Friday 20 March 2020

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

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 have already presented the Part I. We now present the Part II, covering Ruku / Sections 8 -15. Subjects discussed in this part are as under:
  • Ruku / Sections 8-9: Verse 61-82 explain how Allah's working in His world and His constant care and guidance should give a clue to His unity as it did to Abraham when he argued with those who worshiped false gods. 
  • Ruku / Sections 10-13: Verses 83-110 are about the succession of prophets after Abraham kept Allah's truth alive, and led up to the Qur'ān. How can man fail to understand the majesty and goodness of Allah, when he contemplates Allah's creation and His Messages to mankind? 
  • Ruku / Sections 14-15: In verses 111-129  it is cautioned that the obstinate and the rebellious are deceived: they should be avoided. Though they turn for assistance to each other, they will receive due punishment.
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 / Sections 8: Verse 61-70
In this Ruku, it is being stressed that God reigns supreme.  He sends angels guarding and writing all of one's good and bad until death approaches.  At the time of death, the Angel of Death and his assistants - who never fail to do their duty - take the soul.  The souls are returned to God, who is swift in taking account and passing judgment.  In the midst of calamities and confusion people turn to God in silent terror asking for help or safety and promising to be thankful and grateful.  But when rescue comes they persist in worshiping something other than God. 

It is God who has the power to send calamities from above or below or to surround you in confusion or violence.   This is explained in the revelations in various ways in order to make you understand, but still you reject the truth of the Quran.  When the end approaches you will understand.  Walk away from those who argue about the Quran; if Satan makes you forget then stop as soon as you realize and walk away.  The righteous are not held accountable for the wrongdoers but your actions might be a reminder to them.  Leave the company of those who take their religion as a game and those who are deceived by the life of this world.  However use the Quran to remind them that a damned soul will have a painful punishment.

وَهُوَ الْقَاهِرُ فَوْقَ عِبَادِهِ ۖ وَيُرْسِلُ عَلَيْكُمْ حَفَظَةً حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ تَوَفَّتْهُ رُسُلُنَا وَهُمْ لَا يُفَرِّطُونَ 
( 61 )   And He is the subjugator over His servants, and He sends over you guardian-angels until, when death comes to one of you, Our messengers take him, and they do not fail [in their duties].
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Guardians: most commentators understand this to mean guardian angels. The idea of guardianship is expressed in a general term. God watches over us and guards us, and provides all kinds of agencies, material, moral, and spiritual, to help our growth and development, keep us from harm, and bring us nearer to our Destiny.

Angel: the word used is rusul, the Sent Ones, -the same word as for human Apostles and Messengers sent by God to teach mankind. The agents who come to take our souls at death are accurate in the performance of their duty. They come neither before nor after their appointed time, nor do they do it in any manner other than that fixed by the Command of God.

  ثُمَّ رُدُّوا إِلَى اللَّـهِ مَوْلَاهُمُ الْحَقِّ ۚ أَلَا لَهُ الْحُكْمُ وَهُوَ أَسْرَعُ الْحَاسِبِينَ 
( 62 )   Then they His servants are returned to Allah, their true Lord. Unquestionably, His is the judgement, and He is the swiftest of accountants.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The only Reality: al-haqq, the Truth, the only True One. The point is that our illusions of the life of this lower world now vanish, when we are rendered back to God, from Whom we came. And now we find that so far from the results of our actions being delayed, they follow more swiftly than we can express in terms of Time. Here is the answer to the taunt of those who were impatient of the working of God's Plans (vi. 57-58).

 قُلْ مَن يُنَجِّيكُم مِّن ظُلُمَاتِ الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ تَدْعُونَهُ تَضَرُّعًا وَخُفْيَةً لَّئِنْ أَنجَانَا مِنْ هَـٰذِهِ لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الشَّاكِرِينَ 
( 63 )   Say, "Who rescues you from the darkness of the land and sea [when] you call upon Him imploring [aloud] and privately, 'If He should save us from this [crisis], we will surely be among the thankful.' "
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
In continuation of the four heads of argument refereed to in n. 876, we have three more heads here in vi. 63-65: (5) your calling upon Him in times of danger shows that in the depths of your hearts you feel His need; (6) God's Providence saves you, and yet you ungratefully run after false gods; (7) it is not only physical calamities that you have to fear; your mutual discords and vengeance are even more destructive, and only faith in God can save you from them.

Zulumat: dark recesses, terrible lurking dangers, as in deserts or mountains, or forests, or seas.

There are two readings, but they both ultimately yield the same meaning. (1) Khufyatan= silently, secretly, from the depth of your inner heart, suggesting unspeakable terror. (2) Khifatan= out of terror or fear or reverence, as in vii. 205.

  قُلِ اللَّـهُ يُنَجِّيكُم مِّنْهَا وَمِن كُلِّ كَرْبٍ ثُمَّ أَنتُمْ تُشْرِكُونَ 
( 64 )   Say, "It is Allah who saves you from it and from every distress; then you [still] associate others with Him."
That God alone possesses all power and authority, and has full control over the things which cause either benefit or harm to men, and that He alone holds the reins of their destiny are facts to which there is ample testimony in man's own being. For instance, whenever man is faced with a really hard time, and when the resources upon which he normally fails back seem to fail him, he instinctively turns to God. In spite of such a clear sign, people set up partners to God without any shred of evidence that anyone other than God has any share in His power and authority.

  قُلْ هُوَ الْقَادِرُ عَلَىٰ أَن يَبْعَثَ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابًا مِّن فَوْقِكُمْ أَوْ مِن تَحْتِ أَرْجُلِكُمْ أَوْ يَلْبِسَكُمْ شِيَعًا وَيُذِيقَ بَعْضَكُم بَأْسَ بَعْضٍ ۗ انظُرْ كَيْفَ نُصَرِّفُ الْآيَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَفْقَهُونَ 
( 65 )   Say, "He is the [one] Able to send upon you affliction from above you or from beneath your feet or to confuse you [so you become] sects and make you taste the violence of one another." Look how We diversify the signs that they might understand.
God's punishment can strike in an instant. This is the warning to those who, supposing such punishment to he remote, were growing bolder in their hostility towards the Truth. They could be destroyed in a moment by a hurricane. Just a few earthquake tremors could raze villages and cities to the ground. Likewise, a few spark, of hostility could ultimately wreak such havoc among tribes. nations and countries that bloodshed and lawlessness plague them for years on end. Hence if they are spared punishments for a while that should not drug them to heedlessness and lead them to live in total disregard of distinctions between right and wrong. They should rather he grateful that God had given then respite and by means of a number of signs He was making it possible for then to recognize the Truth and follow it.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Calamities from above and below: such as storms and blizzards, torrential rain, etc., or earthquakes, floods, landslides, etc.

Cf. vi. 46, where this refrain commences the argument now drawing to a close.

 وَكَذَّبَ بِهِ قَوْمُكَ وَهُوَ الْحَقُّ ۚ قُل لَّسْتُ عَلَيْكُم بِوَكِيلٍ 
( 66 )   But your people have denied it while it is the truth. Say, "I am not over you a manager."
A Prophet is neither required to compel People to see what they are not prepared to see nor to force into their hearts what they fail to comprehend. It is not a Prophet's task to chastise people for failing to see and comprehend the Truth. His task is merely to proclaim Truth as distinct from falsehood. If people fail thereafter to accept it, they will be overwhelmed by the very misfortunes against which that Prophet had warned.

At the date of this revelation, the Apostle's people had as a body not only rejected God's truth, but were persecuting it. The Apostle's duty was to deliver his Message, which he did. He was not responsible for their conduct. But he told them plainly that all warnings from God had their time limit, as they would soon find out, within a very few years. For the leaders of the resistance came to an evil end, and their whole system of fraud and selfishness was destroyed, to make room for the purer Faith of Islam. Apart from that particular application, there is the more general application, for the present time and for all time.

  لِّكُلِّ نَبَإٍ مُّسْتَقَرٌّ ۚ وَسَوْفَ تَعْلَمُونَ 
( 67 )   For every happening is a finality; and you are going to know.
 وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَ الَّذِينَ يَخُوضُونَ فِي آيَاتِنَا فَأَعْرِضْ عَنْهُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَخُوضُوا فِي حَدِيثٍ غَيْرِهِ ۚ وَإِمَّا يُنسِيَنَّكَ الشَّيْطَانُ فَلَا تَقْعُدْ بَعْدَ الذِّكْرَىٰ مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ 
( 68 )   And when you see those who engage in [offensive] discourse concerning Our verses, then turn away from them until they enter into another conversation. And if Satan should cause you to forget, then do not remain after the reminder with the wrongdoing people.
In case the Muslims fail to remember this directive and mistakenly continue to remain in the company of those who were indulging in making fun of their faith, they should withdraw from such company as soon as they remember this directive.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Cf. iv. 140. If in any gathering truth is ridiculed, we must not sit in such company. If we find ourselves in it, as soon as we realize it, we must show our disapproval by leaving.

  وَمَا عَلَى الَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ مِنْ حِسَابِهِم مِّن شَيْءٍ وَلَـٰكِن ذِكْرَىٰ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ 
( 69 )   And those who fear Allah are not held accountable for the disbelievers at all, but [only for] a reminder - that perhaps they will fear Him.
Those who avoid disobedience to God will not be held responsible for the errors of those who disobey. This being the case, the former have no justification for taking it upon themselves to persuade the latter to obedience or to consider themselves obliged to answer all their questions, however absurd and flimsy, until the Truth is forced down their throats. Their duty is merely to admonish and place the Truth before those whom they find stumbling about in error. If there is no response to this call except remonstration and obstinate argument they are under no obligation to waste their time and energy on them. They should rather devote their time and energy to instructing and admonishing those who have an urge to seek out the Truth.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
"Evil to him who evil thinks," or evil does. Every man is responsible for his own conduct. But the righteous have two duties: (1) to protect themselves from infection, and (2) to proclaim God's truth, for even in the most unlikely circumstances, it is possible that it may have some effect.

