Surah Araf

Surah Araf is the 7th chapter of the Quran with 206 verses. It was revealed in Mecca and is the longest Makki surah. Surah Araf talks of the covenant between God and mankind in which all human beings stood as witness to the oneness of God, his Lordship and the Hereafter. The recitation of surah Araf will bring about more sustenance and create a barrier against Satan on the Last Day.  

Other namesالمص، میثاق، میقات
Surah no.7
PlaceJuz’ 8 & 9
Makki/MadaniMakki
Order of revelation39
No. of verses  206
No. of words3346
No. of letters14437
Famous verses22, 26, 31, 43, 54, 96, 142, 172

Surah Araf is the longest Makki surah revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (S). It has 206 verses and 3346 letters located in Juz’ 8 and 9 of the Noble Quran. Similar to other surahs revealed in Mecca, surah Araf deals with the principles of Muslims’ beliefs. The main topics covered in surah Araf are:

  •  The origin and end of creation
  • Monotheism
  • Fighting against polytheism
  • The covenants between Allah and people in the world of Dhar.
  • The stories of past nations and prophets such as Adam (AS), Saleh (AS), Noah (AS), Moses (AS), Shuaib (AS), and Lot (AS) as a lesson for others to heed.

Names of Surah Araf

“Araf” means elevations or the height of a hill or mountain. Araf in this surah refers to a place between hell and heaven. The term “Araf” has occurred twice in this surah, in verses 46 and 48:

وَعَلَى الْأَعْرَافِ رِجَالٌ ﴿46﴾

And on the Elevations will be certain men… 1

…وَنَادَىٰ أَصْحَابُ الْأَعْرَافِ رِجَالًا ﴿48﴾

The occupants of the Elevations will call out to certain men… 2

Other names of surah Araf:

  • “Alif, Laam, Mim, Saad” (المص) (7:1)
  • “Miqat” meaning appointed place or time (7:141)
  • “Mithaq” meaning covenant (7:172)

Surah Araf Summary

Surah Araf can be divided into 5 main parts:

  1. The Prophet and people’s duty in safeguarding the divine verses and rulings (1-9)
  2. Satan’s efforts in dissuading people to act upon God’s commands (10-36)
  3. Other-worldly punishment of those who acted against divine rulings (37-58)
  4. Worldly punishment of those who acted against divine rulings (59-174)
  5. The Prophet’s duty regarding the transgressors (175-206)

5 Rewards and blessings of surah Araf

Many rewards and blessings have been mentioned in narrations regarding one who recites surah Araf with care and consideration and tries to act according to the teachings provided.

1.   Barrier against Satan on Judgment day

The Messenger of God (S) says in a hadith,

God will set a barrier between one who recites surah Araf and Satan on the Day of Judgment and makes him befriend Prophet Adam (AS). 3

2.   No accounting on Judgment Day

Abu Abdillah (AS) says,

Those who recite surah Araf every month, on Qiyamah will be among the ones who will have no fear nor grief and if they recite it every Friday, they will not be called to account on Judgment Day. 4

3.   Safety from enemy and wild animals

Prophet Muhammad (S) says in a hadith that one who writes surah Araf and carries it with oneself will be immune from enemies and wild animals with God’s permission. 5

4.   Increase in sustenance

 Any believer who writes the following verse in surah Araf with pure intention and attention to its meaning on Friday, after Friday prayers and hangs it in one’s shop or house, will have extended sustenance and will receive great blessings in one’s wealth and business. 6

وَلَقَدْ مَكَّنَّاكُمْ فِي الأَرْضِ وَجَعَلْنَا لَكُمْ فِيهَا مَعَايِشَ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَشْكُرُونَ ﴿10﴾

Certainly We have established you on the earth, and made in it [various] means of livelihood for you. Little do you thank. 7

5.   Sleeping less and staying awake through the night

The believer who recites the following verse in surah Araf when going to sleep with pure intention, attention to God and the meaning of the verse and asks God to need less sleep, will have his/her request granted and will be able to keep nightly vigils. 

إِنَّ رَبَّكُمُ اللّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى عَلَى الْعَرْشِ يُغْشِي اللَّيْلَ النَّهَارَ يَطْلُبُهُ حَثِيثًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ وَالنُّجُومَ مُسَخَّرَاتٍ بِأَمْرِهِ أَلاَ لَهُ الْخَلْقُ وَالأَمْرُ تَبَارَكَ اللّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿54﴾

Indeed your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and then settled on the Throne. He draws the night’s cover over the day, which pursues it swiftly, and [He created] the sun, the moon, and the stars, [all of them] disposed by His command. Look! All creation and command belong to Him. Blessed is Allah, the Lord of all the worlds.

ادْعُواْ رَبَّكُمْ تَضَرُّعًا وَخُفْيَةً إِنَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ ﴿55﴾

Supplicate your Lord, beseechingly and secretly. Indeed, He does not like the transgressors.

وَلاَ تُفْسِدُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ بَعْدَ إِصْلاَحِهَا وَادْعُوهُ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا إِنَّ رَحْمَتَ اللّهِ قَرِيبٌ مِّنَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ ﴿56﴾

And do not cause corruption on the earth after its restoration, and supplicate Him with fear and hope: indeed Allah’s mercy is close to the virtuous.

8 Famous verses in surah Araf

There are many verses in surah Araf which we have heard time and again and can apply their teachings to our daily life.

1.   Surah Araf: Modesty is inborn

فَلَمّا ذاقَا الشَّجَرَةَ بَدَت لَهُما سَوآتُهُما وَطَفِقا يَخصِفانِ عَلَيهِما مِن وَرَقِ الجَنَّةِ ﴿22﴾

So when they tasted of the tree, their nakedness became exposed to them, and they began to stitch over themselves with the leaves of paradise. 8

As the first humans who were not living in a society and did not have any parents to teach them being naked is bad, Adam and Eve quickly covered themselves with tree leaves when their private parts were exposed to them. This is an indication that modesty is an inborn quality instilled in man’s nature.  

2.   The clothes of Piety is the best

لِبَاسُ التَّقْوَىٰ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ ﴿26﴾

The garment of Godwariness is the best. 9

Surah Araf teaches one that just as clothes cover one’s nakedness and physical faults and serve as adornment, one’s fear of God (Taqwa) serves the same purpose for one’s actions. It covers the misconceptions of one’s mind, the urges of one’s carnal desires, and makes one’s personality more beautiful. 

3.   Islam is a holistic religion in surah Araf

يا بَني آدَمَ خُذوا زينَتَكُم عِندَ كُلِّ مَسجِدٍ وَكُلوا وَاشرَبوا وَلا تُسرِفوا ۚ إِنَّهُ لا يُحِبُّ المُسرِفينَ ﴿31﴾

O Children of Adam! Put on your adornment on every occasion of prayer, and eat and drink, but do not waste; indeed, He does not like the wasteful. 10

Four points can be deduced from this beautiful verse in surah Araf:

  • Tasty foods and drinks are there for us to enjoy and God has not banned them for us unless they harm us.
  • Enjoyment and pleasure seeking should have an extent to it and one should not be wasteful.  
  • When going to the mosques, wear appropriate clothes and adorn yourself.
  • Another interpretation could be to have one’s wealth and children as one’s adornment along oneself when going to a worshipping place as Allah (SWT) refers to them as one’s adornments:

الْمالُ وَ الْبَنُونَ زِينَةُ الْحَياةِ الدُّنْيا ﴿46﴾

Wealth and children are adornments for one’s worldly life. 11

There could be two reasons for this:

  1. Having one’s children with oneself in religious gatherings helps in the development of their spiritual growth.
  2. Having money with one when going to the mosque helps solve people’s financial problems if they come to one for help.

4.   Blissful life in heaven with no grudge and enmity

وَنَزَعنا ما في صُدورِهِم مِن غِلٍّ تَجري مِن تَحتِهِمُ الأَنهارُ ۖ
وَقالُوا الحَمدُ لِلَّـهِ الَّذي هَدانا لِهـٰذا
وَما كُنّا لِنَهتَدِيَ لَولا أَن هَدانَا اللَّـهُ ۖ
لَقَد جاءَت رُسُلُ رَبِّنا بِالحَقِّ ۖ وَنودوا أَن تِلكُمُ الجَنَّةُ
أورِثتُموها بِما كُنتُم تَعمَلونَ ﴿43﴾

We will remove whatever rancour there is in their breasts, and streams will run for them. They will say,
‘All praise belongs to Allah, who guided us to this.
We would have never been guided had not Allah guided us.
Our Lord’s apostles had certainly brought the truth.’ And the call would be made to them: ‘This is paradise, which you have been given to inherit because of what you used to do!’ 12

Three points can be understood from this verse of surah Araf:

  • One quality which makes life bitter is grudge. In heaven, people’s hearts are emptied of this negative feeling.
  • Guidance requires more than one’s efforts. Allah mercy and compassion is also needed.
  • True believers realize this point and show their humility to their Lord by praising Him.

5.   Allah’s dominion over the entire universe

إِنَّ رَبَّكُمُ اللَّـهُ الَّذي خَلَقَ السَّماواتِ وَالأَرضَ في سِتَّةِ أَيّامٍ ثُمَّ استَوىٰ عَلَى العَرشِ …
أَلا لَهُ الخَلقُ وَالأَمرُ ۗ تَبارَكَ اللَّـهُ رَبُّ العالَمينَ ﴿54﴾

Indeed your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and then settled on the Throne.
… Look! All creation and command belong to Him. Blessed is Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. 13

Allah (SWT) could have created the entire universe with the blink of an eye but He made them in six days. The Noble Prophet (S) says in a hadith,

التّأنّى من الرّحمن و العجلة من الشيطان

deliberation is from Allah and haste is of the deeds of Satan 14

Therefore, practice care and deliberation in your actions not haste.

6.   A golden formula: Faith in God + Godweariness = Blessings from heavens and earth

وَلَو أَنَّ أَهلَ القُرىٰ آمَنوا وَاتَّقَوا لَفَتَحنا عَلَيهِم بَرَكاتٍ مِنَ السَّماءِ وَالأَرضِ وَلـٰكِن كَذَّبوا فَأَخَذناهُم بِما كانوا يَكسِبونَ ﴿96﴾

If the people of the towns had been faithful and Godwary, We would have opened to them blessings from the heaven and the earth. But they denied; so We seized them because of what they used to earn. 15

This verse provides a golden formula of success for the inhabitants of the earth. If a community and society believe in God and their actions are based on God’s satisfaction, they will definitely find prosperity.

There is an important point here: the verse does not say that if an individual has these two qualities, God will open the blessings from heaven and the earth. The whole community has to become practicing. That is why “Muslim community” has been stressed so much in Islamic teachings.

One Question

Why do non-Muslim countries that do not practice religion are so well-off and advanced and Muslim counties are usually deprived and in poverty?

There are four possible answers:

  1. Note that some so-called Muslim countries do not practice many Islamic rulings and many Muslims are Muslim by name.
  2. In the non-Islamic technologically advanced countries, sometimes it is the case that they are not Muslims, however, they live their life based on justice and equity. 
  3. Sometimes, it is the case that these developed nations who do not practice Islam, have much material progress and prosperity yet their people have their own psychological illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
  4. Moreover, if they are oppressive people and non-believers, Allah (SWT) has the custom of providing them with a comfortable life and once they are rejoicing in all the good things, they would suddenly be brought into account. 

فَلَمَّا نَسُوا مَا ذُكِّرُوا بِهِ فَتَحْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ أَبْوَابَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا فَرِحُوا بِمَا أُوتُواأَخَذْنَاهُمْ بَغْتَةً فَإِذَا هُمْ مُبْلِسُونَ ﴿44﴾

But when they forgot the warning they had received, We opened to them the gates of all (good) things, until, in the midst of their enjoyment of Our gifts, on a sudden, We called them to account, when lo! they were plunged in despair! 16

7.   Moses’ appointment with God

وَواعَدنا موسىٰ ثَلاثينَ لَيلَةً وَأَتمَمناها بِعَشرٍ فَتَمَّ ميقاتُ رَبِّهِ أَربَعينَ لَيلَةً ۚ ﴿142﴾

We made an appointment with Moses for thirty nights, and completed them with ten [more]; thus the tryst of his Lord was completed in forty nights. 17

Surah Araf mentions the story of some of the Prophets of God such as Moses, Shu’aib, and Adam. From verse 142 to 156, surah Araf mentions the meeting of Prophet Moses (AS) with God which lasted for 40 nights. It mentions how in his absence, some of his people went after worshipping a golden calf 18 and brought upon themselves the wrath of God and abasement in their worldly life.

This verse is frequently recited in the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah in a recommended prayer.

8.   All human beings testified to the oneness of God

أَلَستُ بِرَبِّكُم ۖ قالوا بَلىٰ ۛ شَهِدنا ﴿172﴾

‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said, ‘Yes indeed! We bear witness.’ 19

In this verse of surah Araf, God tells Prophet Muhammad (S) to remind people of their covenant with Him in the world of Thar where they testified to the one God and His Lordship. This was done so that later, on Judgement Day people would not bring excuses that they remained unbelievers because they did not know God. Therefore, the desire for monotheism is intertwined with our soul and body.  

5 Lessons to learn from surah Araf

Every single word and verse of surah Araf is filled with enlightening lessons for our life and are truly food for our thirsty souls. Below we have mentioned some of the noteworthy points one can contemplate upon and learn valuable lessons from.

1.   How arrogance affects one’s life

How do you think arrogance is linked to unbelief in the one God and His signs?

Allah (SWT) has used the term “the arrogant” اللذین اسْتَكْبَرُوا in seven verses of surah Araf and has included the actions and fate of these unbelievers:

  • (7:36) Denial of signs +  arrogance: Companions of Fire

وَ كَذَّبُوا بِآياتِنا وَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا عَنْها أُولئِكَ أَصْحابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فيها خالِدُونَ ﴿36﴾

But the ones who deny Our verses and are arrogant toward them – those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally. 20

  • (7:40) Denial of God’s signs + arrogance: Closure of gates of heaven
  • (7:75) wealth + arrogance: Did not believe in Salih (AS)
  • (7:76) Arrogance: disbelief

قالَ الَّذينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا إِنَّا بِالَّذي آمَنْتُمْ بِهِ كافِرُونَ ﴿76﴾

Said those who were arrogant, “Indeed we, in that which you have believed, are disbelievers. 21

  • (7:88) Wealth + arrogance: forcing Prophet Shu’ab to leave his town
  • (7:146) arrogance (see divine signs yet they deny): God turns them away from His signs

In fact, those who were humble to their Lord are near Him, they exalt Him and Prostrate to Him.

إِنَّ الَّذينَ عِندَ رَبِّكَ لا يَستَكبِرونَ عَن عِبادَتِهِ وَيُسَبِّحونَهُ وَلَهُ يَسجُدونَ ﴿206﴾

Indeed, those who are near your Lord are not prevented by arrogance from His worship, and they exalt Him, and to Him they prostrate. 22

2.   Satan can find a way to your heart even if you are a believer at the height of knowledge

وَاتلُ عَلَيهِم نَبَأَ الَّذي آتَيناهُ آياتِنا فَانسَلَخَ مِنها فَأَتبَعَهُ الشَّيطانُ فَكانَ مِنَ الغاوينَ ﴿175﴾

Relate to them the story of the man to whom We sent Our signs, but he passed them by: so Satan followed him up, and he went astray. 23

In verse 175 of surah Araf, God tells His Prophet (S) to remind people of the person who received divine signs and had a high spiritual level, nevertheless, he was driven to material attractions and lost his lofty position.

Some exegets of the Quran believe that the person cited in this verse is Bal’am Ba’ura who was one of the scholars of Bani Isra’il and knew the greatest name of God (al-Ism al’Azam) and whose prayers were always granted. He was sent by Moses to the Pharaoh to preach him but in the midst of the way, he made a mistake and Satan got the chance to get close to him.  

