19. Maryam (Mary)

The sūrah takes its name after Maryam (Mary), and consists of 98 verses. This sūrah was revealed just before the majority of the Muslims in Makkah emigrated to Abyssinia to escape the persecutions of the Makkan polytheists in the 5th  year of the Messenger’s mission. In that time, a monotheist king ruled Abyssinia. The Quraysh sent ‘Abdullāh ibn Rabī‘ah and ‘Amr ibn al-‘Ās to the king to attain the return of the refugees. The king questioned the Muslims about their faith and their view of Jesus, upon him be peace, and Mary. Ja‘far ibn Abī Tālib, the head of the Muslim refugees, answered him by reciting the initial 35 verses of this sūrah. It was as if this sūrah had been revealed to provide help for them.

The sūrah begins with the mention of John the Baptist, upon him be peace, and continues by relating facts about Mary and Jesus, upon him be peace. Then it mentions Abraham, upon him be peace, whose life was partly spent in emigrations, and hints that the way of God’s Last Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, would be no different from those of the previous Prophets. Then it strongly criticizes the harsh reactions of the Makkan polytheists, and ends by giving the glad tidings to the believers that God will put love for them in the hearts of people and that many people will welcome Islam.

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

1. Kāf. Hā. Yā. ‘Ayn. Sād.

2. A mention of your Lord’s mercy to His servant Zachariah:

3. When he invoked his Lord with a call in secret,

4. Saying: “My Lord! My bones have grown feeble and my head glistens with gray hair from old age, and, my Lord, I have never been unblessed in my prayer to You.

5. “I have fears about (how) my kinsmen (will act in respect of continuing my mission, and safeguarding the future of Mary), and my wife is barren. So bestow upon me a successor out of Your grace,

6. “Who will be my heir (in my duty) and heir to (the straight way of) the House of Jacob; and make him, my Lord, one with whom You are well-pleased.”1

7. (The angels called out to him on God’s behalf:) “O Zachariah! We give you the glad tidings of a son whose name will be Yahyā (John). We have not given this name to anyone before.”

8. He said: “My Lord! How shall I have a son when my wife is barren and I have already reached infirmity in old age?”

9. (The angel) answered (quoting God): “Just so. Your Lord says: ‘It is easy for Me – assuredly I did create you before, when you had been nothing.’ ”

10. (Zachariah) prayed: “My Lord, appoint a sign for me.” “Your sign,” He said, “is that you will not be able to speak to people for three nights.”

11. So he (Zachariah) came out to his people from the sanctuary (where he had been praying in the Temple), and signified to them: “Glorify your Lord at daybreak and in the afternoon.”

12. (John was born, and when he grew up, We commanded him:) “O John! Hold fast to the Book (the Torah), with (all your) strength!” And We granted him sound, wise judgment (and true understanding of God’s Law) while he was yet a little boy;

13. And (the gift of) compassion from Our Presence, and purity. He was very pious and righteous,

14. And dutiful towards his parents; and he was never unruly, rebellious.

15. So peace be upon him on the day he was born and the day of his death, and the day when he will be raised to life.

16. And make mention, in the Book, of Mary.2 She withdrew from her family to a chamber (in the Temple) facing east (to devote herself to worship and reflection).

17. Thus, she kept herself in seclusion from people. Then We sent to her Our spirit, and it appeared before her in the form of a perfect man.3

18. She said: “I seek refuge in the All-Merciful from you, if you are a pious, God-conscious one.”

19. He replied: “I am only a messenger of your Lord to be a means (for God’s gift) to you of a pure son.”

20. She said: “How shall I have a son, seeing no mortal has ever touched me, and I have never been unchaste?”

21. He said: “Just so. Your Lord says: ‘It is easy for Me; and (it must be just so) so that We make him for humankind a sign (of Our Power on account of his birth) and a mercy from Us (on account of his being a Messenger). It is a matter already decreed.”

