28. Al-Qasas (The Narratives)
This sūrah of 88 verses was revealed in Makkah. It takes its title from the word Al-Qasas (The Narratives) in verse 25. It is again concerned with the Prophet Moses’ life and mission, and also contains glad tidings for God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and the believers.
The history of the Children of Israel is an example in and of itself for the history of humankind and civilizations. Moreover, more than any other Prophets, the Prophet Moses, upon him be peace, resembled God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, in many ways (e.g., bringing a new law and fighting against his enemies). This is why the Qur’ān mentions him frequently.
The following verses of the Old Testament, which promise the coming of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and the blessings of God, and draw the attention to the resemblance between him and the Prophet Moses, upon him be peace:
The Lord said to me (Moses): “What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you among their brethren, and will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which he speaks in My name, I will requite it of him.” (Deuteronomy, 18: 17–19)
It is clear from these verses that, a Prophet like you among their brethren means a Prophet from Ishmael’s line, for Ishmael was the brother of Isaac, upon them both be peace, the forefather of the Children of Israel. The only Prophet who came after Moses, upon him be peace, and resembled him in many ways is the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. The Qur’ān indicates this in the following verse: Surely We have sent to you (O people) a Messenger, a witness against you (one who will testify in the Hereafter as to your deeds in response to God’s Message), just as We sent a Messenger to the Pharaoh (73: 15).
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
1. Tā. Sīn. Mīm.
2. These are the Revelations of the Book: clear in itself and clearly showing the truth.
3. We now convey to you with truth some of the exemplary events which took place between Moses and the Pharaoh, for people who will believe.
4. The Pharaoh turned into an arrogant tyrant in the land (of Egypt) and divided its people into castes. One group of them he humiliated and oppressed, slaughtering their sons and letting live their womenfolk (for further humiliation and suffering). He surely was one of those spreading disorder and corruption.
5. But We willed to bestow Our favor upon those who were humiliated and oppressed in the land, and make of them exemplary leaders (to guide people on the way to God, and in their lives), and make them inheritors (of the glory of the Pharaoh, and the land in which We produced blessings for people);
6. And to establish them in the land with power, and let the Pharaoh and Hāmān1 and their hosts experience what they feared from them (the people they had oppressed).2
7. We inspired the mother of Moses, saying: “Suckle him (for a time, without anxiety for his life), then when you have cause to fear for him, put him in the river, and do not fear or grieve. We will surely return him to you and make him one of our Messengers.”
8. Then, the family of Pharaoh picked him up only to be an adversary and a source of grief for them. Indeed the Pharaoh, Hāmān and their hosts were habitually in the wrong (sinful in their treatment of people and, especially, of the Children of Israel).
9. The Pharaoh’s wife said (to him): “(Here is a child that will be) a means of happiness for me and for you. Do not kill him. Maybe he will prove useful for us, or we may adopt him as a son.” They were unaware (of how the events were being prepared, and how their outcome would turn to be in the end).
10. A void grew in the heart of the mother of Moses, and she would almost have disclosed all about him (in the hope that he would be returned to her) had We not strengthened her heart so that she might have faith (in Our promise).
11. She said to his sister: “Follow him (secretly).” So she watched him from afar, while the others were not aware.
12. We had forbidden wet-nurses for him from before (so that he refused the milk of the nurses called by the Queen to suckle him). Then his sister (who was able to get into the palace) said: “Shall I guide you to a family that will nurse him for you, and they will take care of him?”
13. And thus, We returned him to his mother, so that she might rejoice and forget her grief, and that she might certainly know that God’s promise was true. But most people do not know this.
14. When Moses reached his full manhood and grew to maturity, We granted him sound, wise judgment, and special knowledge. Thus do We reward those devoted to doing good as if seeing God.
15. (One day he left the palace where he was living and) he entered the city at a time when he was unnoticed by its people, and found therein two men fighting: one of his own people and the other of their enemies (the native Copts). The one from his people called on him for help against the other, who was from their enemies. So Moses struck him with his hand and caused his death (unintentionally). He said: “This (enmity and fighting) is of Satan’s doing. Surely he is manifestly a misleading enemy.”
16. He said (in supplication): “My Lord! Indeed I have wronged myself, so forgive me.” So He forgave him. Surely He is the One Who is the All-Forgiving, the All-Compassionate (especially toward His believing, repentant servants).
