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Sura 7
Aya 1

Chapter 7

The Elevationsal-Aʿrāf ( الأعراف )

206 verses • revealed at Meccan

»The surah that depicts the final separation of the believers and unbelievers on the Day of Judgment by an unscalable edifice called The Elevations that veils them from one another; but upon it stand men and women who can see both the people destined for Paradise and those fated for Hell, while their own harrowing verdict remains as yet undeclared by God. It is named after “the Elevations” (al-Aʿrāf) mentioned in verse 46 ff. The surah begins by addressing the Prophet Muḥammad, reassuring him about his revelations, and closes emphasizing the fact that he merely repeats what is revealed to him. It warns the disbelievers of their fate via numerous stories of disobedient communities of the past, in the hope that they may take heed and repent before it is too late. Both subjects also serve to give encouragement to the Prophet and the believers.«

The surah is also known as The Battlements, The Faculty of Discernment, The Heights, The Ramparts, Wall Between Heaven and Hell

بِسمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحمٰنِ الرَّحيمِ

Muhammad Asad: In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace:


Muhammad Asad

THE TITLE of this surah is based on an expression which occurs in verses 46 and 48; its meaning is explained in note 37. According to most of the authorities (and particularly Ibn 'Abbas), the whole of Al-A'raf was revealed shortly before the preceding surah - that is, in the last year of the Prophet's stay at Mecca; the assertion of As-Suyuti and some other scholars to the effect that verses 163-171 belong to the Medina period is the result of mere conjecture and cannot, therefore, be accepted (Manar VIII, 294). Although, in the chronological order of revelation, Al-A'raf precedes the sixth surah, it has been placed after the latter because it elaborates the theme outlined therein. After the exposition of God's oneness and uniqueness - which, as I have pointed out in the introductory note to Al-An'am, constitutes the main theme of the sixth surah - Al-A'raf proceeds with a reference to revelation as a means by which God communicates His will to man: in other words, to the mission of the prophets. The need for continued prophetic guidance arises from the fact of man's weakness and his readiness to follow every temptation that appeals to his appetites, his vanity, or his mistaken sense of self-interest: and this essential aspect of the human condition is illustrated in the allegory of Adam and Eve and their fall from grace (verses 19-25), preceded by the allegory of Iblis as man's eternal tempter (verses 16-18). Without the guidance which God offers man through His prophets, the right way cannot be found; and, therefore, "unto those who give the lie to Our messages and scorn them in their pride, the gates of heaven shall not be opened" (verse 40). From verse 59 onwards, most of the surah is devoted to the histories of some of the earlier prophets whose warnings were rejected by their people, beginning with Noah, continuing with Hud, Salih, Lot and Shu'ayb, and culminating in a lengthy account of Shu'ayb's son-in-law, Moses, and his experiences with the children of Israel. With verse 172 the discourse reverts to the complex psychology of man, his instinctive ability to perceive God's existence and oneness, and to "what happens to him to whom God vouchsafes His messages and who then discards them: Satan catches up with him, and he strays, like so many others, into grievous error" (verse 175). This brings us to God's final message, the Qur'an, and to the role of the Last Prophet, Muhammad, who is "nothing but a warner and a herald of glad tidings" (verse 188): a mortal servant of God, having no "supernatural" powers or qualities, and - like all God-conscious men - "never too proud to worship Him" (verse 206).
Alif. Lam. Mim. Sad.1
  • See Appendix II.