Surat Az-Zukhruf

What is the Qur'an About?

Tafsir Ishraq al-Ma`ani
by
Syed Iqbal Zaheer

تفسير إِشراقُ المَعَاني
سيد إقبال ظهير

PREPARATORY

What is the Qur'an About?
The Qur'an is the Word of Allah and a Book of Guidance. It can be asked, guidance to what? The answer is: “Guidance to Allah Most High, His Attributes, His Will, and the way in which one may conduct oneself to obtain that approval (rida) of Allah after which there is no anger." Imam Shafe`i perhaps had the first part of this statement in mind when he said:

"All that (the scholars of) the Ummah have to say is nothing but the exposition of the Sunnah. All that is in the Sunnah is the exposition of the Qur'an. And the whole of the Qur'an is nothing but the exposition of the Names and Attributes of Allah" (Zarkashi: Al‑Burhan Fi `Ulum al‑Qur'an).

This guidance to Allah, the knowledge of His Attributes and Will, and the guidance to right conduct cannot be obtained by any means other than the Qur'an and its complementary, the Sunnah, (the sayings and practices of Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him).
The Qur'an is also the only source of guidance. Someone who is unaware of its existence, but is a seeker of Truth, (on account of his innate faith in God and disillusionment with the world), will be led to this Book, one way or the other. The Qur'an says (29: 69): "Those who strive in Us, We shall surely guide them unto Our paths."

What is Guidance?
From another angle, it might be said that being on the guidance is to know, acknowledge, and, live by the Truth. In the context of this life, it is
a) the knowledge of what one is required to do, in the right measure, at any particular moment, and
b) the will to live by that knowledge.
In one sense, then, Guidance is knowledge, and in another, the will to act by it. The ‘will to act' is not the same as the ‘power to act.' That is because man has been granted will (or the freedom of choice) in a limited framework, while all power is Allah's. The power, or ability to act ‑ referred to as tawfiq in Islamic terminology ‑ is granted when willingness is demonstrated.
Further, since there is no such thing as half‑guidance, both are essential for salvation: knowledge without the will to act is only an evidence against one's self (hujjah), and deeds (however pretty their appearance), are grains thrown in the sand if they go without the acknowledgement of the Truth.
The Qur'an guides in both the senses. It bestows knowledge (or 'ilm wa 'irfan), giving the seeker the proper concept of the truth, as well as the will‑power and the moral courage to produce a living model of that concept in his own person, overcoming the obstacles he might encounter from within or without.
No other book, writing, philosophy, or person can achieve this. There should be no doubt about it; for any ambiguity in this regard can deprive one of the fruits of study and application.
The above definition illustrates and emphasizes the external, physical, and ephemeral aspect. Guidance has an esoteric, transcendent, and eternal meaning also, which is the fruit and essence of the external aspect. It is that state of mind and soul in which the other world becomes dearer than this one, in which, one eagerly awaits to be transported to the other world in order to heal that pain in the heart, and quench that thirst of the soul which only the company of those on High can heal and quench.
It is when one begins to ‘wait for the next salah after the last one,' when one ‘remembers Allah in his seclusion and the remembrance brings tears to his eyes,' when Allah becomes so dear that one begins to ‘love for Allah and hate for Allah,' and, when ‘the state of sabr and shukr become one and the same,' then it is that a person can said to be, in the words of the Qur'an, "on a guidance from his Lord."

The Path of Knowledge
A hadith of the Prophet (saws) says: "I am leaving behind me two things. So long as you hold fast unto them, you will not be misguided: they are Allah's Book and my practices." Nevertheless, this oft‑quoted hadith is rarely treated seriously. People apply themselves with great fervor to books, writings, speeches and ideologies presented by the scholars of Islam, but not as often do they leave them and their influences aside to turn directly to the Qur'an in complete seriousness. They do not seem to realize that they are not guided by those books and writings but to the extent that they themselves contain the Qur'an and the Sunnah in their pure form and unadulterated meaning.
Further, even when the Qur'an is studied, it is mostly done through the eyes, minds, and explanations of the scholars. The knowledge derived is, therefore, at best second‑hand, vicarious, and not wholly trustworthy. Again, a study of the Qur'an after a lot of other literature has been read has the disadvantage of the earlier readings embossing on the mind impressions that do not allow for the new ones to take place in their pristine form. The result is a jumble of concepts, true, half true, and false.
Alternatively, the Qur'an is read with pre‑conceived ideas. Human ideas are then taken for Divine ideas with citation of Qur’anic verses as evidences.
There are a few other characteristics that distinguish the Qur'an from all other kinds of writings. Firstly, the knowledge that the Qur'an imparts is the true and infallible knowledge. Secondly, the Qur'an succeeds in communicating the ideas it holds. That is, the reader cannot miss the meaning that it intends to communicate. Provided one is sincere, no one can miss its guidance, or, led to a meaning and understanding not intended. That happens with writings other than the Divine; humans say one thing, and the audience understand another thing. Moreover, through its intricate sequencing of the texts, the Qur’an answers to the doubts that arise, so to say, on the spot, and registers its meaning and message without adulteration of doubts menacing the mind, or skeptical notes lying beneath like snakes in the grass.
Therefore, to obtain true knowledge and right guidance from the Qur'an the requirement is to do away with preconceived ideas and study it with the firm intention to live by the meaning as it unfolds itself. With that kind of intention, the student is qualified to receive the true meaning. The meaning obtained is also accompanied by an urge to live by it, which then is the next requirement. That accomplished, that is, the meaning translated into action, the reader demonstrates purity of intention. In consequence, he qualifies to receive a fresh set of true meaning which unfolds themselves with further reading. This goes on until the student reaches that state which has been described in a hadith by Allah (swt) Himself in words, “I become the hands of the slave with which he grips, the feet of the slave with which he walks ... (to the end of the hadith).” But if he fails, that is, he is not true to himself at any given phase, or discontinues the process, then the tawfiq is held back until he amends his ways. The Qur’an has said (7: 146):

{سَأَصْرِفُ عَنْ آيَاتِيَ الَّذِينَ يَتَكَبَّرُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَإِنْ يَرَوْا كُلَّ آيَةٍ لَا يُؤْمِنُوا بِهَا وَإِنْ يَرَوْا سَبِيلَ الرُّشْدِ لَا يَتَّخِذُوهُ سَبِيلًا وَإِنْ يَرَوْا سَبِيلَ الْغَيِّ يَتَّخِذُوهُ سَبِيلًا ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَكَانُوا عَنْهَا غَافِلِينَ} [الأعراف: 146]

“I shall turn away from My signs those who wax proud in the land without cause. If they witnessed all the signs, they will not believe in them, and, if they see the path of righteousness, they will not accept it as a path. But if they see the deviated path, they will accept it as a path. That, because they gave a lie to Our signs and were heedless of them.”

How to Obtain the Right Verbal Meaning?
Intention
It is to seek guidance, in the sense delineated above, that one should read the Qur'an. That should be the intention in every session with it.
Dr. Muhammad Iqbal's father well illustrated this point when he asked his son, who was reciting the Qur'an, as to what he was reading. The young son, knowing that the father was aware what he was reading, responded with an indifferent answer. “Who was it revealed to?” was the next question. The embarrassed son replied that it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace). “This way, my son,” said the father, “you will never profit from the Qur'an. You will only if you read with the belief that the Revelation has just come down, that it has been sent down specifically for you, and that it is you who has been addressed. It is only then that this Book will open itself to you.”
In other words, one should take it as a message unto himself, and allow each verse of the Qur'an free and unhindered access to the mind and heart with the will to be led where it will lead.

Language
In contrast to other revealed Books and religious literatures, in whatever form and language they may exist, the Qur'an should not only be read by oneself, directly, but also in its own language ‑ Arabic. No commentary, however comprehensive, and no exegete, however erudite, can impart what the Qur'an itself can. The following reasons will illustrate the point.

The Miraculous nature of the Qur'an
It is well known that the Qur'an is a miracle. In fact, it is a living miracle; although the true nature of the miracle is not always understood. We cannot elaborate on this point extensively at this juncture. But it might be pointed out that the miracle expresses itself both in its form as well in its content. Both are powerful, unique to the Qur'an, which defy translation. The Prophet said: "Every prophet before me was given a miracle. I have been given the Qur'an. And I hope to have a greater following by its virtue than any prophet of the past."
Consequently, thousands of people from all over the globe are led to Islam every year through their study of the Qur'an. When a non‑Muslim asks a Muslim about Islam, all that he does in most cases is to hand him over a copy of the Qur'an. Invariably, even that mangled thing called ‘the translation of the Qur'an' leads the person to Islam. That is the miracle of the Qur'an. And of course, miracles cannot be translated.
Let us look into a few reasons that make impossible to communicate what the Qur'an itself communicates.

Translations
The Qur'an is in Arabic. It is neither in prose nor in verse but a unique combination of both, unsurpassed in its effect on the mind and soul by any other writing. In the words of John Alden Williams:

"...the Arabic of the Qur'an is by turns striking, soaring, vivid, terrible, tender, and breathtaking ... It is meaningless to apply adjectives such as ‘beautiful' or ‘persuasive' to the Qur'an; its flashing images and inexorable measures go directly to the brain and intoxicate it.
It is not surprising, then, that a skilled reciter of the Qur'an can reduce an Arabic‑speaking audience to helpless tears" (Islam: p.2, Washington Square Press '69).

In the words of Arberry:

"... to produce something which might be accepted as echoing however faintly the sublime rhetoric of the Arabic Koran, I have been at pains to study the intricate and richly varied rhythms which ‑ apart from the message itself ‑ constitute the Koran's undeniable claim to rank amongst the greatest literary masterpieces of mankind" (The Koran Interpreted, Intr. p. x, Oxford Univ. Press '64).

It is this inimitable beauty that challenges mankind to produce its equivalent: in sublimity of language, its instructions, and its sublime effect on the mind and soul. The Qur'anic challenge has remained unanswered by the humans (2: 23, 24):

"O People! If you are in any doubt concerning what We have sent down on Our slave (Muhammad), then produce a piece similar to it (in all its merits). And call (to your aid) your witnesses apart from Allah, if you are true (in your allegation that it is the work of Muhammad). But if you cannot do it ‑ and you can never do it ‑ then beware of the Fire whose fuel is human beings and rocks: prepared for the unbelievers."

The Qur'an then is inimitable and, therefore, untranslatable. Any translation, however accurately done, and however close to the original, cannot reproduce the sense and beauty of the original. Therefore, when one is reading a translation, he is not reading the Qur'an per se. No surprise then that the best effects are lost. No wonder also that the scholars of old would not allow translation of the Qur'an. This is also Ibn Taymiyyah's opinion. In fact there is a consensus of opinion among the scholars that the Qur'an should not be quoted in ‘sense' or ‘meaning' but always in its original textual words. How can then one be allowed to translate the Qur'an and call it the Qur'an?
Accordingly, if permission to translate the Qur'an has been granted due to modern exigencies, it is on condition that sufficient notes are supplied to overcome the deficiencies arising out of the translation. Further, it is required that the new work be called "interpretative translation of the Qur'an" (tarjumah tafsiriyyah), or, "the translation of the meaning of the Qur'an," rather than "the translation of the Qur'an" or, what would be more audacious, "the meaning of the Qur'an," since none of these are within human power (Manahil al `Irfan, Zarqani).

Linguistic Difficulties
There are many linguistic difficulties that make the Qur'an untranslatable. In Arabic one expresses sense rather than meaning. A beautiful Arabic sentence that can enrapture the mind and touch the soul becomes insipid in another language. Not only sentences or words, even single consonant letters are hard to translate. For example, the "fi" of Arabic has a depth that is lacking in the "in" of English. One needs a whole ugly, terse, and unmusical word in English to translate mere letters such as:

و ف إنَّ

Obviously, the complications with the words are far greater than those with the letters. Arabic is a language in which words are based on consonantal roots, from which are derived scores of words in various forms giving out various meanings but remaining, even if loosely and distantly, connected in sense and letter‑content to the root. `Ayn for instance can mean: an eye, a spring, a spy, a group of people, evil‑eye, honor, a flag, a girl, etc. `Afw stands for effacement, obliteration, elimination, forgiveness, amnesty, boon, kindness, favor, surplus, and others. The translated word must on the one hand give out the basic meaning and, on the other, convey several nuances the original carries. Obviously, to achieve that is well‑nigh impossible.
Let us take an example (4: 4):

وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً [النساء : 4]

"Give the women their dowries (as a gift) spontaneous,"
In this example, the word saduqat is derived from the root sadaqa ( صَدَقَ ) which means, with the addition of various suffixes or prefixes: ‘to speak the truth, to be sincere, to prove to be true, to come true, to fulfill one's promise,' and so on. Now, a true translation of the derived term saduqa, (plural: saduqat صَدُقات ), should carry in its overtones the sense of truth and sincerity. That is, ‘a gift that is offered (by the groom to the bride), as an expression of his sincerity toward her and the relationship he is proposing.' To render it as dowry, with the connotation that the language and culture of the readers carry, is to mutilate it.
In addition to the problem of words that yield several meanings, the complex structure of the Qur'anic verses admit of many interpretations (well described by Muhammad Asad as unfolding of "layer upon layer of meaning") from which the translator can choose but one, without necessarily being right in his choice. This means that, granted the translator did not err, the translation conveyed only one meaning out of the several contained in the Qur'an.
As another example, the following is speaking of the unbelievers (11: 20):

يُضَاعَفُ لَهُمُ الْعَذَابُ مَا كَانُوا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ السَّمْعَ وَمَا كَانُوا يُبْصِرُونَ [هود : 20]

"For them the chastisement shall be doubled; (for) they could not hear, neither did they see."
It can be translated in at least six different ways, three of them depending on how the letter "maa" is treated: whether of the same meaning as "lamu kayy," ( لامُ كَي ); as a synonym of "ila," ( إلى ); or as a negative "maa". Obviously such possibilities, which occur quite often, can leave the translator baffled as to his own choice during translation.
Another linguistic difficulty is that many Arabic and Qur'anic terms do not have proper equivalents in other languages, especially the languages of the occident. Allah, al‑Rahman, al‑Rahim, jihad, salah, zakah, sadaqah, `ibadah, al‑ghayb, kufr, nur, fisq, taghut, nabiyy, rasul, ghaniyy, are a few examples from a long list.
If, to the above are added the difficulties of `ijaz (ellipticism), rhetoric, alliteration, resonance and rhythm (all of them present in the Qur'an in their most excellent forms and in the highest degree of expression), then the job of translation becomes a hopeless task.
But the impaired meaning is not the only casualty. The loss in terms of beauty, charm, appeal, elation and the ecstasy that a reader feels on reading the Qur'an in its original is immeasurable.
Therefore, it can be safely said of a person who has always read the Qur'an through translations alone, that he did not read the Qur'an once.

