72. Al-Jinn (The Jinn)
This sūrah of 28 verses was revealed in Makkah. It takes its name from the word Al-Jinn (the jinn) in the first verse and recounts how some of the jinn heard God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, reciting the Qur’ān and came to believe. The sūrah also emphasizes God’s absolute Oneness and the Messengership of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, and those jinn’s acceptance of both.
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
1. Say (O Messenger): “It has been revealed to me that a company of the jinn gave ear (to my recitation of the Qur’ān);1 then (when they returned to their people) they said: ‘We have indeed heard a wonderful Qur’ān,
2. ‘Guiding to what is right in belief and action, and so we have believed in it; and will never associate any as partner with our Lord;
3. ‘And He – exalted is the majesty of our Lord – has taken neither consort nor child;
4. ‘Whereas, the foolish among us uttered an enormity against God;
5. ‘And (we were mistaken when) we thought that humankind and jinn would never speak a falsehood against God.
6. ‘(But we have come to see that) there have indeed been men from among humankind who took refuge in some men from among the jinn, and so (the former) increased them (the latter) in conceit, rebellion and wrongdoing.2
7. ‘And they (those men) have thought, as you have thought, that God would never raise anyone (as Messenger from among them).
8. ‘But now when we sought to reach heaven, we found it filled with stern guards and flaming fires (shooting-stars).3
9. ‘We used to be established in position to overhear (its inhabitants); but now whoever attempts to listen finds a flaming fire in wait for him.
10. ‘We (being prevented from overhearing) did not know whether evil is intended for those who live on the earth, or their Lord wills for them right guidance and good.4
11. ‘There are among us such as are righteous (in conduct and apt to believe), and there are those who are otherwise. We have been sects with divergent paths.
12. ‘We have come to know that we can by no means frustrate God (in His will on the earth), nor can we frustrate Him by flight.
13. ‘And when we heard the guidance (embodied in the Qur’ān), we (immediately) believed in it. Whoever believes in his Lord has no fear of loss (of being wronged in return for his faith and for the good deeds required by faith) or disgrace.
14. ‘And among us are some who have wholly submitted to God, just as there are among us some who have deviated into disobedience to God. Whoever has submitted to God wholly, then such have sought and attained to right guidance (in belief and action).
15. ‘But as for those who have deviated into disobedience to God, they have become firewood for Hell.’”
16. If they (humankind and jinn) followed the (Right) Road (of submission in Islam, without deviation), We would certainly grant them water (and provision) in abundance;5
17. We try them in that (which We grant them). Whoever turns away from his Lord’s Reminder (His Book of instruction), He will drive him into an ever-growing punishment (enveloping him in its severity).
18. All places of worship (and all parts of the body with which one prostrates6) are for God, and all worship is due to Him alone; so do not worship anyone along with God.
19. Yet, when God’s servant rises to pray, they (the polytheists) are all but upon him in swarms (with loud, derisive shouting to prevent his recitation of the Qur’ān being heard).
20. Say: “I worship only my Lord and I do not associate anyone as partner with Him.”
21. Say: “It is not in my power to cause you harm or bring you good by guiding you (to the Straight Path).”
22. Say: “No one could ever protect me from God (if I were to disobey Him), nor could I find a refuge except in Him.
23. “(What I can and must do is) only to convey (the truth) from God and His Messages.” And whoever disobeys God and His Messenger, for him there is surely the fire of Hell, to abide therein forever.
24. (Let them continue to see you as few in number and weak and, therefore, belittle you; but) when they see what (the Fire) which they are promised, they will come to know who is really weaker in helpers and fewer in number.
25. Say: “I do not know whether (your coming face to face with) what you are promised is near, or whether my Lord sets for it a distant term.”7
26. (He alone is) the Knower of the Unseen (what lies beyond human perception), and He does not disclose His Unseen to anyone,
27. Except to a Messenger whom He has chosen (and is well-pleased with – He informs him of the Unseen as much as He wills); and He dispatches a watchful guard before him (between him and his audience), and a watchful guard behind him (between him and the origin of the Revelation),
28. In order that He may establish that they (the Messengers) have, for certain, conveyed the messages of their Lord. He encompasses all that they have (of the Revelation), and He has recorded everything one by one.8
1. While God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was returning from Tā’if to Makkah in great sorrow, God caused some jinn to hear his recitation of the Qur’ān; and they believed and returned to their people as bearers of its message. This is narrated in Sūrat al-Ahqāf, 46: 29–32. Another time, when the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was going to the fair at ‘Uqaz with a few Companions, another company of jinn heard his recitation during the Early Morning Prayer. This latter incident is the one being related here. The other group of jinn (who listened to the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, during his return from Tā’if) belonged to the nation of Moses, upon him be peace. As can be understood from the following verses, the jinn who heard the Messenger’s recitation during the Morning Prayer were polytheists who attributed to God a wife and children. They, too, became believers and, like the other jinn, returned to their people and conveyed the Qur’ān’s message.
For the nature of jinn, see sūrah 46, note 10.
2. Men, in particular from among the Arab people of the (pre-Islamic) Time of Ignorance, used to take refuge from any possible evil in men from among the jinn, whom they supposed to have authority over the valleys or the ruins where they stopped on their journeys. Moreover, both men and women would appeal to the jinn to cure some diseases or to prophesy their future or plans. There have always been people who have been able to make some type of contact with the jinn, and there are people who appeal to the jinn. This causes the jinn to be over-proud and to mislead those who appeal to or contact them.
3. As mentioned in sūrah 15: 17–18, note 5, and sūrah 67: 5, note 4, shooting stars are fired to prevent the jinn from reaching the heaven or to repulse them from its doors.
Contact between fortune-tellers and jinn and/or devils has a certain function in certain sorts of fortune-telling. The spying devils, who are the representatives of the foulness and wickedness on the earth, attempt to soil the clean and pure realm of the heavens that are inhabited by pure beings, and spy on the talk of their inhabitants to mislead people, particularly through sorcerers, and ill-willing mediums, and soothsayers. God allowed them to grab some snatches of information from their talks before the advent of His Last Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. However, just prior to his advent, He shut the gates of the heaven to them completely. When they try to reach the heaven, they find it filled with strong guards who hurl missiles at them. If anyone from among them is able to grab something, they are pursued (and destroyed) by a shooting star dispatched by the angels on guard there.
4. The verse suggests: “But now, seeing that the Recitation which we heard guides to right, we have come to know that their Lord wills good and right for the inhabitants of the earth by shutting the gates of the heaven to us.”
5. This verse has almost the same meaning as (7: 96): If the peoples of those townships had but believed and, in order to deserve His protection, had kept from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety, We would surely have opened up for them blessings out of heaven and earth.
6. Imam Bukhārī relates (“Adhān,” 133, 134, 137) that God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, enumerated the parts of the body that must touch the ground during prostration: “I have been ordered to prostrate on seven bodily parts: the forehead (and he also pointed to his nose), the hands, the knees, and the ends of the feet.”
7. Like verse 71: 25, this verse establishes the punishment or reward in the intermediate world (of the grave); here it is done decisively. What is promised for the obstinate enemies of God is Hellfire, as stated in verse 23 above. The exact time of Judgment Day is known exclusively to God and never changes. But this verse particularly refers it to God’s Will, which emphasizes the fact that the unbelievers will encounter the punishment promised to them when they die.
8. This same fact is also indicated in the initial verses of Sūrat al-Sāffāt (37). Angels accompanied the Archangel Gabriel when he conveyed the Revelation to God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. They aligned themselves in ranks along the route by which Gabriel carried the Revelation to him, and some of them drove away the devils that were trying to grab something of the Revelation. Among those angels were also those who stood around the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, while other angels were conveying to him God’s messages concerning the invisible world or the future. These three last verses also emphasize the fact that the Revelation which came to the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and which he conveyed to the people was perfectly preserved from the time it was entrusted to Gabriel by God until it was conveyed to the people (er-Rāzī, al-Qurtubī, at–Tabatabāī).