13. Ar-Ra’d (The Thunder)

Revealed in Makkah, this sūrah consists of 43 verses. It takes its name from the word Ar-Ra‘d (The Thunder) which is found in verse 13. Like other Makkan sūrahs, it also dwells on the essentials of faith, and the arguments for faith found in “nature” and humanity.

In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.

1. Alif. Lām. Mīm. Rā. These are the Revelations of the Book; and what has been sent down on you from your Lord is the truth – yet most people do not believe.

2. God it is Who has raised the heavens without pillars you can see,1 then He established Himself on the Supreme Throne;2 and He made the sun and the moon subservient to His command, each running its course for a term appointed by Him. He directs all affairs (as the sole Ruler of creation); He sets out in detail the signs and proofs of the truth and the relevant Revelations included in the Book, that you may have certainty in the meeting with your Lord (on Judgment Day).

3. And it is He Who has spread the earth wide and set therein firm mountains and rivers, and of fruit of every kind He has made mated pairs.3 He covers the day with the night. Surely in that are signs (manifesting the truth) for people who reflect.

4. And on the earth are tracts close by one another (and yet different from one another), and gardens of vines, and cultivated fields, and date-palms growing in clusters from one root but standing alone, (all) watered with the same water; and yet, as sustenance, We have made some preferable to others (in certain respects).4 Surely in that are signs of truth for a people who use their reason.

5. If there is something for you to find strange, how strange their saying is: “What! After we have become dust, will we indeed be (raised up again) in a new creation?” Those are they who disbelieve in their Lord, and around whose necks are fetters (by which they are being dragged into the Fire). They are the companions of the Fire; they will abide therein.

6. They challenge you to hasten the coming upon them of the evil instead of the good, although there have indeed come to pass before them many exemplary punishments. Your Lord is indeed rich in forgiveness for humankind despite their wrongdoing, and your Lord is indeed severe in retribution.

7. Those who disbelieve say: “Why is not a miraculous sign (of the kind we desire) sent down on him from his Lord?” You are (O Messenger) but a warner, and for each people, there is a guide (appointed by God).

8. God knows what any female bears (in her womb, with all its traits from her conception of it until delivery), and what the wombs diminish and what they increase, (,and by how much they may fall short in gestation, and by how much they may increase the average period), and everything with Him is by a determined measure.

9. The Knower of the Unseen and the witnessed (all that lies in the hidden and visible realms and beyond and within the reach of any created being’s perception), the All-Great, the All-Transcending.

10. (To Him) the one who holds his opinion in secret and the one who declares it are the same, and the one who hides himself (and his plans) under cover of night and the one who sallies out in the daylight.

11. (Every person advances through varying states, before and after, and) by God’s command attendant angels succeeding one another accompany him, before and after him, to guard him (and record his deeds). God does not change the condition of a people unless they change what is in themselves.5 When God wills evil for a people (in consequence of their own evil deeds), it cannot be averted, and apart from Him, they have no protector.

12. He it is Who displays before you the lightning, giving rise to both fear (of being struck) and hopeful expectation (of rain), and builds the clouds heavy (with rain).6

13. The thunder glorifies Him with His praise (that He is absolutely above having any partners, and that all praise belongs to Him exclusively), and so do the angels, in awe of Him. And He lets loose the thunderbolts and strikes with them whom He wills. Yet they stubbornly argue about God, (notwithstanding all evidence that) He is severe in repelling and retribution.

14. To Him alone is made the call of truth and the prayer of truth addressed. Those to whom they invoke and call others (to invoke), apart from Him, cannot answer them in any way – (so that he who invokes them is but) like one who stretches out his hands to water (praying) that it may come to his mouth, but it never comes to it. The prayer of the unbelievers is but destined to go to waste.

