant from those who were given the Scripture to make it known and clear to mankind, and not to hide it, but they threw it away behind their backs, and purchased with it some miserable gain! And indeed worst is that which they bought” (3:187).

Ibn Jurayj said that Ibn Abbas said about the Ayah, “Was not the covenant of the Book taken from them that they would not say about Allah anything but the truth?”, “Their claim that Allah will forgive the sins they keep committing without repenting from them.” (At-Tabari 13:215) Allah said, ”And the home in the Hereafter is better for those who have Taqwa, Do not you then understand?” Encouraging them to seek Allah’s tremendous reward and warning them against His severe torment. Allah says here, ”My reward and what I have are better for those who avoid prohibitions, abandon lusts and become active in the obedience of their Lord.’ ”Do not you then understand?” Allah says’ Do not these people, who preferred this life instead of what is with Me, have any sense to prohibit them from their foolish and extravagant ways’ Allah then praises those who adhere to His Book, which directs them to follow His Messenger Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, “And as to those who hold fast to the Book” adhere to it, implement its commands and refrain from its prohibitions, “and perform the Salah, certainly We shall never waste the reward of those who do righteous deeds.”

 

{171. And (remember) when We Nataqna the mountain over them as if it had been a canopy, and they thought that it was going to fall on them. (We said): “Hold firmly to what We have given you [the Tawrah], and remember that which is therein (act on its commandments), so that you may fear Allah and obey Him.”}

 

Raising Mount Tur over the Jews, because of Their Rebellion

Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas commented on the Ayah, “And (remember) when We Nataqna the mountain over them”, “We raised the mountain, as Allah’s other statement testifies, “And for their covenant, We raised over them the mountain” (4:154). (At-Tabari 13:218)

Also, Sufyan Ath-Thawri narrated that Al-Amash said that, Said bin Jubayr said that Ibn Abbas said, “The angels raised the Mount over their heads, as reiterated by Allah’s statement, “We raised over them the mountain” (4:154).”

Al-Qasim bin Abi Ayyub narrated that Said bin Jubayr said that Ibn Abbas said, “Musa later on proceeded with them to the Sacred Land. He took along the Tablets, after his anger subsided, and commanded them to adhere to the orders that Allah ordained to be delivered to them. But these orders became heavy on them and they did not want to implement them until Allah raised the mountain over them, “as if it had been a canopy”, that is, when the angels raised the mountain over their heads.” An-Nasa’i collected it. (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 6:396)

 

{172. And (remember) when your Lord brought forth from the Children of Adam, from their loins, their seed and made them testify as to themselves (saying): “Am I not your Lord” They said: “Yes! We testify,” lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection: “Verily, we were unaware of this.”

173. Or lest you should say: “It was only our fathers aforetime who took others as partners in worship along with Allah, and we were (merely their) descendants after them; will You then destroy us because of the deeds of men who practiced falsehood”

174. Thus do We explain the Ayat in detail, so that they may turn (unto the truth).}

 

The Covenant taken from the Descendants of Adam

Allah stated that He brought the descendants of Adam out of their fathers’ loins, and they testified against themselves that Allah is their Lord and King and that there is no deity worthy of worship except Him. Allah created them on this Fitrah, or way, just as He said, “So set you (O Muhammad) your face truly towards the religion, Hanifan. Allah’s Fitrah with which He has created mankind. No change let there be in Khalqillah.” (30:30) [The meaning of this Ayah is, ”Dedicate yourself to the natural religion of Allah which He made for humanity”] And it is recorded in the Two Sahihs from Abu Hurayrah who said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

“Every child is born upon the Fitrah, it is only his parents who turn him into a Jew, a Christian or a Zoroastrian. Just as animals are born having full bodies, do you see any of them having a cutoff nose (when they are born)”. (Fath Al-Bari 3:290 and Muslim 4:2047)

Muslim recorded that Iyad bin Himar said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said;

“Allah said, ‘I created My servants Hunafa’ (monotheists), but the devils came to them and deviated them from their religion, prohibiting what I allowed.” (Muslim 4:2197)

There are Hadiths that mention that Allah took Adam’s offspring from his loins and divided them into those on the right and those on the left. Imam Ahmad recorded that Anas bin Malik said that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

”It will be said to a man from the people of the Fire on the Day of Resurrection, ‘If you owned all that is on the earth, would you pay it as ransom?’ He will reply, ‘Yes.’ Allah will say, ‘I ordered you with what is less than that, when you were still in Adam’s loins, that is, associate none with Me (in worship). You insisted that you associate with Me (in worship).” (Ahmad 3:127)

This was recorded in the Two Sahihs. (Fath Al-Bari 6:419 and Muslim 4:2160)

