(Inevitable) cometh (to pass) the Command of Allah: seek ye not then to hasten it: glory to Him and far is He above having the partners they ascribe unto Him! 2019
He doth send down His angels with inspiration of His Command to such of His servants as He pleaseth (saying): "Warn (Man) that there is no god but I: so do your duty unto Me." 2020
He has created the heavens and the earth for just ends: far is He above having the partners they ascribe to Him! 2021
He has created man from a sperm drop; and behold this same (man) becomes an open disputer! 2022
And cattle He has created for you (men): from them ye derive warmth and numerous benefits and of their (meat) ye eat. 2023 2024
And ye have a sense of pride and beauty in them as ye drive them home in the evening and as ye lead them forth to pasture in the morning. 2025
And they carry your heavy loads to lands that ye could not (otherwise) reach except with souls distressed: for your Lord is indeed Most Kind Most Merciful. 2026
And (He has created) horses mules and donkeys for you to ride and use for show; and He has created (other) things of what ye have no knowledge. 2027 2028
And unto Allah leads straight the Way but there are ways that turn aside: if Allah had willed He could have guided all of you. 2029
It is He Who sends down rain from the sky: from it ye drink and out of it (grows) the vegetation on which ye feed your cattle.
With it He produces for you corn olives date-palms grapes and every kind of fruit: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought. 2030
He has made subject to you the Night and the Day; the Sun and the Moon; and the Stars are in subjection by His Command: verily in this are Signs for men who are wise. 2031
And the things on this earth which He has multiplied in varying colors (and qualities): verily in this is a Sign for men who celebrate the praises of Allah (in gratitude). 2032 2033
It is He Who has made the sea subject that ye may eat thereof flesh that is fresh and tender and that ye may extract therefrom ornaments to wear; and thou seest the ships therein that plough the waves that ye may seek (thus) of the bounty of Allah and that ye may be grateful. 2034 2035 2036 2037
And He has set up on the earth mountains standing firm lest it should shake with you; and rivers and roads; that ye may guide yourselves 2038 2039
And marks and signposts; and by the stars (men) guide themselves. 2040
Is then He Who creates like one that creates not? Will ye not receive admonition? 2041
If ye would count up the favors of Allah never would ye be able to number them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. 2042
And Allah doth know what ye conceal and what ye reveal.
Those whom they invoke besides Allah create nothing and are themselves created. 2043
(They are things) dead lifeless: nor do thy know when they will be raised up. 2044
Your Allah is One Allah: as to those who believe not in the Hereafter their hearts refuse to know and they are arrogant. 2045
Undoubtedly Allah doth know what they conceal and what they reveal: verily He loveth not the arrogant. 2046
When it is said to them "What is it that your Lord has revealed?" They say "Tales of the ancients!" 2047
Let them bear on the Day of Judgment their own burdens in full and also (something) of the burdens of those without knowledge whom they misled. Alas how grievous the burdens they will bear! 2048
Those before them did also plot (against Allah's Way): but Allah took their structures from their foundations and the roof fell down on them from above; and the Wrath seized them from directions they did not perceive. 2049
Then on the Day of Judgment He will cover them with shame and say: "Where are My `partners' concerning whom ye used to dispute (with the godly)?" Those endued with knowledge will say: "This Day indeed are the Unbelievers covered with Shame and Misery 2050
"(Namely) those whose lives the angels take in a state of wrongdoing to their own souls. Then would they offer submission (with the pretence) `We did no evil (knowingly).' " (The angels will reply) "Nay but verily Allah knoweth all that ye did; 2051 2052
"So enter the gates of Hell to dwell therein. Thus evil indeed is the abode of the arrogant."
To the righteous (when) it is said "What is it that your Lord has revealed?" they say "All that is good." To those who do good there is good in this world and the Home of the Hereafter is even better. And excellent indeed is the Home of the righteous 2053 2054
Gardens of Eternity which they will enter: beneath them flow (pleasant) rivers: they will have therein all that they wish: thus doth Allah reward the righteous
(Namely) those whose lives the angels take in a state of purity saying (to them) "Peace be on you; enter ye the Garden because of the good which ye did (in the world)." 2055
Do the (ungodly) wait until the angels come to them or there comes the Command of thy Lord (for their doom)? So did those who went before them. But Allah wronged them not: nay they wronged their own souls. 2056
But the evil results of their deeds overtook them and that very (Wrath) at which they had scoffed hemmed them in.
The worshippers of false gods say: "If Allah had so willed we should not have worshipped aught but Him neither we nor our fathers nor should we have prescribed prohibitions other than His." So did those who went before them. But what is the mission of apostles but to preach the Clear Message? 2057 2058 2059
For We assuredly sent amongst every People an apostle (with the Command) "Serve Allah and eschew Evil": of the people were some whom Allah guided and some on whom Error became inevitably (established). So travel through the earth and see what was the end of those who denied (the Truth). 2060 2061
If thou art anxious for their guidance yet Allah guideth not such as He leaves to stray and there is none to help them. 2062
They swear their strongest oaths by Allah that Allah will not raise up those who die: Nay but it is a promise (binding) on Him in truth: but most among mankind realize it not. 2063 2064
(They must be raised up) in order that He may manifest to them the truth of that wherein they differ and that the rejecters of Truth may realize that they had indeed (surrendered to) Falsehood. 2065
For to anything which We have willed We but say the Word "Be" and it is. 2066
To those who leave their homes in the cause of Allah after suffering oppression We will assuredly give a goodly home in this world: but truly the reward of the Hereafter will be greater if they only realize (this)! 2067
(They are) those who persevere in patience and put their trust on their Lord.
And before thee also the apostles We sent were but men to whom We granted inspiration: if ye realize this not ask of those who possess the Message. 2068 2069
(We sent them) with Clear Signs and Books of dark prophecies; and We have sent down unto thee (also) the Message; that thou mayest explain clearly to men what is sent for them and that they may give thought. 2070
Do then those who devise evil (plots) feel secure that Allah will not cause the earth to swallow them up or that the Wrath will not seize them from directions they little perceive? 2071
Or that He may not call them to account in the midst of their goings to and fro without a chance of their frustrating Him? 2072
Or that He may not call them to account by a process of slow wastage--for thy Lord is indeed full of kindness and mercy. 2073
Do they not look at Allah's creation (even) among (inanimate) things how their (very) shadows turn round from the right and the left prostrating themselves to Allah and that in the humblest manner? 2074
And to Allah doth obeisance all that is in the heavens and on earth whether moving (living) creatures or the angels: for none are arrogant (before their Lord). 2075
They all revere their Lord high above them and they do all that they are commanded. 2076
Allah has said: "Take not (for worship) two gods: for He is just One Allah: then fear Me (and Me alone)." 2077
To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and on earth and to Him is duty due always: then will ye fear other than Allah? 2078
And ye have no good thing but is from Allah: and moreover when ye are touched by distress unto Him ye cry with groans; 2079
Yet when He removes the distress from you behold! some of you turn to other gods to join with their Lord
(As if) to show their ingratitude for the favors We have bestowed on them! Then enjoy (your brief day); but soon will ye know (your folly)!
And they (even assign to things they do not know a portion out of that which we have bestowed for their sustenance! By Allah ye shall certainly be called to account for your false inventions. 2080 2081
And they assign daughters for Allah! Glory be to Him! and for themselves (sons the issue) they desire! 2082
When news is brought to one of them of (the birth of) a female (child) his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief!
With shame does he hide himself from his people because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain it on (sufferance and) contempt or bury it in the dust? Ah! what an evil (choice) they decide on! 2083 2084 2085
To those who believe not in the Hereafter applies the similitude of evil: to Allah applies the highest similitude: for He is the Exalted in Power Full of Wisdom. 2086
If Allah were to punish men for their wrongdoing He would not leave on the (earth) a single living creature: but He gives them respite for a stated term: when their term expires they would not be able to delay (the punishment) for a single hour just as they would not be able to anticipate it (for a single hour). 2087
They attribute to Allah what they hate (for themselves) and their tongues assert the falsehood that all good things are for themselves: without doubt for them is the fire and they will be the first to be hastened on into it! 2088 2089
By Allah We (also) sent (our apostles) to peoples before thee; but Satan made (to the wicked) their own acts seem alluring: he is also their patron today but they shall have a most grievous Penalty. 2090
And We sent down the Book to thee for the express purpose that thou shouldst make clear to them those things in which they differ and that it should be a guide and a mercy to those who believe. 2091
And Allah sends down rain from the skies and gives therewith life to the earth after its death: verily in this is a Sign for those who listen. 2092
And verily in cattle (too) will ye find an instructive Sign. From what is within their bodies between excretions and blood We produce for your drink milk pure and agreeable to those who drink it. 2093 2094 2095
And from the fruit of the date-palm and the vine ye get out wholesome drink and food: behold in this also is a Sign for those who are wise. 2096
And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills on trees and in (men's) habitations; 2097
Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth) and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colors wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought. 2098 2099
It is Allah who creates you and takes your souls at death; and of you there are some who are sent back to a feeble age so that they know nothing after having known (much): for Allah is All-Knowing All-Powerful. 2100 2101
Allah has bestowed His gifts of sustenance more freely on some of you than on others; those more favored are not going to throw back their gifts to those whom their right hands possess so as to be equal in that respect. Will they then deny the favors of Allah? 2102
And Allah has made for you mates (and companions) of your own nature. And made for you out of them sons and daughters and grandchildren and provided for you sustenance of the best: will they then believe in vain things and be ungrateful for Allah's favors? 2103 2104
And worship others than Allah such as have no power of providing them for sustenance with anything in heavens or earth and cannot possibly have such power? 2105
Invent not similitudes for Allah: for Allah knoweth and ye know not. 2106
Allah sets forth the Parable (of two men: one) a slave under the dominion of another; he has no power of any sort; and (the other) a man on whom We have bestowed goodly favors from ourselves and he spends thereof (freely) privately and publicly: are the two equal? (By no means); praise be to Allah. But most of them understand not. 2107
Allah sets forth (another) Parable of two men: one of them dumb with no power of any sort; a wearisome burden is he to his master; whichever way he directs him he brings no good: is such a man equal with one who commands justice and is on a straight way? 2108 2109
To Allah belongeth the mystery of the heavens and the earth. And the decision of the Hour (of Judgment) is as the twinkling of an eye or even quicker: for Allah hath power over all things. 2110 2111
It is He Who brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers when ye knew nothing; and He gave you hearing and sight and intelligence and affections: that ye may give thanks (to Allah). 2112
Do they not look at the birds held poised in the midst of (the air and) the sky? Nothing holds them up but (the power of) Allah. Verily in this are Signs for those who believe. 2113
It is Allah who made your habitations homes of rest and quiet for you; and made for you out of the skins of animals (tents for) dwellings which ye find so light (and handy) when ye travel and when ye stop (in your travels); and out of their wool and their soft fibers (between wool and hair) and their hair rich stuff and articles of convenience (to serve you) for a time. 2114 2115 2116 2117
It is Allah who made out of the things He created some things to give you shade; of the hills He made some for your shelter; He made you garments to protect you from heat and coats of mail to protect you from your (mutual) violence. Thus does He complete his favors on you that ye may bow to His will (in Islam). 2118 2119 2120
But if they turn away thy duty is only to preach the clear message.
They recognize the favors of Allah; then they deny them; and most of them are (creatures) ungrateful. 2121
One day We shall raise from all peoples a witness: then will no excuse be accepted from Unbelievers nor will they receive any favors. 2122
When the wrongdoers (actually) see the Penalty then will it in no way be mitigated nor will they then receive respite. 2123
When those who gave partners to Allah will see their "partners" they will say: "Our Lord! these are our `partners' those whom we used to invoke besides thee." But they will throw back their word at them (and say): "Indeed ye are liars!" 2124
That day shall they (openly) show (their) submission to Allah; and all their inventions shall leave them in the lurch. 2125
Those who reject Allah and hinder (men) from the path of Allah for them will We add Penalty to Penalty; for that they used to spread mischief.
One day We shall raise from all peoples a witness against them from amongst themselves: and We shall bring thee as a witness against these (thy people): and We have sent down to thee the Book explaining all things a guide a Mercy and glad tidings to Muslims. 2126
Allah commands justice the doing of good and liberality to kith and kin and He forbids all shameful deeds and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you that ye may receive admonition. 2127
Fulfil the covenant of Allah when ye have entered into it and break not your oaths after ye have confirmed them; indeed ye have made Allah your surety; for Allah knoweth all that ye do. 2128
And be not like a woman who breaks into untwisted strands the yarn which she has spun after it has become strong. Nor take your oaths to practice deception between yourselves lest one party should be more numerous than another: for Allah will test you by this; and on the Day of Judgment He will certainly make clear to you (the truth of) that wherein ye disagree. 2129 2130 2131 2132
If Allah so willed He could make you all one people: but He leaves straying whom He pleases and He guides whom He pleases: but ye shall certainly be called to account for all your actions. 2133
And take not your oaths to practice deception between yourselves with the result that someone's foot may slip after it was firmly planted; and ye may have to taste the evil (consequences) of having hindered (men) from the path of Allah and a mighty Wrath descend on you. 2134
Nor sell the covenant of Allah for a miserable price: for with Allah is (a prize) far better for you if ye only knew. 2135
What is with you must vanish: what is with Allah will endure. And We will certainly bestow on those who patiently persevere their reward according to the best of their actions. 2136
Whoever works righteousness man or woman and has faith verily to him will We give a new life a life that is good and pure and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions. 2137 2138
When thou dost read the Qur'an seek Allah's protection from Satan the rejected one. 2139
No authority has he over those who believe and put their trust in their Lord.
His authority is over those only who take him as patron and who join partners with Allah.
When We substitute one revelation for another and Allah knows best what He reveals (in stages) they say "Thou art but a forger": but most of them understand not. 2140
Say the Holy Spirit has brought the revelation from thy Lord in truth in order to strengthen those who believe and as a guide and Glad Tidings to Muslims. 2141 2142
We know indeed that they say "It is a man that teaches him." The tongue of him they wickedly point to is notable foreign while this is Arabic pure and clear. 2143
Those who believe not in the Signs of Allah Allah will not guide them and theirs will be a grievous Penalty.
It is those who believe not in the Signs of Allah that forge falsehood: it is they who lie! 2144
Anyone who after accepting faith in Allah utters unbelief except under compulsion his heart remaining firm in faith but such as open their breast to unbelief on them is Wrath from Allah and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty. 2145
This because they love the life of this world better than the Hereafter: and Allah will not guide those who reject faith.
Those are they whose hearts ears and eyes Allah has sealed up and they take no heed. 2146
Without doubt in the hereafter they will perish.
But verily thy Lord to those who leave their homes after trials and persecutions and who thereafter strive and fight for the faith and patiently persevere thy Lord after all this is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. 2147
One day every soul will come up struggling for itself and every soul will be recompensed (fully) for all its actions and none will be unjustly dealt with. 2148
Allah sets forth a parable: a city enjoying security and quiet abundantly supplied with sustenance from every place: yet was it ungrateful for the favors of Allah: so Allah made it taste of hunger and terror (in extremes) (closing in on it) like a garment (from every side) because of the (evil) which (its people) wrought. 2149 2150
And there came to them an Apostle from among themselves but they falsely rejected him; so the wrath seized them even in the midst of their iniquities.
