An Analogy to Leave Everyone Speechless

The sūrah then gives an example of the practical effects of deviation from sound human nature, betraying its covenant and abandoning Allah’s (God’s) revelations after having learnt them. The example is shown through a person who has been given God’s revelations, plain, direct and easy to grasp. However, he discards them, turning away, clinging to the life of this world and following his desire. This means that he neither fulfills his first covenant nor follows the revelations providing him with clear guidance. Hence, Satan overpowers him and he stands rejected by Allah, unable to enjoy security or peace.

In its inimitable style, the Qur’ān does not describe this example in such terms. It brings it within a very lively scene, with violent movement, distinctive lines, clear reactions combining both the effect of a bustling life with that of a highly inspiring style:

“And recite (O Muhammad SAW) to them the story of him to whom We gave Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), but he threw them away, so Shaitan (Satan) followed him up, and he became of those who went astray. And if We had willed, we could have elevated him thereby, but he adhered [instead] to the earth and followed his own desire. So his example is like that of the dog: if you chase him, he pants, or if you leave him, he [still] pants. That is the example of the people who denied Our signs. So relate the stories that perhaps they will give thought.Evil is the likeness of the people who reject Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses and signs, etc.), and used to wrong their ownselves.” (Suurat Al-A’raf : Verses 175-177)

This is a remarkable scene, absolutely new to all that human language knows of vocabulary, expression and image. Here we see a man on whom Allah (God) bestows His grace, giving him His revelations and favouring him with knowledge to give him a perfect chance to follow the right path and to exalt himself. But he discards it all. The Qur’ānic description shows this man’s action as if he is peeling God’s guidance off his own body, as if those revelations form a skin that gives him his appearance. Therefore, discarding them requires a very strong action and the exercise of much effort. It is like taking the skin off of a person who is still alive. But this is an apt description, because believing in God is so essential to human existence as a skin to a living creature. Nevertheless, this man, given God’s revelations, is exercising a strong effort to take off his protective shield in order to follow his desire and deviate from God’s guidance. Thus he falls from the bright and sunny horizon in order to cling to the dark clay. He becomes easy prey for Satan, without any protection from his designs. Satan thus catches up with him and exercises his power over him.

We then look at a miserable and horrific scene in which this creature appears covered with mud, clinging to the earth, taking the shape of a dog that pants away whether he is driven off or left alone. All these scenes follow in quick succession and we follow the rapid change from one scene to the other with complete amazement. When the last scene of a dog always panting away is raised before our eyes, we have the highly significant comment on the whole panorama: “ That is the example of the people who denied Our signs. So relate the stories that perhaps they will give thought.Evil is the likeness of the people who reject Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses and signs, etc.), and used to wrong their ownselves.” (Verses 176-177)

That example is certainly applicable to them. Signs indicating guidance and pointers guiding to faith have been provided for them in such a way that these are felt within their own nature and constitution as well as the whole universe around them. They, nevertheless, discard all these to corrupt their own souls and to fall from the position of man to the position of animals. They find themselves just like a dog covered with mud. Faith would have provided them with wings to fly up to an elevated position, and their nature would have ensured for them the fairest form and the best position, but they have chosen instead to come down and occupy a position that can only be described as ‘the lowest of the low.’

Evil is the likeness of the people who reject Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses and signs, etc.), and used to wrong their ownselves.” (Verse 177) Can there be a more evil example than that? Can there be a worse action than discarding guidance and pulling oneself away from divine revelations? Is there anything more disgraceful than clinging to the lowly life of this earth and succumbing to desires? Can any human being cause himself more wrong than the one who does this? By so doing, he tears apart that protective shield which could have ensured his safety. Instead, he leaves his soul easy prey for Satan and sinks to the level of animals, with all that it entails of worry and uncertainty. He is soon seen as a dog constantly panting away.

Can we think of a more vivid, lively and inspiring description of this case? The Qur’ānic style is at its most effective when it gives such descriptions and examples.

Taken from ‘In The Shade of The Qur’an  Volume_6_surah_7 page 224-225 You can read its continuation.

May Allah guide us to this faith(imaan) and make us firm. Amiin

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