  وَذَرِ الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا دِينَهُمْ لَعِبًا وَلَهْوًا وَغَرَّتْهُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا ۚ وَذَكِّرْ بِهِ أَن تُبْسَلَ نَفْسٌ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ لَيْسَ لَهَا مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ وَلِيٌّ وَلَا شَفِيعٌ وَإِن تَعْدِلْ كُلَّ عَدْلٍ لَّا يُؤْخَذْ مِنْهَا ۗ أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ أُبْسِلُوا بِمَا كَسَبُوا ۖ لَهُمْ شَرَابٌ مِّنْ حَمِيمٍ وَعَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْفُرُونَ 
( 70 )   And leave those who take their religion as amusement and diversion and whom the worldly life has deluded. But remind with the Qur'an, lest a soul be given up to destruction for what it earned; it will have other than Allah no protector and no intercessor. And if it should offer every compensation, it would not be taken from it. Those are the ones who are given to destruction for what they have earned. For them will be a drink of scalding water and a painful punishment because they used to disbelieve.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Cf. vi 32. where we are told that the life of this world is mere play and amusement, and Religion and the Hereafter are the serious things that require our attention. Worldly people reverse this because they are deceived by the allurements of this life. But their own acts will find them out.

We must never forget our own personal responsibility for all we do, or deceive ourselves by the illusion of vicarious atonement.

Ruku / Sections 9: Verse 71-82
In Verses 71-73 it is said that Idols are of no benefit. The believers should ask the polytheists if they would benefit from calling on something other than God that can neither harm nor benefit them! Why would they turn their backs on God when they have been guided to the correct path?  Should they be like a person Satan has misled and left wandering in the desert while his friends call out to him from the correct path?  No! God’s guidance is the only guidance.  The believers have been commanded to submit and to establish the prayer and to be mindful of God for they will be facing Him on the Day of Judgment.  God created the universe for a true purpose.  On the day that He says "Be", it will be (the Day of Judgment).  When the trumpet is blown He will have all control and can see what is visible and what is invisible.

قُلْ أَنَدْعُو مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ مَا لَا يَنفَعُنَا وَلَا يَضُرُّنَا وَنُرَدُّ عَلَىٰ أَعْقَابِنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَانَا اللَّـهُ كَالَّذِي اسْتَهْوَتْهُ الشَّيَاطِينُ فِي الْأَرْضِ حَيْرَانَ لَهُ أَصْحَابٌ يَدْعُونَهُ إِلَى الْهُدَى ائْتِنَا ۗ قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّـهِ هُوَ الْهُدَىٰ ۖ وَأُمِرْنَا لِنُسْلِمَ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ 
( 71 )   Say, "Shall we invoke instead of Allah that which neither benefits us nor harms us and be turned back on our heels after Allah has guided us? [We would then be] like one whom the devils enticed [to wander] upon the earth confused, [while] he has companions inviting him to guidance, [calling], 'Come to us.' " Say, "Indeed, the guidance of Allah is the [only] guidance; and we have been commanded to submit to the Lord of the worlds.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
In continuation of the seven heads of argument refereed to in explanation of verses 55 and 63, we have here the final two heads: (8) Who would, after receiving guidance from the living, eternal God, turn to lifeless idols? To do so would indeed show that we were made into fools, wandering to a precipice; (9) therefore accept the only true guidance, the guidance of God, and obey his Law, for we shall have to answer before His judgment-seat.

  وَأَنْ أَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَاتَّقُوهُ ۚ وَهُوَ الَّذِي إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ 
( 72 )   And to establish prayer and fear Him." And it is He to whom you will be gathered.
  وَهُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِالْحَقِّ ۖ وَيَوْمَ يَقُولُ كُن فَيَكُونُ ۚ قَوْلُهُ الْحَقُّ ۚ وَلَهُ الْمُلْكُ يَوْمَ يُنفَخُ فِي الصُّورِ ۚ عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ ۚ وَهُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْخَبِيرُ 
( 73 )   And it is He who created the heavens and earth in truth. And the day He says, "Be," and it is, His word is the truth. And His is the dominion [on] the Day the Horn is blown. [He is] Knower of the unseen and the witnessed; and He is the Wise, the Acquainted.
It has been asserted again and again in the Qur'an that God created the heavens and the earth 'in truth'. This covers a wide range of meanings:
First, that the heavens and the earth have not been created just for the fun of it. This existence is not a theatrical play. This world is not a child's toy with which to amuse oneself as long as one wishes before crushing it to bits and throwing it away. Creation is rather an act of great seriousness. A great objective motivates it, and a wise purpose underlies it. Hence, after the lapse of a certain stage it is necessary for the Creator to take full account of the work that has been done and to use those results as the basis for the next stage. This is stated at various places in the Qur'an in the following manner:
Our Lord, You did not create this in vain (Surah Al 'Imran 3:191).

And We did not create the heavens and the earth and whatever lies in between them playfully (Surah Al-Anbiya' 21:16).
And did you think that We created you out of play and that you will not be brought back to Us? (Surah al-Mu'minun 23:115).
Second, it means that God has created this entire system of the universe on solid foundations of truth. The whole of the universe is based on justice, wisdom and truth. Hence, there is no scope in the system for falsehood to take root and prosper. The phenomenon of the prosperity of falsehood which we observe, is to be ascribed to the will of God, Who grants the followers of falsehood the opportunity, if they so wish, to expend their efforts in promoting unrighteousness, injustice and untruth. In the end, however, the earth will throw up all the seeds of untruth that have been sown, and in the final reckoning every follower of falsehood will see that the efforts he devoted to cultivating and watering this pernicious tree have all gone to waste.
Third, it means that God has founded the universe on the basis of right, and it is on the ground of being its Creator that He governs it. His command in the universe is supreme since He alone has the right to govern it, the universe being nothing but His creation. If anyone else's commands seem to be carried out in this world, this should not cause any misunderstanding. For in reality the will of no one prevails, and cannot prevail in the universe, for no one has any right to enforce his will.
This does not mean that the present dominion is not His. The purpose of this statement is rather to stress that when the veil which keeps things covered during the present phase of existence is lifted and the Truth becomes fully manifest, it will become quite clear that all those who seemed or were considered to possess power and authority are absolutely powerless, and that the true dominion belongs to the One True God Who created the universe.

In what manner the Trumpet will be blown is difficult for us to grasp.What we know through the Qur'an is that on the Day of Judgement the Trumpet will be blown on God's command, whereupon all will die. Then after an indefinite period of time - a period that is known to God alone - the second Trumpet will be blown, whereupon all people of all epochs will be resurrected and will find themselves on the Plane of the Congregation.

Thus, when the first Trumpet is blown the entire order of the universe will be disrupted, while on the blowing of the second Trumpet a fresh order will be established, in a new form and with a new set of laws governing it.

Ghayb signifies all that is hidden from, and is beyond the ken of man's knowledge. Shahadah, as opposed to ghayb (hidden), signifies that which is manifest and thus can be known to man.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The argument mounts up here, leading to the great insight of Abraham the true in faith, who did not stop short at the wonders of nature, but penetrated "from nature up to nature's God." God not only created the heavens and the earth: with every increase of knowledge we see in what true and perfect proportions all Creation is held together. Creatures are subject to Time, but the Creator is not; His word is the key that opens the door of existence. It is not only the starting point of existence, but the whole measure and standard of Truth and Right. There may possibly be, to our sight in this great world, aberrations of human or other wills, but the moment the trumpet sounds for the last day, His judgement seat will, with perfect justice, restore the dominion of Right and Reality. For His knowledge and wisdom cover all reality.

Verses 74 – 83 make a mention of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) who confronted his father about worshiping idols.  God showed Abraham the realms of the heavens and the earth in order to make him one of the true believers.  At night he saw a star and wondered if that was God but the star faded and he knew it was not God.  When the moon rose he looked at it and wondered if that could be God but it set and He cried out that if God did not guide him He would be one of the losers.  Then he pondered the sun and thought that it must be God because it was bigger and brighter, but it set.  Abraham knew at once that these heavenly bodies were creations from God and he turned his face away from idols and vowed to worship only the One God.

Prophet Abraham’s people argued with him but he knew that they could cause him no harm unless God willed it.   He asked them, "How can I fear what you have associated with God when you do not fear that you have associating partners with Him without any evidence?" Who should feel more secure? Of course it is those who fear God and associate nothing with Him.  This was the argument God gave Prophet Abraham to use against his people.  God raises the rank of whomever he pleases.

وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ لِأَبِيهِ آزَرَ أَتَتَّخِذُ أَصْنَامًا آلِهَةً ۖ إِنِّي أَرَاكَ وَقَوْمَكَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ 
( 74 )   And [mention, O Muhammad], when Abraham said to his father Azar, "Do you take idols as deities? Indeed, I see you and your people to be in manifest error."
The incident relating to Abraham (peace be on him) is adduced in order to confirm and reinforce the view that just as Muhammad (peace he on him) and his Companions - thanks to the guidance vouchsafed by God - had denounced polytheism and had turned away from all false gods, bowing their heads in obedience to the One True Lord of the universe, so had been done by Abraham in his time. In the same way as ignorant people were then opposing the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) and those who believed in him, Abraham, too, had been opposed in his day by the people among whom he lived. Furthermore, the answer Abraham gave to his people in the past can also be given by Muhammad (peace be on him) and his followers, for he was on the same path as Noah, Abraham and the other Prophets who had descended from Abraham. Those who had refused to follow the Prophet (peace be on him) should therefore take note that they had deviated from the way of the Prophets and were lost in error.

At this point it should also be noted that Abraham was generally acknowledged by the Arabs to be their patriarch and their original religious leader. The Quraysh, in particular, were proud of their devotion to Abraham, of being his progeny and of being servants to the shrine built by him. Hence, the mention of Abraham's doctrine of monotheism, of his denunciation of polytheism and his remonstration with his polytheistic people, amounted to demolishing the very basis on which the Quraysh had prided themselves. It also amounted to destroying the confidence of the people of Arabia in their polytheistic religion. This also proved to them that the Muslims stood in the shoes of Abraham himself, whereas their own position was that of an ignorant nation which had remonstrated with Abraham out of ignorance and folly.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Now comes the story of Abraham. He lived among the Chaldeans, who had great knowledge of the stars and heavenly bodies. But he got beyond that physical world, and saw the spiritual world behind. His ancestral idols meant nothing to him. That was the first step. But God took him many degrees higher. God showed him with certitude the spiritual glories behind the magnificent powers and laws of the physical universe.

  وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُرِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ مَلَكُوتَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَلِيَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُوقِنِينَ 
( 75 )   And thus did We show Abraham the realm of the heavens and the earth that he would be among the certain [in faith]
The adversaries are told that they can observe God's signs in the phenomena of the universe, just as Abraham could. The difference is that they see nothing, as if they were blind, whereas Abraham saw with open eyes. The sun, moon and stars which rise and set before their eyes day after day and night after night witness them as misguided at their setting as at their rising. Yet the same signs were observed by the perceptive Abraham, and the physical phenomena helped him arrive at the Truth.

To obtain a full understanding of this section, as well as of those verses which mention the dispute between Abraham and his people, it is necessary to cast a glance at the religious and cultural condition of the latter. Thanks to recent archaeological discoveries, not only has the, city where Abraham is said to have been born been located, but a good deal of information is also available about the condition of the people of that area during the Abrahamic period. We reproduce below a summary of the conclusions which Sir Leonard Wooley arrived at as a result of the researches embodied in his work, Abraham (London, 1935).

It is estimated that around 2100 B.C., which is now generally accepted by scholars as the time of the advent of Abraham, the population of the city of Ur was at least two hundred and fifty thousand, maybe even five hundred thousand. The city was a large industrial and commercial metropolis. Merchandise was brought to Ur from places as far away as Palmir and Nilgiri in one direction, and in the other it had developed trade relations with Anatolia. The state, of which this city was the capital, extended a little beyond the boundaries of modern Iraq in the north, and exceeded its present borders further to the west. The great majority of the population were traders and craftsmen. The inscriptions of that period, which have been discovered in the course of archaeological research, make it clear that those people had a purely materialistic outlook on life. Their greatest concern was to earn the maximum amount of wealth and enjoy the highest degree of comfort and luxury. Interest was rampant among them and their devotion to money-making seemed all-absorbing. They looked at one another with suspicion and often resorted to litigation. In their prayers to their gods, too, they generally asked for longer life, prosperity and greater commercial success, rather than for spiritual growth, God's pardon and reward in the Hereafter.

The population comprised three classes of people: (1) amelu, the priests, the government and military officers; (2) mushkinu, the craftsmen and farmers; and (3) the slaves.

The people of the first class mentioned, i.e. amelu, enjoyed special privileges. In both criminal and civil matters, their rights were greater than those of the others, and their lives and property were deemed to be of higher value. It was in such a city and in such a society that Abraham first saw the light of day. Whatever information we possess with regard to him and his family through the Talmud shows that he belonged to the amelu class and that his father was the highest functionary of the state. See also Towards Understanding the Qur'an, vol. 1, (Surah 2, n.290).

In the inscriptions of Ur there are references to about five thousand deities. Each city had its own deity. Each city had a chief deity which it considered its chief protector and, therefore, that deity was considered worthy of greater reverence than all the others. 'The chief deity of Ur was Nannar (the moon god), and it is for this reason that the city later became known as Kamarina. The other major city was Larsa, which replaced Ur as the capital of the kingdom. Its chief deity was Shamash (the sun god). Under these major deities there was a myriad of minor deities which had generally been chosen from among the heavenly bodies - stars and planets. People considered them responsible for granting their innumerable minor prayers. Idols had been carved in the image of these celestial and terrestrial gods and goddesses and were made objects of ritual worship.

Qamar is the Arabic word for 'moon'- Ed.

The idol of Nannar had been placed in a magnificent building on the top of the highest hill. Close to it was the temple of Nin-Gal, the wife of Nannar. The temple of Nannar resembled a royal palace. Every night a female worshiper went to its bedroom, adorned as a bride. A great number of women had been consecrated in the name of this deity and their position was virtually that of religious prostitutes. The woman who would sacrifice her virginity for the sake of her 'god' was held in great esteem. For a woman to give herself to some unrelated person 'for the sake of God' was considered a means to salvation. Needless to say, it was generally the priests who made most use of this institution. Nannar was not merely a deity, but the biggest landlord, the biggest trader, the biggest industrialist and the most powerful ruler. Many orchards, buildings and huge estates had been consecrated to his temple. In addition to this, cereals, milk, gold, cloth, etc., were brought as offerings to the temple by peasants, landlords and merchants, and there was a large staff in the temple to receive the offerings. Many a factory had been established on behalf of the temple. Large-scale trading was also carried out on its behalf. All these activities were conducted by the priests in the name of the deity. Moreover, the country's main court was also located in the temple. The priests functioned as judges and their judgements were equated with those of God. The authority of the royal family was derived from Nannar. The concept was that Nannar was the true sovereign and that the ruler of the country governed merely on his behalf. Because of this relationship, the king himself was raised to the rank of a deity and was worshiper.

The founder of the dynasty which ruled over Ur at the time of Abraham was Ur-Nammu. In 2300 B.C. he had established an extensive kingdom, stretching from Susa in the east to Lebanon in the west. Hence the dynasty acquired the name 'Nammu', which became Nimrud in Arabic. After the emigration of Abraham, both the ruling dynasty and the nation of Ur were subjected to a succession of disasters. Firstly, the Elamites sacked Ur and captured Nimrud along with the idols of Nannar. Later on, an Elamite state was established in Larsa which governed Ur as well. Later still, Babylon prospered under a dynasty of Arabian origin and both Larsa and Ur came under its hegemony. These disasters shook the people of Ur's faith in Nannar, for he had failed to protect them.

It is difficult to say much, with certainty, about the extent of the subsequent impact of the teachings of Abraham on these people. The laws which were codified by the Babylonian King Hammurabi in 1910 B.C. show the impress of the prophetic influence, whether direct or indirect. An inscription of this code was discovered in 1902 by a French archaeologist and its English translation by C. H. W. John was published in 1903 under the title The Oldest Code of Law. Many articles of this code, both fundamental principles and substantive laws, bear some resemblance to the Mosaic Law.

If the conclusions of these archaeological researchers are correct, it becomes quite evident that polytheism did not consist merely of a set of religious beliefs and polytheistic rites, it rather provided the foundation on which the entire order of economic, cultural, political and social life rested. Likewise, the monotheistic mission which was undertaken by Abraham was not merely directed against the practice of idol-worship. It had far wider implications, so much so that it affected the position of the royal family both as rulers and deities. It also affected the social, economic and, political status and interests of the priestly class, and the aristocracy in general, and in fact the entire fabric of the social life of the kingdom. To accept the teaching of Abraham meant that the entire edifice of the existing society should be pulled down and raised anew on the basis of belief in the One God. Hence, as soon as Abraham launched his mission, ordinary people as well as the privileged classes, ordinary devotees as well as Nimrud. rose at once to oppose and suppress it.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Now comes the story of Abraham. He lived among the Chaldeans, who had great knowledge of the stars and heavenly bodies. But he got beyond that physical world, and saw the spiritual world behind. His ancestral idols meant nothing to him. That was the first step. But God took him many degrees higher. God showed him with certitude the spiritual glories behind the magnificent powers and laws of the physical universe.

 فَلَمَّا جَنَّ عَلَيْهِ اللَّيْلُ رَأَىٰ كَوْكَبًا ۖ قَالَ هَـٰذَا رَبِّي ۖ فَلَمَّا أَفَلَ قَالَ لَا أُحِبُّ الْآفِلِينَ 
( 76 )   So when the night covered him [with darkness], he saw a star. He said, "This is my lord." But when it set, he said, "I like not those that disappear."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
This allegory shows stages of Abraham'spiritual enlightenment. It should not be supposed that he literally worshiped stars or heavenly bodies. Having seen through the folly of ancestral idol worship, he began to see the futility of worshiping distant beautiful things that shine, which the vulgar endue with a power which does not reside in them. A type of such is a star shining in the darkness of the night. Superstition might read fortunes in it, but truer knowledge shows that it rises and sets according to laws whose author is God. And its light is extinguished in the broader light of day. Its worship is therefore futile. It is not a Power, much less the Supreme Power.

  فَلَمَّا رَأَى الْقَمَرَ بَازِغًا قَالَ هَـٰذَا رَبِّي ۖ فَلَمَّا أَفَلَ قَالَ لَئِن لَّمْ يَهْدِنِي رَبِّي لَأَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الضَّالِّينَ 
( 77 )   And when he saw the moon rising, he said, "This is my lord." But when it set, he said, "Unless my Lord guides me, I will surely be among the people gone astray."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Continuing the allegory, the moon, though she looks bigger and brighter than the star, turns out on closer knowledge, not only to set like the star, but to change her shape from hour to hour, and even to depend for her light on some other body! How deceptive are appearances! That is not God! At that stage you begin to search for something more reliable than appearances to the eye in the darkness of the night. You ask for guidance from God.

  فَلَمَّا رَأَى الشَّمْسَ بَازِغَةً قَالَ هَـٰذَا رَبِّي هَـٰذَا أَكْبَرُ ۖ فَلَمَّا أَفَلَتْ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ إِنِّي بَرِيءٌ مِّمَّا تُشْرِكُونَ 
( 78 )   And when he saw the sun rising, he said, "This is my lord; this is greater." But when it set, he said, "O my people, indeed I am free from what you associate with Allah.
Here some light is thrown on the mental experience through which Abraham passed in the beginning and which led him to an understanding of the Truth before prophethood was bestowed on him. This experience shows how a right-thinking and sound-hearted man, who had opened his eyes in a purely polytheistic environment and had received no instruction in monotheism, was ultimately led to discover the Truth by careful observation of, and serious reflection on the phenomena of the universe. The account of the conditions prevailing among the people of Abraham shows that when he began to think seriously the scene was dominated by the worship of the heavenly bodies - the moon, the sun and the stars. It was natural, therefore, that when Abraham began his quest for the Truth, he should have been faced with the question: Is it possible that any of these - the sun, the moon and the stars - is God? He concentrated his reflection on this central question and by observing that all the gods of his nation were bound by a rigid law under which they moved about like slaves, he concluded that those so-called gods were not possessed of even a shadow of the power of the One True Lord, Who alone had created them all and had yoked them to serve His will.