So eat of the sustenance which Allah has provided for you lawful and good; and be grateful for the favors of Allah if it is He whom ye serve. 2151
He has only forbidden you dead meat and blood and the flesh of swine and any (food) over which the name of other than Allah has been invoked. But if one is forced by necessity without willful disobedience nor transgressing due limits then Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. 2152
But say not for any false thing that your tongues may put forth "This is lawful and this is forbidden" so as to ascribe false things to Allah. For those who ascribe false things to Allah will never prosper. 2153
(In such falsehood) is but a paltry profit; but they will have a most grievous Penalty.
To the Jews We prohibited such things as We have mentioned to thee before: We did them no wrong but they were used to doing wrong to themselves. 2154
But verily thy Lord to those who do wrong in ignorance but who thereafter repent and make amends thy Lord after all this is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. 2155
Abraham was indeed a model devoutly obedient to Allah (and) true in faith and he joined not gods with Allah: 2156 2157
He showed his gratitude for the favors of Allah Who chose him and guided him to a straight way.
And We gave him good in this world and he will be in the Hereafter in the ranks of the righteous. 2158
So We have taught thee the inspired (message) "Follow the ways of Abraham the true in faith and he joined not gods with Allah."
The Sabbath was only made (strict) to those who disagreed (as to its observance); but Allah will judge between them on the Day of Judgment as to their differences. 2159 2160
Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best who have strayed from His Path and who receive guidance. 2161 2162
And if ye do catch them out catch them out no worse than they catch you out: but if ye show patience that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient. 2163
And do thou be patient for thy patience is but from Allah; nor grieve over them: and distress not thyself because of their plots. 2164
For Allah is with those who restrain themselves and those who do good. 2165
This is an answer to the taunt of the Pagans, who said; "If there is a god, the One True God, as you say, with unified control, why does He not punish the wrong-doers at once?" The answer is; "The decree of Allah will inevitably come to pass; it will come soon enough; when it comes, you will wish it were delayed; how foolish of you to wish even to cut off your last hope of forgiveness?"
The Pagans, with their multiplicity of gods and goddesses, good and evil, could play one off against another. That is mere mockery of religion. With such conceptions, man cannot understand the Unity of Design in the Universe nor realise the Power and Glory of the One True God, to Whom alone worship and service are due.
Not for sport, or fortuitously and without Design. Cf. xv. 85. Surely the Unity of Design in Creation also proves the Unity of Allah their Creator.
Man's physical origin is lowly. Yet do men go back to material things, and neglect or dispute about the highest things in Life.
Why will you go back to material things, considering that material things are made subservient to your use and enjoyment in various ways as suggested in the clauses that follow.
From wool, and hair, and skins, and milk. Camel's hair makes warm robes and blankets; and certain kinds of goats yield hair which makes similar fabrics. Sheep yield wool, and llamas alpaca for similar uses. The skins and furs of many animals yield warm raiment or make warm rugs or bedding. The females of many of these animals yield good warm milk, a nourishing and wholesome diet. Then the flesh of many of these animals is good to eat. There are other uses, which the animals serve, and which are referred to later.
The good man is proud of his cattle and is good to them. As they go to, and return from, pasture, morning and evening, he has a sense of his power and wealth and their beauty and docility. Will not man turn from these material facts to the great spiritual truths and purpose behind them?
The cattle and animals also carry loads, and thus make inter-communication between different lands easy. But for them there would have been many difficulties, not only physical, but psychological. Weary men carrying loads are in no mood for social and spiritual intercourse. This intercourse is made possible by the kindness and mercy of Allah.
Horse, mules, and donkeys as well as other animals may be beasts of burden, but they may also be pedigree animals bred for beauty and for all those more refined uses, such as processions, in which grace and elegance is the predominant feature.
If we examine the history of transport, there have been vast changes through the ages, from rude pack animals to fine equipages, and then through mechanical contrivances, such means of transport as elegant coaches, tramways and railways, useful motor lorries and Rolls-Royce cars, and air-ships and aeroplanes of all descriptions. At any given point of time, many of these were yet unknown to man. Nor can we suppose the limit to have been reached now or that it will ever be reached at any future time. Through the mind and ingenuity of man it is Allah that creates new things hitherto unknown to man.
Through material things "the Way" does always lead to Allah. But some minds are so obsessed with material things that they miss the pointers to the spiritual. Allah could have forced all to the true Way, but in His Will and Plan is the training of man's will, and that is done by the Signs in nature and Revelation.
The least thought and study of nature will show you Allah's wise and benign Providence in making the processes of nature subserve man's use and refined life. A higher degree of intelligence and study is required ("men who are wise") to understand Allah's Signs to man in the processes connected with the heavenly bodies (verse 12). And a still higher spiritual understanding ("men who celebrate His praises" with gratitude) to realise the marvellous gradations, colours, and nuances in the creatures on this little globe of ours (verse 13), Reason this out carefully.
The Night and the Day are caused by astronomical rotations. What is important for man to note is how Allah has given intelligence to man to make use of this alternation for work and rest; how man can, as soon as he rises from the primitive stage, get over their inequalities by artificial illuminants, such as vegetable or mineral oils, coal, gas, or electricity, which ultimately are derived from the stored-up energy of the sun; how the sun's heat can be tempered by various artificial means and can be stored up for use by man as required, how man can be independent of the tides caused by the moon and the sun, which formerly controlled navigation, but which no longer stand in man's way, with his artificial harbours and great sea-going ships, how navigation was formerly subject to direct observation of the Polar Star and other stars, but how the magnetic needle and charts have now completely altered the position, and man can calculate and to a certain extent control magnetic variations, etc. In such ways the sun, the moon, and the stars themselves become useful servants to him, all by Allah's gift and His Command, without which there would have been no laws governing them and no intelligence to make use of them.
Whose heart has not been moved by the glorious gradation of colours in the sunset clouds? The gradations are infinite, and it is only the eye of an artist that can express their collective beauty. They are but a type of the infinite variety and gradation of qualities in the spiritual sphere even in the little space of our own globe. The big things that can be measured and defined have been spoken of before. Here we have mention of the subtle nuances in the spiritual world which can only be perceived by men who are so high in spiritual insight that their only reaction is to "cerebrate the praises of Allah" in gratitude for His infinite Mercies.
Read again n. 2030 above, and see how subtly we are led up from the perception of the big to the perception of the subtle and delicate colours and qualities in the spiritual world.
We have gone up in a climax of material things from the big to the subtle in the sky and the earth. Here we have another climax as regard the things of the sea. We get the delicate flesh of fishes and marine creatures of all kinds; we get the treasures of the deep; pearls, coral, amber, and things of that kind; and we have the stately ships ploughing the waves, for maritime commerce and intercourse, for unifying mankind, and for realising the spiritual bounty of Allah which can best be expressed by the boundless ocean.
Connoisseurs know the delicate flavours of sea fish, such as the pomfret of the Indian Ocean, the herring of the North Atlantic, the mullet of Marseilles, and many another kind. Tari, translated "fresh and tender," also refers to the soft moist nature of fresh fish. It is another wonder of Allah that salt water should produce flesh or such fresh, tender, and delicate flavour.
Diving for pearls-in both the primitive and the more advanced form-is another instance of man's power over apparently inaccessible depths of the sea.
After the material benefits which we get from the sea, we are asked to consider things of higher import to the spirit of man. There is the beautiful ship which stands as the symbol of international commerce and intercourse, things that may be of material benefit, but which have a higher aspect in unifying man and making his civilisation more universal. These are first steps in seeking of the "bounty of Allah" through the sea. But there are higher aspects. Navigation and international intercourse increase knowledge, which in its higher aspects should clean the mind and make it fitter to approach Allah. The salt water, which covers nearly 72 percent of the surface of the Globe, is itself a purifying and sanitary agent, and is a good symbol of the higher bounties of Allah, which are as boundless as the Ocean.
