Back2Quran Ramadan Series: Summary of Chapter 7 (Aa’raaf)

What this project is: This Ramadan, rekindle your spirituality and relationship with God by reading the Quran in a language you understand! To facilitate those who find reading the Quran for the first time daunting, we, at Quranalyze It, will be posting short chapter summaries to get you acquainted with the basic theme and content of a particular chapter. It is important to note, however, that these summaries are no substitute to reading the Quran, and should be used as a bridge towards the Quran, or as an additional tool.

If you like the idea behind this project, and would like to read the summaries of the subsequent chapters in the coming days, then subscribe to our blog to receive an email whenever we publish a new summary. Please read, and share it far and wide!


“Adam”, because of his selfish desires, fell from the “heaven” that the earth once was. This chapter, quite uniquely, has 4 calls to Bani Adam (those who seek to attain that state once again) and by example of previous communities, shows how messengers brought a reformation program but the political and religious heads completely rejected them, again because of their own selfish desires.

Some additional notes:

  • The emphasis in this chapter is not on individuals, but communities (Ummahs).
  • Emphasis on reformation (Islah).
  • It repeatedly warns the reader not to take Shaitan as an ally.
  • Advocates reasoning in all matters. Those who blindly follow are deemed as cattle.
  • First chapter to have a lengthy discourse on Musa and his people.
  • First chapter to mention Nooh, Hood, Salih, Loot, Shoaib – each outlining a segment of the society that these messengers went to reform.
  • Second chapter to expound on Adam after Ch 2.
  • Seems to echo chapter 11 (same theme).

Here are some excellent thoughts on Chapter 5 from the book Introduction to the Quran: An Existential Reading by Farouk Peru:

1. Ch 7  focuses on the state of *adam* and uniquely has calls to bani *adam*. It uses the stories of the messengers as a means for us o understand how to attain this state. It then closes with the use of revelation to attain this knowledge.

2. Ch 7 is the only chapter with calls of ‘oh children of *adam*’. This call is for people who seek to achieve the status of *adam* before he fell , to be in the garden. Ch 7 has four calls to the children of *adam* (7/26, 7/27, 7/31 and 7/35) which should give a strong indication of its theme.

3. Ch 7 has a second phase of adam’s story from 7/172. Therefore adam’s story brackets almost the entire chapter. It would therefore be good to read these stories of quranic personalities from the perspective of adam.

4. Ch 7 Vs 199-206 ends with our daily struggle with shaitan or forces of alienation and our interaction with revelation. This shows the place to start this project is to engage with revelation. Vs 203-204 echo 6/105-107 which talk about attaining insight from the Lord.


 

Passage Breakdowns:

Passage 1 (1-10)

  • You must not harbor doubts about the book, for it needs conviction (attained by reasoning, nonetheless!) to implement it. Obey what is revealed to you, and don’t take others as protectors.
  • Immediately introduces the reader to the annihilation of previous communities because of their oppression. Those who do good attract good, and vice versa. This should set the tone for the chapter.
  • Outlines the ungratefulness of human beings: how God made us vicegerents of this earth, and how we pay back by initiating oppressive systems.

Passage 2 (11-26)

  • The narration of how Adam fell is introduced to outline how every problem on this earth stems from arrogance and selfishness (Shaitan).

Passage 3 (27-36)

  • First call to Bani Adam: God has revealed to you Libaas (usually translated as garments) that covers you from evil and as a source of elegance and protection. So, adopt the Libaas of Taqwa (taking guarding against evil). That is best for you (Libaas, of course, being a metaphor for your spiritual outlook.)
  • Second call to Bani Adam: Let not Shaitan tempt you as he tempted your Father, Adam. He stripped them off of their Libaas by creating false desires in him. So, be wary of Shaitan. (This is the most defining verse of the chapter which includes the overall theme of it!)
  • God never commands people to commit injustice/immoralities. On the contrary, he commands justice. In addition, he commands you to devote yourself at every institution that submits to God’s laws (Masjid) and that you remain dedicated to Him alone in Deen.
  • Third call to Bani Adam: You are allowed to take your Zeenat (means of comfortable living, perhaps?) from every Masjid. Just don’t be extravagant.
  • There are some who might forbid you from taking this Zeenat, however God allows it. What God forbids is that you commit injustices/immoralities, other evils, and that you associate authorities with God.
  • Fourth call to Bani Adam: There has come to you a messenger from yourselves, clarifying God’s signs to you. If you believe and reform yourself, you will live a life of bliss (attain that garden on Earth).

Passage 4 (37-53)

  • Details the result of the communities that failed to build paradise on Earth.

