Al-A’raf

Posted on 03/14/2012 by marina

AL-A’RAF. العراف. (1)
The partition between heaven and hell. described in the Qur’an, Surah vii. 44, “Betwixt the two (heaven and hell) there is a partition; and al-A’raf are men who know all by their marks; and they shall cry out to the inhabitants of Paradise, ‘Peace be upon you!’ (but) they have not (yet) entered it, although they so desire. And when their sight is turned towards the dwellers in the Fire, they say, ’0 our Lord, place us not with the unjust people.”‘ According to Sale, al-A’raf is derived from the verb ‘arafa, which signifies “to distinguish between things, or to part them”; though some commentators give another reason for the imposition of this name, because, say they, those who stand on this partition will know and distinguish the blessed from the damned by their respective marks or characteristics: and others say the word properly intends anything that is elevated, as such a wall of separation must be supposed to be. Some imagine it to be a sort of limbo for the patriarchs and prophets, or for the martyrs and those who have been most eminent for sanctity. Others place here those whose good and evil works are so equal that they exactly counterpoise each other, and therefore deserve neither reward nor punishment; and these, say they, will on the last day be admitted into Paradise, after they shall have performed an act of adoration, which will be imputed to them as a merit, and will make the scale of their good works to preponderate. Others suppose this intermediate space will be a receptacle for those who have gone to war, without their parents’ leave, and therein suffered martyrdom; being excluded from Paradise for their disobedience, and escaping hell because they are martyrs. (2) The title of Sarah vii. (3) A term used by Sufi mystics to express a condition of the mind and soul when meditating on the existence of God in all things.

Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam