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7:137-141 Fulfilled was the promise of the Children of Israel

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And We made a people, considered weak (and of no account), inheritors of lands in both east and west, – lands whereon We sent down Our blessings. The fair promise of thy Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, because they had patience and constancy, and We levelled to the ground the great works and fine buildings which Pharaoh and his people erected (with such pride). (verse 137)

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. (verse 138)

 “As to these folk,- the cult they are in is (but) a fragment of a ruin, and vain is the (worship) which they practise.” (verse 139)

He said: “Shall I seek for you a god other than the (true) Allah, when it is Allah Who hath endowed you with gifts above the nations?” (verse 140)

And remember We rescued you from Pharaoh’s people, who afflicted you with the worst of penalties, who slew your male children and saved alive your females: in that was a momentous trial from your Lord. (verse 141)


The previous verses contained an account of the warnings from
Allah to the people of Pharaoh. The present verses speak of their ignominious end, and of the success of the Israelites. The verse 137 said,
“And We made the people, who were taken to be weak, the inheritors
of the land, of easts and wests which We had blessed.” The verse did
not say, the people who were weak, rather it said, those who were
taken as weak. It implies that those having Allah as their support can
never be weak in the real sense of the word, though they may seem so
from their apparent condition. People finally come to realise that they
are not weak. It is because dignity and honour all belong to Allah. The
verse has used the term inheritance for their domination in the land to
indicate that like a son who deserves to be a real inheritor of his
father’s land and possessions, the Israelites were the real inheritors of
the land and wealth of Pharaoh’s people.

The words ‘east’ and ‘west’ have been used in plural perhaps to
denote the different points of sunset and sunrise in winter and
summer time. The word ‘land’, according to all experts in exegesis,
refers to the land of Egypt and Syria which was brought under the
domination of the Israelites after the people of Pharaoh and the
Amaleks were destroyed. The phrase ‘Which We had blessed’ refers to
the lands of Syria and Egypt. The Holy Qur’an has referred to Syria as
the land of Barakah (blessing). Similarly the land of Egypt has been
referred to as the land of blessing in a number of Traditions. The
Caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khattb has referred to river Nile as the prince of
all rivers. The Companion ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar said that Egypt has
nine parts of blessing out of ten. The tenth part has been divided
throughout the earth. (Al-Bahr-a-Muhit)

In short, the verse has to say that the people who were considered
weak and abject were made the rulers of the land possessed by those
who showed arrogance. It shows how the promise made by Allah and His Messenger came out true as it always does. The verse said, ‘The sublime word of your Lord was fulfilled.’ The promise in this verse either refers to the promise made by the prophet Musa (pbuh) with his people mentioned in verse 129 which said, ‘It is very likely that our
Lord will destroy your enemy and make you successor in the earth.’ Or it refers to the promise made by Allah to the Israelites in a verse of Surah Al-Qasas (the Stories) It said,

“And it was Our will that We favour those considered weak in the earth and make them leaders, and make them the inheritors, and give them power in the land, and show Pharaoh, Haman and their armies, the very thing they dreaded.” (28:5)

In fact, both the above promises are one and the same. The promise made by the prophet Musa (pbuh) obviously was derived by the promise of Allah. This favour of Allah upon the people of Israel
was the reward of their patience, as the verse has specified saying
‘Because they stood patient.’ That is, they were favoured by Allah for their being patient in their distress. This has an understated indication that any people or individual following the same example, at any time and in any place, shall get the same reward. The prophet Musa (pbuh) when making the promise of gaining the rule over the land had
emphatically said that perseverance, patience and seeking help from Allah was the only key to success.

Sheikh Hasan al-Basri said that the verse suggested that in case
one is not as powerful as to defend himself against an enemy, the best
way to success is to remain patient. He said when a person who has
been wronged, tries to take revenge on his own by doing wrong to his
opponent Allah leaves him alone and lets him manage his own affairs,
ending in success or facing a failure. On the contrary, when one seeks
help from Allah against the affliction from others and remains patient,
Allah opens the door of success upon him. As the above promise for the
rule over the land was fulfilled by Allah, the same kind of promise Allah made with the people of the prophet Muhammad in a verse of Surah Al-Nur:

“Allah has promised those of you who believe and do good
deeds that he will make them inherit the land, as He had
inherited those who were before them.” (24:55)

As the Israelites witnessed the fulfillment of Allah’s promise by having their rule over the land, similarly the Muslim Ummah witnessed the fulfillment of Allah’s promise in the form of their sovereignty over the major part of the earth (Ruh al-Maaani). It is not justified to say that the Israelites did not observe patience, because when Prophet Musa (pbuh) asked them to be patient they said that they were persecuted before and after he came to them. Firstly, because their patience against the constant persecution at the hands of Pharaoh and his people is a proven fact. Secondly, the above statement might not be a complaint but a simple expression of their grief. Thereafter, the verse said, “And We destroyed whatever Pharaoh and his people used to build and what they used to raise high.” This refers to the buildings they raised high and their trees etc. ‘What they used to build’ may also refer to their ill designs against the prophet Musa (pbuh). ‘What they used to raise high’ is a reference to their mansions and to their trees.

The events discussed up to this point were related to the destruction of Pharaoh and his people. The next verses describe the victory and success of the Israelites followed by their insolence in spite of all
the blessings they received from Allah. These verses provide a kind of
solace to the Holy Prophet (S) against his grief at the obstinacy of the
unbelievers, by showing the annoyance of the early prophets at the
hands of their people.

After the miraculous victory of the Israelites over Pharaoh and his
people, and having a life of ease and comfort, they started to show the
signs of ignorance as people of wealth show when given a life of luxury
and opulence. The first impertinent request they made was to the
prophet Musa (pbuh) to make for them a god like the gods of the people they saw being worshipped on their way. They (the Israelites) said, “O Musa make a god for us like their gods.”
He said, “You are really an ignorant people.” The prophet
Musa was greatly annoyed by their ignorance and said that the labour
of worship of those people was to go waste. How could he think of
making for them a god other than Allah while he had given to them
excellence over the people of all the worlds. That is, the people who
believed in the prophet Musa (pbuh) were superior to all the people of
that age.

The next verses remind them of their pitiable condition and their
persecutions at the hands of Pharaoh when their sons were killed and
their daughters were saved to serve them as their maid-servants.
Allah relieved them of this disgraceful chastisement through His
prophet. Shall they be as ungrateful to their Lord as to take the abject
stones as gods and make them partners with Allah? They must repent
to Allah for their transgression.

References:

Shafi, Muhammad (2008). Maariful Quran. (Vol .4 surah 7 verses 137-141)English-MaarifulQuran-MuftiShafiUsmaniRA-Vol-4.pdf (islamicweblibrary.com)

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