Thursday, October 24, 2019

Surah An-Nahl - The Bee: 16th Chapter of Quran Exegesis Part I

Sürah An-Naḥl " الْنَّحْل " " (The Bees) is the 16th chapter (sūrah) of the Qur'an, containing 128 āyāts.  with sixteen rukus, part of the 14th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an. It also has one sajda-e-talawat (Prostration of Recitation) in the 50th verse. The Sürah takes its name from the 68th verse:
وَاَوۡحٰى رَبُّكَ اِلَى النَّحۡلِ اَنِ اتَّخِذِىۡ مِنَ الۡجِبَالِ بُيُوۡتًا وَّمِنَ الشَّجَرِ وَمِمَّا يَعۡرِشُوۡنَۙ‏ 

"Your Lord inspired the bee, saying: "Set up hives in the mountains and in the trees and in the trellises that people put up" 

This Sürah was revealed during the last Makkan stage of Prophethood and the following verses tend to support the assertion:
  • Verse 41 clearly shows that persecution had forced some Muslims to emigrate to Habash before the revelation of this Surah.
  • Verse 106 indicates to the fact that at that time the persecution of the Muslims was at its height. Therefore a problem had arisen in regard to the utterance of a blasphemous word, without actual disbelief, under unbearable conditions. The problem was that if one did so how he should be treated.
  • Verses 112-114 refer to the end of seven year famine that had struck Makkah some years after the appointment of the Holy Prophet as Allah's Messenger.
  • There is a reference to verse 116 of this Surah in Surah VI Al-An'am: 145, and verse 118 of this Surah contains a reference to Surah VI Al-An'am: 146. This is a proof that both these Surahs (VI and XVI) were sent down in the same period.
  • The general style of the Surah also supports the view that this was revealed during the last stage at Makkah.
In subject matter it sums up, from a new point of view, the arguments on the great questions of Allah's dealings with man. All the topics of the Surah revolve    round different aspects of the Message, i.e., refutation of shirk, proof of Tawhid, and warning of the consequences of the rejection of and opposition and antagonism to the Message.

This sürah warns against polytheism, saying that the pagan gods cannot create anything ([Quran 16:20]), and against comparisons between Allah and any created beings ([Quran 16:74]). It praises Allah for giving the Earth with all its wealth to mankind. According to this sürah, all wonders of the natural world, like seas, stars, mountains are proofs of God's infinite power ([Quran 16:14]).

Owing to the length of the sürah, the exegesis / tafseer has been divided into three parts as under:
  • Part I   : Ruku / Sections 1-6 [Verses 1-50] 
  • Part II  : Ruku / Sections 7-12 [Verses 51-89] 
  • Part III : Ruku / Sections 13-16 [Verses 90-128] 
Let us now begin with the exegesis / tafseer of the Part IThe translation and exegesis / tafseer is in English. For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given at the end and may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"
Ruku / Section 1 Verses [1-9 ]

Summary Verses 1-9: Allah has sent down His revelations to warn that there is no god but Him and He has created cattle for the benefit of human beings. 
( 1 )   Allah's judgement has (all but) come;1 do not, then, call for its speedy advent. Holy is He, and far above their associating others with Him in His Divinity.
That is, the time for final judgment has come near. As regards to the use of the past tense in the original, this may be to show certainty of its occurrence in the near future or to emphasize the fact that the rebellion and the wrong deeds of the Quraish had become so unbearable that they warranted that the time for decisive action had come.

Here question arises as to what that judgment was and how it came. We are of the opinion (and true knowledge is with Allah alone) that that judgment was hijrah (the migration) of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from Makkah. For a short time after this revelation, he was bidden to emigrate from there. And according to the Quran, a Prophet (peace be upon him) is bidden to leave his place only at that time when the rebellion and antagonism of his people reaches the extreme limit. Then their doom is sealed, for after this Allah’s punishment comes on them either as a direct scourge from Him, or they are destroyed by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his followers. And this did actually take place. At the occasion of the migration, the people of Makkah regarded it as a victory for themselves, but in fact it turned out to be a defeat for shirk and disbelief which were totally uprooted within a decade or so after the migration, not only from Makkah but from the rest of Arabia as well.

In order to understand the interconnection between the first and the second sentences, one should keep in view the background. The challenge of the disbelievers to the Prophet (peace be upon him), to hasten divine judgment, was really based on their assumption that their own religion of shirk was true and the religion of Tawhid presented by Muhammad (peace be upon him) was false. Otherwise, they argued, the divine scourge with which he threatened them would have come upon them long before because of their disbelief and rebellion, if there had been the authority of Allah behind it. That is why after the declaration of the judgment, their misunderstanding about the cause of delay in the punishment was removed, as if to say: You are absolutely wrong to assume that punishment has not been inflicted on you because your creed of shirk is true, for Allah is free from and far above shirk and has no partner.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
This is an answer to the taunt of the Pagans, who said; "If there is a god, the One True God, as you say, with unified control, why does He not punish the wrong-doers at once?" The answer is; "The decree of Allah will inevitably come to pass; it will come soon enough; when it comes, you will wish it were delayed; how foolish of you to wish even to cut off your last hope of forgiveness?"
( 2 )   He sends down the angels, with the inspiration of His command, upon whom He wills of His servants, [telling them], "Warn that there is no deity except Me; so fear Me."
This means the Spirit of Prophethood with which a Prophet is imbued in order to fulfill his mission by word and deed. The Quran has called this the Spirit in several places, for this has the same relation to the mission of a Prophet and his moral life, which the soul has to the physical human life.

As one of the things, which prompted the disbelievers to challenge the Prophet (peace be upon him) for scourge, was their presumption that he was not a true Prophet. Allah told them categorically that he was a true Prophet who had been imbued with the Spirit which We had sent down on him.

“Spirit of His command, upon whom He wills.” This is the answer to the objections which the chiefs of the Quraish used to raise against the Prophet (peace be upon him): Had Allah wanted to send a Messenger to them, was there no one better than Muhammad (peace be upon him), son of Abdullah, for this mission. Why did He not choose one of the big chiefs of Makkah or Taif for the purpose? Such absurd objections needed no other answer than this that is why such an answer has been given in several places of the Quran as if to say: Allah knows best how to do His work, and does not stand in need of any advice from you. He chooses for His mission anyone whom He considers fit for it.