3.   When humans become worse than animals

أُولـٰئِكَ كَالأَنعامِ بَل هُم أَضَلُّ ۚ أُولـٰئِكَ هُمُ الغافِلونَ ﴿179﴾

They are like cattle,- nay more misguided: for they are heedless (of warning). 24

At one point, Allah (SWT) says in the Quran that human beings are His vicegerents on the earth 25 ; however in this part of surah Araf, some humans are lowered to the level of animals and even worse than animals.

What leads to such a sad story?

Surah Araf itself explains here:  

ۖ لَهُم قُلوبٌ لا يَفقَهونَ بِها وَلَهُم أَعيُنٌ لا يُبصِرونَ بِها وَلَهُم آذانٌ لا يَسمَعونَ بِها ۚ

  • They have hearts wherewith they understand not,
  • eyes wherewith they see not, and
  • ears wherewith they hear not.26

In other words, they are heedless of warnings despite being equipped with two kinds of guides:

  • Inner guide: intellect and God-given nature
  • Outer guide: the Prophets’ words and warning.

4.   Mindful living + remembrance of death = key to guidance

أَوَلَم يَنظُروا في مَلَكوتِ السَّماواتِ وَالأَرضِ وَما خَلَقَ اللَّـهُ مِن شَيءٍ وَأَن عَسىٰ أَن يَكونَ قَدِ اقتَرَبَ أَجَلُهُم ۖ ﴿185﴾

Have they not contemplated the dominions of the heavens and the earth, and whatever things Allah has created, and that maybe their time has already drawn near? 27

Surah Araf makes two points clear here:

  • Be mindful of what you see, hear, eat and say. The animals, plants, skies, oceans and the people around you. They are all indications of God’s power.
  • You will live in this world for a limited term and will return to your God.

So plan for you eternal life!

5.   Marital life, a source of peace and serenity

هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ نَفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَجَعَلَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا لِيَسْكُنَ إِلَيْهَا ۖ ﴿189﴾

It is He who created you from a single soul, and made from it its mate, that he might find comfort with her. 28

According to surah Araf, to be given the blessing of a spouse who is of the same species and at the same human level is of the divine signs. More importantly, this spouse is to provide one peace and comfort in life. If this function is not actualized, one needs to look where the problem lies and should endeavor to fix it.

Summary

Surah Araf is an insightful book in itself with so many teachings and blessings for those who have not covered their eyes, ears, and heart with the veil of ignorance. Surah Araf takes you on a historical and spiritual journey and reminds you of your origin, final destination, and the bumpy path ahead.   


References

  1. The Quran, 7:46 (Qarai).
  2. The Quran, 7:48 (qarai).
  3. Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol. 4, p. 339.
  4. Translation of al-Burhan fi Tafsir al-Quran, vol. 5, p. 154.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Khawas Ayat al-Quran, p. 61.
  7. The Quran, 7:10 (Qarai).
  8. The Quran, 7:22 (Qarai).
  9. The Quran, 7:26.
  10. The Quran, 7:31 (Qarai).
  11. The Quran, 18:46.
  12. The Quran, 7:43 (Qarai).
  13. The Quran, 7:54 (Qarai).
  14. Al-Munhaj, p. 60.
  15. The Quran, 7:96 (Qarai).
  16. The Quran, 6:44 (Yusufali).
  17. The Quran, 7:142 (Qarai)
  18. The Quran, 7:152.
  19. The Quran, 7:172 (Qarai).
  20. The Quran, 7:36 (Saheeh International).
  21. The Quran, 7:76 (Saheeh International).
  22. The Quran, 7:206 (Saheeh International).
  23. The Quran, 7:175 (Yusufali).
  24. The Quran, 7:179 (Yusufali).
  25. The Quran, 1:30.
  26. The Quran, 7:179 (Yusufali).
  27. The Quran, 7:185 (Qarai).
  28. The Quran, 7:189 (Qarai).

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Radiyah Shameli
Radiyah Shameli
I am Radiyah Shameil. I write for the blog and am a team member in providing content for courses on “Family in the Quran”. I have a Ph.D. in Islamic studies and am a researcher in the field of women and family in Islam. I teach and research mostly in this area. Currently, I am working on the course “Family in the Quran” and “Parenting”

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