6. Al-An’am (The Cattle)
Sūrat Al-An’am (The Cattle) was revealed in its entirety during the final year of the Makkah period of Islam. Coming in order in the Qur’ān after al–Baqarah, Āl ‘Imrān, an–Nisā’, and al-Mā’idah, all of which were revealed in Madīnah, this sūrah dwells on such themes as rejecting polytheism and unbelief, the establishment of Tawhīd (pure monotheism), the Revelation, Messengership, and Resurrection.
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
1. All praise and gratitude are for God, Who has created the heavens and the earth, and (as a dimension of their existence and result of their movement) brought into being veils of darkness and the light. Yet those who disbelieve ascribe equals to their Lord (Who raises, sustains, and maintains them, such things as idols, certain celestial bodies, and certain people).1
2. He it is Who has created you from clay (in the beginning, and the material origin of every one of you is clay), and then decreed a term (of life for you), and there is with Him another unchanging term determined by and known to Him.2 Yet, you are in doubt (concerning these manifest truths, some of which you experience, and some others you can deduce).
3. He is (the One, True) God (executing His absolute sovereignty, and manifesting His Attributes and Names), both in the heavens and on the earth. He knows what you keep concealed and what you declare (and do) openly, and He knows what you earn (of good or bad – what you are doing in your life).
4. Yet whenever any of their Lord’s signs and Revelations comes to them, they turn away from it in aversion.
5. And so they willfully deny the truth (embodied by the Qur’ān) when it has come to them (and mock the truths, warnings, and especially the tidings of the Resurrection). Even so, they will come to understand what it was they were mocking.
6. Do they not see (even though they pass by the ruins on their journeys) how many a generation We have destroyed before them, whom We established on the earth more firmly than We ever established you (We gave them means and possibilities such as We have not given you), and upon whom We showered blessings from heaven (above them), and from beneath them We made rivers flow. And yet We destroyed them for their sins, and after them We raised up another generation.
7. Had We sent down on you (O Messenger) a book on parchment such that they touched it with their hands, yet those who insist on their unbelief would indeed have said: “This is clearly nothing but sorcery.”
8. “Why has not an angel been sent down on him?” they say. Yet, had We sent down an angel (i.e. one they could see, as We did to some of the previous peoples such as those of Lot), then the matter would surely have long been decided, and they would have been allowed no respite (since angels coming in this way herald destruction).
9. Had We appointed an angel (as Our Messenger), We would surely have made him (since he would have to guide humankind in all aspects of life, in the form of) a man, and thus We would have confused for them what they themselves are confusing.
10. Messengers indeed were mocked before you (O Messenger), but what they used to mock overwhelmed those who scoffed (at the Messengers to humiliate them).
11. Say: “Go about on the earth and look: how was the outcome for those who denied (God’s signs and Messengers)?3
12. Say: “To whom belongs all that is in the heavens and on the earth?”, and say: “To God.” He has bound Himself to mercy (so that, despite the errors and false beliefs of His servants, He sustains all that is in the heavens and the earth by His Mercy. He does not leave anybody to their own devices and, as a requirement of His Mercy) He will assuredly gather you together on the Day of Resurrection, about (the coming of) which there is no doubt: yet those who ruin their own selves (by misusing and corrupting their primordial nature, sound reasoning and the capacity to believe, which are their capital share in God’s Mercy) – they do not believe.
13. And His is whatsoever dwells in the night and the day; and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.
14. Say: “Shall I take for guardian and confidant anyone other than God, the Originator of the heavens and the earth each with particular features, and He Who feeds and Himself never needs to be fed?” Say: “Moreover, I have surely been ordered to be the foremost in submitting to Him wholly, and (I have been warned): ‘Do not be among those who associate partners with Him.’”
15. Say: “Indeed I fear, if I should disobey my Lord, the punishment of an awesome Day.”
16. Whoever has been spared punishment on that Day, surely God has had mercy on him; and that is the manifest triumph.
17. If God touches you with affliction, there is none who can remove it but He; and if He touches you with good – it is He Who has full power over everything.
18. He is the All-Omnipotent over His servants; He is the All-Wise, the All-Aware.
19. Say: “What is most weighty in testimony?” Say: “God: a witness between me and you; and to me is being revealed this Qur’ān so that I may warn you thereby, and whomever it may reach.” (O you who associate partners with God:) Do you truly testify that there are deities besides God? Say (to them): “I give no such testimony.” Say: “He is only One God, and surely I am absolutely free from your association of partners with Him and from whatever you associate with Him as partners.”
20. Those who were given the Book (before) know him (the Messenger, with all his distinguishing attributes) as they know their own sons; yet those who ruin their own selves (by concealing this truth, being overcome by their lusts and worldly interests) – they do not believe.
21. Who is more in wrong than he who fabricates falsehood in attribution to God and denies His signs (in the universe and their own selves pointing to Him) and His Revelations? Assuredly, the wrongdoers will not prosper.
22. A Day will come when We raise them all from the dead and gather them together, and then ask those who (while they were in the world) associated partners with God: “Where, now, are those of yours whom you asserted to have a part in Divinity?”
23. Then they will have no argument except to say: “By God, our Lord, we were not of those who associated partners with God.”
24. Look! – How they lie against themselves, and (how) what they fabricated as partners (to worship besides God) has failed them!
25. There are among them such as could not help but listen to you (reciting the Qur’ān), but We have laid veils over their hearts (made by their ill-intention, wrongdoing, and arrogance, which caused them to lose the capacity to believe) so that they do not comprehend it (and so cannot believe), and in their ears, heaviness: even if they see whatever manifest sign (pointing to God’s Unity and other truths of faith), they will not believe in it – so much so that when they come to you (only in order) to dispute with you, they, who have disbelieved, say: “This is nothing but fables of the ancients.”
26. They bar others from it (the Qur’ān), as they themselves keep afar from it; and in doing so, they destroy only their own selves, though they do not perceive it.4
27. If you (O Messenger) could see them when they are made to stand by the Fire, and (in dread of being thrown into it, as if they forgot that they denied their associating partners with God) they say: “Oh, would that we were brought back (to the world)! Then we would not deny the signs and Revelations of our Lord and would be among the believers!”
28. No! Rather, they say this because what they used to hide (the manifest truth, and their own evil intentions, intrigues, and actions in response to it) has become obvious to them; and if they were brought back to the world, they would revert to the very thing they were forbidden: indeed, they are just liars.
29. (They always behaved so whenever they got into distress while in the world, but when relieved of it) they would say: “There is no life beyond our present life of the world, and we are not to be raised (from the dead).”
30. But if you could see when they are made to stand in their Lord’s Presence: He says: “Is not this (your being raised from the dead and gathered in My Presence) the truth?” They say: “Yes indeed, by our Lord!” He says: “Taste, then, the punishment for what you used to disbelieve.”
31. Assuredly, those have lost who deny the (truth of the final) meeting with God until, as the Hour comes upon them, all of a sudden, they cry, “Alas for us! How negligent we have been in this regard,” when they have already loaded their burdens onto their backs . Evil indeed is the burden they are loading themselves with!
32. And the present, worldly life is nothing but a play and pastime, and better is the abode of the Hereafter for those who keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety. Will you not, then, reason and understand?5
33. (O Messenger!) We know indeed that the things (lies, mockery, and slanders) that they say grieve you: yet, it is not you that they deny and give the lie to (they cannot very well call you a liar, since they themselves have called you ‘the trustworthy one’); rather, it is the signs and Revelations of God that the wrongdoers obstinately reject.
34. (Do not be grieved at what they do!) Indeed, Messengers before you were denied (regarding the Message they brought), but they endured with patience the charge of falsehood and the hurt done to them, until Our help reached them: there is none that can change God’s words (alter His decrees and His execution of them). And, indeed, some account of those Messengers has already come to you.
35. If their recalcitrance is distressful for you, then, if you are able seek a way down into the earth or a ladder up to the heavens to bring them a sign (a miracle of the kind that they wrongly think would persuade them to believe) – then know that had God so willed, He could surely have gathered them all to the true guidance (whether by a single miracle or by some other means. Seeing that God wills otherwise: that the truth be set before people with its supporting arguments through Messengers, and people should choose their way by exercise of their free will and judgment, then,) not be among those who act as if ignorant (of this fact).6
36. Only they who have the ability to hear can respond (to a call); as for the dead, God will raise them to life, and then to Him they will be returned.7
37. And they say: “Why is not a miraculous sign (of the kind we desire) sent down on him from his Lord?” Say (to them): “Surely God has the power to send down a sign (of any kind).” But most of them have nothing to do with knowledge (so that they would know the nature of the signs, Revelation, and Prophethood, and the purpose for them).
38. (Should not those whose ears are closed to the Qur’ān look around themselves to see the signs of the truth?) No living creature is there moving on the earth, no bird flying on its two wings, but they are communities like you.8 We have neglected nothing in the Book (the Qur’ān, the Supreme Preserved Tablet, which is the source of all books, and the book of creation: We have created everything just in its place and for a purpose, so that the universe is maintained in perfect balance and order). Then, (a Day will come when the universe will be changed into a new one, and) they will be raised from the dead and gathered to their Lord.
39. Those who deny Our signs and Revelations are deaf and dumb in veils of darkness. Whomever God wills, He leads astray, and whomever He wills, He sets on a straight path.9
40. Say (to them): “Do you ever consider: if some punishment of God comes upon you or the Last Hour comes upon you, do you then invoke other than God? (Answer that) if you are truthful (and admit the voice of your conscience)!”
41. (No indeed!) Rather, it is Him alone that you invoke, and He may, if He wills, remove that which caused you to invoke Him,10 and you forget (then) whatever partners you have been associating with Him.
42. And We did indeed send Messengers to the communities before you, and We seized those (communities) with trials and tribulations so that they might invoke Us with humility (seeking the truth and forgiveness).
43. If only, when Our trial came upon them, they had invoked Us with humility! But their hearts grew hard, and Satan decked out whatever they were doing as appealing to them.
44. Then, when they forgot (the advice and warnings) that they were reminded of, We opened for them the gates of all things, until, even while they were rejoicing in what they were granted, We seized them suddenly, so then they were plunged into despair.11
45. And so (in the end) was uprooted that people who had been bent on wrongdoing. All praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds!
46. Say: “What do you think, if God should take away your hearing and your sight and set a seal upon your hearts, what deity but God is there that could restore it12 to you?” Look how We set out the Revelations and signs (of God’s Existence and Unity, and other truths of faith) in diverse ways, and yet they turn away.
47. Say: “What do you think, if God’s punishment comes upon you unawares or perceptibly (so that you see its approach), will any be destroyed but the people of wrongdoing?”
