بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
Introduction and Summary
This Surah deals with the mystery of Creation and its maintenance, with various forces typified by the wings of Angels. Whether we look to outer nature or to man. Allah's Grace proclaims His Glory, and protects His votaries from Evil.
It is an early Makkan Surah, but its chronology has no significance.
Summery- The forces which maintain Creation, as typified by angels, were themselves created by Allah, to Whom alone all praise is due; all else is naught (35:1-26, and C. 192).
All good is from Allah; who then will choose Evil, and reach the doom that goes with Evil? (35:27-45, and C. 193).
C.192 (The running Commentary, in Rhythmic Prose)
Allah is the source of All things; all Power,
Wisdom, Beauty, and Truth flow from Him.
It is Evil that deceives and plots in the dark.
All knowledge is with Allah. The things
That are good and pure and true are not
As the things that are evil, deceitful, and false.
Allah is free of all needs: it is we
That need Him: let us seek His love and live,
His Message will save us from wrong, while dark
Is the fate of those who reject Him.
Praise and glory to Him, the Cherisher of all!
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ ...
1. Praise be to Allah,
C3869. See n. 3785 to 34:1.
When we praise Allah, it means that we understand and bring to mind that His glory and power are exercised for the good of His Creation, and this is the subject-matter of the Surah.
... فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ...
Who created (out of nothing) the heavens and the earth,
C3870. As man's knowledge of the processes of nature advances, he sees how complex is the evolution of matter itself, leaving out the question of the origin of Life and the spiritual forces, which are beyond the ken of experimental science.
But this knowledge itself becomes a sort of "veil of Light": man becomes so conscious of the proximate causes, that he is apt, in his pride, to forget the primal Cause, the ultimate hand of Allah in Creation.
And then, creation is such a complex process: see some of the ideas involved explained by different words in n. 120 to 2:117.
The word fatara here used means the creation of primeval matter, to which further creative processes have to be added by the hand of Allah, or Allah "adds to His Creation as He pleases", not only in quantity, but in qualities, functions, relations and variations in infinite ways.
... جَاعِلِ الْمَلَائِكَةِ رُسُلًا أُولِي أَجْنِحَةٍ مَّثْنَى وَثُلَاثَ وَرُبَاعَ...
Who made the angels messengers with wings -- two, or three, or four (Pairs):
C3871. They are Messengers or Instruments of Allah's Will, and may have a few or numerous Errands entrusted to them.
... يَزِيدُ فِي الْخَلْقِ مَا يَشَاء... ...
He adds to Creation as He pleases:
C3872. See n. 3870 above, where the complexities of the creative processes is referred to Allah's creation did not stop at some past time: it continues, for He has all power, and His mercies are ever poured forth without stint.
... إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ ﴿١﴾
for Allah has power over all things.
مَا يَفْتَحِ اللَّهُ لِلنَّاسِ مِن رَّحْمَةٍ فَلَا مُمْسِكَ لَهَا...
2. What Allah out of His Mercy doth bestow on mankind there is none can withhold:
... وَمَا يُمْسِكْ فَلَا مُرْسِلَ لَهُ مِن بَعْدِهِ ...
what He doth withhold, there is none can grant, apart from Him:
C3873. As Allah is the Creator and Sustainer of all beings and things, so does His kindness extend to all Creatures.
No one can intercept Allah's mercies and gifts. Whatever is His Will and Plan and Purpose He can and does carry out. And if from any creature He withholds any particular gifts, there is no other person or power that can give those gifts. But such withholding is not arbitrary. He is full of wisdom and goodness, and every act of His, whether He withholds or gives, is full of kindness and mercy to His creatures.
... وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ ﴿٢﴾
and He is the Exalted in Power, Full of Wisdom.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ...
3. O men! call to mind the grace of Allah unto you!
... هَلْ مِنْ خَالِقٍ غَيْرُ اللَّهِ يَرْزُقُكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاء وَالْأَرْضِ...
Is there a Creator, other than Allah, to give you Sustenance from heaven or earth?
C3874. As the primal Cause of all things is Allah, an appeal is made to man to turn to Allah instead of running after false fancies. Allah is not only the source, but the centre of all life and activity, and all affairs return to Him. The world is sustained, and human life is sustained, by Allah's grace and providence.
"Sustenance" is to be taken, in Quranic language, for all that helps to maintain and develop every aspect of life, physical and spiritual. It would be the height of folly, then, for man to ignore Allah's gracious Message, as explained in His Revelation.
... لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ...
There is no god but He:
... فَأَنَّى تُؤْفَكُونَ ﴿٣﴾
how then are ye deluded away from the Truth?
وَإِن يُكَذِّبُوكَ فَقَدْ كُذِّبَتْ رُسُلٌ مِّن قَبْلِكَ...
4. And if they reject thee, so were messengers rejected before thee:
C3875. And yet there will be human perversity which will reject the True and accept the False.
The prophet of Allah is not discouraged by this, as everything ultimately returns to Allah, and we must trust to His Wisdom in His Universal Plan. (R).
... وَإِلَى اللَّهِ تُرْجَعُ الأمُورُ ﴿٤﴾
to Allah go back for decision all affairs.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ...
5. O men!
certainly the promise of Allah is true.
C3876. In verse 3 above the appeal was on the basis of the Past and the Present: now the appeal is on the basis of the Future.
- Allah's grace has promised us the Garden of Bliss;
- His justice has promised us the Fire of Suffering.
Both promises are certain to be fulfilled. On which side shall we range ourselves?
... فَلَا تَغُرَّنَّكُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا...
Let not then this present life deceive you,
The deception of Evil takes two forms.