15. To God prostrate all that are in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly, as do their shadows in the mornings and the evenings.7

16. Say: “Who is the Lord of the heavens and the earth?” Say: “God.” Say (also): “Do you then take for guardians, apart from Him, such as have no power to bring benefit to, or avert harm from, even themselves?” Say: “Are the blind and the seeing equal, or are the depths of darkness and the light equal?” Or have they assigned to God partners who create the like of His creation, so that the creation (that they make and God’s creation) seem alike to them (so that they cannot distinguish the true Creator?)” Say: “God is the Creator of all things, and He is the One, the All-Overwhelming.”

17. He sends down water from the sky, and the valleys flow (in abundance), each according to its measure, and the flood carries a swelling foam (on its surface). And out of what they smelt in the fire in order to make ornaments or utensils, there rises a scum like it. Thus, does God strike a parable to illustrate truth and falsehood. For, as for the scum, it vanishes as does all dross, but that which is of use to people abides on earth. In this way does God strike parables.8

18. For those who respond to (the call of) their Lord, there is the fairest reward; and those who do not respond to Him – even if they possessed all that is on earth and its like besides, they would offer it as ransom (to be spared the punishment). Such are those whose is the most evil reckoning, and their final refuge is Hell: how evil a resting-place!

19. Is the one who knows that what is sent down to you from your Lord is the truth – is that one like him who is blind? Surely only people of discernment reflect and be mindful.

20. Those who fulfill God’s covenant (responsible for the order in the universe, and able to establish the peace, order and harmony in human life) and do not break the pledge (that they shall worship none save God, and fulfill all the moral, spiritual, and social obligations resulting from believing in and worshipping only One God);

21. And those who unite the bonds God has commanded to be joined (among kin as a requirement of blood relationship, and among people as required by human social interdependence), and stand in awe of their Lord, and fearful of (facing) the most evil reckoning;

22. And those who endure patiently (all adversities they face in God’s cause) in pursuit of where God’s good, eternal pleasure lies, and they establish the Prayer in conformity with its conditions, and spend of whatever We provide for them secretly and openly, and repel the evil with good.9 Such are those for whom there is the ultimate (everlasting) abode:

23. Gardens of perpetual bliss which they will enter, along with all who are righteous from among their ancestors, their spouses, and their descendants; and the angels will come to them from every gate, (saying):

24. “Peace be upon you, for that you endured patiently. How excellent is the ultimate (everlasting) abode!”

25. But those who break God’s covenant after its solemn binding, and sever the bonds God commanded to be joined, and cause disorder and corruption on the earth – such are those for whom there is curse (exclusion from God’s mercy), and for them there is the most evil abode.

26. God enlarges provision for whom He wills, and straitens it (for whom He wills). They (the unbelievers who have been given abundant provision and indulged in the present, worldly life, oblivious of God and the Hereafter) rejoice in the present, worldly life, whereas the present, worldly life is but a fleeting enjoyment as compared with the Hereafter.

27. Those who disbelieve say: “Why isn’t a miraculous sign (of the kind we desire) sent down on him from his Lord?” Say (to them, O Messenger): “Surely God leads astray whomever He wills,10 and guides to Himself all who turn (to Him whole-heartedly),

28. Those who have believed (and become established in belief), and whose hearts find rest and contentment in remembrance of, and whole-hearted devotion to, God. Be aware that it is in the remembrance of, and whole-hearted devotion to, God that hearts find rest and contentment.

29. Those (whose hearts have attained to rest and contentment) who have believed and who do good, righteous deeds – for them is the greatest happiness and the most beautiful of destinations.

30. For that end, We have raised you as Messenger among a community before whom other (similar) communities have come and gone, that you may recite and convey to them what We reveal to you, whereas (in their ignorance) they disbelieve in the All-Merciful. Say: “He is my Lord. There is no deity save Him. In Him I have put my trust, and to Him is my recourse.”