Commentaries
Trying to understand the Qur'an with the help of commentaries is no less hazardous. Some reasons are as follows.
Essentially, commentaries are of two kinds. Those that are based on the Qur'an itself, supported by the hadith and opinions of the Companions, or their next‑generation Followers (tabe`iyyun). These are known as al‑tafsir bi 'l ma'thur ( التفسير بالمأثور ) i.e., interpretation based on report or tradition.
The other category is the one in which the commentator offers an interpretation, based not on a specific accepted source ‑ a Qur'anic verse, a hadith, or a remark of a Companion or one of their Followers ‑ but his personal opinion based on his intellect, knowledge or intuition. This kind of commentary is known as al‑tafsir bi 'l ra'yi ( التفسير بالرأي ). al‑tafsir 'l‑ishari [ التفسير الإشاري ] falls under the same category).
As for the first kind of tafsir, i.e., al‑tafsir bi 'l ma'thur, it can be fully appreciated only when read in Arabic. Many concepts and ideas of the Qur'an are closely tied up with the Arabic language. Further, those concepts and ideas are so subtle that their explanations fall flat and lose their import in another language. The commentaries of Ibn Jarir or Ibn Kathir, for example (which are good examples of the al‑tafsir bi 'l ma'thur) fail to have their impact on the reader in their translated version. Besides, some basic knowledge of hadith classification, fiqh and other disciplines, which in turn require knowledge of Arabic, is necessary to appreciate this kind of commentary.
In short al-tafsir bi ‘l ma’thur does not help much in understanding the core meanings of the Qur’anic texts. The profound part is often missed.
On the other hand, if one tries to understand the Qur'an with the help of the other kind of tafsir, viz. al‑tafsir bi 'l ra'yi, he faces the following hazards.
Firstly, to be able to correctly comment on the Qur'an, one has to have, in addition to the Revealed texts, a thorough knowledge of all the physical and metaphysical sciences and disciplines that have been developed by the humans. The Qur'an deals with history, law, social affairs, morality, worship, economy, psychology, state affairs, spiritual development, eschatology, divinity, and many other disciplines ‑ all in one go. Obviously, since it is beyond one man's capacity to master so many disciplines in a life‑time, it is beyond him also to write a commentary of the Qur'an that conveys the true intent of the Qur’an.
Further, every commentator is a product of his own age, genre, intellectual atmosphere, and cultural background. His problems are the problems of his time ‑ not necessarily of all times. His view of life is from a certain angle ‑ not necessarily the ecumenical and transcendental view of the Qur'an. (So, we often hear from such commentators that “the Qur’an lays down the way of life”: which immediately reduces its message to mundane level. Had they said it lays down the ways to moral and spiritual life, they would have been closer to truth). Such commentators are led, and cannot help but be led, by their personal predispositions and bent of mind, appealing to those of similar dispositions, and not necessarily reaching out to all the inquisitive minds and thirsty souls. Finally, whatever a commentator’s caliber, he remains subjective. True objectivity is not the share of man.
For example, if he is of a sufi bent of mind he detects suggestions that may or may not exist. If he subscribes to a certain philosophy, he may emphasize a certain point, which might be there in the text, but might not be it focal point. Thereby he distorts the overall view. Or, if his interpretation of life is materialistic and earthly, he is quite likely to rush through verses that are, so to say, mawarid al zam'an (watering places for the thirsty), and the hovering grounds of the restless soul, concentrating instead on the wonderful capabilities of Islam to promote material growth and development on earth and bring back to the Muslim Ummah its lost glory!
In short, he is a human dealing with the Word of Allah. To do justice to it is not in his power.
Finally, it is agreed by the scholars of Islam that there are two aspects to the meaning of the Qur'an: the external and the internal. The external or the obvious meaning is that which has come down from the authorities: the hadith, the opinions of the Companions, their next‑generation Followers and the meaning unanimously accepted by the scholars of Islam through and through the ages. The internal, hidden or the secret meaning of the Qur'an comes from deep reflection and a sustained exercise of the mind and soul coupled with righteous living. To take an example, it is reported that the verse (5: 3): "This day I have perfected your religion for you and completed My favor unto you, and have chosen for you as religion al‑Islam," brought tears into the eyes of `Umar ibn al-Khattab The Prophet asked him the reason. He replied: "So far we were witnessing a continuous rise of Islam. Now that it has been completed (i.e. it has reached its zenith), it can only follow a downward direction, as it happens with anything that has achieved its zenith." The Prophet (saws) agreed with him.
Imam Ghazali writes in his eighth book of Ihya' `Ulum 'l‑Din:

"The truth is that to everything pertaining to reflective and intellectual matters, which have become ambiguous to men of reflection, and in which people have differed, there are indications and implications in the Qur'an which can be observed by men of understanding. How can these indications and implications be completely conveyed by translations of its outward meanings and its (outward) exegesis?"

Further down he writes:

"The man who imagines that the Qur'an has no meaning except that which the outward exegesis has translated (and described), is acknowledging his own limitations; he is right in his acknowledgement (because he knows only this measure and is not aware of that which lies beyond this), but is wrong in his judgment which places all other people on the same footing as himself." (The Recitation and Interpretation of the Qur'an: Al-Ghazali's Theory by Muhammad Abdul Quasem, p. 87, 88).

Nevertheless, the scholars are also in agreement that the internal meaning can be attained only after a complete mastery of the external has been achieved. Zarkashi writes:

"The Book of Allah: it is the bottomless sea, whose meaning cannot be unfathomed but by the well-versed in (religious) knowledge; he who fears Allah in open and secret, and gives due esteem to Him in places where he comes across the ambiguous. Its subtleties and truths cannot be grasped but by one who (as the Qur’an said) ‘lends his ear and is attentive...'"

He adds a little further,

"All knowledge can be summed up as that of the ‘Acts' and ‘Attributes' of Allah. The Qur'an contains the knowledge of the Acts, Attributes, and the Essence of the Supreme Being. This fact leads us to another, viz., the field of knowledge is immensely vast. There is room for much more than what is obvious to the mind. The exegesis therefore, that has been passed on to us (by the authorities) do not lay down limits for the attainment of knowledge. Yet, it is not possible to jump over to the hidden without mastery of the obvious. Indeed, the knowledge of the external is absolutely essential to step into the internal and the hidden. Whoever claims to have knowledge of the secret part of the Qur'an while lacking a proper understanding of the external and the obvious, is like he who claims manhood at the threshold of his house (to which he has just crawled) although he has not yet stepped out of the door."

In brief, the Qur'an has two levels of meaning: the external and the internal. It should be obvious, therefore, how difficult it can be for a person to get to the second level, while his first level of understanding is suspect due to his ignorance of the language which leads him to take the words of men for the words of God.
These are some of the reasons why neither a translation nor a commentary can be substituted for the original.
It should not be surprising therefore to note that according to Imam Shafe`i, learning of the Arabic language is obligatory on every Muslim. Imam Abu Yousuf and Zufar, both students of Imam Abu Hanifah, went a step further. They stated that it is makruh (undesirable) for two Muslims who can manage some Arabic, to speak with each other in another language. Ibn Taymiyyah is also of the opinion that learning Arabic is a religious requirement since what is necessary to realize an obligation (wajib) is itself obligatory (wajib).

Pre‑conceived Ideas
In contrast, neglect of the language and study and reliance upon a single commentary of the al-tafsir bi 'l‑ra'yi type, can lead a student of the Qur'an to hold questionable opinions despite long study and painful application. Many of those who could become connoisseurs ended up dilettantes. Imam Ghazali writes about this class of people:

"The sufis have said that knowledge (`ilm) is a veil (between man and God), and by this knowledge they have meant those beliefs (`aqa'id) which most people have been firmly holding either by dogmatically following an authority or by mere reliance on casuistic sentences written by zealots of schools of thought and delivered to them. As for the real knowledge which is the uncovering of the actual condition of the thing known and which is a vision by the light of spiritual insight, how can it be a veil, seeing that it is the ultimate object of desire?
Pure dogmatic following of an authority is sometimes false (in itself) and is, therefore, an obstacle to the understanding of the meaning (of the Qur'an). An example of this is a man who has a (purely dogmatic) belief in Allah's istawa' on the Throne as His being settled on it physically. Then in the case of (the divine name) ‘the Holy One' (al-Quddus), for example, there comes to his mind the meaning that He is pure from all that is ascribable to His creation: but that purely dogmatic belief of his does not make it possible for this meaning to be firmly implanted in his mind. Had it become strengthened in his mind it would have led to a second meaning and a third, which could be inter-connected. But he hastens to drive this meaning away from his mind, because it contradicts his false belief which is held purely dogmatically.
Sometimes purely dogmatic following of an authority is true (in itself), but it too becomes an obstacle to understanding (the meaning of the Qur'an) and to unveiling of them. The truth in which man is obliged to believe has stages and grades, and it has an external beginning and an internal end. Concentration of man's nature on the external aspect prevents him from reading the internal end" (source cited above, p.70, 71).

Finally, every commentator is influenced by the ideas of his time that seem to be so powerful, and therefore of great consequence, which could be so during a particular epoch, but prove not to be so with the passage of time. Moved by those ideas or forces, a commentator might try to give the verses of the Qur'an a new meaning, sometimes at the expense of certain basic and universal truths. This can seriously affect the way in which his readers understand the Qur'an.
The conclusion therefore is that anyone who has not done a course of study in the tafsir of the approved type, but, instead, applies himself to the other type ‑ the tafsir bi 'l‑ra'yi ‑ runs the great risk of ending up with ideas that might not be true, half true or altogether wrong.
Therefore, every serious student of the Qur'an must learn enough Arabic to be able to read the Qur'an himself, directly, and without dependence on a translation to an extraordinary degree. It is only after he has spent sufficient time with the Qur'an (and, in addition, the Sunnah), that he can turn his attention to the translations and commentaries as further aids. It is only those for whom it is beyond their capacity to learn the language that might resort to dependence on translations and commentaries alone, although, to remain in consultation with the scholars is a necessary requirement for not getting misled on concepts.

Interpretations
Al-Tafsir bi 'l Ma'thur
The safest way to derive the right meaning of any part of the Qur'an is to seek its explanation within the Qur'an itself. What is stated in brief at one place is detailed at another, and what is ambiguous at one point is supplemented with elaborations elsewhere. Also, the Qur'an deals with a subject in a variety of ways, at different points, and with emphasis on different aspects in different contexts. The complete meaning can only be obtained by collecting together, either on paper or in the mind, all relevant verses, seeking connections that become apparent with contemplation. The Qur'an then should be understood in the first instance with the Qur'an itself.

The Hadith
Next, one should turn to the hadith. The ahadith are in reality a commentary on the Qur'an. Allah (swt) not only revealed the Word to the Prophet but also its meaning. A verse (4:105) says, "Surely We have sent down a Book to you (O Muhammad) with Truth so that you may judge between the people by what Allah shows you (as its true meaning)."
But it is not only the meaning as expressed in the words of the Prophet (saws) that has to be learnt. It is also the meaning as expressed in his actions that should be applied to one’s own life, to gain an understanding of the Qur'an. The Prophet lived according to the Message he received, not deviating from it in the least. In other words his life was the Qur'an interpreted: "Have you not read the Qur'an?!" was the answer given by `A'isha (ra) when asked about the Prophet's conduct in everyday life.
An example will illustrate how well the Prophet understood and lived by the Qur'an.
The Qur'an uses the term rih (in the sense of ‘winds') in two ways. In some places in the singular form as rih, and in others in the plural form as riyah. In all, it has used these terms on 29 occasions. Now a careful study reveals that when the occasion is the announcement of a punishment or chastisement from Allah, the word is used in its singular form (rih). In contrast, when the context is announcement of a glad tiding, it is the plural form that is chosen (riyah). [The odd deviation from the rule can be explained].
Now, keep the Qur'anic rule in mind and consider the prayer‑words of the Prophet, who, with every stormy weather supplicated in the words:

اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْهَا رِيَاحًا وَلا تَجْعَلْهَا رِيحًا

"O Lord! Make it winds (riyah) for us and not wind (rih)."
Another example can be cited. The Qur'an said (9: 103): "Accept (O Muhammad) of their wealth a free-will offering, to purify them and to cleanse them." This injunction came after the declaration that the free-will offering of the hypocrites was not acceptable; and the reference is to the zakah on wealth. The free-will offering, of course, is collected by the State and is distributed following another injunction (9: 60) that cites eight categories of people as the deserving recipients.
However, following the clue that zakah (and sadaqat by implication) purify and cleanse the people ("to purify them and cleanse them"), and, reasoning that the purifying agent cannot itself be clean after its purifying operation (another example is ablution water dropping down a man), the Prophet declared his kinsfolk as undeserving of a share in the zakah (and sadaqat) funds. He told them that the zakah funds were a dirt of the hand and hence unsuitable for them.
The above stray examples demonstrate not only how well the Prophet understood the Qur'an and the extent to which he applied it to himself, but also, how important it is for a reader to gain mastery over the two: the Qur'an and the Sunnah texts, to understand either.

The Companions and their Followers
Any clarification required after the first two sources have been exhausted, should be sought in the opinions of the Prophet's Companions; especially those who were close to him, received his special attention, and specialized in the Qur'an during his life‑time: such as the four khulafa', Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud, `Abdullah ibn `Umar, Ubayy b. Ka`ab and others, or those of the Followers who became the pupils of these Companions, such as: Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id ibn Jubayr, Masruq, `Ata' ibn Rabah, Hassan al Busri, Sa`id ibn al Musayyib, Qatadah, Dahhak, Abu al `Aliyyah and others.
The differences in their opinions, however, should not disturb a student. For, as Ibn Taymiyyah has pointed out in his Muqaddimah fi Usul al Tafsir, in most cases they express the same meaning in different words. The word "hafadah" for instance, has been explained as "daughters" by Ibn Mas`ud and Sa`id b. Jubayr; as "grandsons" by Ibn `Abbas; as "in‑laws" by Ibn Mas`ud; while `Ikrimah, Mujahid, and Hasan al‑Basri say it stands for "servants." They are all of course expressing one or the other aspect of the meaning of the word. For "hafadah" is plural of "hafid" and in its singular form it means "he who is made to serve." At the time the verse was revealed, the word was used in all those senses in which it was adopted by different authorities.
Tafsir bi 'l ma'thur derives its basis from ‑ apart from others ‑ a hadith which says that when the Prophet was deputing Mu`adh ibn Jabal to Yemen he asked him how he was going to judge between the people. "With the Book of Allah," replied Mu`adh. "But what if you do not find (a lead) therein?" the Prophet asked. "With the Sunnah of Allah's Messenger," he replied. "But if you do not find (a lead) therein also?" he asked him. "Then," Mu`adh replied, "I will work out my own opinion." The Prophet expressed his approval (Muqaddimah, Ibn Taymiyyah).
A word of caution however, about this kind of tafsir should be in place. What is recommended is the methodology as enumerated above, and not the entire content of the books of tafasir that have followed this methodology. In some of these works massive amount of Jewish material and comments of the early exegetes have been included without verifications of their authenticity. If not read critically, these can have their own pitfalls. Naivety, for instance, can be perceived in those who rely on these alone and have failed to step into the modern age in intellectual terms.

Al-Tafsir bi al Ra'yi (Personal Opinions)
As stated above, sometimes a commentator uses his intelligence, knowledge, intuition or inspiration to bring out a point in language, history, law, etc. Some of such comments are acceptable, while others are not. Take for example verse (2: 102): "Sulayman blasphemed not, but the Satans blasphemed." A question arises. We know that a prophet does not blaspheme. Why then did the Qur'an have to say that Sulayman (asws) did not blaspheme? For an explanation we have to look into the Bible which alleges that Solomon became an idolater during the last days of his life (Majid). Though not based on an athar, it is a valid explanation and also corroborates with what details classical commentators (such as Ibn Kathir) have recorded as coming from Suddi and Sa`id b. Jubayr.
To take another example, the Qur'an says (2: 273): "(Alms are) for the poor who are restrained in the way of Allah, who can not journey in the land (for trade). The ignorant supposes them rich because of their restraint. You will know them by their mark. They do not beg of people with importunity. And whatsoever of good things that you spend, surely, Allah will know it."
Commenting on the verse, Thanwi says that the words, ‘(Alms are) for the poor who are restrained in the way of Allah,' are telling us that those who are working in the way of Allah deserve to receive first priority in aid. Further, the clause ‘who cannot journey in the land' signifies that it is desirable for those engaged in the path of Allah that they may suspend their efforts at livelihood, if need be, although there is no contradiction between the two (i.e. engagement in the path of Allah, and search for livelihood). Finally, the words ‘the ignorant supposes them rich,' implies that it is undesirable to put on appearances that will distinguish a man from the common people.
This is the kind of Tafsir bi 'l ra'yi that is acceptable since such statements can be corroborated in other ways also. What can be proved as valid either directly through deductions from the Qur'an, Sunnah, opinions of the Companions, their immediate Followers, or that which, in the least, does not contradict any of the above, in word or spirit, is valid and acceptable.
The permission for this kind of interpretation is based on the supplication (du`a) which the Prophet made for Ibn `Abbas. He said:

اللَّهُمَّ فَقِّهْهُ فِي الدِّينِ وَعَلِّمْهُ التَّأْوِيلَ

"O Allah, grant him knowledge of the Qur'an and teach him the interpretation."
Contrary to this is the unprincipled interpretation that has its basis neither in the sources cited above, nor does it agree with the spirit of Islam as understood by the scholars at large.
To explain, any opinion with reference to a Qur’anic text that contradicts with that of the Salaf, in matters involving the Shari`ah, values, morals or spiritual affairs, is Tafsir bi al-Ra’yi, and stands rejected outright. It is about such an interpretation that the Prophet remarked: "Whoever speaks about the Qur'an without knowledge, may seek his abode in the Fire."
The Companions and their Followers were quite careful about offering an interpretation that did not have a Qur'anic verse or hadith in its support. Abu Bakr (ra) used to say: "Which heaven will shelter me, and which earth will support me if I said about Allah's Book, that which I have no knowledge of." Abu Yezid said: "We used to ask Sa`id ibn al‑Musayyib about the ‘lawful' and the ‘unlawful' and would find him the most knowledgeable of men. But when we asked him about a verse of the Qur'an as to how it was to be understood, he would be quiet, turning a deaf ear to us."