1. The seductive temptations of this world may deceive us into forgetting the Hereafter.
2. The Arch-Enemy himself may so blind our vision that we may say with him, "Evil! be thou my good!"
We may be misled by easy stages. Are we on our guard?
... وَلَا يَغُرَّنَّكُم بِاللَّهِ الْغَرُورُ ﴿٥﴾
nor let the Chief Deceiver deceive you about Allah.
إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ فَاتَّخِذُوهُ عَدُوًّا...
6. Verily Satan is an enemy to you: so treat him as an enemy.
C3878. Evil is our enemy and should be treated as such.
It is really foreign to our nature, however much it may disguise itself to deceive us as our friend, or a part of our own nature.
Personifying the Spirit of Evil, we may say that he wants us to share in his own damnation.
Shall we allow ourselves to fall into his snare?
... إِنَّمَا يَدْعُو حِزْبَهُ لِيَكُونُوا مِنْ أَصْحَابِ السَّعِيرِ ﴿٦﴾
He only invites his adherents, that they may become Companions of the Blazing Fire.
الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ...
7. For those who reject Allah, is a terrible Penalty:
C3879. To reject Allah is to reject all the good which He has implanted in our nature.
Are we going to be false to the true Pattern according to which He created us, and suffer the consequences?
Or are we going to be true to that Pattern and achieve the high and noble Destiny intended for us?
... وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ ﴿٧﴾
but for those who believe and work righteous deeds, is Forgiveness, and a magnificent Reward.
أَفَمَن زُيِّنَ لَهُ سُوءُ عَمَلِهِ فَرَآهُ حَسَنًا...
8. Is he, then, to whom the evil of his conduct is made alluring, so that he looks upon it as good (equal to one who is rightly guided)?
C3880. Cf. n. 3877 above.
When a stage is reached at which a man accepts Evil as his Good, his case is hopeless.
Can such a man profit by preaching or guidance?
He has himself deliberately rejected all guidance. Such a man is best left to stray. Perhaps, even in the paths in which he is straying, some sudden flash of light may come to him! That may be as Allah wills in His holy and wise Purpose and Plan.
... فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ يُضِلُّ مَن يَشَاء...
For Allah leaves to stray whom He wills, and guides whom He wills.
... وَيَهْدِي مَن يَشَاء فَلَا تَذْهَبْ نَفْسُكَ عَلَيْهِمْ حَسَرَاتٍ...
So let not thy soul go out in (vainly) sighing after them:
But the prophet of Allah is not to worry or feel disheartened by such men's attitude. He must go on tilling the soil that is open to him. For Allah's Plan may work in all sorts of unexpected ways, as in the allegory in the next verse. (R).
... إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ ﴿٨﴾
for Allah knows well all that they do!
وَاللَّهُ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ الرِّيَاحَ فَتُثِيرُ سَحَابًا...
9. It is Allah Who sends forth the Winds, so that they raise up the Clouds,
C3881. The allegory here is double.
1. Dry, unpromising soil may seem to all intents and purposes dead;
there is no source of water near; moisture is sucked up by the sun's heat in a far-off ocean, and clouds are formed;
winds arise; it seems as if the wind "bloweth as it listeth", but it is really Allah's Providence that drives it to the dead land;
the rain falls, and behold! there is life and motion and beauty everywhere!
So in the spiritual world, Allah's Revelation is His Mercy and His Rain; there may be the individual resurrection (Nushur) or unfolding of a soul.
2. So again, may be the general Resurrection (Nushur), the unfolding of a new World in the Hereafter, out of an old World that is folded up and dead (Takwir, Surah 81).
... فَسُقْنَاهُ إِلَى بَلَدٍ مَّيِّتٍ...
and We drive them to a Land that is dead,
... فَأَحْيَيْنَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا...
and revive the earth therewith after its death:
... كَذَلِكَ النُّشُورُ ﴿٩﴾
even so (will be) the Resurrection!
مَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْعِزَّةَ فَلِلَّهِ الْعِزَّةُ جَمِيعًا...
10. If any do seek for glory and power -- to Allah belong all glory and power.
C3882. Good and Evil are to be distinguished sharply. No good is ever lost: it goes up to Allah. The humblest Good, in word or deed, is exalted to high rank. If man seeks for mere glory and power, there is no such thing apart from Allah. But seeking Allah, we attain to the highest glory and power.
... إِلَيْهِ يَصْعَدُ الْكَلِمُ الطَّيِّبُ وَالْعَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ يَرْفَعُهُ...
To Him mount up (all) Words of Purity:
it is He Who exalts each Deed of Righteousness.
... وَالَّذِينَ يَمْكُرُونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ...
Those that lay Plots of Evil -- for them is a Penalty terrible;
C3883. It is the nature of Evil to work underground, to hide from the Light, to plot against Righteousness; but Evil inevitably carries its own punishment. Its plots must fail miserably. And eventually Evil itself is to be blotted out.
... وَمَكْرُ أُوْلَئِكَ هُوَ يَبُورُ ﴿١٠﴾
and the plotting of such will be void (of result).
وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُم مِّن تُرَابٍ ...
11. And Allah did create you from dust;
Here the argument is that
- man's physical origin is lowly:
- his physical body is but dust;
- his life-sperm issues from a part of his body which he hides and considers as a place of shame; and
- the mystery of sex shows that no one individual among mankind is sufficient in himself.
Glory and power and knowledge are not in him, but in Allah, from Whom alone he derives any glory, or power, or knowledge that he possesses.
... ثُمَّ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ جَعَلَكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا...
then from a sperm-drop;
then He made you in pairs.
