By the (Winds) that scatter broadcast; 4986 4987
And those that lift and bear away heavy weights; 4988
And those that flow with ease and gentleness; 4989
And those that distribute and apportion by command 4990
Verily that which ye are promised is true; 4991
And verily Judgment and Justice must indeed come to pass. 4992
By the Sky with (its) numerous Paths 4993
Truly ye are in a doctrine discordant 4994
Through which are deluded (away from the Truth) such as would be deluded. 4995
Woe to the falsehood-mongers
Those who (flounder) heedless in a flood of confusion: 4996
They ask "when will be the Day of Judgment and Justice?"
(It will be) a Day when they will be tried (and tested) over the Fire!
"Taste ye your trial! this is what ye used to ask to be hastened!" 4997
As to the Righteous they will be in the midst of Gardens and Springs 4998
Taking joy in the things which their Lord gives them because before then they lived a good life.
They were in the habit of sleeping but little by night 4999
And in the hours of early dawn They (were found) praying for Forgiveness; 5000
And in their wealth and possessions (was remembered) the right of the (needy) him who asked and him who (for some reason) was prevented (from asking). 5001
On the earth are Signs for those of assured Faith
As also in your own selves: will ye not then see? 5002
And in heaven is your Sustenance as (also) that which ye are promised. 5003
Then by the Lord of heaven and earth this is the very Truth as much as the fact that ye can speak intelligently to each other. 5004
Has the story reached thee of the honored guests of Abraham? 5005
Behold they entered His presence and said: "Peace!" He said "Peace!" (and thought "these seem) unusual people." 5006 5007
Then he turned quickly to his household brought out a fatted calf. 5008
And placed it before them... He said "Will ye not eat?"
(When they did not eat) He conceived a fear of them. They said "Fear not" and they gave him glad tidings of a son endowed with knowledge.
But his wife came forward (laughing) aloud: she smote her forehead and said: "a barren old woman!" 5009
They said "Even so has thy Lord spoken: and He is full of Wisdom and Knowledge." 5010
(Abraham) said: "And what O ye Messengers is your errand (now)?"
They said "We have been sent to a people (deep) in sin
"To bring on on them (a shower of) stones of clay (brimstone) 5011
"Marked as from thy Lord for those who trespass beyond bounds." 5012
Then We evacuated those of the Believers who were there. 5013
But We found not there any just (Muslim) persons except in one house: 5014
And We left there a Signs for such as fear the Grievous Penalty. 5015
And in Moses (was another Sign): Behold We sent him to Pharaoh with authority manifest. 5016
But (Pharaoh) turned back with his Chiefs and said "A sorcerer or one possessed!"
So We took him and his forces and threw them into the sea: and his was the blame. 5017
And in the `Ad (people) (was another Sign): Behold We sent against them the devastating Wind: 5018
It left nothing whatever that it came up against but reduced it to ruin and rottenness.
And in the Thamud (was another Sign): Behold they were told "Enjoy (your brief day) for a little while!" 5019 5020
But they insolently defied the command of their Lord: so the stunning noise (of an earthquake) seized them even while they were looking on. 5021 5022
Then they could not even stand (on their feet) nor could they help themselves. 5023
So were the people of Noah before them: for they wickedly transgressed. 5024
With the power and skill did We construct the Firmament: for it is We Who create the vastness of Space. 5025
And We have spread out the (spacious) earth: how excellently We do spread out!
And of everything We have created pairs: that ye may receive instruction. 5026
Hasten ye then (at once) to Allah: I am from Him a warner to you clear and open! 5027
And make not another an object of worship with Allah: I am from Him a Warner to you clear and open! 5028
Similarly no apostle came to the Peoples before them but they said (of him) in like manner "A sorcerer or one possessed"! 5029
Is this the legacy they have transmitted one to another? Nay they are themselves a people transgressing beyond bounds! 5030
So turn away from them: not thine is the blame. 5031
But teach (thy Message): for teaching benefits the Believers.
I have only created jinns and men that they may serve Me. 5032
No sustenance do I require of them nor do I require that they should feed Me. 5033
For Allah is He Who gives (all) Sustenance Lord of Power Steadfast (for ever). 5034
For the wrongdoers their portion is like unto the portion of their fellows (of earlier generations): then let them not ask Me to hasten (that portion)! 5035
Woe then to the Unbelievers on account of that day of theirs which they have been promised! 5036
Four things are mentioned in verses 1 to 4 as evidences or types of the certainty and unity of a Truth described in verses 5-6. What these things are is described by certain adjectival participles, the noun understood being usually taken to be "Winds": the word for Wind (Rih) being feminine in Arabic. Some Commentators however understand other nouns as being implied. e.g., angels in all four verses, or different things in each of the four verses. Whatever these things are, their different modes of working are evidence of the power and goodness of Allah, the Unity of His Plan, and the certainty of Good and Evil reaching their own destined ends, when Judgment and Justice will have given each one his due.
