Tuesday 17 March 2020

Surah Surah Al An'aam (The Cattle): 6th Chapter of Quran - Exegesis Part I

Sūrah Al An'am " ٱلْأَنْعَام " is the 6th chapter of the holy Qur'an consisting of 165 verses divided into 20 ruku / sections and is spread over Juzʼ 7 to 8. This Sūrah takes its name from verses 136, 138 and 139 in which some superstitious beliefs of the idolatrous Arabs concerning the lawfulness of some cattle (an`am), some translations use the more encompassing word livestock, and the unlawfulness of some others have been refuted. 

The main topics of this Sürah are monotheism, resurrection, heaven and hell. The Sürah is said to have been revealed in its entirety in one go in the later period of stay of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Makkah. The surah reports the story of the Prophet Abraham, who calls others to stop worshiping celestial bodies and turns towards Allah. It also includes verses (6:151 - 6:152) similar to the Mosaic Ten Commandments.

As already mentioned in the Overview, owing to the length  of the Sürah and varied subjects discussed therein, the Sürah has been divided into three parts parts for better understanding. We now present the first part, covering first seven Ruku / Sections. Subjects discussed in this part are as under:
  • Ruku / Sections 1-3 (verses 1-30) - In this part, the nature of Allah and the method by which He reveals Himself are first expounded, and the weakness of Paganism is exposed. 
  • Ruku / Sections 4-7 (verses 31-60) - The emptiness of this world's life is contrasted with the evidence of Allah's wonderful handiwork in all Creation. It is He who holds the keys of the Unseen and the secrets of all that we see.
Let us now read the translation and exegesis / tafseer 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 1-10]
[Verses 1 – 3]
The Surah starts with a confrontation with the idolaters who associate partners with Allah while the indicators of Allah’s Oneness stare them in the face presenting themselves everywhere. It presents the attitude of those who deny all the signs and indicators that they see in the world around them and within themselves. It is immediately followed with a warning, coupled with a reminder of the destruction of earlier communities. Allah’s overwhelming power is, thus, seen in full view. The stubborn attitude of those rejecting the truth in the face of such manifest truth appears to be strange indeed. We realize that it is not proofs that they lack but rather sincerity and an open mind. 

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَجَعَلَ الظُّلُمَاتِ وَالنُّورَ ۖ ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ يَعْدِلُونَ 
( 1 )   [All] praise is [due] to Allah, who created the heavens and the earth and made the darkness and the light. Then those who disbelieve equate [others] with their Lord.
Remember that, although polytheists, the Arabs to whom these verses are addressed did acknowledge God as the Creator of the heavens and the earth, Who causes day to alternate with night, and Who has brought into existence the sun and the moon. None of them attributed any of these acts to either al-LAt, al-Hubal, al-'UzzA or any other deities. Why, then,'should they prostrate themselves before others beside the Creator? Why should they offer their prayers and supplication to any but God? The actual word that has been used in the original text for 'darkness' is in the plural. The contrast with the singular 'light' is significant: whereas light is one, there can be innumerable degrees of darkness, which is the absence of light.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The argument is threefold: (1) God created everything you see and know: how can you then set up any of His own creatures as equal to Him? (2) He is your own Guardian-Lord; He cherishes and loves you: how can you be so ungrateful as to run after something else? (3) Darkness and Light are to help you to distinguish between the true from the false: how then can you confound the true God with your false ideas and superstitions? There may also be a repudiation of the Duality of old Persian theology; Light and Darkness are not conflicting Powers; they are both creatures of the one true God.

  هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن طِينٍ ثُمَّ قَضَىٰ أَجَلًا ۖ وَأَجَلٌ مُّسَمًّى عِندَهُ ۖ ثُمَّ أَنتُمْ تَمْتَرُونَ 
( 2 )   It is He who created you from clay and then decreed a term and a specified time [known] to Him; then [still] you are in dispute.
The elements composing the human organism are all, without exception, derived from the earth. Hence it is said that man has been created out of clay.

This alludes to the Hour of Judgement when human beings, regardless of the age in which they lived, will be brought back to life and summoned to render an account before their Lord.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
After the general argument, the argument comes to man personally. Can such a miserable creature, created from clay, put himself in opposition to his Creator? And can man forget or doubt that he is here only for a short term of probation? And then, after a period, comes the Day of Account before God. This life is a period of probation. The other term leads up to Judgement.

  وَهُوَ اللَّـهُ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَفِي الْأَرْضِ ۖ يَعْلَمُ سِرَّكُمْ وَجَهْرَكُمْ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا تَكْسِبُونَ 
( 3 )   And He is Allah, [the only deity] in the heavens and the earth. He knows your secret and what you make public, and He knows that which you earn.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
It is folly to suppose that God only reigns in the heavens. He also reigns on earth. He knows all our secret thoughts and motives, and the real worth of all that is behind what we care to show. It is by our deeds that He judges us; for our deeds, whether good or evil, we shall get due recompense in due time. 

[Verses 4 – 11] 
Then Allah defines the truth of Godhead as it is clearly reflected in His ownership of everything in the heavens and earth, and what takes its rest at night or day. It is also seen in the fact that Allah is the only one who provides for all creation, the one who feeds them and is fed by none. Hence, He is the only guardian and the only protector, to whom all creatures must submit themselves. 

 وَمَا تَأْتِيهِم مِّنْ آيَةٍ مِّنْ آيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ إِلَّا كَانُوا عَنْهَا مُعْرِضِينَ 
( 4 )   Yet every time a sign of their Lord comes to them, they turn away from it,.
  فَقَدْ كَذَّبُوا بِالْحَقِّ لَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ ۖ فَسَوْفَ يَأْتِيهِمْ أَنبَاءُ مَا كَانُوا بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِئُونَ 
( 5 )   For they had denied the truth when it came to them, but there is going to reach them the news of what they used to ridicule.
The allusion is to the Migration (Hijrah) and the numerous victories destined to follow it in quick succession. When this allusion was made, the unbelievers could not have guessed what kind of news they would receive, and even the Muslims could not have imagined those developments. In fact, the Prophet himself (peace be on him) was not fully aware of the possibilities which lay in store.

  أَلَمْ يَرَوْا كَمْ أَهْلَكْنَا مِن قَبْلِهِم مِّن قَرْنٍ مَّكَّنَّاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَا لَمْ نُمَكِّن لَّكُمْ وَأَرْسَلْنَا السَّمَاءَ عَلَيْهِم مِّدْرَارًا وَجَعَلْنَا الْأَنْهَارَ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهِمْ فَأَهْلَكْنَاهُم بِذُنُوبِهِمْ وَأَنشَأْنَا مِن بَعْدِهِمْ قَرْنًا آخَرِينَ 
( 6 )   Have they not seen how many generations We destroyed before them which We had established upon the earth as We have not established you? And We sent [rain from] the sky upon them in showers and made rivers flow beneath them; then We destroyed them for their sins and brought forth after them a generation of others.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Now comes the argument from history, looking backwards and forwards. If we are so short-sighted or arrogant as to suppose that we are firmly established on this earth, secure in our privileges,we are reminded of much greater nations in the past, who failed in their duty and were wiped out. In their fate we must read our own fate, if we fail likewise! But those without faith, instead of facing facts squarely "turn away therefrom." A) Qirtas, in the Apostle's life, could only mean "parchment," which was commonly used as writing material in Western Asia from the 2nd century B.C. The word was derived from the Greek, Charles (Cf. Latin, "Charta"). Paper, as we know it, made from rags, was first used by the Arabs after the conquest of Samarqand in 751 A.D. The Chinese had used it by the 2nd century B.C. The Arabs introduced it into Europe; it was used in Greece in the 11th and 12th century, and in Spain through Sicily in the 12th century. The Papyrus, made from an Egyptian reed, was in Egypt as early as 2500 B.C. It gave place to paper in Egypt in the 10th century.

Verses 7-10 If Allah had sent a written Book and and angel with it the unbelievers still would not have believed:

وَلَوْ نَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ كِتَابًا فِي قِرْطَاسٍ فَلَمَسُوهُ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ لَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِنْ هَـٰذَا إِلَّا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ  
( 7 )   And even if We had sent down to you, [O Muhammad], a written scripture on a page and they touched it with their hands, the disbelievers would say, "This is not but obvious magic."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The materialists want to see actual physical material things before them, but if such a thing came from an unusual source or expressed things they cannot understand, they give it some name like magic, or superstition, or whatever name is in fashion, and they are not helped at all in attaining faith, because their "hearts are diseased" (ii. 10)

  وَقَالُوا لَوْلَا أُنزِلَ عَلَيْهِ مَلَكٌ ۖ وَلَوْ أَنزَلْنَا مَلَكًا لَّقُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ ثُمَّ لَا يُنظَرُونَ 
( 8 )   And they say, "Why was there not sent down to him an angel?" But if We had sent down an angel, the matter would have been decided; then they would not be reprieved.
The unbelievers were saying that if Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) had indeed been endowed with prophethood, an angel should have been sent down from heaven to announce that he was the Messenger of God, and that that people would be punished if they did not follow his directives. It was astonishing to these ignorant objectors that the Creator of the heavens and the earth should appoint someone as His Messenger and then leave him without protection against the physical hurts and insults that were flung at him. They would have expected the envoy of a Sovereign as great as the Creator of the universe to be accomplished by at least some heavenly constable, if not a large retinue, to protect him!

The unbelievers' objection is refuted by this remark. it warns them that the time available for accepting the true faith and bringing about the required reform in their lives will last only as long as Ultimate Reality remains concealed from human perception by the wheel of the Unseen. Once that wheel is removed, there will be no more respite: the summons to God's reckoning will have come. This earthly life is a test of whether a man is able to recognize the Ultimate Reality - even though it lies hidden from his sense perception - by the correct exercise of his reason and intellect and of whether, having once recognized it, he is able to behave in conformity with that Reality by exercising control over his animal self and its lusts. This test necessarily requires that the Reality should remain concealed. Thereafter man will be confronted with the result of the test rather than by any further test. Until God has decided to bring the term of their test to a close, it is not possible to respond to such requests by sending angels to them in their true form. (See also Towards Understanding the Qur'an, vol. I, (Surah 2, n.228.)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Cf. ii. 210. An angel is a heavenly being, a manifestation of God's glory, invisible to men who live gross material lives. Such men are given plenty of respite in which to turn in repentance to God and make themselves worthy of His light. But if their prayer to see an angel were grated, it would do them no good, for thy would be destroyed as darkness is destroyed by light.