22. So she conceived him, and then she withdrew with him to a distant place.

23. And the throes of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a date-palm. She said: “Would that I had died before this, and had become a thing forgotten, completely forgotten!”

24. (A voice) called out to her from beneath her: “Do not grieve! Your Lord has set a rivulet at your feet.

25. “And shake the trunk of the date-palm towards you: it will drop fresh, ripe dates upon you.”4

26. “So eat and drink, and be comforted. If you should see some person, say (through gesture): “I have vowed a fast of silence to the All-Merciful, so I cannot speak to any human being today.”

27. She came to her people, carrying him. They exclaimed: “O Mary! You have come for sure with an unheard of, mighty thing!

28. “O sister of Aaron,5 your father was never a wicked man, nor was your mother unchaste.”

29. Mary pointed to him (the infant, signifying that they should ask him). They cried: “How can we talk to one in the cradle, an infant boy?”

30. (The infant) said: “Surely I am ‘abdulLāh (a servant of God).6 He (has already decreed that He) will give me the Book (the Gospel) and make me a Prophet.

31. “He has made me blessed (and a means of His blessings for people) wherever I may be, and He has enjoined upon me the Prayer (the Salāh) and the Prescribed Purifying Alms (the Zakāh—and to enjoin the same upon others) for as long as I live.

32. “And (He has made me) dutiful towards my mother, and He has not made me unruly, wicked.

33. “So peace be upon me on the day I was born and the day of my death, and the day when I will be raised to life.”

34. Such was Jesus, the son of Mary, in the words of the truth about which they (the Jews and Christians) have been doubting (and disputing amongst themselves and with each other).

35. It is not for God to take to Himself a child. All-Glorified is He (in that He is absolutely above doing such things). When He decrees a thing, He does but say to it “Be!” and it is.

36. “Surely, God is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. This is a straight path (to follow).”

37. And yet, the parties (the Jews and Christians) have differed among themselves (about him). Woe, then, to those who disbelieve, because of the meeting of an awesome Day.

38. How well they will hear and how well they will see on the Day when they come before Us (the truth that they hide or push away will be clear to them)! But today (it will be of no avail to) the wrongdoers, (and they) will be in obvious loss.

39. So warn people of the coming of the Day of anguish and regrets, when everything will have been decided, for (even now) they are in heedlessness, and they do not believe.

40. Surely, it is We alone Who will inherit the earth and all who live on it; and to Us all will be brought back.

41. And make mention of Abraham in the Book. He was surely a sincere man of truth, a Prophet.

42. When he said to his father:8 “O my father! Why do you worship that which neither hears nor sees, nor can in anything avail you?

43. “O my father! There has indeed come to me of knowledge (of truth) such as has never come to you, so follow me, and I will guide you to an even, straight path.

44. “O my father! Do not worship Satan (by obeying his whispering to you to worship idols)! Satan is ever rebellious against the All-Merciful.

45. “O my father! I am fearful lest a punishment from the All-Merciful should befall you, and then you will become a close friend of Satan (and an instrument in his hand).”

46. His father said: “Have you turned away from my deities, O Abraham? If you do not desist, I will surely cause you to be stoned! Now get away from me for a long while!”

47. He said: “Peace be upon you! I will pray to my Lord to forgive you. Surely He has been ever gracious to me.

48. “And I will withdraw from you (my father and my people), and from whatever you deify and invoke other than God. I pray to my Lord alone; I hope that I will not be unblessed in my prayer to my Lord.”

49. After he had withdrawn from them and from all that they were worshipping other than God, We bestowed upon him Isaac (a son) and Jacob (a grandson);9 and each of them We made a Prophet.

50. We bestowed upon them (many other gifts) out of Our Mercy, and granted them a most true and lofty renown.10

51. And mention Moses in the Book. He was one chosen, endowed with perfect sincerity in faith and practicing the Religion, and was a Messenger, a Prophet.11

52. We called out to him from the right side of Mount Sinai,12 and drew him close for communication.

53. Out of Our Mercy, We granted him his brother, Aaron, to be a Prophet.

54. Also make mention of Ishmael in the Book. He was one always true to his promise, and was a Messenger, a Prophet.

55. He used to enjoin on his people the Prayer and the Prescribed Purifying Alms, and he was one favored and pleasing in his Lord’s sight.

56. And mention Idrīs in the Book. He was surely a sincere man of truth, a Prophet.

57. And We raised him to a high station.13

58. Those are some of the Prophets – upon whom God bestowed His blessings (of Scripture, Prophethood, good judgment, and wisdom) – from among the descendants of Adam and of those whom We carried (in the Ark) with Noah, and from among the descendants of Abraham and Israel (Jacob), and those whom We guided and chose. When the All-Merciful’s Revelations were recited to them, they would fall down, prostrating and weeping.14

59. Then, there succeeded them generations who neglected and wasted the Prayer and followed (their) lusts (abandoning the service of God’s cause). They will meet perdition (as their just deserts).15

60. Except those who repent and come to belief and do good, righteous deeds. Such will enter Paradise and will not be wronged in anything:

61. Gardens of perpetual bliss which the All-Merciful has promised to His servants while unseen (beyond the perception and knowledge of the servants). His promise is ever sure of fulfillment.

62. They will hear therein no idle talk, but only peace (contentment and safety). And they will have their provision therein, morning and evening.

63. That is the Paradise which We will cause those of Our servants who are God-revering, pious to inherit (as theirs forever).

64. (In response to an interval in the coming of Revelation, Gabriel explained:) “We do not descend but by your Lord’s command only. To Him belongs whatever is before us, and whatever is behind us, and whatever is between (all time and space, and whatever we do at all times in all places). And your Lord is never forgetful (so do not fear that He might forget you).”

65. (He is) the Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them; so worship Him alone, and be constant and patient in His worship. Do you know of any whose name is worthy to be mentioned along with His (as Deity and Lord to worship)?

66. And (despite this, that disbelieving) human says: “What? Once I am dead, will I then be brought forth alive?”

67. Does (that) human not bear in mind that We created him before when he was nothing?

68. And so, by your Lord, We will most certainly raise to life and gather them all together, as well as the satans (of humankind and jinn whom they used to follow), before Us, and then We will most certainly heap them up on their knees in groups around Hell.

69. Then We will certainly pluck out from every group of the same belief the ones who were most obstinate in rebellion against the All-Merciful.

70. Indeed, We know best who deserves most (and before all others) to be thrown into Hell to roast therein.

71. There is no one among you (O humankind,) who will not come to it. This is a fixed decree which your Lord has bound Himself to fulfill.

72. Then, We will save those who keep from disobedience to Him in reverence for Him and piety, and We will leave in it the wrongdoers (who associate partners with God or deny Him), humbled on their knees.16

73. When Our Revelations, clear as evidence and in meaning are recited (and conveyed) to them, those who persistently disbelieve say to those who believe: “Which of the two parties (– you or us –) is superior in status, with more impressive dwellings and more imposing as a company?”

74. And yet, how many a generation have We destroyed before them who were superior in respect of possessions and outward show!

75. Say: “Whoever is lost in error, no matter how much the All-Merciful adds (to their wealth, and how long He prolongs their life-span), when they face what they were promised – whether it be punishment (here in this world) or the Last Hour – they will come to know who is worse in position and weaker in forces.

76. God strengthens in guidance those who have sought and found guidance. The righteous, good deeds of lasting merit are best in your Lord’s sight for reward, and best for returns.17

77. Have you considered the one who disbelieves in Our Revelations and says (in insolence): “(Whatever you say, I will continue just as I am, for) I will most certainly be given wealth and children”?