17. “My Lord!” Moses said, “Forasmuch as You have blessed me with favors, I will never be a supporter of the guilty.”3
18. Now, in the morning, he was in the city, apprehensive and watchful. And the man who had sought his help on the day before (turned up) and cried out to him again for help. Moses said to him: “You are indeed, obviously, an unruly hothead.”
19. But then, when he was about to fall upon the man who was an enemy of them both, he (the Israelite who thought that Moses would attack him because he had chided him severely) said: “Moses, do you intend to kill me as you killed a person yesterday? You want only to become a tyrant in this land; you do not want to be of those who set things right!”
20. Then a man (from the royal court) came running from the farthest end of the city (where the court was) and said: “Moses, now the chiefs are deliberating upon your case to kill you, so leave the city. I am surely one of your sincere well-wishers.”
21. So he left the city, apprehensive and looking around. He said (in supplication): “My Lord, save me from these wrongdoing, oppressive people!”
22. As he headed towards Midian (the nearest territory independent of Egyptian rule), he said: “I hope my Lord will guide me on the right way (so as to avoid capture by Egyptian forces).”
23. When he arrived at the wells of Midian, he found there a group of people watering their flocks, and he found, apart from them, two women (maidens) holding back their flock. He said: “What is the matter with you?” The two (women) said: “We do not water our flock until the shepherds take their flocks away. (It is we who do this work because) our father is a very old man.”
24. So Moses watered their flock for them, and then he withdrew to the shade and said (in supplication): “My Lord! Surely I am in need of whatever good you may send down to me.”
25. Thereafter, one of the two (maidens) approached him, walking bashfully,4 and said: “My father invites you, so that he may reward you for watering our flock for us.” So when he came to him5 and told him the whole of his story, he said: “Worry no longer! You are now safe from the wrongdoing, oppressive people.”
26. One of the two daughters said: “Father, employ him, for the best whom you could employ should be one strong and trustworthy (as he is).”
27. (The father) said to Moses: “I want to marry one of these two daughters of mine to you if you serve me for eight years (according to the lunar calendar). But if you should complete ten years, that would be an act of grace from you. I do not mean to impose any hardship on you. You will find me, God willing, one of the righteous.”6
28. (Moses) answered: “So let it be between me and you. Whichever of the two terms I fulfill, let there be no ill-will against me. God is a Guarantor over what we say.”
29. When Moses fulfilled the term and was traveling with his family (in the desert), he perceived a fire from the direction of the Mount (Sinai). He said to his family: “Wait here! For I perceive a fire far off; I may bring you from there some information (about where we are, and the way we should take), or a burning brand from the fire so that you may (kindle a fire and) warm yourselves.”
30. When he came to the fire, he was called from the right bank of the valley in the blessed ground, from the tree: “O Moses! Surely it is I, I am God, the Lord of the worlds.7
31. “Throw down your staff. (He threw it, and) when he saw it (as a big snake) slithering as if a small serpent, he turned about retreating, and did not turn back. “O Moses, come forward and have no fear. You (chosen as a Messenger) are indeed of those who are secure.8
32. “Put your (right) hand into your bosom: it will come forth shining white without flaw; and now hold your arms close to yourself, free of awe (and ready to receive My command). These are two proofs (of your Messengership) from your Lord (for you to demonstrate) to the Pharaoh and his chiefs. Surely, they are a transgressing people.”
33. (Moses) said: “My Lord! I killed a person among them, so I fear that they will kill me (and not let me convey Your Message).
34. “And my brother Aaron – he is one more eloquent in speech than me, so ( appointing him also as a Messenger,) send him with me as a helper to confirm my truthfulness, for indeed I fear that they will deny me.”
35. He said: “We will strengthen you through your brother and will invest both of you with power and authority;9 and they will not be able to reach you (with any harm they intend) from awe of Our signs (miracles). You two, and all who follow you, will be the victors.”
36. When Moses came to them (the Pharaoh and his chiefs) with Our manifest signs, they said: “This (that you show as miracles to prove your Messengership) is nothing but sorcery contrived. And we never heard this (the call10 to Him Whom you call the Lord of the worlds) in the time of our forefathers of old.”
37. (Moses) said: “My Lord knows best who has come with the true guidance from Him, and to whom the ultimate abode of happiness will belong (both in the world and in the Hereafter). Surely the wrongdoers do not prosper (nor attain their goals).”
38. The Pharaoh (turned to the chiefs and) said: “O you nobles! I do not know that you have another deity than me.11 Well, then, O Hāmān, kindle (the furnace) for me to bake bricks, and make me a lofty tower so that I may have a look at the God of Moses, though I surely think that he is a liar.”
39. He grew arrogant in the land, he and his hosts, against all right, and they thought that they would never be brought back to Us (for judgment).
40. So We seized him and his hosts, and cast them into the sea. Then see what was the outcome for the wrongdoers!
41. We have made them leaders (exemplary patterns) of misguidance calling (those who would follow them) to the Fire. And (even though they employ many in their service in this world) on the Day of Resurrection, they will not be helped.
42. We have caused a curse to pursue them in this world (and increase them in sin because of their being leaders in misguidance, misleading those who followed them), and on the Day of Resurrection, they will be among the spurned (those utterly deprived of God’s Mercy).
43. And indeed, after We had destroyed those earlier (wrongdoing) generations, We granted Moses the Book (the Torah) as lights of discernment and insight for people, and as guidance and mercy, so that they might reflect and be mindful.
44. (All that We have told you about Moses and the Book granted to him is a Revelation We reveal to you, O Muhammad, for) you were not present on the spot lying to the western side (of the valley) when We decreed the Commandment (the Torah) to Moses, nor were you a witness (to what happened there).
45. But (after them) We brought into being many generations, and long indeed were the ages that passed over them. (The information you give about them is also that which We reveal to you, just as what you tell about what happened concerning Moses in Midian is also a Revelation. For) neither did you dwell among the people of Midian so that you are conveying to them (the Makkan people) Our Revelations (about what Moses did in Midian). Rather, We have been sending Messengers (to convey Our Revelations).
46. And neither were you present on the side of the Mount Sinai when We called out (to Moses), but (We reveal all this to you) as a mercy from your Lord so that you may warn a people to whom no warner has come before you, so that they may reflect and be mindful.
47. (We have sent you as Messenger) lest they say when a disaster befalls them (either in the world or in the Hereafter) because of what they themselves with their own hands have forwarded, “Our Lord! If only you had sent a Messenger to us, we would have followed Your Revelations and been among the believers.”
48. And yet, now that the truth has come to them from Us (through a Messenger), still they say (by way of an excuse for their denial of it), “Why has he not been granted the like of what Moses was granted (all at once)?”12 Did they not previously refuse to believe in what had been granted to Moses?13 They said: “Both are sorcery, each supporting the other.” They also said: “In each we are unbelievers.”
49. Say (to them): “Then bring another Book from God which would offer better guidance than either of these two so that I may follow it, if you are truthful (in your claim that they are both sorcery).”
50. If they cannot respond, then know that they are merely following their whims and caprices. Who can be more astray than he who follows his lusts and fancies, deprived of all guidance from God. God surely does not guide people given to wrongdoing and injustice.
51. Assuredly We have conveyed to them the Word (one verse after the other, and one chapter after the other, for their good) so that they may reflect and be mindful.
52. Those to whom We granted the Book before it do believe in it.14
53. When it is recited to them, they say: “We believe in it. Surely it is the truth from our Lord. Even before this, We were such as submitted (to the Divine Will).”
54. These will be granted their reward twice over because they have remained steadfast (in following their religion, free of falsehood, and so keeping themselves above all prejudices to believe in and follow the Qur’ān and Muhammad); and they repel evil with good, and out of what We have provided for them (of wealth, knowledge, power, etc.), they spend (in God’s cause and for the needy, and purely for the good pleasure of God).
55. When they hear any vain (useless or aggressive) talk, they turn away from it, without reciprocating it, and say (to those who are engaged in it): “To us are accounted our deeds, and to you, your deeds. Peace be upon you! We do not seek to mix with the ignorant (those unaware of God, true guidance and right and wrong).”
56. You cannot guide to truth whomever you like, but God guides whomever He wills. He knows best who are guided (and amenable to guidance).
57. They say: “Should we follow this Guidance in your company, we would be annihilated in our land.” Have We not established them in a secure sanctuary to which, as a provision from Us, products of all kinds are brought? But most of them do not know (that it is We Who protect and provide for them, and assume that it is their worshipping idols that attracts other Arab tribes to Makkah for trade, and that protects them from being attacked by those tribes).
58. How many a township have We destroyed that exulted insolently on account of their affluence. Those are their dwellings – except for few people for a short time only, they have never been dwelt in after them. It is always We Who are the inheritors (Who remain as the Ever-Living when all else have passed away).
59. Yet Your Lord never destroys townships without first raising up in their mother-town a Messenger who conveys to them Our messages. We never destroy townships, save that their people are wrongdoers (who associate partners with God and are given to many injustices).
60. Whatever thing you are granted (of the world) is but for the passing enjoyment of the present, worldly life and its adornment, whereas what God keeps for you (as the reward for your good deeds, and which He will give you in excess of your deserving) is much better and more enduring. Will you not reason and understand?
61. Is, then, he to whom We have given a fair promise (forgiveness and Paradise) which he will obtain, like him whom We have let enjoy for a time the good things of the present, worldly life, but who will be, on the Day of Resurrection, among those who are arraigned (for punishment)?
62. On that Day, God will call to them and say: “Where now are those (beings, things, and powers) that you alleged to be My partners?”
63. Those (who led others to associate partners with God, and) against whom God’s judgment of punishment has been realized will say: “Our Lord! Those whom we led astray, we led them astray just because we ourselves were astray (they imitated us out of their free will, we never coerced them to it). Now, in Your Presence, we declare our innocence (of their taking us for partners with You). It was not us that they worshipped. (Rather, they worshipped their own carnal souls.)”
64. And it will be said (to those who associated them as partners with God): “Call for help now upon your associate-deities!” And they will call upon them, but they will not answer them; and they will see the punishment in front of them. If only they had followed the right guidance!
65. On that Day, God will call to them (once more) and ask: “How did you respond to the Messengers?”
66. That Day, (all ways and means of finding) information will be darkened to them, and they will not (even) be able to ask one another.
67. But as for those who repent and believe and do good, righteous deeds, they may well hope to be among the prosperous.
68. Your Lord creates whatever He wills, and chooses and decrees (for His servants) whatever way of life He wills. They have no freedom of choice (in respect of what God has chosen and commanded). All-Glorified is He, and infinitely Exalted above their association of partners with Him.
69. Your Lord knows whatever their bosoms conceal and whatever they disclose.
70. He is God; there is no deity but He (only He is owed worship). (As all beauties, perfections, accomplishments, and favors are essentially from Him,) for Him are all praise and gratitude at the beginning and at the end (of every accomplishment, both in the world and in the Hereafter). His alone is judgment and authority, and to Him you are being brought back.
71. Say: “Have you ever considered that if God should make the night perpetual over you until the Day of Resurrection, is there a deity other than God who can bring you light? Will you not, then, give ear (to the truth and take heed)?”
72. Say: “Have you ever considered that if God should make the day perpetual over you until the Day of Resurrection, is there a deity other than God who can bring you the night, that you may rest in it? Will you not, then, see (the truth and take heed)?”
73. It is out of His Mercy that He has made for you the night and the day so that you may rest (during the night) and seek after His bounty (during the day), and that you may give thanks (to Him for both).
74. A Day will come and He will call to those who associate partners with Him, saying: “Where now are those (beings, things, and powers) that you alleged to be My partners?”
75. And We will take out from every community a witness (the Messenger sent to them), and will say (to those who rejected the Messengers): “Produce your evidence (for your claim that God has partners)!” Then they will know that all truth rests with God and that it is only God Who has the absolute right (to Divinity and Lordship); and all (the false deities) that they fabricated besides God will fail them.
76. Qārūn (Korah) was one of Moses’ people, but he betrayed and oppressed them.15 We had granted him such great treasures that their very keys alone were too heavy a burden for a company of strong people. Even his people warned him: “Do not exult in your wealth; surely God does not love those who exult.
77. “But seek, by means of what God has granted you, the abode of the Hereafter (by spending in alms and other good causes), without forgetting your share (which God has appointed) in this world.16 Do good to others as God has done good to you (out of His pure grace). Do not seek corruption and mischief in the land, for God does not love those who cause corruption and make mischief.”
78. He said: “All this has been given to me only by virtue of a certain knowledge that I have.”17 Did he not know that God had destroyed among the generations before him men who were greater than him in power, and greater in wealth amassed? In fact, the criminals committed to accumulating sin are not asked about their sins (before they are destroyed so that they can defend themselves).
79. (Korah) showed off before his people in all his pomp. Those who cared only for the life of this world said: “Ah, if we but had the like of what Korah has been given! Indeed, he is one of tremendous good fortune!”
80. But those who had been granted (true) knowledge18 said: “Woe to you! God’s reward for any who believes and does good, righteous deeds is better by far. But none save the patient (who persevere through adversities, and in obedience to God and avoidance of sins) can ever attain to it.”
81. Then We caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling. There was then no host to help him against God, nor (for all his possessions) was he himself able to come to his own aid.
82. And on the morrow, those who had longed to be in his place the day before began to say: “Woe to us! (We had forgotten that) God enlarges provision for whom He wills of His servants, and straitens it (for whom He wills). Had God not been gracious to us, He would have made us too swallowed up. Woe to us! (for we had forgotten that) the unbelievers do not prosper.”
83. As for the abode of the Hereafter, We will assign it to those who do not seek arrogant power on earth nor cause corruption and disorder. The (truly desirable) outcome is for the God-revering, pious.
84. Whoever comes to God with a good deed will have better than it, and whoever comes with an evil deed – those who do evil deeds will not be recompensed save only for what they have done.19
85. Surely, He Who has entrusted you (O Messenger) with the (duty of conveying) the Qur’ān will certainly bring you round to the fulfillment of the promise (you will be returned in victory to the home you were compelled to abandon).20 Say: “My Lord knows best who has the (true) guidance and who is lost in obvious error.”
86. You did not expect that this Book would be revealed to you; but it is being revealed to you as a mercy from your Lord, so do not lend any support to the unbelievers.
87. And never let them divert you away from conveying God’s Revelations after they have been sent down to you. Call (people) to your Lord, and do not be of those who associate partners with God.
88. Do not call upon another deity along with God.21 There is no deity but He. Everything is perishable (and so perishing) except His “Face” (His eternal Self, and what is done in seeking His good pleasure).22/23 His alone is judgment and authority, and to Him you are being brought back.
1. Hāmān must be, rather than a proper name, Hā-Amen, the title given to the high priest in the cult of Amon that was prevalent in ancient Egypt. He held a rank second to that of the Pharaoh and served as his chief adviser (Asad, 590, note 6) .
Another argument is that of the physicist, Maurice Bucaille, who claims that the name Hāmān occurs in some ancient Egyptian inscriptions, notably in one at the Hofmuseum in Vienna (now the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien) (Aegyptische Inschriften, I34, p. 130), and is listed in Ranke’s dictionary of Egyptian personal names as Vorsteher der Steinbrucharbeiter, “head of the stone quarry workers”.
2. After God established the Prophet Joseph, upon him be peace, in Egypt, together with the family of Jacob, upon him be peace, the Children of Israel attained high ranks there. God appointed among them Prophets and high-ranking administrators, and made them free people, masters of their own affairs (5: 20). Thus, the Pharaoh and his chiefs feared that they might recover their former state, expel them from their offices of government or even from Egypt, and abolish their state-religion and their way of life (20: 63). This is why they slaughtered their sons and spared their women to employ them and force them to marry the native Copts. They must have been practicing a form of genocide.
3. Some commentators of the Qur’ān have taken this pledge of Moses, upon him be peace, to also mean that he decided to leave the Pharaoh’s palace forever in order to avoid doing anything which would be of help to the Pharaoh, as his government was a tyrannical one. God orders in the Qur’an: And do not incline towards those who do wrong (against God by associating partners with Him and against people by violating their rights), or the Fire will touch you. For you have no guardians and true friends apart from God; ( but if you should incline towards those who do wrong,) you will not be helped (by Him) (11: 113).
4. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb, the Second Caliph, may God be pleased with him, commented on this sentence: “She came, walking modestly, with her face covered with a part of outer garment, unlike immodest women who are prone to loiter at night, who unabashedly find their way everywhere, and who are ever ready to go out” (al-Ālūsī, 19: 64).
