بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
Introduction and Summary
For the chronology and the general argument of this Surah in the series Surahs 10 to 15, see Introduction to Surah 10.
The special subject matter of this Surah is a continuation of the concluding portion of the last Surah, which explained how Allah's revelation gains ground in spite of selfish men's opposition. Here illustrations are given from the story of Moses and Abraham, and Abraham's Prayer for Makkah forms the core of the Surah.
Summery- Revelation leads men from darkness to light. It comes to each nation in its own language and for its own special circumstances. So was it with Moses and other Prophets. There was a conflict of evil with good, but evil was destroyed. Parable of the Goodly Tree (14:1-27, and C. 117).
Why will men not receive Allah's grace? Why will they choose to go astray? Abraham prayed to be saved from infidelity, himself and his posterity, and he prayed for Makkah, the city of the new revelation through Arabia. Good and Evil find their proper retribution, and Allah's Plan of Unity will prevail (14:28-52, and C. 118).
C.117 (The running Commentary, in Rhythmic Prose)
Revelation leads mankind from the depths
Of darkness into light. It comes
To every age and nation in its own
Language. So was it before; so it is
Always. The Prophets were doubted,
Insulted, threatened, and persecuted,
But their trust was sure in Allah.
It is Evil that will be wiped out.
Allah's Truth is goodly tree,
Firmly established on its roots,
Stretching its branches high and wide,
And bearing good fruit at all times.
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
1. Alif Lam Ra.
C1869. For these mystic letters, see Introduction to Surah 10.
... كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ لِتُخْرِجَ النَّاسَ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ...
A Book which We have revealed unto thee, in order that thou mightest lead mankind out of the depths of darkness into light -- by the leave of their Lord --
C1870. It is insisted on that every Prophet speaks not from himself but from Allah. His leading into the light is but by the grace and mercy of Allah, not by any power of his own, or by any merit of those who hear him.
... إِلَى صِرَاطِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَمِيدِ ﴿١﴾
to the Way of (Him) Exalted in Power, Worthy of all Praise! --
C1871. In this and the next verse where the sentence is completed, three qualities of Allah are mentioned, viz.,
- His exalted position above all Creation;
- His goodness, which entities Him, and Him alone, to Praise- and
- His Power in all heaven and earth.
Thus He stands in no need of man's worship; His goodness is all for the good of man (and His creatures); and His control over His creatures is complete; so He can carry out His Will and Plan.
اللّهِ الَّذِي لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ...
2. Of Allah, to Whom do belong all things in the heavens and on earth!
... وَوَيْلٌ لِّلْكَافِرِينَ مِنْ عَذَابٍ شَدِيدٍ ﴿٢﴾
But alas for the Unbelievers for a terrible Penalty (their Unfaith will bring them)! --
C1872. See the last note.
That being the case, in what a sad plight are those who reject the Faith and Grace offered to them, and draw down on themselves all the terrible consequences of that rejection, -the Wrath to come!
الَّذِينَ يَسْتَحِبُّونَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا عَلَى الآخِرَةِ...
3. Those who love the life of this world more than the Hereafter,
C1873. The Unbelievers are here characterized in three ways:
1. they love this ephemeral life and its vanities more than the true Life which goes into the Hereafter;
2. they not only harm themselves but mislead others,
3. their own crooked minds search for something crooked in Allah's straight Path (Cf. 7:45).
But in doing so, they go farther and farther from the Truth.
... وَيَصُدُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللّهِ وَيَبْغُونَهَا عِوَجًا...
who hinder (men) from the Path of Allah and seek therein something crooked:
... أُوْلَـئِكَ فِي ضَلاَلٍ بَعِيدٍ ﴿٣﴾
they are astray by a long distance.
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلاَّ بِلِسَانِ قَوْمِهِ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَهُمْ...
4. We sent a Messenger except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people, in order to make (things) clear to them.
C1874. If the object of a Message is to make things clear, it must be delivered in the language current among the people to whom the Messenger is sent. Through them it can reach all mankind.
There is even a wider meaning for "language". It is not merely a question of alphabets, letters, or words. Each age or people -or world in a psychological sense- casts its thoughts in a certain mould or form.
Allah's Message -being universal- can be expressed in all moulds and forms, and is equally valid and necessary for all grades of humanity, and must therefore be explained to each according to his or her capacity or receptivity. In this respect the Quran is marvelous. It is for the simplest as well as the most advanced.
... فَيُضِلُّ اللّهُ مَن يَشَاء وَيَهْدِي مَن يَشَاء...
Now Allah leaves straying those whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases:
C1875. 'Whom He pleases'; the usual expression for Mashiyat, the universal Will and Plan, which is all-wise and on the highest plane of goodness and righteousness.
... وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ ﴿٤﴾
and He is Exalted in power, Full of Wisdom.
وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا مُوسَى بِآيَاتِنَا أَنْ أَخْرِجْ قَوْمَكَ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ...
5. We sent Moses with Our Signs (and the command),
"Bring out thy people from the depths of darkness into light,
... وَذَكِّرْهُمْ بِأَيَّامِ اللّهِ...
and teach them to remember the Days of Allah."
C1876. "The Days of Allah": the days when Allah's mercy was specially shown to them.
Every day and every hour and minute, Allah's grace flows to us abundantly, but there are special events in personal or national history which may be commemorated as Red-letter Days. Those to the Israelites were set out in great detail in 2:30-61 and on other places.
... إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَاتٍ لِّكُلِّ صَبَّارٍ شَكُورٍ ﴿٥﴾
Verily in this there are Signs for such as are firmly patient and constant -- grateful and appreciative.
Shakur and Shakir have in them the idea of appreciation, recognition, gratitude as shown in deeds of goodness and righteousness.