  وَلَوْ جَعَلْنَاهُ مَلَكًا لَّجَعَلْنَاهُ رَجُلًا وَلَلَبَسْنَا عَلَيْهِم مَّا يَلْبِسُونَ 
( 9 )   And if We had made him an angel, We would have made him [appear as] a man, and We would have covered them with that in which they cover themselves.
This is the second point in response to the unbelievers' objection. One possible form in which the angel could have appeared is in its true, non-terrestrial form. It has already been pointed out that the time for this has not arrived. Alternatively, angels could have come down in human form. But this would have left the unbelievers facing the same difficulty as they faced with regard to whether the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) had been designated by God or not.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Supposing an angel should appear to their grosser senses, he could only do it in human form. In that case their present confused notions about spiritual life would be still more confounded. They would say: "We wanted to see an angel, and we have only seen a man!"

  وَلَقَدِ اسْتُهْزِئَ بِرُسُلٍ مِّن قَبْلِكَ فَحَاقَ بِالَّذِينَ سَخِرُوا مِنْهُم مَّا كَانُوا بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِئُونَ 
( 10 )   Mocked were (many) Apostles before thee; but the scoffers were hemmed in by the thing that they mocked.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
"The scoffers were mocked by the thing that they mocked" would express epigrammatically part of the sense, but not the whole. "Hemmed in" implies that the logic of events turned the tables, and as a man might be besieged and surrounded by an enemy in war, and would be forced to surrender, so these mockers will find that events would justify Truth, not them. The mockers of Jesus, - where were they when Titus destroyed Jerusalem? The mockers who drove out Muhammad from Mecca, - what was their plight when Muhammad came back in triumph and they sued for mercy, - and he gave it to them! According to the Latin proverb, Great is Truth, and must prevail.

Ruku / Section 2 [Verses 11-20]
Verses 11-18 Allah has decreed mercy for Himself that is why He does not punish any one in this world and Punishment will be on the Day of Judgement:

 قُلْ سِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ ثُمَّ انظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ 
( 11 )   Say, "Travel through the land; then observe how was the end of the deniers."
The archaeological remains and historical records of the ancient nations testify to how they met their tragic ends through turning away from truth and honesty and stubbornly persisting in their devotion to falsehood.

 قُل لِّمَن مَّا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ قُل لِّلَّـهِ ۚ كَتَبَ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ ۚ لَيَجْمَعَنَّكُمْ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ ۚ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ فَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ 
( 12 )   Say, "To whom belongs whatever is in the heavens and earth?" Say, "To Allah." He has decreed upon Himself mercy. He will surely assemble you for the Day of Resurrection, about which there is no doubt. Those who will lose themselves [that Day] do not believe.
The subtlety of this expression should not go unnoticed. The unbelievers are asked to whom belongs whatever exists in either the heavens or on the earth. The inquirer then pauses to wait for the answer. Those questioned are themselves convinced that all belongs to God, yet while they dare not respond falsely, they are nevertheless not prepared to give the correct answer. Fearing that their response may be used as an argument against their polytheistic beliefs, they keep quiet. At this, the inquirer is told to answer the question himself and to say that all belongs to God.

  وَلَهُ مَا سَكَنَ فِي اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ ۚ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ 
( 13 )   And to Him belongs that which reposes by night and by day, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Sakan=(1) to dwell; (2) to rest, to be still, to stop (moving), to lurk; (3) to be quiescent, as a letter which is not moved with a vowel. If we imagine Night and Day to be places, and each to have (dwelling in them) things that are open and things that are concealed, things that move and things that are still, things that are sounded and things that are quiescent, we get some ida of the imagery implied. The mystery of Time (which seems more abstract than Space) is thus explained and illustrated by the idea of Place or Space, which also is a notion and not a concrete thing. But He Who has control of all these things is the one true God.

Throughout this section we have a sort of implied dialogue, of which one part is understood from the other part, which is expressed. In verse 11, we might have an imagery objector saying: "Why go back to the past?" The answer is: "Well, travel through the world, and see whether it is not true that virtue and godliness exalt a nation, and the opposite are causes of ruin. Both the past and the present prove this." In verse 12 the objector may say: "But you speak of God's power?" The man of God replies: "Yes, but Mercy is God's own attribute, and knowledge and wisdom beyond what man can conceive."

قُلْ أَغَيْرَ اللَّـهِ أَتَّخِذُ وَلِيًّا فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَهُوَ يُطْعِمُ وَلَا يُطْعَمُ ۗ قُلْ إِنِّي أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أَكُونَ أَوَّلَ مَنْ أَسْلَمَ ۖ وَلَا تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ  
( 14 )   Say, "Is it other than Allah I should take as a protector, Creator of the heavens and the earth, while it is He who feeds and is not fed?" Say, [O Muhammad], "Indeed, I have been commanded to be the first [among you] who submit [to Allah] and [was commanded], 'Do not ever be of the polytheists.' "
This remark contains a subtle sarcasm. Far from providing sustenance to their followers, the beings whom the polytheists set up as deities beside the true God were dependent upon them for their sustenance. No Pharaoh can maintain the pomp and splendour connected with his godhead unless his subjects pay their tax dues and make him other offerings. No deity can attract worshipers unless some of its devotees make an idol, place it in some magnificent temple, and decorate it lavishly. All these counterfeit gods are totally dependent upon their own servants. It is the Lord of the Universe alone Who is the True God, Whose godhead rests solely upon His.own power; Who needs the help of no one, whereas no one can dispense with His.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Feedeth but is not fed: true both literally and figuratively. To God we owe the satisfaction of all needs, but He is independent of all needs.

 قُلْ إِنِّي أَخَافُ إِنْ عَصَيْتُ رَبِّي عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ  
( 15 )   Say, "Indeed I fear, if I should disobey my Lord, the punishment of a tremendous Day."
  مَّن يُصْرَفْ عَنْهُ يَوْمَئِذٍ فَقَدْ رَحِمَهُ ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْمُبِينُ 
( 16 )   He from whom it is averted that Day - [Allah] has granted him mercy. And that is the clear attainment.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
We continue the implied dialogue suggested in explanation of verse 13. In verse 14, the objector might say: "But we have other interests in life than religion and God." "No," says the man of God, "My Creator is the one and only Power whose protection I seek; and I strive to be first in the race." In verse 15, the objector suggests: "enjoy the good things of this life; it is short." The answer is: "The Hereafter is more real to me, and promises the true fulfillment of all desire; happiness or affliction comes not from the fleeting pettiness or illusions of this life, but from the power and wisdom of God." In verse 19, the objector makes his final splash: "What evidence is there for all this?" The reply is: "I know it is true, for God's voice is within me, and my living Teacher awakens that voice; and there is the Book of Inspiration. God is one, and there is none other besides."

 وَإِن يَمْسَسْكَ اللَّـهُ بِضُرٍّ فَلَا كَاشِفَ لَهُ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ وَإِن يَمْسَسْكَ بِخَيْرٍ فَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ 
( 17 )   And if Allah should touch you with adversity, there is no remover of it except Him. And if He touches you with good - then He is over all things competent.
  وَهُوَ الْقَاهِرُ فَوْقَ عِبَادِهِ ۚ وَهُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْخَبِيرُ 
( 18 )   And He is the subjugator over His servants. And He is the Wise, the Acquainted [with all].
Verses 19-20 Al-Quran is revealed to admonish and to declare that there is Only One God Allah:

  قُلْ أَيُّ شَيْءٍ أَكْبَرُ شَهَادَةً ۖ قُلِ اللَّـهُ ۖ شَهِيدٌ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكُمْ ۚ وَأُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ هَـٰذَا الْقُرْآنُ لِأُنذِرَكُم بِهِ وَمَن بَلَغَ ۚ أَئِنَّكُمْ لَتَشْهَدُونَ أَنَّ مَعَ اللَّـهِ آلِهَةً أُخْرَىٰ ۚ قُل لَّا أَشْهَدُ ۚ قُلْ إِنَّمَا هُوَ إِلَـٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ وَإِنَّنِي بَرِيءٌ مِّمَّا تُشْرِكُونَ 
 ( 19 )   Say, "What thing is greatest in testimony?" Say, "Allah is witness between me and you. And this Qur'an was revealed to me that I may warn you thereby and whomever it reaches. Do you [truly] testify that with Allah there are other deities?" Say, "I will not testify [with you]." Say, "Indeed, He is but one God, and indeed, I am free of what you associate [with Him]."
God Himself witnesses that the Prophet (peace be on him) has been designated by Him and that what he communicated was by His command.

In order to bear witness to something, mere guesswork and imagination are not sufficient. What is required is knowledge on the basis of which a person can state something with full conviction. Hence. the question means: Did they really have knowledge of anyone other than God who could lay claim to man's worship and absolute service by dint of being the omnipotent sovereign, the one whose will prevailed throughout the universe?

The interlocutor is instructed to tell people that if they wanted to bear false witness and testify without knowledge, they could do so, but that he himself could not do something so unreasonable.

[Verses 20 – 32] speak of the fact that the people of earlier revelations are aware of this newly revealed book, i.e. the Qur’ān, which is rejected by the idolaters. It describes idolatry as the worst type of wrongdoing. It also shows the idolaters as they are gathered on the Day of Judgment. They are asked about the partners they used to associate with Allah, and their surprising answer is to deny having done so. Here, the idolaters are shown with non-functional faculties of reception: they cannot pick up any inspiration to accept the faith, and their hearts cannot appreciate the signs calling on them to believe. Hence they describe the Qur’ān as `fables of the ancients’.

They are told here that they only ruin themselves when they counsel others not to respond to divine guidance. They are shown as they are brought before the Fire on the Day of Judgment. In their predicament, they wish that they could be returned to this life so that they would not deny Allah’s revelations, but join the believers instead. This round then takes us back to this life to see the unbelievers denying resurrection and life after death. By way of comment, they are shown standing before their Lord on the Day of Resurrection, carrying their burdens on their backs, and being asked about their denial. It concludes with an unequivocal statement that those who deny the meeting with their Lord are certainly the losers, and that this present life is too trivial in comparison to what the God-fearing receive in the hereafter. 

 الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَعْرِفُونَهُ كَمَا يَعْرِفُونَ أَبْنَاءَهُمُ ۘ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ فَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ 
( 20 )   Those to whom We have given the Scripture recognize it as they recognize their [own] sons. Those who will lose themselves [in the Hereafter] do not believe.
Those who have knowledge of the Scriptures know for sure that God is One alone and that no one shares His godhead with Him. It is true that one can spot one's own child even in the midst of a large crowd of children. The same can be said about those well-versed in the Scriptures. Even if the true concept of godhead were interspersed among numerous false beliefs and concepts about God, those well-versed in the scriptural lore would be able to recognize without doubt which doctrine was true.

Ruku / Section 3 [Verses 21-30]
Verses 21-26 Prejudice has made the people worship deities other than Allah:

 وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّـهِ كَذِبًا أَوْ كَذَّبَ بِآيَاتِهِ ۗ إِنَّهُ لَا يُفْلِحُ الظَّالِمُونَ 
( 21 )   And who is more unjust than one who invents about Allah a lie or denies His verses? Indeed, the wrongdoers will not succeed.
This refers to those who asserted that there were also other beings which shared with God in His godhead, were possessed of divine attributes and powers, and rightly deserved to claim from man worship and absolute service. It is also a slander to claim that God has selected certain beings to be His chosen intimates and that lie has commanded - or is at least agreeable to the idea - that they should he considered to possess divine attributes, and that people should serve and revere them as they would serve and revere God, their Lord.

By 'signs of God' are meant the signs found within man's own being, as well as those scattered throughout the universe. They also include the signs which are manifest from the lives and achievements of the Prophets, as well as those embodied in the Scriptures. All these point towards one and the same truth - that in the entire realm of existence there is one God alone and that all else are merely His subjects. Who could be more unjust than one who, in utter disregard of all these signs, invests others than the One True God with attributes of godhead, considering them to merit the same rights as God. And does so merely on grounds of either conjecture, or speculation or out of blind adherence to the beliefs of his forefathers although there is not so much as a shred of evidence founded on true knowledge, observation or experience in support of such beliefs. Such a person subjects truth and reality to grave injustice. He also wrongs his own self and everything else in this universe with which he has to deal on the basis of this false assumption.

Explanation by Verse By Verse Qur'an Study Circle:
There is no person more unjust than he who lies about Allah meaning this is the height of injustice. He fabricates a lie against Allah and claims that He has sent him, while Allah did not send him.

The word kadhiban [كَذِباً] is from the root letters kaf-dhal-ba and it means “to lie, say what is not a fact, fabricate a lie, falsehood”. It is the opposite of sidq meaning truth.

Inventing a lie against Allah means that saying things like Allah has a partner, a son or a daughter. These are all lies. It also means attributing false statements to Allah such as calling something halal while it is haram. Many times when people want to justify their statements they say, “This is in Qur’an”. Similarly, when a person innovates a hukm [a command] or a person claims that he receives revelation from Allah. Anyone who does that is doing great injustice.

There is no person more unjust than he who denies Allah’s proofs, signs and evidences. There are people who deny that Allah created this universe or say Allah didn’t send a messenger, reveal a Surah, etc.

إِنَّهُ لاَ يُفْلِحُ الظَّـلِمُونَ - Indeed, the wrongdoers shall never be successful.

The word yuf’lihu [يُفْلِحُ] is from falah; the root letters fa-laam-ha and it means “to prosper, be successful, attain, acquire or become fortunate”.

Falah is composed of two things mutloob that which is desired and being saved from the makrooh meaning that which a person is trying to stay away from.

Surely, both of these people will never acquire success, whoever falsely claims that Allah sent him and whoever refuses Allah’s Ayat.

  وَيَوْمَ نَحْشُرُهُمْ جَمِيعًا ثُمَّ نَقُولُ لِلَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا أَيْنَ شُرَكَاؤُكُمُ الَّذِينَ كُنتُمْ تَزْعُمُونَ 
( 22 )   And [mention, O Muhammad], the Day We will gather them all together; then We will say to those who associated others with Allah, "Where are your 'partners' that you used to claim [with Him]?"
Explanation by Verse By Verse Qur'an Study Circle:
In Ayah 21, we studied that the wrongdoers and deniers of truth will not receive salvation. Here in Ayah 22, Allah talks about the great trial to be held on the Day of Resurrection.

The phrase “gather them all together” [جَمِيعاً] means that both the believers and the disbelievers will be gathered before Allah.

The word thumma [ثُمَّ] used in the ayah denotes “delay”. This means that the trial of answering fateful questions will not begin as soon as people come out of their graves. Instead, they shall keep standing in that state of wonder and perplexity for a long period of time. It will be a passage of time in between when the reckoning will commence.

In a hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) has been reported to have said: What would happen to you when Allah will gather you on the plains of Resurrection as arrows are gathered in the quiver – and you shall be in that state for 50,000 years.

The length of this Day to be of 50,000 years has also appeared in Ayah 4 of Surah al-Ma`arij

فِى يَوْمٍ كَانَ مِقْدَارُهُ خَمْسِينَ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ
“…in a Day the measure whereof is 50,000 years.” Similarly, in Surah Hajj Ayah 47 it was said,

وَإِنَّ يَوْماً عِندَ رَبِّكَ كَأَلْفِ سَنَةٍ مِّمَّا تَعُدُّونَ
“And verily a day with your Lord is as a 1000 years of what you reckon.” 

The reason for this difference is that this day will be long in terms of the severity and different levels of pain. Therefore, this day will seem to be that of 50,000 years for some and that of 1000 years for others.

In short, a long period of time will pass for the trial to begin, so much so, that these people will wish that reckoning comes so that they can be relieved from their state of uncertainty, no matter what happens in the end. It is to indicate this length of stay that the word thumma was prefixed to naqulu [نَقُولُ] which means “We will say”.

After people have been gathered for the reckoning those who associated partners with Allah will be asked some questions.

The word ashraku [أَشْرَكُواْ] is from the root letters sheen-ra-kaf i.e. shirk. They will be questioned about the objects of worship that they had taken to as partners of Allah, and depended upon to resolve their sorrows and associated all blessings from them. If these people took these idols to be their deities in this world then why would these deities not help them in the Hereafter, in their hour of trial and distress?

As it was said in Surah al-Qasas Ayah 62,

وَيَوْمَ يُنَـدِيهِمْ فَيَقُولُ أَيْنَ شُرَكَآئِىَ الَّذِينَ كُنتُمْ تَزْعُمُونَ
And (remember) the Day when He will call to them, and say, “Where are My (so-called) partners whom you used to assert?”

  ثُمَّ لَمْ تَكُن فِتْنَتُهُمْ إِلَّا أَن قَالُوا وَاللَّـهِ رَبِّنَا مَا كُنَّا مُشْرِكِينَ 
( 23 )   Then there will be no [excuse upon] examination except they will say, "By Allah, our Lord, we were not those who associated."
Explanation by Verse By Verse Qur'an Study Circle:
In the ayah 23, we come across the answer that the disbelievers will give when confronted with the situation stated in ayah 22.

The word fitnah [فِتْنَ] is from the root letters fa-ta-noon and it means “a trial or a test”. Here in the ayah it is used in the sense of an excuse or an argument.

The only excuse or argument that the disbelievers will be able to give is, “We never committed shirk”. Why has this argument been called fitnah? Any question that a person is asked, or any test that a person is going through, isn’t it a fitnah?

Therefore, they will say, “By Allah, our Lord, we were not those who associated”. Meaning, they will take support of lies to protect themselves while Allah knows everything.

This is the most astonishing thing about their answer. The Day of Retribution will be a nerve-shattering time where the power and authority of Allah will be manifested, yet they will have the courage to lie before Him without shame. They will say, “You are our Lord, and we never committed shirk”.

The commentators explain this answer as something not based on foresight or hindsight. In fact, it was caused by the heat of surrounding awe and the loss of personal nerves, a condition in which one utters what is not intended. This indicates that on that Day Allah will allow them to say like they used to talk in the dunya. In Surah al-Mujidalah Ayah 18, it was said,

يَوْمَ يَبْعَثُهُمُ اللَّهِ جَمِيعاً فَيَحْلِفُونَ لَهُ كَمَا يَحْلِفُونَ لَكُمْ وَيَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُمْ عَلَى شَىْءٍ أَلاَ إِنَّهُمْ هُمُ الْكَـذِبُونَ
“On the Day when Allah will resurrect them all together; then they will swear to Him as they swear to you. And they think that they have something. Verily, they are liars!”

This gives the hint that just like they would falsely swear in the dunya, they would not refrain from doing so in the Hereafter, in front of the Lord Who knows every secret. Lying would become their second nature.
  انظُرْ كَيْفَ كَذَبُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ ۚ وَضَلَّ عَنْهُم مَّا كَانُوا يَفْتَرُونَ 
( 24 )   See how they will lie about themselves. And lost from them will be what they used to invent.
Explanation by Verse By Verse Qur'an Study Circle:
In this ayah, Allah is addressing the Prophet (peace be upon him).

The event has not really happened but Allah says, “Unzur [انظُرْ] look”. This suggests that the event is so definite that it seems as if you can see it happening right before your eyes. Look at their false excuses, their denial from committing shirk.

Allah says that look how these people have lied against their own selves, as evident by the words `ala anfusihim [عَلَى أَنفُسِهِمْ] . Whenever a person lies, it’s a hujja i.e. an argument against his own self. The curse of their lie is going to fall on no one but their own selves.

We learnt in Ayah 22 that the length of the Day of Judgment will be 50,000 years. On that Day people will be questioned collectively as well as individually. And there will be several instances where questions will be asked. During this time, people will keep changing their statements in order escape the punishment of Hellfire. For example, at one point they will deny committing shirk. At other they will say, “The deities that we worshiped we can’t find them today.” It is similar to dunya, when we are trying to get out of a certain situation we use one excuse after another only to save our necks.

In Surah al-Ghaffir Ayaat 73 and 74, Allah says,

ثُمَّ قِيلَ لَهُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُمْ تُشْرِكُونَ – مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ قَـالُواْ ضَـلُّواْ عَنَّا بَل لَّمْ نَكُنْ نَّدْعُواْ مِن قَبْلُ شَيْئاً كَذَلِكَ يُضِلُّ اللَّهُ الْكَـفِرِينَ
Then it will be said to them: “Where are (all) those whom you used to join in worship as partners besides Allah?” They will say, “They have vanished from us: Nay, we did not invoke (worship) anything before.” Thus Allah leads astray the disbelievers.

 وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَسْتَمِعُ إِلَيْكَ ۖ وَجَعَلْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ أَكِنَّةً أَن يَفْقَهُوهُ وَفِي آذَانِهِمْ وَقْرًا ۚ وَإِن يَرَوْا كُلَّ آيَةٍ لَّا يُؤْمِنُوا بِهَا ۚ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءُوكَ يُجَادِلُونَكَ يَقُولُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِنْ هَـٰذَا إِلَّا أَسَاطِيرُ الْأَوَّلِينَ 
( 25 )   And among them are those who listen to you, but We have placed over their hearts coverings, lest they understand it, and in their ears deafness. And if they should see every sign, they will not believe in it. Even when they come to you arguing with you, those who disbelieve say, "This is not but legends of the former peoples."
It is noteworthy that God attributes to Himself all that happens in the world as a result of the laws of nature. Since these laws were made by God Himself, the effects which result from their operation are also ultimately due to the will and permission of God. The refusal on the part of unbelievers to heed the call of the Truth even when it is clear and audible stems from their obstinacy, prejudice, mental rigidity and inertia. It is a law of nature that when a man is not prepared to rise above prejudice in his quest for the Truth, his heart closes to every truth which is opposed to his desires. We can describe this condition by saying that the heart of that person has become sealed and when God describes it He does so by saying that He had sealed the heart of the person concerned. The explanation of this Paradox is that whereas we describe merely an incident, God describes its ultimate cause.

Whenever ignorant people are called to the Truth they are liable to say that there is nothing novel about it, that it is merely a repetition of things that have come down from the past, as if in their view every truth must be new, and whatever is old must of necessity be false, although Truth has always been one and the same and will remain so. All those who have come forward to lead people in the light of God-given knowledge have been preaching one and the same Truth from time immemorial, and all those who will benefit from this valuable source of human knowledge in the future are bound to repeat the same old truths. Novelties can be invented only by those who, being bereft of the light of Divine guidance, are incapable of perceiving the eternal Truth, preferring to weave altogether new ideas out of their imagination and to put them forward as truth.

  وَهُمْ يَنْهَوْنَ عَنْهُ وَيَنْأَوْنَ عَنْهُ ۖ وَإِن يُهْلِكُونَ إِلَّا أَنفُسَهُمْ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ 
( 26 )   And they prevent [others] from him and are [themselves] remote from him. And they do not destroy except themselves, but they perceive [it] not.
Verses 27-30 For sure there is a life after death?

  وَلَوْ تَرَىٰ إِذْ وُقِفُوا عَلَى النَّارِ فَقَالُوا يَا لَيْتَنَا نُرَدُّ وَلَا نُكَذِّبَ بِآيَاتِ رَبِّنَا وَنَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ 
 ( 27 )   If you could but see when they are made to stand before the Fire and will say, "Oh, would that we could be returned [to life on earth] and not deny the signs of our Lord and be among the believers."
 بَلْ بَدَا لَهُم مَّا كَانُوا يُخْفُونَ مِن قَبْلُ ۖ وَلَوْ رُدُّوا لَعَادُوا لِمَا نُهُوا عَنْهُ وَإِنَّهُمْ لَكَاذِبُونَ  
( 28 )   But what they concealed before has [now] appeared to them. And even if they were returned, they would return to that which they were forbidden; and indeed, they are liars.
At that moment such a statement on their part would not be indicative of either any true change of heart or of any genuinely revised judgement based on serious reflection and reasoning. It would rather be the result of direct observation of reality at a time when even the staunchest unbeliever would find it impossible to deny it.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Their falsity was not due to want of knowledge, but to perversity and selfishness. In their heart was a disease (ii. 10): therefore neither their understanding, nor their ears, nor their eyes do their proper work. They twist what they see, hear, or are taught, and go deeper and deeper into the mire. The deceptions which they used to practice on other people will, before the Seat of Judgement, become clear in their own eyes.

وَقَالُوا إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا حَيَاتُنَا الدُّنْيَا وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمَبْعُوثِينَ  
( 29 )   And they say, "There is none but our worldly life, and we will not be resurrected."
  وَلَوْ تَرَىٰ إِذْ وُقِفُوا عَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ ۚ قَالَ أَلَيْسَ هَـٰذَا بِالْحَقِّ ۚ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ وَرَبِّنَا ۚ قَالَ فَذُوقُوا الْعَذَابَ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَكْفُرُونَ 
( 30 )   If you could but see when they will be made to stand before their Lord. He will say, "Is this not the truth?" They will say, "Yes, by our Lord." He will [then] say, "So taste the punishment because you used to disbelieve."
Ruku / Section 4 [Verses 31-40]
Verses 31-35 Those who deny Prophet Muhammad, in fact deny Allah's revelations:

 قَدْ خَسِرَ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِلِقَاءِ اللَّـهِ ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَتْهُمُ السَّاعَةُ بَغْتَةً قَالُوا يَا حَسْرَتَنَا عَلَىٰ مَا فَرَّطْنَا فِيهَا وَهُمْ يَحْمِلُونَ أَوْزَارَهُمْ عَلَىٰ ظُهُورِهِمْ ۚ أَلَا سَاءَ مَا يَزِرُونَ 
( 31 )   Those will have lost who deny the meeting with Allah, until when the Hour [of resurrection] comes upon them unexpectedly, they will say, "Oh, [how great is] our regret over what we neglected concerning it," while they bear their burdens on their backs. Unquestionably, evil is that which they bear.
[Verses 32 – 39]
We then see Allah comforting His Prophet and dispelling his grief at the denial he receives from the unbelievers. He is told that he has a good example in the cases of earlier messengers. They were denied and received hostile opposition, but they remained steadfast until Allah gave them victory. It states that the laws Allah has set in operation will not be changed, but they cannot be hastened either. If the Prophet cannot withstand their rejection, then he may try to bring them a miracle by his own human endeavor. Had Allah so willed, He would have brought them all to His guidance. But His will has so determined that those whose natural receptive faculties are not switched off will respond to divine guidance, while those who are dead will not make such a response. He will resurrect them and they will all return to Him. It also gives a lesson to the believers to remain steadfast in da`wah work and be patient in testing times.  

Verse 32 below warns against hedonism: Hedonism is a school of thought that argues seeking pleasure and avoiding suffering are the only components of well-being. Ethical hedonism is the view that combines hedonism with welfarist ethics, which claim that what we should do depends exclusively on what affects the well-being individuals have. Ethical hedonists would defend either increasing pleasure and reducing suffering for all beings capable of experiencing them, or just reducing suffering in the case of negative consequentialism. According to negative utilitarianism, only the minimization of suffering would matter. Ethical hedonism is said to have been started by Aristippus of Cyrene, a student of Socrates. He held the idea that pleasure is the highest good.

  وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ ۖ وَلَلدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لِّلَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ ۗ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ 
( 32 )   And the worldly life is not but amusement and diversion; but the home of the Hereafter is best for those who fear Allah, so will you not reason?
This does not mean that earthly life has nothing serious about it and that it has been brought into being merely as a sport and pastime. What this observation means is that, compared with the true and abiding life of the Hereafter, earthly life seems, as it were, a sport, a transient pastime with which to amuse oneself before turning to serious business.

Earthly life has been likened to a sport and pastime for another reason as well. Since Ultimate Reality is hidden in this world, the superficially minded ones who lack true perception encounter many a thing which causes them to fall a prey to misconceptions. As a result of these misconceptions such persons indulge in a variety of actions which are so blatantly opposed to reality that their life seems to consist merely of sport and pastime. One who assumes the position of a king in this world, for instance, is no different from the person who plays the part of a king on the stage of a theatre. His head is bedecked with a crown and he goes about commanding people as if he were a king, even though he has no royal authority. He may later, if the director of the theatre wishes, be either dismissed from his royal office, put into prison or even be sentenced to death Plays of this kind go on all over the world. Saints and man-made deities are deemed to respond to human supplications even though they do not have a shred of authority to do so. Again, some people try to unravel the Unseen even though to do so lies altogether beyond their reach. There are those who claim to provide sustenance to others despite the fact that they are themselves dependent on others for their own sustenance. There are still others who think that they have the power either to bestow honour and dignity on human beings or to degrade them, either to confer benefits or to harm them. Such people go about trumpeting their own glory but their own foreheads bear the stamp of their humble bondage to their Creator. By just one twist of fortune such people may fall of their pedestals and be trampled under the feet of those upon whom they have been imposing their God-like authority.

All these people come to a sudden end with death.As soon as man crosses the boundaries of this world and steps into the Next, the reality will be fully manifest, all the misconceptions that he has entertained will be peeled away, and he will be shown the true worth of his belief and actions.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Play and amusement are for preparing our minds for the serious things of life: in themselves they are not serious. So this life is a preparation for the Eternal Home to which we are going, which is far more important than the ephemeral pleasures which may possibly seduce us in this life.

 قَدْ نَعْلَمُ إِنَّهُ لَيَحْزُنُكَ الَّذِي يَقُولُونَ ۖ فَإِنَّهُمْ لَا يُكَذِّبُونَكَ وَلَـٰكِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّـهِ يَجْحَدُونَ 
( 33 )   We know that you, [O Muhammad], are saddened by what they say. And indeed, they do not call you untruthful, but it is the verses of Allah that the wrongdoers reject.
The fact is that before the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) began to preach the message of God, all his people regarded him as truthful and trustworthy and had full confidence in his veracity. Only after he had begun to preach the message of God did they call him a liar. Even during this period none dared to say that the Prophet (peace be on him) had ever been guilty of untruthfulness in personal matters. Even his worst enemies never accused him of lying in any worldly affairs. When they did accuse him of falsehood, they did so in respect of his prophetic mission. Abu Jahl for instance, was one of his staunchest enemies. According to a tradition from 'Ali, Abu Jahl once said to the Prophet (peace be on him): 'We do not disbelieve you. We disbelieve your message.' On the occasion of the Battle of Badr, Akhnas b. Shariq asked Abu Jahl, when they were alone, to confide whether he considered Muhammad to be truthful or not. He replied: ' By God, Muhammad is a veracious person. He has never lied in all his life. But if every honorable office-liwa' (standard-bearing in war), siqayah ( provision of water to the pilgrims), hijabah (guardianship of the ka'bah ) and nubuwah ( prophet-hood ) - were to fall to the share of the decedents of Qusayy, what would be left for the rest of the Quraysh?' (Ibn Kathir,vol.3, pp.17-18-Ed.)

Here God consoled the Prophet(peace be on him) by telling him that by charging him with falsehood the unbelievers were calling God untruthful. Since God has endured this accusation with mild forbearance, leaving them free to persist in their blasphemy, the Prophet ( peace be on him ) need not feel undue disquiet.