The Qur'anic passage describing Abraham's reactions on observing first a star, then the moon, and finally the sun, has puzzled some readers because the words seem to suggest that Abraham had never before witnessed these common phenomena. This misconception has made the whole narration such a riddle for some scholars that they could only solve it by inventing the strange anecdote that Abraham was born and grew to maturity in a cave and was thus deprived of the opportunity to observe the heavenly bodies. What is said, however, is so plain that one need not fall back on any such incident in order to comprehend it. It is well known, for instance, that when Newton saw an apple fall from a tree in his orchard this incident instantly raised in his mind the question: Why do things always fall to the ground? As a result of his reflection on this question he arrived at his theory of gravity. On reading this incident one might wonder if Newton had never before seen anything fall to the ground! Obviously, he must have seen things fall. For what reason, then, should the failing of an apple cause in his mind a reaction quite different irom those caused by hundreds of earlier observations of similar things failing? The answer is that a reflecting mind does not react uniformly to similar observations. A man may observe something over and over again without this observation creating any stir in his mind, but then there comes a moment when suddenly the same observation agitates his mind and his mental faculty begins to work in a different direction. It may also happen that while a man's mind is wrestling with a problem, he encounters something which is otherwise quite ordinary but which suddenly seems to provide the key. Something to this effect happened with Abraham. Certainly, he was as familiar as anyone else with nightfall and the ensuing daybreak. The sun, the moon and the stars had all risen before his eyes in the past and had then disappeared from sight. But on one particular day his observation of a star was to stimulate his thinking in a certain direction and to lead him in the end to perceive the truth of God's Oneness. It is possible that Abraham's mind was already engrossed in reflecting on whether, and if so to what extent, the beliefs which served as the foundation of the entire life-system of his people embodied the Truth. when he spotted a star which provided him with the initial key to the solution of the problem. It is also possible that the observation of a particular star first set him thinking about the problem.

Another question that arises is whether Abraham's statements about the star, the moon and the sun show that he lapsed into polytheism temporarily. The answer must be that, while a seeker after the Truth may pause on the way to his goal, what really matters is his direction and the end-point of his journey rather than the intermediary stages. These stages are inevitable for every seeker of the Truth. A man stops at them to inquire and question rather than to pronounce his final judgement. During these stages of the quest a man may seem to express the opinion: 'That is so', but what he is really doing is asking himself the question: 'Is it really so?' When serious investigation leads to a negative answer, he proceeds further and continues the quest. Hence, it would be wrong to think of such a seeker having temporarily fallen victim to polytheism and unbelief whenever he paused at an intermediary stage for critical reflection.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The next stage in the allegory is the sun. You are in the open light of Day. Now you have the right clue. You see the biggest object in the heavens. But is it the biggest? There are thousands of stars in the universe bigger than the sun. And every day the sun appears and disappears from your sight. Such is not the god who created you and all these wonderful works of His. What folly to worship creatures, when we might turn to the true God? Let us abjure all these follies and proclaim the one true God.

  إِنِّي وَجَّهْتُ وَجْهِيَ لِلَّذِي فَطَرَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ حَنِيفًا ۖ وَمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ 
( 79 )   Indeed, I have turned my face toward He who created the heavens and the earth, inclining toward truth, and I am not of those who associate others with Allah."
 وَحَاجَّهُ قَوْمُهُ ۚ قَالَ أَتُحَاجُّونِّي فِي اللَّـهِ وَقَدْ هَدَانِ ۚ وَلَا أَخَافُ مَا تُشْرِكُونَ بِهِ إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ رَبِّي شَيْئًا ۗ وَسِعَ رَبِّي كُلَّ شَيْءٍ عِلْمًا ۗ أَفَلَا تَتَذَكَّرُونَ 
( 80 )   And his people argued with him. He said, "Do you argue with me concerning Allah while He has guided me? And I fear not what you associate with Him [and will not be harmed] unless my Lord should will something. My Lord encompasses all things in knowledge; then will you not remember?
The word used here is tadhakkur which conveys the sense that somebody who had been either heedless or negligent of something suddenly wakes up to its true meaning. The purpose of Abraham's statement was to recall them to their senses by reminding them that their true Lord was not uninformed about their deeds, for His knowledge encompasses everything.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
To continue Abraham's allegory: if spiritual enlightenment go so far as to take a man beyond his ancestral worship, people will continue to dispute with him. They will frighten him with the dire consequences of his dissent. What does he care? He has found the truth. He is free from superstitious fears, for has he not found the true God, without Whose Will nothing can happen? On the contrary he knows that it is the godless who have just grounds for fear. And he offers admonition to them, and the arguments that should bring them the clearness of truth instead of the vagueness and mystery of superstition, -the security of Faith instead of the haunting fear of those who have no clear guidance.

  وَكَيْفَ أَخَافُ مَا أَشْرَكْتُمْ وَلَا تَخَافُونَ أَنَّكُمْ أَشْرَكْتُم بِاللَّـهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ عَلَيْكُمْ سُلْطَانًا ۚ فَأَيُّ الْفَرِيقَيْنِ أَحَقُّ بِالْأَمْنِ ۖ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ 
( 81 )   And how should I fear what you associate while you do not fear that you have associated with Allah that for which He has not sent down to you any authority? So which of the two parties has more right to security, if you should know?
  الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمُ الْأَمْنُ وَهُم مُّهْتَدُونَ 
( 82 )   They who believe and do not mix their belief with injustice - those will have security, and they are [rightly] guided.
This entire section shows that those people did not deny the existence of God as the creator of the heavens and earth. Their real guilt was that they associated others in His attributes and His rights over man. In the first place, Abraham himself clearly states that they associated others with God as His partners. In the second place, the way in which Abraham mentions God in addressing these people is suitable only for a people who did not deny the existence of God. We must, therefore, regard as incorrect the opinion of those Qur'anic commentators who try to explain this verse on the assumption that the people of Abraham either denied or were unaware of the existence of God, and considered their own deities to be the exclusive possessors of godhead.

The expression 'and did not tarnish their faith with wrong-doing' led some Companions to the misapprehension that perhaps this 'wrong-doing' signified 'disobedience'. But the Prophet (peace be on him) has made it clear that this wrong-doing signifies shirk (associating others with God in His divinity). The verse means, therefore, that they alone are fully secure and rightly-guided who believe in God and do not mix their faith with any polytheistic belief and practice.

It is interesting to learn that this incident, which is the starting-point of Abraham's prophetic career, has found no place in the Bible. It is mentioned only in the Talmud. The Talmudic version, however, is different from the Qur'anic version in two ways. First, in the Talmudic version Abraham's quest for the Truth begins with the sun and then proceeds by way of the stars to his discovery of the One True God. Second. it states that Abraham not only held the sun to be his Lord but even worshiped it, and that the same happened in connection with the moon.

Ruku / Sections 10: Verse 83-90

وَتِلْكَ حُجَّتُنَا آتَيْنَاهَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ ۚ نَرْفَعُ دَرَجَاتٍ مَّن نَّشَاءُ ۗ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ حَكِيمٌ عَلِيمٌ 
( 83 )   And that was Our [conclusive] argument which We gave Abraham against his people. We raise by degrees whom We will. Indeed, your Lord is Wise and Knowing.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The spiritual education of Abraham raised him many degrees above his contemporaries, and he was expected to use that knowledge and dignity for preaching the truth among his own people.

Verses 84 – 90 continue to carry Prophet Abraham’s legacy. Abraham was given Isaac and Jacob and God guided them just as he had guided Noah.  Prophet Abraham’s descendants include many prophets; Moses, Aaron, Joseph, Job, David, Solomon, Zachariah, John, Jesus, and Elias, Elisha, Ishmael, Jonah and Lot.  All of them were righteous.  They were also all chosen and guided to the straight path.  If any of them had worshiped other than God their deeds would have become null and void.  Among them were those who were entrusted with a Scripture.  God tells Prophet Muhammad that these were the people who followed the guidance, so follow their guidance and tell your people that you are not asking for payment, only giving a reminder to the world.

 وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ إِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ ۚ كُلًّا هَدَيْنَا ۚ وَنُوحًا هَدَيْنَا مِن قَبْلُ ۖ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِهِ دَاوُودَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ وَأَيُّوبَ وَيُوسُفَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَهَارُونَ ۚ وَكَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ 
( 84 )   And We gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - all [of them] We guided. And Noah, We guided before; and among his descendants, David and Solomon and Job and Joseph and Moses and Aaron. Thus do We reward the doers of good.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
We have now a list of eighteen Apostles in four groups, covering the great Teachers accepted among the three great religions based on Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. The first group to be mentioned is that of Abraham, his son Issac, and Isaac's son Jacob. Abraham was the first to have a Book. His Book is mentioned in Q. lxxxvii. 19, though it is now lost. They were therefore the first to receive Guidance in the sense of a Book.

In the second group, we have the great founders of families, apart from Abraham, viz., Noah of the time of the Flood; David and Solomon, the real establishers of the Jewish monarchy; Job, who lived 140 years, saw four generations of descendants, and was blessed at the end of his life with large pastoral wealth (Job xlii. 16,12); Joseph, who as Minister of State did great things in Egypt and was the progenitor of two Tribes; and Moses and Aaron, the leaders of the Exodus from Egypt. They led active lives and called "doers of good."

  وَزَكَرِيَّا وَيَحْيَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَإِلْيَاسَ ۖ كُلٌّ مِّنَ الصَّالِحِينَ 
( 85 )   And Zechariah and John and Jesus and Elias - and all were of the righteous.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The third group consists not of men of action, but Preachers of Truth, who led solitary lives. Their epithet is: "the Righteous." They form a connected group round Jesus. Zakariya was the father of John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus (iii. 37-41); and Jesus referred to John the Baptist as Elias, "this is Elias, which was to come" (Matt xi. 14); and Elias is said to have been present and talked to Jesus at the Transfiguration on the Mount (Matt. xvii. 3). Elias is the same as Elijah.

  وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَالْيَسَعَ وَيُونُسَ وَلُوطًا ۚ وَكُلًّا فَضَّلْنَا عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ 
( 86 )   And Ishmael and Elisha and Jonah and Lot - and all [of them] We preferred over the worlds.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
This is the last group, described as those "favoured above the nations." It consists of four men who had all great misfortunes to contend with, and were concerned in the clash of nations, but they kept in the path of God, and came through above the clash of nations. Ismail was the eldest son of Abraham; when he was a baby, he and his mother had nearly died of thirst in the desert round Mecca; but they were saved by the well of Zamzam, and became the founder of the new Arab nation.

Elisha (Al-Yasa) succeeded to the mantle of the Prophet Elijah (same as Elias,see last note); he lived in troublous times for both the Jewish kingdoms (of Judah and Israel); there were wicked kings, and other nations were pressing in on them; but he performed many miracles, and some check was given to the enemies under his advice. The story of Jonas (Yunus) is well-known: he was swallowed by a fish or whale, but was saved by God's mercy: through his preaching, his city (Ninevah) was saved (x. 98). Lot was a contemporary and nephew of Abraham: when the city of Sodom was destroyed for its wickedness, he was saved as a just man (vii. 80-84).

  وَمِنْ آبَائِهِمْ وَذُرِّيَّاتِهِمْ وَإِخْوَانِهِمْ ۖ وَاجْتَبَيْنَاهُمْ وَهَدَيْنَاهُمْ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ 
( 87 )   And [some] among their fathers and their descendants and their brothers - and We chose them and We guided them to a straight path.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
I take verse 87 to refer back to all the four groups just mentioned.

  ذَٰلِكَ هُدَى اللَّـهِ يَهْدِي بِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ ۚ وَلَوْ أَشْرَكُوا لَحَبِطَ عَنْهُم مَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ 
( 88 )   That is the guidance of Allah by which He guides whomever He wills of His servants. But if they had associated others with Allah, then worthless for them would be whatever they were doing.
Had those people also ascribed partners to God like the people of Arabia, they would not have achieved the positions they had attained.Some might perhaps have earned places in the rogues' gallery of history as either ruthless conquerors or monuments to greed. But had they not shunned polytheism and adhered to their exclusive and unadulterated devotion to God, they would certainly neither have had the honour of becoming the source of light and guidance to others nor of assuming the leadership of the pious and the God-fearing.

  أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ ۚ فَإِن يَكْفُرْ بِهَا هَـٰؤُلَاءِ فَقَدْ وَكَّلْنَا بِهَا قَوْمًا لَّيْسُوا بِهَا بِكَافِرِينَ 
( 89 )   Those are the ones to whom We gave the Scripture and authority and prophethood. But if the disbelievers deny it, then We have entrusted it to a people who are not therein disbelievers.
Here the Prophets are mentioned as having been endowed with three things: first, the revealed guidance embodied in the Book; second, hukm, i.e. the correct understanding of the revealed guidance, the ability to apply its principles to the practical affairs of life, the God-given capacity to arrive at right opinions regarding human problems; and third, prophethood, the office by virtue of which they are enabled to lead human beings in the light of the guidance vouchsafed to them.

God does not care if the unbelievers and polytheists choose to reject the guidance which has come down from Him, for He had already raised a sizable group of men of faith to truly appreciate its worth.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Them, i.e., the Book, and authority and Prophethood. They were taken away from the other People of the Book and entrusted to the holy Apostle Muhammad and his People.

  أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللَّـهُ ۖ فَبِهُدَاهُمُ اقْتَدِهْ ۗ قُل لَّا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا ۖ إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرَىٰ لِلْعَالَمِينَ 
( 90 )   Those are the ones whom Allah has guided, so from their guidance take an example. Say, "I ask of you for this message no payment. It is not but a reminder for the worlds."
Ruku / Sections 11: Verse 91-94
Verses 91 Torah was also revealed by God: These people do not value God; they say He never revealed anything to a human being.  Ask them who sent the Torah to Moses? It was a light and guidance but they made it into separate pages and kept some hidden.  It contained knowledge that they did not know about.  If they give no answer to your question leave them engrossed in their vain arguments.

وَمَا قَدَرُوا اللَّـهَ حَقَّ قَدْرِهِ إِذْ قَالُوا مَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ عَلَىٰ بَشَرٍ مِّن شَيْءٍ ۗ قُلْ مَنْ أَنزَلَ الْكِتَابَ الَّذِي جَاءَ بِهِ مُوسَىٰ نُورًا وَهُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ ۖ تَجْعَلُونَهُ قَرَاطِيسَ تُبْدُونَهَا وَتُخْفُونَ كَثِيرًا ۖ وَعُلِّمْتُم مَّا لَمْ تَعْلَمُوا أَنتُمْ وَلَا آبَاؤُكُمْ ۖ قُلِ اللَّـهُ ۖ ثُمَّ ذَرْهُمْ فِي خَوْضِهِمْ يَلْعَبُونَ 
( 91 )   And they did not appraise Allah with true appraisal when they said, "Allah did not reveal to a human being anything." Say, "Who revealed the Scripture that Moses brought as light and guidance to the people? You [Jews] make it into pages, disclosing [some of] it and concealing much. And you were taught that which you knew not - neither you nor your fathers." Say, "Allah [revealed it]." Then leave them in their [empty] discourse, amusing themselves.
 In the light of the foregoing discussion and commentary, it is quite evident that this statement comes from the Jews. Since the Prophet (peace be on him) had asserted that he was a Prophet and that a Book had been revealed to him, the unbelieving Quraysh and other polytheists of Arabia naturally used to approach the Jews and the Christians - who believed in the Prophets and in the Scriptures - and tried to solicit a candid answer from them as to whether God's words had indeed been revealed to Muhammad (peace be on him). Whatever answer they gave was then disseminated on all sides by the active opponents of the Prophet (peace be on him) in order to create revulsion against Islam. This is the reason for mentioning, and then refuting, this statement by the Jews, which had been used by the opposition as an argument against Islam.

One might wonder how a Jew, who believes in the Torah as a revealed Book of God, could say that God had revealed nothing to anyone. At times blind obstinacy and bigotry cause people to resort to arguments which strike at the roots of their own belief. These people were bent upon denying the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be on him), and this fanaticism had come to dominate them so much that they went so far as to deny the very institution of prophethood.

To say that people have not formed any proper estimate of God means that they have erred grossly in assessing His wisdom and power. Whoever says that God did not reveal knowledge of Reality and the code for man's guidance has fallen into one of two errors. Either he considers it impossible for man to become the recipient of God's revelation, and this constitutes a gross misjudgment of God's power, or he thinks that even though God has equipped man with intelligence and with the power to act as he chooses, He has nevertheless made no arrangement for his guidance, but has left him in this world altogether unguided and thus conferred upon him the right to behave in any way he likes. This is obviously a misjudgment of God's wisdom.

The revelation of the Torah to Moses (peace be on him) is adduced by way of evidence since the Jews, to whom this response is addressed, believed that it had been revealed. It is obvious that their recognition of the Torah as the Book revealed to Moses negated their standpoint that God had never revealed anything to any human being. Their belief in the Torah at least proved that revelation to man is possible, and had actually taken place.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Qadara: to weight, judge, or estimate the value or capacity of anything; to have power so to do. Cf. Qadir in iv. 149. The Jews who denied the inspiration of Muhammad had a good answer in their own books about the inspiration of Moses. To those who do not believe in Moses, the answer is more general: is it a just estimate of God to think either that He has not the power or the will to guide mankind, seeing that He is Omnipotent and the Source of all good? If you say that guidance comes, not through an inspired book or man, but through our general intelligence, we point to the spiritual ignorance of "you and your ancestors" the sad spiritual darkness of men and nations high in the intellectual scale.

Cf. v. 47, and v. 49. In those passages Guidance (in practical conduct) is put before Light (or spiritual insight), as they refer to ordinary or average men. Here Light (or spiritual insight) is put first as the question is: does God send inspiration?

The Message to Moses had unity: it was one Book. The present Old Testament is a collection of odd books ("sheets") of various kinds: see Appendix II. end of S. v. In this way you can make a show, but there is no unity, and much of the spirit is lost or concealed or overlaid. The same applies to the New Testament: see Appendix III, after Appendix II.
Verses 92 – 107 talk of the clear signs: God sent down the blessed Quran as a warning to the people of Mecca and to the rest of the children of Adam, Arabs and non-Arabs alike.  Those who already believe in the Hereafter know it is the truth and will be steadfast in performing their prayers.  Telling lies about God and pretending to have received a revelation is wicked.  Anyone doing this will face extreme punishment and humiliation, not the intercession they had hoped for.  Their intercessors whom they associated with God will be of no help. 

It is God who causes the seed to split and sprout, and brings out the living from the dead and the dead from the living.  He is responsible for the dawn and the night time, He made the sun and the moon so that humankind could measure time.  He made the stars as a light and a way to navigate the land and the sea.  The signs are clear for those who think.

God produced all of humankind from one soul.   He sends down rain to make the planet green; dates, vines, olives and pomegranates.  All vegetation is a sign.  However, even surrounded by the wonders and signs of God some people have made the jinn partners with God, others have fabricated sons and daughters.  How is this possible when He has no consort and is the Creator of everything? There is clear proof so believe it and have the advantage over those who refuse to see.  Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, is not a guardian over those who refuse; he must merely turn away from them.

 وَهَـٰذَا كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ مُبَارَكٌ مُّصَدِّقُ الَّذِي بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَلِتُنذِرَ أُمَّ الْقُرَىٰ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا ۚ وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ ۖ وَهُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ يُحَافِظُونَ 
( 92 )   And this is a Book which We have sent down, blessed and confirming what was before it, that you may warn the Mother of Cities and those around it. Those who believe in the Hereafter believe in it, and they are maintaining their prayers.
The point argued above was that God's word can be, and in the past has been, revealed to human beings. The next point is that the message of Muhammad (peace be on him) is indeed the revealed word of God. In order to establish this, four things are adduced as evidence: First, that this Book is overflowing with God's grace and beneficence. In other words, it contains the best possible principles for the well-being and salvation of mankind. It lays down the true doctrines of belief. It urges man to righteous conduct and inspires him to moral excellence. It contains guidance as to how one may live a life of purity. And above all, it is free from any trace of the ignorance, egocentricity, narrow-mindedness, iniquity, obscenity and other corruptions with which the Jews and the Christians had overlaid their revealed Scriptures. Second, this Book does not propound any guidance which is essentially divergent from that previously revealed; rather it confirms and supports it. Third, the purpose of the revelation of this Book is the same as that of the revelation of Scriptures in the past, viz., to shake people out of their heedlessness and warn them of the evil consequences of their corruption. Fourth, that the call of this Book did not attract those who merely worshiped worldly advantages and were slaves of their animal desires. On the contrary, it attracted those whose vision goes beyond the narrow limits of worldly life. Moreover, the revolution wrought in the lives of people under the influence of this Book has rendered them conspicuously distinct from others in respect of piety and godliness.

A Book with such characteristics and with such a wholesome impact on human beings can only be from God.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Mubarak: blessed, as having received God's blessing; bringer of blessings to others, as having been blessed by God. God's highest blessing is the Guidance and Light which the Book brings to us, and which brings us nearer to Him.

Mother of Cities: Mecca, now the Qibla and Centre of Islam. If this verse was (like the greater part of the Chapter) revealed in Mecca before the Hijrat, and before Mecca was made the Qibla of Islam, Mecca was nonetheless the Mother of Cities, being traditionally associated with Abraham and with Adam and Eve (see ii. 125, ii. 197). All round Mecca: would mean, the whole world if we look upon Mecca as the centre.

An earnest study of the Qur'an is true worship; so is Prayer, and so are all deeds of goodness and charity.

 وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّـهِ كَذِبًا أَوْ قَالَ أُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ وَلَمْ يُوحَ إِلَيْهِ شَيْءٌ وَمَن قَالَ سَأُنزِلُ مِثْلَ مَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ ۗ وَلَوْ تَرَىٰ إِذِ الظَّالِمُونَ فِي غَمَرَاتِ الْمَوْتِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ بَاسِطُو أَيْدِيهِمْ أَخْرِجُوا أَنفُسَكُمُ ۖ الْيَوْمَ تُجْزَوْنَ عَذَابَ الْهُونِ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّـهِ غَيْرَ الْحَقِّ وَكُنتُمْ عَنْ آيَاتِهِ تَسْتَكْبِرُونَ 
( 93 )   And who is more unjust than one who invents a lie about Allah or says, "It has been inspired to me," while nothing has been inspired to him, and one who says, "I will reveal [something] like what Allah revealed." And if you could but see when the wrongdoers are in the overwhelming pangs of death while the angels extend their hands, [saying], "Discharge your souls! Today you will be awarded the punishment of [extreme] humiliation for what you used to say against Allah other than the truth and [that] you were, toward His verses, being arrogant."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Yield up your souls: or "get your souls to come out of your bodies." The wicked, we may suppose, are not anxious to part with the material existence in their bodies for the "reward" which in irony is stated to be there to welcome them.

  وَلَقَدْ جِئْتُمُونَا فُرَادَىٰ كَمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَتَرَكْتُم مَّا خَوَّلْنَاكُمْ وَرَاءَ ظُهُورِكُمْ ۖ وَمَا نَرَىٰ مَعَكُمْ شُفَعَاءَكُمُ الَّذِينَ زَعَمْتُمْ أَنَّهُمْ فِيكُمْ شُرَكَاءُ ۚ لَقَد تَّقَطَّعَ بَيْنَكُمْ وَضَلَّ عَنكُم مَّا كُنتُمْ تَزْعُمُونَ 
( 94 )   [It will be said to them], "And you have certainly come to Us alone as We created you the first time, and you have left whatever We bestowed upon you behind you. And We do not see with you your 'intercessors' which you claimed that they were among you associates [of Allah]. It has [all] been severed between you, and lost from you is what you used to claim."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Some of the various ideas connected with "creation" are noted in explanation of ii. 117.
The previous verse told us that everything in heaven and earth celebrates the glory of God. Lest anyone should think that the heavens and the earth were themselves primeval and eternal, we are now told that they themselves are creatures of God's will and design. Cf vi. 102, where the word bada'a is used as here for the creation of the heavens and the earth, and khalaqa is used for the creation of all things. Bada'a goes back to the very primal beginning, as far as we can conceive it. The materialists might say that primeval matter was eternal; other things, i.e., the forms and shapes as we see them now, were called into being at some time or other, and will perish. When they perish, they dissolve into primeval matter again, which stands as the base of all existence. We go further back. We say that if we postulate such primeval matter, it owes its origin itself to God Who is the final basis of existence, the Cause of all Causes. If this is conceded, we proceed to argue that the process of Creation is not then completed. "All things in the heavens and on the earth" are created by gradual processes. In "things" we include abstract as well as material things. We see the abstract things and ideas actually growing before us. But that also is God's creation, to which we can apply the word khalaqa, for in it is involved the idea of measuring, fitting it into a scheme of other things. Cf. liv. 49; also xxv. 59. Here comes in what we know as the process of evolution. On the other hand, the "amr" (=Command, Direction, Design) is a single thing, unrelated to Time, "like the twinkling of an eye" (liv. 50). Another word to note in this connection is ja'ala "making" which seems to imply new shapes and forms, new dispositions, as the making of the Signs of the Zodiac in the heavens, or the setting out of the sun and moon for light, or the establishment of the succession of day and night (xxv 61-62). A further process with regard to the soul is described in the word sawwa, bringing it to perfection (xci. 7) but this we shall discuss in its place. Fatara (xlii. 11) implies, like bada'a, the creating of a thing out of nothing and after no preexisting similitude, but perhaps fatara implies the creation of primeval matter to which further processes have to be applied later, as when one prepares dough but leaves the leavining to be done after. Badaa (without the 'ain), xxx. 27, implies beginning the process of creation; this is made further clear in xxxii. 7 where the beginning of the creation of pristine man from clay refers to his physical body, leaving the further processes of reproduction and the breathing in of the soul to be described in subsequent verses. Lastly, baraa is creation implying liberation from pre-existing matter or circumstance, e.g, man's body from clay (lix. 24) or a calamity from previously existing circumstances (lvii. 22). See also vi. 94; vi. 98; lix. 24.
In the matter of creation of man there are various processes. If his body was created out of clay, i.e. earthy matter, there was an earlier process of the creation of such earthy matter. Here the body is left behind, and the soul is being addressed. The soul underwent various processes of fashioning and adapting to its various functions in its various surroundings (xxxii. 7-9). But each individual soul, after release from the body, comes back as it was created, with nothing more than it history, "the deeds which it has earned," which are really a part of it. Any exterior things given to help in its development, "the favours which We bestowed on you," it must necessarily leave behind, however it may have been proud of them. These exterior things may be material things, e.g. wealth, property, signs of power, influence and pride such as sons, relatives, and friends, etc., or they may be intangible things, like talents, intellect, social gifts, etc.

The false ideas of intercessors, demi-gods, gods, saviours, etc., now vanish like unsubstantial visions, "leaving not a wrack behind." Now the soul is face to face with reality. Its personal responsibility is brought home to it.

Ruku / Sections 12: Verse 95-100

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ فَالِقُ الْحَبِّ وَالنَّوَىٰ ۖ يُخْرِجُ الْحَيَّ مِنَ الْمَيِّتِ وَمُخْرِجُ الْمَيِّتِ مِنَ الْحَيِّ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمُ اللَّـهُ ۖ فَأَنَّىٰ تُؤْفَكُونَ 
( 95 )   Indeed, Allah is the cleaver of grain and date seeds. He brings the living out of the dead and brings the dead out of the living. That is Allah; so how are you deluded?
The one who causes the seed-grain to split open under the surface of the earth and then makes it grow and appear on the surface as a plant is no other than God.

To 'bring forth the living from the dead' means creating living beings out of dead matter. Likewise, 'to bring out the dead from the living' means to remove the lifeless elements from a living organism.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Another beautiful nature passage, referring to God's wonderful artistry in His Creation. In how few and how simple words, the whole pageant of Creation is placed before us. Beginning from our humble animal needs and dependence on the vegetable world, we are asked to contemplate the interaction of the living and the dead. Here is mystic teaching, referring not only to physical life but to the higher life above the physical plane, -not only to individual life but to the collective life of nations. Then we take a peep into the daily miracle of morning, noon, and night, and pass on to the stars that guide the distant mariner. We rise still higher to the mystery of the countless individuals from the one human soul, -their sojourn and their destiny. So we get back to the heavens: the description of th luscious fruits which the "gentle rain from heaven" produces, leaves us to contemplate the spiritual fruits which faith will provide for us,with the aid of the showers of God's mercy.

The seed-grain and the date-stone are selected as types in the vegetable kingdom, showing how our physical life depends on it. The fruits mentioned later (in vi 99) start another allegory which we shall notice later. Botanists will notice that the seed-grain includes the cereals (such as wheat, barley, rice, millet, etc.) which are monocotyledons, as well as the pulses (such as beans, peas, gram, etc.) and other seeds which are dicotyledons. These two represent the most important classes of food-grains, while the date-palm, a monocotyledon, represents for Arabia both food, fruit, confectionery , thatch and pillars for houses, shady groves in oases, and a standard measure of wealth and well being. "Split and sprout": both ideas are included in the root falaqa, and a third is expressed by the word "cleave" in the next verse, for the action of evolving day-break from the dark. I might almost have used the word "churn," familiar to students of Hindu lore in the Hindu allegory of the "churning of the ocean." For vegetables, "split and sprout" represents a double process: (1) the seed divides, and (2) one part shoots up, seeking the light, and forming leaves and the visible parts of the future tree, and the other part digs down into the dark, forming the roots and seeking just that sustenance from the soil, which is adapted for the particular plant. This is just one small instance of the "judgement and ordering" of God, referred to in the next verse.

This does not mean that in physical nature there are no limits between life and non-life, between the organic and the non-organic. In fact physicists are baffled at the barrier between them and frankly confess that they cannot solve the mystery of Life. If there is such a barrier in physical nature, is it not all the more wonderful that God can create Life out of nothing? He has but to say, "Be," and it is. He can bring Life from non-Life and annihilate Life. But there are two other senses in which we can contemplate the contrast between the living and the dead. (1) We have just been speaking of the botanical world. Take it as a whole, and see the contrast between the winter of death, the spring of revivification, the summer of growth, and the autumn of decay, leading back to the death of winter. Here is a cycle of living from dead, and dead from living. (2) Take our spiritual life, individual or collective. We rise from the darkness of spiritual nothingness to the light of spiritual life. And if we do not follow the spiritual laws, God will take away that life and we shall be again as dead. We may die many deaths. The keys of life and death are in God's hands. Neither Life nor Death are fortuitous things. Behind them both is the Cause of Causes, -and only He.