48. We do not send the Messengers except as bearers of glad tidings (of prosperity, in return for faith and righteousness) and warners (against the consequences of misguidance). So, whoever believes and mends his way, they will have no fear, nor will they grieve.
49. And as for those who deny Our signs and Revelations, the punishment will touch them on account of their transgressing (the bounds in belief and conduct).
50. Say (to them, O Messenger): “(You want me to do miracles. However,) I never tell you that with me are the treasures of God, or that I know the Unseen; nor do I tell you that I am an angel. I only follow what is revealed to me.” And say: “Are the blind and the seeing alike? Will you not, then, reflect?”
51. Warn with this (Qur’ān) those who (whether they already have true belief or not yet) are fearful in their hearts because they will be raised from the dead and gathered to their Lord, that they have, apart from Him, no guardian and confidant, nor intercessor, so that they may keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety, and be protected against His punishment.
52. And do not (in the hope of persuading the chieftains of the unbelievers) drive away any of those (poor believers of humble social standing) who, in the morning and afternoon, invoke their Lord, seeking His “Face” (i.e. the meeting with Him hereafter and His eternal, good pleasure). You are not accountable for them in anything, just as they are not accountable for you in anything, that you should drive them away, and so become among the wrongdoers.
53. And it is in this way that We try people through one another: so that they (who think that such things as wealth and social status are the means of superiority) say (of the believers who are poor and lacking in recognized social status): “Are these the ones among us on whom God has bestowed His favor?” Does God not know best who are the thankful (who recognize the real source and bestower of every good thing one receives, and act accordingly)?
54. When those who believe in all of Our Revelations and signs (whenever they come to them,) come to you, say in welcome: “Peace be upon you! Your Lord has bound Himself to mercy (to treat His servants with mercy) – so that if any of you does a bad deed due to ignorance (an instance of defeat to the evil-commanding soul), and thereafter repents and mends his way and conduct, surely He is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.”
55. Thus, We set out in detail the signposts of Our way and the relevant Revelations (included in the Qur’ān), and (We do so) so that the path of the disbelieving criminals might become distinct (from that of the righteous believers).
56. Say (to those associating partners with God): “I have been forbidden to worship those beings whom you deify and invoke apart from God.” Say: “I do not follow your lusts and fancies – or else I would go astray and would not be of those who are rightly guided.”
57. Say: “I take my stand on clear evidence from my Lord, whereas you deny it. Not within my power is what you (deridingly) ask to be hastened (saying: ‘If there is a punishment with which you threaten us, let it come immediately’). (In the absolute sense) judgment and authority rest with none but God alone. He always relates the truth, and He is the Best Judge between truth and falsehood.
58. Say: “If it were within my power (to bring) what you ask to be hastened, the matter between me and you would have been decided.” God best knows the wrongdoers.
59. With Him are the keys to the Unseen; none knows them but He. And He knows whatever is on land and in the sea; and not a leaf falls but He knows it; and neither is there a grain in the dark layers of earth, nor anything green or dry, but is (recorded) in a Manifest Book.13
60. He it is Who recalls your souls at night (while you sleep, a state comparable to death), and He knows what You already worked in the daytime. Then He raises you to life therein (the next daytime) so that the term appointed by Him is fulfilled. (He causes you to die after the completion of this term and, just as He raises you again to life each day after sleep, He resurrects you from that death when the appointed time is due.) Your final return is to Him; and then He will make you understand what you were doing (and call you to account for it).
61. He is the All-Omnipotent over His servants; and He sends to you (angel) guardians (who watch over, and keep a record of, whatever you do). When death finally approaches any of you, Our envoys (the angels assigned to this duty) take his soul, and they do not neglect (any part of their tasks).
62. Then they are restored to God, their All-True Master and Protector. Indeed, His alone is the judgment and authority, and He is the Most Swift in reckoning.
63. Say: “Who is it Who saves you from the veils of darkness on land and the sea, (when) you call upon Him most humbly and in the secrecy of your hearts: ‘If You but save us from this (distress), we will most certainly be among the thankful (who turn to You in faith and righteousness)!’?”
64. Say: “God alone saves you from this and from every distress, but then you associate partners with Him (instead of being thankful to Him, by believing in and obeying Him).”
65. Say: “He it is Who has the power to send punishment upon you from above you or from beneath your feet, or to confound you by splitting you into hostile groups and make you taste the violence of one another. Look how We set out the signs (of God’s Existence and Unity, and other truths of faith) in diverse ways, so that they may ponder and penetrate the essence of matters to grasp the truth.
66. And yet, your people (O Messenger) deny the Qur’ān, even though it is the truth. Say: “I am not one appointed as a guardian over you to assume your responsibility for you.”
67. Every tiding (from God) has a term appointed for its fulfillment; and, in time, you will come to know (the truth).
68. When you meet such as indulge in (blasphemous) talk about Our Revelations, turn away from them until they enter into some other discourse. And should Satan cause you to forget, no longer remain, after recollection, in the company of such wrongdoing people.
69. Those who keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety are not accountable for them in anything. But (what rests with them is) to remind and thereby admonish them so that they may fear (the evil of what they do) and avoid it.
70. Quit those who take their Religion (the one appointed for them by God) for play and pastime (and have made play and fun their own religion), and whom the present, worldly life has deluded. But remind them (through the Qur’ān), lest any soul should be given up to destruction for what it has earned, for there will neither be any protecting friend nor intercessor apart from God, and even though it may offer any ransom (in return for its unforgivable sins, such as unbelief and associating partners with God), it will not be accepted from it. They are those who are given up to destruction for what they have earned; for them is a drink of boiling water and a painful punishment because they were persistently disbelieving.
71. Say: “Shall we invoke, apart from God, the things that can neither benefit us (when we invoke them) nor harm us (when we do not invoke them), and (thus) be turned back on our heels after God has guided us – like the one whom the satans have infatuated on earth, so that they blunder about in valleys of misguidance, though he has companions calling him to the Guidance, saying: ‘Come to us!’?” Say: “Surely God’s guidance is the (only true) Guidance, and we have been commanded to submit with all our being to the Lord of the worlds;
72. And to establish the Prayer in conformity with all its conditions, and keep from disobedience to Him in reverence for Him and piety.” He it is to Whom you will be gathered.
73. He it is Who has created the heavens and the earth in truth (meaningfully, and for definite purpose, and on solid foundations of truth). Whenever He says, “Be!” it is. His word is the truth. And His is the Sovereignty on the day when the Trumpet is blown,14 the Knower of the Unseen and the witnessed. He is the All-Wise, the All-Aware.15
74. And (call to mind) when Abraham spoke to his father, Āzar: “Do you take idols for deities? Indeed, I see you and your people lost in obvious error.”16
75. Thus (he spoke and acted for) We had showed Abraham (the ugliness and irrationality of polytheism and) the inner dimension of (the existence of) the heavens and the earth, and the eternal truth (which this outer, corporeal dimension manifests and depends upon) – this We had done so that he might be one of those who have achieved certainty of faith (that he might attain the final degree in his certainty as a Messenger of God):
76. When the night overspread over him, he saw a star; and he exclaimed: “This is my Lord (is it)?” But when it set (sank from sight), he said: “I love not the things that set.”17
77. And when (on another night) he beheld the full moon rising in splendor, he said: “This is my Lord (is it)!” But when it set, he said: “Unless my Lord guided me, I would surely be among the people gone astray.”
78. Then, when he beheld the sun rising in all its splendor, he said: “This is my Lord (is it)? This one is the greatest of all!”18 But when it set, he said: “O my people! Surely I am free from your association of partners with God and from whatever you associate with Him as partners.”
79. “I have turned my face (my whole being) with pure faith and submission to the One Who has originated the heavens and the earth each with particular features, and I am not one of those associating partners with God.”19
80. His people set out to remonstrate with him. Abraham said: “Do you remonstrate with me concerning God, when He has guided me? I do not fear those that you associate with Him as partners (and that cannot even benefit or harm themselves, so what do I have to fear of your threats?). Whatever my Lord wills happens, and no evil befalls me unless He so wills. My Lord embraces all things in His Knowledge. Will you not, then, reflect and take heed?
81. “And how should I fear those that you associate with God as partners, when you do not fear to associate partners with Him without His having sent down on you any authority (to do so)? (Tell me,) then, which of the two parties has right to feel secure, if you have anything of knowledge?
82. “Those who have believed and not obscured their belief with any wrongdoing (of which, associating partners with God is the most grave, unforgivable kind)20 – they are the ones for whom there is true security, and they are rightly guided.”
83. That was Our argument which We granted to Abraham against his people. We raise in degrees whom We will. Your Lord is All-Wise (having many wise purposes for what He does), All-Knowing (whatever He does is based on His absolutely comprehensive Knowledge).
84. And later, We bestowed upon him (a son) Isaac and (a grandson) Jacob, and each of them We guided (and distinguished them with Prophethood). Earlier We had guided Noah (and distinguished him with Prophethood). And of Abraham’s descendants, (We guided and distinguished with Prophethood) David and Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron. Thus do We reward those devoted to doing good as if seeing God.
85. And Zachariah, John, Jesus and Elijah: every one of them was of the righteous.
86. And Ishmael, Elisha, Jonah, and Lot: every one of them We favored above all other people.
87. And some from among their forefathers, and their descendants, and their brothers: We chose them and guided them to a straight path (which has characteristics particular to each according to his epoch).
88. That is God’s guidance, with which He guides whomever He wills of His servants.21 And had they (the ones mentioned above) associated partners with God, then all that they did (of good and the recompense they had earned) would have gone to waste.
89. Those are the ones to whom We granted the Book, and authority with sound, wise judgment, and Prophethood. Then if those (people of yours, O Messenger,) disbelieve it (Our guidance, which We have sent them with you), then certainly We entrust it to a people who do believe therein.
90. Those are the (illustrious) ones whom God guided. Follow, then, their guidance, and say (to your people): “I ask of you no wage for it (for conveying the Message); it is a reminder (an admonition and advice) to all created, conscious beings (humankind and jinn).
91. And they (some of the Jews) had no true judgment of God as His right (in being God requires), when they say: “God has not sent anything down on any human being.” Say: “Then, who sent down the Book which Moses brought as a light, and guidance for the people (you know), and which you put into, and treat as, mere leaves of paper to make show of, while you conceal much of it, and you have been taught (by it) what neither you knew nor your forefathers?” Say: “God (sent it down),” and then leave them to their game of plunging into vanities.
92. And this (the Qur’ān) is a (Divine) Book that We send down – blessed and full of blessing, confirming (the Divine authorship of) whatever was revealed before it – so that you may warn (the people of) the Mother of Cities (Makkah) and those around it. Those who believe in the Hereafter do believe in it; and they are ever mindful guardians of their Prayers.