This verse declares the essence of the Spirit of Prophethood, which is this: Godhead belongs to one Allah alone, so only He is worthy of fear. Therefore, there is no other anchor that might make fast and hold together human moral system than His fear. For it is the fear of His displeasure and His punishment, and the fear of the consequences of His disobedience which alone can act as a strong deterrent to restrain one from deviation. That is why mankind has been admonished: Fear Me.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
The Pagans, with their multiplicity of gods and goddesses, good and evil, could play one off against another. That is mere mockery of religion. With such conceptions, man cannot understand the Unity of Design in the Universe nor realize the Power and Glory of the One True God, to Whom alone worship and service are due.
( 3 )   He created the heavens and earth in truth. High is He above what they associate with Him.
That is to say, the entire system of the earth and the heavens is a witness to the truth of the doctrine of Tawhid and to the negation of shirk. You may look at anything in the universe and consider the system from any point of view you like, you will find proof of this fact that it is being run by one God and not by many gods. Then how is it that you believe in shirk when there is no proof whatsoever of this in the universe As a fitting sequence of this, proofs of Tawhid and refutation of shirk have been given from man himself and from other signs in the universe, and it has also been shown that Prophethood is based on truth.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Not for sport, or fortuitously and without Design. Cf. Surah xv Al Hijr. 85 [We have not created the heavens and the earth and all that is in between them except with Truth. Surely the Hour will come. So, (O Muhammad), do graciously overlook them (despite their misdeeds).]. Surely the Unity of Design in Creation also proves the Unity of Allah their Creator.
( 4 )   He created man from a sperm-drop; then at once, he is a clear adversary.
This has two meanings and both are meant here:  (1) Though Allah created man from an insignificant sperm drop, he is capable of arguing and giving reasons in support of his claim. (2) Man who has such an insignificant origin, has become so vain that he does not hesitate to dispute even with his Creator.

If considered in its first sense, it is a chain in the series of arguments given in many succeeding verses to prove the truth of the message of the Prophet (peace be upon him). If taken in the second sense, it is meant to warn man that he should not forget the insignificant origin of his existence while engaged in his rebellious arguments against his Creator. If he remembered the different stages of his humiliating birth and growth, he would consider many times before he assumed a haughty and rebellious attitude towards his Creator.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Man's physical origin is lowly. Yet do men go back to material things, and neglect or dispute about the highest things in Life.
( 5 )   And the grazing livestock He has created for you; in them is warmth and [numerous] benefits, and from them you eat.
Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Why will you go back to material things, considering that material things are made subservient to your use and enjoyment in various ways as suggested in the clauses that follow.

From wool, and hair, and skins, and milk. Camel's hair makes warm robes and blankets; and certain kinds of goats yield hair which makes similar fabrics. Sheep yield wool, and llamas alpaca for similar uses. The skins and furs of many animals yield warm raiment or make warm rugs or bedding. The females of many of these animals yield good warm milk, a nourishing and wholesome diet. Then the flesh of many of these animals is good to eat. There are other uses, which the animals serve, and which are referred to later.
( 6 )   And for you in them is [the enjoyment of] beauty when you bring them in [for the evening] and when you send them out [to pasture].
Yousaf Ali Explanation:
The good man is proud of his cattle and is good to them. As they go to, and return from, pasture, morning and evening, he has a sense of his power and wealth and their beauty and docility. Will not man turn from these material facts to the great spiritual truths and purpose behind them?
( 7 )   And they carry your loads to a land you could not have reached except with difficulty to yourselves. Indeed, your Lord is Kind and Merciful.
Yousaf Ali Explanation:
The cattle and animals also carry loads, and thus make inter-communication between different lands easy. But for them there would have been many difficulties, not only physical, but psychological. Weary men carrying loads are in no mood for social and spiritual intercourse. This intercourse is made possible by the kindness and mercy of Allah.
( 8 )   And [He created] the horses, mules and donkeys for you to ride and [as] adornment. And He creates that which you do not know.
That is, there are many agencies which are working for the good of man but he is quite unaware of such servants and the services rendered by them.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Horse, mules, and donkeys as well as other animals may be beasts of burden, but they may also be pedigree animals bred for beauty and for all those more refined uses, such as processions, in which grace and elegance is the predominant feature.

If we examine the history of transport, there have been vast changes through the ages, from rude pack animals to fine equipages, and then through mechanical contrivances, such means of transport as elegant coaches, tramways and railways, useful motor lorries and Rolls-Royce cars, and air-ships and aeroplanes of all descriptions. At any given point of time, many of these were yet unknown to man. Nor can we suppose the limit to have been reached now or that it will ever be reached at any future time. Through the mind and ingenuity of man it is Allah that creates new things hitherto unknown to man.
( 9 )   And upon Allah is the direction of the [right] way, and among the various paths are those deviating. And if He willed, He could have guided you all.
This contains an argument for Prophethood along with a proof of Tawhid and of Allah’s compassion and providence. The argument is this:

There are many divergent ways of thought and action open for man to choose from. Obviously all these divergent ways cannot be straight ways, because there can be only one straight way; therefore, there can be only one right theory of life which is based on that way, and only one right way of life which is based on that right theory. Thus it is clear that the choice of the right way of life is man’s most important and basic need, for its wrong choice would inevitably lead to his ruin. This is because all other things fulfill his animal needs only, but this is the greatest necessity of his life as a human being and without its fulfillment his life would be an utter failure.

Now, it cannot be expected that Allah Who made so many provisions, and on such a large scale, for the fulfillment of the animal life of man, did not make any arrangement for the fulfillment of this real and greatest necessity of man. Just as He has provided for all the necessities of his life, so He has also provided for this greatest need of his through Prophethood. If Prophethood is denied then it should be pointed out in what way Allah has fulfilled this basic need of man. Experience of centuries has shown that mankind has always blundered whenever it has chosen a way of life by itself. This is because man’s wisdom and intelligence are limited, and he cannot depend on these for the choice of the right way of life. Above all, one cannot say that Allah has made no arrangement for this basic need of man, for this will be the greatest misconception of Allah that He may make most elaborate arrangements for man’s animal life but should leave him in the lurch to search out a way for himself for the fulfillment of this most important and basic need.

Here a question arises (which many people still ask even today): Why didn’t Allah will to guide all the people aright inherently when He had taken upon Himself to show the right way? It is true that Allah could have imbued man, like other creatures, with the inborn instinct and enabled him to choose the right way without conscious thought, experience or teaching. But this would have been against His will which was to create a being, having will and power and freedom to follow the right way or the wrong way, whichever he chose for himself. This is why he has been endowed with different means of knowledge and power of conscious thought, deliberation and will, and has been empowered with the authority to make use of all powers in him and all things around him. Moreover, He has placed in him and all around him such factors as might lead him to guidance or deviation. All these things would have become meaningless, had he been created righteous by birth, and he could never have attained the heights of progress, which can be achieved only by the right use of freedom. That is why Allah has chosen Prophethood for man’s guidance, and left him free to follow or reject a Prophet. This is a test by means of which Allah judges whether man accepts the guidance that is presented to him in a rational way.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Through material things "the Way" does always lead to Allah. But some minds are so obsessed with material things that they miss the pointers to the spiritual. Allah could have forced all to the true Way, but in His Will and Plan is the training of man's will, and that is done by the Signs in nature and Revelation.