5. Although there are some opinions that the old man who entertained Moses, upon him be peace, as a guest was the Prophet Shu‘ayb, upon him be peace, many scholars such as ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Abbās, Hasan al-Basrī and Sa‘īd ibn al-Jubayr, and commentators on the Qur’ān such as Ibn Jarīr at–Tabarī and Ibn Kathīr, do not hold the same view. The Bible and Jewish sources are also not certain about his identity. What is certain is that he was a believing, righteous man.
6. This verse suggests that the man who employed Moses, upon him be peace, was an insightful one. He must have realized what a valuable, promising man Moses, upon him be peace, was. He must also have realized that he would need a period of spiritual education for the mission that he would serve in the future. His offer should be considered from this perspective. Once, God’s Messenger said that every Prophet, including himself, pastured animals for some time (Al-Bukhārī, “Ijārah,” 2).
7. For an explanation of what is related in this verse, see 27: 8, note 5.
8. See also 27: 10–11.
9. As stated in the continuation of the verse, this must refer to the miracles granted to the Prophet Moses, upon him be peace, such as the calamities that God caused to visit the Pharaoh and his people, one after the other, like Moses’ other miracles (see 7: 133–134). It may also be referring to those who will believe in and follow them.
10. See 20: 47–53; 26: 23–29.
11. For the Pharaoh’s claim of divinity, see 26: 29, note 6.
12. This is referring to the objection made by the Makkan polytheists: “Why has the Qur’ān not been sent down to him all at once?” (25: 32) The Torah was granted to Moses, upon him be peace, as a complete book.
13. The Makkan polytheists rejected the Messengership, the Revelations and all the Divinely-revealed Books, as it is stated in: Those who disbelieve say: “We will not believe in this Qur’ān, nor in any (Message) that came before it” (34: 31).
14. This does not mean that all the People of the Book actually believed in the Qur’ān. This verse refers to some among the People of the Book who believed in it during the Makkan period of the Prophet Muhammad’s mission.
15. The story of Qārūn (in the Bible, Korah) is another of the arguments against the Makkan unbelievers’ excuse that, if they were to follow the Qur’ān in the Messenger’s company, they would be utterly annihilated in their land (verse 57). Those who made this excuse were wealthy traders, the rich money-lenders, and interest-accumulators of Makkah. Their only concern was to maximize their monetary earnings and maintain their luxurious life. As for the common people, many among them looked up to the rich as their role models. They wished to become like them and lead a similar life.
Qārūn, despite being an Israelite, had allied himself with the Pharaoh and become one of his closest courtiers. Since he was also one of the three most vocal opponents of Moses, upon him be peace, the Qur’ān mentions him along with the Pharaoh and Hāmān as those who oppressed people and of those to whom Moses, upon him be peace, was sent with God’s signs (miracles) and a clear authority (40: 23–24). This shows that Qārūn had betrayed his people and become an agent of the enemy who wanted to destroy the Children of Israel. Due to his treachery, he had attained a very high position in the Pharaoh’s court.
16. God has appointed for every living being a certain share of providence in the world, which will be enough for the maintenance of that being’s life. It comes to trees and plants by itself, as they have no consciousness, will, or power to obtain it. Babies receive it almost without any effort, as they too are powerless. As a conscious living being grows in strength and self-reliance, it has to work to earn its provision. What is important for human beings is that they must earn it by lawful ways. Islam, even though it does not forbid possessing wealth, advises a moderate life. It orders a certain amount of wealth (the Zakāh) to be spent in God’s cause and for the needy, and encourages the rich to spend more in charity and on other good causes. It also commands emphatically that money be earned through lawful ways and spent on lawful things.
17. This is a typical attitude of human ingratitude and arrogance. Human beings usually attribute their accomplishments to themselves, to some advantage in knowledge, power, intelligence, and abilities. In consequence, all such advantages and, indeed, all that God has granted to human beings and their accomplishments therewith become the means to an eternal loss.
18. It is of great significance that the Qur’ān implies that those who seek the worldly life are only people of ignorance. In another verse (53: 29–30), it introduces them as having very little knowledge, which is only related to the world: Withdraw from those who turn away from Our Book and remembrance, and desire nothing but the life of this world. Such is their sum of knowledge. In both that verse and verse 80 in this sūrah, knowledge is used with the definite article; it indicates the revealed knowledge. So what the Qur’ān accepts as knowledge is, first of all, revealed knowledge – God-given knowledge about Divinity and knowledge of the Religion. Those who have this knowledge desire God and what He has prepared for them in the Hereafter.