Al-Tafsir 'l‑Ishari (Allegorical Interpretation)
By nature, man is awed by the mysterious. It is the inexplicable, the symbolical, and the mysterious that engage his attention. The obvious and the clear‑cut escape him. To seek a solution to a riddle or the meaning of an allegory is a task he undertakes with enthusiasm. The allegorical verses of the Qur'an have provided grist to the minds of its scholars and there have been several interpretations proffered to explain them. Some of these are not readily acceptable and raise controversies. The best course of action about them when they are authentically quoted, by authoritative people, but which seemingly contradicts ideas of the Salaf, is to make no judgment about their acceptance or rejection.
In this work the use of Tafsir 'l Ishari has been restricted. It is inadvisable to read them without the guidance of a specialist. Thanwi’s Masa'il al‑Suluk as footnotes to his Urdu Bayan al‑Qur'an, is of this class. So are Alusi’s notes under this heading.
Nevertheless, it should also be borne in mind that every passage whose meaning is not obvious is not necessarily of the allegorical type, nor is the Qur'an entirely without them. There are some portions of the Qur'an whose true meaning the human mind might never be able to unravel. Ibn `Abbas has said: "There are four kinds of meanings: a) that which is apparent to the Arabs because it is in their language, b) that whose meaning no one can deny on the pretext of ignorance, c) the meaning that is the share of the scholars alone, and, d) the meaning that no one knows save Allah and His Messenger."
Further, one may note that there are Qur’anic texts whose meanings would be understood at the time of death, or subsequent to it.

Application
Following the Qur'anic method, we might end with what we started with. Application is part of the study. One will not travel much on the road if he failed to live by the instructions and inspirations that he received with the study. The Qur'an is the Word of Allah. It has been sent to guide the people. But it guides only those who are willing to be guided. As Rumi has said, the Qur’an is a closed book except for the true ardent seeker; to which we might add, ‘those who would care to apply.’
A further condition is to avoid sins of all kinds. The following is reported to have been said by Imam Shafe`i:

شكوت إلى وكيع سوء حفظى * فأرشدنى إلى ترك المعاصى
وأخـبرنى بـأن العـلم نور * ونور الله لايهدى لعاصى

I complained to Waki` of my forgetfulness
He guided me to give up sins
And taught me that knowledge is Light
And Allah’s Light is not shown to the sinner

The student of the Qur'an will have to develop his mind in such a way as to be skeptical of everything that the senses report, doubt every opinion that is formed by the intellect, and question every information that comes from non‑revealed sources. In the next step, he will have to test all of them against the Qur'an and reject any that contradicts it in word or spirit. Ibn Mas`ud (ra) said: "During the life-time of the Prophet, we used to take ten verses of the Qur'an for study and would not move on to the next ten until we had lived by those ten." It is reported of `Umar ibn al‑Khattab (ra) that he finished surah al‑Baqarah in seven years. According to a report he was so happy at its completion that he slaughtered a camel and invited his friends to a feast.
We can conclude with Zarkashi's remarks. He writes in Al‑Burhan fi `Ulum al‑Qur'an:

"In the final analysis, the derivation of the meaning of the Qur'an is largely dependent on a man's own thoughts and reflections. Let it be known, therefore, that the true meaning of the revelation and the secrets of the veiled knowledge will never be the share of a man whose heart is filled with innovations, or who insists on a sin, or in whose heart resides pride or base desires or love of the world, or that he be of an uncertain faith, or poor of discernment, or dependent on the opinions of a mufassir who has knowledge only of the externals (`ilm al-zahir), or gives precedence to his own thoughts and ideas (during the process of thinking). All these are veils and obstacles, some of which are of greater impedance than others.
"(In contrast), if the man pays full attention to the words of His Lord, is receptive to the meaning that the Attributes of the One addressing him unfold themselves, is always aware of His powers, abandons his own self-established conclusions based on reason and intellect, renounces his own powers and abilities, is ever mindful of the greatness of the Speaker, beseeching Him the grant of the meaning: and all this from a personal state of integrity, a good-natured heart, with the power of knowledge, of a calm disposition to gather the meaning, and to wait for the missed meaning seeking (Divine) help through Prayers and Supplications, (the supplications themselves) presented with the weakness (of the human against Powers of the Divine), and observing patience while waiting for the mind to be opened by Him who is the Opener, the Knowing; and he who strengthens these qualities with a recitation during which his mind is fully attentive to the verbal meaning and bears witness to the Attributes of the One addressing him by anxiously waiting for the promises (of the opening of the heart coming true), and fearing the calamities (that may befall him for his failings), and who warns forcefully .. such is the one who has a good voice for the Qur'an and it is about him that Allah Most High has said (2:121): ‘Those to whom we have given the Book, read it in the manner it should be read. It is these who believe in it'" (p. 180-81, vol.2).

The Methodology in this Work
It has been this writer's endeavor to present in this work, principally, the meaning of the Qur'an as understood by the classical scholars. That is, in the light of the Qur'an itself, traditions of the Prophet and statements of the Companions and their followers. To achieve this, the author first consulted Ibn Jarir Tabari. Since Ibn Jarir was a Muhaddith himself, he did not cite sources to the hadith, or to statements of the Companions that he quoted. Citing the sources was done by Ibn Kathir. Therefore, Ibn Kathir was next consulted. However, Ibn Kathir did not cite sources to the statements of the Salaf. This was done, to some degree, by Shawkani. So, he was consulted next. Although Ibn Kathir cited hadith sources, he did not state the authenticity-status of ahadith. In such cases, this author tried to search the opinion of Hadith Doctors, to add a note about their reliability. Further, if there were differences in opinions over the meaning of a certain verse, Ibn Kathir preferred to adopt the opinion of Ibn Jarir, which, this author indicated. Thus, a meaning emerged as of the Salaf. The translation of the verses reflects this meaning. The author suppressed his own opinion, for whose credibility he lacks the qualification, unless it was a scientific issue, historical, geographical or the like.
Thereunto, the author added the opinions of various other commentators, taking care of course, that such opinions did not clash with the opinions of the Salaf, for in matters of Law, morals (Akhlaq), and spiritual matters, the Salaf were the true authority. The way the first three generations understood the Qur’an, was never understood by any after them. It is they who changed the world, the way no generation could. If a headstrong person thinks that someone’s understanding of the Qur’an and Sunnah, was, or is, as good as that of the Salaf, and as accurate, he might need a course on how `ilm is defined in Islam. Ibn Sirin, a prominent Tabe`i said, “Knowledge is gone. What’s left of it is bits and pieces, scattered among the scholars.” Hasan al-Basri, his contemporary, was told by someone that the “Fuqaha’ say so and so.” He corrected him, “Have you ever seen a Faqih?”

An additional note about the commentaries made by the Companions and their followers might be in order. The Prophet has said: "The best of epochs is my epoch, then that of the Followers, and then that of the Followers." He was referring to the epoch followed by his own, and that of the Companions and the Tabe`iyyun. There were many Companions of the Prophet who received his special attention and specialized in the Qur'an during his life‑time itself. In turn they tutored many among the Tabe`iyyun. The term Salaf applies mainly to these: i.e., the Companions and the two succeeding generations, plus the third (because of some reports). Their opinion is the approved opinion. If they agree over the meaning of a particular word, or a verse, and the issue is purely of a religious nature as indicated above, then any other opinion that contradicts it and cannot be reconciled with it, stands rejected. Of course, there is no such restriction when the subject concerned is of historical, geographical or scientific nature, for, these disciplines were developed after them. Some contemporary commentaries tend to give new meanings to some Qur’anic terms. If they clash with those of the Salaf, they must be ignored; for, the Salaf knew the ‘Arabic of the Qur’an,’ and not the Arabic of those who refer to dictionaries and literary works developed after them to argue their case. `Umar used to say, “If you are in doubt, refer to the Jahiliyy poetry. The Qur’an was revealed in that language.”

The opinions of the Salaf might sometimes surprise the reader. He might consider them as entirely out of context. But, it is the failure to understand the context that creates the confusion. "Jump the line" is a sentence in English that conveys different meanings to different people in different situations. To a sportsman it has one meaning. When spoken by a motorist complaining of the erratic behavior of another motorist it has another meaning. In contrast, to an electrician working on the power grid, the sentence carries a different sense altogether. What we have to realize about the Companions is that they did not merely understand the context; they were themselves the context, and often spoke from the transcendental level; not from the stand point of the misleading cliché of modern times: ‘reason and logic.’

If the reader wishes to make the most of this work, he or she should allocate an area in his mind wherein he stores information obtained from the Salaf, in this work. This is the principal, the most reliable meaning, and the basis on which he can build on further. He might highlight such passages for ease of later reference.

Nonetheless, in order to keep alive interest and help increase knowledge, I have also included material that has so far been the prerogative of the Arabic‑speaking readers: material without which the Qur'anic spectrum of legitimate meaning loses some of its color.
To the above I have added some useful material from commentaries in Urdu and English. But of course, while selecting material from contemporary works, a critical eye has been kept open for errors of the conceptual type and, to the extent possible, those that contradict with a meaning accepted by the Jumhur al‑Ummah (the great majority). Jumhur al‑Ummah is of course not the same thing as the Ijma` al‑Ummah (the consensus of opinion ‑ the research of which is a difficult task, well beyond the scope of this work). The opinions of the Jumhur give us some idea of how the Qur'an has been understood through the ages. When Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Razi, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Thanwi or others consider a point from the previous exegetes as worth quoting, then surely that adds up to the weight of the comment.
I have not reproduced from, or cited reference to, the contemporary commentators if they have discussed those matters that the ancients have already done. In most cases the contemporary scholars have changed the form, picking out from the ancients what would suit them most. I have quoted them only if they have a new idea or a fresh point, with the condition, once again, that such ideas do not, in my limited knowledge, contradict a proven opinion held by the Salaf or Jumhu al-Ummah. Anecdotes, poetry, fiqh points, and comparative study material have been added to break the monotony.

A word about quotations from the Sufiya' would be in order. We all know that an unclean person in dirty clothes would hardly improve himself by applying perfume. He first needs to cleanse himself. How can it be any different in matters pertaining to the soul? A heart filled with pride or preferential love of this world will hardly improve through wisdom-words or supererogatory exercises. Something needs to be done first to remove the impurities. Sufism is all about this removal of impurities. This centrist position however, lies between two extremes. It should not be imagined that by quoting the Sufiya' we are approving the extreme positions, practices, or the so‑called "ways of the Gnostic" that have no basis in the Shari`ah.

Hadith Authenticity
The most difficult task has been to present only those ahadith or reports from the Companions or others that are authentic, since no noteworthy work has been done by the hadith experts on Qur'anic commentaries. Mahmud Shakir's attempt at Tabari has remained incomplete. Hussain b. Ibrahim and Sayyid Ibrahim have done some useful, although not exhaustive work on Ibn Kathir and Shawkani. Occasionally, I have either traced the ahadith to their sources, and when not in the Sahih works, have depended on works on the topic by Hadith experts. I have tried not to quote anything less than Hasan in status. If I have quoted some weak reports, it is only those that are not very weak or are strengthened by other, although weak, ahadith, or the personal opinions of the Companion or others.

Ideological Interpretations
Some readers might be surprised to note the lack of a single string of thought in this work, as it is also lacking in classical commentaries: one strand, so to say, that weaves into itself the "philosophy of the whole of the Qur'an." This is a naive idea. To speak of the Qur'an in such terms is to presume a certain meaning, a certain philosophy, a certain ideology, and reduce the Word of Allah to human definitions.
It is common knowledge that this terrestrial existence is too complex to be interpreted in terms of a single philosophy. Life cannot be reduced to equations. Even the inorganic does not render itself to such simplification. At this very moment, scientists at a billion dollar apiece Accelerators (commonly known as atom smashers) are at their wit’s end trying to determine if the building blocks of an atom (which were once thought to be electrons, protons, neutrons and a few other elementary particles) are quarks, those 300 subatomic particles visible for a fraction of a second when the nucleus is smashed with highly accelerated protons, or there is more to it. No one can say for sure if there will be an end to it!! The wave and particle function of the sub-atomic particles is another intriguing issue. If solid matter is proving so complex, what should one think of the uncreated ‘Word’ of Allah?
Moreover, such a demand betrays the failure to understand the very basics of life in terms of human fears, hopes, aspirations, creativity and interactions. At every moment of his existence a man has several options before him, only one of which is the optimum best for him. What can guide him to the right choice but a criterion backed by a vast set of concepts, data and ideas that have their own quality to fuse themselves, in a flash of a second, into one homogenized whole and present a single, synchronized, workable idea or a suggestion ‑ that the man may accept or reject!?
Again, the Qur'an is, from one angle, a long essay in the education of concepts: the divisions are for human convenience. No detail can be missed in any area but at the loss of a concept; sometimes it might be the most valuable concept acting as the central link to a maze of ideas, and, a powerful magnet to iron flakes flying by in every direction. Hence the presentation in the style I have adopted. The reader will have to pick up bits and pieces, and put them together into a homogenous meaningful whole that is pertinent to his situation, and would be useful perhaps to him alone.

Acknowledgment
Rarely has a work of such dimensions and a task so demanding been attempted by a man as poorly qualified as this author. Yet, no efforts were spared to locate material necessary to produce the "aid for understanding the Qur'an" that he has aimed at producing. Although, it must be admitted, that efforts are no substitute for abilities.
The author’s dependence, therefore, on those who are pioneers in similar efforts should be quite evident. In the rendering of the Qur'anic text into English for instance, A.J. Arberry's influence can be easily detected. Yusuf `Ali, Asad and Pickthall have been in constant reference. N.J. Dawood and several others have also been consulted. To make it easier for the beginners and non‑Muslims (and following the recommendation of the fuqaha'), words and phrases have been added in parenthesis while rendering the text into English. Such interpolations are, nonetheless, based on an accepted interpretation.
Without trying to be humble, it can be said with a fair amount of accuracy that for all that is good and useful in this work, the credit is due to someone else, while the shortcomings are the contributions of this author who seeks Allah's forgiveness, and the reader's help in overcoming them.