Cf. xiii. 3 and xv. 19. Here and elsewhere the earth is spoken of as a spacious carpet beneath our feet and the hills as a steadying agent to keep the carpet from rolling or shaking about. In lxxvii. 7 they are spoken of as pegs or stakes.
In this passage (xvi. 15-16) we have the metaphor of the fixed mountains further allegorised. In these verses the key-words are indicated by the symbols for man's Guidance (tahtadun). First, the physical symbols are indicated; the mountains that stand firm and do not change from day to day in the landscape, unlike shifting sand-dunes, or the coast line of the sea, or rivers and streams, which frequently change their courses, then we have rivers and roads, which are more precise and therefore more useful, though less permanent; then we have 'alamat (sign-posts), any kinds of signs erected by man, like direction posts, light-houses or beacons, or provided in nature, as tall trees, etc.; and finally, we have the pole-star, and now the magnetic needle, with its variations marked on navigation charts. All these are symbols for the higher Guidance which Allah provides for the spirit of man. See next note.
See last note. Let us exmaine the completed allegory. As there are beacons, landmarks and signs to show the way to men on the earth, so in the spiritual world. And it is ultimately Allah Who provides them, and this is His crowning Mercy. Like the mountains there are spiritual Landmarks in the missions of the Great Prophets: they should guide us, or teach us, to guide ourselves, and not shake hither and thither like a ship without a rudder or people without Faith. As rivers and streams mark out their channels, smoothing out levels so we have wholesome Laws and Customs established, to help us in our lives. Then we have the examples of Great Men as further sign-posts: "Lives of great men all remind us, We can make our lives sublime." In long-distance travel, the pole-star and the magnetic needle are our guides; so in our long-distance journey to the other world, we have ultimately to look to heavenly guidance or its reflection in Allah's Revelation.
The supreme majesty of Allah have been set out in His favours of all kinds, it will be seen at once that the worship of any other than Allah is meaningless and ridiculous. Shall we not take the hint and understand?
Of all Allah's favours innumerable, His Mercy and Forgiveness in the spiritual plane is the greatest, and of eternal value to us in our future Lives.
Allah is the only Creator and the Ultimate Reality. Everything else is created by Him, and reflects His glory. How foolish then to worship any other than Allah!
Idols are dead wood or stone. If men worship stars, or heroes, or prophets, or great men, they too have no life except that which was given by Allah. In themselves they are lifeless. If they worship figments of the imagination, they are reflections in a double degree, and have no life in themselves. All these things will be raised up on the Last Day, in order that false worshippers may be confronted with them. But they themselves cannot tell when that Day will be.
Everything points to Allah, the One True Eternal God. If so, there is a Hereafter, for He has declared it. In so far as people do not believe this, the fault is in their Will; they do not wish to believe, and the motive behind is arrogance, the sin which brought about the fall of Iblis: ii. 34.
Cf. xvi, 19, where the same words refer to man generally. Whether he conceals or reveals what is in his heart, Allah knows it, and as Allah is Oft-Forgiving. Most Merciful, His grace is available as His highest favour if man will take it. Here the reference is to those who "refuse to know", who reject Allah's guidance out of arrogance. Allah "loveth not the arrogant". Such men deprive themselves of Allah's grace.
When the arrogant Unbelievers are referred to some definite argument or illustration from Scripture, they dismiss it contemptuously with the remark: "Tales of the ancients!" In this, they are not only playing with their own conscience, but misleading others, with perhaps less knowledge than themselves.
Their responsibility or crime is twofold: (1) that they rejected Allah's Message, and (2) that they misled others. Their Penalty will also be double. In vi. 164, we are told that "no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another". This is against the doctrine of vicarious atonement. Every man is responsible for his own sins; but the sin of misleading others is a sin of the misleader himself, and he must suffer the penalty for that also, without relieving those misled, of their responsibility.
Evil will always devise plots against the Prophets of Allah. So was it with Al-Mustafa, and so was it with the Prophets before him. But the imposing structures which the ungodly build up (metaphorically) collapse at the Command of Allah, and they are often punished from quarters from which they least expected punishment. For example, the Quraish were confident in their numbers, their organisations, and their superior equipment. But on the field of Badr they collapsed where they expected victory.
The worshippers of false gods (ungodly, the Unbelievers) will be unable to reply when brought before the Judgment Seat. The comment of those "endued with knowledge"-the Prophets and Teachers whom they had rejected-will be by way of indictment and explanation of the position of those before the Judgment Seat.
That is, those who died in a state of Kufr, or rebellion against Allah, which was really wrong-doing against their own souls.
The excuse is a mere pretence. At first they were too dazed to reply. When they reply, they cannot deny the facts, but resort to the sinner's excuse of saying that they sinned through ignorance, and that their motives were not wrong. Such a plea raises a question of hidden thoughts which are difficult to appraise before a human tribunal. But here they are before their Divine Author, Who knows every secret of their souls, and before Whom no false plea can be of any value. So they are condemned.
The contrast and parallelism is with xvi. 24, where the ungodly in their levity and their deliberate rejection of guidance find no profit from Allah's Revelation.
Unlike the ungodly, the good find good everywhere,-in this world and in the Hereafter; because they understand and are in accord with the truths around them.
In a state of purity: from the evils of this world, from want of faith and want of grace. Purity from such evil is the mark of true Islam, and those who die in such purity will be received into Felicity with a salutation of Peace.
That is, until death comes to them, or some Punishment in this life, itself, which precludes them from repentance, and the Mercy of Allah.
The old, old argument: if Allah is All-Powerful, why did He not force all persons to His Will? This ignores the limited Free-will granted to man, which is the whole basis of Ethics. Allah gives man every opportunity of knowing and understanding things, but He does not force him, for that would be against the whole Plan on which our present Life is constituted.
The Pagan Arabs prescribed various arbitrary prohibitions in the matter of meat; see vi. 143-145. These, of course, are not recognised by Islam, which also removed some of the restrictions of the Jewish Law; vi. 146. The general meaning, however, is far wider. Men erect their own taboos and prohibitions, barriers and restrictions, and ascribe them to Religion. This is wrong, and more consonant with Pagan practice than with Islam.
Clear Message: Mubin: in three senses; (1) a Message clear and unambiguous; (2) one that makes all things clear to those who try to understand, because it accords with their own nature as created by Allah; (3) one preached openly and to everyone.
Even though Allah's Signs are everywhere in Nature and in men's own conscience, yet in addition Allah has sent human Messengers to every People to call their attention to the Good and turn them from Evil. So they cannot pretend that Allah has abandoned them or that He does not care what they do. His divine Grace always invites their will to choose the right.
While some people accept the guidance of the divine Grace, others so surrender themselves to Evil that it must necessarily follow that Evil obtains a grip over them. They have only to travel through Time or Space to see the end of those who abandoned their lights and surrendered to Evil and Error. For haqqat and the meaning of haqq in this connection cf. xv. 64.
When once Allah's Grace is rejected by any one, such a person loses all help and guidance. Such persons are then outside Allah's Grace, and therefore they are outside guidance.
The strongest oath of the Pagan Arabs would be by the Supreme Allah; less strong oaths would be by their subordinate deities, or their ancestors, or other things they valued or held sacred.
The usual Pagan creed is: 'If there is a God, it does not follow that He will raise us up; why should He?' The answer is twofold: (1) Allah has promised it, and Allah's promise is true; (2) He must finally manifest the Truth to them, convict them of their falsehood, and enforce their personal responsibility (xvi. 39).
See the last note.
Allah's "Word" is in itself the Deed, Allah's Promise is in itself the Truth. There is no interposition of Time or Condition between His Will and its consequences, for He is the Ultimate Reality. He is independent of the proximate or material causes, for He Himself creates them and establishes their Laws as He pleases.