78. Has he gained knowledge of the Unseen, or has he made a (particular, private) covenant with the All-Merciful?

79. No indeed! But We will record what he says and saddle him (with its consequence) as an ever-increasing punishment.

80. And We will inherit of him what he says, and he will come to us quite alone (bereft of wealth and children).18

81. They have taken deities apart from God so that they may be (a means of) might and glory for them.

82. No indeed! Those (whom they deified – beings such as angels, jinn, Prophets, saints, and heroes, etc.) will deny their worship of them and turn against them as adversaries (on Judgment Day).

83. Do you not see that We send the satans upon the unbelievers (because of their unbelief), and they impel them (towards sin and every kind of evil) with strong impulsion?

84. So be in no haste against them (so that their days and their persecutions of you might end sooner), for We but number for them a certain (fixed) number (of days, the time allotted for their respite).

85. A Day (will come) when We will gather the God-revering, pious ones as honored guests of the All-Merciful (in Paradise);

86. And drive the disbelieving criminals to Hell like thirsty cattle.

87. (Those who have taken deities so that they may intercede with God on their behalf should know that) none will have a right of intercession except such as have a covenant with the All-Merciful (by virtue of the quality of their faith and worship, and their nearness to Him).

88. As it is, some say: “The All-Merciful has taken to Himself a child.”

89. Assuredly you have (in such an assertion) brought forth something monstrous –

90. The heavens are all but almost rent, and the earth split asunder, and the mountains fall down in ruins –

91. That they ascribe to the All-Merciful a child!

92. It is not for the All-Merciful to take to Himself a child.

93. There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes to the All-Merciful as a servant.19

94. Most certainly He knows and registers them, and has numbered them exactly (having appointed for every being a particular service or duty, and determined for each a life-span and provision);

95. And every one of them will appear before Him on the Day of Resurrection, quite alone (bereft of all worldly things, children and family, friends and helpers).

96. Assuredly, those who believe and do good, righteous deeds, the All-Merciful will assign for them love (in the hearts of the inhabitants of the heaven and many on the earth, so that they will receive welcome throughout creation, no matter if they are weak and small in number now).

97. We make it (this Qur’ān) in your tongue and easy (to recite and understand) so that you may thereby give glad tidings to the God-revering, pious ones, and warn, thereby, a people given to contention.

98. And how many a generation We have destroyed before them! Can you feel (the existence) of a single one of them, or hear any whisper of them?

The Qur'an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English

The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English

1. The Prophet Zachariah, upon him be peace, recited the prayer mentioned in these verses as he could not perceive of anyone among his kinsmen being able to succeed him in his duty of preaching God’s Message, and safeguarding the future of Mary, whose guardianship he had undertaken.

While quoting a person’s speech, God does not quote it word-by-word and in its literal sense; He is not narrating an event simply as an historian or observer. Rather, He considers the intentions and feelings of the speaker and the parts of the speech that a person may not utter. In narrating an event, He considers it with its meaning, causes, and the lessons it provides, as well as with the circumstances under which it took place and the intentions, status, and positions of the principal actors in it. For this reason, we can find the same event or speech narrated in different words and from different perspectives in the Qur’an, according to the subject that is being dealt with and the context in which it is found.

The Prophet Zachariah’s prayer is mentioned in 3: 38 as: My Lord, bestow upon me out of Your grace a good, upright offspring, from which we understand that he asked for a successor from his own family and, therefore, asked for a son, as he had no children yet. One may wonder why Zachariah, upon him be peace, requested a successor from his own family; the answer is that God knows best upon whom to place His Message (6: 124), and God made pure Adam and Noah and the House of Abraham and the House of ‘Imrān, choosing them above all humankind, as descendants of one another (3: 33–34). It is impossible that the Prophet Zachariah, upon him be peace, was not aware of this, so he knew that the successor among his progeny would be one who would descend from Jacob’s house. (See also 3: 34, note 7.)