31. If, at all, through a discourse (qur’ān), mountains were moved, or the earth were torn apart, or the dead were made to speak (all would be only through this Qur’ān, so that the unbelievers would be compelled, having no choice but, to believe). No, but to God belongs the whole command (to decide what shall be and how it shall be). Do not yet those who believe accept that, if God had so willed, He would indeed have guided all humankind (to faith)? Those who disbelieve will not cease to be struck by severe blows for what they have been contriving, or these will alight close to their homes (to afflict them), until God’s promise (of the final victory of Islam or Judgment Day) is fulfilled.11 Surely God does not fail to keep the promise.

32. Messengers were certainly mocked before you. Yet (despite all that they did), I gave respite to those who disbelieved, but then I seized them (with terrible destructions). Then, (see) how was My retribution!

33. Is He Who watches over every soul and whatever it earns (to be denied or disobeyed)? Yet they associate partners with God. Say: “Name them (if anything can be a deity merely by calling it so)! Do you (presume to) inform Him of something (existent) on earth that He does not know? Or are you just uttering mere words (with neither meaning nor reference to anything existent and real)? No, but their own fictions are decked out to be appealing to those who disbelieve, and they are kept away from the right way. Whoever God leads astray, for him there is no guide.

34. For them is punishment in the life of this world, but the punishment of the Hereafter is yet more grievous, and they have none to guard them against God.

35. The Paradise promised to the God-revering, pious ones can be likened to a garden through which rivers flow. Its produce is everlasting, and so its shade. That is the ultimate outcome for those who keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety, just as the ultimate outcome for the unbelievers is the Fire.

36. Those to whom We granted the Book before rejoice in what is sent down to you. (Some do so because they believe that it is the expected final Revelation, and some because it contains passages confirming their Books and Prophets.)12 Yet among those parties (responding to the Book), some deny some of it (because it discloses their interpolations in their Books, and does not serve their interests). Say (O Messenger): “I have only been commanded to worship God and not to associate any partners with Him. To Him I call (all people), and to Him is my destined return.”

37. And so (as a Book, whose message is founded on belief in, and worship of, One God, and which should, therefore, be accepted by all who were given the Book before), We send down (this Qur’ān) as a final judgment in the Arabic tongue. And, indeed, if you were to follow their desires and fancies after what has come to you of the Knowledge, you would have none to defend and protect you against God.

38. Most certainly, We sent Messengers before you, and (like every other man) appointed wives and children for them. It was not (the way) for a Messenger to work a miracle (as a sign of his being a Messenger) except by God’s leave. Every appointed term has its own Revelation and law.

39. God effaces what He wills (of things and events He has created, and laws He has established), and He confirms and establishes (what He wills): with Him is the Mother of the Book.13

40. Whether We let you (O Messenger) witness the fulfillment of some of what We have promised them, or whether We cause you to die (before it happens), still yours (by way of duty and command from Us) is only to convey the Message, and Ours is the reckoning.

41. Do they not see how We deal with the earth, reducing it of its outlying parts?14 God judges, and (when He has judged) there is none to revise His judgment. And He is swift at reckoning.

42. Those who were before them plotted (just as their descendants now do), but all schemes are owned by God, (Who brings them to nothing and enforces His own “scheme”). He knows what every soul earns (by its intentions and deeds). So the unbelievers will know whose is the ultimate, everlasting abode.

43. Those who disbelieve say: “You are not a Messenger sent by God.” Say (to them): “God suffices for a witness between me and you, and (as witnesses) those who have true knowledge of the Book.”

The Qur'an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English

The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English

1. All celestial bodies move in order, balance, and harmony. They are held and supported by invisible pillars, some of which are repulsion or centrifugal forces: Do you not consider that God has made all that is on earth to be of service to you, and the ships that run upon the sea by His command? And that He holds the heaven so that it may not fall upon the earth otherwise than by His leave? Surely God is for humankind All-Pitying, All-Compassionate (22: 65).

At any moment, the heavens could fall upon the earth. That the All-Mighty does not allow this to happen is yet another instance of universal obedience to His Word. Modern science explains this as a balance of centripetal and centrifugal forces. What is of far greater importance for us, however, is that we focus our minds on that obedience and on the Divine Mercy that holds the universe in its reliable motion, rather than deciding to follow Newton’s or Einstein’s theories about the mechanical and mathematical terms of that obedience (The Essentials, 244).

2. For the meaning of the Supreme Throne and God’s establishing Himself thereon, see 2: 28, note 29; 7: 54, note 11.

3. By using “therein” in the meaning of “in the earth,” the verse indicates that the mountains have roots within the earth. And all the rivers gushing out of the mountains show how wonderfully and miraculously rocks are susceptible and subjugated to the Divine commands of creation. To awakened, attentive hearts, this means the following:

The mountains cannot be the actual source of such mighty rivers, for even if they were formed completely of water, they could supply such a river for only a few months. To cite a single example, even if all the mountains on earth were to be formed of water, they could not supply even just the Nile, a river which is more than 3,000 miles long and which has been flowing from time immemorial through the deserts. Also, rain, which can penetrate only about a meter underground, cannot be a sufficient source for such high expenditure. No ordinary reason, natural cause, or chance can explain the sources of these rivers and their flow. The All-Majestic Creator makes them flow forth in truly wonderful fashion from an unseen “treasury.”

A source of one of the Nile’s main branches is found in the Mountains of the Moon, said to be in Rwanda, while the Tigris’ main branch starts in a cave in eastern Turkey, and one of the main streams of the Euphrates rises in the foothills of a mountain in Diyadin, Turkey. It is scientifically established that mountains are rocks solidified from liquid matter. One of the Prophet’s glorifications – All-Glorified is He Who has laid soil on a fluid solidified – testifies that the original formation of the earth is as follows: some liquid matter solidified at Divine command and became rock, and then the rock became soil. In other words, the liquid matter was too soft to settle on, and the rock was too hard to benefit from. Therefore, the All-Wise and Compassionate One spread soil over the rock and made it a place of habitation for living beings.

(For further meanings of such expressions, see 2: 74, note 78; 50: 6-11; 78: 6-8, notes 2-3.)

4. Look at the seal God has put on life, through which one thing is made into many, and many things are made into one. He transforms the water we drink into a means for forming innumerable animal organs and systems. Through His command, a single entity becomes “many.” Conversely, He changes varieties of foods into a particular body or skin, a whole system or subsystem. Thus “many” things become, by God’s command, a single entity. Whoever has an intellect, a consciousness, and a heart must conclude that making a single, simple entity from many things, and using a single entity to make many things, is a seal unique to the Creator of all things.

On the surface of the earth, we observe acts of ever-original and purposeful creation. These occur in infinite abundance, together with beautiful and perfect artistry; with absolute ease, and in perfect order and arrangement; at incredible speed, with no loss of proportion, firmness, or substantiality; and in an infinite distribution of species, together with the infinite beauty of each individual. These acts occur with the greatest economy, or at the lowest cost imaginable, yet every individual is priceless and unique, while there is the highest correspondence and similarity between and among species, despite vast distances of time and space. They are in balance with an absolute variety, a perfect individualization of characters and features though generated from similar, or even the same, materials, structural principles, and organization.

Perfect artistry despite abundance, perfect order despite absolute ease, perfect measure, proportion, and firmness despite incredible speed, perfect individualization despite world-wide distribution, the highest price and value despite the greatest economy, and perfect distinguishing despite absolute mixedness and similarity point to the One, Single Creator (Mathnawī an-Nūriyah, 51).

5. Almost all of the nineteenth and even twentieth-modern century Western philosophies of history, including dialectical materialism and historicism, were based on these notions:

    • Whether along a line or in cycles, humanity is progressing continually toward a definite end.
    • This progress depends on history’s deterministic and irresistible laws, all of which are completely independent of us. All that we can do is to discover and obey them, for if we do not we will be eliminated.
    • All stages (e.g., primitive, feudal, or capitalistic) through which we inevitably pass should not be criticized, for we have no choice but to pass through them.

Such philosophies of history imply that the present socio-economic and even political conditions are inevitable, because they have been dictated by nature and history, which decree the survival of the most powerful. If this reality favors the West, communities that choose to survive must concede to Western dominion.

Although post-modernist philosophies of history and historicism give precedence to relativism in parallel to developments in physics, most modern theories still emphasize the linear, irreversible laws of history.

The Qur’ān views history from completely different perspectives. First of all, it views it from the perspective of unchanging principles, while all of the other philosophies mentioned interpret past events and present situations in order to build their theories. Secondly, contrary to the determinism of those philosophies, the Qur’ān stresses the individual’s free choice and moral responsibility.

According to the Qur’ān, we sow the field of this world or the present time in order to harvest in the near (this world) and far future (the next world or eternal life). Given this, history is made up of our own choices and not laid out by a compelling will.

Islam considers a society to be composed of conscious individuals who are equipped with free will and who have a responsibility toward both themselves and others (God and other living and non-living beings). It sees humanity as the “motor” of history. Just as, without excluding God’s forgiveness, mercy, and extra aids, every individual’s will and behavior determine the outcome of their life in this world and in the Hereafter, a society’s progress or decline is determined by the will, world-view, and lifestyle of its members. The verse means God will not change the state of a people unless they change themselves (with respect to their beliefs, world-view, and lifestyle). In other words, each society holds the reins of its fate in its own hands. A Prophetic Tradition emphasizes this idea: “You will be ruled according to how you are (how you believe, live, and behave).”

6. Even if we may sometimes see an apparent interruption in the Qur’ānic verses, the actual fact is that there is a deep, fundamental relevance and continuity between them. Reflection on this verse, and the preceding and succeeding ones, in the light of the explanations in sūrah 7, note 14, reveals what a beautiful, meaningful, and deep relation there is among them.

7. The length of the shadow varying according to the position of the sun in relation to the earth – the shadow’s lengthening and contraction – is a very beautiful and meaningful image of how creation prostrates in submission to its Creator.

Everything is assigned a place in the grand scheme of the universe, which works in a magnificent harmony and interconnectedness. The sun, the moon, stars, and all heavenly bodies are knit together in a splendid system, following an unalterable law, and never deviating from their ordained course. Everything in the world, from electrons to nebulae, follows its own laws. The birth of a human, its growth and life, and all the bodily organs, from small tissues to the heart and brain, are also governed by the laws prescribed for them. (Once more, we should remember that what we call laws are but certain principles which we have deduced by observing “natural” events. They are, in fact, designations for God’s executions of His commands or acts.)

This is why we say that Islam is the religion of the universe, for Islam is nothing other than obedience and submission to God, the Lord of the universe. The sun, the moon, the earth, and all (other) heavenly bodies are Muslim, as are the air, water, heat, stones, trees, and animals, for everything in existence obeys God by submitting to His laws. Even unbelievers and atheists are Muslim, in so far as their bodily existence is concerned, for each part of their body follows the course God established for it, from birth until death and dissolution. In this meaning, whatever and whoever – whether a believer or an unbeliever – is in the heavens and the earth prostrates before God or submits to Him willingly or unwillingly; this is obligatory, and there is no choice.

Secondly, as pointed out before in several places (4: 79, note 18; 5: 40, note 8; 6: 38, note 8), God has absolute sovereignty over everything. He decrees however He wills. Although we are endowed with free will, and meet the results of our intentions and deeds, since it is He Who established the law of causality in this corporeal world, and since it is He Who determined which cause brings about which effect or result, then His absolute Will is the sole authority in our actions as well. It is God Who established which cause (thought, belief, or action) brings about which result, and humankind cannot escape this framework. It is also in this meaning that whatever and whoever is in the heavens and the earth prostrates to Him.

