What does it mean “Be despicable apes?” (al-Baqara 2:65).
Some negative behaviour in humans is compared to animal behaviour. The purpose of this comparison is not to insult animals because animals behave according to their nature.
One of these comparisons “to be apes” (See also: al-Baqara 2:65; al-Maida 5:60; al-Araf 7:166), meant most of the interpreters to be real apes (maskh). However, turning to apes symbolizes people, who remained humans, but their character had changed.
The word khasiîn خاسئن (despised) in al-Baqara 2:65 could be used only for intelligent creatures, not for animals [Arabic grammar: Jama muzakkar salim]. If khasiîn were used as an adjective to qiradatan قِرَدَةً (apes) thus if people turned into apes, then the word had to be as, khasiah خاسئة . Furthermore, the word khasiîn (despised) qualifies people whom personality has changed into apes, not the animal apes.
In al-Baqara 2:66 we are reminded that this happening was advice and a lesson for people in the past and in the future. If people turning into apes were to happen in reality, then this should continue to happen nowadays to people who do bad things too. But turning into apes happens nowadays only as a metaphor, not in reality. Additionally, if humans turned into apes, their possibility to repent (taubah) would be annihilated. But Allah gives everybody a possibility to repent untill his death (an-Nisa 4:17-18).
Therefore people who behave badly and turning into apes doesn’t mean in reality, but it means the transformation of their characters.