Surah “Al-A'rāf - The Purgatory”


“Al-A'rāf” name has been given to this Sūrah because there is mention of A'rāf and the companions in verses 46-47 of this Sūrah.  


Period of Revelation:

A close look on its contents shows that the period of its revelation is about the same as that of AL-AN’ĀM, (the last year of the Prophet's life in Makkah).  It cannot be stated with certainty which of these two was sent down earlier.  However, the way of speech indicates that it is related to the same period.  Therefore, it would be sufficient to view the preface of Sūrah Al-An’ām to understand the historical background of this Sūrah.


Topics of Discussion:

The core topic of the speech of this Sūrah is "Invitation to the Prophethood” – the essence of whole conversation is – to encourage the people to follow the Prophet of Allāh subhaana wa ta’aala, Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.  However, in this invitation the style of forewarning and fear is very clear -- because it has been long time to make the people of Makkah to understand but their stubbornness, deafness and opposition has reached the limit that soon Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is going to get the command to disconnect these people and address other people.  That is why in meaningful way it has been told to them with reprimand that the attitude you have adopted towards your Prophet the former people had adopted the same attitude towards their Messengers resulting in bad consequences.  Now that the argument has reached the limit, therefore the concluding portion of the address has been directed towards the People of the Book and at one place all humankind are also addressed, which is a symbol that the migration is near and the period in which Prophet only speaks to his close people is also going to end. 


Because during the speech the address has been diverted towards the Jews, therefore at the same time the consequences of their hypocritical conduct towards Prophethood have also been pointed out clearly – bringing Faith in Prophet and then in practice opposing his teachings, disobeying him and worshiping falsehood and consequently were afflicted with humiliation and disgrace.


At the end of the Sūrah, some instructions have been given to the Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his followers about the wisdom of spreading the word of Islam and especially they have been advised to show patience and exercise restraint in answer to the aggravation of their enemies.  In addition, they have been instructed that under anxiety of impatience they should not take any such step that might harm their real cause.

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