Syed Iqbal Zaheer
March 2015

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References, abbreviations, and technical terms

Clue to References
Ahmad: Musnad by Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal (d. 241 A.H.).
Albani: Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahiha, Muhammad Nasiruddin Albani, (d. 1420 A.H.).
Albani: Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Da`eefah wa al-Mawdu`ah, Muhammad Nasirudding Albani, , Al-Maktab al-Islami.
Alusi/Ruh: Ruh al Ma`ani Fi Tafsir Qur’an al `Azim Wa al Sab` al Mathani by Shihab al Din Sayyid Mahmood Alusi (d.1291 A.H.)
`Aqidah: `Aqidah Tahawiyyah, commentary Ibn Abi al-`Izz, (tr. By Syed Iqbal Zaheer, as Funamentals of Islamic Creed), World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Dammam, Saudi Arabia
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Hussain: Tafsir ibn Kathir, Hussain b. Ibrahim Zahran, ed.
Ibn Is-haq: Sirah Rasulullah, by Muhammad ibn Ishaq (d. 151 A.H.).
Ibn Jarir/Tabari: Jami` al Bayan Fi Tafsir al Qur’an by Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d.310 A.H.)
Ibn Kathir: Tafsir al Qur’an al `Azim by `Imad al Din Abul Fida Isma`il ibn `Amr ibn Kathir (d.774 A.H.)
Ibn Majah, Sunan, Muhammad b. Yazid al-Qazwini, Maktabah al-`Ilmiyyah, Beirut.
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Jami` Saghir: Fayd al-Qadir Sharh Jami` Saghir (of Jalaluddin Suyuti) by Muhammad `Abdul Ra’uf al-Munawi.
Kabir al: Al-Tafsir Al-Kabir, tafsir notes of Imam Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728 A.H) collected by Dr. `Abdul Rahman `Umayrah.
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Ma`arif /Shafi`: Ma`arif al Qur’an by Mufti Muhammad Shafi` Deobandi (d. 1396 A.H.).
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Mughni al, Ibn Qudamah, al-Maqdisi, Ri’asat al-Idaratu al-Buuth al-`Ilmiyyah, Saudi Arabia.
Mulhim: Fath al-Mulhim, Shabbir Ahmad `Uthmani, and, Takmilatu Fath al-Mulhim, Taqiuddin `Uthmani, Dar al-Ulum, Karachi.
Muwatta’: Muwatta’ by Imam Malik ibn Anas (d. 179 A.H.).
Nasa’i, Ahmad b. Shu`ayb, Sunan al-Nasa’i, Dar al-Rayyan li al-Turath, Cairo.
Nawawi: Sharh Sahih Muslim by Imam Sharfuddin al-Nawawi (d. 261 A.H.)
Penrice: A Dictionary and Glossary of the Qur’an, John Penrice, Gaurav Publishing House, 187
Qurtubi: Al-Jam`i Li ‘l Ahkam al Qur’an by Abu `Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ahmad al Ansari al Qurtubi (d.671 A.H.)
Raghib: Mu`jam Mufradat al-Qur’an by al-Raghib al-Asfahani (d. 503 A.H.)
Rawa‘e`: Rawa‘e` al-Bayan Tafsir Ayat al-Ahkam by Muhammad `Ali Sabuni.
Razi: Tafsir al Fakhr al Razi by Muhammad al-Razi Fakhr al Din ibn Dia al Din `Umar (d.604 A.H.)
Sabuni: Safwatu al Tafasir by Muhammad `Ali Sabuni.
Sahih ibn Hibban bi-Tarteeb Ibn Balban, `Ala’uddin `Ali b. Balban, , Mu’assasah al-Risalah, Beirut.
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Se`di: Taysir al-Karim al-Rahman, fir Tafsir al-Mannan, `Abdul Rahman b. Nasir Se`id.
Shawkani: Al-Fut-h al-Qadir by Muhammad ibn `Ali Shawkani (d.1255 A.H.)
S. Ibrahim: Ed. Al-Fath al-Qadir, by Shawkani
Sihah: Taj al-Lugha wa Sihah al-`Arabiyyah, Isma`il b. Nasr Hammad al-Jawhari, 393 A.H.
Sirah: Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah fi Daw Masadir al-Athliyyah, Dr. Mahdi Rizqallah, Saudi Arabia 1992.
Sayyid Qutb/Qutb/Zilal: Fi Zilal al Qur’an by Sayyid Qutb (d.1386 A.H.).
Thanwi/Bayan: Bayan al Qur’an by Ashraf `Ali Thanwi (d.1361 A.H.)
Tuhfah: Tuhfah al-Ahwazi bi Sharh Jami` al-Tirmidhi by Muhammad ibn `Abdul Rahman Mubarakpuri.
Yusuf Ali: The Glorious Qur’an, Meaning and Translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (d. 1953 A.H.).
Zafar Ahmad `Uthmani, I`la al-Sunan, Idaratu al-Islam wa `Ulum al-Islamiyyah, Karachi, Pakistan.
Zamakhshari/Kashshaf: Haqa’iq al- Tanzil Wa `Uyun al-Aqawil Fi Wujuh at-Ta‘wil by Abu al-Qasim Jarallah Mahmood b.`Umar al-Zamakhshari (d.538 A.H.).
Zarkashi: Al-Burhan Fi `Ulum al-Qur’an by Badruddin Muhammad bin `Abdullah al-Zarkashi (d. 794 A.H.), Dar al-Ma`rifa, Beirut.
Note: The list above is not a complete bibliography, but rather books sort of more often referred.

________________________

Abbreviations as in
Abdul Majid Daryabadi’s English Commentary

(1) BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
Ac. = Acts of the Apostles.
Am. = Amos.
1. Ch. = The First Book of the Chronicles.
2. Ch. = The Second Book of the Chronicles.
1. Cor. = Paul’s First Epistle of the Apostles.
1. Ch. = The First Book of the Chronicles.
2. Ch. = The Second Book of the Chronicles.
1. Cor. = Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.
2. Cor. = Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians.
Dn. = The Book of Daniel.
Dt. = Deuteronomy: The Fifth Book of Moses.
Ex. = Exodus: The Second Book of Moses.
Ez. = Ezra.
Ezek. = The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.
Ga. = Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.
Ge. = Genesis: The First Book of Moses.
He. = Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews.
Ho. = Hosea.
Is. = Isiah.
Ja. = The General Epistle of James.
Jn. = Gospel according to St. John.
Jo. = Joel.
Job. = The Book of Job.
Jon. = The Book of Jonah.
Josh. = The Book of Joshua.
Judg. = The Book of Judges.
Je. = The Book of Jeremiah.
1. Ki. = The First Book of the Kings.
2. Ki. = The Second Book of the Kings.
La. The Lamentations of Jeremiah.
Lk. = The Gospel according to St. Luke.
Le. = Leviticus: The Third Book of Moses.
Mi. = Micah.
Mk. = Gospel according to St. Mark.
Mt. = Gospel according to St. Matthew.
Na. = Nahum.
Ne. = The Book of Nehemiah.
Nu. = Numbers: The Fourth Book of Moses.
1. Pe. = The First Epistle General of Peter.
2. Pe. = The Second Epistle General of Peter.
Ph. = Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians.
Pr. = The Proverbs.
Ps. = The Book of Psalms.
Re. = The Revelation of St. John.
Ro. = Paul’s Epistle to the Romans
1. Sa. = The First Book of Samuel.
2. Sa. = The Second Book of Samuel.
So. = The Song of Solomon.
1. Thes. = Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians.
2. Thes. = Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians.
1. Ti. = Paul’s First Epistle to Timothy.
2. Ti. = Paul’s Second Epistle to Timothy.
Tt. = Paul’s Epistle to Titus.
Ze. = Zechariah.

(2) GENERAL
“Ant.” = Josephus’ ‘Antiquities of the Jews.’ (Routledge London).
Aq. = Shah Abdul Qadir Dehlavi (D. 1241 A.H./1826 C.E.). Urdu translator and commentator of the Holy Qur’an.
ASB. = Asad’s English Translation of Sahih al-Bukhari.
AV. = Authorized Version of the Bible.
AYA. = `Abdullah Yusuf `Ali. English translator and commentator of the Holy Qur’an.
Bdh. = Nasir-ud-Din `Abdullah Baidhavi (D. 685 A.H./1282 C.E.). Commentator of the Holy Qur’an.
BK. = ‘Book of Knowledge,’ 4 Vols. (Educational Book Co., London)
CD. = Pallen and Wynne’s ‘New Catholic Dictionary.’ (New York).
CE. = McDannell’s ‘Concise Encyclopedia,’ 8 Vols. (New York).
C.E. = Christian Era.
DB. = Hastings’ ‘Dictionary of the Bible,’ 5 Vols. (Clarke, London).
DCA. = Smith and Cheetham’s ‘Dictionary of Christian Antiquities,’ 2 Vols. (Murray, London).
DV. = Douay Version of the Bible.
EBi. = Cheyne and Black’s ‘Encyclopedia Biblica,’ 4 Vols. (Black, London).
EBr. = ‘Encyclopedia Britannica,’ 29 Vols. 11th Edition. (London).
Encyclopedia Britannica,’ 24 Vols. 14th Edition. (London and New York). Where no edition is specified, the reference is to 14th edition.
EI. = Houtsma and Wensink’s ‘Encyclopedia of Islam,’ 5 Vols. (Luzac, London).
EMK. = Hammerton’s ‘Encyclopedia of Modern Knowledge,’ 5 Vols. (Waverly, New York).
ERE. = Hastings’ ‘Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics,’ 13 Vols. (Clarke, London).
ESS. = Seligman’s ‘Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences,’ 15 Vols. (Macmillan, London).
FWN = Frazer’s ‘Worship of Nature,’ 2 Vols. (Macmillan, London).
GB. = Ragg’s ‘The Gospel of Barnabas.’ (Oxford).
GRE. = Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,’ 7 Vols. (Methuen, London).
HHW. = ‘Historians’ History of the World,’ 25 Vols. (The Times, London).
HJ. = The Hibbert Journal. (Constable, London).
IA. = Hadhrat `Abdullah Ibn-i-`Abbas. (D. 68 A.H./688 C.E.) (A companion and cousin of the Holy Prophet).
IQ. = Ibn-i-Qutaiba. (D. 276 A.H./890 C.E.) Author of ‘Arabic Glossary of the Holy Qur’an.
JE. = ‘The Jewish Encyclopedia,’ 12 Vols. (Funk and Wagnalls, New York).
LL. = Lane’s ‘Arabic-English Lexicon,’ 8 Vols. (Williams and Norgate, London).
LSK. = Lane and Lane-Poole’s ‘Selections from the Kuran.” (Trubner, London).
M.A. = Maulana Mohammad `Ali: (D. 1349 A.H./1931 C.E.) Indian Muslim leader. (Not to be confused with his namesake of Lahore and a translator of the Qur’an). The references are to his unpublished work, ‘Islam: The Kingdom of God’ (since published as ‘My Life – A Fragment’ by Sh. M. Ashraf, Lahore).
NSD. = ‘New Standard Dictionary of the English Language,’ 4 Vols. (Funk and Wagnalls, New York).
NT. = The New Testament.
OT. = The Old Testament.
PC. = Tyler’s ‘Primitive Culture,’ 2 Vols. (Murray, London).
RV. = Revised Version of the Bible.
RZ. = Imam Fakhruddin Razi. (D. 659 A.H./1209 C.E.). Well-know commentator of the Holy Qur’an.
SOED. = ‘Shorter Oxford English Dictionary,’ 2 Vols. (Oxfor).
SPD. = Sale’s ‘Preliminary Discourse to the Translation of the Kuran,’ prefixed as Introduction to Wherry’s ‘Commentary on the Kuran,’ 4 Vols. (Trubner, London)
Th. = Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanvi. (B. 1280 A.H./1864 C.E.). Translator and commentator of the Holy Qur’an
UHW. = Hammerton’s ‘Universal History of the World,’ 8 Vols. (New York).
VJE. = Vallentine’s ‘One Volume Jewish Encyclopedia.’ (London).
WGAL. = Wright’s ‘Grammar of the Arabic Language,’ 2 Vols. (Cambridge).
Zm. = Jar-ul-lah Zamakhsari (D. 538 A.H./1144 C.E.). Commentator of the Holy Qur’an.

_______________________

Abbreviations - General
asws: `Alayhi al‑Salat wa al‑Salam (on him be peace and blessing).
ra: Radi Allahu `anhu/`anha (may Allah be pleased with him/her).
Au.: Author.
Sahihayn: Bukhari and Muslim.
saws: Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam (May Allah send peace and blessing upon him).
swt: Subhanahu wa Ta`ala (glorified be He, the Exalted).

_______________________

Technical Terms
Da`if: A weak report but not a fabricated one nor entirely untrustworthy. It has some weakness in its text or in its isnad. A kind of hadith, therefore, before which one can place a question mark.
Gharib: That report in which the isnad has a single narrator after the Companion.
Hasan: A da`if report but above in strength over the one classified as da`if. Several da`if versions (unless too weak) render a hadith hasan.
Isnad: Chain of narrators.
Mawquf: A report whose chain of narration stops at a Companion.
Munkar: A kind of da`if hadith that has no other report through any other chain of narrators for a double check.
Mursal: A hadith which has been transmitted directly from the Prophet (saws) by a tabe`i, without a Companion in between Mutawatir: A report by such a large number of narrators whose agreement upon a lie is inconceivable.
Sahih: A trustworthy report.

________________________

Transliteration
The transliteration method used in this work neither conforms to the international standards, nor it has been applied extensively. It is only where it was thought that some confusion might occur that a few marks have been added. However, the method is as follows:
( ث ) is transliterated as "tha" ; ( ح ) as "ha" ; ( ذ ) as "dhal" ; ( ز ) and ( ظ ) both as "za" ; ( ص ) as "sad" ; ( ض ) as "dad" ; ( ع ) as "`ayn" ; and hamza ( ه ) as “ ' “ e.g. Jibra’il.

______________________

Vowels
Vowels have been expressed in the following manner
( ا ) is expressed as "a", so that ( باب ) is written as "bab" ; (و ) is expressed with "u" , as for example ( نون ) is written as "nun"; ( ي ) is expressed with "i", as in the word (سين ) which is written as "sin".

______________________

  • Surah No. 43

    Merits of the Surah

    1. Except for a single ayah, number 45, the rest of the Surah is Makkan by consensus (Qurtubi).

    بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ حم (1)

    43|1| Ha. Mim.

    وَالْكِتَابِ الْمُبِينِ (2)

    43|2| By the Clear Book.2

    2. Qatadah has said, “By Allah, its guidance, benefits and enlightenment can be clearly felt through and through" (Ibn Jarir).

    إِنَّا جَعَلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ (3)

    43|3| Verily, We have made it an Arabic Qur’an, haply you will ponder.

    وَإِنَّهُ فِي أُمِّ الْكِتَابِ لَدَيْنَا لَعَلِيٌّ حَكِيمٌ (4)

    43|4| Surely, it is in the Mother of the Book with Us,3 lofty, full of wisdom.

    3. The allusion by “Umm al-Kitab” is to the Principal Book which was written down immediately after the Pen was created (Ibn `Abbas: Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). Allah had said to the Pen at that point of time,

    اكتب قال رب وماذا أكتب ؟ قال : اكتب مقادير كل شيء حتى تقوم الساعة

    “Write.” It asked, “What should I write.” It was told, “(Write down) Everything that is going to be until the Hour is struck.” The hadith is in Tabarani. But Haythami thought it was somewhat weak. A slightly different version is in Tirmidhi and Abu Da’ud, but weaker. Nonetheless, there are several ahadith, some in Sahih collections, that confirm that Pen was ordered to write down in the Umm al-Kitab (or Al-lawh al-Mahfuz) all that there is going to be (Au.).
    “It has been named Umm al-Kitab because it is the master copy from which scriptures are copied” (Zamakhshari).

    أَفَنَضْرِبُ عَنْكُمُ الذِّكْرَ صَفْحًا أَنْ كُنْتُمْ قَوْمًا مُسْرِفِينَ (5)

    43|5| Shall We then turn away the Reminder from you altogether, for that you are a transgressing people?4

    4. Had the Qur’an been withdrawn because the first addressees cried lies to it, this Ummah would have been destroyed (Qatadah: Ibn Jarir, Razi, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Another possible connotation of “musrif” as pointed out by Asad is “those who waste themselves (in the life of this world).”

    وَكَمْ أَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ نَبِيٍّ فِي الْأَوَّلِينَ (6)

    43|6| How many were the Prophets We sent among the ancients?5

    5. That is, the examples of how the past disbelieving nations were destroyed have passed in this Qur’an. There seems to be little room to believe, as a contemporary commentator states, that the meaning is: 'stories of the destruction of past nations are in history pages and on people’s tongues.' History written by humans in fact denies existence of some of destroyed nations (Au.).

    وَمَا يَأْتِيهِمْ مِنْ نَبِيٍّ إِلَّا كَانُوا بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِئُونَ (7)

    43|7| But never went to them a Prophet except that they ridiculed him.

    فَأَهْلَكْنَا أَشَدَّ مِنْهُمْ بَطْشًا وَمَضَىٰ مَثَلُ الْأَوَّلِينَ (8)

    43|8| So We destroyed those that were harder than these in prowess. And the example of the ancients has preceded.

    وَلَئِنْ سَأَلْتَهُمْ مَنْ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ لَيَقُولُنَّ خَلَقَهُنَّ الْعَزِيزُ الْعَلِيمُ (9)

    43|9| If you should ask them, ‘Who created the heavens and the earth?’ they will surely say, ‘The Mighty, the Knowing has created them.’

    الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْأَرْضَ مَهْدًا وَجَعَلَ لَكُمْ فِيهَا سُبُلًا لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ (10)

    43|10| He who made the earth a cradle for you,6 and placed therein pathways for you, in order that you are guided (to the ways).

    6. The earth has been likened to a cradle (or, alternatively, a bed) because of the comfort it affords, despite all the destructive elements within and without it. Although below the 75 km thick uppermost crust the earth is nothing but extremely hot stuff, and the space between the earth’s surface and the upper 75 km thick area above the atmosphere enveloping the earth nothing but powerful radiation and other rays that can instantly kill, man lives in the earth in such comforts within the gas and solid materials, as would be unimaginable for a being from another planet. Consider another aspect: the Plate Tectonic theory tells us that the continents are moving away from each other. Well, that is the first movement. In a second movement, the earth rotates around its axis at the speed of 1,700 km an hour. In addition it swims around the sun – in the third movement - at the speed of 100,000 km an hour. This movement of the earth around the sun happens to be zigzag, as if the earth and moon (because of their respective gravitational pulls) are going around each other while they both revolve around the sun. So, this is the fourth movement. A fifth of the earth’s movement is along with the sun, which carries along with itself its entire family of planets, their moons and the steroid belt, as it revolves around the centre of the galaxy at the speed of 792,000 km an hour. A sixth movement is that of the galaxy rotating around its own axis. A seventh movement is that of the galaxy, along with all its stars, their planets and everything else, moving away from other galaxies within the local group of galaxies at the speed of about 1,440,000 km per hour, while the cluster they belong to speeds out into the unknown, almost at the speed of light, that is at about 300,000 km a second. That's the eighth movement. Yet, despite all these movements at such fantastic speeds, does man feel any discomfort? Does he feel any vibration, any sense of movement? (Au.).