93. Who is more in wrong than he who fabricates falsehood in attribution to God, or says, “I receive Revelation from God,” when nothing has been revealed to him, and he who claims, “I will produce the like of what God has sent down”? If you could but see how it will be when those wrongdoers find themselves in the agonies of death when the angels (appointed to take their souls), stretching forth their hands (say): “Yield up your souls! Today you will be recompensed with the punishment of humiliation for having continuously and persistently spoken about God other than the truth, and in persistent arrogance scorned His Revelations.”
94. (God says:) “Now assuredly you (having died and been buried alone) have come to us quite alone, as We created you in the first instance; and you have left behind all that We bestowed upon you (in the world). And We do not see with you any of those intercessors (whom you associated with God as partners, and) of whom you supposed that they had shares in you (i.e. authority to order your life in certain ways). Indeed, all the bonds between you and them have now been severed, and all that you supposed (to be God’s partners in your affairs) has failed you.
95. God is He Who splits the grain and the fruit-stone (so that they germinate by His command). He brings forth the living from the dead, and He is One Who brings forth the dead from the living; such is God: how then are you turned away from the truth and make false claims?22
96. He it is Who splits the dawn (from the darkness of night). He has made the night for repose, and the sun and the moon a means for reckoning (the divisions of time). This is the ordaining of the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Knowing.
97. He it is Who has made for you the stars (in their present conditions and positions), so that you may find your way by them in the darkness of the land and the sea. Assuredly, We have set out in detail the signs and proofs (of the truth) for a people seeking knowledge.
98. He it is Who developed you from a single human self, and has appointed (in each station of your journeying from mother’s womb to eternal life) for each of you a lodging-place where, and time-limit during which, you will stay and then be transferred. We have certainly set out in detail the signs and proofs (of the truth) for a people seeking to attain profound understanding.
99. He it is Who sends down water from the sky, and therewith We bring forth vegetation of every kind (from their seeds under the soil), and then from it We bring forth a lively shoot, from which We bring forth close-packed and compounded ears of grain, and from the palm-tree – from the spathe of it – dates thick-clustered hanging (ready to the hand), and gardens of vines, and the olive tree, and the pomegranate: alike (in the fundamentals of life and growth) and diverse (in structure, look, taste, and smell). Look at their fruit, when they begin to fruit and as they ripen. Surely in that there are signs for people who will believe and who will deepen in faith (as they see new signs).
100. Yet they associate the jinn as partners with God, although He created them, and, devoid of any knowledge, they invent for Him sons and daughters. All-Glorified He is, and absolutely Exalted above what they attribute (to Him).
101. The Originator of the heavens and the earth with nothing before Him to imitate. How can He have a child, when there is for Him no consort, and He has created all things (i.e. nothing created can be a consort for Him)? And He has full knowledge of everything.
102. Such is God, your Lord; there is no deity but He, the Creator of all things; therefore, worship Him alone. He holds all things in His care and control.
103. Eyes comprehend Him not, but He comprehends all eyes. He is the All-Subtle (penetrating everything no matter how small), the All-Aware.23
104. Lights of discernment and insight have come to you from your Lord. Whoever, therefore (by choosing to open the eye of his heart and place his eyes in its service), discerns, does so for his own good; and whoever chooses to be blind (to the truth), does so to his own harm. And (O Messenger, say to them): “I am not a keeper or watcher over you.”
105. Thus do We set out the signs of the truth and Revelations in diverse ways, so that they (who choose blindness) say, “You have learned it (from somebody else)”; this We do in order that We may make it (the truth, the Qur’ān) clear to a people seeking knowledge.
106. Follow (O Messenger) what has been revealed to you from your Lord; there is no deity but He; and withdraw from those who associate partners with God (do not care what they say and do).
107. Yet if God had so willed (and not enabled their free choice), they would not have associated partners with Him (so do not torment yourself to death with grief because they do not believe). And We have not made you a keeper over them, and you are not charged with care and control of them.
108. And do not (O believers) revile the things or beings that they have, apart from God, deified and invoke, lest (if you do so) they attempt to revile God out of spite, and in ignorance. Thus have We made their deeds seem fair to every people;24 then to their (true) Lord is the return of all of them, and He will make them understand what they were doing (and call them to account for it).
109. They swear by God with their most solemn oaths that if a miracle (of the kind they desire) is shown to them, they will believe in it (and, therefore, in the Message). Say: “Miracles are in God’s power alone (His is the sole authority to produce them or not).” (O believers, who think that if such a miracle were produced, the unbelievers would believe:) Are you not aware that even if such a miracle were shown to them, they would not believe?
110. Just as they did not believe in it (the Qur’ān) before (despite many evidences sufficient to convince one who really means to believe), and (because of their actions and attitudes, preventing them from belief,) We confound their hearts and eyes, and leave them blindly wandering in their rebellion.
111. Even if We were to send down angels to them (whenever they wished it), and the dead were to speak to them, and We were to assemble before them, face to face, all the creatures (to bear witness to the truth of the Message you bring), they would still not believe, unless God so willed (and came to their aid out of His pure grace); but most of them are ignorant (they pursue worldly pleasures, completely unaware of belief and mindless of their own selves).
112. And thus it is that (as a dimension of human earthly life taking place according to Our eternal Will, embracing human free will, and according to the wisdom in sending the Religion) We have set against every Prophet a hostile opposition from among the satans of humankind and jinn, whispering and suggesting to one another specious words, by way of delusion. Yet had your Lord willed (and compelled everybody to behave in the way He wills), they would not do it. So leave them alone with what they have been fabricating.
113. And the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter incline towards it (their deluding speech) and take pleasure in it, and they continue (perpetrating the evils, and) earning what (the sin) they have long been earning.
114. (Say to them, O Messenger:) “What! Shall I seek other than God for judge (to settle the matters between you and me), when it is He Who has sent down to you this (unique, most perfect) Book (in which truth and falsehood, right and wrong are) fully distinguished?” (The scholars among) those to whom We gave the Book before know that it is one being sent down in parts, in truth, by your Lord. So never be among the doubters (concerning the truth of your way).
115. The Word of your Lord (which He sent down in parts in different periods, considering the conditions of each period) is perfected (with the Qur’ān) as the embodiment of truth (with respect to the essentials of belief, principles of worship and good conduct, the rules to govern human life, and all the tidings it gives considering the past and future, including the Hereafter), and of justice (regarding all the commandments it contains): there is no altering of His words (the laws He has established for life, and the operation of the universe; attempting to interfere with them will bring about great disasters, so no one must ever attempt to change His commandments, which are contained in the Book). He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing (Who knows every need of every creature, and every requirement of every age, just as He knows how you respond to His commandments).
116. And if you pay heed to the majority of those on the earth, they will lead you astray from God’s way. They follow only conjecture (not knowledge), and they themselves do nothing but make guesses (they pronounce and act according to their fancies, selfish interests, and personal value judgments).
117. Indeed your Lord is He Who knows best who goes astray from His way, and He knows best (those who are) the rightly-guided.
118. Eat, then, of (the flesh of) that over which God’s Name has been pronounced, if you are sincere believers in His Revelations.
119. And why should you not eat of (the flesh of) that over which God’s Name has been pronounced, seeing that He has clearly spelled out to you what He has made unlawful to you unless you are constrained to it by dire necessity?25 But, indeed many people lead others astray, driven by their lusts and fancies without any knowledge (from God). Indeed your Lord is He Who knows best those who exceed the bounds.
120. Abstain from sinning, whether done in public or secret (and the intentions and attitudes that accompany either). Indeed, those who record sins to their account will be recompensed for what they have earned.
121. And do not eat of that which is slaughtered in the name of other than God and over which God’s Name has not been pronounced (at the time of its slaughtering), for that is indeed a transgression. And the satans do whisper and make suggestions to their confidants to contend with you. If you obey them, you are indeed those who associate partners with God.26
122. Is he who was dead (in spirit), and We raised him to life, and set for him a light by which he moves (without any deviancy) among people, is he like the one who is as one lost in depths of darkness, from which he cannot get out? (But) thus it is: to the unbelievers are the things they have been doing decked out as appealing.
123. And in that way have We set up in every township as leaders its most prominent criminals so that they scheme (against the believers). But they scheme only against their own selves – and they do not perceive it.
124. When a Revelation is conveyed to them, they say: “We will not believe unless we are given the like of what God’s Messengers were given.” God knows best upon whom to place His Message. Soon will an abasement from God’s Presence befall these criminals, and a severe punishment for their scheming.
125. Thus, whomever God wills to guide, He expands his breast to Islam, and whomever He wills to lead astray, He causes his breast to become tight and constricted, as if he were climbing towards the heaven.27 Thus, God lays ignominy upon those who do not believe (despite many signs and evidences).
126. And this (the way of Islam) is the Straight Path of your Lord. We have assuredly set out in detail the signs (of the right and wrong ways) for a people who reflect and are mindful.
127. For them is the Abode of Peace with their Lord (where they will enjoy perfect bliss, peace, and safety), and He is their Guardian because of what they have been doing.
128. On the day when He will raise to life and gather them (jinn and humankind, believers and unbelievers) all together, (He says): “O you assembly of the jinn! You have seduced a good many of humankind (and included them in your company).” Their closest fellows from among humankind will (confess and) say: “Our Lord! We enjoyed one another (in self-interested fellowship, serving one another’s selfish ends), and now we have reached the end of our term that You appointed for us.” He (God) will say: “The Fire is now your dwelling to abide therein – God decrees however He wills.” Indeed your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing (Whose every decree and act is based on absolute wisdom and knowledge).
129. In this manner, We cause the wrongdoers to befriend and help one another (with seduction and sinning) because of what they are engaged in earning.
130. “O assembly of the jinn and humankind! Did there never come to you Messengers from among yourselves, relating to you My signs and Revelations, and warning you of encountering this Day of yours?” They say: “We bear witness against ourselves.” The life of the world had deluded them, and (just as their speeches and actions in the world testified to their unbelief, so) they have borne witness against themselves that they were unbelievers.
131. Clearly it is not the way of your Lord that He would destroy lands unjustly without their people being warned (beforehand of the consequence of their way of life) and, therefore, unmindful (of the distinctions between right and wrong, truth and falsehood).
132. For everyone, there are (different) ranks according to what they have done (of right and wrong). Your Lord is not unmindful of what they do.28
133. Your Lord, having boundless, all-encompassing mercy, is absolutely self-sufficient (with no need of any kind, including His servants’ belief and worship). If He so wills, He can put you away and cause whom He wills to succeed you, just as He produced you from the seed of another people.
134. What you have been promised (and warned of, concerning your future and the Hereafter), is indeed bound to happen, and you have no power at all to frustrate it.
135. Say: “O my people! Do all that lies within your power, indeed I (too) am at work (doing my task). So, in time, you will come to know to whom the ultimate abode of happiness will belong. Indeed the wrongdoers do not prosper and attain their goals.
136. They assign to God, of the produce and cattle that He has created, a portion, and they say: “This is God’s” – so they assert – “and this (the rest) is for our associate-deities.” Then (acting in what they deem to their own interest), what is assigned for their “associate-deities” does not reach God, while what is assigned for God reaches their “associate-deities.” How evil is what they ordain as laws (and how badly they enforce them)!
137. And, in the way they follow, their associate-deities (their association of partners with God, or their idol-worshipping, and the satans of jinn and humankind which they obey) deck out the killing of their children as appealing to many among those who associate partners with God, so as to bring them to ruin and confound them in their religion. If God had so willed (if He had not decreed freedom of will to humankind, thus compelling them to act in a particular way like other beings), they would not be doing all this. So, leave them alone with what they have been fabricating.
138. (Putting some of the produce and cattle to one side,) they say: “These animals and crops are taboo; none can eat of them save those whom we will – so they assert – and there are cattle whose backs they declare are forbidden (to bear loads), and cattle over which they do not pronounce God’s Name. This (their attributing these customs to God) is a lie against Him. He will soon recompense them for all that they fabricate in attribution to God.29
139. They also say (concerning certain other cattle they consecrate): “All that is in the wombs of these cattle is (if they are born alive) exclusively for our males and is unlawful for our wives. If it (the newborn) is born dead or dies soon after birth, all of them (men and women) may share therein.” He will soon recompense them for their attributing (these rules falsely to Him). Surely, He is All-Wise (in Whose every act and commandment are many instances of wisdom), All-Knowing (whose every act is based on absolute knowledge).30
140. Assuredly those are lost who, in folly and without knowledge, kill their children (either in the wombs of their mothers or after birth), and make unlawful (the lawful and pure, wholesome things) that God has provided them as sustenance, falsely attributing that to God. Assuredly, they have gone astray, and have never been able to find the right way.
141. (Ever providing you with lawful, pure and wholesome food), He it is Who produces gardens (and vineyards, and orchards) trellised and untrellised, and date-palms, and crops varying in taste, and olives, and pomegranates, resembling one another and yet so different. Eat of their fruits when they come to fruition, and give (to the poor and the needy) the due thereof on harvest day. And do not be wasteful (by over-eating or other unnecessary consumption, or by giving to others so much as to leave in need those whose maintenance is your responsibility); indeed He does not love the wasteful.
142. And of the cattle (He has created) some for carrying loads, and some for the sake of their flesh, and skins and fur. Consume from what God has provided for you as sustenance, and do not follow in the footsteps of Satan (by laying down rules other than those of God, and adopting ways other than God’s); surely he is a manifest enemy to you.
143. Eight in pairs of cattle: two of sheep, two of goats. Say (to them, O Messenger): “Is it the two males that God has made unlawful or the two females, or what the wombs of the two females may contain? Inform me about this with sound, authoritative knowledge, if you are truthful (in your claim that God has made them unlawful).”
144. And, likewise, of camels there are two, and of oxen there are two. Say: “Is it the two males that God has made unlawful or the two females, or what the wombs of the two females may contain? Or were you present there to witness when God laid down this (the commandment you attribute to Him) for you?” Who is more in wrong than he who fabricates falsehood in attribution to God, and thus leads people astray without sound, authoritative knowledge? Indeed, God does not guide wrongdoing people (to the truth and the attainment of their goals).
145. Say (O Messenger): “I do not find in what has been revealed to me anything made unlawful to one who would eat except it be carrion or blood outpoured (not that which is left in the veins of such organs as the liver and spleen), or the flesh of swine, which is loathsome and unclean, or that which is profane, having been slaughtered in the name of other than God (or without pronouncing God’s Name over it).31 Yet whoever is constrained by dire necessity (to eat thereof), provided he does not covet nor exceed (the bounds of the necessity): (no sin shall be on him). Your Lord is indeed All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
146. And for those who are Jews, We have made unlawful all beasts with claws, and of oxen and sheep We have made unlawful for them their fat, save that which is in their backs or entrails, or that which is mixed with the bone. Thus did We recompense them for their continuous rebellion.32 And We are indeed true (in all Our decrees and deeds).
147. Then, if they still deny you (O Messenger), say to them: “Your Lord (Who creates, nourishes, and provides you,) has an all-embracing mercy (and so does not immediately punish you for your acts of insolence, but gives you respite so that you may repent and ask Him for forgiveness). However, (if you do not mend your ways, know that) His punishment cannot be averted from disbelieving criminals.
148. Those who persist in associating partners with God will say: “Had God willed, neither we nor our forefathers would have associated partners with Him, nor would we have declared anything (which God has made lawful) unlawful.” Even so did those who lived before them deny (their Prophets with similar false excuses) until they tasted Our mighty punishment. Say (to them): “Do you have any sound, authoritative knowledge (to support your claim)? (If you have) then bring it out for us! In fact, you follow only conjecture, and you yourselves are only making false surmises (you pronounce judgments and act only according to your fancies, interests and personal value judgments).”
149. Say: “(As against what you argue) God’s is the final, conclusive argument. And had He so willed (and compelled you act in a certain way, rather than letting you associate partners with Him and make unlawful what He has made lawful) He would have guided you all together to the truth.33
150. Say: “Bring forward your witnesses who could testify that God has made unlawful (what you claim to be forbidden.)” Then, if they bear witness (falsely), do not bear witness with them, and do not follow the lusts and fancies of those who deny Our signs and Revelations, who do not believe in the Hereafter, and who (as the main source of their unbelief in other essentials of faith) ascribe equals to their Lord.34
151. Say: “Come, let me recite what your Lord has made unlawful for you: that you associate nothing with Him; and (do not offend against but, rather) treat your parents in the best way possible; and that you do not kill your children for fear of poverty – it is We Who provide for you as well as for them; and that you do not draw near to any shameful thing (like adultery, fornication, and homosexuality), whether committed openly or secretly; and that you do not kill any soul, which God has made sacred and forbidden, except in just cause. All this He has enjoined upon you, that you may use your reason (and so believe, know right from wrong, and follow His way).
152. “And do not draw near to the property of the orphan except in the best way (such as to improve and increase it) until he comes of age. Weigh and balance with full measure and equity.” We do not burden any soul beyond its capacity. “And when you speak, be just, even though it be against one near of kin; and fulfill God’s covenant (and the covenants you make with one another in God’s Name). All this He has enjoined upon you, that you may reflect and be mindful.
153. “This is my straight path, so follow it, and do not follow other paths, lest they scatter you from His Path. This He has enjoined upon you, that you keep from disobedience to Him in reverence for Him and piety to deserve His protection.”
154. And once again: We gave Moses the Book, completing Our favor upon those devoted to doing good in the awareness that God sees them, and detailing everything (concerning truth and falsehood, and right and wrong), and as a guidance and mercy, that they may have ever-deepening faith in the (final) meeting with their Lord.
155. And likewise, this (Qur’ān) is a Book We have sent down, blessed and giving blessing; so follow it, and keep from disobedience to it, that you may be shown mercy (to be granted a virtuous life in this world and eternal happiness in the Hereafter).
156. (We have sent it down) lest you should say (as an excuse), “The Book was sent down only on the two groups of people before us and, indeed, we were unaware of what they were taught by it.”
157. Or lest you should say, “Had the Book been sent down on us, we would surely have been more rightly guided than they are.” Now there has come to you a manifest proof from your Lord, and a guidance, and a mercy.35 Who, then, is greater in doing wrong than he who denies God’s Revelations and turns away from them? We will recompense those who turn away from Our Revelations with an evil punishment for turning away.
158. Do they wait only for the angels to come to them (to take their souls or bring them a disaster), or for your Lord to judge them (and bring forth Hell for them), or for some clear signs of your Lord to appear (such as rocks pouring down on them, which they want you to show them, or signs signaling the final destruction of the world)? When some clears signs of your Lord appear, believing will be of no avail to anyone who did not believe before, or who has earned no good through his belief. Say (to them, O Messenger): “Wait on; we, too, are waiting!”
159. Those who have made divisions in their Religion (whereas they must accept it in its totality), and have been divided into different parties – you have nothing to do with them. Their case rests with God, and then He will make them understand what they were doing.
160. 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.
161. Say: “Surely my Lord has guided me to a Straight Path, being an upright Religion leading to prosperity (in both worlds), the way of Abraham based on pure faith (free from unbelief, associating partners with God and hypocrisy). He was never of those associating partners with God.”
162. Say: “My Prayer, and all my (other) acts and forms of devotion and worship, and my living and my dying are for God alone, the Lord of the worlds.
163. “He has no partners; thus have I been commanded, and I am the first and foremost of the Muslims (who have submitted to Him exclusively).”
164. Say: “Am I, then, to seek after someone other than God as Lord when He is the Lord of everything?” Every soul earns only to its own account; and no soul, as bearer of burden, bears and is made to bear the burden of another. Then, to your Lord is the return of all of you, and He will then make you understand (the truth) concerning all that on which you have differed.
165. He it is Who has appointed you vicegerents over the earth (to improve it and rule over it according to God’s commandments), and has exalted some of you over others in degrees (of intelligence, capacity, and then wealth and status): thus, He tries you in what He has granted you. (Always remember that) your Lord is the most swift in retribution (when it is due), and assuredly, He is the All-Forgiving, the All-Compassionate (especially toward those who turn to Him in repentance as His believing servants).36
1. The verse uses creating for the heavens and the earth, and bringing into being or appointing for darkness and light. This means that darkness and light are not things that have been created as independent entities, but are rather the result of the movement of the heavens (or certain heavenly objects) and the earth as a dimension of their existence.
The fact that darkness is mentioned before light signifies that non-existence precedes existence in the life of the universe, and that it has an existence in God’s Knowledge. For this reason, the start of the day actually begins with the fall of night.
Both darkness and light are used in their spiritual connotation also. Since the sources and kinds of “spiritual” darkness (materialism, atheism, agnosticism, polytheism of all sorts, and hypocrisy) are numerous, while the “spiritual” light is one and comes from the same, single source, darkness is used in the plural and light is in the singular. This also explains the reason why, even though philosophers and thinkers differ in their ideas greatly, as they have all based their thinking on their own reasoning, all the Prophets, numbering more than 100,000 throughout human history, have agreed on the same principles.
In addition to all the shades of meaning mentioned, by referring to those who disbelieve, in rejecting polytheism and emphasizing that God is the Lord of unbelievers also, the verse points out that every kind of polytheism amounts to unbelief, and even if many people associate partners, rivals, or equals to God, God is the Lord – the Creator, Sustainer, Raiser, the Provider – of the whole of creation, including humankind, and, therefore, polytheism has absolutely no sound, justifiable basis. Thus, this short, single verse summarizes the whole of the sūrah.
2. For an indirect explanation of this verse and the relevant theological terms, ajal or al-qadar al-mu‘allaq (the term or destiny suspended) and ajal musammā (the term determined, or al-qadar al-mubram (the destiny decisive), see note 13 in this sūrah; sūrah13, note 13; and sūrah 10, note 19.
Some interpreters of the Qur’ān are of the opinion that the first term mentioned in the verse is the “natural” term determined by God for beings. For example, a doctor can say of a patient, in view of the kind and gravity of their sickness: “He (or she) will die within ten days,” but the patient can live for many years more. The term presumed by the doctor is the “natural” term. But the final term of the patient is known to God only.
3. Having demonstrated the truth with substantial, indisputable arguments along the way, the sūrah now invalidates unbelief and polytheism, establishing pure monotheism by presenting the end that awaited those who did not follow God’s way. The arguments are made clear by providing historical and sociological foundations. This verse severely warns the polytheists and consoles the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. It continues with concrete and incontestable truths concerning God’s Divinity and Lordship.
The Qur’ān draws attention to, and takes the human mind and heart through, all the fields and aspects of life, as a bee goes from flower to flower to collect nectar, and leaves its audience face and face with the unquestionable proofs of the truths it propounds. This style is called tasrīf. Whatever subject the Qur’ān deals with, be it from individual life to the earth, from the heavens to social life, from human conscience to human history, it extracts the water with a miraculous “staff” to quench the thirst of the human intellect, heart and all the other faculties. It is the human soul that spreads a veil of conjecture made up of arrogance, prejudices, incorrect viewpoints, and wrongdoing over the Qur’ānic truths; these truths, when apparent, are such that the human conscience, heart, and intellect cannot but concede. It is this blanketing attitude of the human soul that the Qur’ān calls kufr, meaning ‘to veil’ and which is rendered in English as “unbelief.” When a person disbelieves, that is, when they veil the truths, they are not able to cancel or obliterate these truths. Unbelief is the same as closing one’s eyes to the sun and claiming that there is neither a sun nor sunlight, and that everywhere is dark. Those who destroy themselves by misusing their innate, God-given faculties, such as the intellect and the potential to believe, these are, then, people who do not believe.
4. The attitude of those who resist the truths of faith has never changed during human history: derision; claiming that the truths of faith are nothing but myth, falsehood, or legend; making out that the believers are a band of reactionary, regressive people with uncultivated, arid minds; preventing others from listening to them; silencing those who speak for them; and if all else fails, resorting to force – imprisonment, exile, and assassinations. Whatever the unbelievers resort to, it only indicates that they are devoid of sufficient thought and knowledge to compete with the truths of faith, and it only demonstrates their weakness, ignorance, and mental inadequacy. They lack the consciousness to perceive that what they do will ultimately cause their ruin—all this despite the fact that there may even be sociologists, historians, and anthropologists among them who study history and events. What is important for the believers is that they should perceive this fact and, without being influenced by cultural pressure, they should always pursue the truth in Islam. It must never be forgotten that the greatest power of the unbelievers feeds upon the weakness of the believers in belief and submission.
5. The world has three aspects. The first aspect looks to the fact that it is the realm where God’s Names are manifested and, therefore, whatever is there and whatever takes place in it is a mirror to God with His Attributes and Names. The second aspect, which looks to the Hereafter, is that the world is the tillage for the Hereafter. The building-blocks to make up one’s Paradise or Hell in the Hereafter are the seeds of one’s belief or unbelief and the deeds that one sows here. With these two aspects, the world is very important and is regarded as being the equal of the heavens; in fact, the Qur’ān mentions it alongside the heavens. The third aspect of the world is that which looks to our carnal desires, passions, lusts, and ambitions. It is this aspect that the Qur’ān condemns, as these consist of games, pastimes, greed (hoarding things), and competing in having more goods—in short, the source of all vice and evil.
6. In addition to the deep desire which God’s Messenger had to guide people, and His endless efforts and the great success he exhibited in conveying God’s Message, these verses also show the intensity of the suffering he endured, the hardships he encountered, and the obstinate resistance of the unbelievers, which all made heavy impressions on his human spirit. The following verses will interpret and elucidate these; they express the greatness of God’s Messenger, along with demonstrating his profound knowledge of God, his perfect conviction of the truth of the Message he brought, and his deep concern for the guidance and salvation of people. It is these verses which consoled him and kept in check the intense passion he felt for the salvation of people.
7. Using many literary arts, such as metaphor, simile, comparison, and allusion, the verses of the Qur’ān attain various depths of meaning. This short verse contains several meanings and truths, as well as an admonition:
- There are people through whose ears the Qur’ān cannot penetrate to their hearts and who resist faith; these are the “spiritually” deaf. A deaf person cannot hear the call, nor can they respond to it.
- One who has the ability to hear cannot be indifferent to the Qur’ān. Only one who can remain indifferent to the Qur’ān and its call can be “deaf.”
- Those through whose ears the Qur’ān does not enter are no different from the dead, for like the dead, they have no life in their heart, and one whose heart is not “alive” is “dead,” even if he is physically alive. The true life is the life of the heart. The same is true for biological life, which depends on the health of the heart.
- No one will be saved by dying, and no one will stay in the grave eternally. God will raise all of the dead, gathering them together in His Presence and the truth in which they believed or rejected, while in the world will appear in their faces. This second life is eternal, either in bliss or despair.
8. “God, Who does not leave the bees without a queen nor the ants without a leader, does not leave humankind without a Prophet” (The Letters, 2: 303).
9. It is sometimes necessary to explain what making one’s guidance or misguidance by God’s absolute Will means. Here we will give a brief overview:
- The original word rendered as “will” is Mashīah. God has two kinds of will, one Mashīah, and the other Irādah. God does not will (irādah) unbelief, polytheism, hypocrisy, and sins, but these are all—like faith, good deeds, and virtues—included in His Mashīah, which is associated with His Knowledge or which can be regarded as “Pre-knowledge.”
- As knowledge depends on what is known, and since it is eternally known to God how each person will use his free will, God’s Mashīah encompasses human free will. In other words, as God cannot be contained by time, as He is beyond all time and space, and therefore, as He knows how each person will use his free will, He wills accordingly.
- A person uses his free will to believe or not to believe. But it is God Who puts into effect human free will and Who creates the deeds of people.
- Human choices and inclinations, including every thing and every event in the universe, even the movement of a leaf, occur within the universal system that God has established. So, nothing is excluded from God’s Knowledge and Will (Mashīah).
10. This part of the verse expresses a very important truth:
We should not expect God to give us exactly what we pray for. God dominates and rules the whole universe by manifesting all of His Names. That is, He has universal rules derived from all His Names which compose the magnificent universal order with its manifestations. These rules encompass everything within the universal frame and operate according to His universal Wisdom. The wheel of the universe does not turn according to the wishes of each thing or person. So God gives what is asked for in compliance with this Wisdom.
However, this does not mean that God does not have special concern for each thing or being; this concern stems from His Compassion. But this concern does not require that He will give exactly the thing that is asked for. He gives whatever is good for the person who prays. For example, a patient who has undergone a medical operation may ask for water, even though this may be very dangerous for him. The doctor then does the patient good by refusing him water. Similarly, God gives what is good for His servant who prays to Him, and this is why He sometimes does not give us what we desire in this world, but rather delays it to the Hereafter.
11. These last verses discuss some recurring patterns in the history of different peoples and societies:
- If the Divine Message begins to spread in a place, varying conditions, such as abundance or famine appear there, according to the devotion of its followers and their efforts to spread it, and the attitude of the opposing side.
- Usually, God Almighty first sends misfortune and hardship to the people among whom the Divine Message has begun to be spread. This is in order to urge them to renounce their false beliefs and wrong ways and to accept the Message; in most cases, especially for uncivilized peoples, force and hardship are more effective than gentle persuasion. This method also aims at perfecting those who had believed in the Message first, equipping them with the necessary patience to endure all future hardships.
- If people do not renounce their ways, despite the hardships and misfortune they are suffering, and if they remain deaf and blind to the Message, God will then provide them with abundance. That is, as a result of their being lost in the world and exerting all their abilities and strength to achieve a luxurious life, God opens the gates of the world to them. This causes many of them to become extremely rich at the cost of many others, who grow poorer, and these blind people increase in their dissipation, debauchery, corruption, and similar evils.
- The loss of balance in society and the increase in dissipation and corruption all herald general misfortune or disaster. If there is a formidable group that can shoulder the Divine Message and apply it to life, the destruction that will befall society results in the rising of this group. If there is no such group, the destruction becomes more encompassing.
- If, despite all their vices and sins, a person grows in prosperity with nothing adverse befalling him, and if there is welfare in society despite all the wrongdoing, injustices, dissipation and corruption prevalent in it, this means that misfortune or destruction is imminent for that society, and that a person will see the consequence of his misdeeds.
12. Like many other verses which present physical and spiritual elements together, this verse also contains and presents such elements in both a literal and figurative way. The hearing, sight and heart mentioned here are our both the physical and spiritual powers of hearing and seeing and the center of our physical and spiritual life. As it is God Who created our ears, eyes, and hearts, and as there is nobody else who can create them or restore them to us when we lose them, it is also He Who makes them spiritually alive.
This verse in its Arabic original uses the sense of hearing in the singular, while the sense of seeing is expressed in the plural. This means that the duty of the ears with respect to belief is hearing and listening to the Divine Revelation, and that there is a single source of Revelation. By contrast, there are innumerable signs of belief which a person can see with his or her eyes. In the excerpt, What deity but God is there that could restore it to you?, the verse uses the singular pronoun it for the powers of hearing and seeing and the heart; in short, in order to attain belief, the powers of hearing and sight, and the heart must be alive, and all these faculties must work together.
13. The Qur’ān mentions the Manifest Book and Manifest Record (36: 12).
The universe displays a magnificent and perfect order; God has created and creates everything perfectly and in exactly the right place. This demonstrates that the universe is based on universal, perfect knowledge and determination, which we call Divine Destiny. To better understand this subtle point, we should consider the following two examples.
Before setting out to write a book, a writer has the necessary information in his head; this can be regarded as the archetype of the book. Then the writer makes a plan and divides the knowledge in his mind into chapters and sections, which is the “destined” existence of the book. Afterwards, he writes the book; i.e. he creates the book’s material existence. For another example, before constructing a building, an architect builds it in their mind; i.e. he creates the essential or archetypal existence of the building. Afterwards, he draws a plan of the building, which is the “destined” existence of the building. Then, he builds it according to the plan he has made.
Similarly, the universe with all the things and events in it, from the first day until the last, has an archetypal existence in God’s Eternal Knowledge. God destined (when considered from the perspective of the universe contained in time and space) or destines (when considered from God’s perspective, as He is beyond all time and space) a particular form, lifetime, and function for each thing or being. This second type of the determined existence of the universe in God’s Knowledge, with everything and every event in it, is called the Manifest Record or the Supreme Preserved Tablet. This is, in one respect, identical with God’s Knowledge. Destiny gives form to the archetypes, and Divine Power brings them into material existence.
God duplicates the “destined” existence of each thing. One of the copies is included in its seed. For example, when God turns the embryo in the mother into another (human) creation, the destiny of this new human creature has already been determined (for the relation between Destiny and human free will, see note 8 in this sūrah, and in sūrah 2, notes 10, 14; sūrah 3, notes 30, 36; and sūrah 4, note 18). Likewise, the future life of every plant or tree is encapsulated in its seed. The life-history of the plant or tree from the time of its germination under soil until it yields fruit is the developed form of its seed. We call this active life-history of a living thing or being its Destiny Practical or the Manifest Book. With every thing and event being included in it, the universe has its own “universal” Destiny Practical, which is the “universal” Manifest Book. The Manifest Record relates to the origins of things or beings and Divine Knowledge, while the Manifest Book contains their entire life-histories and is a notebook written by the Divine Power.
14. We do not know the exact nature of the Trumpet and what is really meant by its being blown. It will be blown twice (see also 39: 68, note 22) by the archangel Isrāfīl; when it is blown the first time, the entire order of the universe will be disrupted, and on its second blowing, all the dead will be raised in a completely fresh world and order.
God has absolute ownership and dominion over the whole of creation, even in this world. But, since this world is the world of Wisdom, His acts are screened by some apparent causes; that is, He allows things to occur according to certain (apparent) causes, and beings like humans and jinn, endowed with free will, are allowed to have property and exercise some sort of dominion, and are tested. However, in the next world, which will be the world of Power and where there will be no causes nor time or duration for a thing to occur, He will act without the intervention of causes, and no one will be allowed to enjoy any property or dominion.
15. The verses which so far have concentrated on the pillars of faith, in particular the two most cardinal, namely belief in God’s Existence and Unity and belief in the Resurrection, present us with observable, manifest truths and evidence:
- It is God Who has created the heavens and the earth and, in connection with them, brings darkness and light into existence. It is also He Who gives existence to people’s will and preference for belief or unbelief, along with the causes of these.
- God also created the first human being from clay, a material propitious for cultivation, and all succeeding men and women, from the food that is obtained from earth. He appoints for each person, as well as appointing for humanity, a fixed term in this world; after the completion of this term, He takes us all into another, eternal world.
- God has not left the universe and humankind to their own devices after creating them. He is the All-Omnipotent and has full sway over them. He knows whatever happens in the universe, down to the fall of a leaf, and He knows all the deeds, thought, and intentions of humankind. His appointed angels record these, and people will be called to account for these acts in the other world. To avoid punishment, people must follow the way He has established for them through His Messengers.
Having presented the cardinal pillars of faith along with their indisputable proofs, which the Qur’ān calls “signs,” that are understandable to and observable by everybody, the verses proceed to reject polytheism in all its forms and consolidate the truths of faith with manifold proofs:
- Despite the evidence of belief that is observable by everybody, God also sent Messengers to people to teach them and bring the message to their attention. But, unfortunately, most people, particularly those who have some status in society, such as the wealthy, aristocrats, the governing elite and some intellectuals, willfully reject the messages brought by the Messengers, as well as their manifest signs that are derived from the universe and life, including the miracles which the Messengers work when necessary and when God allows them to do so.
- Those who reject the truths of faith have no truth at all on which they base their claims. This is why they attempt to oppose the Messengers with derision, demanding that they work miracles, and claiming that the miracles they work are nothing but magic. This openly shows their intellectual defeat and bankruptcy when placed before the truth brought by the Messengers. The true reason for their unbelief and resistance against the Divine Message is that they fear losing their status; they cannot give up their lifestyle or bear to be together with those they have despised as being poor and lacking status in society; that is, arrogance, having the wrong viewpoint and world-view, wrongdoing, and luxury prevent them from believing. These attitudes have caused them to lose their senses of hearing and seeing, and they can no longer hear the revealed message nor see its manifest evidence (signs) in life and the universe, and, as a consequence, they lose the capacity to believe, a capacity which God has ingrained in their nature.
- The life of the world is not only transient; it also consists of play and pastimes in respect to human carnal life. The wealth, posts and positions, and social status, to which people tend to attach much importance and on which they depend, are not lasting. God, Who gives these favors as a means of testing people, may take them away at an unexpected time. History is full of instances of this giving and taking away; there are many lessons to be learned from destroyed civilizations and the lost wealth and positions of our ancestors.
- God is, first of all, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate; all His acts are based on mercy. For this reason, He provides for every living thing in the world without discriminating between believers and unbelievers, maintaining the lives of everything. So it should not be expected that He will immediately destroy those who are bent on unbelief, those who associate partners with Him, and those whoindulge in sins. The place where people are rewarded or punished for their beliefs and deeds is the Hereafter. God has special laws for the worldly life, and people usually see the consequences of their deeds in the world according to these laws. However, this does not mean that God does not have special concern and compassion for His believing, righteous servants in the world. He helps them according to His Wisdom, accepts their repentance, forgives them, and protects them as long as they remain devoted to His cause and religion. When wrongdoing and transgression exceed all limits, God punishes people in the world through calamities, such as earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, epidemics; or wars, internal conflicts, anarchy, terror; or causing them to lose their wealth, status or jobs. But since this punishment usually appears to be in accordance with the (sociological) laws of life and “(physical) laws of nature,” not everyone can see the Divine Hand behind them.
- God is not of the same kind as the created, so He cannot be conceived of in terms of the created. He never eats and drinks, nor does He need anything. He feeds, sustains, and provides. His Existence and Unity are more manifest than anything else, and it is rationally impossible to accept the existence of anything without accepting His Existence. The universe, with whatever is and happens in it, testifies to this, as does the Qur’ān, the other Divine Scriptures, tens of thousands of Prophets, and billions of people who followed them throughout history. Those who deny Him have nothing substantial on which to base their claims, for denial cannot be proved, and, therefore, it has no rational or scientific weight. Denial consists in mere conjecture and hypothesis.
- Even if a person denies the truths of faith, defeated by his carnal soul, he will see, when he dies, the true nature of those truths that are manifested in our world with their outer dimensions, and he will understand the truth of the other life clearly; yet, it will be of no use for this person to feel remorse. He will desire to be returned to the world, but it will be of no avail! Even if he were allowed to return, he would not act otherwise. No one can go to the Hereafter with a valid excuse for his or her wrong beliefs or acts. Everybody feels the existence of a Supreme Power in their conscience, especially when they are facing danger or death. They invoke only God with both their tongue and their conscience, for God has inculcated in the conscience of everyone a point where we seek help, and a point where we seek support. Both of these manifest themselves, especially when there is no apparent, material means to escape from peril or difficulties, and this causes a person to turn to God alone. Every person has had this experience several times in his or her life. But most people, upon reaching safety, behave as if they have had no such experience. They pursue their ambitions, and under the pressure of such attitudes as arrogance, wrongdoing, and having the wrong viewpoint of things and events, they insist on unbelief or the association of partners with God.
- In order to show people that the way they follow is wrong and to warn them against its consequences, God Almighty repeatedly presents to them evidence, and He renews His admonitions. A time will come when He will expose them to different hardships and disasters, such as famine and warfare, in order to help them to come to their senses, and, at other times, He will pour on them His bounties in order to stir up feelings of gratitude in them. But, if a person has already lost his or her inborn capacity to believe, none of these will be of any avail. Furthermore, they will be deluded by Satan into seeing their way as being good.
- Those who persist in unbelief or polytheism are too arrogant to find themselves side-by-side with those whom they see as being devoid of any social status and attempt to excuse their own unbelief by mocking the belief of those others. This is because they are beguiled by Satan into judging the degree of intelligence and worth of a human by the post, wealth or social status one has, and, therefore, think of themselves as much more intelligent or better than those who are poor and devoid of status. This leads such people to conclude that if the Message brought by the Prophet is true, then they should have been among the first to accept it. But this is Satan’s trickery; they become the victims of their carnal souls, for wealth and social status are not the criterion to judge one’s intelligence or worth. There are many people who are very knowledgeable and intelligent, but who are poor and have neither positions nor social status. Imam Ghazzālī calls the intelligence that grasps worldly affairs the intelligence of worldly life. It can never be asserted that one who is advanced in the intelligence of worldly life is also advanced in grasping the perennial truths and principles that lie at the root of and govern life, existence, things and events, and their meaning. Moreover, the Divine criteria to judge people are different. At the foremost of these criteria comes the grasping of the truths and principles mentioned, which automatically lead to believing in God and to the other pillars of faith, and living according to these truths and principles in reverence for God and piety; this is what the Qur’ān calls taqwā. If life and existence consisted only of economy, then there would be no philosophy, religion, and contemplative thought, nor even art and literature, which are the elevated products of the human mind and heart. Human thought should be based on, and guided by, the truths and principles mentioned here so that there will be no deviation in thought and belief; these deviations are what lead to unbelief or associating partners with God.
- As mentioned above, God is not, as some think, “a passive deity” who created the universe and humanity and left everyone to their own devices. He has full knowledge of everything, is fully aware of whatever one thinks, intends, and does, and the reins of all things and events are in His Hand. Whatever happens in the world occurs by His commanding “Be!” He makes His appointed angels record all the deeds of human beings, and He will call people to account in the other world for what they have done in this world. Going to sleep every night and waking up every morning is evidence of the fact that we will, one day, be raised from the dead; it is a means of comparison for us.
After all these truths and all the evidence which has been presented in this sūrah, the Qur’ān goes on to narrate a very significant event from the life of the Prophet Abraham, upon him be peace, one of the greatest heroes of the truth of Tawhīd (believing in and declaring God’s Oneness), from whom all the greatest Messengers descended, including Muhammad, Jesus and Moses, upon them be peace.
16. The nation that Abraham was sent to as a Messenger was that of the ancient Chaldeans, who lived in modern-day Iraq. Abraham began his mission in Ur, the capital of the state, located in southern Iraq, in around 2100 bc. The founder of the ruling dynasty was Ur-Nammu, who established a vast kingdom that stretched from Susa in the eastto Lebanon in the west, and which extended a little beyond the boundaries of modern-day Iraq to the north. This dynasty was called Nammu, becoming Nimrud in Arabic.
It was estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 people lived in Ur at that time. The majority of these people were merchants and craftsmen; these people had a purely materialistic outlook on life. They were comprised of three classes: (1) the priests and government and military officers; (2) the merchants, craftsmen, and farmers; and (3) slaves. Abraham’s family belonged to the first class, and his father had a high position in the government.
The people worshipped about 5,000 deities. The chief deity of Ur was Nannar (the moon god). The idol carved in its image was kept in a palace-like building. Every night, a female worshipper went to the bedroom of the god, adorned as a bride. A great number of women were consecrated in the name of this deity; they were considered as a means to salvation, and it was generally the priests who made most use of this institution.
The other major city was Larsa, which later replaced Ur as the capital. Its chief deity was Shamash (the sun deity). Under these major deities, there was a myriad of minor deities; these were generally chosen from among the heavenly bodies. Polytheism in this state, as in almost all others, did not consist merely of a set of religious beliefs and polytheistic rites; it also provided the foundation on which the order of economic, cultural, social, and political life rested.
Even though we are not exactly sure of the impact of Abraham’s teachings on the people and the state, after his emigration, both the ruling dynasty and the nation of Ur were subjected to a succession of disasters. First, the Elamites sacked Ur and captured Nimrud along with the idols of Nannar. Later on, an Elamite state was established in Larsa, which governed Ur as well. Later still, Babylon prospered under a dynasty of Arabian origin, and both Larsa and Ur came under its dominion. The laws which were codified by the Babylonian king, Hammurabi, in 1910 bc, show the impression of the prophetic influence (al-Mawdūdī, 2: 246–248, note 52, from Leonard Wooley, Abraham, London 1935).
17. Bediüzzaman Said Nursi (1877-1960) writes:
This verse, which illustrates the decay of the universe uttered by the Prophet Abraham, upon him be peace, made me weep. The eyes of my heart wept bitter tears for it. Each tear was so bitterly sad that it caused others to fall, as though the tears themselves were weeping. Those tears make up the lines that follow. They are like a commentary on the words of that wise Prophet of God contained in the Qur’ān.
A beloved one who disappears is not beautiful, for one doomed to decline cannot be truly beautiful. It is not, and should not be, loved in the heart, for the heart is created for eternal love and mirrors the Eternally-Besought-of-All. A desired one doomed to disappear is unworthy of the heart’s attachment or the mind’s preoccupation. It cannot be the object of desire, and is unworthy of being missed. So why should the heart adore, and be attached to, it?
I do not seek or desire anything mortal, for I am myself mortal.
I am impotent, so I do not desire the impotent.
I surrendered my spirit to the All-Merciful One, so I desire no one else.
I want only One Who will remain my friend forever.
I am but an insignificant particle, but I desire an everlasting sun.
I am nothing in essence, but I wish for the whole of creation.
I do not invoke or seek refuge with something that will decay, for I am infinitely needy and impotent. That which is powerless cannot cure my endless pain or solve my infinitely deep wounds. How can anything subject to decay be an object of worship? A mind obsessed with appearance wails upon seeing that which it adores begin to decay, while the spirit, which seeks an eternal beloved, also wails, saying: ‘I love not the things that set.’
I do not want or desire separation, for I cannot endure it. Meetings followed immediately by separation are not worthy of thought or longing. Just as the disappearance of pleasure is painful, imagining it is also painful. The works of lovers (poetry on metaphorical love for the opposite sex) are lamentations caused by the pain that arises from imagining this disappearance. If you condensed their spirit, this lament would flow from each. The pain coming from such meetings and painful metaphorical loves causes my heart to cry out, like Abraham: ‘I love not the things that set.’
If you desire permanence in this transient world, permanence is born out of self-annihilation. Annihilate your evil-commanding soul so that you may gain permanence. Free yourself of bad morals, the basis of worldly adoration, and realize self-annihilation. Sacrifice what is under your control in the way of the True Beloved. See the end of beings, which marks extinction. The way leading from this world to permanence passes through self-annihilation.
The human mind, absorbed in causality, laments the upheavals caused by the world’s decay. The conscience, desiring true existence, wails like Abraham: ‘I love not the things that set.’ It severs the connection with metaphorical lovers and decaying beings, and attaches itself to the Truly Existent One, the Eternal Beloved.
O my base soul. This world and all beings are mortal. However, you may find two ways to the All-Permanent Being in each mortal thing, and may discern two glimpses or mysteries of the manifestations of the Undying Beloved’s Grace – if you sacrifice your mortal being.
The act of bestowing is discerned, and the All-Merciful’s favor is perceived in each bounty. If you discern this act through what is bestowed, you will find the Bestower. Each work of the Eternally-Besought-of-All indicates the Names of the All-Majestic Maker, like a missive. If you understand the meaning through the inscription, the Names will lead you to the One called by those Names. If you can find the kernel, the essence, of these transient things, obtain it. Discard their meaningless shells into the flood of mortality. Every item that exists is a word of embodied meaning and shows many of the Names of the All-Majestic Maker. Since beings are words of Divine Power, understand their meanings and place them in your heart. Fearlessly cast the letters left without meaning into the wind of transience and forget about them.
The worldly mind, preoccupied with appearance, and whose capital consists only of knowledge of the material world, cries out in bewilderment and frustration as its chains of thought end in nothingness and non-existence. It seeks a true way leading to truth. Since the heart has withdrawn from what sets and what is mortal, and has abandoned the deceiving beloveds, and since the conscience has turned away from transitory beings, you, my wretched soul, must seek help in, ‘I love not the things that set,’ and be saved.
See how well Mawlānā Jāmi‘, who was intoxicated with the “wine” of love, as if created from love, expressed it:
Want only One (the rest are not worth wanting);
Call One (the others will not help you);
Seek One (the others are not worth seeking);
See and follow One (the others are not seen all the time; they become invisible behind the veil of mortality);
Know One (knowledge other than that which adds to your knowledge of Him is useless);
Mention One (words not concerning Him are useless).
O Jāmi‘, I admit that you spoke the truth. The True Beloved, the True Sought One, the True Desired One, and the True Object of Worship is He alone. In the mighty circle of remembering and reciting God’s Names, this universe and its inhabitants declare, in various tongues and tones: ‘There is no deity but God,’ and testify to Divine Oneness. It salves the wound caused by those that set, and points to the Undying Beloved. (The Words, “the 17th Word,” 229–231).
18. This verse also hints at an important reality through a grammatical rule which is impossible to render in translation: the sun is a feminine word in Arabic; whereas the Prophet Abraham, upon him be peace, used a masculine pronoun when pointing to it. This means that his people, like almost all other polytheist peoples, considered their greatest deity as being male. It was pointed out in 4: 117, note 25, that whatever they may claim, in nearly all communities that reject Divine Religion in the establishment of their society, women are only objects exploited by men for their interest, and tools used to satisfy their carnal desires. Men hold the sovereignty. This is because those who reject God’s authority depend on and adore force and might; this is possessed and represented by men rather than women. Therefore, a (supreme) god, in such a system, cannot be seen as being female.
19. The conclusion of the verse 3: 67, He (Abraham) was never of those who associate partners with God, removes a serious misunderstanding concerning the verses above. Unfortunately, some interpreters of the Qur’ān have misunderstood from the Prophet Abraham’s mentioning a star, and then the moon, and then the sun, as his Lord, that he took these heavenly objects as Lord for a short time one after the other before being chosen as Prophet. However, the verses are explicit about the fact that he made a mental and spiritual journeying in the malakūt (the inner dimension of existence) to have certainty of faith, not faith simply, according to his rank as one near-stationed to God. In addition, He mentioned them as his Lord also to demonstrate to his people that none of the heavenly objects could be the Lord. He openly declared before he beheld the sun and said that it was his Lord: “Unless my Lord guided me, I would surely be among the people gone astray.” If he had not yet found his true Lord – God Almighty, he would not have said: “Unless my Lord guided me.” And the conclusion of the verse 3: 67 quoted above explicitly states that Abraham, upon him be peace, was never of the idolaters.
20. God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessing, explained that what is meant by wrongdoing in this verse is the association of partners with God. Literally meaning not putting a thing in its place, zulm (wrongdoing) has many degrees, the worst of which is unbelief and the association of partners with God. Denying the Existence of God or associating partners with Him without having a correct judgment of Him with His Attributes and acts is the greatest error one can ever commit in life, and causes darkness upon darkness in one’s heart and mind. This darkness also envelops one’s whole life and causes one to always remain in darkness in the grave and in the other world.
Associating partners with God is of various kinds and degrees. Ascribing divinity or lordship with Divine functions and absolute sovereignty in the heavens and the earth, including the human realm, to others is one of the gravest forms of associating partners with God; hypocrisy, ostentation and desiring others to hear of the good things one does are also forms of associating partners with Him, especially for people who are spiritually evolved. Not aiming to obtain God’s good pleasure in the thing one does in the name of the Religion, or not doing it only because God wants it to be done, taking credit for one’s abilities and accomplishments and feeling proud of them, and making use of the Religion for worldly purposes, such as acquiring wealth and positions, or satisfying one’s feeling of superiority – each of these is a kind of wrongdoing that obscures one’s belief. For this reason, belief that is free from all such kinds of wrongdoing – associating partners with God – means true security for those who have it.
21. Even though Prophethood and being chosen are a special grace and favor of God which He bestows upon His servants as He wills, this does not mean that human free will has no part in it. Since God knew (beforehand) how those chosen people would act in the world, and in what direction they would use their free will, He determined and decreed for them accordingly. Like all other people, the Prophets are also tested in the world; their testing is more stringent, according to the degree of each. They are not a “privileged class” of human beings in God’s sight. The second part of the verse corroborates this.
22. Life and death form a cycle. Death is an inevitable end that awaits every living being; it is a reality more manifest than life. For this reason, the verse uses the simple present tense with respect to God’s bringing forth the living from the dead, which denotes repetition and renewal; it uses the present participle and noun clause with respect to His bringing forth the dead from the living, which denotes stability and constancy.
The verse also points out that living beings are in a state of death before they are brought to life. This is what the verse, “How can you disbelieve in God, seeing that you were dead;” (2: 28) indicates. By being brought to the worldly life, living beings attain the first life or, in other words, they are raised to life while they are dead. So life in every phase is the result of death, and death is the foundation of life. Water, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and inorganic salts in soil change into organic substances, forming the life-substance in plants and animals by means of sunlight, vegetation, and certain bacteria. Inorganic elements die in plants, and in animal and human bodies, and become vegetable, animal and human life respectively; plants die in animal and human bodies to become animal and human life; and animals whose flesh is edible by human beings die in human bodies to become part of human life. This leads one to understand that human beings, falling into soil like seed, will wake up into a higher rank of life in another world.
Bringing forth the living from the dead, and bringing forth the dead from the living, is also observed in the life of the earth in the cycles of day and night, and spring and winter, and in the lives of individuals and communities. Individuals frequently change spiritual states and are guided to belief from unbelief, or turn to unbelief from belief. Small seed-like communities grow into great states and civilizations, which, in time, are gradually destroyed. It is God Who causes all these to happen, and the events in which human free will has a part also happen according to the (psychological, sociological, and historical) laws that God has established. Nevertheless, most people waste away in the valleys of misguidance, despite this manifest reality.
23. Based on this verse, the Mu‘tazilah, the Shī‘ah scholar, and some others who trust exclusively in their own reason, have claimed that God will not be seen in the Hereafter. Yet, this verse states that God is not a ‘body’ whom people are able to see, to comprehend with their eyes, and it relates God’s comprehending all eyes not to His being the All-Seeing (Al-Basīr) but to His being the All-Subtle penetrating everything, no matter how small (Al-Latīf), and to His being the All-Aware (Al-Khabīr). So God is beyond all physical conceptions, and people can only “see” Him, have knowledge of Him, with the “eye of the heart,” or with insight and through knowledge.
Secondly, it is clear that seeing in the Hereafter will not be the same as seeing here in this world. It is not the eyes which see, even in this world, and how we see is still not fully understood by science. Seeing means comprehending something with its outer dimensions, and it is neither the eyes nor the brain which comprehends this. Eyes are totally blind to the inner dimension of existence. Yet, eyes can serve for penetrating the inner dimension of existence if the spirit or heart, which is what truly “sees,” can be refined and acquire sufficient keenness. However, when people die, the veil preventing them from seeing the metaphysical dimension of existence is removed, and people will acquire in the Hereafter a keen sight and the ability to penetrate beyond the obvious. Believers will observe God beyond all qualitative and quantitative conceptions with their eyes, which will be equipped with the required ability, according to the conditions of the Hereafter; they will observe God to the extent of their insight and the knowledge of Him that they have obtained in this world, and as a reward of this insight and knowledge. However, this does mean that they will comprehend or encompass God with their eyes. God, being all infinite, is exalted above comprehension or encompassing.
As with the verse, Indeed it is not the eyes that have become blind, it is rather the hearts in the breasts that are blind (22: 46), the following verse illustrates the same truth dealt with here.
24. That is, it is in the nature of humans to see their beliefs and deeds as good, even as the best and the only true ones.
25. In order to emphasize the sensitivity which people should have in eating and drinking, the Qur’ān refers to these activities after it has stressed the importance of accepting and obeying God’s commandments. This is because people are easily lost to their carnal desires and act carelessly in the matter of eating and drinking. Also, many nations have imposed on themselves superfluous religious rules in this matter. If left to their own judgment, every people, or those with authority, will make some things lawful and others unlawful, according to their caprices and own interests. In addition, eating and drinking have an important place in one’s personal, social, and spiritual life.
26. As in the part of verse 112 above, We have set against every Prophet a hostile opposition from among the satans of humankind and jinn, whispering and suggesting to one another specious words, by way of delusion, in this verse, too, the Qur’ān refers to satans and their whisperings and suggestions to their confidants. This reference is especially significant on two points, and contains an important warning to the believers of every age.
There has always been, and will always be, a group composed of satans of the jinn and some people who are opposed to Islam and its message being conveyed; these people are open to the suggestions of the satans, and they have been like Satan in their opposition to Islam and in the evils that they have committed. The struggle on the earth is between humankind and Satan, and some people are deluded by Satan and his agents, unfortunately becoming like Satan in their enmity toward God and His Religion.
This group frequently holds meetings in secret places (also see: 2: 14) and decides on new methods and ways to struggle against Islam and Muslims, and suggests them to the men they employ in this struggle. What Muslims must do is to know such people well, be on the alert against their tricks and intrigues, and never obey them. Such people will always try to make Muslims fall back and turn away from Islam, and those who make “idols” out of their carnal desires, personal interests, fondness for posts and fame, ostentation, some systems or ideologies, and certain other people, will follow and obey them. Their doing so means associating partners with God.
27. It is possible to see here a Qur’ānic miracle concerning scientific developments. As we now know, as we ascend a mountain, or go up in the air, the amount of oxygen diminishes, the air pressure decreases, and breathing becomes impossible without special equipment. The Qur’ān describes the state of one who feels depressed in the face of Islam and insists on not believing in it, despite many signs and all the evidence that they see, in the terms of a physical fact, thus alluding to a scientific fact which would be discovered centuries later.
28. For everyone there are (different) ranks according to what they have done (of right and wrong), means that people are not of the same rank. People differ in rank from one another according to whether they are believers, unbelievers, hypocrites, believers but sinful, or unbelievers who are actively fighting against belief and truth, etc. This also means that not everybody will have the same recompense (reward or punishment) for the same actions. The recompense for an action differs according to how it is done, the intention of doing it, the degree of sincerity in doing it, the time when and the conditions where it is done, the care shown in doing it, and similar other factors.
29. Just as the recompense or punishment mentioned can come in the Hereafter, it may also come in this world. This can be understood from the fact that the verse uses a tense that indicates the near future. Those who make false attributions to God, or fabrications, may lose their dominion, positions, wealth, or even their lives, or they may be subject to certain natural-seeming calamities, or their system may be replaced by a new one. Muslims have been suffering the same punishments for their neglect in practicing Islam and for not paying due respect to it.
30. For a sound state, based on law and which is truly accepted by its people, the principles of wisdom, the laws of the government, the rules of right, and the directives of power should all be in accord with, and support, one another. Otherwise, no one thing could be influential on the people by itself, and it would not be possible to talk of a state of law that is approved of by people, nor of solidarity between them.
31. When this verse is considered alongside those of 2: 173, 5: 3, and 16: 115, it will be seen that they elucidate each other, and there are no differences between them in declaring the things that are unlawful to eat. For example, the flesh of the animals that is mentioned in 5: 3, along with the ways of dying or being killed that are forbidden, is included in carrion.
The animals or kinds of meat that are forbidden are not only these. The forbidden things mentioned in these two verses pertain only to domestic animals – sheep and cattle. Based on the Revelation, God’s Messenger informed us of the other animals that we are forbidden to eat. They can be found in the relevant books of Islamic law. Also see 22: 30, note 9.
32. The Qur’an is a miracle of eloquence throughout. Seeing that this verse begins with the phrase, “to those who are (had become) Jews,” it can be understood that the commandment mentioned was in the nature of a recompense. For the Jews mentioned deviated from their way and made several things unlawful for themselves, and as a punishment, God allowed these to remain unlawful. (See also 4: 160; 3: 93). These include birds with claws, such as the ostrich, seagull and water-hen, and also the fat of oxen and sheep. Prohibitions of these kinds have been interpolated among the injunctions of the Torah (See Leviticus, 3: 17, 22–3; 11: 16–18; Deuteronomy, 14: 14–16). This point can be considered as being the same as that which was explained in note 26 above.
33. God presents signs and evidence of the truth so clearly that human reason and conscience cannot help but confess the truth of the essentials of faith, in particular that of God’s Existence and Unity, but He never compels people to believe. He leaves the choice to believe or not to believe up to human free will.
34. Each essential of faith demands the existence of the others. One who believes in God should believe in Messengership, for Divine Lordship requires Messengership to make Itself known and to convey Its demands to conscious beings. Messengership cannot be conceived of without Books, which cannot be thought of without the mediation of angels. The Divine Names, such as the All-Compassionate, the Lord (One Who creates, sustains, and brings up), the All-Just, the All-Munificent, the All-Generous, the All-Gracious, the All-Beautiful, and the All-Recording and Preserving require the Hereafter. For absolute beauty and perfection are loved. The One Who creates all-beautifully, and Who does best whatever He does, makes Himself known and loved more perfectly in the eternal world, not in this fleeting world where His beauties are manifested behind many veils. This perfect Tree of Creation, which has been created in order to yield humanity as its final fruit, cannot be confined to this transient life, for otherwise many things in it would be in vain and a waste, whereas God is absolutely free from doing anything in vain. We see that in the world full justice cannot be established in many cases – oppressors die without suffering the necessary punishment, with many oppressed people leaving the world without having their rights restored. Yet God is absolutely Just, and this requires absolute justice which, in turn, demands another world where it will be realized. The seeds of plants and trees are a way for us to see that everything is recorded, as within them is encapsulated the whole life-history of the plants and trees; human memory also shows us that everything is recorded. Human beings have not been sent to this world without purpose, and they have not been left to their own devices. The faculties with which they have been equipped, such as reason, spirit, willpower, and the senses and feelings, demonstrate that humanity has an important duty in life. This is why all the deeds and sayings of humanity are recorded along with the intentions and the degree of sincerity in performing the action and in saying it; the consequences of these will become apparent in another, eternal world. Like all these, the perfect order and magnificent accord in the universe display an all-encompassing knowledge and a perfect plan made by that knowledge. Every thing or being is clothed with a body particular to itself, which is appropriate to its duties or functions in life. In addition, almost every human being has a dream of some future events. All these show that there is a Divine determination, which we call Destiny. To conclude, belief in God requires other essentials of faith, and these require one another.
35. It is very interesting that in verse 154 above, God mentions the Book sent to Moses, upon him be peace, as a Book given as a guidance and a mercy. That is, that Book functioned as a guidance and mercy, and being a guidance and mercy was an attribute of it. But He mentions the Qur’ān as the Book which itself is a guidance and mercy. That is, guidance and mercy are not merely attributes of the Qur’ān; rather, the Qur’ān is guidance, in and of itself, and it is a mercy, in and of itself.
36. Working around God’s Oneness and other essentials of faith from the beginning to the end, the sūrah ends with the threat that God is most swift in delivering punishments, and with the glad tidings that God is the All-Forgiving, the All-Compassionate (especially towards those who turn to Him in repentance, and to His believing servants). However, the glad tidings come last, and His being the All-Forgiving, the All-Compassionate is stressed and confirmed. This is because God’s Mercy is greater than His punishment, and God has bound Himself to mercy and treating His creatures with mercy; it is also intended to encourage His servants to repent and take refuge in His Forgiveness and Mercy.