C3885. "Then" in this and the following clause refers, not to stages of time, but to stages in the argument.
It is almost equivalent to "further", "also", and "in addition".
... وَمَا تَحْمِلُ مِنْ أُنثَى وَلَا تَضَعُ إِلَّا بِعِلْمِهِ...
And no female conceives, or lays down (her load), but with His knowledge.
... وَمَا يُعَمَّرُ مِن مُّعَمَّرٍ وَلَا يُنقَصُ مِنْ عُمُرِهِ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ...
Nor is a man long-lived granted length of days, nor is a part cut off from his life, but is in a Decree (ordained).
C3886. Things that appear most secret and mysterious to man are all known and ordained by Allah. They are all subject to Allah's Laws and Decrees.
The mystery of human birth (see n. 3625 to 31:34), the mystery of sex, the mystery of Life and Death and many other things, seem to man inexplicable. But they are all ordained by Allah, and their reasons are fully known to Him.
... إِنَّ ذَلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ ﴿١١﴾
All this is easy for Allah.
C3887. Man's knowledge may be acquired laboriously and may be a burden to him. Allah's knowledge is different; it is not task or burden to Him. Cf. 33:19 and 30.
وَمَا يَسْتَوِي الْبَحْرَانِ...
12. Nor are the two bodies of flowing water alike --
The great salt Ocean with its seas and gulfs is all one: and the great masses of sweet water in rivers, lakes, ponds, and underground springs are also one: and each is connected with the other by the constant circulation going on, which sucks up vapours, carries them about in clouds or atmospheric moisture, and again brings them condensed into water or snow or hail to mingle with rivers and streams and get back into the Ocean.
... هَذَا عَذْبٌ فُرَاتٌ سَائِغٌ شَرَابُهُ...
the one palatable, sweet, and pleasant to drink,
... وَهَذَا مِلْحٌ أُجَاجٌ...
and the other, salty and bitter.
... وَمِن كُلٍّ تَأْكُلُونَ لَحْمًا طَرِيًّا ...
Yet from each (kind of water) do ye eat flesh fresh and tender,
Both from the sea and from rivers and lakes we get fish, of which some kinds have a flesh particularly fresh and tender, and of a most delicate flavour.
... وَتَسْتَخْرِجُونَ حِلْيَةً تَلْبَسُونَهَا...
and ye extract ornaments to wear;
C3890. Such as pearls and coral from the sea, and such delicately tinted stones as the Aqiq (carnelian), the agate, the goldstone, or other varieties of quartz pebbles found in river-beds, and considered as gems. Many such are found in the Ken river in Banda District (in India).
Some river sands also yield minute quantities of gold. In large navigable rivers and big Lakes like those of North America, as well as in the sea, there are highways for shipping and commerce. (R).
... وَتَرَى الْفُلْكَ فِيهِ مَوَاخِرَ لِتَبْتَغُوا مِن فَضْلِهِ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ ﴿١٢﴾
and thou seest the ships therein that plough the waves, that ye may seek (thus) of the Bounty of Allah that ye may be grateful.
يُولِجُ اللَّيْلَ فِي النَّهَارِ وَيُولِجُ النَّهَارَ فِي اللَّيْلِ...
13. He merges Night into Day, and He merges Day into Night,
C3891. Cf. 22:61.
The phases of Light in nature may have other uses. But for man they mark periods of rest and activity, and have great influence on his physical, moral, and spiritual life.
... وَسَخَّرَ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ كُلٌّ يَجْرِي لِأَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى...
and He has subjected the sun and the moon (to His Law): each one runs its course for a term appointed.
C3892. Cf. 13:2.
The sun and the moon mark phases of light, and serve man during the periods of the day and the night.
The sun marks the seasons, and is the source of heat and energy and physical life for the whole solar system.
The sun and the moon run according to fixed laws, and they will continue to do so, not for ever, but for the period appointed for their duration by Allah.
... ذَلِكُمُ اللَّهُ رَبُّكُمْ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ...
Such is Allah your Lord: to Him belongs all Dominion.
C3893. Allah's might and majesty, and Allah's goodness and wisdom, having been shown by a few examples, it follows that it is folly to seek or worship any other power but Allah. It only throws off man into false paths, and takes him farther and farther away from the Truth.
... وَالَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِهِ مَا يَمْلِكُونَ مِن قِطْمِيرٍ ﴿١٣﴾
And those whom ye invoke besides Him have not the least power.
C3894. Qitmir: the thin, white skin that covers the date-stone. It has neither strength nor texture, and has no value whatever.
Any one relying on any power other than that of Allah relies on nothing whatever. The Qitmir is worse than the proverbial "broken reed".
إِن تَدْعُوهُمْ لَا يَسْمَعُوا دُعَاءكُمْ...
14. If ye invoke them, they will not listen to your call,
... وَلَوْ سَمِعُوا مَا اسْتَجَابُوا لَكُمْ...
and if they were to listen, they cannot answer your (prayer).
C3895. False or imaginary objects of worship serve no purpose whatever. They cannot hear; if they could hear, they could not grant prayers or petitions.
In fact, if they are real creatures, such as angels or deified human beings, they will very rightly repudiate any such worship as brings them into competition or "partnership" with Allah.
See next note.
... وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يَكْفُرُونَ بِشِرْكِكُمْ...
On the Day of Judgement they will reject your "Partnership."
No false ideas or false impressions will remain when true values are restored. Why not then accept the Truth now in this life, and get on to the true path of Grace?
... وَلَا يُنَبِّئُكَ مِثْلُ خَبِيرٍ ﴿١٤﴾
And none (O man!) can tell thee (the Truth) like the One Who is acquainted with all things.