  وَلَقَدْ كُذِّبَتْ رُسُلٌ مِّن قَبْلِكَ فَصَبَرُوا عَلَىٰ مَا كُذِّبُوا وَأُوذُوا حَتَّىٰ أَتَاهُمْ نَصْرُنَا ۚ وَلَا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمَاتِ اللَّـهِ ۚ وَلَقَدْ جَاءَكَ مِن نَّبَإِ الْمُرْسَلِينَ 
( 34 )   And certainly were messengers denied before you, but they were patient over [the effects of] denial, and they were harmed until Our victory came to them. And none can alter the words of Allah. And there has certainly come to you some information about the [previous] messengers.
The point emphasized here is that no one has the power to change God's Law regarding the conflict between Truth and falsehood. Lovers of Truth must of necessity pass through trials and persecution so as to be gradually tempered. Their endurance, their honesty of conviction, their readiness to sacrifice and to undertake all risk for their cause, the strength of their faith and the extent of their trust in God must be tested. They must pass through this phase of persecution to develop in themselves those qualities which can be developed nowhere else but on earth. They are also required to defeat the forces of ignorance by virtue of their moral excellence and the nobility of their character. Only after they have established their moral superiority over their adversaries will God's help arrive. No one can secure that help before hand.

وَإِن كَانَ كَبُرَ عَلَيْكَ إِعْرَاضُهُمْ فَإِنِ اسْتَطَعْتَ أَن تَبْتَغِيَ نَفَقًا فِي الْأَرْضِ أَوْ سُلَّمًا فِي السَّمَاءِ فَتَأْتِيَهُم بِآيَةٍ ۚ وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّـهُ لَجَمَعَهُمْ عَلَى الْهُدَىٰ ۚ فَلَا تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ  
( 35 )   And if their evasion is difficult for you, then if you are able to seek a tunnel into the earth or a stairway into the sky to bring them a sign, [then do so]. But if Allah had willed, He would have united them upon guidance. So never be of the ignorant.
The Prophet (peace be on him) saw that even though he had spent a long time admonishing his people, they did not seem inclined to heed his call. As a result he sometimes wished for the appearance of some extraordinary sign of God that would undermine the stubbornness of his people and lead them to accept his guidance. This verse embodies God's response to the Prophet's desire. He is told not to be impatient. He must persist in his striving and continue to work. in conformity with God's directive. Had it been God's purpose to work miracles, He would have done so. But God did not consider that to be either the appropriate method for bringing to a successful completion the required intellectual and moral revolution or for the evolution of a sound, healthy civilization. Well, then, if the Prophet (peace be on him) could not bear patiently with the attitude of stubbornness and rejection prevalent among his people, and if he thought it necessary to make them witness a tangible sign of God, let him muster all his strength and try to cleave the earth, or climb a ladder to the heaven and bring forth a miracle powerful enough to change the unbelief of the unbelievers into belief. He is told, however, that in this regard he should not expect God to fulfill his wish, for such things have no place in God's scheme.

Had it been required that all people should be driven to the Truth, there would have been no need to send Prophets, to reveal heavenly Books, to direct believers to engage in struggles against unbelievers, and to make the message of Truth pass through the necessary stages until fulfillment is reached. The result could have been achieved by a single sign of God's creative will. God, however, did not want things to happen that way. He preferred the Truth to be set before people with its supporting arguments so that by a proper exercise of their rational judgement, they should recognize it for what it was and thereafter freely choose to embrace it as their faith. By moulding their lives in conformity with this Truth such people should demonstrate their moral superiority over the devotees of falsehood. They should continually attract men of sound morals by the force of their arguments, by the loftiness of their ideals, by the excellence of their principles and by the purity of their lives. They should thus reach their goal - the establishment of the hegemony of the true faith - by the natural and gradual escalation of strife against falsehood. God will guide them in the performance of this task and will provide them with whatever help they merit during the various stages of their struggle. But if anyone wishes to evade this natural course and wants God to obliterate corrupt ideas and to spread healthy ones in their stead, to root out a corrupt civilization and put a healthy one in its place by exercising His omnipotent will, let him know that this will not come about. The reason is that such is contrary to the scheme according to which God has created man as a responsible being, bestowed upon him a degree of power which he may exercise, granted him the freedom to choose between obedience and disobedience to God, awarded him a certain term of life in order to demonstrate his worth, and determined that at an appointed hour He will judge him for either reward or punishment in the light of his deeds.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
There were many signs of a divine Mission in the Apostle's life and in the Message which he delivered. If these did not convince the Unbelievers, was it not vain to seek a miraculous Sign from the bowels of the earth or by a visible ascent to the skies? If in the Apostle's eagerness to get all to accept his Message he was hurt at their callousness, active opposition, and persecution of him, he is told that a full knowledge of the working of God`s Plan would convince him that impatience was misplaced. This was in the days of persecution before the Hijrat. The history in Medina and shows how Allah's truth was ultimately and triumphantly vindicated. Who among the sincere devotees of Muhammad can fail to read vi. 33-35 without tears in his eyes?

Verses 36-41 Those who listen will accept the Truth and Use your common sense to learn from the signs of nature and Do you not call Allah alone in real distress?

  إِنَّمَا يَسْتَجِيبُ الَّذِينَ يَسْمَعُونَ ۘ وَالْمَوْتَىٰ يَبْعَثُهُمُ اللَّـهُ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ يُرْجَعُونَ 
( 36 )   Only those who hear will respond. But the dead - Allah will resurrect them; then to Him they will be returned.
'Those who hear' refers to those whose consciences are alive, who have not atrophied their intellect and reason, and who have not closed their hearts to the Truth out of irrational prejudice and menta! inflexibility. In contrast to such people are those who are characterized as 'dead' - who blindly follow the old familiar beaten tracks, and can never deviate from the ways they have inherited, even when these ways are plainly at variance with the Truth.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
There is a double meaning here. (1) If people listen to truth sincerely and earnestly, they must believe; even if the spiritual faculty is dead, God will by His grace revive it and they will come to Him, if they really try earnestly to understand. (2) The sincere will believe; but those whose hearts are dead will not listen, yet they cannot escape being brought to the Judgement Seat before him.

 وَقَالُوا لَوْلَا نُزِّلَ عَلَيْهِ آيَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِ ۚ قُلْ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ قَادِرٌ عَلَىٰ أَن يُنَزِّلَ آيَةً وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ 
( 37 )   And they say, "Why has a sign not been sent down to him from his Lord?" Say, "Indeed, Allah is Able to send down a sign, but most of them do not know."
The word ayah here signifies a tangible miracle. The purpose of the verse is to point out that the reason for not showing a miraculous sign is not God's powerlessness. The true reason is something else which those people in their immaturity, have failed to comprehend.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Signs are all around them, but they do not understand. If they want a particular Sign to suit their gross ignorance, they will not be honoured, for they can always pick holes in anything that descends to their level.

  وَمَا مِن دَابَّةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا طَائِرٍ يَطِيرُ بِجَنَاحَيْهِ إِلَّا أُمَمٌ أَمْثَالُكُم ۚ مَّا فَرَّطْنَا فِي الْكِتَابِ مِن شَيْءٍ ۚ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يُحْشَرُونَ 
( 38 )   And there is no creature on [or within] the earth or bird that flies with its wings except [that they are] communities like you. We have not neglected in the Register a thing. Then unto their Lord they will be gathered.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
"Animals living on the earth" include those living in the water, - fishes, reptiles, crustaceans, insects, as well as four-footed beasts. Life on the wing is separately mentioned. "Tair," which is ordinarily translated as "bird," is anything that flies, including mammals like bats. In our pride we may exclude animals from our purview, but they all live a life, social and individual, like ourselves, and all life is subject to the Plan and the Will of God. In vi. 59 we are told that not a leaf falls but by His Will, and things dry and green are recorded in His Book. In other words they all obey His archetypal Plan, the Book which is also mentioned here. They are all answerable in their several degrees to His Plan ("shall be gathered to their Lord in the end"). This is not Pantheism: it is ascribing all life, activity, and existence to the Will and Plan of God.

  وَالَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا صُمٌّ وَبُكْمٌ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ ۗ مَن يَشَإِ اللَّـهُ يُضْلِلْـهُ وَمَن يَشَأْ يَجْعَلْهُ عَلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ 
( 39 )   But those who deny Our verses are deaf and dumb within the darkness. Whomever Allah wills - He leaves astray; and whomever He wills - He puts him on a straight path.
If they are concerned with miraculous signs in order to determine whether or not the message of the Prophet (peace be on him) is indeed true, then, let them look around with open and attentive eyes. If they actually do so they will find the world full of such signs. Let them take any species of animal or bird they like. They can reflect upon the superbness of its organic structure. They will notice how its instinctive urges are in complete conformity with its natural requirements. They will also observe how wonderfully adequate are the arrangements for providing it with nourishment; how marvellously well-determined are the limits within which -it lives; how tremendously efficient is the system under which each living creature is protected, provided for, looked after and directed towards self-fulfilment; how strictly each one is fitted into the framework of the discipline devised for it, and how very smooth is the operation of the whole system of birth, procreation and death. Were one to reflect on this alone from among the innumerable signs of God, one would perceive fully how true the teaching of the Prophet (peace he on him) is concerning the unity and other attributes of God and how necessary it is to live a righteous life in conformity with the concept of God propounded by him. But their eyes were neither open to perceive the Truth nor their ears open to heed admonition. Instead, they remained ignorant, preferring to be entertained by the performance of wondrous feats.

28. God's act of misguiding a man consists in not enabling one who cherishes his ignorance to observe the signs of God. The fact is that if a biased person - one who has no real love of the Truth - were to observe the signs of God, he might still fail to perceive it. Indeed, all those things which cause misconception and confusion would probably continue to alienate him from it. God's act of true guidance consists in enabling a seeker after the Truth to benefit from the sources of true knowledge, so that he constantly discovers sign after sign, leading him ultimately to the Truth.