2. The Qur’ān presents Mary as one of the two exemplary women before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings (66: 12). The Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, mentions her as one of the greatest four of all women, the other three being ‘Āsya, the wife of the Pharaoh; Khadījah, the Prophet’s first wife; and Fātimah, his daughter (al-Bukhārī, “Anbiyā,” 45).

Mary was perfectly chaste, devout, and righteous. Her mother dedicated her to the service of the Temple. She spent all her time in that service and in the worship of God. She used to pray, prostrate, give thanks, and feel the inspiration of angels in her heart. God chose her as the virgin mother of the Prophet Jesus, upon him be peace, who was distinguished among the Prophets with his superior spirituality. (Also, see 3: 35–37, 42–48.)

3. As explained in Appendix 12, the spirit is the source of both physical and spiritual life. For this reason, it is used in the Qur’ān to describe both Revelation and the angel of Revelation (Gabriel). The designation of the angel as spirit is made because angels are spiritual.

Concerning the identity of the spirit who appeared before Mary in the form of a perfect man, the majority of interpreters of the Qur’ān are of the opinion that he was Gabriel. There are several arguments to support this, among these being that the Qur’ān mentions Gabriel as the Spirit of Holiness (16: 102) and the Trustworthy Spirit (26: 193). In verse 19 of the sūrah, the spirit presents himself as a messenger or envoy of the Lord. The Qur’ān also mentions Gabriel as a noble messenger (69: 40). The same event, or other aspects of this event, are told in Sūrat Āl ‘Imrān, 3: 45–47. These verses mention angels rather than a single angel. This means that Gabriel came to Mary to be a means of God’s conveying to Mary the gift of a son, while other angels gave her the glad tidings of that son.

Despite the opinions of many interpreters of the Qur’ān concerning the identity of the spirit mentioned above, some hold the view that it may be another being mentioned in several places of the Qur’ān with the name of the Spirit, and about whose identity there is an explanation in sūrah 70, note 1.

There are reports in the Gospels that Virgin Mary was later married to Joseph, the carpenter, and gave him sons and daughters. However, contrary to some Protestants who read these reports literally and argue that Mary gave birth to additional children, Catholics read them metaphorically, and believe that she remained a perpetual virgin. It is much more likely that a chaste woman like Mary, who gave birth to a great Prophet like Jesus, upon him be peace, without a father, would not have later married a man.

The verse indicates that spirit beings may assume visible forms. But the Qur’ān is not alluding to modern necromancy, which some “civilized” people practice by trying to contact the spirits of the dead; for these, in reality, are evil spirits masquerading as dead people. Rather, this form is the form known to certain saints, like Muhyi’d-dīn ibn al-‘Arabī, who could communicate with good spirits at will, make contact, and form relations with them.

4. While some of the commentators are of the opinion that the person who called out to Mary was the Spirit, others argue that that person was the newborn child; that the rivulet emerged suddenly; and the date-palm, which had been dried up, grew green all at once and yielded fresh, ripe dates. We cannot deny such miracles could happen during the birth of a Prophet, as many miracles were reported to take place during the Prophet Muhammad’s birth. Whichever of these views is right, and whether this place suddenly became a restful place with a spring or not, we learn from 23: 50 that the place to which Mary retreated was a lofty, quiet ground with a spring flowing in it.

5. It was a custom among the Children of Israel that they gave or linked their children to the names of renowned people, or people were linked with one of their renowned ancestors. Mary was a descendent of Prophet Aaron, upon him be peace, so people called her the sister of Aaron.

6. It can be expected that different opinions will emerge concerning a person who was born without a father from a chaste virgin. In this way, it was not long after his being withdrawn from the earth that some erroneously declared Jesus, upon him be peace, to be – God forbid! – God Himself; while others claimed him as God’s son, with his virtuous mother being the mother of God, although they also reported that she married a man after Jesus’ birth and gave him many children. By causing Jesus, upon him be peace, to speak while he was a baby in the cradle, the Almighty made him proclaim first that he was a servant of God, and forewarned against possible deviations. Using in the basic formula of Islam, the standard religion, preached by the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, that “I bear witness that there is no deity but God, and again I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger,” Prophet Jesus, upon him be peace, stressed that he was, first of all, God’s servant and, then, one of His Prophets.