C3897. None can tell you the Truth better than He Who is All-Wise and All-knowing. Why not accept His Message and receive His guidance?
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَنتُمُ الْفُقَرَاء إِلَى اللَّهِ...
15. O ye men! it is ye that have need of Allah:
... وَاللَّهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ ﴿١٥﴾
but Allah is the One Free of all wants, Worthy of all praise.
C3898. What is man that Allah should care for him, instruct him, and send him special messengers to warn him of danger and harm?
It is man that depends on Allah and has need of Him every moment of his life. Allah has no need of him, but He bestows His Grace on him as on all His creatures, out of His unbounded Mercy and loving-kindness.
If it were Allah's Will, He could blot out man for his rebellion and create an entirely new world.
إِن يَشَأْ يُذْهِبْكُمْ وَيَأْتِ بِخَلْقٍ جَدِيدٍ ﴿١٦﴾
16. If He so pleased, He could blot you out and bring in a New Creation:
وَمَا ذَلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ بِعَزِيزٍ ﴿١٧﴾
17. Nor is that (at all) difficult for Allah.
C3899. There is no limit to Allah's creative power, nor is His creative energy anything rare or unusual. This is the force of the word 'aziz here.
Allah's creative energy is exercised every moment, and it is the normal condition in the universe.
وَلَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَى...
18. Nor can a bearer of burdens bear another's burden.
C3900. Bearer: hamilatun: feminine in Arabic, as referring to the soul (nafs), as in 6:164.
... وَإِن تَدْعُ مُثْقَلَةٌ إِلَى حِمْلِهَا لَا يُحْمَلْ مِنْهُ شَيْءٌ وَلَوْ كَانَ ذَا قُرْبَى...
If one heavily laden should call another to (bear) his load, not the least portion of it can be carried (by the other), even though he be nearly related.
C3901. Natural relationship may be considered as a reasonable cause or opportunity for bearing each other's burdens. For example, a mother or a father might offer to die for her or his child, and vice versa. But this does not apply to spiritual matters. There the responsibility is strictly personal and cannot be transferred to another.
In 29:13 we are told that the misleaders "will bear other burdens along with their own"; but the context shows that the "other" burdens are the burdens of deluding others with their falsehoods. Both sins are their own, viz., their original sin, and the sin of deluding the others. But the responsibility will be doubled.
... إِنَّمَا تُنذِرُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُم بِالغَيْبِ ...
Thou canst but admonish such as fear their Lord unseen
C3902. Bil-gaibi: unseen in the adverbial sense.
The man, who, though he does not see Allah, so realises Allah's Presence in himself as if he saw Him, is the man of genuine Faith, and for him Allah's Revelation comes through many channels and is always fruitful.
... وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ...
and establish regular Prayer
C3903. Prayer is one of the means of purifying ourselves of lower motives in life, for in prayer we seek the Presence of Allah.
... وَمَن تَزَكَّى فَإِنَّمَا يَتَزَكَّى لِنَفْسِهِ ...
and whoever purifies himself does so for the benefit of his own soul;
But the purity which we seek is for our own souls: we confer no favour on Allah or on any Power in the spiritual world, as some imagine who make "gifts" to Allah. In any case the destination of all is to Allah.
... وَإِلَى اللَّهِ الْمَصِيرُ ﴿١٨﴾
and the destination (of all) is to Allah.
وَمَا يَسْتَوِي الْأَعْمَى وَالْبَصِيرُ ﴿١٩﴾
19. The blind and the seeing are not alike;
C3904. Now we are offered some contrasts between those who obey Allah's Law and are thus citizens of Allah's Kingdom and those who are rebels against Allah's Kingdom and are thus outlaws.
How can they be considered alike?
The godly are like those who see, as contrasted with those who are blind; and their motives and actions are like the purest and highest Light, contrasted with the depths of darkness; or,
to take another metaphor, their lives are like the genial and warmth-giving heat of the sun, which benefits all who come within its influence, contrasted with the chilly shadows of gloom in which no vegetation flourishes. (R).
وَلَا الظُّلُمَاتُ وَلَا النُّورُ ﴿٢٠﴾
20. Nor are the depths of Darkness and the Light;
وَلَا الظِّلُّ وَلَا الْحَرُورُ ﴿٢١﴾
21. Nor are the (chilly) shade and the (genial) heat of the sun:
وَمَا يَسْتَوِي الْأَحْيَاء وَلَا الْأَمْوَاتُ...
22. Nor are alike those that are living and those that are dead.
C3905. The final contrast is between the Living and the Dead;
those whose future has in it the promise of growth and fulfilment, and those who are inert and on the road to perish.
With Allah everything is possible: He can give Life to the Dead. But the human Teacher should not expect that people who are (spiritually) dead and buried will by any chance hear his call.
... إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُسْمِعُ مَن يَشَاء...
Allah can make any that He wills to hear;
... وَمَا أَنتَ بِمُسْمِعٍ مَّن فِي الْقُبُورِ ﴿٢٢﴾
but thou canst not make those to hear who are (buried) in graves.
إِنْ أَنتَ إِلَّا نَذِيرٌ ﴿٢٣﴾
23. Thou art no other than a warner.
C3906. The function of a Prophet is to preach Allah's Truth, to point out the right Way, to show men the need of repentance, and to warn them against the dangers which they incur by living a life of evil. He cannot compel them to accept the Truth or listen to the Message.
إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ بِالْحَقِّ بَشِيرًا وَنَذِيرًا...
24. Verily We have sent thee in truth, as a bearer of glad tidings, and as a warner:
C3907. It is Allah Who sends the Revelation. While there is warning in it for the heedless, there is good news for those who listen and repent.
