Surah Al-A’raf >> Currently viewing Surah Al-A’raf Ayat 138 (7:138)

Surah Al-A’raf Ayat 138 in Arabic Text

وَجَـٰوَزْنَا بِبَنِىٓ إِسْرَٰٓءِيلَ ٱلْبَحْرَ فَأَتَوْا۟ عَلَىٰ قَوْمٍۢ يَعْكُفُونَ عَلَىٰٓ أَصْنَامٍۢ لَّهُمْ ۚ قَالُوا۟ يَـٰمُوسَى ٱجْعَل لَّنَآ إِلَـٰهًۭا كَمَا لَهُمْ ءَالِهَةٌۭ ۚ قَالَ إِنَّكُمْ قَوْمٌۭ تَجْهَلُونَ
Wa jaawaznaa bi Banneee Israaa’eelal bahra fa ataw ‘alaa qawminy ya’kufoona ‘alaaa asnaamil lahum; qaaloo yaa Moosaj’al lanaa ilaahan kamaa lahum aalihah; qaala innakum qawmun tajhaloon

English Translation

Here you can read various translations of verse 138

Sahih International
And We took the Children of Israel across the sea; then they came upon a people intent in devotion to [some] idols of theirs. They said, “O Moses, make for us a god just as they have gods.” He said, “Indeed, you are a people behaving ignorantly.

Yusuf Ali
We took the Children of Israel (with safety) across the sea. They came upon a people devoted entirely to some idols they had. They said: “O Moses! fashion for us a god like unto the gods they have.” He said: “Surely ye are a people without knowledge.

Abul Ala Maududi
And We led the Children of Israel across the sea; and then they came upon a people who were devoted to the worship of their idols. They said: ‘O Moses, make for us a god even as they have gods.’ Moses said: ‘You are indeed an ignorant people.’

Muhsin Khan
And We brought the Children of Israel (with safety) across the sea, and they came upon a people devoted to some of their idols (in worship). They said: “O Musa (Moses)! Make for us an ilahan (a god) as they have aliha (gods).” He said: “Verily, you are a people who know not (the Majesty and Greatness of Allah and what is obligatory upon you, i.e. to worship none but Allah Alone, the One and the Only God of all that exists).”

Pickthall
And We brought the Children of Israel across the sea, and they came unto a people who were given up to idols which they had. They said: O Moses! Make for us a god even as they have gods. He said: Lo! ye are a folk who know not.

Dr. Ghali
And We made the Seeds (or: sons) of Israel) pass over the sea. Then they came upon a people consecrating themselves to idols they had. They said, “O Mûsa, (Moses) make for us a god as they have gods.” He said, “Surely you are a people who are ignorant.

Abdel Haleem
We took the Children of Israel across the sea, but when they came upon a people who worshipped idols, they said, ‘Moses, make a god for us like theirs.’ He said, ‘You really are foolish people:

Quran 7 Verse 138 Explanation

For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Al-A’raf ayat 138, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.

Ala-Maududi

(7:138) And We led the Children of Israel across the sea; and then they came upon a people who were devoted to the worship of their idols. They said: ‘0 Moses, make for us a god even as they have gods.’[98] Moses said: ‘You are indeed an ignorant people.’


98. The point at which the Israelites probably crossed the Red Sea lies somewhere between the present Suez and Ismailia. After that they headed towards the south of the Sinai peninsula along the coastal route. The western and northern regions of the Sinai peninsula were then included in the Egyptian empire. In the southern part of the peninsula, in the area lying between the present towns of Tur and Abu Zanimah, there were copper and turquoise mines. Since these were of immense value to the Egyptians, a number of garrisons had been set up to ensure their security’. One such garrison was located at a place known as Mafqah, which also housed a big temple. The ruins of this temple can still be found in the south-western part of the peninsula. In its vicinity there was an ancient temple, dedicated to the moon-god of the Semites. Passing by these places the people of Israel, who had been subservient to the Egyptians for a long time and were thus considerably Egyptianized in their outlook, felt the desire to indulge in idol-worship.

The extent to which the Israelites had become degenerated as a result of their slavery may be gauged by Joshua’s last address to the Israelites delivered seventy years after their exodus from Epypt:

Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24: 14-15).

This shows that even though the Israelites had been taught and trained by Moses for forty Years and by Joshua for twenty-eight years, they had still been unable to purge their minds of those influences which had warped their outlook and mentality during their period of bondage under Pharaoh. These Muslims had begun to look upon idol-worship as natural. Even after their exodus, the sight of a temple would incline them to indulge in the idolatrous practices which they had observed among their former masters.

Ibn-Kathir

138. And We brought the Children of Israel (with safety) across the sea, and they came upon a people devoted to some of their idols (in worship). They said: “O Musa! Make for us a god as they have gods.” He said: “Verily, you are an ignorant people.” 139. ﴿Musa added:﴾ “Verily, these people will be destroyed for that which they are engaged in (idols’ worship). And all that they are doing is in vain.”