Both terms are applied to Allah as well as to men.
A slight distinction in shades of meaning may be noted.
Shakur implies that the appreciation is even for the smallest favours and response on the other side; it is a mental attitude independent of specific facts.
Shakir implies bigger and more specific things.
وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَى لِقَوْمِهِ...
6. Remember! Moses said to his people:
... اذْكُرُواْ نِعْمَةَ اللّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ أَنجَاكُم مِّنْ آلِ فِرْعَوْنَ...
"Call to mind the favor of Allah to you when He delivered you from the people of Pharaoh:
C1878. Cf. 2:49.
The reference back to Israel and Moses serves a double purpose;
- as an appeal to the People of the Book, and
- as a reminder to the Quraish of the favour now conferred on them by the coming among them of a greater Prophet than Moses.
... يَسُومُونَكُمْ سُوءَ الْعَذَابِ وَيُذَبِّحُونَ أَبْنَاءكُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيُونَ نِسَاءكُمْ...
They set you hard tasks and punishments, slaughtered your sons, and let your womenfolk live:
... وَفِي ذَلِكُم بَلاء مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ عَظِيمٌ ﴿٦﴾
therein was a tremendous trial from your Lord."
وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ...
7. And remember! your Lord caused to be declared (publicly):
"If ye are grateful, I will add more (favors) unto you;
C1879. The various shades of meaning in Shakara are explained in n. 1877 above.
... وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ ﴿٧﴾
but if ye show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed."
- to be ungrateful for mercies and favours received, as here;
- to resist Allah or Faith, as in 3:13;
Kafir in the most general sense may be translated "Unbeliever".
وَقَالَ مُوسَى إِن تَكْفُرُواْ ...
8. And Moses said:
"If ye show ingratitude,
C1880. Ingratitude not only in feeling or words, but in disobedience, and willful rejection and rebellion.
If the whole of you band together against Allah, you do not detract from Allah's power one atom, because, Allah does not depend upon you for anything, and His goodness and righteousness and praiseworthiness cannot be called in question by your contumacy.
... أَنتُمْ وَمَن فِي الأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا فَإِنَّ اللّهَ لَغَنِيٌّ حَمِيدٌ ﴿٨﴾
ye and all on earth together -- yet is Allah free of all wants, worthy of all praise.
أَلَمْ يَأْتِكُمْ نَبَأُ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ قَوْمِ نُوحٍ وَعَادٍ وَثَمُودَ...
9. Has not the story reached you, (O people!), of those who (went) before you? --
of the people of Noah, and 'Ad, and Thamud? --
... وَالَّذِينَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ لاَ يَعْلَمُهُمْ إِلاَّ اللّهُ...
and of those who (came) after them?
None knows them but Allah.
C1882. Even the names of all the Prophets are not known to men, much less the details of their story. If some "news" of them (for the word translated "story" may also be translated "news") reaches us, it is to give us spiritual instruction for our own lives.
... جَاءتْهُمْ رُسُلُهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ فَرَدُّواْ أَيْدِيَهُمْ فِي أَفْوَاهِهِمْ...
To them came Messengers with Clear (Signs); but they put their hands up to their mouths,
C1883. That is, either that the Unbelievers metaphorically put their hands up to the mouths of the Prophets to try to prevent them from proclaiming their Message, or
that the Unbelievers put up their fingers to their own mouths, as much as to say "Don't listen to them," or bite their own fingers in token of incontinent rage.
Whatever construction we adopt, the meaning is that they were intolerant of their prophets even as the Quraish were intolerant of Al Mustafa and did all they could to suppress Allah's Truth.
... وَقَالُواْ إِنَّا كَفَرْنَا بِمَا أُرْسِلْتُم بِهِ...
"We do deny (the mission) on which ye have been sent,
... وَإِنَّا لَفِي شَكٍّ مِّمَّا تَدْعُونَنَا إِلَيْهِ مُرِيبٍ ﴿٩﴾
and we are really in suspicious (disquieting) doubt as to that to which ye invite us."
C1884. Cf. 11:62.
The distinction between Shakk and raib may be noted.
Shakk is intellectual doubt, a doubt as to fact; is it so, or is it not?
Raib is something more than intellectual doubt; a suspicion that there is fraud or deception; something that upsets your moral belief and causes a disquiet in your soul.
In 52:30, it is used as equivalent to "calamity" or "disaster", some punishment or evil. Both kinds of doubts and suspicions are hinted at against Prophets of Allah.
قَالَتْ رُسُلُهُمْ أَفِي اللّهِ شَكٌّ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ...
10. Their Messengers said:
"Is there a doubt about Allah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth?
... يَدْعُوكُمْ لِيَغْفِرَ لَكُم مِّن ذُنُوبِكُمْ وَيُؤَخِّرَكُمْ إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُّسَـمًّى...
It is He Who invites you, in order that He may forgive you your sins and give you respite for a term appointed!"
C1885. The Prophets (generally) clear both kinds of doubt.
"You cannot doubt the existence of Allah! Behold His works! We are not speaking for ourselves or deceiving you. We speak according to the Message of inspiration from Allah."
Notice that the doubters had said to the Prophets, -Ye invite us.- The Prophets say: "It is Allah Who invites you, and He does it to save you by His grace, and give you plenty of time (but not indefinite time) for penitence and amendment."
... قَالُواْ إِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلاَّ بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُنَا...
"Ah! ye are no more than human, like ourselves!
... تُرِيدُونَ أَن تَصُدُّونَا عَمَّا كَانَ يَعْبُدُ آبَآؤُنَا... ...
Ye wish to turn us away from the (gods) our fathers used to worship:
... فَأْتُونَا بِسُلْطَانٍ مُّبِينٍ ﴿١٠﴾
then bring us some clear authority."
C1886. Infidelity is illogical and argues in a circle.
If the Prophet speaks of Allah, the Unbeliever says, "You are only a man!"
"But I speak from Allah!"
"Oh well! our ancestral ways of worship are good enough for us!"
"What if they are wrong?"
"What authority have you for saying so?"
"The highest authority, that from Allah!"
And so we come back full circle! Then the wicked rely on violence, but it recoils on them, and they perish.
قَالَتْ لَهُمْ رُسُلُهُمْ إِن نَّحْنُ إِلاَّ بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ...
11. Their Messengers said to them:
"True, we are human like yourselves,
... وَلَـكِنَّ اللّهَ يَمُنُّ عَلَى مَن يَشَاء مِنْ عِبَادِهِ...
but Allah doth grant His grace to such of His servants as He pleases.
... وَمَا كَانَ لَنَا أَن نَّأْتِيَكُم بِسُلْطَانٍ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِ اللّهِ...
It is not for us to bring you an authority except as Allah permits.
... وَعلَى اللّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ ﴿١١﴾
And on Allah let all men of faith put their trust.
وَمَا لَنَا أَلاَّ نَتَوَكَّلَ عَلَى اللّهِ وَقَدْ هَدَانَا سُبُلَنَا...
12. "No reason have we why we should not put our trust on Allah. Indeed He has guided us to the Ways we (follow).
... وَلَنَصْبِرَنَّ عَلَى مَا آذَيْتُمُونَا...
We shall certainly bear with patience all the hurt you may cause us:
... وَعَلَى اللّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُتَوَكِّلُونَ ﴿١٢﴾
for those who put their trust should put their trust on Allah."
وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ لِرُسُلِهِمْ لَنُخْرِجَنَّـكُم مِّنْ أَرْضِنَآ أَوْ لَتَعُودُنَّ فِي مِلَّتِنَا...
13. And the Unbelievers said to their Messengers:
"Be sure we shall drive you out of our land, or ye shall return to our religion."
C1887. The arguments in a circle were explained in the last note. But Infidelity looks upon argument merely as an amusement. Its chief weapon is physical force.
As its only belief is in materialism, it thinks that threats of force will put down the righteous. It offers the choice between exile and violence against conformity to its own standards of evil, which it thinks to be good.
But Faith is not to be cowed down by Force. Its source of strength is Allah, and it receives the assurance that violence will perish ultimately by violence, and that Faith and Good must stand and be established. In fact the good must inherit the earth and the evil ones be blotted out.
... فَأَوْحَى إِلَيْهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ لَنُهْلِكَنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ ﴿١٣﴾
But their Lord inspired (this Message) to them:
"Verily We shall cause the wrongdoers to perish!
وَلَنُسْكِنَنَّـكُمُ الأَرْضَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ...
14. "And verily We shall cause you to abide in the land, and succeed them.
... ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ خَافَ مَقَامِي ...
This for such as fear the time when they shall stand before My tribunal --
C1888. "Fear" means here "have present before their minds something which should cause fear, so that they should shape their conduct in order to avoid the ill consequences of wickedness."
... وَخَافَ وَعِيدِ ﴿١٤﴾
such as fear the punishment denounced."
15. But they sought victory and decision (there and then),
C1889. Cf. 8:19.
1 have assumed that "they" in this verse is the same as "them" in the preceding verse, i.e., the ungodly.
Hoping for victory they forced a decision, and they got it-against themselves.
Or they challenged a punishment, and it came in good time.
Some Commentators construe "they" here to mean "the Prophets": in that case the verse would mean:
"The Prophets prayed for a victory and decision, and the ungodly were frustrated in their efforts to suppress the Truth."
... وَخَابَ كُلُّ جَبَّارٍ عَنِيدٍ ﴿١٥﴾
and frustration was the lot of every powerful obstinate transgressor.
C1890. Cf. 11:59.
مِّن وَرَآئِهِ جَهَنَّمُ وَيُسْقَى مِن مَّاء صَدِيدٍ ﴿١٦﴾
16. In front of such a one is Hell, and he is given, for drink, boiling fetid water.
يَتَجَرَّعُهُ وَلاَ يَكَادُ يُسِيغُهُ...
17. In gulps will he sip it, but never well he be near swallowing it down his throat:
... وَيَأْتِيهِ الْمَوْتُ مِن كُلِّ مَكَانٍ وَمَا هُوَ بِمَيِّتٍ...
Death will come to him from every quarter, yet will he not die:
... وَمِن وَرَآئِهِ عَذَابٌ غَلِيظٌ ﴿١٧﴾
and in front of him will be a chastisement unrelenting.
C1891. A graphic and deterrent picture, from the preaching of the earlier Prophets, of unrelieved horror of the torments of Hell.
The door of escape by annihilation is also closed to them.
مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ بِرَبِّهِمْ...
18. The parable of those who reject their Lord
... أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَرَمَادٍ اشْتَدَّتْ بِهِ الرِّيحُ فِي يَوْمٍ عَاصِفٍ...
is that their works are as ashes, on which the wind blows furiously on a tempestuous day:
C1892. Note the fullness of the parable.
The works of the ungodly are in themselves light and unsubstantial like ashes; they are the useless rubbish that remains out of the faculties and opportunities which they have misused by burning them up. Further, the ashes are blown about hither and thither by the wind: the ungodly have no compass, direction, or purpose that can stand. The wind, too, which blows on them is no ordinary wind, nor the day on which they seek to enjoy the fruits of their labours an ordinary tranquil day: a furious gale is blowing, for such is the Wrath of Allah.
They have neither internal peace nor external gain. In the scattering of the ashes they lose control even of such things as they might have earned but for their misdeeds. Their whole nature is contaminated. All their wishes go astray. They are carried so far, far away from what was in their minds. What did they aim at, and what did they achieve?
... لاَّ يَقْدِرُونَ مِمَّا كَسَبُواْ عَلَى شَيْءٍ...
No power have they over aught that they have earned:
... ذَلِكَ هُوَ الضَّلاَلُ الْبَعِيدُ ﴿١٨﴾
That is the straying far, far (from the goal).
أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللّهَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ بِالْحقِّ...
19. Seest thou not that Allah created the Heavens and the earth in Truth?
C1893. Haqq: Truth, Right, Righteousness, True proportions, Reality.
Allah's creation is not to be trifled with. It is built on righteousness, and those who do not obey its laws must give place to others who do.
This warning is repeated again and again in history and in revelation. Cf. 6:73.
... إِن يَشَأْ يُذْهِبْكُمْ وَيَأْتِ بِخَلْقٍ جَدِيدٍ ﴿١٩﴾
If He so will, He can remove you and put (in your place) a new Creation?
وَمَا ذَلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ بِعَزِيزٍ ﴿٢٠﴾
20. Nor is that for Allah any great matter.
C1894. 'Aziz: great, mighty, excellent, powerful, rare, precious.
وَبَرَزُواْ لِلّهِ جَمِيعًا فَقَالَ الضُّعَفَاء لِلَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُواْ...
21. They will all be marshaled before Allah together:
then will the weak say to those who were arrogant,
C1895. When the time for judgment comes, there are two kinds of disillusionment waiting for the ungodly:
1. Those who were misled and failed to see that each soul bears its own personal responsibility (2:134) and cannot shift it on to others, will turn to those who misled them, in the hope that they might intercede for them or do something to help them. They receive a plain answer as in the latter part of this verse.
2. Those who relied on Satan, His answer (in 14:22 below) is frank, cynical and brutal.
... إِنَّا كُنَّا لَكُمْ تَبَعًا فَهَلْ أَنتُم مُّغْنُونَ عَنَّا مِنْ عَذَابِ اللّهِ مِن شَيْءٍ...
"For us, we but followed you; can ye then avail us at all against the wrath of Allah?"
... قَالُواْ لَوْ هَدَانَا اللّهُ لَهَدَيْنَاكُمْ...
They will reply,
"If we had received the guidance of Allah, we should have given it to you:
C1896. Those whose power or specious intelligence or influence misled them -such as false priests or leaders- will find themselves in a parlous state.
How can they help others?
They themselves failed to profit from Allah's guidance, and they can with some justice retort that they put them in the wrong path as they followed it themselves!
... سَوَاء عَلَيْنَآ أَجَزِعْنَا أَمْ صَبَرْنَا مَا لَنَا مِن مَّحِيصٍ ﴿٢١﴾
to us it makes no difference (now) whether we rage, or bear (these torments) with patience:
for ourselves there is no way of escape."
وَقَالَ الشَّيْطَانُ لَمَّا قُضِيَ الأَمْرُ إِنَّ اللّهَ وَعَدَكُمْ وَعْدَ الْحَقِّ...
22. And Satan will say when the matter is decided:
C1897. After the Judgment, Evil declares itself in its true colours. Frankly it says:
'I deceived you. The promise of Allah was true, but you believed me rather than Allah. I had no power to force you. I had but to call you, and you came running after me. You must blame yourselves.
Did you think I was equal with Allah?
I know too well that I was not and never could be. If you did wrong, you must suffer the Penalty.'
"It was Allah Who gave you a promise of truth:
... وَوَعَدتُّكُمْ فَأَخْلَفْتُكُمْ...
I too promised, but I failed in my promise to you.
... وَمَا كَانَ لِيَ عَلَيْكُم مِّن سُلْطَانٍ إِلاَّ أَن دَعَوْتُكُمْ فَاسْتَجَبْتُمْ لِي...
I had no authority over you except to call you, but ye listened to me:
... فَلاَ تَلُومُونِي وَلُومُواْ أَنفُسَكُم...
then reproach not me, but reproach your own souls.
... مَّا أَنَاْ بِمُصْرِخِكُمْ وَمَا أَنتُمْ بِمُصْرِخِيَّ...
I cannot listen to your cries, nor can ye listen to mine.
... إِنِّي كَفَرْتُ بِمَآ أَشْرَكْتُمُونِ مِن قَبْلُ...
I reject your former act in associating me with Allah.
C1898. See the last note.
An alternative interpretation of this sentence may be:
"I had already beforehand rebelled against Allah with Whom ye associated me."
... إِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ ﴿٢٢﴾
For wrongdoers there must be a Grievous Penalty."
وَأُدْخِلَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ جَنَّاتٍ...
23. But those who believe and work righteousness will be admitted to Gardens
... تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ...
beneath which rivers flow --
to dwell therein for aye with the leave of their Lord:
... تَحِيَّتُهُمْ فِيهَا سَلاَمٌ ﴿٢٣﴾
their greeting therein will be: "Peace!"
C1899. How this contrasts with the misery and the mutual self-recriminations of the ungodly!
أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ ضَرَبَ اللّهُ مَثَلاً...
24. Seest thou not how Allah sets forth a parable? --
... كَلِمَةً طَيِّبَةً كَشَجَرةٍ طَيِّبَةٍ أَصْلُهَا ثَابِتٌ وَفَرْعُهَا فِي السَّمَاء ﴿٢٤﴾
a goodly Word like a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the heavens --
C1900. "Goodly word" is usually interpreted as the Divine Word, the Divine Message, the True Religion.