  فَالِقُ الْإِصْبَاحِ وَجَعَلَ اللَّيْلَ سَكَنًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ حُسْبَانًا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ الْعَزِيزِ الْعَلِيمِ 
( 96 )   [He is] the cleaver of daybreak and has made the night for rest and the sun and moon for calculation. That is the determination of the Exalted in Might, the Knowing.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The night, the day, the sun, the moon, -the great astronomical universe of God. How far, and yet how near to us! God's universe is boundless, and we can barely comprehend even its relations to us. But this last we must try to do if we want to be numbered with "the people who know". Taqdir: Cf. vi. 91  iv. 149.

  وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ النُّجُومَ لِتَهْتَدُوا بِهَا فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ ۗ قَدْ فَصَّلْنَا الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ 
( 97 )   And it is He who placed for you the stars that you may be guided by them through the darkness of the land and sea. We have detailed the signs for a people who know.
By 'signs' are meant all that support the proposition that there is only one God, that is, no one has either the attributes of God or any share in His authority or can rightfully claim any of the rights which belong exclusively to Him. But the ignorant cannot benefit from these signs, which are scattered all around, in order to arrive at an understanding of the Truth. Only those who observe the phenomena of the universe in a careful and systematic manner, and do so with a correct perspective, can truly benefit from these signs.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
At sea, or in the deserts or forests, or "in fairy scenes forlorn," -whenever we sweep over wide spaces, it is the stars that act as our guides, just as the sun and moon have already been mentioned as our measures of time.

  وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنشَأَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ فَمُسْتَقَرٌّ وَمُسْتَوْدَعٌ ۗ قَدْ فَصَّلْنَا الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَفْقَهُونَ 
( 98 )   And it is He who produced you from one soul and [gave you] a place of dwelling and of storage. We have detailed the signs for a people who understand.
This means that God caused the human race to originate from one human being.

If one were to observe carefully the creation of the human species, its division into male and female, the proliferation of the human race by procreation, the passing of life through its several stages in the womb of the mother from conception to childbirth, one would perceive innumerable signs to help one grasp the truth mentioned above. But only those who make proper use of their intellect can be led by means of these signs to an understanding of Reality. Those who live like animals, who are concerned merely with the satisfaction of their lusts and desires, can perceive nothing significant in these phenomena.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Produced: ansha-a= made you grow, increase, develop, reach maturity: another of the processes of creation. This supplements ii. 916 and vi. 94. It is one of the wonders of God's Creation, that from one person we have grown to be so many, and each individual has so many faculties and capacities, and yet we are all one. In the next verse we have the allegory of grapes and other fruits: all grapes may be similar to look at, yet each variety has a distinctive flavour and other distinctive qualities, and each individual grape may have its own special qualities. So for man.

In the sojourn of this life we must respond to God's hand in fashioning us, by making full use of all our faculties, and we must get ready for our departure into the Life that will be eternal.

  وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَخْرَجْنَا بِهِ نَبَاتَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ فَأَخْرَجْنَا مِنْهُ خَضِرًا نُّخْرِجُ مِنْهُ حَبًّا مُّتَرَاكِبًا وَمِنَ النَّخْلِ مِن طَلْعِهَا قِنْوَانٌ دَانِيَةٌ وَجَنَّاتٍ مِّنْ أَعْنَابٍ وَالزَّيْتُونَ وَالرُّمَّانَ مُشْتَبِهًا وَغَيْرَ مُتَشَابِهٍ ۗ انظُرُوا إِلَىٰ ثَمَرِهِ إِذَا أَثْمَرَ وَيَنْعِهِ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكُمْ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ 
( 99 )   And it is He who sends down rain from the sky, and We produce thereby the growth of all things. We produce from it greenery from which We produce grains arranged in layers. And from the palm trees - of its emerging fruit are clusters hanging low. And [We produce] gardens of grapevines and olives and pomegranates, similar yet varied. Look at [each of] its fruit when it yields and [at] its ripening. Indeed in that are signs for a people who believe.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Our allegory now brings us to maturity, the fruit, the harvest, the vintage. Through the seed we came up from nothingness to life; we lived our daily life of rest and work and passed the mile-stones of time; we had the spiritual experience of traversing through vast spaces in the spiritual world, guiding our course through the star of Faith; we grew; and now for the harvest or the vintage! How satisfied the grower must be when the golden grain is harvested in heaps or in vintage gathered! So will man if he has produced the fruits of Faith!

Each fruit- whether it is grapes, or olives, or pomegranates, -looks alike in its species, and yet each variety may be different in flavour, consistency, shape, size, colour, juice or oil contents, proportion of seed to fruit, etc. In each variety, individuals may be different and yet equally valuable!

And so we finish this wonderful allegory. Search through the world's literature, and see if you can find another such song or hymn, -so fruity in its literary flavour, so profound in its spiritual meaning!

There is a refrain in this song, which is subtly varied. In verse 97 it is: " We detail our Signs for people who know." Se far we were speaking of the things we see around us every day Knowledge is the appropriate instrument for these things. In verse 98 we read: "We detail Our Signs for people who understand." Understanding is a higher faculty than knowledge, and is necessary for seeing the mystery and meaning of this life. At the end of verse 99 we have: "In these things there are Signs for people who believe." Here we are speaking of the real fruits of spiritual Life. For them Faith is necessary, as bringing us nearer to God.

 وَجَعَلُوا لِلَّـهِ شُرَكَاءَ الْجِنَّ وَخَلَقَهُمْ ۖ وَخَرَقُوا لَهُ بَنِينَ وَبَنَاتٍ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ ۚ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ عَمَّا يَصِفُونَ 
( 100 )   But they have attributed to Allah partners - the jinn, while He has created them - and have fabricated for Him sons and daughters. Exalted is He and high above what they describe
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Because of man's imagination and superstitious disposition, he has often held other invisible beings to be associated with God in His governance of the universe and in making and marring man's destiny. For example, the deity of rain, and the deity of vegetation, the god of wealth and the god of health, and so on. Such beliefs are found among all the polytheistic nations of the world.

The ignorant Arabs considered angels to be the daughters of God. In the same way, other polytheistic nations wove a network of blood relationships with God, producing thereby a whole crop of gods and goddesses descended from the Creator.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Jinns: who are they? In xviii. 50 we are told that Iblis was one of the Jinns, and it is suggested that that was why he disobeyed the Command of God. But in that passage and other similar passages, we are told that God commanded the angels to bow down to Adam, and they obeyed except Iblis. That implies that Iblis had been of the company of angels. In many passages Jinns and men are spoken of together. In lv. 14-15, man is stated to have been created from clay, while Jinns from a flame of fire. The root meaning of junna, yujannu, is "to be covered or hidden," and janna yajunnu, in the active voice, "to cover or hide," as in vi. 76. Some people say that jinn therefore means the hidden qualities or capacities in man; others that it means wild or jungle folk hidden in the hills or forests. I do not wish to be dogmatic, but I think, from a collation and study of the Quranic passages, that the meaning is simply "a spirit," or an invisible or hidden force. In folklore stories and romances like the Arabian Nights they become personified into fantastic forms, but with them we are not concerned here.

Explanation by Verse By Verse Qur'an Study Circle:
Ayah 100 refutes the idolaters who worshiped others besides Allah and associated the Jinns with Him in worship. One might ask how did the idolaters worship the Jinns? Here, we should remember that just like there are good people and bad people similarly there are good Jinns and bad Jinns. Some are obedient to Allah while some are disobedient to Him. The mushrikeen of Makkah worshiped the idols by obeying the Jinns who commanded them to do so. When people went out on night journeys they would call out to the Jinns for protection. Calling out to someone for help other than Allah is Shirk.

In Surah Saba Ayah 41, Allah mentions that on the Day of Resurrection, the angels will proclaim, “Rather, they used to worship the jinn; most of them were believers in them.” Earlier in Surah an-Nisa Ayah 117 we learnt, “They call upon instead of Him none but female [deities], and they [actually] call upon none but a rebellious Shaytan.” This is why Allah said here [in Ayah 100], وَخَلَقَهُمْ “…while He has created them…” Allah is the One Who created the Jinns, then how is it possible that they be worshiped? How can the creation be equal to the Creator? Jinns are a creation of Allah, should one worship the creation or the Creator? How can another deity be worshiped along with Him while He created everything?

The word, Kharaqu [خَرَقُواْ], means “falsely attributed, invented, claimed and lied”. Allah then mentions the misguidance of those who were led astray and claimed a son or offspring for Him, as the Jews did with `Uzayr, the Christians with `Eesa and the Arab pagans with the angels whom they claimed were Allah’s daughters. Allah is far holier than what the unjust, polytheist people associated with Him.

Ruku / Sections 13: Verse 101-110

 بَدِيعُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لَهُ وَلَدٌ وَلَمْ تَكُن لَّهُ صَاحِبَةٌ ۖ وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ ۖ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ 
( 101 )   [He is] Originator of the heavens and the earth. How could He have a son when He does not have a companion and He created all things? And He is, of all things, Knowing.
Explanation by Verse By Verse Qur'an Study Circle:
In Ayah 101, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says that He is the Badi’ [بَدِيعُ] of the heavens and the earth, meaning He originated, created, invented and brought them into existence without precedence. The word Bid`ah used for innovation also comes from the same word because it is something that did not have a precedence. Until Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala created the heavens and the earth there was nothing like them from before. He is their innovator.

If Allah alone is the Badi’, “How could He have a son when He does not have a companion and He created all things?” A child is the offspring of two compatible spouses. When Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala does not have a spouse from where can the offspring come? Everything besides Allah is the creation, and if Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala is the Creator of everything then how can his child or spouse be a creation? How can He have a wife from His creation who is suitable for His majesty, when there is none like Him? How can He have a child? How can His creation equal Him in status? Allah does not have an equal, none of His creatures are similar to Him, for He alone created the entire creation.

