Qur'an 7:142

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Qur'an 7:142
Verse's Information
NameWa wa'adna
Content Information
Place of
AboutProphet Moses's (a) forty-day appointment with God and the selection of Aarun (a) as his successor
Related VersesQur'an 2:51

Qurʾān 7:142 recounts the narrative of Prophet Moses's (a) forty-day appointment with God, during which he selected his brother Aaron (a) as his successor and imparted advice to him. Several Shi'a doctrines, including the succession of Imam Ali (a) after the Prophet (s), the infallibility of prophets (a), the concept of bada', and the superiority of the position of Imamate over prophethood, have been discussed in association with this verse. Additionally, rituals such as Chilla Kalimiyya (a Sufi practice of forty days of solitude, attributed to "Kalim," a title of Prophet Moses (a)) and the prayer of the first ten nights of Dhu l-Hijjah are associated with this verse. Muslim mystics have offered mystical and romantic interpretations of this narrative, viewing Moses's (a) forty-day tryst with God as foundational for Sufi practices of "chilla" or forty-day solitude.

Text and Translation

The Story of the Verse

According to Quranic exegeses, Moses (a) ascended to his appointed meeting place with God accompanied by several senior figures of the Israelites for a thirty-day meeting with the Lord. He designated his brother Aaron as his successor and temporary leader of the Children of Israel, imparting guidance to him. However, the period was extended by the Lord for an additional ten days. Exegetes suggest that these additional ten days coincide with the first ten days of Dhu l-Hijja, with the commencement of the meeting occurring at the onset of Dhu l-Qa'da.[1]

Doctrinal Applications

Many issues related to Hadith al-Manzila,[2] as well as topics concerning the infallibility of prophets (a),[3] the superiority of the position of Imamate over prophethood,[4] and the concept of bada',[5] which are associated with Shi'a doctrines, have been discussed under this verse.

Imam Ali (a) as Successor

Shias have cited Hadith al-Manzila, in which Prophet Muhammad (s) states that 'Ali (a) held a status akin to that of Aaron (a) to Moses (a),[6] to assert Imam Ali's (a) immediate succession to the Prophet (s) and his superiority over other companions.[7] Most discussions regarding Hadith al-Manzila have been intertwined with verse 142 of Qur'an 7. Interestingly, even al-Ma'mun al-'Abbasi, the Abbasid caliph, appealed to this verse and Hadith al-Manzila to validate Imam Ali's (a) rightful succession to the Prophet (s).[8]

Does the Prohibition addressed to Aaron (a) Imply His Fallibility?

Shi'a exegetes respond to the question of whether Moses's (a) prohibition of Aaron (a) from following the ways of corrupt individuals implies Aaron's (a) fallibility by stating that these commands or prohibitions do not imply any intention on Aaron's (a) part to commit or omit certain actions.[9] Instead, they argue that these directives serve as reminders to Aaron of the importance of his position among the Children of Israel.[10] Moreover, the prohibition directed at Aaron in this verse may have didactic purposes for the Israelites,[11] or as Shia scholar Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tihrani suggests, it may simply mean that Aaron should avoid the counsel of corrupt individuals during Moses's (a) absence.[12]

Divine Test and Bada' in Changing the Duration of Moses's (a) Meeting

Changing Moses's (a) meeting with the Lord from thirty to forty nights, despite the fact that these forty nights are mentioned as just one forty-day appointment in verse 51 of Qur'an 2, has led to diverse interpretations. However, as suggested by Nasir Makarim Shirazi, a Shia exegete of the Quran, what aligns most closely with hadiths transmitted from the Prophet's Household (a) is that while the appointment was indeed supposed to last forty days, God initially called Moses for a thirty-day appointment to test the Israelites, and then extended the period. This way, God intended to reveal the hypocrites among the Children of Israel.[13]

Imam al-Baqir (a) states that the Israelites' act of worshiping the Golden Calf occurred following Moses's (a) failure to return after thirty days.[14] Additionally, the Imam (a) suggests elsewhere that changing the thirty-day appointment to a forty-day appointment was a divine alteration (bada').[15]

Superiority of the Position of Imamate over that of Prophethood

Some Shia exegetes argue that verse 142 of Sura al-A'raf implies the superiority of the position of Imamate over that of prophethood. They point out that Aaron (a) was already a prophet before being appointed by Moses (a) as a successor and Imam of the Children of Israel. This suggests that the position of Imamate is distinct from, and superior to, that of prophethood.[16]

Relevant Rituals

Chilla Kalimiyya

The ritual of forty days and nights of solitude for devotion to God, observed from the first day of Dhu l-Qa'da to the tenth of Dhu l-Hijja, is known as "Chilla Kalimiyya," attributed to "Kalim," a title of Prophet Moses (a). This practice involves specific etiquettes and spiritual exercises.[17] Abdullah Jawadi Amuli suggests that Prophet Moses (a) neither slept nor ate during this forty-day period but remained constantly engaged in supplication to God on Mount Sinai. In his view, the Torah as divine revelation was bestowed upon Moses (a) as a result of this forty-day solitude.[18]