The warning always came to all peoples before punishment.
... وَإِن مِّنْ أُمَّةٍ إِلَّا خلَا فِيهَا نَذِيرٌ ﴿٢٤﴾
and there never was a people, without a warner having lived among them (in the past).
وَإِن يُكَذِّبُوكَ فَقَدْ كَذَّبَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ...
25. And if they reject thee, so did their predecessors,
... جَاءتْهُمْ رُسُلُهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَبِالزُّبُرِ وَبِالْكِتَابِ الْمُنِيرِ ﴿٢٥﴾
to whom came their messengers with Clear Signs, Books of Dark Prophecies, and the Book of Enlightenment.
All spiritual teaching centres round
- the evidences of Allah in our lives,
- the sublime teaching of Prophets of Allah, and
- the rules and laws which guide holy living. (R).
ثُمَّ أَخَذْتُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا...
26. In the end did I punish those who rejected Faith:
... فَكَيْفَ كَانَ نَكِيرِ ﴿٢٦﴾
and how (terrible) was My rejection (of them)!
The rejecters of Allah hardly realise the terrible consequences to them individually and collectively, if Allah's grace is withdrawn from them and they are left to perish in their own sins and wrong-doing.
C.193 (The running Commentary, in Rhythmic Prose)
Man can see by his own experience
What infinite shades and grades and colour
There are in nature. So are there grades
In the spiritual world. The Good and the True
Understand Allah, Who knows and watches
Over all His creatures. The Good will reach
Eternal Bliss. while the Evil will find
No helper. Arrogance and plotting will be
The undoing of Evil; its doom
Is sure, if it fails to profit by the respite
Granted by the All-Merciful Allah.
أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ أَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاء مَاء...
27. Seest thou not that Allah sends down rain from the sky?
... فَأَخْرَجْنَا بِهِ ثَمَرَاتٍ مُّخْتَلِفًا أَلْوَانُهَا...
With it We then bring out produce of various colors.
C3910. Everyone can see how Allah's artistry produces from rain the wonderful variety of crops and fruits-golden, green, red, yellow, and showing all the most beautiful tints we can think of. And each undergoes in nature the gradual shading off in its transformation from the raw stage to the stage of maturity.
... وَمِنَ الْجِبَالِ جُدَدٌ بِيضٌ وَحُمْرٌ مُّخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوَانُهَا وَغَرَابِيبُ سُودٌ ﴿٢٧﴾
And in the mountains are tracts white and red, of various shades of color, and black intense in hue.
C3911. These wonderful colours and shades of colours are to be found not only in vegetation but in rocks and mineral products.
There are the white veins of marble and quartz or of chalk, the red laterite, the blue basaltic rocks, the ink-black flints, and all the variety, shade, and gradation of colours.
Speaking of mountains, we think of their "azure hue" from a distance, due to atmospheric effects, and these atmospheric effects lead our thoughts to the glories of clouds, sunsets, the zodiacal light, the aurora borealis, and all kinds of Nature's gorgeous pageantry,
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ وَالدَّوَابِّ وَالْأَنْعَامِ مُخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوَانُهُ كَذَلِكَ...
28. And so amongst men and crawling creatures and cattle, are they of various colors.
C3912. In the physical shapes of human and animal life, also, we see variations in shades and gradations of colours of all kinds. But these variations and gradations, marvelous though they be, are as nothing compared with the variations and differences in the inner or spiritual world.
See next note.
... إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاء...
Those truly fear Allah, among His Servants, who have knowledge:
C3913. In outer nature we can, through colours, understand and appreciate the finest shades and gradations. But in the spiritual world that variation or gradation is even more subtle and more comprehensive.
Who can truly understand it?
Only Allah's servants, who know, i.e., who have the inner knowledge which comes through their acquaintance with the spiritual world,-it is such people who truly appreciate the inner world, and it is they who know that the fear of Allah is the beginning of wisdom.
For such fear is akin to appreciation and love,
- appreciation of all the marvelous beauties of Allah's outer and inner world ("Allah is Exalted in Might") and
- love because of His Grace and Kindness ("Oft-Forgiving"). But Allah's forgiveness extends to many who do not truly understand Him.
... إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ غَفُورٌ ﴿٢٨﴾
for Allah is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَتْلُونَ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ...
29. Those who rehearse the Book of Allah, establish regular Prayer
... وَأَنفَقُوا مِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ سِرًّا وَعَلَانِيَةً...
and spend (in Charity) out of what We have provided for them, secretly and openly,
C3914. The man of God takes Allah's Revelation ("the Book") to heart, ever seeks to get closer and closer to Allah ("regular Prayer"), and in doing so, is moved more and more to practical Charity for his fellow-creatures.
He is not ashamed of his Charity ("openly"), but he does not do it to be seen by men ("secretly"): he just does what is necessary for his fellow-creatures, whether people talk about it or not.
... يَرْجُونَ تِجَارَةً لَّن تَبُورَ ﴿٢٩﴾
hope for a Commerce that will never fail:
C3915. Here is a metaphor from commerce.
The good man's Charity comes not merely out of superfluities, but out of "what Allah has provided" for him. He therefore recognises two things:
1. that his wealth (literal and metaphorical) is not his absolutely, but that it is given to him by Allah; and
2. that he must deny himself the use of some of it, as a merchant puts by some of his wealth to invest as capital.
Only, the godly man's commerce will never fail or fluctuate; because Allah guarantees him the return, and even adds something to the return out of His own Bounty. That is, Allah gives more than ever our merits deserve.
