Who are the companions of Araf, which is mentioned in the Surah Al-Araf?
Let us first give the interpretations of the verses about Araf and people entitled to Araf, which reads in the Surah Al-Araf before explaining Araf itself. There are some verses about Araf in the Holy Book Quran after the verses, which are made mention of the conversations between the companions of Hell and the companions of Paradise.
And when their eyes are turned towards the companions of Hell, they say (in dread of that state): "Our Lord! Do not include us among the people of the wrongdoing!"
The people of the Heights call out to some men (who were the leaders of unbelief in the world, and) whom they recognize by their marks (on their countenances), saying: "(Now you see that) neither your numbers and the wealth you amassed nor your growing arrogance and vanity have availed you!"
(Pointing to the companions of Paradise, they continue): "Are those not the ones of whom you swore that God would not favor them with mercy?" (For now it is they who have been told:) "Enter Paradise; you will have no fear, nor will you grieve." (Al-Araf Surah, 7:47-49)
Araf is the plural form of the word Arf. There are so many explanations about Araf in the interpretations. However, the common conception mostly accepted by the annotators is Arafs being a curtain, a high wall, and a hill between Hell and Paradise. According to Ibni Abbas, it is a balcony (surrounding minaret) up on the Sirat Bridge (bridge, which is thin, straight, and sharp will be laid across Hell with Gods command).
Hazrath Hasan Basri says;
These are the people who were assigned by the command of God to allocate the companions of Hell and the companions of Paradise. I swear it is true, they might be among us today.
The reason why the people in the Araf are called as Araf is their recognizing humans for their actions. And again as it is explained in the interpretations, when God balances good and evil deeds in the scale (Mizan) and distinguishes companions of paradise from companions of Hell, He will make those wait for quite some time whose good and evil deeds are equal. Those who are going to be next to the Sirat Bridge will know the companions of Hell and the companions of Paradise. When they will see the companions of Paradise, they will say, Gods peace and blessings be upon you. When theyll turn to the left side theyll see the companions of Hell and by seeking refuge in God will supplicate as, O God do not let us be among those atrocious. After done with companions of Hell and companions of Paradise, God will forgive them with His Mercy and will put them into the Paradise. (3)
As a matter of fact when Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) once asked as who are the companions of Araf?:
The Prophet said, "When the people of Paradise will enter Paradise and the people of Hell will go to Hell, rest will be told as, you are saved from Hell for your good deeds but did not deserve Paradise. But you are saved from Hell by My mercy, you may enter Paradise.
Besides, there are some accounts, which reports that the companions of Araf are not humans but they are angels. All these explanations are in conformity with the conception and the interpretation of the verses.
However, Ibrahim Hakki in his work Marifetname claims that insane and children of unbelievers who are not held responsible of religious duties are entitled to Araf. When they see people of Paradise just because they cannot reach those blessings, they are in sadness, but when they see people of Hell, they are thankful to the God for where they are and they stay there forever.
Nevertheless, every explanation about Araf and People of Araf is only at the level of interpretation of the verse. Only God knows the truth.
1. Surah Al-A`raf , 47-49.
2. et-Tefsirul-Kebir, 14:87.
3- (Taberi Tefsiri) 8:136-139.
4. A. g. e.