A myriad of cases are encountered daily to illustrate this. We notice that a great many people pass inattentively over the countless signs of God that are scattered all over the world, and ignore even those signs which are manifest in human beings as well as in animals. It is little wonder, then, that they derive no lesson from all these signs. There are many who study zoology, botany, biology, geology, astronomy, physiology, anatomy and other branches of natural science. Others study history, archaeology and sociology. During the course of such studies they come across many signs of God which, if they cared to look at them in the correct perspective, might fill their hearts with faith. But since they commence their study with a bias, and are actuated only by the desire to acquire earthly advantages, they fail to discover the signs which could lead them to the Truth. On the contrary, each of those very signs of God contributes to pushing them towards atheism, materialism and naturalism. At the same time, the world is not empty of those truly wise ones who view the universe with open eyes. For them even the most ordinary phenomenon of the universe directs them to God.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The limited free will of man makes a little difference. If he sees the Signs but shuts his ears to the true Message, and refuses (like a dumb thing) to speak out the Message which all Nature proclaims, then according to the Plan ( of his limited free-will) he must suffer and wander, just as, in the opposite case, he will receive grace and salvation.

[Verses 40 – 49] talk about both calamities and blessings. Calamities are a means to humble man before his Lord. They serve as reminders that nothing lasts forever. Shaytan beautifies things for man to divert him from the right path and his main purpose of existence. It presents the example of two groups of the people: those who believe in the Message brought by the Messenger will have no fear and grief while the deniers will face a tormenting punishment.

 قُلْ أَرَأَيْتَكُمْ إِنْ أَتَاكُمْ عَذَابُ اللَّـهِ أَوْ أَتَتْكُمُ السَّاعَةُ أَغَيْرَ اللَّـهِ تَدْعُونَ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ 
( 40 )   Say, "Have you considered: if there came to you the punishment of Allah or there came to you the Hour - is it other than Allah you would invoke, if you should be truthful?"
Ruku / Section 5 [Verses 41-50]

 بَلْ إِيَّاهُ تَدْعُونَ فَيَكْشِفُ مَا تَدْعُونَ إِلَيْهِ إِن شَاءَ وَتَنسَوْنَ مَا تُشْرِكُونَ 
( 41 )   No, it is Him [alone] you would invoke, and He would remove that for which you invoked Him if He willed, and you would forget what you associate [with Him].
Attention is now drawn towards another sign - one observable even in the lives of those who deny the Truth. When either some great calamity befalls a man or when death starkly stares him in the face, it is only to God that he turns for refuge. On such occasions even the staunchest polytheists forget their false gods and cry out to the One True God, and even the most rabid atheists stretch out their hands in prayer to Him. This phenomenon is mentioned here in order to draw an instructive lesson. It shows that devotion to God and monotheism are ingrained in the human soul. No matter how overlaid this truth might be, some day it shakes off man's heedlessness and ignorance and manifests itself fully. It was the observation of this sign which had led 'Ikrimah, the son of Abu Jahl, to the true faith. For when Makkah was conquered at the hands of the Prophet (peace be on him), 'Ikrimah fled to Jeddah and sailed from there towards Abyssinia. During the voyage the boat ran into a severe storm which threatened to capsize it. At first people began calling on their gods and goddesses. Later on, when the storm grew even worse and the passengers were sure that the boat would sink, they began to feel it was time to call on God alone, for He alone could save them. This opened the eyes of 'Ikrimah, whose heart cried out to him that if there was no effective helper for them in that situation, how could there he one elsewhere? He also recalled that this was precisely what the Prophet (peace be on him) had constantly told people, and that it was precisely because of this preaching that they had been engaged in unnecessary violent conflict with him. This was a turning-point in 'Ikrimah's life. He instantly made up his mind that if he survived the storm he would go straight to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) and place his hand in his, binding himself in allegiance. Thereafter he not only remained true to his word by becoming a Muslim, but spent the rest of his life struggling in the cause of Islam.

Verses 42-45 Prosperity in this world is not a reward but a respite:

 وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَىٰ أُمَمٍ مِّن قَبْلِكَ فَأَخَذْنَاهُم بِالْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَضَرَّعُونَ 
( 42 )   And We have already sent [messengers] to nations before you, [O Muhammad]; then We seized them with poverty and hardship that perhaps they might humble themselves [to Us].
Explanation by Verse By Verse Qur'an Study Circle:
In the previous verse, we studied a refutation of shirk [associating partners with Allah] and kufr [disbelief] and an affirmation of tawheed [Oneness of Allah]. The idolaters were asked who they would call upon if they were afflicted by a trial. Through past incidents it has been ascertained that when the idolaters or disbelievers go through a suffering they call upon Allah, so wouldn’t it be wise if they believed in Him and called upon Him during good times as well.

In verse 31 and 32, we learnt that they will have regrets in the Hereafter for their disbelief. However, the remorse will creep in after witnessing the torment of the Hereafter. Therefore, in the coming verse Allah  talks about punishment in the worldly life as well. He doesn’t wait for the Hereafter to give us a jolt but through small trials and tribulations He keeps giving people a wake up call.

Here in this verse it is being said; Messages and messengers were sent to almost every nation. Some nations directly received a messenger such as the people of Makkah but the Prophet (peace be upon him) also took the message to other places such as Taif and Madina. Therefore, the message was sent to all the people.

The word bil-basai [بِالْبَأْسَآءِ] is from the root letters ­ba-hamza-seen and it means “extreme poverty, physical hurt or physical hardship”. It does not necessarily mean that a person may be suffering from a loss but it is when a person is suffering from hardship.

The word wal-darai [وَالضَّرَّآءِ] is from the root letters dad-ra-ra and it means “everything that a person suffers from in his nafs, in his body or in his heart”. It is a mental, physical and emotional pain. The wa in the beginning is prefixed conjunction translated as “and”.

When the people opposed the messengers, Allah made them go through difficulties and suffering such as loss of wealth, diminished provisions, illnesses, diseases and various types of other pains. This was done so that people could humble themselves before Allah, call and supplicate to Him without a speck of arrogance.

For example, the Pharaoh denied the message of Allah despite witnessing several miracles. His nation was afflicted with famine, poverty, an increase in locust and frogs. Each time they suffered people would go to Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) that pray to your Lord to remove this affliction. However, when the hardship was removed they returned to their previous condition.

The word yatadarra’una [يَتَضَرَّعُونَ] is from the root letters dad-ra-ayn and it means, “to show humility, express one’s helplessness, lower one’s self or submit”. It is when a person quietly and privately cries before someone to get their help. They become emotional so that mercy is shown to them.

Crying before Allah is showing our weakness that “O Allah! I don’t know what’s good for me. I can’t help myself. You know what state I am in and what’s best for me.” This shows he needs help. It takes a lot to break a man’s ego. People don’t acknowledge their weakness. Tadarra’un is when one is completely crushed.

Surah al-An'aam was revealed one year before the migration to Madina therefore it contains severe warning for the people of Makkah. They have been shown miracles, gone through sufferings, given warnings and if they still don’t wake up the consequences are going to be grave.

  فَلَوْلَا إِذْ جَاءَهُم بَأْسُنَا تَضَرَّعُوا وَلَـٰكِن قَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَزَيَّنَ لَهُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ 
( 43 )   Then why, when Our punishment came to them, did they not humble themselves? But their hearts became hardened, and Satan made attractive to them that which they were doing.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Sorrow and suffering may (if we take them rightly) turn out to be the best gifts of God to us. According to the Psalms (xciv. 12), "Blessed is the man whom Thou chastenest, O Lord!" Through suffering we learn humility, the antidote to many vices and the fountain of many virtues. But if we take them the wrong way, we grumble and complain: we become faint-hearted; and Satan gets his opportunity to exploit us by putting forward the alluring pleasures of his Vanity Fair.

 فَلَمَّا نَسُوا مَا ذُكِّرُوا بِهِ فَتَحْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ أَبْوَابَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا فَرِحُوا بِمَا أُوتُوا أَخَذْنَاهُم بَغْتَةً فَإِذَا هُم مُّبْلِسُونَ  
( 44 )   So when they forgot that by which they had been reminded, We opened to them the doors of every [good] thing until, when they rejoiced in that which they were given, We seized them suddenly, and they were [then] in despair.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Learning the inner truth of ourselves and the world presupposes a certain advanced stage of sensitiveness and spiritual development. There is a shallower stage, at which prosperity and the good things of life may teach us sympathy and goodness and cheerfulness like that of Mr. Cheeribyles in Dickens. In such cases the Message takes root. But there is another type of character which is puffed up in prosperity. For them prosperity is a trial or even a punishment from the higher point of view. They go deeper and deeper into sin, until they are pulled up of a sudden, and then instead of being contrite they merely become desperate.

Explanation by Verse By Verse Qur'an Study Circle:
In the previous verse, we studied the wisdom behind calamities that it is a mercy of Allah that He gives us a jolt before the Final Hour. In ayah 44, He talks about what happens when people ignore His Signs or wake-up calls.

When people forgot the messages that the prophets ‘alayhim salaam brought or when they denied the messengers, difficulties were sent their way. The messengers had warned them that they if they do not believe then punishments would descend.

The word nasu [نَسُواْ] is from the root letters noon-seen-ya and it means “to forsake, forget or neglect”. The word fatahna [فَتَحْنَا] is from the root letters fa-ta-ha and it means “to open, grant or let out”. The word abwab [أَبْوَاب] is the plural of baab which means “door”.

When the people became negligent of what they were commanded to do, gates of provision were opened for them from wherever they wished. Every blessing of the world was made abundant for them such as wealth, children and provision.

Kulli shayin denotes that this also includes those blessings which the people were deprived of earlier. Like the people of Pharaoh were suffering from famine and drought. The doors of rain and food were closed upon them. Later they were showered continuously and abundantly. When they became delighted or boastful about what they have been given, they were suddenly seized with punishment.

The word farihu [فَرِحُواْ] is from the root letters fa-ra-ha and it means “to be elated with greatness”.

Punishments are often sent suddenly, when a person is not even thinking about or expecting them. The word mublisoon means dumbfounded, speechless or hopeless. When they were suddenly struck with punishment after being showered with abundant blessings, they went into depression.

A person should turn to Allah instead of being in depression or living a hopeless life. A true believer cannot suffer from depression because he knows everything that’s happening to him is coming from Allah. It has some blessing behind it which will be revealed after some time. A person should remain patient and stay connected with Allah  during all times.

  فَقُطِعَ دَابِرُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا ۚ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ 
( 45 )   So the people that committed wrong were eliminated. And praise to Allah, Lord of the worlds.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
God's punishment of wrong-doers is a measure of justice, to protect the true and righteous from their depredations and maintain His righteous decrees. It is an aspect of His character which is emphasized by the epithet "Cherisher of the Worlds."

Explanation by Verse By Verse Qur'an Study Circle:
The word faquti`a [فَقُطِعَ] is from the root letters qaf-ta-ayn which means “to cut, severe, disunite or detach”. The fa in the beginning is connective particle usually translated as “then” or “so”. The word dabiru [دَابِرُ] is from the root letters dal-ba-ra and it means “the end or root of something”.