7. All the Prophets came with the same essentials of belief, worship, morality, and behavior. The only difference was in some secondary laws relating to changing time and conditions. Like all other Prophets, the Prophet Jesus, upon him be peace, also mentioned the Divine Oneness, Divine Books, Messengership, the Prescribed Prayer and Prescribed Purifying Alms as the primary essentials of his mission.

8. For Abraham’s father, see 6: 74, note 14; 9: 114, note 24.

9. As is known, the Prophet Jacob was the son of Isaac and grandson of the Prophet Abraham, upon them all be peace. Abraham had another son, Ishmael, upon them both be peace. The reason why the Qur’ān mentions Jacob, upon him be peace, here is that this sūrah, like the previous two, al-Isrā’ and al-Kahf, makes frequent reference to the People of the Book – the Jews and Christians – in between the main topics. The Jews descended from the Prophet Jacob’s twelve sons.

10. The Qur’ān mentions Prophet Abraham, upon him be peace, here in particular in order to console the Muslims over their emigration to Abyssinia and to prepare their hearts for a possible, permanent emigration.

Emigration is an important phenomenon in human history. In addition to its general relevance to the establishment of civilizations, it has special significance in connection with the “holy ones,” those dedicated to carrying the light throughout the world.

First of all, every individual is a traveler and, therefore, in some sense, an emigrant. Their journey starts in the world of spirits and continues through the stations of their mother’s womb, childhood, youth, old age and the grave, and from there to a completely new world. Although a person is one among millions of people, in essence, each individual is born alone, lives their own life, endures their own death, and is bound to be resurrected alone. Likewise, each of those people of high stature who, throughout history, have guided humankind, started their sacred mission from a single being, then disseminated the light from the torch they carried, illuminating the minds and hearts of others, inculcating hope and faith in their followers, and transforming lands once submerged in darkness into lands of light. And each one of these guides had to emigrate from one place to another for the sake of that cause.

Faith, emigration, and striving in God’s cause are the three pillars of a single, sacred truth. They are the three “taps” of a fountain from which the water of life flows for people to drink from, allowing them to convey their message without becoming wearied, and, when the opposition is too formidable to overcome, to set out for a new land regardless of their home, property, or family.

Every new idea or message has always been resisted wherever it has appeared, and those who have offered it have usually been welcomed in new places where their pasts were unknown. In every movement of revival, prior to emigration, there are two stages of great importance. In the first stage, a person with a cause develops his character, overflows with belief, and is inflamed by love; and, surpassing his own self, he grows into a passionate servant of the truth. He struggles, at this stage, against the temptations of the carnal soul, to establish his authentic, spiritual character. This is called “the major or greater jihad” – al-jihād al-akbar. Then he rises, in the second stage, to radiate the lights of belief to the world around him. This stage is, in fact, the door to emigration.

Emigration should not, of course, be understood only in the material sense. Rather, a person experiences emigration throughout his life in the spiritual sense. Each inner intellectual or spiritual transformation, from indolence to action, from decay to self-renewal, from suffocation in the atmosphere of sinfulness to exaltation in the realm of the spirit, may be regarded as an emigration. It is my conviction that only those who have been able to actualize these inner emigrations can find in themselves the strength and resolution to leave their homes and families for the sake of a sublime ideal.

Emigration in its two dimensions, spiritual and material, was first represented by the great Prophets, Abraham, Lot, Moses, and Jesus, upon them be peace, who shone like suns on the horizon of humanity, and in its most comprehensive meaning and function, was realized by the greatest of them, namely the Prophet Muhammad, who is the pride of mankind, upon him be peace and blessings. The door to emigration has since been open to all those who walk in his footsteps.