Passage 5 (54-58)

  • Call to your Lord being humble. He does not like the transgressors.
  • Do not spread corruption on the land after it has been reformed.
  • Communities can revive if they adhere to God’s laws.

Passage 6 (59-64)

  • Narrates the fall of the community of Nooh because of their transgression.

Passage 7 (65-72)

  • Narrates the fall of the community of Hood because of their transgression.

Passage 8 (73-79)

  • Narrates the fall of the community of Salih because of their transgression.

Passage 9 (80-84)

  • Narrates the fall of the community of Loot because of their transgression.

Passage 10 (85-102)

  • Narrates the fall of the community of Shoaib because of their transgression.

Passage 11 (103-171)

  • Narrates the fall of the community of Musa because of their transgression.

Passage 12 (172-206)

  • You will not be questioned what others used to do. Individual accountability.
  • Do not follow Shaitan.
  • Whoever chooses to guide himself is for his own benefit and vice versa.
  • Those who do not reason are like cattle, and even further astray!
  • Some communities who choose to guide themselves will uphold justice. The communities that belie our revelations will eventually destroy themselves in time.
  • The Prophet did not know what will happen in the future.
  • Do not set up authorities with God.
  • God is a protector to those who reform.
  • Pardon those who differ, and uphold justice.
  • Do not seek miracles, attain conviction by reasoning.
  • Be humble when you call upon God, and pay heed to the Quran in order to attain mercy.
  • Do not be proud to serve God. Instead, work in harmony with the universe and submit to His laws.
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The Islamic Reformation Is Here!

“It took many years to cleanse Arabia of it’s “false idols.” It will take many more to cleanse Islam of it’s new false idols–bigotry and fanaticism– worshiped by those who have replaced Mohammad’s original vision of tolerance and unity with their own ideals of hatred and discord. But the cleansing is inevitable, and the tide of reform cannot be stopped. The Islamic Reformation is already here.

And we are all living in it.” – No God But God by Reza Aslan

“Salih”: One Of The Least Understood Attributes Of A Muslim

You open up a traditional translation of the Quran, and you will find that it would usually translate characteristics of believers such as “Saliheen” (For ex. 2:62) and “Muttaqeen” (For ex. 2:2) as “Righteous people”. My problem with “righteous” is that it is too bland – too generic. Righteousness is a broad term. What aspect of righteousness, I would ask?

Just as God has several attributes, each attribute revealing a specific characteristic; similarly there are also numerous attributes of a Muslim. These diverse attributes are provided in the Quran to act as a checklist for those who seek to live by the Quran as a moral code on life. For ex: Muttaqeen, Mohsineen, Musalleen, Mufliheen, Musliheen etc.

For this post, I’d like to focus on the attribute of being a “Salih”.

A concordance of the word Salih reveals that it means to reform/amend. This attribute is of such vital importance, that it is used 100+ times in the Quran! “Those who believed (aamanu) and do acts of reformation (amallan Salihan)” is a very repetitive phrase in the Quran. As I said, brushing it off as “righteous” robs itself off the defining characteristic that God wants us to develop and fails to do justice to these words, linguistically.

As an exercise, try substituting righteousness in place of Sa-la-ha in the following verses. It just doesn’t fit:

So We responded to him, and We gave to him Yahya, and amended (Aslahna) for him his wife. Indeed, they used to hasten to good deeds and supplicate Us in hope and fear, and they were to Us humbly submissive. Quran 21:90

If one sees gross injustice or bias on the part of a testator, and takes corrective action (Aslaha) to restore justice to the will, he commits no sin. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful. Quran 2:182

 

Therefore, Saliheen are the reformers who set things right.  Reformation is a vital part of faith as faith should never be static. This is because anything that doesn’t grow is dead. If I have the same outlook on the world 10 years from now, I have failed to utilize the time to help me grow as a person. Muslims are encouraged to continually make reforms in their beliefs, whenever better information presents itself. That alone should make us more humble and compassionate towards each other, as the “I know it all” mindset gets suppressed.

In a broader sense, Saliheen also strive for reform in their community. Musa and Ibrahim (Salutes and respect to them) are prime examples of this. We have come to the point where we believe Islam to be a set of rituals only. All the while, the core message of the Quran which is all about activism and reformation gets ignored and sidetracked.

Whoever-believes-in-God

God likes reformers, not zealots.

I leave you with one of my favorite verses:

Surely, those who believe and do acts of reformation, the Almighty will shower them with love and affection. Quran 19:96

*Concordance of Salih as used in the Quran: http://corpus.quran.com/qurandictionary.jsp?q=SlH#(2:62:14)