It may also be interpreted in a more general sense as a word of truth, a word of goodness or kindness, which follows from a true appreciation of Religion. For Religion includes our duty to Allah and our duty to man.
The "evil word" is opposite to this: false religion, blasphemy, false speech, or preaching or teaching unkindness and wrong-doing. (R).
تُؤْتِي أُكُلَهَا كُلَّ حِينٍ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهَا...
25. It brings forth its fruit at all times, by the leave of its Lord.
C1901. The goodly tree is known for:
- its beauty; it gives pleasure to all who see it;
- its stability; it remains firm and unshaken in storms, because its roots are firmly fixed in the earth;
- its wide compass; its branches reach high, and it catches all the sunshine from heaven, and gives shade to countless birds in its branches and men and animals beneath it, and
- its abundant fruit, which it yields at all times.
So is the Good Word.
- It is as beautiful as it is true.
- It abides in all the changes and chances of this life, and even beyond (see verse 27 below);
- it is never shaken by sorrow or what seems to us calamity;
- its roots are deep down in the bed-rock facts of life. Its reach is universal, above, around, below:
- it is illuminated by the divine light from heaven, and its consolation reaches countless beings of all grades of life.
- Its fruit-the enjoyment of its blessings-is not confined to one season or one set of circumstances;
furthermore the fortunate man who is the vehicle of that word has no self-pride; he attributes all its goodness, and his act in spreading it, to the Will and Leave of Allah.
In this Parable of the Quran there are fewer words and more spiritual meaning, and the emphasis is on more essential things.
... وَيَضْرِبُ اللّهُ الأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ ﴿٢٥﴾
So Allah sets forth parables for men, in order that they may receive admonition.
وَمَثلُ كَلِمَةٍ خَبِيثَةٍ كَشَجَرَةٍ خَبِيثَةٍ...
26. And the parable of an evil Word is that of an evil tree.
... اجْتُثَّتْ مِن فَوْقِ الأَرْضِ مَا لَهَا مِن قَرَارٍ ﴿٢٦﴾
It is torn up by the root, from the surface of the earth:
it has no stability.
C1902. The evil tree is the opposite of the goodly tree. The parallelism of contrast can be followed out in all the details of the last note.
يُثَبِّتُ اللّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ بِالْقَوْلِ الثَّابِتِ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الآخِرَةِ...
27. Allah will establish in strength those who believe, with the Word that stands firm, in this world and in the Hereafter;
... وَيُضِلُّ اللّهُ الظَّالِمِينَ...
but Allah will leave, to stray, those who do wrong:
... وَيَفْعَلُ اللّهُ مَا يَشَاء ﴿٢٧﴾
Allah doeth what He willeth.
C1903. His Will and Plan may be above comprehension, but will prevail over all things. It is not like the will of man, who may plan good things but is not necessarily able to carry them out.
C.118 (The running Commentary, in Rhythmic Prose)
But the evil not only choose evil
For themselves but mislead others
To perdition. The godly should learn
From the Signs of Allah all around them,
And be on their guard against all
That is false. So Abraham prayed
Not only for his posterity, but for all;
For he foresaw the universality
Of Allah's Message in Islam,
That leads to the sublime doctrine
Of Oneness, which will be seen
In its fullness on the Great Day
When a new Earth and a new Heaven
Will proclaim the end of Evil
And the adjustment of all this life's accounts.
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ بَدَّلُواْ نِعْمَةَ اللّهِ كُفْرًا وَأَحَلُّواْ قَوْمَهُمْ دَارَ الْبَوَارِ ﴿٢٨﴾
28. Hast thou not turned thy vision to those who have changed the favor of Allah into blasphemy and caused their people to descend to the House of Perdition? --
C1904. There is a particular and a general meaning.
- The particular meaning is understood to be a reference to the Makkan Pagans who turned the House of Allah into a place for the worship of horrible idols and the practice of unseemly rites and cults.
There is no real difficulty in accepting this as part of a late Makkan Surah even without supposing it to be a prophecy.
The Makkan Pagans had turned Religion into a blasphemous superstition, and were misguiding their people, persecuting the true Messenger of Allah and all who followed his teaching. Their cup of iniquity seemed about full, and they seemed to be heading to perdition, as later events indeed showed to be the case.
- The general meaning is also clear. Selfish men, when they seize power, want worship for themselves or their Phantasies, in derogation of the true God. Power, which should have been an instrument of good, becomes in their hands an instrument of evil. They and their people rush headlong to perdition. "These be thy gods, 0 Israel!" has been a cry repeated again and again in history, in the face, or at the back, of men of God!
جَهَنَّمَ يَصْلَوْنَهَا وَبِئْسَ الْقَرَارُ ﴿٢٩﴾
29. Into Hell?
They will burn therein -- an evil place to stay in!
وَجَعَلُواْ لِلّهِ أَندَادًا لِّيُضِلُّواْ عَن سَبِيلِهِ...
30. And they set up (idols) as equal to Allah, to mislead (men) from the Path!
... قُلْ تَمَتَّعُواْ فَإِنَّ مَصِيرَكُمْ إِلَى النَّارِ ﴿٣٠﴾
"Enjoy (your brief power)! But verily ye are making straightway for Hell!"
قُل لِّعِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ يُقِيمُواْ الصَّلاَةَ ...
31. Speak to My servants who have believed, that they may establish regular prayers,
C1905. Putting ourselves back in the position in which the Muslim community found themselves in Makkah just before the Hijrah, we can imagine how much encouragement and consolation they needed from the preaching, the Faith, and the steadfast character of Al-Mustafa.
Intolerant persecution was the order of the day; neither the life nor the property or reputation of the Muslims was safe. They are asked to find strength and tranquility in prayer and in helping each other according to their needs and resources.