Winds may blow strong, and scatter particles of dust far and wide; but they do not diminish by one jot the substance of Allah's material creation; on the contrary they help to readjust things. They reshape the configuration of the earth; in the vegetable kingdom they carry seeds about and plant new seeds in old soils; in the region of air they produce mighty changes in temperature and pressure that affect animal and vegetable life; they carry the moisture of equatorial Africa to the parched plains of India; and so on. Yet they are just one little agency showing Allah's working in the material world. So in the spiritual world. Revelation works mighty changes; it may be resisted, but the resistance will be swept away; it ever points to the one Great Final Event, "to which the whole Creation moves".
The things that lift and bear away heavy weights may be the Winds that carry the heavy rain-clouds or that sweep off every resistance from their path, or it may be the heavy moisture-laden clouds themselves. So works Revelation: it lifts and sweeps away the burdens of custom, superstition, or man's inertia, and ever leads onwards to the destined End.
These may be Winds that fill the sails of ships with gentle and favourable breezes, that carry men and merchandise to their destinations. Or they may be the ships themselves, whose smooth motion through the waters is described in many places, by the verb jara, "to flow", e.g., cf. ii. 164.
These may be Winds (or other agencies) that distribute and apportion moisture or rain or atmospheric pressure or other blessings of Allah, -not haphazard but by fixed laws, i. e., according to the Command of their Lord. So with Revelation. Its blessings are distributed all round, and it produces its marvellous effects sometimes in the most unlikely places and ways.
That which ye are promised: the Promise of Allah about Mercy and Forgiveness to the Penitent, and Justice and Penalty to the Rebellious, the promise of the Hereafter: the promise that all does not end here, but that there is a truer and more lasting world to come, for which this is but a preparation.
Din=the giving to each person his precise and just due; this is implied in Judgment and Justice. All the inequalities of this Life are to be redressed.
The study of the numerous regular orbits of the planets and irregularly regular orbits of comets, and the various motions, visible or invisible, of the fixed stars or revolving stars, form in themselves a network of knowledge or science, of a highly technical nature; the highest astronomy or mathematics can only barely reach its fringe. But these have all a fixed Plan and Purpose under Allah's Dispensation. In them variety leads to Unity. In contrast look at the confused medley of doctrines, views, and dicta put forward by the Sceptics, as described in the next verse.
Qaul=saying, word, theory, doctrine. Mukhtalif =differing, various, inconsistent with itself, discordant. No theory or doctrine based on a denial of a Hereafter can be consistent with spiritual facts as we know them, or with Allah's Goodness, Justice, and Mercy.
Some Commentators draw from this a rigid doctrine of Calvinistic Predestination or Determinism, which I do not think is fairly deducible from the words. "Ufika" should I think be translated "will be or would be deluded", meaning "have the wish or desire to be", and not "must necessarily be deluded by eternal predestination". The word occurs in many places in the Qur-an: e.g. Cf. v. 78, or ix. 30.
They are in great spiritual danger: yet they care not.
They used to say scoffingly, "if there is to be punishment for our sins, let it come at once!" When it comes, they will know what a terrible thing it is! Cf. xxvi. 204, n. 3230.
Gardens and Springs are the two most frequent examples for the highest satisfaction and bliss.
They were engaged most of the night in worship and in the planning of good deeds. They preferred activity to idleness, the service of Allah and His creatures to the indulgence of Self.
They were up early before dawn, ready for their devotions. The praying for Forgiveness and Mercy does not necessarily imply that they had committed fresh sins. Indeed they began the day with such devotions, showing their great humility before Allah and their anxious care for others, for whom they prayed as much as for themselves. See the last sentence of n. 21 to i. 5.
True charity remembers not only those in need who ask, but also those who are prevented by some reason from asking. The man of true charity seeks out the latter. There may be various reasons which prevent a man from asking for help: (1) he may be ashamed to ask, or his sense of honour may prevent him from asking; (2) he may be so engrossed in some great ideal that he may not think of asking; (3) he may even not know that he is in need, (4) he may not know that you possess the things that can supply his needs; and (5) he may be a dumb and helpless creature, whether a human being or a dumb animal, or any creature within your ken or power. Charity in the higher sense includes all help, from one better endowed to one less well endowed. Cf. n. 179 to ii. 177; also ii. 273-274, and notes 322 and 323.