Ruku / Section 2 Verses [10-21]

Summary Verses 10-21: It is He Who sends down water from the sky for drinking and agriculture and He set mountains to stabilize earth and Allah has bestowed so many favors that you cannot even count:
( 10 )   It is He who sends down rain from the sky; from it is drink and from it is foliage in which you pasture [animals].( 11 )   He causes to grow for you thereby the crops, olives, palm trees, grapevines, and from all the fruits. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought.
Yousaf Ali Explanation:
The least thought and study of nature will show you Allah's wise and benign Providence in making the processes of nature subserve man's use and refined life. A higher degree of intelligence and study is required ("men who are wise") to understand Allah's Signs to man in the processes connected with the heavenly bodies (verse 12). And a still higher spiritual understanding ("men who celebrate His praises" with gratitude) to realize the marvelous gradations, colours, and nuances in the creatures on this little globe of ours (verse 13), Reason this out carefully.
( 12 )   And He has subjected for you the night and day and the sun and moon, and the stars are subjected by His command. Indeed in that are signs for a people who reason.
Yousaf Ali Explanation:
The Night and the Day are caused by astronomical rotations. What is important for man to note is how Allah has given intelligence to man to make use of this alternation for work and rest; how man can, as soon as he rises from the primitive stage, get over their inequalities by artificial illuminants, such as vegetable or mineral oils, coal, gas, or electricity, which ultimately are derived from the stored-up energy of the sun; how the sun's heat can be tempered by various artificial means and can be stored up for use by man as required, how man can be independent of the tides caused by the moon and the sun, which formerly controlled navigation, but which no longer stand in man's way, with his artificial harbours and great sea-going ships, how navigation was formerly subject to direct observation of the Polar Star and other stars, but how the magnetic needle and charts have now completely altered the position, and man can calculate and to a certain extent control magnetic variations, etc. In such ways the sun, the moon, and the stars themselves become useful servants to him, all by Allah's gift and His Command, without which there would have been no laws governing them and no intelligence to make use of them.
( 13 )   And [He has subjected] whatever He multiplied for you on the earth of varying colors. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who remember.
Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Whose heart has not been moved by the glorious gradation of colours in the sunset clouds? The gradations are infinite, and it is only the eye of an artist that can express their collective beauty. They are but a type of the infinite variety and gradation of qualities in the spiritual sphere even in the little space of our own globe. The big things that can be measured and defined have been spoken of before. Here we have mention of the subtle nuances in the spiritual world which can only be perceived by men who are so high in spiritual insight that their only reaction is to "cerebrate the praises of Allah" in gratitude for His infinite Mercies.

Read again explanation of verse 11 above, and see how subtly we are led up from the perception of the big to the perception of the subtle and delicate colours and qualities in the spiritual world.
( 14 )   And it is He who subjected the sea for you to eat from it tender meat and to extract from it ornaments which you wear. And you see the ships plowing through it, and [He subjected it] that you may seek of His bounty; and perhaps you will be grateful.
Yousaf Ali Explanation:
We have gone up in a climax of material things from the big to the subtle in the sky and the earth. Here we have another climax as regard the things of the sea. We get the delicate flesh of fishes and marine creatures of all kinds; we get the treasures of the deep; pearls, coral, amber, and things of that kind; and we have the stately ships ploughing the waves, for maritime commerce and intercourse, for unifying mankind, and for realizing the spiritual bounty of Allah which can best be expressed by the boundless ocean.

Connoisseurs know the delicate flavours of sea fish, such as the Pomfret of the Indian Ocean, the herring of the North Atlantic, the mullet of Marseilles, and many another kind. Tari, translated "fresh and tender," also refers to the soft moist nature of fresh fish. It is another wonder of Allah that salt water should produce flesh or such fresh, tender, and delicate flavour.

Diving for pearls-in both the primitive and the more advanced form-is another instance of man's power over apparently inaccessible depths of the sea.

After the material benefits which we get from the sea, we are asked to consider things of higher import to the spirit of man. There is the beautiful ship which stands as the symbol of international commerce and intercourse, things that may be of material benefit, but which have a higher aspect in unifying man and making his civilization more universal. These are first steps in seeking of the "bounty of Allah" through the sea. But there are higher aspects. Navigation and international intercourse increase knowledge, which in its higher aspects should clean the mind and make it fitter to approach Allah. The salt water, which covers nearly 72 percent of the surface of the Globe, is itself a purifying and sanitary agent, and is a good symbol of the higher bounties of Allah, which are as boundless as the Ocean.
( 15 )   And He has cast into the earth firmly set mountains, lest it shift with you, and [made] rivers and roads, that you may be guided,
This shows that the real function of mountains is to regulate the motion and speed of the earth. We have come to this conclusion, for the Quran has made this benefit of mountains very prominent in many places. Therefore, their other benefits should be regarded as incidental.

Natural ways are those routes which are formed along the banks of streams, ravines and rivers. Though the importance of these ways is great even in the plains, one feels their sore need, especially in the mountainous regions.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Cf. Surah xiii Ar Ra'ad. 3 and Surah xv Al Hijr. 19. Here and elsewhere the earth is spoken of as a spacious carpet beneath our feet and the hills as a steadying agent to keep the carpet from rolling or shaking about. In Surah 78 An-Naba’:7 7 they are spoken of as pegs or stakes.

In this passage (xvi. 15-16) we have the metaphor of the fixed mountains further allegorised. In these verses the key-words are indicated by the symbols for man's Guidance. First, the physical symbols are indicated; the mountains that stand firm and do not change from day to day in the landscape, unlike shifting sand-dunes, or the coast line of the sea, or rivers and streams, which frequently change their courses, then we have rivers and roads, which are more precise and therefore more useful, though less permanent; then we have sign-posts, any kinds of signs erected by man, like direction posts, light-houses or beacons, or provided in nature, as tall trees, etc.; and finally, we have the pole-star, and now the magnetic needle, with its variations marked on navigation charts. All these are symbols for the higher Guidance which Allah provides for the spirit of man.
( 16 )   And landmarks. And by the stars they are [also] guided.
This is a sign of Allah that He has broken the monotony of land by placing conspicuous landmarks on it to distinguish different regions from one another. These have many benefits and one of these is to help guide travelers and navigators to their destinations. One also realizes the importance and value of these landmarks, when one is traveling through a sandy desert where there are hardly any objects to guide on the way, and one is liable to lose the way any time. One feels the lack of landmarks much more in the sea voyage. It is in the deserts and the seas that people realize the true significance of stars by which they are directed aright to their destinations.

This verse contains arguments for Tauhid. Providence, and Compassion of Allah, and also a proof of Prophethood. For the mind is instinctively turned towards this question: Can it be possible that Allah who has made so elaborate arrangements for man’s guidance to fulfill his physical needs has neglected to provide for his moral and spiritual needs? It cannot be so, for it is obvious that even the greatest loss of some physical necessity due to the adoption of a wrong way is nothing as compared with the loss of spiritual and moral values due to deviation from the right way. It would be nothing less than having doubt in Allah’s Compassion and Providence to think that He, Who had made so elaborate provision for man’s guidance on land and sea by creating mountains, rivers, stars and other objects, would have neglected to make provision for his moral and spiritual guidance. And it stands to reason that He must have provided prominent beacons of light to guide man to that right way of life which is indispensable to his true success.