Emigration for the truth’s sake is so sanctified that the community of holy ones around the Last Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, who sacrificed their possessions and souls for the sake of the cause they believed in, were praised by God as (and have since been called) “the Emigrants.” We can see the importance of this in the fact that the beginning of the sacred era of this holy community was marked, not by the birth of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, or by the first Revelation, or by such victories as Badr or the conquest of Makkah, but by the emigration to Madīnah.

Devout believers who have emigrated for the sake of a sublime ideal will always deeply feel the pressure of the ideal which urged them to emigrate and to design their life according to that ideal. Secondly, they will be freed from potential criticism over some mistakes that they might have made in their childhood or youth. While, in their own land, such devout believers are probably remembered and criticized for their past faults, and, therefore, have little influence upon people, in the land they have emigrated to, they will be known for their spiritual brilliance, unadulterated ideas, pure intentions, and extraordinary sacrifices. For these and other reasons, it has almost always been emigrants who change the flow of history and start new eras in the life of humankind.

Toynbee, the renowned British historian, mentions twenty-seven civilizations founded by nomadic or migrant peoples. No one can overcome such dynamic people. They are not accustomed to ease and comfort; they are ready to sacrifice everything worldly; they are used to every kind of hardship; and they are always ready to march wherever their cause requires them to go (Towards the Lost Paradise, 94–97).

11. For the distinction between a Messenger and a Prophet, see 3: 81, note 16.

12. On his way to Egypt from Midian, the Prophet Moses, upon him be peace, saw a fire as he was passing along the south of Mount Sinai. On drawing near to it, he heard a voice calling out to him, “O Moses, I am your Lord!” This voice came from the eastern side of the mountain; that is the right side according to where Moses, upon him be peace, was standing, as he was facing it.

13. The majority of Qur’ān interpreters are of the opinion that Idrīs, upon him be peace, was the Prophet who lived before Noah, upon him be peace, and was known as Enoch in the Bible. According to the Bible, Enoch begat Methuselah when he was 65 years old, and he walked with God after he begat Methuselah for three hundred years. Then God took him. The Talmud adds that when people were corrupted before Noah, upon him be peace, an angel of God came to Enoch, upon him be peace, who had been living in seclusion, to bring him the Lord’s order to teach people the way they should follow. People accepted his teachings, and he ruled them for 353 years with justice, during which God poured His bounties on people (H. Plano, The Talmud Selections, 18-21, quoted by al-Mawdūdī, 5: 163, note 33).

Many hold that the fact that Idrīs, upon him be peace, was raised to a high station means that God had granted him a high position. However, Bediüzzaman Said Nursi writes that life has five degrees, and the third degree is manifested in the lives of the Prophets Jesus and Idrīs, upon him be peace, who live in heaven with their bodies. Their bodies are not bound by the necessities of human life and have acquired a sort of refinement and luminosity to the degree of astral bodies and an angelic type of life (The Letters, “The 1st Letter,” 1: 2).

Writers and scholars such as Sayyid Hussain Nasr make a connection between Idrīs, upon him be peace, being raised to a high station (in heaven) with the theory that he lived in Iraq and that astronomy made great developments during his lifetime. This astronomical knowledge was then transmitted by those who were on Noah’s Ark, and was misused by the people in Iraq centuries later to worship celestial bodies. As is known, when the Prophet Abraham, upon him be peace, began his mission in Iraq, people were worshipping celestial bodies. Those proponents also draw attention to the basic difference between the views of Islam and modern views of humanity and its relationship with God. In the legend of Prometheus, which provides the basis for the modern view of humanity and its relationship with God, and which developed in the West during and after the Renaissance, Prometheus was punished by the gods because he had stolen from the sacred fire to bring it to humanity. However, God raised Idrīs, upon him be peace, who was the father of astronomy and who brought Heaven’s light or message to humanity, up to heaven.