Prayer of the First Ten Nights of Dhu l-Hijja

According to Shia hadiths, it is recommended to perform two rak'as of prayer between Maghrib and 'Isha' Prayers in the first ten nights of Dhu l-Hijja, known as the prayer of the first ten nights of Dhu l-Hijja. According to a hadith transmitted from Imam al-Sadiq (a), in each rak'a of this prayer, after reciting Sura al-Fatiha and Sura al-Tawhid, verse 142 of Sura al-A'raf should be recited.[19]

Mystical Interpretations

Numerous mystical interpretations have been offered regarding Qur'an 7:142. For example, al-Maybudi, the author of the Quranic exegesis Kashf al-asrar, suggests that while hunger made Moses (a) impatient within half a day when he was searching for al-Khidr (a), during this forty-day spiritual journey, he never even remembered food and drink.[20] Additionally, when Moses (a) went to visit the Pharaoh, he requested God for the accompaniment of his brother Aaron (a), but when he intended to supplicate to God in this meeting, he left Aaron (a) behind among his people and departed alone.[21] According to al-Maybudi, Moses (a) undertook two journeys: one of plea (talab) towards Mount Sinai, symbolized by the night when he saw the fire, and another of glee (tarab) when he departed for his encounter with the Lord.[22]

Mystics interpret this verse to suggest that anyone who retreats from worldly distractions for forty days, seeking solitude and purifying their intentions from any non-divine influences, will have the gates of knowledge opened to their heart by God.[23] In fact, the Sufi practice of "chilla-nishini" (forty-day solitude) was inspired by Moses's forty days and nights of devoted seclusion on Mount Sinai,[24] as well as the renowned hadith stating, "He who dedicates himself to God for forty mornings will find wisdom flowing from his heart to his tongue."[25]

Abdullah Jawadi Amuli, a Quranic exegete, regards "Chilla Kalimiyya" as an established and innovative practice in Islam.[26] Furthermore, some contemporary Shia mystics, such as Hasan Hasanzada Amuli and Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Husayni Tihrani, have advised certain individuals to undertake "Chilla Kalimiyya" as part of their spiritual wayfaring.


  1. Qummī, Tafsīr al-Qummī, vol. 1, p. 239; Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 6, p. 341; Fakhr al-Rāzī, Mafātīḥ al-ghayb, vol. 14, p. 352.
  2. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 6, p. 344.
  3. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 8, p. 236; Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 6, p. 342; Najafī Khomeinī, Tafsīr-i āsān, vol. 5, p. 337.
  4. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 6, p. 341.
  5. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 1, p. 198.
  6. Pazhūhishkada-yi Taḥqīqāt-i Islāmī, Farhang-i Shīʿa, p. 226.
  7. Mīr Ḥāmid Ḥusayn, ʿAbaqāt al-anwār, vol. 11, p. 181, 369.
  8. Ḥusaynī Tihrānī, Imām shināsī, vol. 9, p. 113-114.
  9. Najafī Khomeinī, Tafsīr-i āsān, vol. 5, p. 337.
  10. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 6, p. 342.
  11. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 6, p. 342.
  12. Ḥusaynī Tihrānī, Imām shināsī, vol. 10, p. 166.
  13. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 6, p. 340.
  14. Baḥrānī, al-Burhān, vol. 2, p. 33; Ḥuwayzī, Tafsīr nūr al-thaqalayn, vol. 6, p. 341.
  15. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 1, p. 198.
  16. See: Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 1, p. 311 and vol. 6, p. 341.
  17. Manṣūrī Lārījānī, Dar maḥḍar-i Ḥāfiẓ, vol. 2, p. 233.
  18. Ayatollah Jawadi Amuli; "Chilla-giri" is one of the best ways to receive divine blessings (Persian).
  19. Ibn Ṭāwūs, Iqbāl al-aʿmāl, vol. 1, p. 317; Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Wasāʾil al-Shīʿa, vol. 8, p. 183.
  20. Maybudī, Kashf al-asrār, vol. 3, p. 731.
  21. Maybudī, Kashf al-asrār, vol. 3, p. 732.
  22. Maybudī, Kashf al-asrār, vol. 3, p. 732.
  23. Suhrawardī, ʿAwārif al-maʿārif, p. 100.
  24. Qur'an 2:51; Qur'an 7:142.
  25. Bākharzī, Awrād al-aḥbāb, vol. 2, p. 291-295.
  26. Ayatollah Jawadi Amuli; "Chilla-giri" is one of the best ways to receive divine blessings (Persian).


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