8. The comparisons and expressions in this verse and in verses 12 and 13 are like those found in 7: 54–58. Water or rain symbolizes Divine Revelation, and the valleys represent the minds and hearts, which differ in their capacity to receive and benefit from the Revelation. Just as minds and hearts or human souls are like the valleys or river-beds that receive rain and flow each according to its measure, so, too, are people like raw materials or metal to be worked. Those who convey the Divine Revelation and educate people based on it work upon human souls to refine and make them silver, gold, diamond, or platinum, each according to its capacity. In both cases, that is, on the water that is carried by floods and on the metal worked in the fire, there rises a scum, which symbolizes any useless attribute or undesirable thing that is innate in the human soul; these things must be eliminated through education. Scum exists on the surface and usually obscures the water flowing beneath. Falsehood is like this scum. This is why people think that it dominates over truth. But this is only so in appearance and is deceitful, for, just like the scum, falsehood is destined and bound to vanish when the truth comes (17: 81). Truth is lasting and is like the water which flows beneath the scum and which carries life wherever it reaches.

9. This last phrase has several meanings:

    • Whatever evil people have done, or whatever sin they have committed, they repel (its effect) immediately by repentance.
    • Whatever evil they have done, they immediately do a good deed in atonement for it.
    • They repel the evil done to them by doing good to those who did evil to them.
    • “When they are deprived (of anything), they give; and when they are wronged, they forgive.”

The respected Turkish scholar, Fethullah Gülen, writes vividly about this matter:

Return good for evil, and disregard discourteous treatment. An individual’s character is reflected in his or her behavior. Choose tolerance, and be magnanimous toward the ill-mannered.

The most distinctive feature of a soul overflowing with faith is to love all types of love that are expressed in deeds, and to feel enmity for all deeds in which enmity is expressed. To hate everything is a sign of insanity or of infatuation with Satan.

Accept how God treats you. Make it the measure by which you treat others, so that you may represent the truth among them, and be free from the fear of loneliness in either world. (Pearls of Wisdom, 75–6)

He also writes about the reflection of this praiseworthy quality in education:

Improving a community is possible only by elevating the young generations to the rank of humanity, not by obliterating the bad ones. Unless a seed composed of religion, tradition, and historical consciousness is germinated throughout the country, new evil elements will appear and grow in the place of each eradicated bad one. (Ibid., 39)

10. For God’s leading whomever He wills astray, see sūrah 2, note 10; 26-27, note 23; sūrah 6: 39, note 9.

11. This expression is highly significant for understanding many important events in human history. In rejection of the truth and God’s true way, the unbelievers continue to contrive new ways and produce new things to satisfy their selfish desires. The verb used to express their contrivances, Sa-Ne-‘A, is the also the root word of sana’yi‘, meaning industry. Although what the Qur’ān primarily means here by “those who disbelieve” is the Makkan unbelievers, it is also referring to all of the unbelievers to come until Judgment Day. Unbelievers have never ceased to contrive new ways to struggle against Islam, or to develop new devices to satisfy their carnal appetites and exploit the natural resources of wealth throughout the world; they have struggled until they have built up gigantic industries, including the weapons industry. However, they have also never ceased to be visited by severe blows from all sides, like wars, including especially the two world wars of our age. Just as the Makkan unbelievers did not cease to be visited by blows until their final defeat and surrender to Islam, the contemporary unbelievers will not cease to be struck by blows until they accept the dominion of God over their lives and surrender to God completely. Otherwise, in the end, the Last Day will seize them severely.

12. As pointed out in the Qur’ān in such verses as sūrah 7: 159, sūrah 28: 52, and sūrah 46: 10, there were some People of the Book who believed in Islam in the Makkan period and in the early years of the Hijrah, for example, some Christians in Abyssinia and a few Jews in Madīnah. There were also some others who welcomed only some passages of the Qur’ān because they confirmed their Books as being of Divine origin and their Prophets. This verse refers to them.