... وَيُنفِقُواْ مِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ سِرًّا وَعَلانِيَةً...
and spend (in charity) out of the Sustenance We have given them, secretly and openly,
C1906. Here, as elsewhere, "Sustenance" is to be taken in the literal as well as the metaphorical sense.
There were many among the Muslims who were poor, or slaves, or depressed, because they were deprived of the means of livelihood on account of their Faith. They were to be fed, clothed, and sheltered, by those who had means.
Charity was to be ordinarily secret, so as to cut out all show or parade, and perhaps also lest the enemy should dry up those sources by unprincipled violence; but there must be much that had to be open and organized, so that all the needy could know where to go to be relieved.
... مِّن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِيَ يَوْمٌ لاَّ بَيْعٌ فِيهِ وَلاَ خِلاَلٌ ﴿٣١﴾
before the coming of a Day in which there will be neither mutual bargaining, nor befriending.
C1907. The great Day of Reckoning would be one on which all values would be changed. Wealth, as understood in this world, would no longer count.
Should we not therefore use any wealth we have in this life, to give here and receive there?
Bai includes all bargaining, -barter, purchase and sale, etc.
In this world, where wealth has some value, let us spend it and get for ourselves "treasures in heaven."
In the next life each man will stand on his merits and personal responsibility. One man cannot help another. Let us here help each other to become true and righteous, so that our personal account may be favourable there.
اللّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ...
32. It is Allah Who hath created the heavens and the earth
... وَأَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاء مَاء فَأَخْرَجَ بِهِ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ رِزْقًا لَّكُمْ...
and sendeth down rain from the skies, and with it bringeth out fruits wherewith to feed you;
... وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ الْفُلْكَ لِتَجْرِيَ فِي الْبَحْرِ بِأَمْرِهِ...
it is He Who hath made the ships subject to you, that they may sail through the sea by His command;
... وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ الأَنْهَارَ ﴿٣٢﴾
and the rivers (also) hath He made subject to you.
C1908. We must realise that behind all our strength, skill, and intelligence there is the power and goodness of Allah, Who gave us all these things. Man can understand and control the forces of nature so as to bring them to his own service: he can only do so, because
- he has got these gifts from Allah, and
- Allah has fixed definite laws in nature, of which he can take advantage by Allah's command and permission.
He has been made Vicegerent on earth (2:30);
Allah commanded the highest creatures to bow down to Adam (2:34).
Man, by Allah's command, can use rain to produce food for himself; make ships to sail the seas; use rivers as highways, and cut canals for traffic and irrigation.
Not only this, but even the heavenly bodies can (by Allah's command) contribute to his needs (see next verse).
وَسَخَّر لَكُمُ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ دَآئِبَينَ...
33. And He hath made subject to you the sun and the moon, both diligently pursuing their courses:
C1909. The sun gives out heat, which is the source of all life and energy on this planet, and produces the seasons of the year, by utilizing which man can supply his needs, not only material, but immaterial in the shape of light, health, and other blessings.
The sun and the moon together produce tides, and are responsible for atmospheric changes which are of the highest importance in the life of man.
The succession of Day and Night is due to the apparent daily course of the sun through the skies; and the cool light of the moon performs other services different from those of warm day-light.
Because there are laws here, which man can understand and calculate, he can use all such things for his own service, and in that sense the heavenly bodies are themselves made subject to him by Allah's command.
... وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ ﴿٣٣﴾
and the Night and the Day hath He (also) made subject you.
وَآتَاكُم مِّن كُلِّ مَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُ...
34. And He giveth you of all that ye ask for.
C1910. Sincere and true prayer in faith is answered by Allah. Thus He gives us everything which a wise and benevolent Providence can give.
... وَإِن تَعُدُّواْ نِعْمَتَ اللّهِ لاَ تُحْصُوهَا...
But if ye count the favors of Allah, never will ye be able to number them:
... إِنَّ الإِنسَانَ لَظَلُومٌ كَفَّارٌ ﴿٣٤﴾
verily, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude.
C1911. I have tried to render the intensive forms of the Arabic by what I consider their near equivalent here:
the phrase "given up to injustice and ingratitude" suggests habitual ignoring of just values and ingratitude for the innumerable gifts and favours which Allah has showered on mankind.
وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ ...
35. Remember Abraham said:
C1912. This Prayer of Abraham, the True in Faith, the progenitor of the Semitic peoples and the Prototype of their Religion, is introduced in this place, to illustrate the points referred to in the preceding section, 14:31-34, viz.,
- how the new Revelation through the Ka'bah bears out the universal Revelation of Prayer and Charity,
- Love of Allah and man,
- Recognition of Allah's handiwork in nature, and
- Insistence on man's turning away from false worship and ingratitude to Allah.
Notice the four divisions into which it falls:
1. verses 35-36 are spoken by Abraham as on his own behalf ("O my Lord!");
2. verses 37-38 are spoken on behalf of his progeny ("O our Lord!") but with special reference to the elder branch, the children of Isma'il;
3. verses 39-40 are again a personal appeal, but both branches of his family, viz., the sons of Isma'il and Isaac, are expressly mentioned;
4. verse 41 is a Prayer for himself, his parents, and all Believers, typifying that in the universality of Islam all nations are to be blessed.
Jerusalem, for the Mosaic Law and the Gospel of Jesus, was the centre and symbol for the Jewish race, though of course all Allah's Truth is universal;
Makkah, the centre of the Arab race, was to throw off its tribal character and become universal, in spite of the Makkans themselves.
... رَبِّ اجْعَلْ هَـذَا الْبَلَدَ آمِنًا...
