GOD - there is no deity save Him, the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsistent Fount of All Being. Neither slumber overtakes Him, nor sleep. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth. Who is there that could intercede with Him, unless it be by His leave? He knows all that lies open before men and all that is hidden from them,247
whereas they cannot attain to aught of His knowledge save that which He wills [them to attain]. His eternal power248
overspreads the heavens and the earth, and their upholding wearies Him not. And He alone is truly exalted, tremendous.
Lit., "that which is between their hands and that which is behind them". The commentators give most conflicting interpretations to this phrase. Thus, for instance, Mujahid and 'Ata' assume that "that which is between their hands" means "that which has happened to them in this world", while "that which is behind them" is an allusion to "that which will happen to them in the next world"; Ad-Dahhak and Al-Kalbi, on the other hand, assume the exact opposite and say that "that which is between their hands" refers to the next world, "because they are going towards it", while "that which is behind them" means this world, "because they are leaving it behind" (Razi). Another explanation is "that which took place before them and that which will take place after them" (Zamakhshari). It would seem, however, that in all these interpretations the obvious meaning of the idiomatic expression ma bayna yadayhi ("that which lies open between one's hands") is lost sight of: namely, that which is evident, or known, or perceivable; similarly, ma khalfahu means that which is beyond one's ken or perception. Since the whole tenor of the above Qur'an-verse relates to God's omnipotence and omniscience, the translation given by me seems to be the most appropriate.
Lit., "His seat [of power]". Some of the commentators (e.g., Zamakhshari) interpret this as "His sovereignty" or "His dominion", while others take it to mean "His knowledge" (see Muhammad 'Abduh in Manar III, 33); Razi inclines to the view that this word denotes God's majesty and indescribable, eternal glory.