Note Number : 1870It 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.
Note Number : 1871In this and the next verse where the sentence is completed, three qualities of Allah are mentioned, viz., (1) His exalted position above all Creation; (2) His goodness, which entitles Him, and Him alone, to Praise- and (3) 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.
Note Number : 1872See 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!
Note Number : 1873The Unbelievers are here characterised 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. vii. 45). But in doing so, they go farther and farther from the Truth.
Note Number : 1874If 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 Qur-an is marvellous. It is for the simplest as well as the most advanced.
Note Number : 1875'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.
Note Number : 1876"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 ii. 30-61 and on other places.
Note Number : 1877Sabbar is the intensive form, and includes all the ideas implied in Sabr (ii. 45 and n. 61, and ii. 153 n. 157) in an intensive degree. 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.
Note Number : 1878Cf. ii. 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.
Note Number : 1879The various shades of meaning in Shakara are explained in n. 1877 above. Kafara implies: (1) to reject Faith, as in ii. 6 and n. 30; (2) to be ungrateful for mercies and favours received, as here; (3) to resist Allah or Faith, as in iii. 13; (4) to deny (the Signs of Allah), as in iii. 21, or deny the mission of Messengers, as in xiv. 9. Kafir in the most general sense may be translated "Unbeliever".
Note Number : 1880Ingratitude not only in feeling or words, but in disobedience, and wilful 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.
Note Number : 1881Cf- xxii. 64, xxix. 6, xxv. 15, lxvii. 38.
Note Number : 1882Even 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.
Note Number : 1883That 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.
Note Number : 1884Cf. xi. 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 lii. 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.
Note Number : 1885The 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."
Note Number : 1886Infidelity 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.
Note Number : 1887The 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.
Note Number : 1888"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."
Note Number : 1889Cf. viii. 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."
Note Number : 1890Cf. xi. 59.
Note Number : 1891A 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.
Note Number : 1892Note 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?
Note Number : 1893Haqq: 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. vi. 73.
Note Number : 1894'Aziz: great, mighty, excellent, powerful, rare, precious.
Note Number : 1895When 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 (ii. 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 xiv. 22 below) is frank, cynical and brutal.
Note Number : 1896Those 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!
Note Number : 1897After 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.'
Note Number : 1898See the last note. An alternative interpretation of this sentence may be: "I had already beforehand rebelled against Allah with Whom ye associated me."
Note Number : 1899How this contrasts with the misery and the mutual self-recriminations of the ungodly!
Note Number : 1900"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.
Note Number : 1901The goodly tree is known for: (1) its beauty; it gives pleasure to all who see it; (2) its stability; it remains firm and unshaken in storms, because its roots are firmly fixed in the earth; (3) 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 (4) 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. Cf. the New Testament Parable of the Sower (Matt. iv. 14-20) or of the Mustard-seed (Matt. iv. 30- 32). In this Parable of the Qur-an there are fewer words and more spiritual meaning, and the emphasis is on more essential things.
Note Number : 1902The 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.
Note Number : 1903His 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.
Note Number : 1904There 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 Sura 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!
Note Number : 1905Putting ourselves back in the position in which the Muslim community found themselves in Makkah just before the Hijrat, 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 tranquillity in prayer and in helping each other according to their needs and resources.
Note Number : 1906Here, 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 organised, so that all the needy could know where to go to be relieved.
Note Number : 1907The 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 inlcudes 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.
Note Number : 1908We 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 (1) he has got these gifts from Allah, and (2) 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 (ii. 30); Allah commanded the highest creatures to bow down to Adam (ii. 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).
Note Number : 1909The sun gives out heat, which is the source of all life and energy on this planet, and produces the seasons of the year, by utilising 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.
Note Number : 1910Sincere and true prayer in faith is answered by Allah. Thus He gives us everything which a wise and benevolent Providence can give.
Note Number : 1911I 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.
Note Number : 1912This 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, xiv. 31-34, viz., how the new Revelation through the Ka'ba 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.
Note Number : 1913Cf. ii. 125-129. Abraham (with Isma'il) built the Ka'ba, and Abraham asks a blessing on his handiwork and forgiveness for such lapses into idolatry as both branches of his family might fall into.
Note Number : 1914The 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.
Note Number : 1915Cf. ii. 126, and n. 128. (The "Fruits" are there explained). 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.
Note Number : 1916In 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.
Note Number : 1917Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born (Gen. xxi. 5); and as Isma'il was 13 years old when Abraham was 99. (Gen. xvii. 24-25), 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.
Note Number : 1918Abraham prays for both branches of his family, having a wider vision than some of the later Children of Israel.
Note Number : 1919Read 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.
Note Number : 1920For the shades of meaning in the different words for Forgiveness, see n. 110 to ii. 109.
Note Number : 1921My parents. Abraham's father was an idolater (xliii. 26; vi. 74). Not only that, but he persecuted the Faith of Unity and threatened Abraham with stoning and exile (xix. 46); and he and his people cast him into the Fire to be burned (xxi. 52, 68). Yet Abraham's heart was tender, and he prayed for forgiveness for his father because of a promise which he had made (ix. 114), though he renounced the land of his fathers (Chaldea).
Note Number : 1922At 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.
Note Number : 1923A 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.
Note Number : 1924Zawal = 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.
Note Number : 1925"A new earth and a new heaven" refers to the entirely changed conditions at the end of things as we know them. Cf. xx. 105-107, xxxix. 67, 69, lxxiii. 14, lxxxii. 1, lxxxiv. 3.
Note Number : 1926Cf. xxxvi. 8, Ix. 71, lxix. 30.
Note Number : 1927Sirbal,- 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.
Note Number : 1928Qatiran: 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 (Sarabil) 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.
Note Number : 1929Its deserts: i.e., according to what it earned by its own acts, good or evil, in its life of probation.
Note Number : 1930Swift 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 (xiv. 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 (xvi. 77).
Note Number : 1931Here 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.