لِيُوَفِّيَهُمْ أُجُورَهُمْ وَيَزِيدَهُم مِّن فَضْلِهِ...
30. For He will pay them their meed, nay, He will give them (even) more out of His Bounty;
... إِنَّهُ غَفُورٌ ...
for He is Oft-Forgiving,
C3916. No man is perfect. Everyone has his fault. But when a man tries his best in the service of Allah, his faults are blotted out, and he is treated as if he had committed no faults: "for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, and ready to appreciate service".
... شَكُورٌ ﴿٣٠﴾
Most Ready to appreciate (service).
Allah is ready to recognise, appreciate, and reward the smallest service, without regard to the defects in that service. His gracious acceptance is compared to "gratitude" among men.
وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ هُوَ الْحَقُّ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ...
31. That which We have revealed to thee of the Book is the Truth -- confirming what was (revealed) before it:
... إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِعِبَادِهِ لَخَبِيرٌ بَصِيرٌ ﴿٣١﴾
for Allah is assuredly -- with respect to His servants -- well acquainted and Fully-Observant.
C3918. All Revelation is one. The Quran therefore confirms the main and uncorrupted features of previous revelations.
It must be so, because Allah is fully cognizant of the needs of every age and people; and therefore His Message, while it meets those needs, must in essence be the same. His Messengers did not meet each other as men; but their contact with Allah through inspiration unified their Message. And He cares for and watches over all men, and He knows fully what their needs are, even better than they know themselves.
ثُمَّ أَوْرَثْنَا الْكِتَابَ الَّذِينَ اصْطَفَيْنَا مِنْ عِبَادِنَا...
32. Then We have given the Book for inheritance to such of Our servants as We have chosen:
C3919. The force of "then" is that of finality.
The Quran is that last Book revealed, Or
it may be here to point the contrast between "to thee" in the last verse, i.e., the holy Prophet, in contradistinction to the People of Islam, who inherited the Book after him.
... فَمِنْهُمْ ظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ...
but there are among them some who wrong their own souls;
C3920. The custodians of the Quran after the holy Prophet were the People of Islam. They were chosen for the Book, not in any narrow sense, but in the sense that the Book was given for their age and they were charged to obey it and preserve and propagate it, so that all mankind should receive the Message. But it does not follow that they are all true and faithful to their charge, as indeed we see too painfully around us to-day.
Just as mankind was chosen collectively to be Vicegerents and yet some among mankind fell into evil,-even so, some in the house of Islam fail to follow the Light given to them, and thus "wrong their own souls".
... وَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ...
some who follow a middle course;
But some follow a middle course:
in their case "the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak": their intentions are good, but they have much to learn yet of the true Muslim life and Muslim virtues.
... وَمِنْهُمْ سَابِقٌ بِالْخَيْرَاتِ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ...
and some who are, by Allah's leave, foremost in good deeds;
Then there is a third class: they may not indeed be perfect, but both their intentions and their conduct are sound, and they form an example to other men: they are "foremost" in every good deed.
They are so, not by their own merits, but by the Grace of Allah. And they have reached the highest Achievement,- the salvation, which is typified by the various metaphors that follow.
... ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْفَضْلُ الْكَبِيرُ ﴿٣٢﴾
that is the highest Grace.
جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ يَدْخُلُونَهَا ...
33. Gardens of Eternity will they enter:
C3921. "The Garden" signifies their environment:
all they see about them will give them comfort, rest, and satisfaction, and a feeling of beauty and dignity.
... يُحَلَّوْنَ فِيهَا مِنْ أَسَاوِرَ مِن ذَهَبٍ وَلُؤْلُؤًا...
therein will they be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls;
The jewels and clothes signify their personal external state:
here, again, everything will give them a sense of beauty and dignity, comfort, rest, and satisfaction.
And finally, most important of all, comes their internal state, where again they will have the same sense of beauty, dignity, comfort, rest, and satisfaction: this is indicated by their words of Praise (verses 34-35).
... وَلِبَاسُهُمْ فِيهَا حَرِيرٌ ﴿٣٣﴾
and their garments there will be of silk.
وَقَالُوا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَذْهَبَ عَنَّا الْحَزَنَ...
34. And they will say:
"Praise be to Allah, Who has removed from us (all) sorrow:
... إِنَّ رَبَّنَا لَغَفُورٌ شَكُورٌ ﴿٣٤﴾
for Our Lord is indeed Oft-Forgiving, Ready to appreciate (service):
C3923. Cf. above. 35:30.
Note how beautifully the argument is rounded off.
In verse 30 they were told that "Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Ready to appreciate service".
Now they have reached the Goal, and they have found the Promise profoundly true. All their hopes are fulfilled, and their sorrows ended.
الَّذِي أَحَلَّنَا دَارَ الْمُقَامَةِ مِن فَضْلِهِ...
35. "Who has, out of His bounty, settled us in a Home that will last:
... لَا يَمَسُّنَا فِيهَا نَصَبٌ وَلَا يَمَسُّنَا فِيهَا لُغُوبٌ ﴿٣٥﴾
no toil nor sense of weariness shall touch us therein."
C3924. In case it should be thought that perpetual happiness might cloy or be dull, as would be the case in this life, it is added-as the experience of those who attain that state-that it is not so on that plane of existence. Not only is there Joy, but it remains fresh and leads to no weariness.
وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَهُمْ نَارُ جَهَنَّمَ...
36. But those who reject (Allah) -- for them will be the Fire of Hell:
C3925. The "Fire" is the opposite to the "Garden".
- Instead of there being comfort, rest, and satisfaction in their environment, there will be pain, suffering and anguish.