Commenting on this Ayah (7:172), At-Tirmidhi recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“When Allah created Adam, He wiped Adam’s back and every person that He will create from him until the Day of Resurrection fell out from his back. Allah placed a glimmering light between the eyes of each one of them. Allah showed them to Adam and Adam asked, ‘O Lord! Who are they?’ Allah said, ‘These are your offspring.’ Adam saw a man from among them whose light he liked. He asked, ‘O Lord! Who is this man’? Allah said, ‘This is a man from the latter generations of your offspring. His name is Dawud.’ Adam said, ‘O Lord! How many years would he live?’ Allah said, ‘Sixty years.’ Adam said, ‘O Lord! I have forfeited forty years from my life for him.’ When Adam’s life came to an end, the angel of death came to him (to take his soul). Adam said, ‘I still have forty years from my life term, don’t I?’ He said, ‘Have you not given it to your son Dawud?’ So Adam denied that and his offspring followed suit (denying Allah’s covenant), Adam forgot and his offspring forgot, Adam made a mistake and his offspring made mistakes.”

At-Tirmidhi said, “This Hadith is Hasan Sahih, and it was reported from various chains of narration through Abu Hurayrah from the Prophet ”. (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 8:457) Al-Hakim also recorded it in his Mustadrak, and said; “Sahih according to the criteria of Muslim, and they did not record it.” (Al-Hakim 2:325)

These and similar Hadiths testify that Allah, the Exalted and Most Honored, brought forth Adam’s offspring from his loins and separated between the inhabitants of Paradise and those of the Fire. Allah then said, “and made them testify as to themselves (saying): “Am I not your Lord?” They said: “Yes!”

Therefore, Allah made them testify with themselves by circumstance and words. Testimony is sometimes given in words, such as, “They will say: “We bear witness against ourselves.” (6:130) At other times, testimony is given by the people themselves, such as Allah’s statement, “It is not for the Mushrikin, (polytheists) to maintain the mosques of Allah, while they testify against their own selves of disbelief.” (9:17) This Ayah means that their disbelief testifies against them, not that they actually testify against themselves here. Another Ayah of this type is Allah’s statement, “And to that he bears witness (by his deeds).” (100:7)

The same is the case with asking, sometimes takes the form of words and sometimes a situation or circumstance. For instance, Allah said, “And He gave you of all that you asked for.” (14:34) Allah said here, “lest you should say”, on the Day of Resurrection “we were of this” of Tawhid “unaware. Or lest you should say: “It was only our fathers aforetime who took others as partners in worship along with Allah,” (7:172-173)

 

{175. And recite to them the story of him to whom We gave Our Ayat, but he threw them away; so Shaytan followed him up, and he became of those who went astray.

176. And had We willed, We would surely have elevated him therewith, but he clung to the earth and followed his own vain desires. So his parable is the parable of a dog: if you drive him away, he pants, or if you leave him alone, he (still) pants. Such is the parable of the people who reject Our Ayat. So relate the stories, perhaps they may reflect.

177. Evil is the parable of the people who rejected Our Ayat, and used to wrong themselves.}

 

Story Balam bin Baura

Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Abdullah bin Masud said that Allah’s statement, “And recite to them the story of him to whom We gave Our Ayat, but he threw them away” “Is about Balam bin Baura’ a man from the Children of Israel.” (Abdur Razzaq 2:443) Shubah and several other narrators narrated this statement from Mansur who got it from Ibn Masud. (At-Tabari 13:253) Said bin Abi Arubah narrated that Qatadah said that Ibn Abbas said, “He is Sayfi, son of Ar-Rahib.” Qatadah commented that Kab said, “He was a man from Al-Balqla’ (a province of Jordan) who knew Allah’s Greatest Name. He used to live in Bayt Al-Maqdis with the tyrants.” Al-Awfi reported that Ibn Abbas said, “He is Balam bin Baura’, a man from Yemen whom Allah had given the knowledge of His Ayat, but he abandoned them.” (At-Tabari 13:261) Malik bin Dinar said, “He was one of the scholars of the Children of Israel whose supplication was acceptable. They used to seek his lead in suplication in times of difficulty. Allah’s Prophet Musa sent him to the King of Madyan to call him to Allah. That king appeased him and gave him land and gifts, and he reverted from the religion of Musa and followed the king’s religion.” Imran bin Uyaynah narrated that Husayn said that Imran bin Al-Harith said that Ibn Abbas said, “He is Balam son of Baura’.” (At-Tabari 13:253) Similar was said by Mujahid and Ikrimah. (At-Tabari 13:254) 