    وَالَّذِي نَزَّلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً بِقَدَرٍ فَأَنْشَرْنَا بِهِ بَلْدَةً مَيْتًا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ تُخْرَجُونَ (11)

    43|11| And who sent down water out of heaven in measure; then We revived thereby a land that was dead; even so will you be brought out.

    وَالَّذِي خَلَقَ الْأَزْوَاجَ كُلَّهَا وَجَعَلَ لَكُمْ مِنَ الْفُلْكِ وَالْأَنْعَامِ مَا تَرْكَبُونَ (12)

    43|12| He who created the varieties,7 all of them, and made for you the ships and the animals such as you ride.

    7. The translation of “azwaj” as “varieties” (instead of the regular “pairs”), is following the understanding of Sa`id b. Jubayr as found in Qurtubi and Shawkani.
    Asad writes: “(Some commentators, e.g., Tabari), see in it [the word “azwaj”]) a reference to the polarity evident in all creation. Ibn `Abbas (as quoted by Razi) says that it denotes the concept of opposites in general, like ‘sweet and sour, or white and black, or male or female’; to which Razi adds that everything in creation has its complement, ‘like high and low, right and left, front and back, past and present, being and attribute’, etc., (or negative and positive charges, particles and anti-particles, or, gravity and, much speculated, anti-gravity, etc.), whereas God – and He alone – is unique, without anything that could be termed ‘opposite’ or ‘similar’ or ‘complementary.’ Hence, the above sentence is an echo of the statement that ‘there is nothing that could be compared with Him’ (112: 4).”

    لِتَسْتَوُوا عَلَىٰ ظُهُورِهِ ثُمَّ تَذْكُرُوا نِعْمَةَ رَبِّكُمْ إِذَا اسْتَوَيْتُمْ عَلَيْهِ وَتَقُولُوا سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي سَخَّرَ لَنَا هَٰذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لَهُ مُقْرِنِينَ (13)

    43|13| So that you may settle yourselves on their backs, and recall your Lord’s blessing when you are settled upon it8 and say, ‘Blessed is He who subjected this to us, while we were not such as to be able to control it.

    8. The “it” (following the previous “them”) refers to the genus of the cattle (Razi), or, as Asad thinks, to “all that you use or may use by way of transport.”

    وَإِنَّا إِلَىٰ رَبِّنَا لَمُنْقَلِبُونَ (14)

    43|14| And surely to Our Lord we shall be returning.9

    9. We have several reports in Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir and others on how the Prophet mounted a beast. One is in Ahmad: `Ali b. Rabi`ah narrated:

    عَنْ عَلِىِّ بْنِ رَبِيعَةَ قَالَ شَهِدْتُ عَلِيًّا أُتِىَ بِدَابَّةٍ لِيَرْكَبَهَا فَلَمَّا وَضَعَ رِجْلَهُ فِى الرِّكَابِ قَالَ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ ثَلاَثًا فَلَمَّا اسْتَوَى عَلَى ظَهْرِهَا قَالَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ ثُمَّ قَالَ (سُبْحَانَ الَّذِى سَخَّرَ لَنَا هَذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لَهُ مُقْرِنِينَ وَإِنَّا إِلَى رَبِّنَا لَمُنْقَلِبُونَ) ثُمَّ قَالَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ ثَلاَثًا وَاللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ ثَلاَثًا سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّى قَدْ ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِى فَاغْفِرْ لِى فَإِنَّهُ لاَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلاَّ أَنْتَ. ثُمَّ ضَحِكَ. فَقُلْتُ مِنْ أَىِّ شَىْءٍ ضَحِكْتَ يَا أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ قَالَ رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- صَنَعَ كَمَا صَنَعْتُ ثُمَّ ضَحِكَ فَقُلْتُ مِنْ أَىِّ شَىْءٍ ضَحِكْتَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ « إِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَيَعْجَبُ مِنْ عَبْدِهِ إِذَا قَالَ رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِى ذُنُوبِى إِنَّهُ لاَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ غَيْرُكَ »

    “I was with `Ali when a mount was brought to him for ride. When he placed a foot into the stirrup he said, ‘In the name of Allah.’ Then, as he climbed its back he said, ‘Glorified is He who subdued it to us while we were not such as to bring it to control. And, unto our Lord is our return.’ Then he said, ‘Thanks to Allah’, thrice. Then he said, ‘Allah is great’ three times. Then he said, ‘Glory unto You, I have wronged my own soul, therefore, forgive me; none forgives the sins but You.’ Then he smiled. Someone asked, ‘What is it you smiled at?’ He replied, ‘I saw the Prophet do what I did. I asked him, “Messenger of Allah, why did you smile?” He answered, “Your Exalted Lord marvels at His slave who says, ‘Forgive me my sins,’ as he knows that none forgives the sins but I.’” (To a similar hadith Tirmidhi added the note that this is a Hasan Sahih narrative: Au.). Similar reports are to be found in Abu Da’ud, Tirmidhi and Nasa’i. Muslim’s report is as follows and which corroborates with reports in Abu Da’ud, and Nasa’i:

    (يُروى) أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- كَانَ إِذَا اسْتَوَى عَلَى بَعِيرِهِ خَارِجًا إِلَى سَفَرٍ كَبَّرَ ثَلاَثًا ثُمَّ قَالَ « سُبْحَانَ الَّذِى سَخَّرَ لَنَا هَذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لَهُ مُقْرِنِينَ وَإِنَّا إِلَى رَبِّنَا لَمُنْقَلِبُونَ اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّا نَسْأَلُكَ فِى سَفَرِنَا هَذَا الْبِرَّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَمِنَ الْعَمَلِ مَا تَرْضَى اللَّهُمَّ هَوِّنْ عَلَيْنَا سَفَرَنَا هَذَا وَاطْوِ عَنَّا بُعْدَهُ اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ الصَّاحِبُ فِى السَّفَرِ وَالْخَلِيفَةُ فِى الأَهْلِ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّى أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ وَعْثَاءِ السَّفَرِ وَكَآبَةِ الْمَنْظَرِ وَسُوءِ الْمُنْقَلَبِ فِى الْمَالِ وَالأَهْلِ ». وَإِذَا رَجَعَ قَالَهُنَّ. وَزَادَ فِيهِنَّ « آيِبُونَ تَائِبُونَ عَابِدُونَ لِرَبِّنَا حَامِدُونَ »

    [Ibn `Umar taught (his students)] that when the Prophet (saws) straightened himself up on his camel intending to travel out, he would say Allahu Akbar thrice, then say, “Glorified is He who subdued it to us while we were not such as to bring it to control. And, unto our Lord is our return. O Allah, we seek from You goodness and piety in this journey of ours, and seek in deeds those that please You. O Allah, make this journey of ours easy, and fold in its distance for us. O Allah, You are the Companion in this our journey, and vicegerent of (our) homefolk. O Allah, I seek Your refuge from the hardships of the journey, from depressing sights, and an evil return to the property and family.” When he returned he would say the same words but add, “We are returnees, repentant, chanting praises of our Lord.”
    Yet another report, continues Ibn Kathir, is in Ahmed. It says,

    حَمَلَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَلَى إِبِلٍ مِنْ إِبِلِ الصَّدَقَةِ ضِعَافٍ لِلْحَجِّ ، فَقَالَ : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ، مَا نَرَى أَنْ تَحْمِلَنَا هَذِهِ ؟ فَقَالَ : مَا مِنْ بَعِيرٍ إِلاَّ عَلَى ذُرْوَتِهِ شَيْطَانٌ ، فَاذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ إِذَا رَكِبْتُمُوهَا كَمَا أَمَرَكُمْ ، ثُمَّ امْتَهِنُوهَا لأَنْفُسِكُمْ فَإِنَّمَا يَحْمِلُ لِلَّهِ

    Abu Las Khuza`i said, ‘The Prophet gave us a few camels out of zakah-collections. We said, “Messenger of Allah, we do not see that these can carry us.” He said, “There is no camel but which has a devil sitting on its hump. So, pronounce Allah’s name when you climb them in the manner I have instructed you and then you subdue them unto yourselves, for, it is Allah who (gives you the power to) ride them.”‘ (Haythami gave his approval to this report: Au.).

    وَجَعَلُوا لَهُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ جُزْءًا ۚ إِنَّ الْإِنْسَانَ لَكَفُورٌ مُبِينٌ (15)

    43|15| Yet they have assigned for Him a share from His slaves.10 Truly man is clearly ungrateful.

    10. As Allah said elsewhere explaining how the people granted a share to others, what is Allah’s alone (6: 136):

    {وَجَعَلُوا لِلَّهِ مِمَّا ذَرَأَ مِنَ الْحَرْثِ وَالْأَنْعَامِ نَصِيبًا فَقَالُوا هَذَا لِلَّهِ بِزَعْمِهِمْ وَهَذَا لِشُرَكَائِنَا فَمَا كَانَ لِشُرَكَائِهِمْ فَلَا يَصِلُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَمَا كَانَ لِلَّهِ فَهُوَ يَصِلُ إِلَى شُرَكَائِهِمْ سَاءَ مَا يَحْكُمُونَ} [الأنعام: 136]

    “They assign a share to Allah out of what He (alone) brought forth of the crops and cattle, saying - entirely out of their fancy, ‘This is for Allah and this is for our associate(-gods).’ Then, what is for their associate(-gods), does not reach Allah, whereas, what is assigned to Allah, reaches their associate(-gods). Evil is the way they judge” (Ibn Kathir).

    أَمِ اتَّخَذَ مِمَّا يَخْلُقُ بَنَاتٍ وَأَصْفَاكُمْ بِالْبَنِينَ (16)

    43|16| Or, has He taken (for Himself), of what He creates, daughters, and chose you for sons?11

    11. “It should be remembered that the people thus addressed were the pagan Arabs, who believed that some of their goddesses, as well as the angels, were ‘God’s daughters’. In view of the fact that those pre-Islamic Arabs regarded daughters as a mere liability and their birth as a disgrace, this verse is obviously ironical” (Asad).

    وَإِذَا بُشِّرَ أَحَدُهُمْ بِمَا ضَرَبَ لِلرَّحْمَٰنِ مَثَلًا ظَلَّ وَجْهُهُ مُسْوَدًّا وَهُوَ كَظِيمٌ (17)

    43|17| While when one of them is given the glad tiding of what he has likened to the Compassionate,12 his face remains dark, as he suppresses (his grief).

    12. The allusion is to angels that the pagans attributed to God as His daughters.

    أَوَمَنْ يُنَشَّأُ فِي الْحِلْيَةِ وَهُوَ فِي الْخِصَامِ غَيْرُ مُبِينٍ (18)

    43|18| Is one then, who is brought up in ornaments? – although he is weak in dispute.13

    13. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah and Suddi have all said that the allusion is to women who wear ornaments and are weak in argument. A minor opinion is that the allusion is to idols and deities, but this is not the preferred opinion (Ibn Jarir). Razi adds: A woman’s need of ornaments (to assert her personality) is a kind of weakness that she suffers. Further (and as pointed out by Zamakhshari), rarely it happens that a woman begins to defend herself in an argument but ends up saying what will defeat her purpose. This happens, Mufti Shafi` says, because either they say something that is not related to the topic, or leave some sentences incomplete. However, this does not rule out exceptions. The rule however is made with the majority in view.
    Although the above might be construed as a remark against women, we might not forget to note that the Qur'anic words under discussion are those of pagans. Allah distributes qualities. If He takes away a quality, He compensates it with another. Women had to be different from men. They had to be complementary. And two that are complementary to each other cannot be equal. Therefore, to look for all the qualities of men in women is futile, just as to look for all their qualities in males is futile. Majid did not fail to realize this. He offers us a note from a psychologist which saves us from much research. He writes, “This refers to the almost universal custom of the ‘softer sex’ being brought up among jewelry and ornaments and to her innate love of display. ‘A woman’s skeleton, dating from the 4th century B.C. unearthed in Persia, had heaped upon the breast, necklace of pearls, lapis, turquoise, emerald and jasper.’ (CE., IV, p. 1150).” And, with reference to being weak in disputations, he writes, “Compare the findings of a modern-day psychologist: ‘Woman is admittedly weaker in logic than the male, and, because her “opinion” is partly instinctive feeling and partly immediate reaction to the momentary situation, she cannot equal man in enumerating arguments and proofs in support of her views. Her ways of thinking is what we describe as instinctive.”
    Accordingly, it might be added that when women are brought up purely on rational grounds, taught the same courses of education as men, playing the same games as men, spending all their time with men, as in the West, then they begin to look like men and even think like men. (It is thought that their male hormone production is heightened). In that event the difference between the way they think and the male think is narrowed. The objection – that they think instinctively – is then removed. But the complementariness, which attracts one to the other, is also affected (Au.).
    One of the opinions about why the masculine form (huwa: he) has been adopted is that the allusion by “and he is unclear in his disputation” is to he who declares that angels are female, and Allah’s daughters. Yet, one wonders whether the pronoun refers to women, but the masculine form is to deny already prejudiced men, an argument against women? Alternatively, it could be a hint at the fact that despite the efforts to give them maleness, (“she” becoming “he” as in the West), their weakness prevails and society remains dominated by the males (Au.).

    وَجَعَلُوا الْمَلَائِكَةَ الَّذِينَ هُمْ عِبَادُ الرَّحْمَٰنِ إِنَاثًا ۚ أَشَهِدُوا خَلْقَهُمْ ۚ سَتُكْتَبُ شَهَادَتُهُمْ وَيُسْأَلُونَ (19)

    43|19| And, they have made angels females: those that are themselves worshiper of the Compassionate. Did they witness their creation? Their testimony will be recorded and they will be questioned.14

    14. “I.e., (their testimony) regarding the ‘sex’ of the angels, who are spiritual in nature (Razi) and, therefore, sexless” (Asad).

    وَقَالُوا لَوْ شَاءَ الرَّحْمَٰنُ مَا عَبَدْنَاهُمْ ۗ مَا لَهُمْ بِذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عِلْمٍ ۖ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَخْرُصُونَ (20)

    43|20| They said, ‘Had the Compassionate so willed, we would not have worshiped them.’15 But of that they have no knowledge whatsoever.16 They are not but conjecturing.

    15. That is, “our worship of the idols has Allah’s approval. Had He disapproved, He would not have allowed it to happen” - obviously, a queer logic, which individuals of highly cultured and advanced societies also hold as true. What strikes them not is that by extension of this logic, the thousands of crimes committed against women every minute such as rape, murder, theft, bribery etc., also have God’s approval. But if they had God’s approval, there was no need for Him to raise Prophets and send messages, condemning these very acts (Mawdudi paraphrased).
    16. Although there are several interpretations about what the allusion is to, one opinion is that the unbelievers have no understanding of the complications involved in predestination and Divine decree (Au.).

    أَمْ آتَيْنَاهُمْ كِتَابًا مِنْ قَبْلِهِ فَهُمْ بِهِ مُسْتَمْسِكُونَ (21)

    43|21| Or, have We given them a Book before this to which they are adhering?

    بَلْ قَالُوا إِنَّا وَجَدْنَا آبَاءَنَا عَلَىٰ أُمَّةٍ وَإِنَّا عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِمْ مُهْتَدُونَ (22)

    43|22| But rather, they said, ‘Surely, we found our fathers on a religion17 and we are in their footsteps, following.’

    17. That the allusion by “ummah” at this point is to religion, is the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah and Suddi as in Ibn Jarir.