13. The origins, sources, and seeds from which God Almighty shapes things and/or beings with perfect order and art show that they are arranged according to a “book of principles” contained in Divine Knowledge. The seeds contain the plans and programs of beings or things that will come into existence. To give a more concrete example, a seed contains or even constitutes the plan and program according to which a tree may be formed and, furthermore, is a miniature embodiment of the Divine principles that cause the tree to come into existence and determine this plan and program. This archetypal plan and program of the Tree of Creation as a whole, which spreads its branches through the past and future and into the World of the Unseen, is called the Manifest Record, and the Divine principles that determine this plan and program constitute what the Qur’ān calls the Supreme Preserved Tablet that is contained in Divine Knowledge (see also 6: 59, note 12).

The life-history of, for example, a plant or tree from its germination under soil until it yields fruit is the developed form of its seed; and this complete life-history; with all its cycles; is summed up in its fruit, rather in each seed within its fruits. We call this active life-history of a living thing or being its Practical Destiny or Manifest Book. With every thing and event in it, the universe has its own “universal” Practical Destiny, which is the “universal” Manifest Book. The Manifest Record, which is written by Divine Knowledge, relates to the origins of things or beings, while the Manifest Book relates to their entire life-histories and is a notebook written by the Divine Power.

Through the dictates of the Manifest Record, that is, through the decree and instruction of the Divine Destiny, the Divine Power uses atoms to create or manifest the chain of beings, each link of which is His sign, on the metaphorical page of time, which is called the Tablet of Effacement and Confirmation. Thus, atoms are set to move so that beings may be transferred from the World of the Unseen to the material, visible world, from (the Realm of) Knowledge to the (Realm of) Power.

The Tablet of Effacement and Confirmation is the tablet on which events and things or/and beings are inscribed and then removed or effaced according to the dictates of the Supreme Preserved Tablet contained in Divine Eternal Knowledge. Therefore, it displays continuous change. The Tablet of Effacement and Confirmation constitutes the essence of time. Time, a mighty river which flows through existence, has its essence in the Divine Power’s inscription of beings and in the “ink” It uses.

Similarly, God also has archetypal principles for human social life, all of which are called the Mother of the Book. He lays down these principles as commandments or laws during human history, as suited to the particular needs of the time and the people concerned. For this reason, every age or appointed term has its own Revelation and laws. God sent them down with succeeding Messengers in a way that culminated in the Qur’ān as the final form of the Divine Message.

So, with regard to legislation, Islam as the final message and the consummation of all the Divine messages followed three principal ways:

    • It retained the commandments that existed in the previous Books or prevailed in the community in which they appeared and that were not contradictory to its essential principles.
    • It corrected or amended those that were not in conformity with its principles.
    • It made new legislation.

In making new legislation, it considered both the unchanging, essential aspects of life and those that change over the course of time. With respect to the changing aspects of life, it laid down rulings that were open to revision in the light of both new conditions and its essentials of faith, worship, and morality, as well as establishing legal principles to maintain this process (see 6: 59, note 13). The same procedure was also followed in the time of the Prophet himself, during which the Qur’ān was revealed. Some verses were abrogated or annulled by God Himself, either in terms of the injunctions they contained, with their wording being preserved; or they were totally effaced from the Qur’ān. This process was called naskh, and the verses abrogated are known as mansūkh, with the new ones that substituted the previous ones as nāsikh

14. This expression has several meanings and connotations suggested by interpreters of the Qur’ān. It means:

    • We are visiting with Our punishment the lands of the unbelievers, gradually curtailing them from all sides. It suggests that Arabia is gradually being conquered by the Muslims. It also prophesies the subsequent conquests of the Muslims, as well as the final victory of devout surrender to God, throughout the world.
    • We make destruction follow prosperity on the earth, death after life, humiliation after glory, poverty after richness, fall after rise… So no one, no nation, can be sure that God will not change prosperity into abjection.
    • God gradually deprives a land, especially toward the time of its destruction, of the best among people – the scholars, spiritual guides, thinkers, good rulers, and great leaders, and so on.
    • The earth is gradually being compressed at the poles.
    • Lands and mountainous areas are being eroded by the wind and rain, and coastal areas, by the sea; agricultural land is gradually being eroded and becoming desert.