In Ayats 4-16), some signs have been mentioned in succession in order to focus people’s attention on the creation of man himself and of the earth and the heavens. They will thus find that everything supports the truth of the doctrines taught by the Prophet (peace be upon him). A critical study of all these signs shows that these must have been designed and created by an All-Wise Being, and One Being alone, and there could not have been any partner or associate to help Him. Let us consider this theme from the point of view of man, the central figure in the creation. This wonderful being, who is able to speak with his tongue and is capable of arguing his case with it, has been created from an insignificant sperm drop. Then many animals have been created to satisfy the necessities of his life. They provide food, clothing and conveyance for him and help satisfy his aesthetic taste as well. Then there is a remarkable system of rain water from the sky to produce crops, fruits and verdure, etc. on the earth to fulfill man’s needs. Then there is the creation of regular days and nights and seasons, which are closely connected with all kinds of production of the earth, and also with man’s general well being. Then there are oceans, which help fulfill many of his physical and aesthetic demands and provide water ways for traffic. Likewise, mountains have been created to provide man with many benefits. Then there are landmarks on the earth and stars in the heavens to guide travelers and navigators to the destinations. In short, there are innumerable signs in the earth and the heavens which are closely interconnected and are also indispensable to man’s welfare, nay, to his very existence. All these are clear proofs that only One Being has designed the entire universe and created it in accordance with that design. It is He Who is all the time creating new things to fit in that scheme, and working this wonderful universe that spreads from the earth to boundless heavens. Who can then claim, except a foolish or obdurate person, that all this has come into existence by a mere accident? Or, who can say that these different aspects, which are working under a perfect system and are intimately connected with one another and are well balanced, have been created by different gods and are under the control of different guardians?

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Continuing from explanation of the verse 16, let us examine the completed allegory. As there are beacons, landmarks and signs to show the way to men on the earth, so in the spiritual world. And it is ultimately Allah Who provides them, and this is His crowning Mercy. Like the mountains there are spiritual Landmarks in the missions of the Great Prophets: they should guide us, or teach us, to guide ourselves, and not shake hither and thither like a ship without a rudder or people without Faith. As rivers and streams mark out their channels, smoothing out levels so we have wholesome Laws and Customs established, to help us in our lives. Then we have the examples of Great Men as further sign-posts: "Lives of great men all remind us, We can make our lives sublime." In long-distance travel, the pole-star and the magnetic needle are our guides; so in our long-distance journey to the other world, we have ultimately to look to heavenly guidance or its reflection in Allah's Revelation.
( 17 )   Then is He who creates like one who does not create? So will you not be reminded?
That is, if you, people of Makkah, acknowledge (and they acknowledged this just as other mushriks did) that Allah alone is the Creator of all of you and everything, and no one of the partners, you have set up with Him, has created anything in the universe. How is it, then, that you ascribe from among the creation, a status equal to or like that of the Creator in the system of universe created by Him? How can it be possible that the power and the rights of the creation should be equal to the power and the rights of the Creator in the universe created by Himself? How can it be believed that the Creator and the creation possess the same qualities and characteristics, or can have such relationship as of father and son?

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
The supreme majesty of Allah have been set out in His favours of all kinds, it will be seen at once that the worship of any other than Allah is meaningless and ridiculous. Shall we not take the hint and understand?
وَاِنۡ تَعُدُّوۡا نِعۡمَةَ اللّٰهِ لَا تُحۡصُوۡهَاؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَـغَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِيۡمٌ‏ 
( 18 )   And if you should count the favours of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
Here the connection of Allah’s attributes, “Forgiving (Al Ghafur) and Compassionate (Ar Raheem)”, with the preceding verse is so obvious that it has been left unmentioned. It is this: Though Allah goes on showering countless blessings upon people, they behave in an ungrateful, faithless and rebellious manner towards Him. He does not punish them immediately, but gives them respite, for He is Forgiving and Compassionate. This is true of both individuals and communities. There are people, who deny even the existence of God, yet He goes on bestowing His favors on them for years. There are others who set up partners with Him in his attributes, power and rights, and show their gratitude to others than Him for His blessings, yet He does not withhold His favors from them. There are still others who profess to acknowledge Him as their Creator and Benefactor, yet rebel against Him and are disobedient to Him and consider freedom from Him to be their birth right, but in spite of all this He continues to shower His countless blessings on them as long as they live.

Of all Allah's favours innumerable, His Mercy and Forgiveness in the spiritual plane is the greatest, and of eternal value to us in our future Lives.
( 19 )   And Allah knows what you conceal and what you declare.
A grave misunderstanding might arise as to why Allah’s blessings should continue to be showered even on those who deny Him and set up partners with Him and are disobedient to Him. The foolish people are liable to conclude from this that He does not withhold His favors from such people because He has no knowledge of their wicked deeds, The Quran declares: Even though He has full knowledge of all the deeds of the people, whether these are done secretly or openly, He does not discontinue His blessings on the sinners, for He is Forgiving, Compassionate and Merciful. Therefore: O people, get rid of this misunderstanding and reform yourselves.
( 20 )   And those they invoke other than Allah create nothing, and they [themselves] are created.
Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Allah is the only Creator and the Ultimate Reality. Everything else is created by Him, and reflects His glory. How foolish then to worship any other than Allah!
( 21 )   They are, [in fact], dead, not alive, and they do not perceive when they will be resurrected.
The words employed here to refute man made deities clearly indicate that these deities were deceased prophets, saints, martyrs and pious and other extraordinary beings buried in their graves and not angels, jinns, devils or idols. For the angels and devils are alive: therefore, the words, “They are dead, not living” cannot apply to them, and it is out of the question to say about idols of stone or wood that “They do not know at all when they shall again be raised to life” in the Hereafter. As regards the objection to this version that there were no such deities in Arabia, this is based on the lack of knowledge of the history of the pre- Islamic period. It is well known that there was a large number of Jews and Christians living among many clans of Arabia, who used to invoke and worship their Prophets, saints, etc. It is also a fact that many gods of the mushriks of Arabia were human beings, whose idols they had set up for worship after their death. According to a tradition cited in Bukhari on the authority of Ibn Abbas: “Wadd, Sua, Yaghuth, Yauq, and Nasr were pious human beings, whom the succeeding generations had made gods.” In another tradition, related by Aishah: “Asaf and Nailah were human beings.” There are also traditions to the same effect about Lat, Munat and Uzza. So much so that according to some traditions of the mushriks, Lat and Uzza were the beloved ones of Allah who used to pass His winter with Lat and summer with Uzza. But Allah is absolutely free from such absurd things they attribute to Him.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Idols are dead wood or stone. If men worship stars, or heroes, or prophets, or great men, they too have no life except that which was given by Allah. In themselves they are lifeless. If they worship figments of the imagination, they are reflections in a double degree, and have no life in themselves. All these things will be raised up on the Last Day, in order that false worshipers may be confronted with them. But they themselves cannot tell when that Day will be.

Ruku / Section 3 Verses [22-25]

Summary Verses 22-25: Unbelievers are arrogant and they will be held responsible for that attitude
( 22 )   Your god is one God. But those who do not believe in the Hereafter - their hearts are disapproving, and they are arrogant.
That is, those who do not believe in the life in the Hereafter, have become so irresponsible, carefree and intoxicated with the life of this world, that they feel no hesitation or pang in denying any reality, and they put no value on or attach no worth to truth. That is why, they are not prepared to impose any moral restraint on themselves and feel no need to investigate as to whether the way, they are following is right or wrong.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Everything points to Allah, the One True Eternal God. If so, there is a Hereafter, for He has declared it. In so far as people do not believe this, the fault is in their Will; they do not wish to believe, and the motive behind is arrogance, the sin which brought about the fall of Iblis: Surah ii. Al Baqarah: 34.
( 23 )   Assuredly, Allah knows what they conceal and what they declare. Indeed, He does not like the arrogant.
Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Cf. xvi, 19, where the same words refer to man generally. Whether he conceals or reveals what is in his heart, Allah knows it, and as Allah is Oft-Forgiving. Most Merciful, His grace is available as His highest favour if man will take it. Here the reference is to those who "refuse to know", who reject Allah's guidance out of arrogance. Allah "loveth not the arrogant". Such men deprive themselves of Allah's grace.
( 24 )   And when it is said to them, "What has your Lord sent down?" They say, "Legends of the former peoples,"
In the preceding (Ayat 23) those arrogant people who were rejecting the message were warned that Allah has full knowledge of all their deeds. Now from (Ayat 24) the Quran takes up those deeds one by one and deals with the arguments they presented against the Messenger (peace be upon him), the objections they raised and the lame excuses they invented for their rejection, and reproaches and admonishes them.

One of their cunning devices was to create doubts about the Quran. Whenever outsiders came to visit Makkah, they would naturally make inquiries about the Quran, which the Prophet (peace be upon him) declared, was being sent down to him by Allah. The disbelievers would answer that it contained merely fairy tales of the ancients. They would say such things in order to create doubts in the minds of the inquirers so that they should not take any interest in the message of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
When the arrogant Unbelievers are referred to some definite argument or illustration from Scripture, they dismiss it contemptuously with the remark: "Tales of the ancients!" In this, they are not only playing with their own conscience, but misleading others, with perhaps less knowledge than themselves.
( 25 )   That they may bear their own burdens in full on the Day of Resurrection and some of the burdens of those whom they misguide without knowledge. Unquestionably, evil is that which they bear.
Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Their responsibility or crime is twofold: (1) that they rejected Allah's Message, and (2) that they misled others. Their Penalty will also be double. In Surah 6. Al-An'am 164, we are told that "no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another". This is against the doctrine of vicarious atonement. Every man is responsible for his own sins; but the sin of misleading others is a sin of the misleader himself, and he must suffer the penalty for that also, without relieving those misled, of their responsibility.

Surah 6. Al-An'am: 164 "Say: 'Shall I seek someone other than Allah as Lord when He is the Lord of everything?' Everyone will bear the consequence of what he does, and no one shall bear the burden of another. Thereafter, your return will be to your Lord, whereupon He will let you know what you disagreed about."

The above referred verse from Surah Al An'am means: Since God is the Lord of the entire universe, how could anyone be His lord? Since the entire universe is yoked to obedience to God, man is an integral part of the universe, how can he reasonably, look for another lord in that area of his life in which he uses his own volition,ind judgement? Is it appropriate for him to move in diametrical opposition to the entire universe? Every person is responsible for whatever he does; and no one is responsible for the deeds of others.

Ruku / Section 4 Verses [26-34]

Summary Verses 26-34: On the Day of Judgement Allah will humiliate the arrogant and cast them into hell, while the righteous will be awarded paradise
( 26 )   Those before them had already plotted, but Allah came at their building from the foundations, so the roof fell upon them from above them, and the punishment came to them from where they did not perceive.
Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Evil will always devise plots against the Prophets of Allah. So was it with Al-Mustafa, and so was it with the Prophets before him. But the imposing structures which the ungodly build up (metaphorically) collapse at the Command of Allah, and they are often punished from quarters from which they least expected punishment. For example, the Quraish were confident in their numbers, their organisations, and their superior equipment. But on the field of Badr they collapsed where they expected victory.
( 27 )   Then on the Day of Resurrection He will disgrace them and say, "Where are My 'partners' for whom you used to oppose [the believers]?" Those who were given knowledge will say, "Indeed disgrace, this Day, and evil are upon the disbelievers" 
There is a gap between this answer and the preceding question which has been left for the reader to fill. When Allah will ask: Now where are My partners, there will be dead silence in the plain where the entire mankind shall have to gather on the occasion of Resurrection. The disbelievers and the mushriks will be dumb founded for they will be at a loss to find an answer to this. Then those who had been given knowledge will make the assertion, “Indeed, disgrace, this day, and evil are upon the disbelievers.”

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
The worshipers of false gods (ungodly, the Unbelievers) will be unable to reply when brought before the Judgment Seat. The comment of those "endued with knowledge"-the Prophets and Teachers whom they had rejected-will be by way of indictment and explanation of the position of those before the Judgment Seat.
( 28 )   The ones whom the angels take in death [while] wronging themselves, and [who] then offer submission, [saying], "We were not doing any evil." But, yes! Indeed, Allah is Knowing of what you used to do.
This is Allah’s addition to the previous assertion, and not its continuation. Those commentators, who have wrongly considered this as continuation of the preceding sentence, are unable to offer any satisfactory explanation for their opinion.

That is, when the angels take possession of their souls at the time of death.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
That is, those who died in a state of Kufr, or rebellion against Allah, which was really wrong-doing against their own souls.

The excuse is a mere pretence. At first they were too dazed to reply. When they reply, they cannot deny the facts, but resort to the sinner's excuse of saying that they sinned through ignorance, and that their motives were not wrong. Such a plea raises a question of hidden thoughts which are difficult to appraise before a human tribunal. But here they are before their Divine Author, Who knows every secret of their souls, and before Whom no false plea can be of any value. So they are condemned.
( 29 )   So enter the gates of Hell to abide eternally therein, and how wretched is the residence of the arrogant.
The (Ayats 28 and 32), and several other verses in the Quran, clearly and definitely assert that immediately after death, souls suffer torment or enjoy peace in the world of Barzakh. The traditions use the word qabar (grave) metaphorically for this existence of the souls. This is the world in which souls enter immediately after death and will remain therein up to the Day of Resurrection. Yet the disbelievers of the traditions declare that after death souls will remain in a dormant state up to the time of Resurrection, and will neither feel any pain nor joy, nor will be conscious of anything at all. Obviously, this is a wrong opinion. For, according to (Ayat 28), just after death when the disbelievers will be conscious of the fact that they had been leading an evil life, they will try to make the angels believe that they had not done any evil deed. The angels will rebuke them at this boldness and will tell them that they shall have to go into Hell. On the other hand, according to( verse 32), just after their death, the pious believers are welcomed by the angels and given the good news that they will enter into Paradise. Besides these verses, there is the mention of a dialogue between the angels and those Muslims, who did not migrate to Al- Madinah, after their souls were seized by the angels in (Surah An-Nisa, Ayat 97). Above all, according to (Surah Almomin, Ayats 45-46), the people of Pharaoh have been encircled by a torment and are exposed before the fire of Hell every morning and every evening. This will go on till the Day of Resurrection when they shall be sentenced to eternal torment.

In fact, both the Quran and the traditions present the same kind of picture of the condition of the soul after death till Resurrection. Death causes merely the separation of the soul from the body but does not annihilate it. The soul lives with the same personality that was formed by the different experiences and the mental exercises and moral activities it had in its worldly life in cooperation with the body. This nature of the consciousness, feelings, observations and experiences of the soul, during the waiting period, is similar to that in a dream. Just as a criminal sentenced to death suffers from mental torture on the eve of his crucifixion, in the same way the angels take to task the guilty as in a dream, torture it and take it to the horrible Hell in order to make it foretaste the impending torture. In contrast to this, the pure soul is welcomed by the angels and is given the good news of entry into paradise and is made to enjoy its pleasant breeze and smell, and to feel happy like the faithful servant who is invited to the headquarters to receive his reward. But this life in the world of Barzakh will suddenly come to an end on the second blowing of the Trumpet of Resurrection. When the guilty souls will again enter into their former bodies and muster in the Plain, they will cry in horror: Oh! woe to us! Who has roused us from our sleeping places? But the true believers will say with perfect peace of mind: This is exactly what the Beneficent had promised, and the Messengers had told the truth. (Surah Yaseen, Ayat 52).

As the guilty ones will be under the delusion that they had been lying in their death bed for an hour or so and had been roused from sleep. Those who were given knowledge and faith will say: According to the Record of Allah, you have remained after death till this Day of Resurrection and this is the same Day of Resurrection, but you did not know this. (Surah Ar-Room, Ayats 55-56).
( 30 )   And it will be said to those who feared Allah, "What did your Lord send down?" They will say, "[That which is] good." For those who do good in this world is good; and the home of the Hereafter is better. And how excellent is the home of the righteous 
In contrast to the disbelievers (Ayat 24), the righteous people spoke highly of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and of the teachings of the Quran to the people coming from the suburbs of Makkah. Unlike the former they did not delude the people nor created misunderstandings in the minds. They were full of praise for them and told the truth about the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
The contrast and parallelism is with xvi. 24, where the ungodly in their levity and their deliberate rejection of guidance find no profit from Allah's Revelation.

Unlike the ungodly, the good find good everywhere,-in this world and in the Hereafter; because they understand and are in accord with the truths around them.
( 31 )   Gardens of perpetual residence, which they will enter, beneath which rivers flow. They will have therein whatever they wish. Thus does Allah reward the righteous
This is the best blessing of Paradise. The dweller will get there whatever he will desire and wish and there will be nothing at all to offend him. This is the blessing that has never been attained even by the richest and the most powerful people in this world. On the contrary, every dweller of Paradise will enjoy this blessing to his fill because he will always have everything to his desire and liking, and will have each and every wish and desire fulfilled.
( 32 )   The ones whom the angels take in death, [being] good and pure; [the angels] will say, "Peace be upon you. Enter Paradise for what you used to do."
Yousaf Ali Explanation:
In a state of purity: from the evils of this world, from want of faith and want of grace. Purity from such evil is the mark of true Islam, and those who die in such purity will be received into Felicity with a salutation of Peace.
( 33 )   Do the disbelievers await [anything] except that the angels should come to them or there comes the command of your Lord? Thus did those do before them. And Allah wronged them not, but they had been wronging themselves.
This is to admonish the unbelievers to this effect: Why are they still hesitating to accept the message which is very simple and clear? We have tried every method to present each aspect of the truth clearly with arguments and brought witnesses thereof from the whole system of the universe, and have left no room for any man of understanding to stick to shirk. Now what are they waiting for is nothing more than this that the angel of death should come before them and then they will accept the message at the last moment of their lives. Or, do they wait for the scourge of God to overtake them and make them accept the Message?
( 34 )   So they were struck by the evil consequences of what they did and were enveloped by what they used to ridicule.
Ruku / Section 5 Verses [35-40]

Summary Verses 35-40: Allah has sent the Rasools to warn against the unbelievers excuse, "If Allah wanted, we would have not worshiped anyone else"
( 35 )   And those who associate others with Allah say, "If Allah had willed, we would not have worshiped anything other than Him, neither we nor our fathers, nor would we have forbidden anything through other than Him." Thus did those do before them. So is there upon the messengers except [the duty of] clear notification?
In order to understand the significance of this argument the reader should keep in view (Ayats 148-150 of Surah Al-Anaam), for this has been cited and answered there.

That is, your argument is not a new one but the same old one which had always been offered by erroneous people who went before you. Today you are, like them, excusing yourselves for your deviation and evil conduct, saying that it is the will of God. You know that this is a lame excuse that has been invented to delude yourselves, and to escape from admonition.

This answer also contains a subtle retort to the objection of the disbelievers that the Quran consisted merely of old stories of the ancients (Ayat 24). They meant to imply that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had nothing new to offer. So he was repeating the same old stories that had been repeated over and over again since the time of Prophet Noah (peace be upon him). The retort is this: If the Prophet (peace be upon him) was not presenting anything new but was reciting the old stories of the ancients, you yourselves are not putting forward any new excuse in defense of your evil deeds, but the same old excuse that was put forward by the people who went before you.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
The old, old argument: if Allah is All-Powerful, why did He not force all persons to His Will? This ignores the limited Free-will granted to man, which is the whole basis of Ethics. Allah gives man every opportunity of knowing and understanding things, but He does not force him, for that would be against the whole Plan on which our present Life is constituted.

The Pagan Arabs prescribed various arbitrary prohibitions in the matter of meat; see vi. 143-145. These, of course, are not recognized by Islam, which also removed some of the restrictions of the Jewish Law; vi. 146. The general meaning, however, is far wider. Men erect their own taboos and prohibitions, barriers and restrictions, and ascribe them to Religion. This is wrong, and more consonant with Pagan practice than with Islam.

فَهَلۡ عَلَى الرُّسُلِ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ.....

Clear Message: Mubin: in three senses; (1) a Message clear and unambiguous; (2) one that makes all things clear to those who try to understand, because it accords with their own nature as created by Allah; (3) one preached openly and to everyone.
( 36 )   And We certainly sent into every nation a messenger, [saying], "Worship Allah and avoid Taghut." And among them were those whom Allah guided, and among them were those upon whom error was [deservedly] decreed. So proceed through the earth and observe how was the end of the deniers.
That is, you are not justified in excusing yourselves for these sins, saying that it is the will of God for We sent Messengers to every ummat, who told the people in plain words that they should worship Us and none else, and should not follow and obey taghut. Besides this, We have already warned you that We do not approve of your deviations. Why should you then put forward this excuse for your deviations? Do you mean to say that We ought to have sent such Messengers as would have forced you to follow the right way instead of bringing you to it by preaching? Please refer to (explanation of verse 112 of Surah 6 Al-Anaam) for the distinction between God’s will and God’s approval).

That is, Whenever a Messenger came to a people, they were divided into two groups: (1) Those who accepted the message (and that, too, could not have been possible except with the will of Allah). and (2) Those who rejected it and stuck to their deviation

That is, you can see for yourselves the lesson of human history. It is this that the people, who rejected the message, incurred the scourge of Allah like Pharaoh and the people of Pharaoh, while Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) received the blessings of Allah.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Even though Allah's Signs are everywhere in Nature and in men's own conscience, yet in addition Allah has sent human Messengers to every People to call their attention to the Good and turn them from Evil. So they cannot pretend that Allah has abandoned them or that He does not care what they do. His divine Grace always invites their will to choose the right.

While some people accept the guidance of the divine Grace, others so surrender themselves to Evil that it must necessarily follow that Evil obtains a grip over them. They have only to travel through Time or Space to see the end of those who abandoned their lights and surrendered to Evil and Error. For haqqat and the meaning of haqq in this connection cf. xv. 64.
( 37 )   [Even] if you should strive for their guidance, [O Muhammad], indeed, Allah does not guide those He sends astray, and they will have no helpers.
When once Allah's Grace is rejected by any one, such a person loses all help and guidance. Such persons are then outside Allah's Grace, and therefore they are outside guidance.
( 38 )   And they swear by Allah their strongest oaths [that] Allah will not resurrect one who dies. But yes - [it is] a true promise [binding] upon Him, but most of the people do not know.
Yousaf Ali Explanation:
The strongest oath of the Pagan Arabs would be by the Supreme Allah; less strong oaths would be by their subordinate deities, or their ancestors, or other things they valued or held sacred.

The usual Pagan creed is: 'If there is a God, it does not follow that He will raise us up; why should He?' The answer is twofold: (1) Allah has promised it, and Allah's promise is true; (2) He must finally manifest the Truth to them, convict them of their falsehood, and enforce their personal responsibility (xvi. 39).
( 39 )   [It is] so He will make clear to them [the truth of] that wherein they differ and so those who have disbelieved may know that they were liars.
Here those two things have been stated which rationally and morally require that there must be Resurrection and life after death, that is:
(1) To reveal what the reality was, and
(2) To reward or punish people in accordance with the right or wrong stand they took about it in this world. It is common knowledge that since the creation of man on the earth there have been many differences regarding the reality which have been sowing dissension between families, nations and races. These have also led to the formation of many different societies, cultures and creeds on different theories. In every age millions of the torch bearers of each of these theories have been putting at stake all their life, property and honor to propagate and defend their favorite theory. Nay, there has always been such a bitter conflict between them that each group tried to annihilate the other, who, in his turn, stuck to it to the last. This being the case, common sense demands that such far reaching and serious differences should be cleared some time or other, so as to decide with certainty what was right and what was wrong, who was in the right and who was in the wrong. Obviously, it is not possible to lift the curtain from the reality in this world so as to reveal things in their true perspective. This is because the system on which this world has been created does not allow this. Therefore, there should be another world to fulfill this demand of common sense.
This is not the demand of common sense alone but also of the moral sense, which requires that the partners in this conflict should be rewarded or punished according to right or wrong, just or unjust part they played in it. For, some of these committed cruelties on the others, who had to make sacrifices for their cause. Then each one should also bear the responsibility for formulating and practicing a moral or immoral philosophy which influenced millions and billions of others for better or worse. Moral sense demands that there should be a time for the moral consequences to take their due course. As this is not possible in this world there should be another world for the purpose.

اِنَّمَا قَوۡلُـنَا لِشَىۡءٍ اِذَاۤ اَرَدۡنٰهُ اَنۡ نَّقُوۡلَ لَهٗ كُنۡ فَيَكُوۡنُ‏  
( 40 )   Indeed, Our word to a thing when We intend it is but that We say to it, "Be," and it is.
This is the answer to those who imagined that it was the most difficult thing to raise the dead, and that, too, to raise together at once all the people who had died at any time. They have been told that it is an easy thing for Allah, Who has the power to bring into existence anything He desires, merely by His command, “Be,” for He does not stand in need of any provisions, any means and any favorable environment for this. His mere command produces necessary provisions, means and environment. This world was brought into existence by His mere command, “Be,” and likewise the next world will at once come into existence by His single command.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Allah's "Word" is in itself the Deed, Allah's Promise is in itself the Truth. There is no interposition of Time or Condition between His Will and its consequences, for He is the Ultimate Reality. He is independent of the proximate or material causes, for He Himself creates them and establishes their Laws as He pleases.

Ruku / Section 6 Verses [41-50]

Summary Verses 41-44: Allah has promised a good abode for those who migrate for His sake
( 41 )   And those who emigrated for [the cause of] Allah after they had been wronged - We will surely settle them in this world in a good place; but the reward of the Hereafter is greater, if only they could know.
This is to comfort the Muslim emigrants from Makkah to Habash, who were forced to leave their homes because of the unbearable persecution they suffered at the hands of the disbelievers. The change of the scene from the disbelievers to the emigrants to Habash contains a subtle warning to the disbelievers that they should not remain under any delusion that they would get off free from punishment for their cruel behavior towards those Muslims, so as to say: O cruel people! There shall be Resurrection to reward the oppressed believers and to punish you for your persecution of them.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
There is no merit in suffering exile (hijrah) in itself. To have any merit, it must be; (1) in the cause of Allah, and (2) after such an oppression as forces the sufferer to choose between Allah and man. When these conditions are fulfilled, the exiles are entitled to the highest honour, as having made a great sacrifice in the cause of Allah. Such were the early Muslim exiles to Abyssinia; such were the later exiles to Madinah before the Prophet himself left his home in Makkah and went to Madinah; and such were the exiles who went with the Prophet or followed him. At all these stages, his approval or advice was always obtained, either specifically or generally.
( 42 )   [They are] those who endured patiently and upon their Lord relied.
( 43 )   And We sent not before you except men to whom We revealed [Our message]. So ask the people of the message if you do not know.
This is the answer to the objection of the mushriks of Makkah (which has not been cited here) that they could not believe that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a Prophet of God because he was a human being like them. They have been told that the same objection had been raised against all the Prophets who came before him.

“Those who possess knowledge” are the scholars of the people of the Books and others, who, though not scholars in the strict sense had sufficient knowledge of the teachings of the revealed Books and were acquainted with the stories of the former Prophets. 
( 44 )   [We sent them] with clear proofs and written ordinances. And We revealed to you the message that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might give thought.
In this connection, it is worthwhile to note that this duty of making plain and explaining the teachings of the Book was to be performed by Prophet not only by word of mouth but also practically. It was required that he should organize, under his own guidance, a Muslim community and establish it in accordance with the principles of the Book. This duty of the Prophet (peace be upon him) has been stated here especially to show the wisdom of sending a man as a Messenger, for, otherwise the Book could have been sent through the angels or could have been printed and sent directly to each man. But in this way; that purpose for which Allah in His Wisdom and Bounty and Providence designed to send the Book could not have been served. For, that purpose demanded that the Book should be brought by a perfect man, who should present it piece by piece, explain its meaning, remove the difficulties and doubts, answer objections etc. and above all, he should show towards those who rejected and opposed it that kind of attitude which is worthy of the bearer of this Book. On the other hand, he should guide those who believed in it in every aspect of life and set before them his own excellent pattern of life. Then he should train them individually and collectively on the principles of the Book; so as to make them a model society for the rest of mankind.

Let us now consider this (verse 43) from another point of view. Just as it cuts at the root of the argumentation of those who rejected the creed that a human Prophet could bring the Book, in the same way, it repudiates the view of those who plead that the Book should be accepted without any exposition of it from the Prophet. This latter view is contradictory to this verse, whatever be the position taken by its exponents. They might either be of the opinion that (a) the Prophet did not give any explanation of the Book he presented or that (b) the only acceptable thing is the Book and not any exposition thereof by the Prophet, or that (c) now the Book alone suffices us, for its exposition by the Prophet has lost its utility or that (d) now the Book alone is authentic for the exposition by the Prophet has ceased to exist, or if it does exists, it cannot be relied upon.

If they take the position (a), it will mean that the Prophet did not fulfill the purpose for which he was chosen to be the bearer of the Book: otherwise Allah could send it through an angel or directly to each person.

If they take the position (b) or (c), (God forbid) they will be accusing Allah of doing a useless thing by sending His Book through a Prophet, when He could have printed copies of the Quran and sent those directly to the people.

In case, they take the position (d), they, in fact, repudiate both the Quran and its exposition by the Prophet (peace be upon him). Then the only rational course left for them would be to accept the view of those who believe in the necessity of a new Prophet and a new revelation; whereas Allah Himself considers the exposition of the Book by the Prophet as an essential thing, and puts it forward as an argument for the necessity of a Prophet. Now if the view of those who reject tradition that the explanation of the Prophet (peace be upon him) has disappeared from the world is to be accepted, then two conclusions are inevitable; First, the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a pattern for us has ceased to exist, and the only relation we have with him is the same that we have with the other former Prophets, e.g. Houd, Salih, Shuaib, etc. (peace be upon them). That is, we have only to testify that they were Prophets but we have no obligation to follow their patterns, for we have none with us. This position obviously leads to the need of a new Prophet, for it automatically refutes the doctrine of the finality of Prophethood. The second inevitable conclusion will be that a new Book is needed because in that case the Quran alone could not, according to its author, suffice. Thus in the face of this verse, there is no argument left to prove that the Quran is self sufficient to explain itself, for it itself says that there is no need of a Prophet to explain it. Thus it is absolutely necessary that a new Book must be sent down. May Allah destroy such people. In their enthusiasm to repudiate tradition, they are really cutting at the very root of Islam itself.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
As the People of the Book had received "Clear Signs" and inspired Books before, so also Allah's Message came to the Prophet Muhammad through the Qur'an, which superseded the earlier revelations, already corrupted in the hands of their followers.

 Summary Verses 45-50: Do the unbelievers feel secure against the wrath of Allah
( 45 )   Then, do those who have planned evil deeds feel secure that Allah will not cause the earth to swallow them or that the punishment will not come upon them from where they do not perceive?
Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Cf. xvi. 26. The wicked plot against Prophets of Allah in secret, forgetting that every hidden thought of theirs is known to Allah, and that for every thought and action of theirs they will have to account to Allah. And Allah's punishment can seize them in various ways. Four are enumerated here. (1) They may be swallowed up in the earth like Qarun, whose story is told in xxviii. 76-81. He was swallowed up in the earth while he was arrogantly exulting on the score of his wealth. (2) It may be that, like Haman, the prime minister of Pharaoh, they are plotting against Allah, when they are themselves overwhelmed by some dreadful calamity; xi. 36-38, xxix. 39-40. The case of Pharaoh is also in point. He was drowned while he was arrogantly hoping to frustrate Allah's plans for Israel; x. 90-92.

For (3) and (4) read explanation of next two verses.
( 46 )   Or that He would not seize them during their [usual] activity, and they could not cause failure?( 47 )   Or that He would not seize them gradually [in a state of dread]? But indeed, your Lord is Kind and Merciful.
 Yousaf Ali Explanation:
(3) Or the punishment may come to people away from their homes and humble them in their pride. It so happened to Abu Jahl, who came exulting in his pride to the Battle of Badr (A.H. 2). His army was three times the size of the Muslim army from Madinah. But it suffered a crushing defeat, and he himself was ignominiously slain.
( 48 )   Have they not considered what things Allah has created? Their shadows incline to the right and to the left, prostrating to Allah, while they are humble.
The argument is this: The fact that everything a man, an animal, a tree or a mountain casts its shadow, is a clear proof of its material nature, and everything which is made of matter, is a creation of Allah and is subject to a universal law. In this case the law is that every material thing casts its shadow, which is symbolical of its servitude, and it cannot have any share whatsoever in Godhead.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
I take "things" here to be inanimate things, for the next verse speaks of living, "moving creatures" and angels. By a metaphor even such inanimate things are spoken of as recognizing Allah and humbly worshipping Him. Even their shadows turn round from right and left according to the light from above, and they humbly prostrate themselves on the ground to celebrate the praises of Allah.
( 49 )   And to Allah prostrates whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth of creatures, and the angels [as well], and they are not arrogant.
That is, not only all things on the earth alone but also all things in the heavens, including all those whom people have been regarding as gods and goddesses, and considering to be closely related to Allah are subservient to God, and have no share whatsoever in His Godhead. Incidentally, it implies the existence of living creatures not only on the earth but in the planets, too.

Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Moving creatures, i.e., living creatures, "All that is in the heavens or earth," includes every created thing. And created things are mentioned in three classes: inanimate things, ordinary living things, and angels. Even the highest angels are not arrogant; they bow down and serve their Lord, and so does all Creation.

يَخَافُوۡنَ رَبَّهُمۡ مِّنۡ فَوۡقِهِمۡ وَيَفۡعَلُوۡنَ مَا يُؤۡمَرُوۡنَ ۩‏  
( 50 )   They fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded.
Yousaf Ali Explanation:
Allah is so high above the highest of His creatures, that they all look up to him in awe and reverence. And they joyfully do their duty in serving Him. This is the meaning of the "fear of the Lord."

Note: The symbol ۩ at the end of the verse 50 denotes Sajda e Talawat (Prostration of Recitation). The reader of this verse is advised to prostrate / offer sajda.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sürah An-Naḥl with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary / exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Juzʼ / Part backwards for chapters in 30th Juzʼ / Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [2]
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

For attributes of Allah mentioned, please read details on each at: 99 Attributes of Allah.

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