There is no merit in suffering exile (hijrat) in itself. To have any merit, it must be; (1) in the cause of Allah, and (2) after such an oppression as forces the sufferer to choose between Allah and man. When these conditions are fulfilled, the exiles are entitled to the highest honour, as having made a great sacrifice in the cause of Allah. Such were the early Muslim exiles to Abyssinia; such were the later exiles to Madinah before the Prophet himself left his home in Makkah and went to Madinah; and such were the exiles who went with the Prophet or followed him. At all these stages, his approval or advice was always obtained, either specifically or generally.
Allah's prophets were always men, not angels; and their distinction was the inspiration they received.
If the Pagan Arabs, who were ignorant of religious and other history, wondered how a man from among themselves could receive inspiration and bring a Message from Allah, let them ask the Jews, who had also received Allah's Message earlier through Moses, whether Moses was a man, or an angel, or a god. They would learn that Moses was a man like themselves, but inspired by Allah. "Those who possess the Message" may also mean any men of Wisdom, who were qualified to have an opinion in such matters.
As the People of the Book had received "Clear Signs" and inspired Books before, so also Allah's Message came to the Prophet Muhammad through the Qur-an, which superseded the earlier revelations, already corrupted in the hands of their followers.
Cf. xvi. 26. The wicked plot against Prophets of Allah in secret, forgetting that every hidden thought of theirs is known to Allah, and that for every thought and action of theirs they will have to account to Allah. And Allah's punishment can seize them in various ways. Four are enumerated here. (1) They may be swallowed up in the earth like Qarun, whose story is told in xxviii. 76-81. He was swallowed up in the earth while he was arrogantly exulting on the score of his wealth. (2) It may be that, like Haman, the prime minister of Pharaoh, they are plotting against Allah, when they are themselves overwhelmed by some dreadful calamity; xi. 36-38, xxix. 39-40. The case of Pharaoh is also in point. He was drowned while he was arrogantly hoping to frustrate Allah's plans for Israel; x. 90-92. For (3) and (4) see the next two notes.
(3) Or the punishment may come to people away from their homes and humble them in their pride. It so happened to Abu Jahl, who came exulting in his pride to the Battle of Badr (A.H. 2). His army was three times the size of the Muslim army from Madinah. But it suffered a crushing defeat, and he himself was ignominiously slain.
(4) Or, as often happens, the punishment comes slowly and imperceptibly, the power of the enemies of Allah being wasted gradually, until it is extinguished. This happened to the Makkans during the eight years of the Prophet's exile. The conquest of Makkah was bloodless, because the power of the enemy had gradually vanished. The Prophet was thus able to show the unexampled generosity and clemency which he showed on that occasion, for two of Allah's attributes are expressed in the titles "Full of kindness" (Ra-uf) and "Full of mercy" (Rahim).
I take "things" here to be inanimate things, for the next verse speaks of living, "moving creatures" and angels. By a metaphor even such inanimate things are spoken of as recognising Allah and humbly worshipping Him. Even their shadows turn round from right and left according to the light from above, and they humbly prostrate themselves on the ground to celebrate the praises of Allah.
Moving creatures, i.e., living creatures, "All that is in the heavens or earth," includes every created thing. And created things are mentioned in three classes: inanimate things, ordinary living things, and angels. Even the highest angels are not arrogant; they bow down and serve their Lord, and so does all Creation.
Allah is so high above the highest of His creatures, that they all look up to him in awe and reverence. And they joyfully do their duty in serving Him. This is the meaning of the "fear of the Lord."
The ancient Persians believed in two powers in the Universe, one good and the other evil. The Pagan Arabs also had pairs of deities: e.g., Jibr (Sorcery) and Tagut (Evil), referred to in iv. 51, n. 573, or the idols on Safa and Marwa referred to in n. 160 to ii. 158: their names were Isaf and Naila.
The Pagans might have a glimmering of the One True God, but they had also a haunting fear of malevolent Powers of Evil. They are told that such fears are groundless. Evil has no power over those who trust in Allah: xv. 42. The only fear they should have is that of the Wrath of Allah. To the righteous all good things come from Allah, and they have no fear in their hearts.
Which shows that the natural tendency of man is to seek Allah, the only Power which can truly relieve distress.
Idols and fictitious gods are certainly things of which they have no knowledge, idols being lifeless things of whose life or doings no knowledge is possible, and fictitious gods being but figments of their imagination.
Cf. vi. 136-140, 142-144, and v. 103. The Pagans, in assigning and dedicating some of their children, or some of their cattle, or some of the produce of their fields, to their false gods as sharers with the true Supreme God, made themselves doubly ridiculous; first, because every good thing that they valued was given to them by Allah, and how could they patronisingly assign to Him a share of His own gifts?-and secondly, because they brought in other gods as sharers, who had no existence whatever! Besides, the cattle and produce was given for their physical sustenance and the children for their social and spiritual sustenance, and how can they, poor creatures, give sustenance to Allah?
Some of the Pagan Arabs called angels the daughters of Allah. In their own life they hated to have daughters, as explained in the next two verses. They practised female infanticide. In their state of perpetual war sons were a source of strength to them; daughters only made them subject to humiliating raids!
"It", in this and the following clause, refers grammatically to the "news" (ma bushshira bihi). In meaning it refers to the "female child"-by the figure of speech known as metonymy.
Cf. lxxxi- 8-9. The practice of female infanticide is condemned in scathing terms. Female children used to be buried alive by the Pagan Arabs.
It was an evil choice to decide on. Either alternative-to keep the poor girl as a thing of sufferance and contempt, bringing disgrace on the family, or to get rid of it by burying it alive-was cruel and indefensible.
The word mathal ordinarily denotes a similitude, but in the context of the present verse, especially with reference to Allah, it signifies His sublime attributes rather than a similitude. Cf. xxx. 27.
Allah's decree works without fail. If He were to punish for every wrong or shortcoming, not a single living creature on earth would escape punishment. But in His infinite mercy and forgiveness, He gives respite: He provides time for repentance. If the repentance is forthcoming. Allah's Mercy is forthcoming without fail, if not, the punishment comes inevitably on the expiry of the Term. The sinner cannot anticipate it by an insolent challenge, nor can he delay it when the time arrives. Let him not think that the respite given him may mean that he can do what he likes, and that he can escape scot-free from the consequences.
See above, xvi. 57-58 and notes.
The philosophy of Pleasure (Hedonism) assumes that worldly enjoyment is good in itself and that there is nothing beyond. But it can be shown, even on its own ground, that every act has its inevitable consequences. No Good can spring out of Evil. For falsehood and wrong the agony of the Fire is waiting, and the boastful votaries of Falsehood will be the first to fall into it.
In all ages and among all Peoples Allah sent His Messengers to teach the Truth and point the way to righteousness. But the allurements of Evil seemed always attractive, and many men preferred their own ways and the ways of their ancestors to the more difficult path of rectitude. This happened again in the time of Al-Mustafa, and will always happen as long as men succumb to Evil.
But the path of duty before Allah's Messenger is clear. He is sent with the Revelation (the Qur-an) for three express purposes; (1) that he should bring about unity among the jarring sects, for the Gospel of Unity, while preaching the One True God, leads also to the unity of mankind; (2) that the revelation should be a guide to right conduct; and (3) that it should show the path of repentance and Salvation, and thus be the highest mercy to erring sinners.
When the earth with all its vegetation is well-nigh dead, parched and shrivelled up, a vivifying shower of rain from above gives it new life. This natural phenomenon is a sign of Allah's infinite power, especially of His power to resurrect the dead, and thereafter muster them for judgment.