Therefore, it is well-known that this honorable Ayah was revealed about a man from the Children of Israel in ancient times, according to Ibn Masud and several others among the Salaf. (At-Tabari 13:253) Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas said, “He is a man from the city of the tyrants (Jerusalem) whose name was Balam and who knew Allah’s Greatest Name.”(At-Tabari 13:258) Ali bin Abi Talhah also reported that Ibn Abbas that he said, “When Musa and those with him went to the city of the tyrants (Jerusalem), the cousins of Balam and his people came to him and said, Musa is a strong man, and he has many soldiers. If he gains the upper hand over us, we will be destroyed. Therefore, supplicate to Allah that He prevents Musa and those with him from prevailing over us.’ Balam said, ‘If I supplicate to Allah that He turns back Musa and those with him, I will lose in this life and the Hereafter.’ They kept luring him until he supplicated against Musa and his people, and Allah took away what he bestowed on him (of knowledge). Hence Allah’s statement, “but he threw them away; so Shaytan followed him up.” (At-Tabari 13:260) 

Allah said next, “And had We willed, We would surely have elevated him therewith but he clung to the earth and followed his own vain desires.” Allah said, “And had We willed, We would surely have elevated him therewith” from the filth of this earthly life through the Ayat that We gave him knowledge of, “but he clung to the earth”, he became interested in the adornment of this life and its delights. He indulged in the lusts of life and its joys and was deceived by it, just as life deceived others like him, without sound comprehension or a good mind. Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar narrated from Salim, from Abu An-Nadr that when Musa entered the land of Bani Canaan in the area of Ash-Sham (Greater Syria), the people of Balam came to him, saying, “This is Musa, son of Imran with the Children of Israel. He wants to drive us out from our land, kill us and replace us with the Children of Israel. We are your people and have no other dwelling area. You are a person whose supplication is acceptable (to Allah), so go out and supplicate to Allah against them.” He said, “Woe to you! Here is Allah’s Prophet (Musa) with whom the angels and believers are! How can I supplicate against them when I know from Allah what I know” They said, “We have no other dwelling area.”

So they kept luring and begging him until he was tempted by the trial and went on his donkey towards Mount Husban, which was behind the Israelite military barracks. When he proceeded on the Mount for a while, the donkey sat down and refused to proceed. He got off the donkey and struck it until it stood up again and he rode it. The donkey did the same after a little while, and he struck it again until it stood up… So he proceeded and tried to supplicate against Musa and his people. However, Allah made his tongue mention his people with evil and the Children of Israel with good instead of his people, who protested, “O Balam! What are you doing You are supplicating for them and against us!” He said, “It is against my will. This is a matter that Allah has decided.” He then said to them, as his tongue was made to loll out of his mouth, “Now I have lost this life and the Hereafter.” This Ayah was revealed about t he st ory of Balam son of Baura “And recite to them the story of him to whom We gave Our Ayat, but he threw them away.”, until, “perhaps they may reflect.” Allah said next, “So his parable is the parable of a dog: if you drive him away, he pants, or if you leave him alone, he (still) pants.”

Scholars of Tafsir have conflicting opinions regarding the meaning of this Ayah. Some scholars said that it refers to the end of Balam’s tongue which flickered out of his mouth, as in the story narrated from Ibn Ishaq, from Salim, from Abu An-Nadr. (At-Tabari 13:265)  Therefore, his example is the example of the dog, its tongue pants regardless of whether it is driven away or not. It was also said that the meaning here is a parable of this man – and his like – concerning their misguidance, persisting the wrong path and not being able to benefit from faith or comprehend what they are being called to. So his example is that of a dog which pants whether it was driven away or left alone. The person described here does not benefit from the advice or the call to faith, just as if the advice and call never occurred. Allah said in another Ayah, “It is the same to them (disbelievers) whether you warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe.” (2:6) and, “Whether you ask forgiveness for them (hypocrites) or ask not forgiveness for them – (and even) if you ask seventy times for their forgiveness – Allah will not forgive them.” (9:80) and similar Ayat. It was also said that the meaning here, is that the heart of the disbeliever, the hypocrite and the wicked is weak and devoid of guidance. Therefore, it keeps faltering. Similar was narrated from Al-Hasan Al-Basri. “So relate the stories, perhaps they may reflect” Allah said next to His Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, “So relate the stories, perhaps they may” the Children of Israel, who have knowledge ot the story of Balam and what happened to him when Allah allowed him to stray and expelled him from His mercy. Allah favored him by teaching him His Greatest Name, by which, if He is asked, He will grant, and if He is called upon, He answers. But Balam used it in disobedience to Allah and invoked Him against His own party of the people of faith, followers of His servant and Messenger during that time, Musa, the son of Imran, peace be upon him, whom Allah spoke to directly, “perhaps they may reflect.” and avoid Balam’s behavior, for Allah has given the Jews knowledge and made them superior to the bedouins surrounding them. He gave them the description of Muhammad which would allow them to recognize him, as they recognize their own children. They, among people, have the most right to follow, aid and support Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, in obedience to their Prophets who informed them of him and commanded them to follow him. Therefore, whoever among them defies the knowledge in their Books or hides it from the servants, Allah will place disgrace on him in this life, followed by humiliation in the Hereafter. Allah said, “Evil is the parable of the people who rejected Our Ayat.”

