Surah Al-A’raf Ayat 165 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 165
And when they forgot that by which they had been reminded, We saved those who had forbidden evil and seized those who wronged, with a wretched punishment, because they were defiantly disobeying.
When they disregarded the warnings that had been given them, We rescued those who forbade Evil; but We visited the wrong-doers with a grievous punishment because they were given to transgression.
Then, when they forgot what they had been exhorted, We delivered those who forbade evil and afflicted the wrong-doers with a grievous chastisement because of their evildoing.
So when they forgot the remindings that had been given to them, We rescued those who forbade evil, but We seized those who did wrong with a severe torment because they used to rebel (disobey Allah).
And when they forgot that whereof they had been reminded, We rescued those who forbade wrong, and visited those who did wrong with dreadful punishment because they were evil-livers.
So, as soon as they forgot what they were reminded of, We delivered the ones who were forbidding odious deeds and We took (away) the ones who did injustice with most miserable torment because they were acting immorally..
When they ignored [the warning] they were given, We saved those who forbade evil, and punished the wrongdoers severely because of their disobedience.
Quran 7 Verse 165 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Al-A’raf ayat 165, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(7:165) Then, when they forgot what they had been exhorted, We delivered those who forbade evil and afflicted the wrong-doers with a grievous chastisement because of their evildoing.
125. This shows that the people in that town were of three categories. One, those who flagrantly violated God’s commands. Two, those who were silent spectators to such violations and discouraged those who admonished the criminals, pleading that their efforts were fruitless. Three, those who, moved by their religious commitment, actively enjoined good and forbade evil so that the evil-doers might make amends. In so doing, they were prompted by, a sense of duty, to bring back the evil-doers to the right path, and if the latter did not respond to their call, they would at least be able to establish before their Lord that for their part they had fulfilled their duty to admonish the evil-doers. So, when the town was struck by God’s punishment, only the people belonging to the last category were spared for they had displayed God-consciousness and performed the duties incumbent upon them. As for the people of the other two categories, they were reckoned as transgressors and were punished in proportion to their crimes.
Some commentators on the Qur’an are of the opinion that whereas the Qur’an specifically, describes the fate of the people belonging to the first and third categories, it is silent about the treatment meted out to the people of the second category. It cannot be said, therefore, with certainty, whether they were spared or punished. It is reported that Ibn ‘Abba’s initially believed that God’s punishment included the second category as well. It is believed that later his disciple Ikramah convinced him that only the people of the second category would be delivered in the same manner as the people of the third category.
A closer study of the Qur’anic account, however, shows that Ibn ‘Abba’s earlier viewpoint is sound. It is evident that the people of the town would inevitably have been grouped into two categories on the eve of God’s punishment: those who were spared and those who were not. Since the Qur’an states that the people of the third category, had been spared, it may be legitimately assumed that the people belonging to both the first and the second categories were punished. This view is also corroborated by the preceding verse:
Also recall when a party of them said: ‘Why do you admonish a people whom Allah is about to destroy or punish severely? They said: ‘We admonish them in order to he able to offer an excuse before your Lord, and in the hope that they will guard against disobedience.’ (Verse 164).
Thus it clearly emerges from the above discussion that all the people of the place where evil deeds are publicly committed stand guilty, One cannot be absolved merely on the basis that one had not committed any evil. One may be acquitted only, in the event that one made every possible effort to bring about reform and actively worked in the cause of the truth. This constitutes the divine law pertaining to collective evil as is evident from the teachings of the Qur’an and Hadith. The Qur’an says:
And guard against the mischief that will not only bring punishment to the wrong-doers among you. Know well that Allah is severe in punishment (Al-Anfal 8: 15).
Explaining the above verse the Prophet (peace be on him) remarked: ‘God does not punish the generality of a people for the evil committed by a particular section of that people until they observe others committing evil and do not denounce it even though they are in a position to do so. And when they do that, God punishes all, the evil-doers and the people in general.’ (Ahmad b. Hanbal. Musnad, vol. 4, p. 192 – Ed.)
Moreover. the verse in question seems to suggest that God’s punishment afflicted the town concerned in two stages. The first stage is referred to as ‘grevious chastisement’, for in the next stage they were turned into apes. We may, therefore, hold that people belonging to both the first and the second categories were subjected to punishment. But the punishment of transforming the persistent evil-doers into apes was confined only to the people of the second category. (God knows best. If I am right that is from God. If I err, that is from me alone. God is All-Forgiving, All-Merciful.)
The tafsir of Surah Al-A’raf verse 165 by Ibn Kathir is unavailable here.
Please refer to Surah A’raf ayat 163 which provides the complete commentary from verse 163 through 166.
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