The root of the people that committed wrong was completely cut off. Such as pulling out weed from the ground nothing is left. The entire nation was wiped out.

Allah then ends the ayah with His praise. Why was this done? It is because whenever the wrongdoers, oppressors, and unjust people are visited by some punishment or calamity that is a blessing for the whole world for which people should be grateful to Allah .

Verses 46-50 Who can restore your hearing and sight if Allah takes them away? And Rasools never claimed that they know the unseen or that they are angels:

 قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ أَخَذَ اللَّـهُ سَمْعَكُمْ وَأَبْصَارَكُمْ وَخَتَمَ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِكُم مَّنْ إِلَـٰهٌ غَيْرُ اللَّـهِ يَأْتِيكُم بِهِ ۗ انظُرْ كَيْفَ نُصَرِّفُ الْآيَاتِ ثُمَّ هُمْ يَصْدِفُونَ 
( 46 )   Say, "Have you considered: if Allah should take away your hearing and your sight and set a seal upon your hearts, which deity other than Allah could bring them [back] to you?" Look how we diversify the verses; then they [still] turn away.
Explanation by Verse By Verse Qur'an Study Circle:
In verses 46-47, Allah la is addressing the Messenger (peace be upon him) to respond to the rebellious people.

In verse 46, In the ayah, Allah is asking through His Messenger (peace be upon him) that if He takes away our senses which deity other than Allah would bring them back to us. If Allah takes away our hearing so that we are unable to retain anything or He takes away our sight so that we are unable to see anything or that He sets a seal upon our hearts so that we could no longer feel anything then who could return these senses to us? This tells us how dependent we are on Allah.

The word nussarifu [نُصَرِّفُ] is from the root letters sad-ra-fa and it means “to turn away, avert or divert”.

Allah has presented various kinds of verses in the Qur’an. There are some that scare us and then there are those which comfort us. There are some which bring a clear command and then there are those which require further explanation through Prophet’s sayings. Similarly, we see the physical Signs of Allah. Sometimes, the sun is shining brightly above our heads. Sometimes rainfall comes followed by a hailstorm. Sometimes the sky is clear and sometime there is a solar or lunar eclipse. These are not fanciful things but these are Signs that Allah is showing us to make us ponder.

The word yasdifoona [يَصْدِفُونَ] is from the root letters sa`ad-dal-fa and it means “to turn away, shun aside, hinder or prevent”. Primarily, it is derived from the word Sadaf which is also used for oyster and it denotes something that’s hard, curvy and it bends.

While we are surrounded by a multitude of diverse Signs of Allah, made plain and clear for us, each testifying His Oneness in lordship and that those worshiped besides Him are false and unworthy, people still turn aside. Not only do people turn away themselves but also divert or hinder people from following the truth as well.

  قُلْ أَرَأَيْتَكُمْ إِنْ أَتَاكُمْ عَذَابُ اللَّـهِ بَغْتَةً أَوْ جَهْرَةً هَلْ يُهْلَكُ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الظَّالِمُونَ 
( 47 )   Say, "Have you considered: if the punishment of Allah should come to you unexpectedly or manifestly, will any be destroyed but the wrongdoing people?"
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Suddenly=without warning. Openly=with many warnings, even to the sinners, though they heed them not. As to those who understand and read the signs of God, they could always tell that all wrong-doing must eventually have its punishment. But it will affect the wrong-doers, not the righteous. It is justice, not revenge.

Explanation by Verse By Verse Qur'an Study Circle:
The word baghtatan [بَغْتَةً] is from the root letters ba-ghayn-ta and it means “suddenly, unexpectedly or surprisingly”.

In the verse, it means when people are unaware such as deep in their sleep they might be struck suddenly by a punishment. Remember the Florida man who was swallowed by a sinkhole in his sleep? Had he expected he would die that way?

There is one type of punishment that’s sudden like a sinkhole or an unexpected accident, and the other one is that you it coming such as an earthquake. You begin to feel the jolts before buildings collapse.

The word jahratan [جَهْرَةً] is from the root letters jeem-ha-ra and it means “plain, open or apparent”.

This torment only strikes those who commit injustice against themselves by associating others with Allah, while those who worship Allah alone without partners will be saved from it, and they will have no fear or sorrow.

In ayah 47, we learn that a person should never be heedless at any moment of his life whether he is getting married or at some other stage in life. We don’t know when our last breath will be.

Allah says in Surah al-A`raf verse 97 and 98, “Then, did the people of the cities feel secure from Our punishment coming to them at night while they were asleep? Or did the people of the cities feel secure from Our punishment coming to them in the morning while they were at play?”

Anything can happen at any time. Therefore, do everything as if it’s your last act. Speak as if this is the last word that you’re uttering. Meet people as if this is the last time that you’re meeting them.

  وَمَا نُرْسِلُ الْمُرْسَلِينَ إِلَّا مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ ۖ فَمَنْ آمَنَ وَأَصْلَحَ فَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ 
( 48 )   And We send not the messengers except as bringers of good tidings and warners. So whoever believes and reforms - there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.
 Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The Apostles are not sent to cancel man's limited free-will. They are sent to preach and teach, - to preach hope to the repentant ("good news"), and to warn the rebellious of the Wrath to come.

  وَالَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا يَمَسُّهُمُ الْعَذَابُ بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْسُقُونَ 
( 49 )   But those who deny Our verses - the punishment will touch them for their defiant disobedience.
قُل لَّا أَقُولُ لَكُمْ عِندِي خَزَائِنُ اللَّـهِ وَلَا أَعْلَمُ الْغَيْبَ وَلَا أَقُولُ لَكُمْ إِنِّي مَلَكٌ ۖ إِنْ أَتَّبِعُ إِلَّا مَا يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ ۚ قُلْ هَلْ يَسْتَوِي الْأَعْمَىٰ وَالْبَصِيرُ ۚ أَفَلَا تَتَفَكَّرُونَ  
( 50 )   Say, [O Muhammad], "I do not tell you that I have the depositories [containing the provision] of Allah or that I know the unseen, nor do I tell you that I am an angel. I only follow what is revealed to me." Say, "Is the blind equivalent to the seeing? Then will you not give thought?"
Feeble-minded people have always entertained the foolish misconception that the more godly a man is, the more liberated he should be from the limitations of human nature. They expect a godly person to be able to work wonders. By a mere sign of his hand, whole mountains should be transmuted into gold. At his command, the earth should begin to throw up all its hidden treasures. He should have miraculous access to all relevant facts about people. He should be able to point out the locations of things which have been lost, and show how they can be retrieved. He should be able to predict whether or not a patient will survive his disease; whether a pregnant woman will deliver a boy or a girl. Moreover, he should be above all human disabilities and limitations. How can a genuinely godly person feel hunger or thirst? How can he be overcome by sleep? How can he have a wife and children? How can he engage in buying and selling to meet his material requirements? How can he be impelled by force of circumstances to resort to such mundane acts as making money? How can he feel the pinch of poverty and paucity of resources? False conceptions such as these dominated the minds of the contemporaries of the Prophet (peace be on him). When they heard of his claim, in order to test his veracity they asked him regarding things that lie beyond the ken of human perception and to work wonders, and blamed him when they saw him engaged in such acts as eating and drinking, and taking care of his wife and children, and walking about the bazaars like other ordinary human beings. It is misconceptions such as these that this verse seeks to remove.

The statement of a Prophet in such matters amounts to a testimony based on first-hand observation. For the truths which a Prophet propounds are those which he himself has observed and experienced and which have been brought within the range of his knowledge by means of revelation. On the contrary, those who are opposed to the truths propounded by the Prophets are blind since the notions they entertain are based either on guess-work and conjecture or on blind adherence to ideas hallowed by time. Thus the difference between a Prophet and his opponents is as that between a man who has sound vision and a man who is blind. Obviously the former is superior, by dint of this gift of knowledge from God rather than because he has access to hidden treasures, because of his knowledge of the unseen world, and because of his freedom from physical limitations.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Literally it might mean that the men of God are not like vulgar soothsayers, who pretend to reveal hidden treasures, or peer into future, or claim to be something of a different nature from men. But the meaning is wider: They deal out God's great treasures of truth, but the treasures are not theirs, but God's; they have greater insight into the higher things, but that insight is not due to their own wisdom, but to God's inspiration; they are of the same flesh and blood with us, and the sublimity of their words and teaching arises through God's grace- to them and to those who hear them.

Therefore compare not the men of God ("the seeing") with ordinary men ("the blind"). The men of God, although they be but men, have the higher light with them; therefore do not exact of them petty ephemeral services. Though they are men, they are not as other men, and are entitled to reverence.

Ruku / Section 6 [Verses 51-55]
Verses 51-55 Admonish the unbelievers with this Al-Quran and Real belief is a favor of Allah and is irrespective of worldly status:

وَأَنذِرْ بِهِ الَّذِينَ يَخَافُونَ أَن يُحْشَرُوا إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ ۙ لَيْسَ لَهُم مِّن دُونِهِ وَلِيٌّ وَلَا شَفِيعٌ لَّعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ 
( 51 )   And warn by the Qur'an those who fear that they will be gathered before their Lord - for them besides Him will be no protector and no intercessor - that they might become righteous.
Those who are too deeply immersed in the allurements of earthly life to think either of death or of their being brought to stand before God for His judgement can hardly benefit from such admonitions. Likewise, such admonitions can have no wholesome effect on those who cherish the illusion that because of their attachment to some holy personage who will intercede on their behalf, they will come to no harm in the Hereafter. The same applies to those who believe that someone has already obtained their redemption by expiating their sins. The Prophet (peace be on him) is therefore asked to disregard such persons and to attend to those who are conscious, those with no false illusions. Only these people are susceptible to admonitions and can be expected to reform themselves.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
There are some men - sinners - who yet believe in Judgement; let them be warned of their personal responsibility to guard against evil; let them not rely upon protectors or intercessors before God; their sins can only be forgiven by God's own Mercy.

 وَلَا تَطْرُدِ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُم بِالْغَدَاةِ وَالْعَشِيِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَهُ ۖ مَا عَلَيْكَ مِنْ حِسَابِهِم مِّن شَيْءٍ وَمَا مِنْ حِسَابِكَ عَلَيْهِم مِّن شَيْءٍ فَتَطْرُدَهُمْ فَتَكُونَ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ 
( 52 )   And do not send away those who call upon their Lord morning and afternoon, seeking His countenance. Not upon you is anything of their account and not upon them is anything of your account. So were you to send them away, you would [then] be of the wrongdoers.
One of the objections raised by the chiefs and the affluent members of the Quraysh was that the Prophet (peace be on him) had gathered around him a host of slaves, clients (mawali) and others belonging to the lower strata of society. They used to scoff at the fact that men of such humble social standing as Bilal, 'Ammar. Suhayb and Khabbab had joined his ranks. They wondered if they happened to be the only chosen ones of the Quraysh in the sight of God! They not only poked fun at the financial distress of these people but also attacked them for any weakness of character they had before accepting Islam. They went about saying sarcastically that those who had been such and such in the past had now become part of the 'chosen' community.

That is, everyone is personally responsible for his deeds, whether good or bad. The Prophet (peace he on him) is told that he will neither have to explain to God the conduct of the converts nor will the latter be required to explain his conduct. They can neither usurp his good deeds, nor transfer their own misdeeds to his account. There is, therefore, no reason for the Prophet (peace be on him) to alienate those who approach him as seekers after Truth.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Face: wajh: see ii. 112. "Face" is used for God's Grace or presence, the highest aim of spiritual aspiration.

Some of the rich and influential Quraish thought it beneath their dignity to listen to Muhammad's teaching in company with the lowly disciples, who were gathered round him. But he refused to send away these lowly disciples, who were sincere seekers after God. From a worldly point of view they had nothing to gain from Muhammad as he was himself poor and he had nothing to gain from them as they had no influence. But that was no reason for turning them away; indeed their true sincerity entitled them to precedence over worldly men in the kingdom of God, whose justice was vindicated in Muhammad's daily life in this as in other things. If their sincerity was in any way doubtful, it involved no responsibility for the Preacher.

  وَكَذَٰلِكَ فَتَنَّا بَعْضَهُم بِبَعْضٍ لِّيَقُولُوا أَهَـٰؤُلَاءِ مَنَّ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْهِم مِّن بَيْنِنَا ۗ أَلَيْسَ اللَّـهُ بِأَعْلَمَ بِالشَّاكِرِينَ 
( 53 )   And thus We have tried some of them through others that the disbelievers might say, "Is it these whom Allah has favored among us?" Is not Allah most knowing of those who are grateful?
By enabling the poor and the indigent, the people who have a low station in society to precede others in believing, God has put those who wax proud of wealth and honour to a severe test.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Pursue the argument of the last note. The influential people who were not given precedence over the poor and humble but sincere disciples, were on their trial as to their spiritual insight. Their temptation was to say (and they said it in scorn): "We are much greater than they: has God then selected these lowly people for His teaching?" But that was so. And God knew best those who were grateful to Him for His guidance.

  وَإِذَا جَاءَكَ الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِآيَاتِنَا فَقُلْ سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ ۖ كَتَبَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ ۖ أَنَّهُ مَنْ عَمِلَ مِنكُمْ سُوءًا بِجَهَالَةٍ ثُمَّ تَابَ مِن بَعْدِهِ وَأَصْلَحَ فَأَنَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ 
( 54 )   And when those come to you who believe in Our verses, say, "Peace be upon you. Your Lord has decreed upon Himself mercy: that any of you who does wrong out of ignorance and then repents after that and corrects himself - indeed, He is Forgiving and Merciful."
Several of those who came to believe in the Prophet (peace be on him) had committed many serious sins before they embraced Islam. Even though their lives had altogether changed following their conversion, the opposition continued to play up the weaknesses and misdeeds of their past life. The Prophet (peace he on him) is asked to comfort such persons and to tell them that God does not punish those who sincerely repent their sins and mend their ways.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The humble who had sincere faith, were not only not sent away to humour the wealthy: they were honoured and were given a special salutation, which has become the characteristic salutation in Islam: "Peace be on you,"-the word peace, "salam" having special affinity with the word "Islam." In words they are given the salutation; in life they are promised Mercy by the special grace of God.

  وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ وَلِتَسْتَبِينَ سَبِيلُ الْمُجْرِمِينَ 
( 55 )   And thus do We detail the verses, and [thus] the way of the criminals will become evident.
'And thus' refers to the whole of the foregoing discussion, beginning with (verse 37): 'And they say: Why has no miraculous sign been sent down to him?' The purpose of this remark is to stress that the persistence of some people in their denial of the Truth and in their disbelief, in spite of a host of unmistakably clear signs and arguments, was sufficient to prove beyond doubt that they were merely a bunch of criminals. If they persisted in error and transgression it was neither through any lack of strong arguments in support of the Truth nor, conversely, because of strong arguments in support of falsehood. The reason was rather that they had deliberately chosen to fall into error and transgression.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
If the way of the sinners (in jealousy and worldly pride) is shown up, and details are given how to honour the truly sincere, it forms the best illustration of the teaching of God.

Ruku / Section 7 [Verses 56-60]
From Verses 56 – 65, the Surah again picks up the theme of the true nature of Godhead. Here a response to the disbelievers has been given. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is absolutely certain of this evidence, and his firm belief will not admit any doubts as a result of the attitude of unbelievers who deny his message. Hence, he devotes himself to his faith, and takes his stand away from his people. His certainty that they are in deep error is as strong as his certainty of the truth that he is rightly guided. In the same passage, we learn about Allah’s forbearance when He does not act on the unbelievers’ requests for a physical miracle. Should He give them such a miracle and should they continue to disbelieve, their continued rejection of the truth would ensure their total destruction.

Allah holds sway over all His creatures in all situations, whether asleep or awake, in life and after death, in this present world and in the next one. When the unbelievers are overwhelmed by serious danger, they call for help on none other than Allah. Yet, they associate partners with Him, forgetting that the one to whom they appeal for delivery from danger is able to inflict punishment on them that none can remove.

قُلْ إِنِّي نُهِيتُ أَنْ أَعْبُدَ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ ۚ قُل لَّا أَتَّبِعُ أَهْوَاءَكُمْ ۙ قَدْ ضَلَلْتُ إِذًا وَمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُهْتَدِينَ 
( 56 )   Say, "Indeed, I have been forbidden to worship those you invoke besides Allah." Say, "I will not follow your desires, for I would then have gone astray, and I would not be of the [rightly] guided."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
There are a number of arguments now put forward against the Meccans who refused to believe in God's Message. Each argument is introduced with the word "Say." Here are the first four: (1) I have received Light and will follow it; (2) I prefer my Light to your vain desires; (3) Your challenge-" if there is a God, why does He not finish the blasphemers at once?" -it is not for me to take up; punishment rests with God; (4) If it rested with me, it would be for me to take up your challenge; all I know is that God is not unacquainted with the existence of folly and wickedness, and many other things besides, that no mortal can know; you can see little glimpses of His Plan, and you can be sure that He will not be tardy in calling you to account.

  قُلْ إِنِّي عَلَىٰ بَيِّنَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّي وَكَذَّبْتُم بِهِ ۚ مَا عِندِي مَا تَسْتَعْجِلُونَ بِهِ ۚ إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّـهِ ۖ يَقُصُّ الْحَقَّ ۖ وَهُوَ خَيْرُ الْفَاصِلِينَ 
( 57 )   Say, "Indeed, I am on clear evidence from my Lord, and you have denied it. I do not have that for which you are impatient. The decision is only for Allah. He relates the truth, and He is the best of deciders."
This alludes to God's punishment. The adversaries questioned why it was that they had openly rejected a Prophet sent by God, but had not been struck down by God's wrath? They said that the fact of his appointment by God meant that anyone who either disbelieved or insulted him would, at once, be either plunged into the earth or struck by lightning. And yet, they pointed out, the Messenger of God and his followers faced new sufferings and humiliations whereas those who abused and persecuted him enjoyed prosperity.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
What ye would see hastened: what ye, deniers of God, are so impatient about: the punishment which ye mockingly say does not come to you. Cf. xiii. 6.

  قُل لَّوْ أَنَّ عِندِي مَا تَسْتَعْجِلُونَ بِهِ لَقُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ أَعْلَمُ بِالظَّالِمِينَ 
( 58 )   Say, "If I had that for which you are impatient, the matter would have been decided between me and you, but Allah is most knowing of the wrongdoers."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The Messenger of God is not here to settle scores with the wicked. It is not a matter between them and him. It is a matter between them and God; he is only a warner against sin, and a declarer of the gospel of salvation.

  وَعِندَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لَا يَعْلَمُهَا إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ ۚ وَمَا تَسْقُطُ مِن وَرَقَةٍ إِلَّا يَعْلَمُهَا وَلَا حَبَّةٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الْأَرْضِ وَلَا رَطْبٍ وَلَا يَابِسٍ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ 
( 59 )   And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darkness of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Mafatih: Plural of either miftah= a key, or maftah= a treasure. Both meanings are implied, and I have accordingly put both in my translation.

This is the mystic Record, the archetypal Plan, the Eternal Law, according to which everything seen and unseen is ordered and regulated. There is much mystic doctrine here, explained by beautiful metaphors and illustrations. The simplest things in Nature are subject to His Law. The fresh and the withered, the living and the lifeless-nothing is outside the Plan of His Creation.

 وَهُوَ الَّذِي يَتَوَفَّاكُم بِاللَّيْلِ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا جَرَحْتُم بِالنَّهَارِ ثُمَّ يَبْعَثُكُمْ فِيهِ لِيُقْضَىٰ أَجَلٌ مُّسَمًّى ۖ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ ثُمَّ يُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ 
( 60 )   And it is He who takes your souls by night and knows what you have committed by day. Then He revives you therein that a specified term may be fulfilled. Then to Him will be your return; then He will inform you about what you used to do.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
As the rest of His Creation is subject to His Law and Plan, so is man's life in every particular and at every moment, awake or asleep. The mystery of Sleep-" the twin brother of death" - is called the taking of our soul by Him, with the record of all we have done in our waking moments, and this record sometimes appears to us in confused glimpses in dreams. By day we awaken again to our activities, and so it goes on until we fufil the term of our life appointed for this earth. Then comes the other Sleep (death), with the longer record of our Day (Life); and then, in the end comes the Resurrection and Judgment, at which we see everything clearly and not as in dreams, for that is the final Reality.

Here we come to the end of Part I of the exegesis of the Sūrah Al An'am. In Part II, we will cover Ruku / Sections: 8-15 (verses 61-129).

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrah Al An'am 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). 

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
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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.

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