Allah says, evil is the example of the people who deny Our Ayat in that they are equated with dogs that have no interest but to collect food and satisfy lusts.’ Therefore, whoever goes out of the area of knowledge and guidance, and seeks satisfaction for his lusts and vain desires, is just like a dog; what an evil example. The Sahih recorded that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

“The evil example is not suitable for us: he who goes back on his gift is just like the dog that eats its vomit.” (Fath Al-Bari 5:288)

Allah’s statement, “and they used to wrong themselves.” means, Allah did not wrong them, but they wronged themselves by rejecting guidance, not obeying the Lord, being content with this life that will soon end, all the while seeking to fulfill desires and obey lusts.

 

{178. Whomsoever Allah guides, he is the guided one, and whomsoever He sends astray, – then those! They are the losers.}

 

Allah says, whomever He leads aright, then none can lead him to misguidance, and whomever He leads astray, will have acquired failure, loss and sure misguidance. Verily, whatever Allah wills occurs; and whatever He does not will, does not occur. A Hadith narrated from Abdullah bin Masud reads,

“All praise is due to Allah, Whom we praise and seek help, guidance and forgiveness from. We seek refuge with Allah from the evils within ourselves and from the burden of our evil deeds. He whom Allah guides, will never be misled; and he whom He misguides, will never have one who will guide him. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah without partners and that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.”

The complete Hadith was collected by Imam Ahmad and the collectors of Sunan and others. (Ahmad 1:392, Abu Dawud 2:591, Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 4:237, An-Nasai 3:105 and Ibn Majah 1:609)

 

{179. And surely, We have created many of the Jinn and mankind for Hell. They have hearts wherewith they understand not, and they have eyes wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not (the truth). They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones.}

 

Disbelief and the Divine Decree

Allah said, And surely, We have created for Hell” We made a share in the Fire for, “many of the Jinn and mankind” We prepared them for it by their performance of the deeds of its people. When Allah intended to create the creation, He knew what their work will be before they existed. He wrote all this in a Book, kept with Him, fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and earth. Muslim recorded that Abdullah bin Amr narrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

“Verily, Allah decided the destination and due measurement of the creation fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and earth, and His Throne was over the water.” (Muslim 4:2044)

There are many Hadiths on this subject, and certainly, the matter of Al-Qadar is of utmost importance, yet this is not where we should discuss it. Allah said, “They have hearts wherewith they underst and not, and they have eyes wherewith they see not , and they have ears wherewith they hear not.” meaning, they do not benefit from these senses that Allah made for them as a means of gaining guidance. Similarly, Allah said, “And We had assigned them the (faculties of) hearing, seeing, and hearts; but their hearing, seeing, and their hearts availed them nothing since they used to deny the Ayat.” (46:26). Allah also said about the hypocrites, “(They are) deaf, dumb, and blind, so they return not (to the right path)” (2:18), and about the disbelievers, “(They are) deaf, dumb and blind. So they do not understand.” (2:171) However, they are not deaf, dumb or blind, except relation to the guidance.

Allah said; “Had Allah known of any good in them, He would indeed have made them listen; and even if He had made them listen, they would but have turned away with aversion (to the truth).” (8:23), “Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts which are in the breasts that grow blind.” (22:46), and, “And whosoever turns away blindly from the remembrance of the Most Gracious (Allah), We appoint for him Shaytan to be an intimate companion to him. And verily, they hinder them from the path, but they think that they are guided aright!” (43:36-37) Allah’s statement, “They are like cattle”, means, those who neither hear the truth, nor understand it, nor see the guidance, are just like grazing cattle that do not benefit from these senses, except for what sustains their life in this world. Allah said in a similar Ayah, “And the example of those who disbelieve is as that of one who shouts to those who hear nothing but calls and cries.” (2:171) meaning, their example, when they are called to the faith, is the example of cattle that hear only the voice of their shepherd, but cannot understand what he is saying. Allah further described them “nay even more astray”, than cattle, because cattle still respond to the call of their shepherd, even though they do not understand what he is saying. As for the people described here, they are unlike cattle, which fulfill the purpose and service they were created for. The disbeliever was created to worship Allah alone in Tawhid, but he disbelieved in Allah and associated others in His worship. Therefore, those people who obey Allah are more honorable than some angels, while cattle are better than those who disbelieve in Him. So Allah said; “They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones.”

 

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