The spiritual sustenance which Allah gives is typified by the wonderful ways of sustenance in the physical world, which figure forth Allah's providence and loving care for His creation. And the wonderful transformations in the physical world, which all tend to the benefit of man, are also Signs of His supreme wisdom. In the previous verse rain was mentioned, which gives new life to dead nature. In this and the following two verses our attention is drawn to milk, the products of the date and the vine, and honey.
Their; in the Arabic, it is "its", in the singular number, for two reasons: (1) cattle is the generic plural, and may be treated as a singular noun; (2) the instructive Sign is in cattle collectively, but the milk is the product of each single individual.
Milk is a secretion in the female body, like other secretions, but more specialised. Is it not wonderful that the same food, eaten by males and females, produces in the latter, when they have young, the wholesome and complete food, known as milk? Then, when cattle are tamed and specially bred for milk, the supply of milk is vastly greater than is necessary for their young and lasts for a longer time than during the period they give suck to their young. And it is a wholesome and agreeable diet for man. It is pure, as typified by its whiteness. Yet it is a secretion like other secretions, between the excretions which the body rejects as worthless and the precious blood-stream which circulates within the body and is the symbol of life itself to the animal which produces it.
There are wholesome drinks and foods that can be got out of the date-palm and the vine: e.g., non-alcoholic drinks from the date and the grape, vinegar, date-sugar, grape-sugar, and dates and grapes themselves for eating. If sakar is taken in the sense of fermented wine, it would refer to the time before intoxicants were prohibited, for this is a Makkan Sura and the prohibition came in Madinah. In such a case it would imply a subtle disapproval of the use of intoxicants and mark the first of a series of steps that in time culminated in total prohibition.
Auha: wahyun ordinarily means inspiration, the Message put into the mind or heart by Allah. Here the Bee's instinct is referred to Allah's teaching, which it undoubtedly is. In xcix. 5, it is applied to the earth; we shall discuss the precise meaning when we come to that passage. The honey-comb, itself, with its hexagonal cells, geometrically perfect, is a wonderful structure, and is well called buyut, homes. And the way the bee finds out inaccessible places, in the hills, in the trees, and even among the habitations of men, is one of the marvels of Allah's working in His Creation.
The bee assimilates the juice of various kinds of flowers and fruit, and forms within its body the honey which it stores in its cells of wax. The different kinds of food from which it makes its honey give different colours to the honey, e.g., it is dark-brown, light-brown, yellow, white, and so on. The taste and flavour also varies, as in the case of heather honey, the honey formed from scented flowers, and so on. As food it is sweet and wholesome, and it is used in medicine. Note that while the instinctive individual acts are described in the singular number, the produce of "their bodies" is described in the plural, as the result of their collective effort.
Zululan: two meanings are possible; (1) ways easy and spacious, referring to the unerring way in which bees find their way from long distances to their combs; and (2) the idea of humility and obedience in them.
Besides the mystery and beauty of the many processes going on in the working of Allah's Creation, there is the wonderful life of man himself on this earth; how he is created as a child; how he grows in intelligence and knowledge; and how his soul is taken back and his body suffers dissolution. In some cases he lives so long that he falls into a feeble old age like a second childhood; he forgets what he learnt and seems almost to go back in Time. Is not all this wonderful, and evidence of the Knowledge and Power of Allah?
Our attention having been called to the remarkable transformations in life and nature, by which the Knowledge and Power of Allah work out His beneficient Plan for His creatures, we are reminded that man at best is but a feeble creature, but for the grace of Allah. We then pass on in the next Section to the differences in the gifts which men themselves enjoy, distinguishing them into so many categories. How much greater is the difference between the created things and their Creator?
Even in the little differences in gifts, which men enjoy from Allah, men with superior gifts are not going to abandon them so as to be equal with men of inferior gifts, whom, perhaps, they hold in subjection. They will never deny their own superiority. How then (as the argument is pursued in the two following verses), can they ignore the immense difference between the Creator and created things, and make the latter, in their thoughts, partners with Allah?
Of your nature: or of yourselves. Cf. iv. 1 and n. 504, Self, or Personality, or Soul, all imply a bundle of attributes, capacities, predilections, and dispositions, which we may sum up in the word Nafs, or nature. Woman was made to be (1) a mate or companion for man; (2) except for sex, of the same nature as man, and therefore, with the same moral and religious rights and duties; and (3) she is not to be considered a source of all evil or sin, as the Christian monks characterised her but rather as a blessing, one of the favours (Ni'mat) of Allah.
Hafadat: collective plural, grandchildren, and descendants. The root hafada also implies obedient service and ministration. Just as the sons (first mentioned) should be a source of strength, so daughters and grandchildren should serve and contribute to the happiness of fathers and grandparents, and are to be looked upon as further blessings.
"Sustenance" (rizq) in all this passage (xvi. 65-74), as elsewhere, implies all that is necessary for man's life and growth, physical, mental, moral, and spiritual. Milk, fruit, and honey are examples of physical gifts, with a metaphorical reference to mental and moral health; family life is an example of moral and social and (ultimately) spiritual opportunities in the life of man; and in xvi. 65 is an example of rain in the physical world as a type of Allah's revelation in the spiritual world.
Cf. xvi. 60 above, and n. 2086. One instance of false similitudes is where Pagans say their gods are mere types of symbols, or where men pray to men as Intercessors.
The first parable is of two men, one of whom is a slave completely under the dominion of another, with no powers of any sort, and another a free man, who is gifted in every way, and is most generous in bestowing out of his opulent wealth (material as well as intangible), privately and publicly, without let or hindrance; for he is his own master and owes no account to any one. The first is like the imaginary gods which men set up,-whether powers of nature, which have no independent existence but are manifestations of Allah, or deified heroes or men, who can do nothing of their own authority but are subject to the Will and Power of Allah; the second describes in a faint way the position of Allah, the Self-Subsistent, to Whom belongs the dominion of all that is in heaven and earth, and Who bestows freely of His gifts on all His creatures.
In the second Parable, one man is dumb; he can explain nothing, and he can certainly do nothing; he is only a wearisome burden to his master, no matter what his master asks him to do; or perhaps he is really harmful instead of bringing any good; such are idols (literal and metaphorical) when taken as false gods. The other man is in a position to command, and he commands what is just and righteous; not only his commands but his doings also are on the path of righteousness. Such are the qualities of Allah.
The gist of the argument is that those who deviate from the worship of Allah commit twofold treason. (1) They do not recognise the immense difference between the Creator and created things, although, in their own little selfish lives, they are tenacious of any little differences there may be between themselves and other fellow-creatures not so gifted. (2) They are guilty of gross ingratitude in forgetting that the source of goodness and power is Allah, to Whom alone they owe all the gifts they enjoy in life.
The key to all things-not only those which we see and understand, but those which we do not see or of which we have no idea-is with Allah, Whose knowledge and power are supreme.
Lures of this world and its fleeting pleasures often make man forget that the life hereafter is an imminent reality. Many of those who claim to believe in the life to come act and behave as if it belonged to a distant future, and had no relevance to their present activities and mode of living. The Qur-An repeatedly reminds man that the Hour of Reckoning is not a distant possibility, but very close to man, and could come to pass any moment. The wisest course for man, therefore, is to be always alert and watchful and steer clear of all forms of sin and impiety, for when the Promised Hour comes it will come all of a sudden and without any prior notice. See also x. 45; xxx. 55, xlv. 35.
Literally, 'hearts,' which are considered the centres of the affections, and in Arabic idiom, of intelligence also. We should therefore give thanks to Allah, not to imaginary deities or powers or forces.
All the wonderful things in creation are due to the artistry, power, and wisdom of Allah. Such is the flight of birds in mid-air. So also are the inventions and discoveries, due to man's intelligence, in the next verse; for man's intelligence is a gift direct from Allah.
Man's social, intellectual, and spiritual gifts make, of his permanent dwellings, homes of rest and quiet, of refinement and the purer affections, which are the types, in this earthly life, of the highest spiritual Good, the love of Allah. The pure Home thus becomes the type of the highest spiritual Destiny of man. And these capacities in man are the gifts of Allah.
When man travels, he wants temporary dwellings, tents, which he can make of the skins of animals, or of the fabrics of vegetable fibres, similar to the skins of animals. These tents are easy to carry when moving, and easy to pitch during halts.
Suf, wool, is what we get from sheep. Sha'r, hair, is what we get from goats or similar animals, for weaving into fabrics. Wabar is the soft camel's hair of which, also, fabrics are woven; they may be considered intermediate between the other two; by extension and analogy the term may be applied to furs and such things, by way of illustration.
All such articles of refined luxury, and useful articles of comfort and convenience only last for a while, but they must be considered as Allah's gifts.
For example, trees, gardens, the roofs of houses; also from another point of view, the fact that the sun's rays at various times and in various parts of the earth, come obliquely, thus causing shadow along with sunshine. In the hills there are caves and grottoes.
Our clothes protect us from heat and cold, just as our armour protects us from the hurt which we might otherwise receive in battle.
All these blessings, which have both a physical and (by promoting the good of man) a spiritual purpose, should teach us to rally to Allah and tune our will with His Universal Will, which is another name for Islam.
'Arafa is distinguished from 'alima is implying a specific discernment (or recognition) of various qualities and uses. All mankind recognised the value of the blessings they enjoy, but in forgetting or disobeying their Author, the wicked show gross ingratitude; for in practice they deny their obligation to Him for those blessings.
To each People is sent Allah's Messenger or Teacher, to point out the right way. There may be one, or there may be many. Such a Messenger (Rasul) will be a witness that Allah's Truth was preached to all peoples in express terms, in addition to the Signs of Allah everywhere in nature. There will then be no room for excuses of any kind. Those who rejected Allah after repeated warnings cannot reasonably ask for more respite, as they had every kind of respite during their life of probation; nor can they now take refuge behind Allah's Grace, which they had repeatedly rejected. A) That is, they will not be allowed to seek grace by repentance. Cf. xxx. 57, xlv. 35.
When the terrible Penalty is actually on them, it is too late for repentance and for asking for Mercy. Justice must take its course.
The worshippers of false gods will try to shift the responsibility from their own shoulders to that of the false gods. They will suggest (though they will not have the courage for such a bare-faced lie) that they were misled by the false gods. But their lying suggestion will be contradicted and thrown back at them as explained in the next note.
In so far as the false gods were real things, such as deified men or forces of nature, they will openly disclaim them and then (as always) show their submission to Allah. In so far as the false gods were the invention of the fancy of the idolaters, they will leave their worshippers in the lurch, for they will be shown as non-existent.
To the thought expressed in xvi. 84 above, is added another detail here. Not only will there be witnesses from Peoples, but the witnesses will be men from amongst the Peoples themselves, men of their own kith and kin, who understood them and explained Allah's Message in their own language. The Prophet Muhammad will be witness against all those who rejected the Message he brought. For those who believe in him of (all races and peoples), the Book which he brought will be an explanation, a guide, a mercy and a Gospel.
Justice is a comprehensive term, and may include all the virtues of cold philosophy. But religion asks for something warmer and more human, the doing of good deeds even where perhaps they are not strictly demanded by justice, such as returning good for ill, or obliging those who in worldly language "have no claim" on you; and of course a fortiori the fulfilling of the claims of those whose claims are recognised in social life. Similarly the opposites are to be avoided; everything that is recognised as shameful, and everything that is really unjust, and any inward rebellion against Allah's Law or our own conscience in its most sensitive form.
The immediate reference may or may not be to the oath of fidelity to the Prophet taken at 'Aqaba fourteen months before the Hijra and repeated a little later: see v. 7, and n. 705. But the general meaning is much wider. And this may be viewed in two aspects (1) Every oath taken, or covenant made, is a Covenant before Allah, and should be faithfully observed. In this it approaches in meaning to v. 1. (2) In particular, every Muslim makes, by the profession, of his Faith, a Covenant with Allah, and he confirms that Covenant every time he repeats that profession. He should therefore faithfully observe the duties taught to him by Islam.
The Covenant which binds us in the spiritual world makes us strong, like strands of fluffy cotton spun into a strong thread. It also gives us a sense of security against much evil in this world. It costs a woman much labour and skill to spin good strong yarn. She would be foolish indeed, after she has spun such yam, to untwist its constituent strands and break them into flimsy pieces.
Here tattakhithun is used as an adverb to qualify the negative command takunu at the beginning of the verse.
Do not make your religion merely a game of making your own party numerically strong by alliances cemented by oaths, which you readily break when a more numerous party offers you its alliance. The Quraish were addicted to this vice, and in international politics at the present day, this seems to be almost a standard of national self-respect and international skill. Islam teaches nobler ethics for individuals and nations. A Covenant should be looked upon as a solemn thing, not to be entered into except with the sincerest intention of carrying it out; and it is binding even if large numbers are ranged against it.
Disagreements need not necessarily cause conflict where the parties are sincere and honest and do not wish to take advantage of one another. In such cases they do not go by numbers, groupings, and alliances, but by just conduct as in the sight of Allah. Honest differences will be removed when all things are made clear in the Hereafter.
Cf. xiv. 4 and n. 1875. Allah's Will and Plan, in allowing limited free-will to man, is, not to force man's will, but to give all guidance, and leave alone those who reject that guidance, in case they should repent and come back into Grace. But in all cases, in so far as we are given the choice, we shall be called to account for all our actions. "Leaving to stray" does not mean that we can do what we please. Our personal responsibility remains.
In xvi. 92, above, the motive for false and fraudulent covenants was pointed out with reprobation. Now are pointed out the consequences, viz., (1) to others, if they had not been deceived, they might have walked firmly on the Path, but now they lose faith and perhaps commit like frauds for which you will be responsible; (2) to yourselves; you have not only gone wrong yourselves; but have set others on the wrong path; and you deserve a double Penalty. Perhaps the "evil consequences" refer to this world, and the "Wrath" to the Hereafter.
Any possible gain that you can make by breaking your Covenant and thus breaking Allah's Law must necessarily be miserable; while your own benefit is far greater in obeying Allah's Will and doing right.
What comparison can there possibly be between spiritual Good, which will endure forever, and any temporal advantage which you may snatch in this world, which will fade and vanish in no time? And then, Allah's generosity is unbounded. He rewards you, not acording to your merits, but according to the very best of your actions.
Faith, if sincere, means right conduct. When these two confirm each other, Allah's grace transforms our life. Instead of being troubled and worried, we have peace and contentment; instead of being assailed at every turn by false alarms and the assaults of evil, we enjoy calm and attain purity. The transformation is visible in this life itself, but the "reward" in terms of the Hereafter will be far beyond our deserts.
The same ending as in the previous verse deepens the overall effect bringing home the message forcefully and beautifully. The argument is completed and rounded off.
Evil has no authority or influence on those who put their trust in Allah. It is good to express that trust in outward actions, and a formal expression of it-as in the formula, "I seek Allah's protection from Evil"-helps us. Man is weak at best, and he should seek strength for his will in Allah's help and protection.
See ii. 106, and n. 107. The doctrine of progressive revelation from age to age and time to time does not mean that Allah's fundamental Law changes. It is not fair to charge a Prophet of Allah with forgery because the Message as revealed to him is in a different form from that revealed before, when the core of the Truth is the same, for it comes from Allah.
The title of the Angel Gabriel, through whom the revelations came down.
The People of the Book, if they had true faith, were themselves strengthened in their faith and cleared of their doubts and difficulties by the revelations brought by Al-Mustafa; and all whether People of the Book or not-who came within the fold of Islam, found the Qur-an a Guide and a Gospel, i.e., a substitute for the Mosaic Law and for the Christian Gospel, which had both been corrupted.
