57. Al-Hadid (The Iron)

Revealed in Madīnah, most probably four or five years after the Hijrah, this sūrah has 29 verses and takes its name from the word Al-Hadid (The Iron) in verse 25. It deals with God’s absolute sovereignty, the necessity of sacrifice in God’s cause, and the passing nature of worldly pleasures. It promises the Muslims victory and the unbelievers defeat, and reiterates that belief in the previous Prophets requires believing in Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, as the last, universal Prophet.

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

1. Whatever is in the heavens and the earth glorifies God;1 and He is the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Wise.

2. To Him belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. He gives life and causes to die. He has full power over everything.

3. He is the First, the Last, the All-Outward, and the All-Inward. He has full knowledge of everything.2

4. He it is Who has created the heavens and the earth in six days, then He established Himself on the Throne.3 He knows whatever goes into the earth (such as rain and seeds), and whatever comes forth out of it (such as moisture, plant and animal life-forms), and whatever descends from the heaven (such as rain, light, and angels), and whatever ascends into it (such as vapor, and supplications). And He is with you, wherever you may be. And God sees well all that you do.

5. To Him belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. To God are all matters ultimately referred, (and whatever He wills occurs).

6. He makes the night pass into the day, and He makes the day pass into the night (and so makes each grow longer or shorter). And He has full knowledge of whatever lies (hidden) in the bosoms.

7. Believe in God and His Messenger, and spend (in God’s cause) out of all that He has entrusted to you – those among you who believe and spend (in God’s cause), for them there is a great reward.

8. What is the matter with you that you do not believe in God (as His being God requires), when the Messenger calls you to believe in your Lord (Who has created and sustains you), and He has indeed taken your pledge,4 if you are true believers?

9. He it is Who sends down to His servant Revelations clear as evidence and in meaning in order to lead you out of all kinds of darkness into the light. Surely God is All-Pitying, All-Compassionate toward you.

10. What is the matter with you that you do not spend in God’s cause, when God’s is the inheritance of the heavens and the earth?5 Not equal among you are those who spend before the victory comes and fight (for God’s sake, and those who do not): they are greater in rank than those who spend after the victory comes and fight later. However, to all, God has promised what is the best (Paradise). God is fully aware of all that you do.6

11. Whoever lends God a goodly loan, God will increase it manifold (to his credit), and he will have an honorable, generous reward (in addition).7

12. On that Day, you will see the believing men and the believing women (led swiftly toward Paradise), with their light shining forth before them and on their right hands.8 “Glad tidings for you today: Gardens through which rivers flow, (into which you will enter) to abide therein! This is indeed the supreme triumph.”

13. On that Day, the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women will say to those who believe: “Wait for us, that we may have some light from your light.” It will be said: “Turn back (if you can, to the world where such light was to be obtained), and seek light (through your deeds you did there).” Just then, a wall of separation will be put between them, with a gate therein (through which the hypocrites, so as to increase their regret, will observe the state of the believers). The inner side of the wall (which will separate the believers from the hypocrites), there will be in it the mercy (of eternal happiness); and outside it, there will be the punishment (of eternal doom).

14. They (the hypocrites) will call out to the believers: “Were we not with you (in the world)?” They will reply: “True! But you (willfully) put yourselves in the way of temptation, and hesitated and doubted (waiting on events to choose which side to be on, and not assuming yourselves to stand by the truth of Islam), and false expectations (that God’s Religion would one day be defeated) deluded you, until God’s decree (of death) came to you; and the deluder (Satan) deluded you (with wrong conceptions) about God.

15. “And this Day, no ransom will be taken from you, nor from those who disbelieved. Your final refuge is the Fire; that is your harbor suited to you. How evil a destination to arrive at!”

16. Has not the time yet come for those who believe that their hearts should soften with humility and submit (to God to strive in His cause) in the face of God’s Remembrance (the Qur’ān) and what has come down of the truth (the Divine teachings)? And (has not the time yet come) that they should not be like those who were given the Book before? A long time has passed over them (after they received the Book), and so their hearts have hardened; and many among them (have been) transgressors.

17. Know that God revives the earth after its death (and He may revive the decaying hearts in the same way). We have indeed made clear the signs and Revelations (to enable such revival, and) that you may reason and understand.

18. Those men and women who give alms (by spending out of their wealth in both the prescribed and supererogatory duties of alms-giving), and lend to God a goodly loan (by spending either in His cause or for the needy), it will be increased manifold to their credit; and they will have an honorable, generous reward in addition.9

19. Those who believe in God and His Messengers (those whose actions prove their profession of faith) – they are, in the sight of their Lord, the loyal and truthful (to God, in whatever they do and say), and the witnesses (who have borne testimony to the truth with their lives). They have their (particular) reward and their (particular) light. But those who disbelieve and deny Our manifest signs and Revelations – they will be companions of the Blazing Flame.

20. Know that the present, worldly life10 is but a play, vain talk and ostentation, and mutual boasting among you, and competing in wealth and children – it is like when rain comes down and the vegetation grown by it pleases the farmers, (but) then it dries up and you see it turn yellow, then it becomes straw; and in the Hereafter, there is a severe punishment, but also (there is) forgiveness from God and His good pleasure (which are everlasting), whereas the present, worldly life is but a transient enjoyment of delusion.

21. And (rather than competing for the things of this world) race with one another to forgiveness from your Lord, and to a Garden the vastness of which is as the vastness of heaven and earth, prepared for those who truly believe in God and His Messengers. That is God’s bounty, which He grants to whom He wills. God is of tremendous bounty.11

22. No affliction occurs on the earth (such as droughts, famines, or earthquakes), or in your own persons (such as diseases, damages to your property, or the loss of loved ones), but it is recorded in a Book before We bring it into existence – doing so is surely easy for God –12

23. So that you may not grieve for what has escaped you, nor exult because of what God has granted you: God does not love anyone proud and boastful –13

24. Those who act niggardly (in spending of what God has granted them) and urge others to be niggardly. Whoever turns away (from carrying out God’s command to spend in His cause and for the needy), then surely God is All-Wealthy and Self-Sufficient (absolutely independent of all His creatures), All-Praiseworthy (as your Lord, Who provides for you and the needs of all other beings).

25. Assuredly We have sent Our Messengers with manifest truths (and clear proofs of their being Messengers), and We have sent down with them the Book and the Balance so that (relations among) humankind may live by equity. And We have sent down iron,14 in which is stern might and benefits for humankind, so that God may mark out those who help (the cause of) God and His Messengers, though they do not see Him. Surely God is All-Strong, All-Glorious with irresistible might.15

26. We certainly sent as Messengers Noah and Abraham, and established in their line Prophethood and the Book. Among them (their offspring) there have been those who have followed the right guidance, but many among them have been transgressors.

27. Thereafter, We sent, following in their footsteps, others of Our Messengers, and We sent Jesus son of Mary, and granted him the Gospel, and placed in the hearts of those who followed him tenderness and mercy. And monasticism, they innovated it – We did not prescribe it to them – only to seek God’s good pleasure; but they have not observed it as its observance requires.16 So We have granted those among them who have truly believed their reward, but many among them have been transgressors.

28. O you who believe! Keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety, and truly believe in His Messenger (Muhammad). He will grant you twofold of His mercy (one for your believing in all the previous Prophets, and one for the Last Prophet), and He will appoint for you a light to move (on the Straight Path in this world, leading to Paradise in the Hereafter), and He will forgive you. God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.17

29. (This is told you so) that the people of the Book should know that they cannot determine or restrict anything of God’s grace (and neither they nor Muslim believers will be able to attain anything of it unless they believe in Muhammad together with all the previous Prophets), and that all grace is in God’s Hand; He grants it to whom He wills. God is of tremendous grace.

The Qur'an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English

The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English

1. That is, all things, with their existence, their lives, maintenance, and functions, show that God is absolutely above having any defects or any partners in His Divinity, Lordship, and Sovereignty. Even the bodies of the unbelievers show this reality. As explained in note 31 to 2: 30, for every species of creation, there is an angel that governs them and represents them in God’s Presence, and presents to the Divine Court their glorifications and prayers made through their disposition. And, as stated in 17: 44, every thing and being glorifies and praises God in a language that we do not understand.

2. A hadith explains this part of the verse as follows:

My God, You are the First— there is none that precedes You; You are the Last— there is none that will outlive You; You are the All-Outward— there is none that encompasses You; and You are the All-Inward—there is none that is more penetrating than You (Muslim, “Dhikr,” HN: 2713).

God is eternal with everything before or after Him. He is uncontained in time and place. The visible existence is the manifestation of His Names; and the origin or source of all creation, which is invisible and spiritual, is also contained in His Knowledge. So, God encompasses all creation in His Knowledge and Power, and He Himself is eternal.

3. For an explanation of this statement, see: 7: 54, note 13.

4. This pledge was that they would obey the commands of God and His Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and spend in God’s cause, whether in ease or hardship; support and promote good; prohibit and try to prevent evil; and strive in God’s way, without fearing the censure of anyone.

5. Whether we spend in God’s cause or not, God is the ultimate heir to whatever we have, as it is He Who has granted us whatever we have. He is the real Owner of everything. He has whatever we do, spend or do not spend, recorded, so that He will recompense us for it.

6. Although both types of people mentioned in the verse may be admitted into Paradise on account of their faith and good deeds, everyone will enjoy Paradise according to the degree of their faith, loyalty to God and His cause, and the value of their good deeds.

7. Spending in God’s cause is like lending God a loan. God returns it multiplied and, in addition, with extra reward.

8. This is the light that the believers send forth from the world through their good deeds. The more deeds there are, and the more sincerely they are done, the greater and brighter is the light that they will produce. As understood from the verse, the believers will advance toward Paradise on the right side, while, as will be understood from the following verse, the hypocrites (and the unbelievers), who will receive their records of deeds in their left hands, will advance toward Hell on the left side, and be left behind because of being enveloped by the darkness produced by their unbelief, hypocrisy, and evil deeds.

9. Verse 16 is a warning against the hardening of hearts toward the Divine teachings and God’s Remembrance, and a reminder of the importance of striving in God’s cause. One of the most important reasons of this hardening is growing familiarity with the Revelation and the revealed Divine teachings, and the passage of time after it. Another important reason is committing sins (transgression) through indifference to God’s warnings. So it is necessary to continuously be alert against such a hardening, and always to seek means for the softening of the heart. As pointed out in verses 17 and 18, just as God revives any land after its death with rain, and this is repeated every year, He may also revive dead or dead-like hearts with clear Revelations, provided we remain loyal to God and His Religion by carrying out God’s commands and avoiding transgression, and by spending in His cause.

10. The expression translated as the present, worldly life also means the basic elements or attributes of the present life. So by this expression, the Qur’ān denotes, rather than the world, the life that pertains to the bodily or material dimension of human existence. Otherwise, the world is the field to be sown for harvest in the Hereafter, and is also the place where God’s Names are manifested.

11. Verse 3: 133 says: And hasten, as if competing with one another, to forgiveness from your Lord, and to a Garden as spacious as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the God-revering, pious. The promise in that verse is to those who keep their duties to God and avoid all kinds of sins out of piety and reverence for God. So we can conclude that those who truly believe in God and His Messengers, whom this verse mentions, are the God-revering, pious ones – those who believe and keep their duties to God and avoid sins out of reverence for Him.

An important point in both verses to be noted is that forgiveness precedes Paradise because Paradise is the place of perfect purity, and no one can enter Paradise without God’s forgiveness. So, before they enter Paradise, God will clean or purify the people of Paradise of all their sins out of pure grace, and the hardships they will have to suffer from resurrection to the gates of Paradise will also serve as a means of purification.

12. That is, recording such acts out of His Eternal Knowledge and keeping them recorded, and then bringing them into existence by His Power for many wise purposes – such as to punish the sinful as they deserve, or to warn them against their end, or to forgive the sins of believers, or to promote the sinless to higher ranks – is absolutely easy for God.

The verse also includes a consolation for people in affliction. Provided the intended lesson has been learned, when we consider any misfortune in the light of Divine Destiny, or as an application of Divine Destiny, we may find rest and not feel the need to complain about it. The verse to come corroborates this.

13. We have free will, are enjoined to follow religious obligations, and cannot ascribe our sins to God. We have free will so that our rebellious carnal soul does not consider itself free of the consequences of its sins by ascribing them to Destiny. Destiny exists so that pious people do not ascribe their good acts to themselves and, thereby, become proud. Destiny exists so that the successful and the wealthy are not proud of their successes or wealth.

Past and (present) misfortune should be considered in the light of Destiny so that we do not grieve for what has befallen us and what we have not been able obtain. The future, along with sins and questions of responsibility, should be referred to human free will. That is, we should do whatever we should in order for a desired result, and avoid neglect, faults, and sins. This reconciles the extremes of fatalism and the denial of the role of Destiny in our actions.

14. Sending down iron means the same as sending down cattle in 39: 6; iron is one of God’s great bounties which He has bestowed out of the treasures He has with Him, as stated in 15: 21: There is not a thing but the stores (for its life and sustenance) are with Us, and We do not send it down except in due, determined measure.

15. Iron is perhaps the most important and necessary matter for technology. It is also our most elemental material, as it is the core of the earth. So, this verse may also be referring to the origins of the earth. Iron is also necessary to make weapons to fight in God’s cause to uphold His Word, and to eradicate injustice.

From another point of view, this verse is very significant in assessing a sound society and government. The Messengers are the God-appointed leaders of humankind, who always guided them to the truth and led them in all aspects of life throughout human history. The Book is the compilation of knowledge, instructions, and laws essential to their happiness in both worlds. The Balance is the criterion to attain what is right in belief, thinking, and action, and also to realize justice in human individual and social life (see sūrah 55: 7–9, note 4). Iron symbolizes force or power in human social life. Without the Book, iron (force) destroys justice and brings about injustice. Without the Balance, iron misuses the Book according to its own benefits. Without iron, the Book and Balance are not sufficient to form a good society and government. Said Nursi remarks: “Principles of wisdom and laws of truth have no effect upon ordinary people unless the former are combined with the state’s laws and the latter with power” (The Letters, “Seeds of the Truth,” 2: 306).

16. God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, declared: “There is no monasticism in Islam.” He also declared: “Monasticism for my Community is striving in God’s way.” Islam does not approve of holding aloof from people and life in order to attain self-perfection. Rather, it calls its followers to be among people and to work for their welfare, and to consider self-perfection along with the perfection of others. Even though some members of Islamic Sufi orders have practiced retreat or seclusion for self-training and perfection, they have done so only for a short restricted period and considered being among people to work for their perfection as being the greatest rank.

17. Although some interpreters have thought that this verse addresses the People of the Book, it is addressed to the Muslims, though not excluding the former, in order to urge them to believe in the Last Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings. While the Jews refuse to believe in the Messengers, Jesus and Muhammad, upon them both be peace, who came after the Messengers sent to them, and the Christians refuse to believe in God’s Last Messenger, Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, the Muslims believe in all the Prophets. So the later deviations of the People of the Book should never cause the Muslims to have any negative opinion of any of the previous Messengers and their true followers. 

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