14. For similar verses for these and others Prophets, see 6: 87-89.

15. The verse draws attention to the fact that neglecting and wasting the Prayer, which causes or is accompanied by following some of the lusts which are mentioned in 3: 14 – women, children, treasures of gold and silver (hoarded money), cattle, plantations (and profits) – is the main reason for the corruption of the generations that came after the Prophets. When we will consider this verse along with verse 29: 45 – Surely, the Prayer restrains from all that is indecent and shameful, and all that is evil – the matter will be clearer. We should bear in mind that it is Satan who invites people to indecencies and evils (24: 21). The neglect of the Prayer, as we can see, then, is the primary cause for submission to Satan.

16. Some Qur’ānic commentators conclude from the two verses above that everyone will go into Hell, but that it will not burn the believers who have not been condemned to dwell therein, just like the Prophet Abraham, upon him be peace, was not burned by the fire he was thrown into. Then the believers will be taken out of it. But according to others, who say that the verb wurūd, which causes some to argue that everyone will go into Hell but the believers will be taken out, does not always mean going into, but also can mean reaching, everyone will come to Hell so that the believers may witness its horror and be more thankful to God because He has not condemned them to its punishment. Those who deserve to be will be thrown into the Fire and left there, while the believers, who have not been sentenced to burn, will never enter it. Some of them will not even hear its sound (21: 102).

17. Human beings are inclined to show haste in making decisions based on current conditions. The Makkan polytheists argued that they had more beautiful and more richly furnished houses, that they were greater and more esteemed in position, and more powerful in company, and, therefore, their way or belief must be true. The same argument has been put forward by many in the world in order to abase Islam. As Muslims, we sometimes make the same mistake by starting with the same argument in order to criticize Muslims. However, the primary criterion to judge and compare belief and unbelief or Islam and other religions is the afterlife. In the verses above, the Qur’ān refers to this point, and it also draws attention to the fact that if Muslims really follow God’s way in the footsteps of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, the superiority of unbelievers in number and equipment will not save them from  their eventual doom. The Muslims were almost an unrivaled power in the world for nearly eleven centuries from the time of the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. A few centuries of decline cannot be a criterion to make a true judgment. Those who will live long enough will see what the future will bring, and the final judgment in the Hereafter will show the truth in all its clarity.

18. A person’s possession of wealth and children is dependent on laws which the Almighty has established without discriminating between belief and unbelief. By using the phrase, “No indeed!” in verse 79, the Qur’ān rejects the claim that insistence on unbelief brings wealth and children; it is not stating that unbelievers cannot have these. However, in addition to unbelief being totally wrong, insistence on unbelief because of one’s wealth and children may cause one misfortunes in the world. Furthermore, unbelief means Hell in the spirit, even when one is in material luxury. The apparent merry-making of unbelievers is no more than their trying to appease their inner unhappiness and purposeful self-deception. By contrast, belief and spiritual contentment cause one to experience Paradise in the heart, even if one is lacking material goods.

20. Everything is assigned a place in the grand scheme of the universe, which works in a magnificent way. The sun, the moon, stars, and all other heavenly bodies are knit together in a splendid system, following unalterable laws, and never deviating from their ordained course. So all of them are God’s servants – those submitted to Him consciously or unconsciously – just 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 “submitters,” so as far as their bodily existence is concerned, for each part of their bodies follows the course God has established for it, from birth until death and dissolution. Moreover, they can never escape the sphere of God’s Will and Power, even in the realm where they are allowed to exercise their free will. God has established what consequences they will meet by their actions. They do not play the least part in their coming into and departing from the world, or when, where and into what family they will be born. They can never determine their physical structure or color. So all things and beings in the universe can only live within the borders as God has determined them. And finally, everyone will appear before God in total submission on Judgment Day.

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