The Children of Israel safely cross the Sea, but still held on to the Idea of Idol Worshipping

Allah mentions the words that the ignorant ones among the Children of Israel uttered to Musa after they crossed the sea and witnessed Allah’s Ayat and great power.

﴿فَأَتَوْاْ عَلَى قَوْمٍ يَعْكُفُونَ عَلَى أَصْنَامٍ لَّهُمْ﴾

(And they came upon a people devoted to some of their idols (in worship).) Some scholars of Tafsir said that the people mentioned here were from Canaan, or from the tribe of Lakhm. Ibn Jarir commented, “They were worshipping idols that they made in the shape of cows, and this influenced the Children of Israel later when they worshipped the calf. They said here,

﴿يَمُوسَى اجْعَلْ لَّنَآ إِلَـهًا كَمَا لَهُمْ ءَالِهَةٌ قَالَ إِنّكُمْ قَوْمٌ تَجْهَلُونَ﴾

(“O Musa! Make for us a god as they have gods.” He said: “Verily, you are an ignorant people.”) Musa replied, you are ignorant of Allah’s greatness and majesty and His purity from any partners or anything resembling Him.

﴿إِنَّ هَـؤُلاءِ مُتَبَّرٌ مَّا هُمْ فِيهِ﴾

(“Verily, these people will be destroyed for that which they are engaged in) they will perish,

﴿وَبَطَلَ مَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ﴾

(“and all that they are doing is in vain.”) Commenting on this Ayah, Imam Abu Ja`far bin Jarir reported from Abu Waqid Al-Laythi that they (the Companions) went out from Makkah with the Messenger of Allah for (the battle of) Hunayn. Abu Waqid said, “Some of the disbelievers had a lote tree whose vicinity they used to remain in, and upon which they would hang their weapons on. That tree was called `Dhat Al-Anwat’. So when we passed by a huge, green lote tree, we said, `O Messenger of Allah! Appoint for us a Dhat Al-Anwat as they have.’ He said,

«قُلْتُمْ وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ كَمَا قَالَ قَوْمُ مُوسَى لِمُوسَى:

(by He in Whose Hand is my soul! You said just as what the people of Musa said to him:

﴿اجْعَلْ لَّنَآ إِلَـهًا كَمَا لَهُمْ ءَالِهَةٌ قَالَ إِنَّكُمْ قَوْمٌ تَجْهَلُونَ﴾

إِنَّ هَـؤُلآء مُتَبَّرٌ مَّا هُمْ فِيهِ وَبَـطِلٌ مَّا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ-﴾

( (“Make for us a god as they have gods.” He said: “Verily, you are an ignorant people. Verily, these people will be destroyed for that which they are engaged in, and all that they are doing is in vain.”))”

Quick navigation links

Surah Al-A’raf
1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 . 6 . 7 . 8 . 9 . 10 . 11 . 12 . 13 . 14 . 15 . 16 . 17 . 18 . 19 . 20 . 21 . 22 . 23 . 24 . 25 . 26 . 27 . 28 . 29 . 30 . 31 . 32 . 33 . 34 . 35 . 36 . 37 . 38 . 39 . 40 . 41 . 42 . 43 . 44 . 45 . 46 . 47 . 48 . 49 . 50 . 51 . 52 . 53 . 54 . 55 . 56 . 57 . 58 . 59 . 60 . 61 . 62 . 63 . 64 . 65 . 66 . 67 . 68 . 69 . 70 . 71 . 72 . 73 . 74 . 75 . 76 . 77 . 78 . 79 . 80 . 81 . 82 . 83 . 84 . 85 . 86 . 87 . 88 . 89 . 90 . 91 . 92 . 93 . 94 . 95 . 96 . 97 . 98 . 99 . 100 . 101 . 102 . 103 . 104 . 105 . 106 . 107 . 108 . 109 . 110 . 111 . 112 . 113 . 114 . 115 . 116 . 117 . 118 . 119 . 120 . 121 . 122 . 123 . 124 . 125 . 126 . 127 . 128 . 129 . 130 . 131 . 132 . 133 . 134 . 135 . 136 . 137 . 138 . 139 . 140 . 141 . 142 . 143 . 144 . 145 . 146 . 147 . 148 . 149 . 150 . 151 . 152 . 153 . 154 . 155 . 156 . 157 . 158 . 159 . 160 . 161 . 162 . 163 . 164 . 165 . 166 . 167 . 168 . 169 . 170 . 171 . 172 . 173 . 174 . 175 . 176 . 177 . 178 . 179 . 180 . 181 . 182 . 183 . 184 . 185 . 186 . 187 . 188 . 189 . 190 . 191 . 192 . 193 . 194 . 195 . 196 . 197 . 198 . 199 . 200 . 201 . 202 . 203 . 204 . 205 . 206