"O my Lord! make this city one of peace and security:
... وَاجْنُبْنِي وَبَنِيَّ أَن نَّعْبُدَ الأَصْنَامَ ﴿٣٥﴾
and preserve me and my sons from worshipping idols.
C1913. Cf. 2:125-129.
Abraham (with Isma'il) built the Ka'bah, and Abraham asks a blessing on his handiwork and forgiveness for such lapses into idolatry as both branches of his family might fall into.
رَبِّ إِنَّهُنَّ أَضْلَلْنَ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ النَّاسِ...
36. "O my Lord! they have indeed led astray many among mankind:
... فَمَن تَبِعَنِي فَإِنَّهُ مِنِّي...
he then who follows my (ways) is of me,
... وَمَنْ عَصَانِي فَإِنَّكَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ ﴿٣٦﴾
and he that disobeys me -- but thou art indeed Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
37. "O our Lord!
I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, by thy Sacred House;
C1914. The Makkan valley is enclosed by hills on all sides, unlike Madinah, which has level cultivated plains. But just because of its natural isolation, it is fitted to be a centre for Prayer and Praise.
... رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُواْ الصَّلاَةَ فَاجْعَلْ أَفْئِدَةً مِّنَ النَّاسِ تَهْوِي إِلَيْهِمْ...
in order, O our Lord, that they may establish regular prayer:
so fill the hearts of some among men with love towards them,
... وَارْزُقْهُم مِّنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ ...
and feed them with Fruits:
The righteous, though they have to have sustenance, both in a literal and figurative sense, require also the love and sympathy of their fellow-men.
... لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْكُرُونَ ﴿٣٧﴾
so that they may give thanks.
رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ تَعْلَمُ مَا نُخْفِي وَمَا نُعْلِنُ...
38. "O our Lord!
truly Thou dost know what we conceal and what we reveal:
... وَمَا يَخْفَى عَلَى اللّهِ مِن شَيْءٍ فَي الأَرْضِ وَلاَ فِي السَّمَاء ﴿٣٨﴾
for nothing whatever is hidden from Allah, whether on earth or in heaven.
C1916. In Abraham's prophetic mind was the secret and open enmity or contempt which the Children of Israel were to have for the Children of Isma'il (Arabs). He prays to Allah that they may be united in Islam, as indeed they were, except a small remnant.
الْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ الَّذِي وَهَبَ لِي عَلَى الْكِبَرِ إِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَقَ...
39. "Praise be to Allah, who hath granted unto me in old age Isma'il and Isaac:
... إِنَّ رَبِّي لَسَمِيعُ الدُّعَاء ﴿٣٩﴾
for truly my Lord is He, the Hearer of Prayer!
Isma'il was also a son of his father's old age, having been born when Abraham was 86 years old. The younger son's progeny developed the Faith of Israel and that of Christ; the elder son's progeny perfected the more universal Faith of Islam, the Faith of Abraham the True,
رَبِّ اجْعَلْنِي مُقِيمَ الصَّلاَةِ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِي...
40. "O my Lord!
make me one who establishes regular Prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring,
C1918. Abraham prays for both branches of his family, having a wider vision than some of the later Children of Israel.
... رَبَّنَا وَتَقَبَّلْ دُعَاء ﴿٤٠﴾
O our Lord! and accept Thou my Prayer.
41. "O our Lord!
C1919. Read again n. 1912 above.
Having prayed for his progeny, Abraham now prays for Allah's grace on himself, his parents, and the whole Brotherhood of Faith, irrespective of family or race or time, to be perfected in the ideal of Islam.
... اغْفِرْ لِي ...
cover (us) with Thy Forgiveness --
C1920. For the shades of meaning in the different words for Forgiveness, see n. 110 to 2:109.
... وَلِوَالِدَيَّ ...
me, my parents,
C1921. My parents. Abraham's father was an idolater (43:26; 6:74). Not only that, but he persecuted the Faith of Unity and threatened Abraham with stoning and exile (19:46); and he and his people cast him into the Fire to be burned (21:52, 68).
Yet Abraham's heart was tender, and he prayed for forgiveness for his father because of a promise which he had made (9:114), though he renounced the land of his fathers (Chaldea).
... وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَوْمَ يَقُومُ الْحِسَابُ ﴿٤١﴾
and (all) Believers, on the Day that the Reckoning will be established!"
C1922. At the final Reckoning, all that may seem inequality or injustice in this world will be redressed. But the merits of the best of us will need Allah's Grace to establish us in that lasting Felicity which is promised to the righteous. And Abraham, as the father of Prophecy, prayed for all,-for the Universal Faith perfected in Islam.
وَلاَ تَحْسَبَنَّ اللّهَ غَافِلاً عَمَّا يَعْمَلُ الظَّالِمُونَ...
42. Think not that Allah doth not heed the deeds of those who do wrong.
... إِنَّمَا يُؤَخِّرُهُمْ لِيَوْمٍ تَشْخَصُ فِيهِ الأَبْصَارُ ﴿٤٢﴾
He but giveth them respite against a Day when the eyes will fixedly stare in horror --
مُهْطِعِينَ مُقْنِعِي رُءُوسِهِمْ لاَ يَرْتَدُّ إِلَيْهِمْ طَرْفُهُمْ...
43. They are running forward with necks outstretched, their heads uplifted, their gaze returning not towards them,
... وَأَفْئِدَتُهُمْ هَوَاء ﴿٤٣﴾
and their hearts a (gaping) void.
C1923. A picture of horror. The evil ones, when they realise the situation, will be dazed; their eyes will stare without expression, and never move back; their necks will be outstretched; their heads uplifted in terror of the Judgment from on High; and their hearts become empty of all hope or intelligence as the physical heart might become empty of blood when the circulation stops. In this state they will press forward to Judgment.
