40. Al-Mumin (The Believer)
This sūrah of 85 verses takes its name from verse 28 which mentions, from among the clan of the Pharaoh, a distinguished believer who supported the Prophet Moses, upon him be peace. Al-Mumin (The Believer) is also called al-Ghāfir (The All-Forgiving), the Divine Name mentioned in verse 3. It was revealed after Sūrat az-Zumar (the preceding sūrah), at a time when the Makkan polytheists increased their persecutions against the believers to the point that they were plotting to kill God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. The sūrah reproaches them for their reaction, which was as harsh as the Pharaoh’s reaction to Moses, upon him be peace, and reminds both them and the believers of the fact that, however harsh and strong their reaction to the Divine Message might be, the triumph of the believers is inevitable. The sūrah also narrates at length how an important believer from among the clan of the Pharaoh, who had hidden his faith, appeared and supported Moses, upon him be peace, at a very critical point.
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
1. Hā. Mīm.
2. (This is) the Book being sent down in parts from God, the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Knowing.
3. The Forgiver of sins, and the Accepter of repentance; yet severe in retribution, limitless in His bounty. There is no deity but He. To Him is the homecoming.1
4. None dispute concerning God’s Revelations and signs (in creation, human life, and history) but those who obstinately disbelieve. But let not their strutting about the land in pomp and apparent domination deceive you.
5. Before them, the people of Noah denied (God’s Revelations and signs), and so did the communities who came after them (and who have been mentioned in the Qur’ān). Every community plotted against the Messenger sent to them, to capture him (then kill or expel him), and they struggled (against God’s Message) with falsehood, so as to render the truth void thereby; but then I seized them, and (see) how was My retribution!
6. And thus your Lord’s word has proven true against the unbelievers, that surely they are companions of the Fire.
7. Those (angels) who bear the Supreme Throne (of God), and the others around it2 glorify their Lord with His praise;3 and they believe in Him (as the Unique Deity, Lord, and Sovereign of all creation), and ask for His forgiveness for those (among His creation) who believe, saying: “Our Lord! You embrace all things with mercy and knowledge (having perfect knowledge of every creature’s need, and answering that need with mercy), so forgive those who repent (of their sins) and follow Your way, and protect them from the punishment of the Blazing Flame.
8. “Our Lord! Admit them into the Gardens of perpetual bliss which You have promised them, and those who are righteous from among their forebears, and their spouses, and their offspring. Surely You are the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Wise.
9. “And protect them from (doing) evil deeds (and the consequences thereof on the Day of Judgment). Whoever You protect from evils on that Day, You have surely had mercy on him; and that is the supreme triumph.”
10. As for those who obstinately disbelieve (and die unbelievers), it is proclaimed to them (while they are in Hell): “God’s ‘abhorrence’ of you is greater than your (present) abhorrence of yourselves and each other (because of your being the cause of the punishment you suffer), for you used to be called to faith but you persistently refused to believe.”4
11. They will say: “Our Lord! You have made us die twice, and given us life twice,5 so (we have become fully convinced of the truth of all that You have informed us of, and) we acknowledge our sins (of unbelief). Is there, then, any way to get out (so that we may believe and do good, righteous deeds)?”
12. “That (your being in Hell) is so because when the One God alone is invoked, you obstinately refuse to believe, but when partners are associated with Him, you believe.6 Then (whatever you do), the judgment rests with God, the All-Exalted, the All-Great.”
13. He it is Who shows you His signs (in the universe as well as within yourselves, your life, and in history, which demonstrate His Oneness), and sends down provision for you from the heaven. But none reflect and are mindful save those who (being without prejudice) turn to God in penitence.
14. So (O believers,) invoke God alone, sincere in your faith in Him and practicing the Religion purely for His sake, however hateful this may be to the unbelievers.
15. He is exalted above all degrees, Owner of the Supreme Throne. He conveys the Spirit (the life-giving Revelation, from the immaterial realm) of His command to whom He wills of His servants, so as to warn (conscious, responsible beings) of the Day of Meeting (when His servants will meet Him).
16. The Day when they will come forth (from death), with nothing of them being hidden from God. Whose is the absolute Sovereignty on that Day? It is God’s, the One, the All-Overwhelming (with absolute sway over all that exists).
17. On that Day, every soul will be recompensed for what it has earned; no wrong (will be done to any) on that Day. God is Swift at reckoning.
18. Warn them of the Day that draws near, when the hearts will come right up to the throats, choking them. The wrongdoers will have no intimate friend, nor any intercessor who will be heeded.
19. God knows the treacheries of the eyes and all that the bosoms conceal.
20. God judges with truth, whereas those whom they invoke apart from Him do not judge at all. Surely God is He Who is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.7
21. Have they never traveled about the earth, that they may see what was the outcome for those (who obstinately disbelieved in Our signs) before them? They were greater than them in power and in the marks (they left) on the land. Then God seized them for their sins, and they had none to protect them against God.
22. That was because the Messengers sent to them came to them with clear proofs of the truth, but they obstinately disbelieved; and so God seized them. Surely He is All-Strong, Severe in retribution.
23. We surely sent Moses with clear signs from Us (including miracles to support him), and a manifest authority,
24. To the Pharaoh, and Hāmān, and Korah, but they said: “(This man is) a sorcerer, a liar!”
25. When he brought them the truth from Our Presence (so clearly that they could not deny it), they said: “Kill the sons of those who believe (in his Message) along with him and let live their womenfolk (for further humiliation and suffering).” But the scheming of unbelievers is but bound to fail.
26. The Pharaoh said (to his chiefs): “Let me kill Moses, and let him call upon his Lord! I fear lest he alter your religion (replacing it with his), or lest he provoke disorder in the land.”
27. Moses said: “Indeed I seek refuge in my Lord, Who is your Lord as well, from every haughty one who disbelieves in the Day of Reckoning.”
28. (At just that moment) a believing man from among the clan (and Government Board) of the Pharaoh, who until then had concealed his faith, (came forward and) said: “Would you kill a man only because he declares, ‘My Lord is God!’, when he has indeed come to you with clear proofs from your Lord? If he be a liar, then his lie will be (reckoned) against him; but if he is true (in his proclamations), then something of what he threatens you with will befall you. Surely, God does not guide (either to truth or to any achievement) one who (transgressing all bounds) is wasteful (of his God-given faculties), and a liar.
29. “O my people! You enjoy the dominion today, being uppermost in the land; but who could help us against the punishment of God, should it come to us?” The Pharaoh said (to his people): “I would show you only what I see (as needing to be done), and I guide you only to the right way (to follow).”
30. But he who believed said: “O my people! I do indeed fear for you the like of the day (of disaster) of the communities (that, before you, also denied the Messengers sent to them);
31. “The like of what befell the people of Noah, the ‘Ād, and the Thamūd, and others that came after them; and God never wills any wrong for (His) servants.
32. “O my people! I do indeed fear for you the Day of the Summons (the Day when people will vainly be calling out to one another for help, and cursing one another in distress);8
33. “The Day when you will (strive in vain desperation) to turn and flee (from the Fire), having none to protect you from (the punishment of) God. Whomever God leads astray, there is no guide.
34. “And (reflect that) Joseph brought to you the manifest truths before, but you never ceased to doubt as to what he brought you. But when he finally died, you said that God would no longer send a Messenger after him.9 Thus God leads astray one who (transgressing all bounds) is wasteful (of his God-given faculties), persistently doubting (without good reason) –
35. “Those who dispute concerning God’s signs and Revelations without any authority that has reached them. It is grievous and loathsome in the sight of God and those who believe. Thus, God impresses (a seal) on every haughty, tyrant’s heart.”
36. The Pharaoh said: “O Hāmān! Build me a lofty tower so that I may attain the ways,
37. “The ways of (peering into) the skies, and that I may have a look at the God of Moses, though I surely think that he is a liar.” Thus were his evil deeds decked out to be appealing to the Pharaoh, and he was debarred from the (right) way. And the scheme of the Pharaoh ended in nothing but destruction.
38. And the one who believed said (continuing his warnings): “O my people! Follow me so that I may guide you to the way of right guidance.
39. “O my people! The life of this world is but a (passing) enjoyment, while the Hereafter – that is indeed the home of permanence.
40. “Whoever does an evil is not recompensed except with the like of it; whereas whoever does good, righteous deeds – whether man or woman – and is a believer, such will enter Paradise, being provided there without measure.
41. “O my people! How is it with me that I call you to salvation when you call me to the Fire!
42. “You call me so that I should disbelieve in God and associate with Him partners about whose partnership I have no sure knowledge; and I call you to the All-Glorious with irresistible might (Able to destroy whoever rebels against Him), the All-Forgiving (Who forgives whoever turns to Him in repentance).
43. “Without doubt you call me, but to one who has no title (to be called to) in the world, or in the Hereafter; our return will be to God, and those who (transgressing all bounds) are wasteful (of their God-given faculties) – they will be companions of the Fire.
44. “Soon you will remember all that I now am telling you. As for me, I commit my affair to God (in full submission). Surely God sees the servants well.”
45. So God preserved him from the evils they schemed (against him),10 while a most evil punishment overwhelmed the clan (the court and military aristocracy) of the Pharaoh:
46. The Fire: they are exposed to it morning and evening; and when the Last Hour comes in (and the Judgment is established, it is ordered): “Admit the clan of the Pharaoh into the severest punishment.”11
47. See, how they will dispute with each other in the Fire; so the weak ones (who blindly obeyed the leaders of unbelief) will say to those who acted arrogantly and oppressed (others): “Surely we were your followers; now can you therefore rid us of (even) a portion of the Fire?”
48. Those who were arrogant (and oppressed others) will say: “We are all together in this (Fire)! God has indeed judged between the servants (and all must face a reckoning and receive their just deserts).”
49. Those who are in the Fire will cry to the keepers of Hell: “Call upon your Lord that He may lighten the punishment for us for one day (at least).”12
50. (The keepers) will say: “Did not the Messengers sent to you come to you with clear proofs (of the truth)?” They will say, “Yes, indeed.” (The keepers then) will say: “Then call (as you like)!” But the call of unbelievers is bound to be in vain.
51. Most certainly, we help Our Messengers, and those who believe, in the life of this world and on the Day when the Witnesses will stand forth (to testify concerning people’s response to the Messengers)13 –
52. The Day when their excuses will not avail the wrongdoers, and for them there is curse (they will be eternally excluded from God’s mercy), and for them there is the evil abode.
53. Most certainly, We did grant to Moses the guidance, and We made the Children of Israel inheritors of the Book (after Moses),
54. As guidance (for all to follow in their life), and a reminder (with teaching and admonition) for the people of discernment (among them).
55. So be patient (O Messenger, with whatever they do), for surely God’s promise (that He always helps His Messengers and the believers) is true; and ask forgiveness for your sins;14 and glorify your Lord with His praise15 in the afternoon and morning hours.
56. Those who dispute concerning the signs and Revelations of God without any authority that has reached them,16 (do so because) in their bosoms is a craving for superiority, which they will not attain. But take refuge in God (from their schemes). Surely He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.
57. Surely the creation of the heavens and the earth is something greater than the creation of humankind, but most of humankind do not know (this truth).17
58. Not equal are the blind and the seeing, nor (are equal) those who believe and do good, righteous deeds, and the doers of evil. Little do you reflect and be mindful!
59. The Last Hour is certainly bound to come; there is no doubt in it. Yet, most of humankind do not believe.18
60. Your Lord has said: “Pray to Me, (and) I will answer you.”19 Those who are too haughty to worship Me will enter Hell abased.
61. God it is Who has made the night for you, that you may rest in it, and the day, clear and sight-giving (to work). Indeed, God has grace and bounty for humankind, but most of them do not give thanks.
62. Such is God, your Lord (Who creates you, and maintains and provides for you), the Creator of all things. There is no deity but He. How then are you turned away from the truth (and adopt false deities to worship)?
63. Thus it is: those who obstinately reject God’s signs and Revelations are turned away from the truth.
64. God is He Who has made the earth as a fixed abode, and the heaven as a canopy, and has formed you and perfected your forms, and He provides you with pure, wholesome things. Then Blessed and Supreme is God, the Lord of the worlds.
65. He is the All-Living; there is no deity but He. So pray to Him, being sincere in your faith in Him and practicing the Religion purely for His sake. All praise and gratitude are for God, the Lord of the worlds.
66. Say: “I have been forbidden to worship those whom you invoke apart from God when clear proofs (of the truth) have come to me from my Lord, and I have been ordered to submit myself wholly to the Lord of the worlds.”
67. He it is Who has created you from earth, then from a drop of (seminal) fluid, then from a clot clinging (to the womb wall); then He brings you forth (into the world) as an infant, then (arranges that) you attain your (age of) full strength, thereafter that you (live long enough to) become old – though there are some of you who are caused to die before (reaching old age) – and that you reach a term appointed by Him, so that you may reason and understand (the truth).
68. He it is Who gives life and causes to die; and When He decrees a thing to be, He does but say to it “Be!” and it is.
69. Have you not considered those who dispute concerning God’s signs and Revelations, how they are turned about (to different kinds of belief)?
70. They have denied the Book (the Qur’ān) and whatever (of guidance and wisdom) We have sent Our Messengers with. So, in time, they will come to know,
71. When the chains are around their necks, and fetters (around their legs). They will be dragged,
72. In the boiling water, then in the Fire they will be burned.
73. Then it is said to them: “Where are those to whom you ascribed Divinity (or Lordship, or absolute Sovereignty),
74. “Apart from God? (Where are now those whose help you expected?)?” They will say: “They have failed us – or rather, we were not invoking before any (real) thing (which had part in Divinity, or Lordship, or absolute Sovereignty).” Thus does God lead astray the unbelievers (those who willfully disregard the truth and refuse to believe in it).
75. “That (His leading you astray and your punishment) is because you arrogantly exulted on the earth without (sense of the bounds of) right, and because you were arbitrary in your exulting.
76. Now enter through the gates of Hell to abide therein. How evil, indeed, is the dwelling of those (too) haughty (to acknowledge the truth)!
77. So, be patient (O Messenger), for surely God’s promise is true. Whether We let you witness some of what We have promised them, or whether We cause you to die (before it befalls them), still it is to Us that they will return.
78. Indeed, We sent Messengers before you; among them are those (the exemplary accounts of) whom We have already related to you, and among them are those (the exemplary histories of) whom We have not related to you. It is not for a Messenger to bring forth a miracle except by God’s leave. Then, when God’s command is issued, it is judged with truth and justice, and those inventors of falsehoods (who associate partners with God and strive to disprove the truth) are brought to loss and ruin.
79. God is He Who has made the cattle (for your service), so that you use some of them for riding – and from them you obtain food.
80. And you have (many other) benefits in them – that you may attain by them some need in your breasts, and you are borne on them (over land) and on ships (over water).20
81. He shows you His signs (so that they are manifest to your senses and understanding). Then which of God’s signs do you deny?
82. Have they not traveled about the earth that they might see what was the outcome for those before them (who obstinately disbelieved in Our signs)? They were more in numbers than these, and greater in power and the marks (that they left) on the land, but all that they had earned availed them nothing (in the face of God’s displeasure).
83. When their Messengers came to them with manifest truths, they chose to remain in pleasure and pride only in the (narrow, superficial) knowledge they had (about the worldly life and the means to enjoy it), and what they used to mock (God’s promised punishment) overwhelmed them.21
84. Then when they saw Our mighty punishment, they exclaimed: “We have come to believe in God as One and rejected all that we used to associate (with Him)!”
85. But their faith when they actually saw Our mighty punishment could not avail them: (that is) God’s way (of dealing with humankind, a way) which has always been in effect for His servants. And so the unbelievers have lost altogether.
1. This is a perfectly balanced argument that encourages people to believe and do good, righteous deeds as well as refraining from unbelief or associating partners with God or any transgression. The verse gives great hope by mentioning that God forgives sins and accepts repentance, and thus calls people to repent and mend their ways. It also discourages people from committing any unforgivable sin, such as disbelieving or associating partners with God, unless one repents of it and believes. Then, by mentioning that God is limitless in His bounty and the only God, to Whose Presence all humankind will finally return, it exhorts them to believe and do good, righteous deeds in order that they may receive abundant provision from God (see 39: 61, note 18) in both worlds.
2. On the nature and duties of angels, see sūrah 2: 30, note 31; on God’s Supreme Throne: sūrah 7: 54, note 13; sūrah 11: 7, note 2; sūrah 17: 42, note 19, and sūrah 69: 17, note 8. Bearing the Supreme Throne means, in one respect, carrying out the Divine orders issued from His absolute Sovereignty over the universe. As for those who are around the Supreme Throne mentioned in the verse, they must be the angels who have greater nearness to God in rank.
