English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 7: Al-Araf — The Elevated Places (Revealed at Makkah: 24 sections, 206 verses)

Section 21 (Verses 7:163–7:171): Israelites’ Transgressions


وَ سۡـَٔلۡہُمۡ عَنِ الۡقَرۡیَۃِ الَّتِیۡ کَانَتۡ حَاضِرَۃَ الۡبَحۡرِ ۘ اِذۡ یَعۡدُوۡنَ فِی السَّبۡتِ اِذۡ تَاۡتِیۡہِمۡ حِیۡتَانُہُمۡ یَوۡمَ سَبۡتِہِمۡ شُرَّعًا وَّ یَوۡمَ لَا یَسۡبِتُوۡنَ ۙ لَا تَاۡتِیۡہِمۡ ۚۛ کَذٰلِکَ ۚۛ نَبۡلُوۡہُمۡ بِمَا کَانُوۡا یَفۡسُقُوۡنَ ﴿۱۶۳﴾

7:163 And ask them about the town which stood by the sea. When they violated the Sabbath, when their fish came to them on their Sabbath day on the surface, and when it was not their Sabbath they did not come to them. Thus did We try them because they transgressed.1

وَ اِذۡ قَالَتۡ اُمَّۃٌ مِّنۡہُمۡ لِمَ تَعِظُوۡنَ قَوۡمَۨا ۙ اللّٰہُ مُہۡلِکُہُمۡ اَوۡ مُعَذِّبُہُمۡ عَذَابًا شَدِیۡدًا ؕ قَالُوۡا مَعۡذِرَۃً اِلٰی رَبِّکُمۡ وَ لَعَلَّہُمۡ یَتَّقُوۡنَ ﴿۱۶۴﴾

7:164 And when some of them said: Why do you preach to a people whom Allah would destroy or whom He would punish with a severe punishment? They said: To be free from blame before your Lord, and that perhaps they may guard against evil.

فَلَمَّا نَسُوۡا مَا ذُکِّرُوۡا بِہٖۤ اَنۡجَیۡنَا الَّذِیۡنَ یَنۡہَوۡنَ عَنِ السُّوۡٓءِ وَ اَخَذۡنَا الَّذِیۡنَ ظَلَمُوۡا بِعَذَابٍۭ بَئِیۡسٍۭ بِمَا کَانُوۡا یَفۡسُقُوۡنَ ﴿۱۶۵﴾

7:165 So when they neglected what they had been reminded of, We delivered those who forbade evil and We overtook those who were wrongdoers with an evil punishment because they transgressed.

فَلَمَّا عَتَوۡا عَنۡ مَّا نُہُوۡا عَنۡہُ قُلۡنَا لَہُمۡ کُوۡنُوۡا قِرَدَۃً خٰسِئِیۡنَ ﴿۱۶۶﴾

7:166 So when they revoltingly persisted in what they had been forbidden, We said to them: Be (as) apes, despised and hated.

وَ اِذۡ تَاَذَّنَ رَبُّکَ لَیَبۡعَثَنَّ عَلَیۡہِمۡ اِلٰی یَوۡمِ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ مَنۡ یَّسُوۡمُہُمۡ سُوۡٓءَ الۡعَذَابِ ؕ اِنَّ رَبَّکَ لَسَرِیۡعُ الۡعِقَابِ ۚۖ وَ اِنَّہٗ لَغَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۶۷﴾

7:167 And when your Lord declared that He would send against them to the day of Resurrection those who would subject them to severe torment. Surely your Lord is Quick in retribution; and surely He is Forgiving, Merciful.

وَ قَطَّعۡنٰہُمۡ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ اُمَمًا ۚ مِنۡہُمُ الصّٰلِحُوۡنَ وَ مِنۡہُمۡ دُوۡنَ ذٰلِکَ ۫ وَ بَلَوۡنٰہُمۡ بِالۡحَسَنٰتِ وَ السَّیِّاٰتِ لَعَلَّہُمۡ یَرۡجِعُوۡنَ ﴿۱۶۸﴾

7:168 And We divided them in the earth into (different) groups — some of them are righteous and some of them are otherwise. And We tried them with blessings and misfortunes that they might turn.

وَ قَطَّعۡنٰہُمۡ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ اُمَمًا ۚ مِنۡہُمُ الصّٰلِحُوۡنَ وَ مِنۡہُمۡ دُوۡنَ ذٰلِکَ ۫ وَ بَلَوۡنٰہُمۡ بِالۡحَسَنٰتِ وَ السَّیِّاٰتِ لَعَلَّہُمۡ یَرۡجِعُوۡنَ ﴿۱۶۸﴾

7:169 Then after them came an evil generation who inherited the Book, taking the frail goods of this low life and saying: It will be forgiven us. And if (more) such good came to them, they would take it (too).2 Was not a promise taken from them in the Book that they would not speak anything about Allah but the truth? And they study what is in it. And the abode of the Hereafter is better for those who keep their duty. Do you not then understand?

وَ الَّذِیۡنَ یُمَسِّکُوۡنَ بِالۡکِتٰبِ وَ اَقَامُوا الصَّلٰوۃَ ؕ اِنَّا لَا نُضِیۡعُ اَجۡرَ الۡمُصۡلِحِیۡنَ ﴿۱۷۰﴾

7:170 And as for those who hold fast by the Book and keep up prayer — surely We do not waste the reward of the reformers.

وَ اِذۡ نَتَقۡنَا الۡجَبَلَ فَوۡقَہُمۡ کَاَنَّہٗ ظُلَّۃٌ وَّ ظَنُّوۡۤا اَنَّہٗ وَاقِعٌۢ بِہِمۡ ۚ خُذُوۡا مَاۤ اٰتَیۡنٰکُمۡ بِقُوَّۃٍ وَّ اذۡکُرُوۡا مَا فِیۡہِ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَتَّقُوۡنَ ﴿۱۷۱﴾٪

7:171 And when We shook the mountain over them as if it were a covering, and they thought that it was going to fall down upon them: Hold on firmly what We have given you, and bear in mind what is in it, so that you may guard against evil.3


  1. The city referred to here is generally recognized as being Ela, which was situated on the Red Sea. The incident alluded to is mentioned as an instance of the Jewish violation of the Sabbath. The fish appeared on the surface of the water on the Sabbath because they had a sense of security on that day. This was a temptation for the people to break the law.
  2. First they commit a crime for the frail goods of this life, saying that they will be forgiven; then persist in their evil course and when a similar occasion arises, they again return to the old crimes. There is no repentance.
  3. The stories built upon these simple words by some commentators must be rejected. The words simply relate the experience of the elders of Israel when they stood at the foot of the mountain, which rose above them. There was a severe earthquake, which is referred to in v. 155, causing them to think that the mountain would fall down upon them.