The Signs and Evidence of Allah are in all nature and within the body and soul of man, if man has but the spiritual eyes to see. Cf. xli. 53.
"Sustenance", here as elsewhere, includes physical sustenance, as well as spiritual sustenance. Similarly heaven or sky has both the physical and the spiritual meaning. The physical sustenance grows from rain from the sky; the spiritual sustenance comes from divine aid, grace, and mercy, and includes the Good News and the Warning which come from Revelation about the Hereafter.
Attention having been called to the Signs or Evidences of Allah's working on the earth, within ourselves, and in the heavens, in verses 20-22, an appeal is made to our own inner conscience, in the name of the Lord of heaven and earth, to acknowledge and act up to the truth of Revelation, and turn to the spiritual Realities. For they are as real as our own conscious and self-intelligent existence, on which is based all our knowledge. As a philosopher (Descartes) has said: "I think; therefore I am."
Cf. xi. 69-73 and notes, where further details of the story will be found. Cf. also xv. 51-56.
They were angels, who appeared suddenly before him at his tent-door in the guise of men, and saluted him with the salutation of peace. He returned the salutation, but felt, from their appearance and their manner, that they were unusual, not ordinary, strangers.
Munkar: unknown, uncommon, unusual, not customary, (hence by derived meaning, not applicable here, not fair or just); opposite in both primary and secondary meanings to maraf, well-known, usual, customary, just. Cf. xv. 62.
They seemed unusual strangers, but he said nothing and quietly proceeded to perform the rites of hospitality. He brought a roast fatted calf and placed it before them to eat. But the strangers did not eat (xi. 70). This disconcerted him. According to the laws of hospitality, a stranger under your roof is under your protection, but if he refuses to eat, he refuses your hospitality and keeps himself free from any ties of guest and host. "What were their designs?" thought Abraham, and he felt some distrust. But they were angels and could not eat. They declared themselves, and announced the birth to Abraham of a son endowed with wisdom,-in other words that Abraham was to be the head of a long line of Prophets! (xv. 53).
Abraham's wife Sarah was old and barren. This news seemed to her too good to be true. She came forward, clamoured (xi. 71), struck her forehead with her hands, indicative of her amusement and incredulity as "a barren old woman": xi. 72.
The angels said: "What may sound improbable to human beings will yet come to pass if Allah commands. And Allah thy Lord has spoken. So shall it be. For all His promises are full of wisdom and knowledge." So the angels on that occasion. But the application is for all time and to all human affairs. Never despair. However much Truth may be in the shade, it will shine with full splendour. And the Judgment will come, when good will come to its own!
Cf. xi. 82, and n. 1052 to vii. 84. The angels' errand of mercy to Abraham (to announce the succession of godly men in his line) was coupled with their errand of justice and punishment to the people of Lut, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, who were deep in the most abominable and unnatural sins. So Allah's Mercy and Justice go hand in hand in all human affairs. Faith has nothing to fear, and wickedness has only to turn and repent, to obtain Allah's Mercy.
Cf. xi. 83, and n. 1580. Every crime has its due punishment as marked out in the decrees of Allah.
The only just or righteous persons found in Sodom and Gomorrah (Cities of the Plain by the Dead Sea) were in the house of Lut, who was the Prophet sent to call them to repentance. He and his believing family and adherents were told to leave in due time, and the wicked were destroyed in a shower of brimstone.
That was the house of Lut; and even there, his wife had no faith: she disobeyed the Command and perished: xi. 81, n. 1577.
The Grievous Chastisement: that is, the Final Judgment. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in this life is taken as the type of the Final Judgment. The vestiges can be seen-as a Sign and a Warning-in the sulphury plain round the Dead Sea: Cf. xv. 79.
Cf. xliv. 17-31. The story of Moses and Pharaoh is here just referred to. The points emphasized here are: (1) that Moses had manifest authority, yet Pharaoh doubted; (2) that Pharaoh's reliance was on his Chiefs and his forces, but they could not help when his doom came; and (3) that in the most extraordinary and incredible ways (judged by ordinary human standards), his arrogance and his reliance on his Chiefs and forces was his undoing.
The ungodly Egyptians were all destroyed, but the chief blame lay on Pharaoh for misleading them. Pharaoh's punishment was just. He could not blame any one else. And certainly no one can blame the course of Allah's Justice, for Allah was patient, and gave him many chances to repent.