    وَكَذَٰلِكَ مَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ قَبْلِكَ فِي قَرْيَةٍ مِنْ نَذِيرٍ إِلَّا قَالَ مُتْرَفُوهَا إِنَّا وَجَدْنَا آبَاءَنَا عَلَىٰ أُمَّةٍ وَإِنَّا عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِمْ مُقْتَدُونَ (23)

    43|23| That is how, We did not send before you any warner to a town but its affluent ones said, ‘Surely, we found our fathers on a religion and we are imitating their footsteps.’18

    18. Asad writes: “Commenting on this passage, Razi writes: ‘Had there been in the Qur’an nothing but these verses, they would have sufficed to show the falsity of the principle postulating [a Muslim’s] blind, unquestioning attitude of [another person’s] religious opinions (ibtal al-qawl bit-taqlid): for, God had made it clear [in these verses] that those deniers of the truth had not arrived at their convictions by way of reason, and neither on clear authority of a revealed text, but solely by blindly adopting the opinions of their forbears and predecessors; and all this God has mentioned in terms of blame and sharp disagreement.’”
    The criticism, it might be noted, is directed against blind following in matters of faith (`aqidah), and not in matters of Law (fiqh), which the great majority does not have the capacity to work out on their own, but rather have been throughout the time, and will remain, dependent on the learned (Au.).

    قَالَ أَوَلَوْ جِئْتُكُمْ بِأَهْدَىٰ مِمَّا وَجَدْتُمْ عَلَيْهِ آبَاءَكُمْ ۖ قَالُوا إِنَّا بِمَا أُرْسِلْتُمْ بِهِ كَافِرُونَ (24)

    43|24| He said, ‘Even if I have brought to you something better in guidance than what you found your forefathers upon?’ They said, ‘We are, of whatever you have been sent with, deniers.’19

    19. That is, “We have decided on a certain course in our religion. And the position remains even if you have brought something better: under no circumstance are we going to abandon our ancient practices” (Qurtubi).
    Mawdudi adds: “This attitude of outright rejection has two reasons. One, the affluent ones are so absorbed in their lives, and so engrossed in the joys accruing from their wealth, property and position, as to have no time for such useless affairs as considerations of what is true and what is false. Second, the political, economic and social systems they live in, which in fact is designed by them, serve their interests so well that the moment they hear of an alternative, they realize in a flash that it will work against the prevalent system and deprive them of the advantages they draw from the established system.”

    فَانْتَقَمْنَا مِنْهُمْ ۖ فَانْظُرْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ (25)

    43|25| So We took vengeance upon them. So see, how was the end of those who cried lies!

    وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ لِأَبِيهِ وَقَوْمِهِ إِنَّنِي بَرَاءٌ مِمَّا تَعْبُدُونَ (26)

    43|26| (Recall) when Ibrahim said to his father and his people, ‘Surely I am quit of what you worship.

    إِلَّا الَّذِي فَطَرَنِي فَإِنَّهُ سَيَهْدِينِ (27)

    43|27| Except for Him who originated me and who guides me.’20

    20. “The plea of ancestral ways is refuted by the example of Abraham, in two ways: (1) he gave up the ancestral cults followed by his father and people, and followed the true Way, even at some sacrifice to himself; and (2) he was an ancestor of the Arabs, and if the Arabs stood on ancestral ways, why should they not follow their good ancestor Abraham, rather than their bad ancestors who fell into evil? The incident in Abraham’s story referred to here will be found in xxi, 51-70” (Yusuf Ali).

    وَجَعَلَهَا كَلِمَةً بَاقِيَةً فِي عَقِبِهِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ (28)

    43|28| And He made it a word enduring in his posterity,21 hoping that they will return (to the truth).22

    21. What word is being referred to? Mujahid said it was the testimony proclaiming Allah’s oneness (Ibn Jarir). This was the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Dahhak and others who said that the testimony: “there is no god but Allah,” remained among the progeny of Ibrahim (Ibn Kathir).
    22. That is, the posterity might return to Allah in repentance, piety, and good behavior (Ibn Jarir).

    بَلْ مَتَّعْتُ هَٰؤُلَاءِ وَآبَاءَهُمْ حَتَّىٰ جَاءَهُمُ الْحَقُّ وَرَسُولٌ مُبِينٌ (29)

    43|29| Nay, I gave these and their fathers some enjoyment23 until came to them the truth and a Messenger making things clear.24


    23. “Note the first person singular, as showing Allah’s personal solicitude and care for the descendants of Abraham in both branches. The context here refers to the prosperity enjoyed by Makkah and the Makkans until they rejected the truth of Islam when it was preached in their midst by a messenger whose Message was as clear as the light of the sun” (Yusuf Ali).
    24. Asad comments: “I.e., God did not impose on them any moral obligations before making the meaning of right and wrong clear to them through a revealed message. Primarily, this is an allusion to the pagan contemporaries of the Prophet, and to the prosperity which they had been allowed to enjoy for a long time.”

    وَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمُ الْحَقُّ قَالُوا هَٰذَا سِحْرٌ وَإِنَّا بِهِ كَافِرُونَ (30)

    43|30| But when the truth came to them they said, ‘This is magic, and we are therewith deniers.’

    وَقَالُوا لَوْلَا نُزِّلَ هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنُ عَلَىٰ رَجُلٍ مِنَ الْقَرْيَتَيْنِ عَظِيمٍ (31)

    43|31| They also said, ‘Why was this Qur’an not sent down upon some great man of these two townships?’25

    25. The allusion by the two cities is to Makkah and Ta’if, and by “some great man” the pagans meant one of the following: Al-Walid b. al-Mughirah, `Utbah b. Rabi`ah, both of Makkah, Habib b. `Umayr al-Thaqafi, Ibn `Abd Ya Layl or Ibn Mas`ud (i.e., `Urwah ibn Mas`ud) of Ta’if (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    أَهُمْ يَقْسِمُونَ رَحْمَتَ رَبِّكَ ۚ نَحْنُ قَسَمْنَا بَيْنَهُمْ مَعِيشَتَهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۚ وَرَفَعْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ دَرَجَاتٍ لِيَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُهُمْ بَعْضًا سُخْرِيًّا ۗ وَرَحْمَتُ رَبِّكَ خَيْرٌ مِمَّا يَجْمَعُونَ (32)

    43|32| What! Will they distribute the mercy of your Lord? We have distributed between them their livelihood in the present life,26 and have raised some of them above others in ranks, that some of them take others in servitude.27 At all events, the mercy of your Lord is better than what they amass.

    26. Far from they dividing Allah’s mercy: giving whom they would and denying whom they would, even a minor thing like division of means of life is not entrusted to them. Allah has kept this in His own hand (Au.).
    Zamakhshari writes: It is Allah who divides providence between them, being the Sustainer of the world and what it contains. He did not, as can be observed, divide qualities equally between them, but rather, made them strong, weak, rich, poor, owners and dependents. This is in order that they interact with each other and find sustenance through the co-operation and co-ordination with each other. In contrast, had Allah left the division to them, the lands would be filled with injustice and life destroyed. If such is the situation in worldly matters, what about spiritual matters, and those matters which order this life and the next?
    27. This translation has the consent of the great majority of commentators.

    وَلَوْلَا أَنْ يَكُونَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً لَجَعَلْنَا لِمَنْ يَكْفُرُ بِالرَّحْمَٰنِ لِبُيُوتِهِمْ سُقُفًا مِنْ فِضَّةٍ وَمَعَارِجَ عَلَيْهَا يَظْهَرُونَ (33)

    43|33| And, were it not that the people would become one community (of unbelievers),28 We would surely have made for those who deny the Compassionate, roofs out of silver for their houses, and stairways by which they ascend.

    28. “Since ‘man has been created weak’ (4: 28), it is almost a ‘law of nature’ that whenever he is exposed to the prospect of great wealth he is liable to lose sight of all spiritual and moral considerations, and to become utterly selfish, greedy and ruthless” (Asad).
    In Yusuf Ali’s simpler words: “So little value is attached in the spiritual world to silver or gold, or worldly ranks or adornments, that they would freely be at the disposal of everyone who denied or blasphemed Allah, were it not that in that case there would be too great temptation placed in the way of men, for they might all scramble to sell their spiritual life for wealth! They might have silver roofs and stair-ways, silver doors and thrones, and all kinds of adornments of gold. But Allah does not allow too great a temptation to be placed in the path of men. He distributes these things differently, some to unjust men, and some to just men, in various degrees, so that the possession of these is no test - either of an unjust or a just life. His wisdom searches out motives far more subtle and delicate than any we are even aware of.”

    وَلِبُيُوتِهِمْ أَبْوَابًا وَسُرُرًا عَلَيْهَا يَتَّكِئُونَ (34)

    43|34| And (also) doors to their houses, and couches on which they recline.

    وَزُخْرُفًا ۚ وَإِنْ كُلُّ ذَٰلِكَ لَمَّا مَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۚ وَالْآخِرَةُ عِنْدَ رَبِّكَ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ (35)

    43|35| And (of) gold.29 But surely, all this is no more than a brief enjoyment of the life of this world;30 while the world to come is - with your Lord - for the pious.

    29. That is, Allah would have made these things of gold if not for the fear that mankind will become one community of unbelievers. Consequently, gold and silver have been forbidden to the males of this community: whether as wares, utensils, or ornaments. It is reported that,

     

    عَنْ ابْنِ أَبِي لَيْلَى قَالَ كَانَ حُذَيْفَةُ بِالْمَدَايِنِ فَاسْتَسْقَى فَأَتَاهُ دِهْقَانٌ بِقَدَحِ فِضَّةٍ فَرَمَاهُ بِهِ فَقَالَ إِنِّي لَمْ أَرْمِهِ إِلَّا أَنِّي نَهَيْتُهُ فَلَمْ يَنْتَهِ وَإِنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ نَهَانَا عَنْ الْحَرِيرِ وَالدِّيبَاجِ وَالشُّرْبِ فِي آنِيَةِ الذَّهَبِ وَالْفِضَّةِ وَقَالَ هُنَّ لَهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَهِيَ لَكُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ

    `Abdul Rahman ibn Abi Layla said that they were with Hudhayfah in (the province of) Mada'in when he asked for a drink. A servant brought it in a silver bowl. Hudhayfah threw it away and said, “I did this because I have forbidden him, but he does not heed. The Prophet has prohibited us silk and brocade, and drinking out of golden and silver vessels saying, 'They are for them in this world and for you in the Hereafter’” (Sahihayn).
    The possibility remains that the meaning of the word “zukhruf” here is ornaments (Qurtubi, Alusi).
    Another possible meaning is, “We would have made some of these things from silver and some others from gold” (Zamakhshari).
    30. The unworthiness of this world is best expressed by a hadith as found in Tirmidhi. It says,

    لَوْ كَانَتِ الدُّنْيَا تَزِنُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ جَنَاحَ بَعُوضَةٍ، مَا سَقَى كَافِرًا مِنْهَا شَرْبَةَ مَاءٍ

    Sahl b. Sa`d reports the Prophet (saws) as having said, “If the world was equal to the wing of a mosquito in the sight of Allah, the unbeliever would not have received a mouthful of drink” (Ibn Kathir).

    وَمَنْ يَعْشُ عَنْ ذِكْرِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ نُقَيِّضْ لَهُ شَيْطَانًا فَهُوَ لَهُ قَرِينٌ (36)

    43|36| And, whoso turns a blind eye to the remembrance of the Compassionate, We assign over him a devil, who is then his close companion.31

    31. According to a report in Muslim, every individual has a Shaytan in his company (Shawkani). A Muslim, however, is able to overcome his incitation; but the unbelievers have no way to escape his prompting (Au.). Abu Sa`id al-Khudri said that the allusion is to the Devil who will meet the unbeliever as he emerges from the grave and will not part company until he leads him to the Fire (Qurtubi).
    As Allah said elsewhere (41: 25):

    وَقَيَّضْنَا لَهُمْ قُرَنَاءَ فَزَيَّنُوا لَهُمْ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَحَقَّ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقَوْلُ فِي أُمَمٍ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ مِنَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنْسِ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا خَاسِرِينَ [فصلت : 25]

    “And We assigned to them close companions who decked out fair to them what was before them and what was behind them, and (thus) came true the Word against them (being) among the people who passed away before them of the Jinn and mankind. They were indeed the losers” (Ibn Kathir).

    وَإِنَّهُمْ لَيَصُدُّونَهُمْ عَنِ السَّبِيلِ وَيَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُمْ مُهْتَدُونَ (37)

    43|37| They hinder them from the path, while they think they are guided aright.32

    32. Yusuf Ali comments: “The downward course in evil is rapid. But the most tragic consequence is that evil persuades its victims to believe that they are pursuing good. They think evil to be their good. They go deeper and deeper into the mire, and become more and more callous. ‘Them’ and ‘they’ represent the generic plural of anyone who ‘withdraws himself from ... Allah’ (see last verse).”

    حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَنَا قَالَ يَا لَيْتَ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكَ بُعْدَ الْمَشْرِقَيْنِ فَبِئْسَ الْقَرِينُ (38)

    43|38| Until, when he comes to Us33 he says, ‘How I wish there was between me and you the distance between the two Easts’34 - an evil close-companion then.

    33. That is, when he, who turned a blind eye to the remembrance of his Lord, and those of his close companion of previous life come together to Allah in the Hereafter, at that point the man will regret the company of the devil.
    34. One opinion is that by the two Easts the allusion is to East and West. Just as they say, “the two Basras” meaning, Basra and Kufa, or “the two moons” for the sun and the moon (Ibn Jarir, Razi, Qurtubi and others). Yet another opinion is that it is to two Easts of summer and winter when the sun rises from two different directions - although both in the East (Ibn Jarir).

    وَلَنْ يَنْفَعَكُمُ الْيَوْمَ إِذْ ظَلَمْتُمْ أَنَّكُمْ فِي الْعَذَابِ مُشْتَرِكُونَ (39)

    43|39| Of no benefit will this Day be (he) – if you transgressed – (except) that you are sharers in the chastisement.35

    35. It is in human nature that when he sees others in the same kind of suffering, he feels his own suffering lightened. Said Khansa’ in a nice poetical piece:

    فلولا كثرة الباكين حولي * على إخوانهم لقتلت نفسي

    "If not for the numerous criers around me (crying) over their brothers, I would have surely killed myself" (Qurtubi, Shabbir).

    أَفَأَنْتَ تُسْمِعُ الصُّمَّ أَوْ تَهْدِي الْعُمْيَ وَمَنْ كَانَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ (40)

    43|40| Will you then make the deaf to hear, or guide the blind or he who is in clear error?

    فَإِمَّا نَذْهَبَنَّ بِكَ فَإِنَّا مِنْهُمْ مُنْتَقِمُونَ (41)

    43|41| Even if We take you away (in death), We shall surely take vengeance upon them.36

    36. There are two opinions: Hasan and Qatadah said that the allusion is to the evil happenings that took place among the Muslims after the Prophet’s death; so that, he departed and afflictions began to appear. In fact, there was never a Prophet but who witnessed afflictions striking his people during his life itself. But Allah spared our Prophet that he should see in his lifetime what would agonize him. Nevertheless, he was shown in vision the displeasing events that were to happen to his followers after him, which so affected him that he was not seen smiling thereafter (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    (There is a hadith related to this topic). The Prophet said, as in Muslim, narrated by Abu Burdah, quoting his father,

    النجوم أمان لأهل السماء فإن طمست النجوم أتى السماء ما يوعدون و أنا أمان لأصحابي فإذا قبضت أتى أصحابي ما يوعدون و أهل بيتي أمان لأمتي فإذا ذهب أهل بيتي أتى أمتي ما يوعدون

    “The stars are a security for the heavens. When the stars are gone, that will come upon the heavens which it has been promised. I am a security for my Companions. When I am gone, that will come upon my Companions which has been promised. And my Companions are a security for my Ummah. When my Companions are gone, that will come upon my Ummah which is being promised” (Ibn Kathir).
    A second opinion is that the allusion is to those who rejected him. That was the opinion of Suddi, and is the preferred interpretation (Ibn Jarir).

    أَوْ نُرِيَنَّكَ الَّذِي وَعَدْنَاهُمْ فَإِنَّا عَلَيْهِمْ مُقْتَدِرُونَ (42)

    43|42| Or, We may show you that which We have promised them, for surely, We have full power over them.

    فَاسْتَمْسِكْ بِالَّذِي أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ ۖ إِنَّكَ عَلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ (43)

    43|43| Hold fast then, unto that which has been revealed to you, surely, you are on a straight path.37

    37. Miur’s antagonism of Islam is almost proverbial, so the following, as quoted by Majid has some significance: “Mohammad thus holding his people at bay; waiting in the still expression of victory; to outward appearance defenceless, and with his little band as it were in the lion’s mouth; presents a spectacle of sublimity paralleled only by such scenes in the Sacred Records as that of the Prophet of Israel when he complained to his Master, ‘I, even I only, am left.’ Nay, the spectacle is in one point of view even more amazing … It is this which brings it possible into still bolder prominence the marvelous self-possession and enthusiasm which sustained Muhammad on his course” (Op. cit., p. 126).

