Surah Al-A’raf Ayat 173 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 173
Or [lest] you say, “It was only that our fathers associated [others in worship] with Allah before, and we were but descendants after them. Then would You destroy us for what the falsifiers have done?”
Or lest ye should say: “Our fathers before us may have taken false gods, but we are (their) descendants after them: wilt Thou then destroy us because of the deeds of men who were futile?”
Or say: ‘Our forefathers before us who associated others with Allah in His divinity; we were merely their offspring who followed them. And would You destroy us for that which the unrighteous did?’
Or lest you should say: “It was only our fathers afortime who took others as partners in worship along with Allah, and we were (merely their) descendants after them; will You then destroy us because of the deeds of men who practised Al-Batil (i.e. polytheism and committing crimes and sins, invoking and worshipping others besides Allah)?” (Tafsir At-Tabari).
Or lest ye should say: (It is) only (that) our fathers ascribed partners to Allah of old and we were (their) seed after them. Wilt Thou destroy us on account of that which those who follow falsehood did?
Or that you should not say, “Surely it is only our fathers (who) associated (i.e., associated others with Allah) earlier, and we were (their) offspring even after them. Would You then cause us to perish for what the wrong-doers performed?”.
or, ‘It was our forefathers who, before us, ascribed partners to God, and we are only the descendants who came after them: will you destroy us because of falsehoods they invented?’
Quran 7 Verse 173 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Al-A’raf ayat 173, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(7:173) Or say: ‘Our forefathers before us who associated others with Allah in His divinity; we were merely their offspring who followed them. And would You destroy us for that which the unrighteous did?’
135. The verse describes the purpose of the primordial covenant. The purpose is to make every person responsible for his deeds so that if he rebels against God he will be held fully accountable for that rebelfion. Because of the covenant, no one will be able either to plead for acquittal on grounds of ignorance, or blame his misdeeds on his ancestors. In other words, this primordial covenant has been mentioned as the reason for the inherent awareness in every single person that God is the only Lord and Deity. Thus, none can totally absolve himself of his responsibility on the plea that he was altogether ignorant, or transfer the blame for his error to the corrupt environment in which he was brought up. Now, it can be argued that even if the covenant did take place, no human being remembers its occurrence. No human being is aware that a long time ago, at the time of creation, he had affirmed, in response to God’s query, that God indeed was his Lord. This being the case, it can be further argued that no charge can be legitimately brought against man on the ground of a covenant with God which he no longer remembers to have made. In response to this it can be said that had the covenant been made fully in man’s conscious memory, it would be meaningless for God to put man to the test in this world. Hence, there can be no denying that the covenant is not preserved in man’s conscious memory. But it has doubtlessly been preserved in man’s sub-conscious mind. In this respect the primordial covenant is no different from other pieces of knowledge in man’s sub-conscious mind. Whatever man has so far achieved in the way of culture and civilization can be attributed to his latent potentialities. All external factors and internal motivations simply account for helping the actualization of those potentialities. Neither education nor training nor environmental factors can bring out anything which is not potentially found in the human mind. Likewise, external factors have no power to root out man’s latent potentialities. External factors may, at the most, cause a person to deflect from the course dictated by sound human nature. However, man’s sound nature is inclined to resist the pressure of external forces and exert itself in order to find an outlet. As we have said earlier, this is not peculiar to man’s religious propensity alone, but is equally true of all his mental potentialities. In this regard the following points are particularly noteworthy:
(1) All man’s potentialities exist in the sub-conscious mind and prove their existence when they manifest themselves in the form of human action.
(2) The external manifestation of these potentialities requires external stimuli such as instruction, upbringing. and attitudinal orientation. In other words, our actions consist of the responses of our inherent potentialities to external stimuli.
(3) Man’s inner potentialities can be suppressed both by false urges within him as well as external influences by trying to pervert and distort those latent potentialities. The potentialities themselves, however, cannot he totally rooted out.
The same holds true of man’s intuitive knowledge regarding his position in the universe and his relationship with his Creator. In this connection the following points should be borne in mind:
(1) That man has always had such intuitive knowledue is evident from the fact that this knowledge has surfaced throughout history in every period and in every part of the world, and which no power has so far been able to extirpate.
(2) That this intuitive knowledge conforms to objective reality, is borne out by, the fact that whenever this knowledge has influenced human life, it has had beneficial results.
(3) That in order to manifest itself in his practical life, man’s intuitive knowledge has always required external stimuli. The stimuli have consisted of the advent of the Prophets (peace be on them), the revelation of the Heavenly Books, and the striving of those who have tried to follow them and invite others to do the same. It is for this reason that the Qur’an has been desienated as mudhakkir (the reminder): dhikr (remembrance); tadhkirah (admonition). and the function of the Qur’an has been characterized as tadhkir(reminding). What this suggests is that the Prophets, the Heavenly Books and those who invite people to the truth do not seek to provide human beings with something new, something which exists outside of them. Their task rather consists of bringing to the surface and rejuvenating what is latent, though dormant, in man himself.
Throughout the ages man has always positively responded to this ‘Reminder’. This itself is testimony to the fact that it is embodied in a knowledge which has always been recognized by; man’s soul.
Forces arising from ignorance and obscurantism, lust and bigotry, and the erroneous teachings and promptings of devils – human as well as jinn – have always attempted to suppress, conceal, and distort the fact that the truth preached by the Prophets is embedded in man’s soul. These attempts gave rise to polytheism, atheism, religious misdirection and moral corruption. Despite the combined efforts of the forces of falsehood, however, this knowledge has always had an imprint on the human heart. Hencel, whenever any effort was made to revive that knowledge, it has proved successful.
Doubtlessly those who are bent on denying the truth can resort to a great deal of sophistry in order to deny or at least create doubt and confusion about the existence of this knowledge. However on the Day of Resurrection the Creator will revive in man the memory of the first assembly when man made his covenant with God and accepted Him as his Only Lord. On that occasion God will provide evidence to the effect that the covenant always remained imprinted on man’s soul. He will also show how from time to time man tried to suppress his inner voice which urged him to respond to the call of the covenant; how again and again his heart pressed him to affirm the truth; how his intuition induced him to denounce the errors of belief and practice; how the truth ingrained in his soul tried to express itself and respond to those who called to it; and how on each occasion he lulled his inner self to sleep because of his lust and bigotry.
However a Day will come when man will no longer be in a position to put forth specious arguments to justify his false claims. That will be the Day when man will have no option but to confess his error. It will then be impossible for people to say that they were ignorant, or negligent. In the words of the Qur’an: …and they will bear witness against themselves that they had disbelieved’ (al-An’am 6: 130).
The tafsir of Surah Al-A’raf verse 173 by Ibn Kathir is unavailable here.
Please refer to Surah A’raf ayat 172 which provides the complete commentary from verse 172 through 174.
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