Cf. xlvi. 21-26. The point here is that the 'Ad were a gifted people: Allah had given them talents and material wealth: but when they defied Allah, they and all their belongings were destroyed in a night, by a hurricane which they thought was bringing them the rain to which they were looking forward. How marvellously Allah's Providence works, to help the good and destroy the wicked!
See the story of the Thamud and their prophet Salih in vii. 73-79. Here the point is the suddenness of their punishment and its unexpected nature.
Salih their prophet gave them three days' clear warning for repentance (xi. 65). But they heeded him not. On the contrary they flouted him and continued in their evil courses.
They had already defied the order to preserve the She-camel, which was a sign from Allah. See xi. 64-65 and n. 1560. They continued to flout the warnings of the prophet until the earthquake came on them with a stunning noise and buried them where they were: vii. 78; and xi. 67.
Sa'iqat: a stunning sound like that of thunder and lightning (ii. 55); such a sound often accompanies an earthquake (see xli. 17, n. 4485, and vii. 78 and n. 1047).
They were swept off in the earthquake.
The generation of Noah was swept away in the Flood for their sins: vii. 59-64. The point is that such a Flood seemed so unlikely to them that they thought Noah was "wandering in his mind" when he delivered Allah's Message: vii. 60.
If you do not wish to go back to the wonderful things in the past, which show the power and goodness of Allah, and His justice supreme over all wrong-doing, look at the wonderful things unfolding themselves before your very eyes! (1) The space in the heavens above! Who can comprehend it but He Who made it and sustains it? (2) The globe of the earth under your feet! How great its expanse seems over sea and land, and spread out for you like a wonderful carpet or bed of rest! (3) All things are in twos: sex in plants and animals, by which one individual is complementary to another; in the subtle forces of nature, Day and Night, positive and negative electricity, forces of attraction and repulsion: and numerous other opposites, each fulfilling its purpose, and contribution to the working of Allah's Universe: and in the moral and spiritual world, Love and Aversion, Mercy and Justice, Striving and Rest, and so on;-all fulfilling their functions according to the Artistry and wonderful Purpose of Allah. Everything has its counterpart, or pair, or complement. Allah alone is One, with none like Him, or needed to complement Him. These are noble things to contemplate. And they lead us to a true understanding of Allah's Purpose and Message.
See (3) in the last note. Cf. xxxvi. 36, n. 3981.
If you understand Nature and yourselves aright, you will know that Allah is the Truth, and you will fly at once to Him. This is the teaching which the Prophet of Allah has come to give you, in clear terms and openly to all.
Verses 50 and 51, ending with the same clause to emphasize the connection between the two, should be read together. The Prophet's mission was (and is): (1) to show us the urgent need for repentance; and (2) to wean us from the precipice of false worship. The one convinces us of sin and opens the door to the Mercy of Allah; the other cures us of the madness of paying court to idle or worthless objects of desire; for in the worship of Allah, the One True God is included the best service to ourselves and our fellow-creatures. If fully understood, this sums up the whole duty of man: for it leads us by the right Path to the love of Allah and the love of man and of all creatures.
They said this of Moses: li. 39. And they said this of the holy Prophet: xxxviii. 4; xliv. 14.
There is a tradition of Evil as there is a tradition of Good. The ways of Evil in dealing with the teachers of Truth are similar in all ages. But such evil traditions would have no effect, were it not that the generation following them is itself ungodly, "transgressing beyond bounds."
When the Prophet freely proclaims his Message, it is not his fault if obstinate wickedness refuses to listen. He can leave them alone, but he should continue to teach for the benefit of those who have Faith.
Creation is not for idle sport or play: xxi. 16. Allah has a serious Purpose behind it, which, in our imperfect state, we can only express by saying that each creature is given the chance of development and progress towards the Goal, which is Allah. Allah is the source and centre of all power and all goodness, and our progress depends upon our putting ourselves into accord with His Will. This is His service. It is not of any benefit to Him: see the next two verses: it is for our own benefit.
Sustenance: in both the literal and the figurative sense; so also "Freed Me" at the end of the verse. Allah is independent of all needs. It is therefore absurd to suppose that He should require any Sustenance, and still more absurd to suppose that we can feed Him! The gifts, the Sustenance, the goodness, all come from His side.
Allah commands all power; therefore any power we seek must be from Him. And His power is steadfast, the same to-day as yesterday, and for ever. Therefore His help is always sure.
Each generation, that acts like any of its predecessors, must meet a similar fate. If the wicked came to an evil end in the past, the same results will follow in the present and the future. The punishment will come suddenly enough: let them not in mockery ask that it should be hastened.
That is, their eternal Punishment in the Hereafter, as well as any punishment that may come to them in this life.