Lit. “Promoting by degrees, step by step.” The word occurs in the Qur’an for an unbeliever being brought by degrees to hell and destruction.
Surah vii. 181: “They who say our signs are lies, We (God) will bring them down step by step from whence they know not.”
Surah lxviii. 44: “We (God) will surely bring them down step by step from whence they do not know, and I (God) will let them have their way; for My device is sure.”
(In this verse the sudden transition from the first person plural to the first person singular, for the Almighty, is peculiar; it is, however, of frequent occurrence in the Qur’an.)
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam