Alif Lam Mim. 3628
(This is) the revelation of the Book in which there is no doubt, from the Lord of the Worlds. 3629
Or do they say "He has forged it"? Nay it is the Truth from the Lord that thou mayest admonish a people to whom no warner has come before thee: in order that they may receive guidance. 3630 3631
It is Allah Who has created the heavens and the earth and all between them in six Days and is firmly established on the Throne (of authority): ye have none besides Him to protect or intercede (for you): will ye not then receive admonition? 3632 3633
He rules (all) affairs from the heavens to the earth: in the end will (all affairs) go up to Him on a Day the space whereof will be (as) a thousand years of your reckoning. 3634
Such as He the knower of all things hidden and open the Exalted (in power) the Merciful; 3635
He Who has made everything which He has created most Good. He began the creation of man with (nothing more than) clay 3636 3637
And made his progeny from a quintessence of the nature of a fluid despised: 3638
But He fashioned him in due proportion and breathed into him something of His spirit. And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (and understanding): little thanks do ye give! 3639 3640
And they say: "What! when we lie hidden and lost in the earth shall we indeed be in a creation renewed?" Nay they deny the meeting with their Lord! 3641
Say: "The Angel of Death put in charge of you will (duly) take your souls: then shall ye be brought back to your Lord." 3642
If only thou couldst see when the guilty ones will bend low their heads before their Lord (saying:) "Our Lord! We have seen and we have heard: now then send us back (to the world): we will work righteousness: for we do indeed (now) believe." 3643
If We had so willed We could certainly have brought every soul its true guidance: but the Word from Me will come true. "I will fill Hell with Jinns and men all together." 3644 3645
"Taste ye then for ye forgot the meeting of this day of yours and We too will forget you taste ye the Penalty of Eternity for your (evil) deeds!" 3646
Only those believe in Our Signs who when they are recited to them fall down in adoration and celebrate the praises of their Lord nor are they (ever) puffed up with pride. 3647
Their limbs do forsake their beds of sleep the while they call on their Lord in Fear and Hope: and they spend (in charity) out of the sustenance which We have bestowed on them. 3648 3649
Now no person knows what delights of the eye are kept hidden (in reserve) for them as a reward for their (good) Deeds. 3650
Is then the man who believes no better than the man who is rebellious and wicked? No equal are they. 3651
For those who believe and do righteous deeds are Gardens as hospitable homes for their (good) deeds. 3652
As to those who are rebellious and wicked their abode will be the Fire: every time they wish to get away therefrom they will be forced thereinto and it will be said to them: "taste ye the Penalty of the Fire the which ye were wont to reject as false. 3653
And indeed We will make them taste of the Penalty of this (life) prior to the supreme Penalty in order that they may (repent and) return. 3654
And who does more wrong than one to whom are recited the Signs of his Lord and who then turns away therefrom? Verily from those who transgress We shall exact (Due) Retribution. 3655
We did indeed aforetime give the Book to Moses: be not then in doubt of its reaching (thee): and We made it a guide to the Children of Israel. 3656 3657
And We appointed from among them Leaders giving guidance under Our command so long as they persevered with patience and continued to have faith in Our Signs. 3658
Verily thy Lord will judge between them on the Day of Judgement in the matters wherein they differ (among themselves). 3659
Does it not teach them a lesson how many generations We destroyed before them in whose dwellings they (now) go to and fro? Verily in that are Signs: do they not then listen? 3660 3661
And do they not see that We do drive Rain to parched soil (bare of herbage) and produce therewith crops providing food for their cattle and themselves? Have they not the vision? 3662 3663
They say: "When will this decision be if ye are telling the truth?" 3664
Say: "On the Day of Decision no profit will it be to Unbelievers if they (then) believe! Nor will they be granted a respite."
So turn away from them and wait: they too are waiting. 3665
See n. 25 to ii. 1, and Introduction to S. xxx.
By the time of the holy Prophet the earlier Books of Revelation had been corrupted, by human ignorance or selfishness or fraud, or misinterpreted, or lost altogether. There were sects violently disputing with each other as to their true meaning. Such doubts had to be set at rest, and they were set at rest by the revelation of the Qur-an. The Quranic inspiration came direct from Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and did not consist merely of human conjectures or a reconstructed philosophy, in which there is always room for doubt or dispute. Cf. also ii. 2.
The force of "or" (am in Arabic) is that the only alternative to the acceptance of the Book as a divine revelation is the supposition that it was a forgery by the holy Prophet. But the supposition is absurd on the face of it: because (1) the Quraish, his critics, knew him to be an honest and truthful man; (2) he was unlettered, and such a Book would have been beyond his powers as a simple unlettered Arab, unless Allah inspired it; and (3) there was a definite reason for its coming as it did, because the Arabs had received no Messenger before him and Allah has sent Messengers to every nation.
The Arabs very much needed guidance for themselves, and the advent of a World Prophet through them was what might have been expected in view of the past course of Allah's Revelations.
Six Days: See n. 1031 to vii. 54. The "Day" does not mean a day as we reckon it, viz., one apparent course of the sun round the earth, for it refers to conditions which began before the earth and the sun were created. In verse 5 below, a Day is compared to a thousand years of our reckoning, and in lxx. 4 to 50,000 years. These figures "as we reckon" have no relation to "timeless Time", and must be taken to mean very long Periods, or Ages, or Aeons. See further xli. 9-12, and notes.
Cf. x. 3. n. 1386. Allah created the World as we see it in six great Stages. But after the initial creation, He is still in authority and directs and controls all affairs. He has not delegated His powers to others, and Himself retired. Also see vii. 54.
How could the immense mystery of Time behind our ideas of it be enforced on our minds better? Our Day may be a thousand or fifty thousand years, and our years in proportion. In the immense Past was Allah's act of creation: it still continues, for He guides, rules, and controls all affairs: and in the immense Future all affairs will go up to Him, for He will be the Judge, and His restoration of all values will be as in a Day or an Hour or the Twinkling of an eye; and yet to our ideas it will be as a thousand years!
Allah's attributes, then, may be summed up with reference to Knowledge, Power, and Mercy. Where our knowledge is partial and uncertain, His is complete and certain. Where our power often falls short of the carrying out of our will, or needs the help of Time, His is complete and conterminous with His Will. Where our mercy seems to be bounded by or opposed to justice, His is absolute and unconditioned.
Allah's creation in itself is good: it is beautiful, in proper proportions, and adapted for the functions it has to perform. There is no evil or disorder in it. Such evil or disorder as creeps in is due to man's will (as far as the world of man is concerned), and spiritual Teaching is directed to train and cure that will and bring it into conformity with the Universal Order and Plan.
Man is asked to contemplate his own humble beginning. His material body (apart from life) is a piece of earth or clay, which is another term for primeval matter. Matter is therefore the first stage, but even matter was not self-created. It was created by Allah.
Then comes life and the reproduction of life. We are still looking at the purely physical aspect, but it is now a stage higher; it is an animal. Its reproduction is through the sperm or semen, which is a quintessence of every part of the body of man. Yet it issues from the same part of his body as the urine, and is therefore despicable in man's sight. It is a living cell or cells, summing up so much ancestral life-history. Cf. xxiii. 12, and n. 2872.
The third stage is indicated by "fashioned him in due proportion". Cf. xv. 29. After fertilisation of ovum by the sperm, an individual life comes into existence, and it is gradually fashioned into shape, its limbs are formed; its animal life begins to function; all the beautiful adaptations come into play. The fourth stage here mentioned is that of distinctive Man, into whom Allah's spirit is breathed. Then he rises higher than animals.
As a complete man he gets the higher faculties. The five animal senses I understand to be included in the third stage. But in the fourth stage he rises higher, and is addressed in the second person, "you," instead of the third person "him". He has now the spiritual counterpart of hearing (i.e., the capacity of hearing Allah's Message) and seeing (i.e., the inner vision), and feeling the nobler heights of love and understanding the bearings of the inner life (both typified by the Heart). Yet with all these gifts, what thanks does unregenerate or corrupted man give to Allah?
Cf. xiii. 5. It has been the cry of Materialists and Sceptics through the ages not only to bound their horizon with this brief life, but to deny dogmatically that there can be a future life. Though this is against the professed principles of Sceptics, in practice they take up that attitude. Here "they" refers to those "who give little thanks" to Allah, mentioned in the last verse. The argument used against them is: if Allah can produce such a wonderful creation the first time, why can He not make it again? That points to the possibility: our own general inner hope and expectation of a future life, coupled with Faith in Allah's work, is the ground of our certainty.
If death is certain, as it is, and this life by itself in no way satisfies our instincts and expectations, we may be sure that the agency which separates our soul from our body will bring us into the new world. If we believe in a soul at all-the very foundation of Religion-we must believe in a Future, without which the soul has no meaning.
In life on the new plane, there will be no room for deception or self-deception. The most hardened sinner will see the truth and the justice of the Day of Account. He will wish he could be sent back, but it will be too late. The world as we know it will have already passed away.
Could evil have been avoided? Certainly everything is in Allah's power. If it had been His Will and Plan, He could have created a world in which there would have been no choice or will in any of His creatures. But that was not His Will and Plan. In the world as we see it, man has a certain amount of choice and free-will. That being so, He has provided Signs and means of instruction for man, in order that man's will may be straight and pure. A necessary corollary will be Punishment for the infraction of His Law. That Punishment must come to pass, for Allah's Word is true and must be fulfilled.
Cf. xi. 119. n. 1623, and vii. 18, and see last note. Jinns are the evil spirits that tempt men, and the men who will suffer punishment will be those who have succumbed to their temptations.
"Forgot": Cf. n. 1029 to vii. 51. "Forget" is here in the sense of "to ignore deliberately, to reject with scorn". In the sense of mistake or defect of knowledge it is inapplicable to the All-Perfect Being, for we are expressly told: "My Lord never errs, nor forgets": xx. 52.
"In adoration": Sujjadan, or in a posture of prostration, expressive of deep humility and faith. This is the keyword of the Sura, which bears the title of Sajda. All the Signs of Allah lead our thoughts upwards towards Him, and when they are expounded, our attitude should be one of humble gratitude to Allah. At this passage it is usual to make a prostration.
Men and women "breathless with adoration" shun soft, comfortable beds, and luxurious sleep. Their limbs are better exercised in offices of devotion and prayer, especially by night. Commentators specially refer this to Prayers called Tahajjud, which are offered after midnight in the small hours of the morning.
In Fear and Hope: in spiritual fear lest their dedication to Allah should not be sufficiently worthy to be accepted, and a spiritual longing or hope that their shortcomings will be overlooked by the Mercy of Allah. And their adoration is not shown only in Prayer, but also in practical Service and Charity, out of whatever gifts they may have received from Allah.
Delights of the eye: an idiom for that which pleases most and gives most satisfaction. In our present state we can scarcely imagine the real Bliss that will come to us in the Future.
The Future of the two classes-the Blessed and the Wicked-is described in verses 19-22.
A home brings before our minds a picture of peace and happiness. When to it are added honour and hospitality, it adds further to the idea of happiness.
Cf. xxii. 22. Just as the gardens is the type of Bliss, so is the Fire the type of Penalty and suffering. There will be no getting away from it. What will be the thoughts of those who had earned it? "We used to reject the idea of the Consequences as a mere chimera: and now we find it to be true!" What will be their feelings then? How will they like it!
The final Penalty is to come in the Hereafter. There is no doubt about it. But before it comes, a minor Penalty comes in this very life. It may be in some kind of misfortune, or it may be in the pangs of a tortured conscience or secret sorrow. But this minor Penalty may be really a mercy, as it gives them a chance of repentance and amendment.
The worst and most hardened sinner is the man to whom Allah's Signs are actually brought home and who yet prefers Evil and turns away from the Light of Allah. The Signs may be in the words and guidance of a great Teacher or in some minor sorrow or warning, which he disregards with contumely. Or it may be in a catastrophic blow to his conscience, which should open his eyes, but from which he deliberately refuses to profit. The penalty-the Nemesis-must necessarily come eventually.
"The Book" is not here coextensive with Revelation. Moses had, revealed to him, a Law, a shari'at, which was to guide his people in all the practical affairs of their life. Jesus, after him, was also inspired by Allah: but his Injil or Gospel contained only general principles and not a Code or shari'at. The holy Prophet was the next one to have a shari'at or "Book" in that sense: for the Qur-an contains both a Code and general principles. This Sura is a Makkan Sura. The Code came later in Madinah. But he is given the assurance that he will also have a Code, to supersede the earlier Law, and complete the Revelation of Allah.
"Its reaching (thee)" : liqa-i-hi. Commentators differ as to the construction of the pronoun hi, which may be translated either "its" or "his". I construe it to refer to "the Book", as that gives the most natural meaning, as explained in the last note.
The series of Judges, Prophets, and Kings in Israel continued to give good guidance, in accordance with Allah's Law, as long as the people continued in Faith and Constancy (persevering patience). When that condition ceased, Allah's grace was withdrawn, and the people broke up into wrangling sects and practically suffered national annihilation.
These wrangles and disputes among them will continue until the Day of Judgment, but meantime a new Ummat (that of Islam) will arise and take its place, with a universal and unified Message for mankind.
If a nation gone astray could only learn from the history of earlier nations that were destroyed for their evil! Their could sec vestiges of them in their daily goings to and fro: the Jews could see vestiges of the Philistines, Amalekites, etc. in Palestine, and the pagan Arabs, of the 'Ad and Thamud in Arabia.
"Listen": i.e., listen to the warnings conveyed in Allah's Signs. Notice how naturally the transition is effected from the physical to the spiritual-from the ruined physical vestiges of ungodly nations on this earth to the more intangible Signs conveyed by History and Revelation. Here the sense of Hearing is mentioned, both in its physical and its metaphysical or spiritual aspect. In the next verse the sense of Sight is mentioned in both aspects.
Again, as in the last verse, there is an easy transition from the physical to the spiritual. In physical nature there may be parched soil, which is to all intents and purposes dead. Allah sends rain, and the dead soil is converted into living land producing rich crops of fodder and corn, nuts and fruits, to satisfy the hunger of man and beast. So in the spiritual world. The dead man is revivified by Allah's grace and mercy, through His Revelation. He becomes not only an asset to himself but to his dependents and those around him.
The verse begins with "do they not see?" (a wa lam yarau), a physical act. It ends with "have they not the vision?" (afa la yabsirun), a matter of spiritual insight. This is parallel to the two kinds of "hearing" or "listening", explained in n. 3661 above.
The Unbelievers may say: "If all this which you say is true, tell us when this final decision between right and wrong will come about." The answer is: "If you mean that you will postpone your repentance and reform till then, it will be no use: it will be too late for repentance, and no respite will be granted then: this is the Respite, and this is your chance."
Read vi. 158 and n. 984 as a commentary on this. There it is said to the Unbelievers: "Wait ye: we too are waiting." Here the Righteous one is told: "Wait (thou): they too are waiting." The reversal of the order is appropriate: in each case the person (or persons) addressed is mentioned first. Cf. also vii. 71.