- Instead of there being dignity there will be humiliation. And there will be no hope of its termination or abatement, not even a hope of annihilation.
... لَا يُقْضَى عَلَيْهِمْ فَيَمُوتُوا وَلَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُم مِّنْ عَذَابِهَا...
no term shall be determined for them, so they should die, nor shall its Penalty be lightened for them:
... كَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي كُلَّ كَفُورٍ ﴿٣٦﴾
thus do We reward every ungrateful one!
وَهُمْ يَصْطَرِخُونَ فِيهَا...
37. Therein will they cry aloud (for assistance):
... رَبَّنَا أَخْرِجْنَا ...
"Our Lord! bring us out:
C3926. Cf. 23:107.
Not only will their surroundings be the opposite of those in Heaven: their internal state will be one of humiliation, of piteous and fruitless appeals, of vain regrets for a past that cannot be recalled, and vain sights for a future whose gates they have themselves barred.
If they were sent back, they would relapse to their sins. Cf. 6:28.
... نَعْمَلْ صَالِحًا غَيْرَ الَّذِي كُنَّا نَعْمَلُ...
we shall work righteousness, not the (deeds) we used to do!"
C3927. Cf. 7:53.
Their hankering after another chance, after having deliberately rejected all chances, will have no basis of reason in it.
... أَوَلَمْ نُعَمِّرْكُم مَّا يَتَذَكَّرُ فِيهِ مَن تَذَكَّرَ وَجَاءكُمُ النَّذِيرُ...
Did we not give you long enough life so that he that would should receive admonition?
And (moreover) the warner came to you.
... فَذُوقُوا ...
So taste ye (the fruit of your deeds):
... فَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِن نَّصِيرٍ ﴿٣٧﴾
for the Wrongdoers there is no helper."
C3928. They had a long enough respite for repentance and amendment. And moreover, besides all the other sources, in nature, history, and their own hearts, by which they could learn of the Right, they had the actual teaching and warning of a messenger whose words spoke direct to them. In the circumstances the Penalty is only the fruit of their own conduct.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَالِمُ غَيْبِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ...
38. Verily Allah knows (all) the hidden things of the heavens and the earth:
C3929. Everything that exists is known to Allah: not only concrete things, but feelings, motives, plans, and acts of the will in the human breast.
... إِنَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ ﴿٣٨﴾
verily He has full knowledge of all that is in (men's) hearts.
هُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَكُمْ خَلَائِفَ فِي الْأَرْضِ...
39. He it is that has made you inheritors in the earth:
C3930. inheritors: khalaif. In two senses:
1. as Vicegerents on earth, and
2. as successors to previous people who forfeited their rights by wrong-doing.
The honour and dignity of 1 and the examples of the past in 2 should have kept them straight and made them truly grateful.
... فَمَن كَفَرَ فَعَلَيْهِ كُفْرُهُ...
if, then, any do reject (Allah), their rejection (works) against themselves:
C3931. Their rejection and ingratitude only causes injury to themselves. They lose all honour and incur odium in the sight of Allah, and they complete their own undoing.
... وَلَا يَزِيدُ الْكَافِرِينَ كُفْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ إِلَّا مَقْتًا...
their rejection but adds to the odium for the Unbelievers in the sight of their Lord:
... وَلَا يَزِيدُ الْكَافِرِينَ كُفْرُهُمْ إِلَّا خَسَارًا ﴿٣٩﴾
their rejection but adds to (their own) undoing.
قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ شُرَكَاءكُمُ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ...
"Have ye seen (these) 'partners' of yours whom ye call upon besides Allah?"
C3932. The people who enthrone in their hearts for worship anything besides Allah may well be asked a few questions. Some of such questions are indicated in the text with terse precision:
1. Have you seen these gods of yours?
Do they exist?
"Seeing" of course does not necessarily mean physical sight. We do not see the air, but no one doubts that it exists. And the air is a physical substance. There are forces that we know exist, but we do not see them. To us, who have Faith, Allah is a truer Reality than anything else that we know, including ourselves.
Can the false worshippers say that of any of their false gods?
2. Have your gods created or originated anything on earth?
You may worship power or wealth, but that is a scramble for things as between selfish men. Power or wealth does not create new men or new worlds.
3. Have they a share in the ordering of the heavens?
Obviously your false gods fail there.
4. Or have these false gods a book or revelation from the Supreme God, with clear evidence, to give them authority to teach men?
The Prophets or Messengers of Allah have such authority, and they bring evidence of the One True God.
The fact is that falsehood is falsehood, however much one form of it may support another by delusions.
... أَرُونِي مَاذَا خَلَقُوا مِنَ الْأَرْضِ...
Show me what it is they have created in the (wide) earth.
... أَمْ لَهُمْ شِرْكٌ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ...
Or have they a share in the heavens?
... أَمْ آتَيْنَاهُمْ كِتَابًا فَهُمْ عَلَى بَيِّنَةٍ مِّنْهُ...
Or have We given them a Book from which they (can derive) clear (evidence)? --
... بَلْ إِن يَعِدُ الظَّالِمُونَ بَعْضُهُم بَعْضًا إِلَّا غُرُورًا ﴿٤٠﴾
Nay, the wrongdoers promise each other nothing but delusions.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُمْسِكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ أَن تَزُولَا...
41. It is Allah Who sustains the heavens and the earth, lest they cease (to function):
C3933. The universe, as we know it, shows not only evidence of initial designs, but also the working of the Creator who constantly sustains it.
That is Allah.
If you could imagine that removed, what is there to keep it going? There would only be chaos.