19. Another verse reads: Whoever comes to God with a good deed will have ten times as much, and whoever comes with an evil deed, will be recompensed with only the like of it; and they will not be wronged (6: 160). However, the reward of a good deed is not restricted to only ten times as much. God multiplies for whom He wills as much as He wills, both out of His grace and according to the sincerity of the one who does good, and according to the time and conditions in which it was done.
20. Different comments have been made on this verse. However, it must be related to God’s promise to those who are humiliated and oppressed in the land, and, therefore, to verse 5 of this sūrah: But We willed to bestow Our favor upon those who were being humiliated and oppressed in the land, and make of them exemplary leaders (to guide people on the way to God and in their lives), and make them inheritors (of the glory of the Pharaoh and the land in which We produced blessings for people). And to establish them in the land with power…. When this sūrah was revealed, the Muslims in Makkah were being brutally persecuted. Therefore, the verse implies that the Messenger, upon him be peace, and the Muslims will be forced to leave Makkah and return to it in victory, which means that the Qur’ān will be completed to be their guide for the whole of life in its totality.
21. Such statements, which address a prohibition to God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, in no way mean that he might be tempted to lend some support to the unbelievers, or to let them drive him away from conveying God’s Revelations, or to call upon another deity alongside God. Rather, they stress the importance of the matter mentioned and describe the way he and his successors should follow in fulfilling their mission. For the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, in particular, they also mean: “You are never expected to do that.”
22. The meaning of the word here literally translated as His Face is “God Himself as One with infinite Mercy, Who sees, hears, and speaks, and to Whom every being turns for its needs.” God can never be conceived of as One Who resembles created beings. So words such as hand or face should be dealt with as figurative expressions for some among His Attributes. When used for human beings, the face is the part of the body from which a person looks out to others, and to which communication from others is addressed. It, therefore, represents the person. For the Divine Being, face means that “He is One with infinite mercy Who turns to the creation with seeing, hearing, mercy, and provision, to Whom every being can turn for the fulfillment of its needs.”
23. At this point, a question should be asked Does Everything is perishable (and so perishing), except His Face (28: 88) also include Paradise and Hell, and their inhabitants?
Said Nursi makes the following explanation in answer to this question:
Many qualified scholars, saints, and people of deep perception and insight have discussed this subject. Some maintain that the inhabitants of the permanent world are not included, while others hold that these people will also enter annihilation, albeit for such a brief period that they will not feel it. Although some others argue that all existence – except God – will perish permanently, this cannot be, for the Divine Essence and God’s Attributes and Names are permanent. Thus, permanent beings in the World of Permanence cannot experience absolute annihilation, for they are the manifestations of God’s permanent Attributes and Names and the mirrors in which they are reflected.
First point: The All-Mighty is absolutely All-Powerful, and so creation and destruction are equally easy for Him. He can annihilate or re-create all of creation in an instant. In addition, absolute non-existence cannot exist, for there is an encompassing Knowledge. As everything is contained or has a kind of existence or an ideal form within the infinite Divine Knowledge, there is no room for non-existence. Within the encompassing circle of Divine Knowledge, relative non-existence is, in essence, a nominal veil reflecting the manifestations of Divine Knowledge.
Some people of profound understanding have called such ideal forms of existence “archetypes.” Based on this, going into non-existence means taking off an outer dress (the body) and returning to the circle of spiritual existence, or existence in Divine Knowledge. In other words, that which perishes by leaving its physical body puts on a spiritual body and, leaving the circle where (Divine) Power operates, enters the circle of (Divine) Knowledge.
Second point: As nothing can exist by itself, everything’s existence depends on God. Since a thing exists as a manifestation of the permanent Divine Names, it has a permanent, sublime reality due to its reflecting the Divine Name that caused its existence. The verse, Everything is perishable, except His Face (28: 88), also serves as a sword that cuts away from people all that is not God (e.g., the world, the flesh, and life’s vanities). Thus, whatever people have or do for God’s sake is not included in the meaning of this verse.
In sum, if people find God and act only for His sake, there will be nothing left to be included in the meaning of, Everything is perishable, except His Face. So if they want to make their deeds eternal and be rewarded with permanent happiness, they must seek God and live for His sake and good pleasure. (See The Letters, “The 15th Letter,” 80–82.)