The wicked attribute to Prophets of Allah just such motives and springs of action as they themselves would be guilty of in such circumstances. The Pagans and those who were hostile to the revelation of Allah in Islam could not and cannot understand how such wonderful words could flow from the tongue of the Holy Prophet. They must need to postulate some human teacher. Unfortunately for their postulate, any possible human teacher they could think of would be poor in Arabic speech if he had all the knowledge that the Qur-an reveals of previous revelations. Apart from that, even the most eloquent Arab could not, and cannot, produce anything of the eloquence, width, and depth of Quranic teaching, as is evident from every verse of the Book.
It is clearly those who raise the cry of forgery that are guilty of falsehood, as there is not the least basis or even plausibility in their suggestion.
The exception refers to a case like that of 'Ammar, whose father Yasir and mother Sumayya, were subjected to unspeakable tortures for their belief in Islam, but never recanted. 'Ammar, suffering under tortures himself and his mind acted on by the sufferings of his parents, uttered a word construed as recantation, though his heart never wavered and he came back at once to the Prophet, who consoled him for his pain and confirmed his faith.
Cf. ii. 7. On account of their iniquities and their want of Faith their hearts and their senses become impervious to Allah's grace, and they run headlong to perdition.
I take this verse to refer to such men as were originally with the Pagans but afterwards joined Islam, suffered hardships and exile, and fought and struggled in the Cause, with patience and constance. Their past would be blotted out and forgiven. Men like Khalid ibn Walid were numbered with the foremost heroes of Islam. In that case this verse would be a Madinah verse, though the Sura as a whole is Makkan. Perhaps it would be better to read, with some Commentators, fatanu in the active voice rather than futinu in the passive voice, and translate "after inflicting trials and persecutions (on Muslim)." Notice the parallelism in construction between this verse and verse 119 below.
When the Reckoning comes, each soul will stand on its own personal responsibility. No one else can help it. Full justice will be done, and all the seeming inequalities of this world will be redressed.
The reference may be to any of the cities or populations in ancient or modern times, which were favoured with security and other blessings from Allah, but which rebelled from Allah's Law and tasted the inevitable penalty, even in the midst of their iniquities. Some Commentators see here a reference to the city of Makkah under Pagan control. See next note.
There is a double metaphor: (1) the tasting of hunger and terror after the abundant supplies and the full security which it had enjoyed; and (2) the complete enfolding of the City as with a garment, by these two scourges, hunger and a state of subjective alarm. If the reference is to Makkah shortly before its fall to the Muslims, the "hunger" was the seven years' severe famine which afflicted it, and the alarm was the constant fear in the minds of the Pagans that their day was done. Peace and prosperity were restored after the re-entry of the Prophet.
Ingratitude for Allah's sustenance (in the literal and figurative senses) may be shown in various ways, e.g., (1) by forgetting or refusing to acknowledge the true source of the bounty, viz., Allah, (2) by misusing or misapplying the bounty, as by committing excesses in things lawful, or refusing to share them with others of Allah's creatures when the need arises, or (3) by falsely ascribing to Allah any prohibitions we may set up for ourselves for special reasons or because of our special idiosyncrasies.
Cf. ii. 173 and notes, v. 3-4, and vi. 121 and 138-146.
Men are apt to create taboos for themselves, out of superstition, and often for selfish ends, and enforce them in the name of religion. Nothing can be more reprehensible.
See vi. 146 and n. The further prohibitions to them were a punishment for their hardness of hearts, and not a favour.
See above, xvi. 110 and n. 2147. The parallelism in construction confirms the suggestion of the alternative reading which is made in that note. The similarity of expressions also rounds off the argument, as by a refrain in poetry. What follows now in this Sura is an exhortation to right conduct.
Ummat: a model, pattern, example for imitation; but the idea that he was an Ummat in himself, standing alone against his world, should not be lost sight of. See next note.
The Gospel of Unity has been the comer-stone of spiritual Truth for all time. In this respect Abraham is the model and fountain-head for the world of western Asia and its spiritual descendants all over the world. Abraham was among a people (the Chaldeans) who worshipped stars and had forsaken the Gospel of Unity. He was among them but not of them. He suffered persecution, and left his home and his people, and settled in the land of Canaan.
Cf. ii. 113.
If Abraham's Way was the right way, the Jews were ready with the taunt, "Why don't you then observe the Sabbath?" The answer is twofold. (1) The Sabbath has nothing to do with Abraham. It was instituted with the Law of Moses because of Israel's hardness of heart (ii. 74); for they constantly disputed with their Prophet Moses (iii 108), and there were constantly among them afterwards men who broke the Sabbath (ii. 65, and n. 79). (2) Which was the true Sabbath Day? The Jews observe Saturday. The Christians, who include the Old Testament in their inspired Scripture, observe Sunday, and a sect among them (the Seventh Day Adventists) disagree, and observe Saturday. So there is disagreement among the People of the Book. Let them dispute among themselves. Their dispute will not be settled till the Day of Judgment. Meanwhile, Muslims are emancipated from such stringent restrictions. For them there is certainly the Day of United Prayer on Friday, but it is in no sense like the Jewish or the Scotch Sabbath!
Cf. ii. 113.
In this wonderful passage are laid down principles of religious preaching, which are good for all time. But where are the Teachers with such qualifications? We must invite all to the Way of Allah, and expound His Universal Will; we must do it with wisdom and discretion, meeting people on their own ground and convincing them with illustrations from their own knowledge and experience, which may be very narrow, or very wide. Our preaching must be, not dogmatic, not self-regarding, not offensive, but gentle, considerate, and such as would attract their attention. Our manner and our arguments should not be acrimonious, but modelled on the most courteous and the most gracious example, so that the hearer may say to himself, "This man is not dealing merely with dialectics; he is not trying to get a rise out of me; he is sincerely expounding the faith that is in him, and his motive is the love of man and the love of Allah."
It may be that the Preacher sometimes says to himself, "What is the use of teaching these people? they have made up their minds, or they are obstinate; or they are only trying to catch me out," Let him not yield to such a thought. Who knows how the seed of the Word of Allah may germinate in people's minds? It is not for man to look for results. Man's inner thoughts are known best to Allah.
In the context this passage refers to controversies and discussions, but the words are wide enough to cover all human struggles, disputes, and fights. In strictest equity you are not entitled to give a worse blow than is given to you. Lest you should think that such patience only gives an advantage to the adversary, you are told that the contrary is the case, the advantage is with the patient, the self-possessed, those who do not lose their temper or forget their own principles of conduct.
In the previous verse are laid down the principles of conduct in controversy for all Muslims; 'if you catch them out, you are not entitled to strike a heavier blow than you received, but it is better to restrain yourself and be patient.' There patience was recommended. In this verse a command is directly addressed to the Prophet. 'Do thou be patient.' It is a command: his standard as the Great Teacher is much higher; and he carried out in his life. His patience and self-restraint were under circumstances of extraordinary provocation. In his human wisdom it may sometimes have seemed questionable whether forbearance and self-restraint might not be human weaknesses; he had to defend his people as well as himself against the enemy's persecutions. He is told here that he need not entertain any such fears. Patience (with constancy) in those circumstances was in accordance with Allah's own command. Nor was he to grieve if they rejected Allah's Message; the Prophet had done his duty when he boldly and openly proclaimed it. Nor was his heart to be troubled if they hatched secret plots against himself and his people, Allah would protect them.
And the Sura ends with the highest consolation which the righteous can receive; the assurance that Allah is with them. A double qualification is indicated for so high an honour,-(1) that they should not yield to human passion or anger or impatience, and (2) that they should go on with constancy doing good all around them. To attain to the Presence of Allah in the sense of "I am with you" is the culmination of the righteous man's aspiration.