... وَلَئِن زَالَتَا إِنْ أَمْسَكَهُمَا مِنْ أَحَدٍ مِّن بَعْدِهِ...
and if they should fail, there is none -- not one -- can sustain them thereafter:
... إِنَّهُ كَانَ حَلِيمًا غَفُورًا ﴿٤١﴾
verily He is Most Forbearing, Oft-Forgiving.
C3934. Allah's world goes on according to the laws and decrees established by Him. There are occasional lapses and deviations on the part of His creatures. But He does not punish every petty fault.
One of His merciful qualities is that of repeated forbearance and forgiveness.
وَأَقْسَمُوا بِاللَّهِ جَهْدَ أَيْمَانِهِمْ...
42. They swore their strongest oaths by Allah
... لَئِن جَاءهُمْ نَذِيرٌ لَّيَكُونُنَّ أَهْدَى مِنْ إِحْدَى الْأُمَمِ... ...
that if a warner came to them, they would follow his guidance better than any (other) of the Peoples:
C3935. Cf. 6:157.
In the first instance this referred to the Quraish.
Their attitude to the People of the Book had been one of lofty superiority or of insincere excuses. They twitted the Jews and Christians with deviating from their own lights and their own revelations; and for themselves, they said they had received no direct revelation from Allah, or they would have shown themselves the most amenable to discipline, the most ready to follow Allah's Law. This was before the holy Prophet received his mission from Allah.
When he received it and announced it, they turned away from it, They fled from it and put a greater and greater distance between it and themselves.
But this is the way of all sinners. They find much to carp at in others, and much to excuse in themselves. But when all grounds for excuse are removed, they will be found, not nearer, but farther and farther away from truth and righteousness.
... فَلَمَّا جَاءهُمْ نَذِيرٌ مَّا زَادَهُمْ إِلَّا نُفُورًا ﴿٤٢﴾
but when a warner came to them, it has only increased their flight (from righteousness) --
اسْتِكْبَارًا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَمَكْرَ السَّيِّئِ...
43. On account of their arrogance in the land and their plotting of Evil.
C3936. Two causes are mentioned why the Truth is refused acceptance.
1. Unregenerate man is arrogant, and Truth and Righteousness expose all his pretences.
2. He hopes, by underhand plots, to undermine Truth and destroy it; but he is caught in his own snares, while Truth marches forward triumphant.
... وَلَا يَحِيقُ الْمَكْرُ السَّيِّئُ إِلَّا بِأَهْلِهِ...
But the plotting of Evil will hem in only the authors thereof.
... فَهَلْ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَّا سُنَّتَ الْأَوَّلِينَ...
Now are they but looking for the way the ancients were dealt with?
C3937. In all history, men who followed evil were dealt with in three stages by Allah:
1. He was forbearing and merciful, and gave them respite;
2. He sent them admonition through Ms Messengers, or His Signs, or His revelation;
3. He dealt out justice and punishment.
At any given moment, those given to iniquity may well be asked: "Are you going to wait through all these stages or are you going at once to repent, obtain forgiveness, and walk in the ways of righteousness?"
... فَلَن تَجِدَ لِسُنَّتِ اللَّهِ تَبْدِيلًا...
But no change wilt thou find in Allah's way (of dealing):
C3938. Allah's Laws are fixed, and His ways of dealing with those who follow iniquity are the same in all ages.
Our human will may falter or turn away from its course, but Allah's Will ever follows its course and cannot be turned away by any cause whatever.
... وَلَن تَجِدَ لِسُنَّتِ اللَّهِ تَحْوِيلًا ﴿٤٣﴾
no turning off wilt thou find in Allah's way (of dealing).
أَوَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَيَنظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ...
44. Do they not travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those before them --
C3939. Cf. 30:9.
If no other argument will convince men who follow evil, let them travel through space or time, and learn from the experience of others. Evil always came to an evil end. Let not any one individual or generation think that it could escape by some special trick or power. Far wiser and more powerful men were personally brought to account for their iniquities.
... وَكَانُوا أَشَدَّ مِنْهُمْ قُوَّةً...
though they were superior to them in strength?
... وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُعْجِزَهُ مِن شَيْءٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ...
Nor is Allah to be frustrated by anything whatever in the heavens or on earth:
... إِنَّهُ كَانَ عَلِيمًا قَدِيرًا ﴿٤٤﴾
for He is All-Knowing, All-Powerful.
وَلَوْ يُؤَاخِذُ اللَّهُ النَّاسَ بِمَا كَسَبُوا ...
45. If Allah were to punish men according to what they deserve,
C3940. Cf. 16:61.
There would be no salvation for any of us if we went merely on our deserts. It is Allah's mercy that saves us and helps us to a better and better life until we attain the goal of our existence.
... مَا تَرَكَ عَلَى ظَهْرِهَا مِن دَابَّةٍ...
He would not leave on the back of the (earth) a single living creature:
C3941. A single living creature. This may refer to man, the living crawling creature, with so many possibilities and yet so many weaknesses.
But it may mean all creatures literally, as the life of this planet more or less centres round the life of man. He has been given dominion on this earth, and in his state of purity he is Allah's vicegerent.
... وَلَكِن يُؤَخِّرُهُمْ إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى...
but He gives them respite for a stated Term:
... فَإِذَا جَاء أَجَلُهُمْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِعِبَادِهِ بَصِيرًا ﴿٤٥﴾
when their Term expires, verily Allah has in His sight all His servants.
C3942. Has in His sight all creatures: i.e., to deal with, according to His laws of Forbearance, Mercy and Justice:
see n. 3937 above.
The respite does not mean that any one escapes Hiis vigilant eye. All will be dealt with according to their deeds, with justice tempered with Mercy.