    وَإِنَّهُ لَذِكْرٌ لَكَ وَلِقَوْمِكَ ۖ وَسَوْفَ تُسْأَلُونَ (44)

    43|44| Surely, it is an honor for you and for your people;38 and soon shall they be questioned.39

    38. This is how the word “dhikr” of this occurrence has been understood by Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah, Suddi and Ibn Zayd (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir); although, the “honor” is for anyone who will accept and live by the Message; while the top honors will go to the pious (Qurtubi). However, the two meanings, the apparent (of ‘remembrance’) and ‘honor’ are not, as Yusuf Ali points out, mutually exclusive.
    Ibn `Adiyy and Ibn Marduwayh have reported that when the Prophet presented himself to the tribes for support to Islam, which he promised would overcome resistance, they would ask him about whose dominion it would be if it happened that way. He did not reply to them until this verse was revealed. After the revelation of this verse he would recite it in reply to whoever raised that question (Shawkani, Alusi). That is, he told them that it was honor enough that the Revelation had come to them (Au.).
    39. “The meaning is that on the Day of Judgment all prophets will be asked, metaphorically, as to what response they received from their people (cf. 5: 109), and those who professed to follow them will be called to account for the spiritual and social use they made – or did not make – of the revelation conveyed to them: and thus, the ‘eminence’ promised to the followers of Muhammad will depend on their actual behavior and not on their mere profession of faith” (Asad).

    وَاسْأَلْ مَنْ أَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ قَبْلِكَ مِنْ رُسُلِنَا أَجَعَلْنَا مِنْ دُونِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ آلِهَةً يُعْبَدُونَ (45)

    43|45| And ask those of the Messengers We sent before you, did We appoint, apart from the Compassionate, deities to be worshiped?40

    40. One opinion is that the Prophet was supposed to ask the Messengers that were brought together at Jerusalem, the night of his Ascension, but he preferred not to ask. Another, and preferred opinion, is that he was to ask the followers of the previous Prophets, such as the Jews and Christians, but which also he did not feel the necessity to do (Ibn Jarir, Razi and others).

    وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا مُوسَىٰ بِآيَاتِنَا إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ وَمَلَئِهِ فَقَالَ إِنِّي رَسُولُ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (46)

    43|46| Surely, We sent Musa with Our signs to Fir`awn and his chiefs. He said, ‘I am the Messenger of the Lord of the worlds.’

    فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ بِآيَاتِنَا إِذَا هُمْ مِنْهَا يَضْحَكُونَ (47)

    43|47| But when he brought them Our signs, lo, they laughed them out.

    وَمَا نُرِيهِمْ مِنْ آيَةٍ إِلَّا هِيَ أَكْبَرُ مِنْ أُخْتِهَا ۖ وَأَخَذْنَاهُمْ بِالْعَذَابِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ (48)

    43|48| And, not a sign We showed them but it was greater than its sister.41 So we seized them with chastisement, haply that they might return.42

    41. The other signs are quite well known such as, the storms, locusts, lice, frogs, blood, losses in agricultural products, loss of lives, and, of course, the shining hand and the rod becoming snake (Zamakhshari, Ibn Kathir). As for being greater, it is possible that every new one was so apparently Allah’s handiwork as to be impossible to dismiss as a natural phenomenon (Au.).
    42. “The concept of ‘returning’ to God implies that the instinctive ability to perceive His existence is inherent in human nature as such, and that man’s ‘turning away’ from God is a consequence of spiritual degeneration, and not an original tendency or predisposition” (Asad).

    وَقَالُوا يَا أَيُّهَ السَّاحِرُ ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ بِمَا عَهِدَ عِنْدَكَ إِنَّنَا لَمُهْتَدُونَ (49)

    43|49| But they said, ‘O sorcerer! Pray to your Lord for us,43 by what He has covenanted with you,44 we should then be guided aright.’45

    43. One question: how could they address Musa as a magician and then ask him to plead for the removal of the chastisement? The answer is that a magician was not a derogatory term among them. It was rather a word of reverence meaning “scholar” as there were no scholars then but only magicians (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi and others).
    Ibn Kathir seconds the above opinion.
    44. The testament between Musa and his Lord was to the effect that if Fir`awn’s folks entered into faith, they would be spared the punishment.
    45. That is, points out Ibn Kathir, they meant to say that if they were relieved, they would accept Musa’s faith, as Allah said elsewhere (7: 133-135):

    فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ الطُّوفَانَ وَالْجَرَادَ وَالْقُمَّلَ وَالضَّفَادِعَ وَالدَّمَ آيَاتٍ مُفَصَّلَاتٍ فَاسْتَكْبَرُوا وَكَانُوا قَوْمًا مُجْرِمِينَ (133) وَلَمَّا وَقَعَ عَلَيْهِمُ الرِّجْزُ قَالُوا يَا مُوسَى ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ بِمَا عَهِدَ عِنْدَكَ لَئِنْ كَشَفْتَ عَنَّا الرِّجْزَ لَنُؤْمِنَنَّ لَكَ وَلَنُرْسِلَنَّ مَعَكَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ (134) فَلَمَّا كَشَفْنَا عَنْهُمُ الرِّجْزَ إِلَى أَجَلٍ هُمْ بَالِغُوهُ إِذَا هُمْ يَنْكُثُونَ [الأعراف : 133 - 135]

    “Therefore, We let loose upon them flood, the locusts, the lice, the frogs, and (water turning into) blood: signs distinct. But they waxed proud; indeed, they were a criminal people. Whenever a wrath fell upon them they cried out: ‘O Musa. Supplicate to your Lord by what He has promised you. If you release us (O Musa) from this wrath, we shall believe in you and shall let go with you the Children of Israel.’ But when We relieved them of the wrath until a term they were to attain, behold, they went back (on their word).”

    فَلَمَّا كَشَفْنَا عَنْهُمُ الْعَذَابَ إِذَا هُمْ يَنْكُثُونَ (50)

    43|50| But when We removed from them the chastisement, at once they broke their word.46

    46. Majid quotes the Bible: “Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, Entreat the Lord, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the Lord” (Ex. 8: 8). And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron and said unto them, Entreat the Lord (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail” (Ex., 9: 28).

    وَنَادَىٰ فِرْعَوْنُ فِي قَوْمِهِ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ أَلَيْسَ لِي مُلْكُ مِصْرَ وَهَٰذِهِ الْأَنْهَارُ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِي ۖ أَفَلَا تُبْصِرُونَ (51)

    43|51| And Fir`awn made a proclamation among his people, saying, ‘O my people, does not the dominion of Egypt belong to me, and these canals that flow beneath me?47 What! Do you not see then?

    47. Asad’s following expression was preceded by Shabbir’s in Urdu: “I.e., ‘at my command’: a reference to the imposing irrigation system originating in the Nile and controlled by royal power.”

    أَمْ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِنْ هَٰذَا الَّذِي هُوَ مَهِينٌ وَلَا يَكَادُ يُبِينُ (52)

    43|52| Or, am I better than this who is insignificant,48 who can scarcely express himself clearly?

    48. That is, 'am I not?'

    فَلَوْلَا أُلْقِيَ عَلَيْهِ أَسْوِرَةٌ مِنْ ذَهَبٍ أَوْ جَاءَ مَعَهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ مُقْتَرِنِينَ (53)

    43|53| Why not bracelets of gold were cast on him,49 or angels came with him in accompaniment?’

    49. It was a practice among them that when one of them was promoted to higher status, he was awarded bracelets of gold to wear on the wrists (Razi, Qurtubi); while Fir`awn reserved pearls for himself (Shabbir).
    Asad adds: “In Ancient Egypt, golden armlets and necklaces were regarded as princely insignia (cf. Genesis xli, 42) or at least as evidence of high social dignity.”
    Yusuf Ali might be quoted here: “Gold bracelets and gold chains were possibly among the insignia of royalty. In any case they betokened wealth, and the materialists judge a man’s worth by his wealth and his following and equipage. So Pharaoh wanted to see Moses, if he had any position in the spiritual kingdom, invested with gold bracelets, and followed by a great train of angels as his Knight-companions! The same kind of proofs were demanded by the materialist Quraish of our holy Prophet. These were puerilities, but such puerilities go down with the crowd. Barring a few Egyptians who believed in Allah and in the Message of Moses, the rest of Pharaoh’s entourage followed Pharaoh in his pursuit of revenge, and were drowned in the Red Sea.”

    فَاسْتَخَفَّ قَوْمَهُ فَأَطَاعُوهُ ۚ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَوْمًا فَاسِقِينَ (54)

    43|54| Thus did he make light of his people. So they obeyed him. They were indeed a corrupt people.

    فَلَمَّا آسَفُونَا انْتَقَمْنَا مِنْهُمْ فَأَغْرَقْنَاهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ (55)

    43|55| At length when they provoked Us to anger,50 We took vengeance on them and drowned them all.51

    50. This is how Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id ibn Jubayr, and many others understood the text (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    51. “Fir`awn boasted of water (when he spoke of the canals flowing beneath him: Au.), and he perished in water, - a fitting recompense” (Yusuf Ali, elsewhere).
    Ibn al-Mundhir and Ibn abi Hatim have a report which says, as narrated by Tariq b. Shihab: “I was with `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud when someone mentioned sudden death. He remarked, ‘It is an ease granted to a believer, while a source of grief for the unbeliever.’ Then he recited this verse, ‘At length when they provoked Us to anger, We took vengeance on them and drowned them all’” (Shawkani).

    فَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ سَلَفًا وَمَثَلًا لِلْآخِرِينَ (56)

    43|56| We made them a precedent and an example for the later ones.52

    52. That is, Fir`awn and his folks were a precedent for the unbelieving nations that followed him, in terms of behavior, and in terms of the retribution that followed, as also an example for the later generations to learn from.

    وَلَمَّا ضُرِبَ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ مَثَلًا إِذَا قَوْمُكَ مِنْهُ يَصِدُّونَ (57)

    43|57| And, when Ibn Maryam was cited as an example, at once your people laughed at it.53

    53. The consensus of opinion among Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah, Dahhak and Suddi is that the term “yasiddun” means “yazijjun” (Ibn Jarir), which in turn means, “to scream, protest, and ridicule” (Au.).

    وَقَالُوا أَآلِهَتُنَا خَيْرٌ أَمْ هُوَ ۚ مَا ضَرَبُوهُ لَكَ إِلَّا جَدَلًا ۚ بَلْ هُمْ قَوْمٌ خَصِمُونَ (58)

    43|58| And they said, ‘Are our deities better or he?’54 They cited him not to you but for disputation.55 Indeed, they are a contentious people.

    54. That is, when `Isa (asws) was mentioned in the Qur’an, the Quraysh thought the Prophet was inviting them to the worship of Jesus, in confirmation of the Christian practice, so they protested, “is he better as a deity or Allah’s own daughters, the angels, whom we worship?” (Ibn Jarir in sum and substance).
    In Yusuf Ali’s words: “Jesus was a man, and a prophet to the Children of Israel, ‘though his own received him not.’ Some of the churches that were founded after him worshiped him as ‘God’ and as ‘the son of God,’ as do the Trinitarian churches to the present day. The orthodox churches did so in the time of the holy Prophet. When the doctrine of Unity was renewed, and the false worship of others besides Allah was strictly prohibited, all false gods were condemned, e.g., at xxi.98. The pagan Arabs looked upon Jesus as being in the same category as their false gods, and could not see why a foreign cult, or a foreign god, as they viewed him, should be considered better than their own gods or idols. There was no substance in this, but mere mockery, and verbal quibbling. Jesus was one of the greater prophets: he was not a god, nor was he responsible for the quibbling subtleties of the Athanasian Creed.”
    Qurtubi, (and Ibn Kathir from Ibn Is-haq), quote the following as the context of revelation: Once the Prophet presented his message to a group of Quraysh in the Grand Mosque. Ending with a threat, he left the assembly. `Abdullah b. al-Zab`ara said he knew how to non-plus the Prophet. He said, “Muhammad said that those that are worshiped besides Allah will be in the Fire. This means `Isa ibn Maryam, `Uzayr and other (virtuous men of the past) will be in the Fire.” The Quraysh were well-pleased with his words. But when they suggested this to the Prophet, he replied, “Whoever approved that he be worshiped will be in the Fire.”
    55. Asad writes, “Objecting to the Qur’anic condemnation of their idolatrous worship of angels – whom they describe here as ‘our deities’ – the pagan Quraysh pointed to the parallel Christian worship of Jesus as ‘the son of God,’ and even as ‘god-incarnate,’ and argued more or less thus: ‘The Qur’an states that Jesus was purely human – and yet the Christians, whom the same Qur’an describes as “followers of earlier revelation” (ahl al-kitab) consider him divine. Hence, are we not rather justified in our worshiping of angels, who are certainly superior to a mere human being?’ The fallacy inherent in this ‘argument’ is disposed of in the sequence..
    “Since the Qur’an condemns explicitly, and in many places, the deification of Jesus by the Christians, this unwarranted deification cannot be used as an argument in favor of the pagan worship of angels and, thus, against the Qur’an: in the words of Zamakhshari, such an argument amounts to ‘applying’ a false analogy.”
    The following comes as an additional explanation of this verse,

    عَنْ عَمْرِو بْنِ شُعَيْبٍ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنْ جَدِّهِ أَنَّ نَفَرًا كَانُوا جُلُوسًا بِبَابِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ بَعْضُهُمْ أَلَمْ يَقُلْ اللَّهُ كَذَا وَكَذَا وَقَالَ بَعْضُهُمْ أَلَمْ يَقُلْ اللَّهُ كَذَا وَكَذَا فَسَمِعَ ذَلِكَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَخَرَجَ كَأَنَّمَا فُقِئَ فِي وَجْهِهِ حَبُّ الرُّمَّانِ فَقَالَ بِهَذَا أُمِرْتُمْ أَوْ بِهَذَا بُعِثْتُمْ أَنْ تَضْرِبُوا كِتَابَ اللَّهِ بَعْضَهُ بِبَعْضٍ إِنَّمَا ضَلَّتْ الْأُمَمُ قَبْلَكُمْ فِي مِثْلِ هَذَا

    (It is reported) that some people were squatting near the door of the Prophet (and discussing an issue), when someone said, “Didn’t Allah said this and this?” While another said, “Didn’t Allah say this and this?” The Prophet heard them, came out with a face which looked like a pomegranate had been squeezed on his face. He said, “Have you been ordered this?" Or he said, "Is this what you have been raised for, that you should strike a part of the Book with another? Nations before you lost their way in this manner.”
    Another but sahih, hadith of the same nature is in Ahmed. It is as follows: Abu Umamah reports the Prophet as having said,

    مَا ضَلَّ قَوْمٌ بَعْدَ هُدًى كَانُوا عَلَيْهِ إِلَّا أُوتُوا الْجَدَلَ ثُمَّ قَرَأَ مَا ضَرَبُوهُ لَكَ إِلَّا جَدَلًا بَلْ هُمْ قَوْمٌ خَصِمُونَ

    “No people lost the path after a guidance they were upon except that they were given contentions and disputations. Then the Prophet recited this verse: ‘They did not strike (the example for) you but (by way of) disputations, but rather they are an argumentative people’” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Shawkani).

    إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا عَبْدٌ أَنْعَمْنَا عَلَيْهِ وَجَعَلْنَاهُ مَثَلًا لِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ (59)

    43|59| He is only a slave whom We blessed and made him an example to the Children of Israel.

    وَلَوْ نَشَاءُ لَجَعَلْنَا مِنْكُمْ مَلَائِكَةً فِي الْأَرْضِ يَخْلُفُونَ (60)

    43|60| Had We willed We could have made in place of you56 angels in the earth, succeeding (one another).

    56. This is how Ibn Jarir understands the meaning of “minkum” of the text. As Allah said elsewhere (6: 133),

    إِنْ يَشَأْ يُذْهِبْكُمْ وَيَسْتَخْلِفْ مِنْ بَعْدِكُمْ مَا يَشَاءُ [الأنعام : 133]

    “If He wished He could remove you and replace after you whomsoever He will.”
    However, other commentators have expressed the possibility of a literal meaning of “minkum” meaning, '(angels born) out of you.'

    وَإِنَّهُ لَعِلْمٌ لِلسَّاعَةِ فَلَا تَمْتَرُنَّ بِهَا وَاتَّبِعُونِ ۚ هَٰذَا صِرَاطٌ مُسْتَقِيمٌ (61)

    43|61| Verily, He is a Knowledge for the Hour,57 therefore, be not in any doubt about it, but obey me. This is the straight path.