3. For glorifying God with His praise, see sūrah 35: 29, note 11. The verse suggests that those (angels) bearing God’s Supreme Throne carry out His orders in such perfection that they prove that God is absolutely above having any defects and partners and that He is One to Whom praise is absolutely due.
4. The unbelievers will abhor themselves because it is they, themselves, who caused themselves to suffer the punishment of Hell. However, unbelief or associating partners with God is so great an offense to God, to the whole universe which testifies about God and the other pillars of faith and innumerable believers, from the beginning of conscious life to the Day of Judgment, that it incurs God’s “wrath” and “abhorrence,” which is much greater than the unbelievers’ abhorrence of themselves. So, this verse actually expresses the hideousness of unbelief and of associating partners with God.
5. Death means the detachment of the spirit from the body, or that the body and spirit exist separately from each other. Before everyone comes to the world, the particles that are destined to constitute their body exist in God’s Knowledge and are scattered throughout “nature.” The Qur’ān calls this condition death (2: 28; see note 27). Then God gives life to a body in the womb by “breathing” into it its spirit. This is the first instance of giving life. Thereafter, every soul, or the living self composed of the spirit and body, tastes death by God’s taking the spirit from the body either by Himself, or by employing the Angel of Death or the aids of this angel (see 32: 11, note 8). God will revive every dead person on the Day of Resurrection. That is, He will restore the bodies according to the conditions of the afterlife and return the spirits to them. This is the second instance of life. The Qur’ān states that the believers taste death only once (37: 58; 44: 56), so we can conclude that the believers will die once, but will be given life twice. However, this verse narrates to us that God will cause the people of Hell to die twice and He will revive them twice. So the death and revival mentioned in this verse concerning the people of Hell must be somehow different. When we consider verse 39: 68, which states, The Trumpet will be blown, and so all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth will fall dead, except those whom God wills to exempt. Then it will be blown for the second time, and see, they have all stood upright, looking on (in anticipation) (see also note 22 on this verse), we can understand that the spirits of the unbelievers will die at the first sound of the Trumpet, and then be revived again to be returned to their restored bodies. In conclusion, the first death they taste is their departure from the world, and the second death is their spiritual death. The believers’ spirits will be exempt from this. Therefore, by saying that God causes the people of Hell to die twice, the verse is referring to their departure from the world and their spiritual death during the final destruction of the world, and by His giving them life twice, it is referring to the revival of their spirit and their being raised from the dead on the Resurrection Day. (God knows best.)
6. This means that the excuse that the people of Hell will put forward in Hell (mentioned in the previous verse) is baseless. Their unbelief does not arise from their ignorance of the truth, but from their intentional rejection of it for other reasons.
7. In judgment, hearing and seeing are essential. One who can judge justly is expected to see or hear (from reliable sources) everything concerning the case that one is judging. It is only God Who has full sight and hearing of everything. So only He has right to judge, and only He can judge with perfect justice.
Judgment also requires knowledge of right and wrong. Again, it is only God Who has full knowledge of everything and, therefore, full knowledge of right and wrong. So absolute judgment belongs to Him exclusively.
8. For such and other kinds of calling out between people in the Hereafter, see sūrah 7: 44–50; sūrah 34: 31–33; sūrah 37: 21–33.
9. That is, the native Egyptians were not sincere in their attitude toward the Messengers. They did not believe in the Prophet Joseph, upon him be peace, during his lifetime; but when he died, at least they seemed, at the cost of contradicting themselves, to acknowledge his Messengership and paid him great respect. But later generations made this an excuse for their denial of any new Messenger sent by God.
10. As can be understood from the verses, the believer who appeared at a most critical point to support Moses, upon him be peace, against the plots of the Pharaoh must have been a powerful person among the chiefs and governing elite of Pharaoh. He had successfully concealed his faith. Then, at the time when Pharaoh was about to order an attempt on the life of Moses, upon him be peace, he came forward and gave him full support. He acted like an aide to Moses alongside Aaron, upon them both be peace, and presumably because of his status, the Pharaoh could not cause him any harm, as their secret plots came to nothing due to God’s help. In the end, the Pharaoh, his governing elite, and the army drowned in the sea, while Moses, upon him be peace, and his people successfully left Egypt.
11. This verse explicitly establishes that the punishment in the grave, the intermediate world between this and the next, is real. This punishment is also related to burning in the Fire. However, the punishment of the Fire for the Pharaoh and his family in the grave is in the form of being exposed to it in the morning and evening; while in Hell, it will be in the form of continuous burning.
12. According to some commentators, “one day” means some little portion of time.
13. See sūrah 4: 41; sūrah 39: 69, note 24.
14. Infallibility is an indispensable attribute of Prophethood. So all the Prophets are infallible in the sense that they do not sin or disobey God’s orders. Here, God reminds the believers of an important fact to which we must be attentive on the way to Him. What falls on those who believe in God, and who endeavor to attain the level of ordering their life according to the rules that are established in His Book, is to be patient, ask for His forgiveness for their sins, and as will be stated in the verse, to be occupied with His glorification and praise.
15. On the meaning of glorifying God and praising Him, see 35: 29, note 11.
16. In several other verses, such as verse 35 of this sūrah, the Qur’ān draws attention to the fact that those who talk about God’s signs and Revelations must have a warrant or authority that has reached them. That is, God’s signs and Revelations are matters that concern Him and His Religion. So talking about God requires definite knowledge of Him, which can only be acquired through Revelation and the Messengers. Talking about God’s Religion requires expert knowledge about it, and its first and foremost source is, again, God and the Revelation. Therefore, those who dispute about God and His Religion without basing their information on sufficient, expert knowledge from the Qur’ān and God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, are included in the threats found in these verses.
17. This verse has several implications, such as follows:
- Many human beings see their revival in the Hereafter as being impossible. However, their creation is no easier than their revival. More than that, God has created the heavens and the earth, and He will destroy and re-create them on the Day of Resurrection. Their creation is not easier than the creation of humankind. So it is in no way difficult for the One Who has created the heavens and the earth to revive or re-create human beings.
- Humans have no right to assume superiority before God’s signs and Revelations. They are completely powerless before God, Who has created the heavens and the earth, so what is expected of them is to submit to Him in awareness of their weakness and the limitless greatness of God. The heavens are full of conscious spiritual beings who are much more powerful than human beings. Despite this, and despite their immense size, the heavens and the earth have willingly submitted to God’s orders. What is wrong with humans that they pretend superiority before God’s signs and Revelations?
- God has made humankind His vicegerent on the earth and has endowed us with many capabilities so that we can realize great, astonishing achievements. However, the greatest of those achievements are as nothing compared to God’s creation of the heavens and the earth with all that are in them. So our achievements must never lead human beings to be boastful and assume superiority in the face of God’s signs and Revelations. Rather, we must submit to God’s orders and live according to them.
18. The last two verses imply that good and evil can be distinguished perfectly only in the Hereafter. So, without the Hereafter, neither good nor evil receive the just and full recompense due to them. This is contrary to morality. That is why belief in the Hereafter is one of the most basic foundations of morality and a sound social life. But only those who believe and, therefore, can see, or those who have not blinded themselves to the truth, can perceive this.
19. On prayer and God’s answering it, see sūrah 25: 77, note 18.
20. The term cattle includes sheep, goats, cows, oxen, and camels. All of them are edible, and camels are also used for riding. They are especially useful for traveling great distances. The females of these animals provide us with milk, while the skin of all can be used. In addition, the wool or hair of some, such as sheep, goats, and camels, is also useful. People benefit from camels as mounts in many ways – such as carrying their goods on them and traveling on them. In the past, camels were also used in battle. Also see sūrah 36: 72–73.
21. This verse apparently alludes to modern times. Modern people are content with the worldly life and spend their whole life in pursuing the means for deriving the greatest possible pleasure from worldly life. They admire accomplishments in science and technology and use them only for the worldly pleasures, in complete ignorance and negligence of the other life. Seeking worldly pleasures causes ruthless competition in using material resources and never-ending conflicts, including world wars. These events are obviously God’s mighty punishments. However, it seems that, in being immersed in scientific materialism, modern people do not take lessons from these events.