وَأَنذِرِ النَّاسَ يَوْمَ يَأْتِيهِمُ الْعَذَابُ فَيَقُولُ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ...
44. So warn mankind of the Day when the Wrath will reach them: then will the wrongdoers say:
... رَبَّنَا أَخِّرْنَا إِلَى أَجَلٍ قَرِيبٍ نُّجِبْ دَعْوَتَكَ وَنَتَّبِعِ الرُّسُلَ...
"Our Lord! respite us (if only) for a short term: we will answer Thy Call, and follow the Messengers!"
... أَوَلَمْ تَكُونُواْ أَقْسَمْتُم مِّن قَبْلُ مَا لَكُم مِّن زَوَالٍ ﴿٤٤﴾
"What! were ye not wont to swear aforetime that ye should suffer no decline?
C1924. Zawal: decline from the zenith, as that of the sun, decline from the highest point reached by a heavenly body in its course through the sky.
The ungodly are apt to think that their power will remain in the ascendant, on account of some material advantages given them temporarily by Allah, but they are constantly receiving warnings in history and revelation and from the example of others before them.
There is a warning to the contemporary Pagan Makkans here; but the warning is perfectly general, and for all time.
وَسَكَنتُمْ فِي مَسَـاكِنِ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ أَنفُسَهُمْ...
45. "And ye dwelt in the dwellings of men who wronged their own souls:
... وَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمْ كَيْفَ فَعَلْنَا بِهِمْ...
ye were clearly shown how We dealt with them;
... وَضَرَبْنَا لَكُمُ الأَمْثَالَ ﴿٤٥﴾
and We put forth many parables in your behalf!"
وَقَدْ مَكَرُواْ مَكْرَهُمْ وَعِندَ اللّهِ مَكْرُهُمْ...
46. Mighty indeed were the plots which they made, but their plots were (well) within the sight of Allah,
... وَإِن كَانَ مَكْرُهُمْ لِتَزُولَ مِنْهُ الْجِبَالُ ﴿٤٦﴾
even though they were such as to shake the hills!
فَلاَ تَحْسَبَنَّ اللّهَ مُخْلِفَ وَعْدِهِ رُسُلَهُ...
47. Never think that Allah would fail His Messengers in His promise:
... إِنَّ اللّهَ عَزِيزٌ ذُو انْتِقَامٍ ﴿٤٧﴾
for Allah is Exalted in power -- the Lord of Retribution.
يَوْمَ تُبَدَّلُ الأَرْضُ غَيْرَ الأَرْضِ وَالسَّمَاوَاتُ...
48. One day the Earth will be changed to a different Earth, and so will be the Heavens,
C1925. "A new earth and a new heaven" refers to the entirely changed conditions at the end of things as we know them.
... وَبَرَزُواْ للّهِ الْوَاحِدِ الْقَهَّارِ ﴿٤٨﴾
and (men) will be marshalled forth, before Allah, the One, the Irresistible;
وَتَرَى الْمُجْرِمِينَ يَوْمَئِذٍ مُّقَرَّنِينَ فِي الأَصْفَادِ ﴿٤٩﴾
49. And thou wilt see the Sinners that day bound together in fetters --
50. Their garments
C1927. Sirbal,- plural, Sarabil,- a garment or coat of mail, breast plate;
something covering the most vital parts of the body; like the shirt or the Indian kurta.
... مِّن قَطِرَانٍ وَتَغْشَى وُجُوهَهُمْ النَّارُ ﴿٥٠﴾
of liquid pitch, and their faces covered with Fire;
C1928. Qatiran: black pitch, a resinous substance exuding from certain kinds of trees like the terebinth or the pines, or distilled from wood or coal.
It catches fire readily. Issuing from the upper garments (Sartabil) the flames soon cover the face, the most expressive part of man's essence or being.
The metaphor of fetters (n. 1926) is now changed to that of pitch, which darkens and sets on fire the soul of man.
لِيَجْزِي اللّهُ كُلَّ نَفْسٍ مَّا كَسَبَتْ...
51. That Allah may requite each soul according to its deserts;
C1929. Its deserts: i.e., according to what it earned by its own acts, good or evil, in its life of probation.
... إِنَّ اللّهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ ﴿٥١﴾
and verily Allah is Swift in calling account.
C1930. Swift in calling to account: We can understand this in two significations.
1. Let not the wicked think that because Allah, out of His infinite grace and mercy, grants respite, therefore the retribution will be slow in coming.
When the time comes in accordance with Allah's Plan and Wisdom, the retribution will come so swiftly that the ungodly will be surprised and they will wish they could get more respite (14:44).
2. On the great Day of Reckoning, let it not be supposed that, because there will be millions of souls to be judged, there will be any delay in judgment as in a human tribunal.
It will be a new world and beyond the flight of Time. Or
if a metaphor from time as we conceive it in this world can be taken, it will all be as it were in the twinkling of an eye (16:77).
هَـذَا بَلاَغٌ لِّلنَّاسِ وَلِيُنذَرُواْ بِهِ...
52. Here is a Message for mankind: let them take warning therefrom,
... وَلِيَعْلَمُواْ أَنَّمَا هُوَ إِلَـهٌ وَاحِدٌ...
and let them know that He is (no other than) One Allah:
C1931. Here is another aspect of the Truth of Unity. Allah being One, all justice is of one standard, for Truth is one, and we see it as one as soon as the scales of phenomenal diversity fall from our eyes. The one true Reality then emerges.
Blessed are those who treasured this Truth in their souls already in their life of probation.
... وَلِيَذَّكَّرَ أُوْلُواْ الأَلْبَابِ ﴿٥٢﴾
let men of understanding take heed.