Quran 7/175-176 is as follows.

And relate to them ˹O Prophet˺ the story of the one to whom We gave Our signs, but he abandoned them, so Satan took hold of him, and he became a deviant. If We had willed, We would have elevated him with Our signs, but he clung to this life—following his evil desires. His example is that of a dog: if you chase it away, it pants, and if you leave it, it ˹still˺ pants. This is the example of the people who deny Our signs.1 So narrate ˹to them˺ stories ˹of the past˺, so perhaps they will reflect.

To best of my understanding, this verse talks about a person whom God gave "signs". It doesn't necessarily imply this person is a prophet, but it is still makes me think that this person is not just an average believer. The footnote says that this person was a scholar.

Bal’am ibn Ba’ûrâ' was a scholar who lived at the time of Moses (ﷺ) but later deviated from the truth.

In short, I want to learn how this verse is interpreted. Does it just talks about a scholar? Or could he be a prophet? Or perhaps someone else who deviated from the God after receiving his signs. Further, what are the opinions regarding what the signs are which God mentions here.


1 Answer 1


In his tafsir, Mawdudi writes of this verse the following:

"The wording of the Text shows that he was not an imaginary person invented for the sake of a parable but did really exist. Allah and His Messenger did not mention him by name because the purpose for which the event had been narrated was served without this. Therefore his name was kept secret so as to avoid giving him unnecessary notoriety; and this generous way has generally been followed both in the Qur'an and the Traditions. That is why they have not mentioned the name of the person who has been cited as a bad example. Some commentators have, however, mentioned some specific names belonging to the ancient history or to the time of the Holy Prophet. For instance, some mention the name of Ba'alam, the son of Ba`ura, others that of Umayyah-bin-Abi-Assalt and Saifi-ibn Ar-Rahib. But the fact is that the identity of that person has not been established by the Qur'an or the Hadith. Therefore it is still a secret, but the parable applies to everyone who bears such a conduct."

Source: http://www.englishtafsir.com/Quran/7/index.html


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