    57. The textual “`ilmun” has been understood as “`alamun” (a sign, insignia) by authorities like Ibn `Abbas; and the allusion is to his (`Isa ibn Maryam's) second coming which will take place before the end of the world. In fact, at one time some people had begun to recite the word as “`alamun;” but the reciters of the Holy Qur’an (qurra) gathered together over this issue and the unanimous opinion was that it is “`ilmun.” And so was the recitation of Ubay b. Ka`b (Ibn Jarir).
    The Prophet has said in a well-known hadith of Muslim,

    فَبَيْنَمَا هُوَ كَذَلِكَ إِذْ بَعَثَ اللَّهُ الْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ فَيَنْزِلُ عِنْدَ الْمَنَارَةِ الْبَيْضَاءِ شَرْقِىَّ دِمَشْقَ بَيْنَ مَهْرُودَتَيْنِ وَاضِعًا كَفَّيْهِ عَلَى أَجْنِحَةِ مَلَكَيْنِ إِذَا طَأْطَأَ رَأَسَهُ قَطَرَ وَإِذَا رَفَعَهُ تَحَدَّرَ مِنْهُ جُمَانٌ كَاللُّؤْلُؤِ فَلاَ يَحِلُّ لِكَافِرٍ يَجِدُ رِيحَ نَفَسِهِ إِلاَّ مَاتَ وَنَفَسُهُ يَنْتَهِى حَيْثُ يَنْتَهِى طَرْفُهُ فَيَطْلُبُهُ حَتَّى يُدْرِكَهُ بِبَابِ لُدٍّ فَيَقْتُلُه

    “While he (Dajjal) will be in that (state) Allah will send down the Messiah, son of Maryam, by the white minaret in Eastern Dimashq, wearing two cloaks, with his hands across the wings of two angels. When he lowers his head, it begins to drop down droplets (of water), and when he raises it, bead-like pearls scatter about. It would not be possible for an unbeliever that his breath reaches him but he does not die. And his breath will end where his sight ends. Then he will chase him (Dajjal) to the gates of Ludd and kill him” (Qurtubi).

    وَلَا يَصُدَّنَّكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ (62)

    43|62| Nor let Shaytan hinder you, surely, he is your open enemy.

    وَلَمَّا جَاءَ عِيسَىٰ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ قَالَ قَدْ جِئْتُكُمْ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَلِأُبَيِّنَ لَكُمْ بَعْضَ الَّذِي تَخْتَلِفُونَ فِيهِ ۖ فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ (63)

    43|63| When `Isa brought them clear proofs, he said, ‘I have brought you wisdom so as to make clear to you some of those things you are differing over.58 Therefore, fear Allah and obey me.

    58. That is, in many matters of religious importance (whether pertaining to beliefs, law or morals: Au.) the Israelites had differed between themselves. `Isa ibn Maryam was sent to clear those differences and show where lay the truth (Razi).

    إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ رَبِّي وَرَبُّكُمْ فَاعْبُدُوهُ ۚ هَٰذَا صِرَاطٌ مُسْتَقِيمٌ (64)

    43|64| Surely, Allah is my Lord and your Lord. Therefore, worship Him. This is the straight path.’

    فَاخْتَلَفَ الْأَحْزَابُ مِنْ بَيْنِهِمْ ۖ فَوَيْلٌ لِلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنْ عَذَابِ يَوْمٍ أَلِيمٍ (65)

    43|65| But the factions differed between themselves.59 Woe then, unto those who did wrong from the chastisement of the painful day.

    59. One opinion is that the allusion is to the differences between Jews and Christians, while another is that the reference is to the division between the Christians themselves who split into Nestorians (who said Jesus was a son of God), Jacobites (who said that he was God Himself), Malakites (who said he was third of the three), and so on (Razi, Qurtubi).
    Majid adds: “(.. the pure religion of Jesus degenerated into gross idolatry). ‘During the fifth century the practice of introducing images into churches increased and in the sixth it had become prevalent. The common people, who had never been able to comprehend doctrinal mysteries, found their religious wants satisfied in turning to these effigies. With singular obtuseness, they believed that the saint is present in his image, though hundreds of the same kind were in existence, each having an equal and exclusive right to the spiritual presence. The doctrine of invocation of departed saints, which assumed prominence in the fifth century, was greatly strengthened by these graphic forms, had reappeared.’ (Draper, Intellectual Development of Europe, I. p. 413).”

    هَلْ يَنْظُرُونَ إِلَّا السَّاعَةَ أَنْ تَأْتِيَهُمْ بَغْتَةً وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ (66)

    43|66| Are they but waiting for the Hour, that it should come upon them on a sudden while they are unaware?

    الْأَخِلَّاءُ يَوْمَئِذٍ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ إِلَّا الْمُتَّقِينَ (67)

    43|67| Intimate friends that day will be foes to one another, but for the godfearing.

    يَا عِبَادِ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْكُمُ الْيَوْمَ وَلَا أَنْتُمْ تَحْزَنُونَ (68)

    43|68| O My slaves, no fear upon you this day nor shall you grieve.

    الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَكَانُوا مُسْلِمِينَ (69)

    43|69| Those who believed in our revelations and had surrendered (to Us).

    ادْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ أَنْتُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ تُحْبَرُونَ (70)

    43|70| Enter Paradise – you and your spouses – you will be made to rejoice.

    يُطَافُ عَلَيْهِمْ بِصِحَافٍ مِنْ ذَهَبٍ وَأَكْوَابٍ ۖ وَفِيهَا مَا تَشْتَهِيهِ الْأَنْفُسُ وَتَلَذُّ الْأَعْيُنُ ۖ وَأَنْتُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ (71)

    43|71| Platters and cups of gold shall be passed around them, and for them therein whatever their souls desire60 - delight of the eyes, and you shall abide therein forever.

    60. There are several reports in elucidation of this verse. One of them says that a man asked the Prophet whether there will be horses in Paradise, an object of great interest for him. He answered,

    عَنْ سُلَيْمَانَ بْنِ بُرَيْدَةَ ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ ؛ أَنَّ رَجُلاً سَأَلَ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ، فَقَالَ : يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ ، هَلْ فِي الْجَنَّةِ مِنْ خَيْلٍ ، قَالَ : إِنِ اللهُ أَدْخَلَكَ الْجَنَّةَ ، فَلاَ تَشَاءُ أَنْ تُحْمَلَ فِيهَا عَلَى فَرَسٍ ، مِنْ يَاقُوتَةٍ حَمْرَاءَ ، يَطِيرُ بِكَ فِي الْجَنَّةِ حَيْثُ شِئْتَ ، إِلاَّ فَعَلْتَ

    “If Allah admits you into Paradise, you will not wish to ride a horse, except that you will have horses made of pink rubies flying with you to any part of Paradise.”
    Another man asked about camels in Paradise. He did not answer him in the manner he answered his companion, but said,

    وَسَأَلَهُ رَجُلٌ ، فَقَالَ : يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ ، هَلْ فِي الْجَنَّةِ مِنْ إِبِلٍ ؟ قَالَ : فَلَمْ يَقُلْ لَهُ مِثْلَ مَا قَالَ لِصَاحِبِهِ ، قَالَ : إِنْ يُدْخِلْكَ اللهُ الْجَنَّةَ ، يَكُنْ لَكَ فِيهَا مَا اشْتَهَتْ نَفْسُكَ ، وَلَذَّتْ عَيْنُكَ.

    “You will have therein what you wish and what pleases your eyes” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    On another occasion the Prophet said,

    إن السرب من أهل الجنة لتظلهم السحابة، قال: فتقول: ما أُمْطِرُكُمْ؟ قال: فما يدعو داع من القوم بشيء إلا أمطرتهم، حتى إن القائل منهم ليقول: أمطرينا كواعب أترابا

    “A cloud will spread itself over the inhabitants of Paradise and ask, “What shall I rain down?” None will ask for a thing but it will rain down his request until one of them will say, “Rain down on us high-bosomed damsels.”
    Mujahid was asked whether there will be music in Paradise. He answered, “There is a tree in Paradise [called al-`Ees] that will produce a kind of music never heard before."
    And, Abu Umamah said that a man may spot a bird flying in Paradise. He will wish to eat it. It will fall down [on a platter) cooked, ready to be served (Ibn Jarir).
    It may be noted that none of the ahadith quoted above has been reported as fully trustworthy words of the Prophet, although it is not easy to reject them either (Au.).

    وَتِلْكَ الْجَنَّةُ الَّتِي أُورِثْتُمُوهَا بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ (72)

    43|72| This is the Paradise that you have inherited for what you were doing.61

    61. The Qur’an states that the inhabitants of Paradise will inherit it. What is the meaning? A hadith in Ibn Abi Hatim explains it. It says:

    "كل أهل النار يرى منزله من الجنة، فيكون له حسرة فيقول { َوْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ هَدَانِي لَكُنْتُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ } وكل أهل الجنة يرى منزله من النار فيقول { وَمَا كُنَّا لِنَهْتَدِيَ لَوْلا أَنْ هَدَانَا اللَّهُ } فيكون له شكراً" قال: وقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ما من أحد إلا وله منزل في الجنة ومنزل في النار، فالكافر يرث المؤمن منزله من النار. والمؤمن يرث الكافر منزله من الجنة. وذلك قوله تعالى { وَتِلْكَ الْجَنَّةُ الَّتِي أُورِثْتُمُوهَا بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ }

    "Everyone of the Fire will see his place in Paradise which will be a source of regret and mortification for him. He will say (39: 57), ‘Had Allah guided me, I would have been of the pious.’ Similarly, everyone of the Paradise will see his place in the Fire. He will say (7: 43), ‘It was not for us to be guided aright had Allah not guided us.’ It will be (a source of) gratefulness for him.” Then the Prophet added, “There is none among you but he has a place in Paradise and a place in Hellfire marked for him. The unbeliever will inherit the believer’s place in the Fire, while the believer will inherit his place in Paradise. This is (the meaning of) the words, ‘This is the Paradise that you have inherited for what you were doing’” (Ibn Kathir).
    The authenticity of the above report could not be verified. However, a similar but shorter narration is in Ahmed, in two places. One of them says,

    لا يدخل أحد النار إلا رأى مقعده من الجنة لو أحسن ليكون عليه حسرة، ولا يدخل أحد الجنة إلا رأى مقعده من النار لو أساء ليزداد شكرا

    “No one will enter the Fire but he will see his place in Paradise (that he would have got) had he done well, in order that it becomes a source of regret and mortification for him. So also, no one will enter Paradise but he will see his place in the Fire, if he had done badly; in order that he may increase his gratitude.” The above is from Haythami’s Majma`ul Fawa’id with his remark that one of the two narratives involve trustworthy narrators (Au.).

    لَكُمْ فِيهَا فَاكِهَةٌ كَثِيرَةٌ مِنْهَا تَأْكُلُونَ (73)

    43|73| For you therein abundant fruits whereof you may eat.

    إِنَّ الْمُجْرِمِينَ فِي عَذَابِ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدُونَ (74)

    43|74| Surely, the criminals will be in the chastisement of Jahannum, abiding.

    لَا يُفَتَّرُ عَنْهُمْ وَهُمْ فِيهِ مُبْلِسُونَ (75)

    43|75| It will not be made milder for them, even as they will be in despair therein.

    وَمَا ظَلَمْنَاهُمْ وَلَٰكِنْ كَانُوا هُمُ الظَّالِمِينَ (76)

    43|76| We wronged them not, but they were indeed the wrongdoers.

    وَنَادَوْا يَا مَالِكُ لِيَقْضِ عَلَيْنَا رَبُّكَ ۖ قَالَ إِنَّكُمْ مَاكِثُونَ (77)

    43|77| They shall call out, ‘O Malik, let your Lord put an end to us.’ He will reply, ‘You shall surely abide.’62

    62. Ibn `Abbas, Nawf, Suddi and Hasan said that the inhabitants of the Fire will plead to the keeper-angel, “O Malik. Let your Lord put an end to us.” He will reply after one thousand years, “You shall surely abide” (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi). This report is in Ibn abi Hatim also (Ibn Kathir).
    A similar report is in Tabarani, which has the words “forty years” in place of “one thousand” and which report has Haythami’s approval (Au.).

    لَقَدْ جِئْنَاكُمْ بِالْحَقِّ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَكُمْ لِلْحَقِّ كَارِهُونَ (78)

    43|78| We brought you the truth but most of you were averse to the truth.

    أَمْ أَبْرَمُوا أَمْرًا فَإِنَّا مُبْرِمُونَ (79)

    43|79| Or have they devised [some] affair? But indeed, We are devising [a plan].

    أَمْ يَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّا لَا نَسْمَعُ سِرَّهُمْ وَنَجْوَاهُمْ ۚ بَلَىٰ وَرُسُلُنَا لَدَيْهِمْ يَكْتُبُونَ (80)

    43|80| Or, do they think that We do not hear their secret (talk) and their whispers?63 Lo, Our messengers by them are recording.

    63. Muhammad b. Ka`b al-Qurazi reported that while two Qurayshis and one Thaqafi, or the other way round, were near the Ka`bah, one of them said, “Do you think Allah hears our talk?” Another answered, “When you speak aloud He hears but not when you whisper.” At that the third remarked, “If He hears when you speak aloud then He will hear when you speak in whispers.” Allah revealed, “Or, do they think that We do not hear their secret (words) and their whispers?” (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).

    قُلْ إِنْ كَانَ لِلرَّحْمَٰنِ وَلَدٌ فَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْعَابِدِينَ (81)

    43|81| Say, ‘If the Compassionate had a son, then, I would be the first to serve.’64

    64. That is, we are so complete in our devotion to Allah, and so submitted, that if by any chance He had a son, we would have been the first to worship him (Zamakhshari, Ibn Kathir).

    سُبْحَانَ رَبِّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ رَبِّ الْعَرْشِ عَمَّا يَصِفُونَ (82)

    43|82| Glory to the Lord of the heavens and the earth, Lord of the `Arsh, above what they describe.

    فَذَرْهُمْ يَخُوضُوا وَيَلْعَبُوا حَتَّىٰ يُلَاقُوا يَوْمَهُمُ الَّذِي يُوعَدُونَ (83)

    43|83| So, leave them plunge and play65 until they meet the Day of theirs they are being promised.

    65. That is, let them plunge in vain discussions, and play with their lives (Ibn Jarir).

    وَهُوَ الَّذِي فِي السَّمَاءِ إِلَٰهٌ وَفِي الْأَرْضِ إِلَٰهٌ ۚ وَهُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْعَلِيمُ (84)

    43|84| And, He is the Deity in the heaven and the Deity in the earth. He is the All-wise, the All-knowing.

    وَتَبَارَكَ الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا وَعِنْدَهُ عِلْمُ السَّاعَةِ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ (85)

    43|85| Glorified is He to whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them. With Him is the knowledge of the Hour, and to Him you shall be returned.

    وَلَا يَمْلِكُ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِهِ الشَّفَاعَةَ إِلَّا مَنْ شَهِدَ بِالْحَقِّ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ (86)

    43|86| While those they call upon apart from Him have not the power of intercession, except for him who bears witness to the truth and those that know.66

    66. That is, those who are worshiped other than Allah, such as angels, `Isa ibn Maryam, `Uzayr, pagan deities, or others, will not be allowed to intercede unless they bear witness to Allah’s oneness and His Lordship and who will be aware that they can intercede only if allowed (Ibn Jarir).

    وَلَئِنْ سَأَلْتَهُمْ مَنْ خَلَقَهُمْ لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّهُ ۖ فَأَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ (87)

    43|87| And, if you asked them who created them, they will surely say, ‘Allah.’ How then are they being deluded?

    وَقِيلِهِ يَا رَبِّ إِنَّ هَٰؤُلَاءِ قَوْمٌ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ (88)

    43|88| And for his saying, ‘O my Lord, these are a people who will not believe.’67

    67. This affords a hint that this Surah could be one of the last ones to be revealed at Makkah. The Prophet had reached his final conclusion about the Makkans: they will not believe (Au.).

    فَاصْفَحْ عَنْهُمْ وَقُلْ سَلَامٌ ۚ فَسَوْفَ يَعْلَمُونَ (89)

    43|89| Yet, pardon them and say, ‘Peace.’ Soon they will know.68

    68. The words “Soon they will know” conceal a threat; and The Prophet’s departure to Madinah thereafter, should have set the Quraysh worrying (Au.).