In Surah Mariyam Ayaat 88 and 89, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says, “And they say, ‘The Most Merciful has taken [for Himself] a son.’ You have done an atrocious thing.”

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has created everything. He is Glorified above having a son. Allah is All-Knower of all things. Those who are worshiped besides Allah are not aware of everything.

  ذَٰلِكُمُ اللَّـهُ رَبُّكُمْ ۖ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ خَالِقُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ فَاعْبُدُوهُ ۚ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَكِيلٌ 
( 102 )   That is Allah, your Lord; there is no deity except Him, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He is Disposer of all things.
Explanation by Verse By Verse Qur'an Study Circle:
Allah is the Creator of everything while the Jinns are not the khaliq. They are makhlooq –  a creation of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala. Therefore worship only Him, attest to His Oneness and affirm that there is no deity worthy of worship except Him because He created everything. He is the Trustee, Watcher and Disposer of affairs for all things in existence, giving them provisions and protection by day and night.

  لَّا تُدْرِكُهُ الْأَبْصَارُ وَهُوَ يُدْرِكُ الْأَبْصَارَ ۖ وَهُوَ اللَّطِيفُ الْخَبِيرُ 
( 103 )   Vision perceives Him not, but He perceives [all] vision; and He is the Subtle, the Acquainted.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Latif: fine, subtle, so fine and subtle as to be invisible to the physical eye; so fine as to be imperceptiable to the senses; figuratively, so pure as to be above the mental or spiritual vision of ordinary men. The active meaning should also be understood: 'One who understands the finest mysteries': Cf. xxii. 63, and n. 2844.

Explanation by Verse By Verse Qur'an Study Circle:
In Ayah 103, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says, “Vision perceives Him not…” [لاَّ تُدْرِكُهُ الاٌّبْصَـرُ]. The words used in the ayah are tud’riku [تُدْرِكُهُ] and absar [ابْصَـر]. The word tud’riku is from the word idraak which means “to comprehend or encompass”. The word absar is the plural of the word basar [بْصَـر] which means “vision, sight or ability to see”. Mentioned here are particular attributes of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala: 1. He is unperceivable, 2. Allah is All-Perceiving. Meaning no vision can grasp Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala in this life but Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala watches His entire creation fully, and His “seeing” encompasses all of them. This can be best understood from the incident of Prophet Musa `alayhi salaam.

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala narrates in Surah Al-‘A`raf Ayah 143, “And when Musa arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me [Yourself] that I may look at You.’ [Allah] said, ‘You will not see Me, but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain, He rendered it level, and Musa fell unconscious. And when he awoke, he said, ‘Exalted are You! I have repented to You, and I am the first of the believers.’”

It is the belief of the Muslims that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala cannot be seen in this life but on the Day of Resurrection, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala will reveal Himself to His believing servants. It has been mentioned in Surah Qiyamah Ayaat 22 and 23, “[Some] faces, that Day, will be radiant, Looking at their Lord.”

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala is the Most Subtle, bringing forth all things, Well-Acquainted with their position and place. In Surah al-Mulk Ayah 14, He says, “Does He who created not know, while He is the Subtle, the Acquainted?”

 قَدْ جَاءَكُم بَصَائِرُ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ ۖ فَمَنْ أَبْصَرَ فَلِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَنْ عَمِيَ فَعَلَيْهَا ۚ وَمَا أَنَا عَلَيْكُم بِحَفِيظٍ 
( 104 )   There has come to you enlightenment from your Lord. So whoever will see does so for [the benefit of] his soul, and whoever is blind [does harm] against it. And [say], "I am not a guardian over you."
Even though this statement is from God, it is expressed through the mouth of the Prophet (peace be on him). We observe that in the Qur'an the speaker frequently changes - sometimes it is God Who is speaking, sometimes it is the angel who carries the revelation, and sometimes a group of angels; on some occasions it is the Prophet (peace be on him) who is speaking, while on others it is the men of faith. Likewise, those addressed by the Qur'an also change - sometimes it is the Prophet (peace be' on him); sometimes it is the men of faith; sometimes it is the People of the Book; sometimes it is the unbelievers and the polytheists; sometimes it is the Quraysh; sometimes it is the Arabs; and sometimes, mankind as a whole. Regardless of these changes, however, the content of the message always remains the same - it consists of God's guidance to mankind.

The statement 'I am not your keeper' signifies that the task of the Prophet is confined to carrying the light of true guidance to others, it is then up to them either to use it to perceive Reality for themselves or to keep their eyes closed. The Prophet (peace he on him) is not asked to compel those who deliberately kept their eyes shut to open them, forcing them to see what they did not wish to see.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
I understand "Say" to be understood in the beginning of this verse. The words would then be the words of the Apostle, as in fact is suggested in verse 107 below. That is why I have enclosed them in inverted commas.

Explanation by Verse By Verse Qur'an Study Circle:
Basa’ir [بَصَآئِر] is the plural of baseera which means “to have insight, perception or enlightenment”. It is the power through which one can acquire the knowledge of things which do not fall within the range of perception through the senses. That is, a person doesn’t just look at a thing but also understands its purpose.

Basa’ir here refers to the proofs and evidences in the Qur’an and the Message of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him). Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says whoever sees and understands the reality will take benefit from it. What is the reality being mentioned here? Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has mentioned several things in the previous ayaat such as He is the Khaliq of the day and night, the sun and the moon, the stars and vegetation. Now whoever acknowledges this will refrain from Shirk and submit to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala alone.

Something similar was also said in Ayah 108 of Surah Yunus, “…O mankind, the truth has come to you from your Lord, so whoever is guided is only guided for [the benefit of] his soul, and whoever goes astray only goes astray [in violation] against it…”

And whoever turns a blind eye and says, “what’s the purpose of all this,” such a person will only harm himself. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala then ends this ayah by commanding the Prophet (peace be upon him) to say that he is neither responsible nor a watcher over them. Rather he is only a Messenger conveying the Message.

  وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُصَرِّفُ الْآيَاتِ وَلِيَقُولُوا دَرَسْتَ وَلِنُبَيِّنَهُ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ 
( 105 )   And thus do We diversify the verses so the disbelievers will say, "You have studied," and so We may make the Qur'an clear for a people who know.
The same has been said earlier, viz. that genuine seekers after the Truth arrive at it even when it is couched in parables about such apparently trivial things as flies and gnats see (surah al-Baqarah 2:24). As for those who have been seized by a biased negativism, they are prone to ask, sarcastically: What have these trivial things to do with the Book of God? The same idea is expressed here in a slightly different form. The import of the statement is that the Book of God has become a touchstone, which helps mark off the true from the false. These include the sort of people who, once they have come to know the teachings of the Book of God, try in earnest to reflect on its substance and seek to benefit from the wisdom and admonition it contains. Another group reacts quite differently. When they hear or read the Book, their minds are not attracted by the substance of its message. Rather, their curiosity is aroused and they begin probing as to where this Prophet, who had no formal education, derived the teachings which the Book contains. And since a negative prejudice has already seized their hearts, they find it reasonable to conceive of any possibility except the possibility that the Qur'an is a revelation from God. Such people proclaim their opinion with such strong conviction that one might feel inclined to believe that they had indeed discovered the real 'source' of the Book by means of scientific investigation.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The teaching in the Qur'an explains things by various symbols, parables, narratives, and appeals to nature. Each time, a new phase of the question is presented to our minds. This is what a diligent and earnest teacher would do, such as was Muhammad Mustafa. Those who were in searh of knowledge and had thus acquired some knowledge of spiritual things were greatly helped to understand more clearly the things of which, before the varied explanations, they had only one-sided knowledge.

Explanation by Verse By Verse Qur'an Study Circle:
In Ayah 105, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says that this is how He explains His Ayaat and makes them plain and clear to suffice the ignorance of the ignorant. From here it can be inferred that all aids to guidance in the form of miracles, signs, proofs, and the matchless Qur’an itself were all solid means to help see truth. Then, there was the spectacle of a total Ummiyy expressing with inimitable eloquence volumes of knowledge and reality through his blessed speech which had left the wise wondering. All of this was a mean to help people know and see the truth as it was. This ayah was a response to the idolaters and unbelievers who denied the Messenger (peace be upon him)  and accused him of being tutored from somewhere.

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala ends this ayah by saying that this is how He explains the matter to a people who know truth, and thus follow it, and know falsehood, and thus avoid it. Allah’s wisdom is perfect, He allows the unbelievers to stray, and He guides the people who have knowledge.

There are many ayaat that testify that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala sent down the Qur’an as guidance to those who fear Him and that He guides or misguides whom He wills by the Qur’an.

 اتَّبِعْ مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ ۖ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْمُشْرِكِينَ 
( 106 )   Follow, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you from your Lord - there is no deity except Him - and turn away from those who associate others with Allah.
  وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّـهُ مَا أَشْرَكُوا ۗ وَمَا جَعَلْنَاكَ عَلَيْهِمْ حَفِيظًا ۖ وَمَا أَنتَ عَلَيْهِم بِوَكِيلٍ 
( 107 )   But if Allah had willed, they would not have associated. And We have not appointed you over them as a guardian, nor are you a manager over them.
It is emphasized that the Prophet (peace be on him) is only required to preach the Truth and try to call people to embrace it. His responsibility ends at that for he is, after all, not their warden. His task is to present this guidance and spare no effort in elucidating the Truth. Anyone who still rejects it does so on his own responsibility. It is not part of the Prophet's task to compel anybody to follow the Truth, and he will not be held accountable for not having been able to bring an individual out of the fold of falsehood. Hence he should not over strain his mind by his desire to make the blind see, or compel those bent on keeping their eyes shut, to observe. For, had it been an objective of God's universal plan not to allow anyone to remain devoted to falsehood, He need not have sent Prophets for that purpose. Could He not have turned all human beings, instantly, into devotees of the Truth by His mere will? Quite obviously God did not intend to do so. The entire basis of the Divine plan is that men should have free-will and be allowed to choose between the Truth and falsehood; that the Truth should be explained to them in order that they be tested with regard to their choice between truth and falsehood. The right attitude, therefore, is for them to follow the Straight Way which has been illuminated by the light bequeathed to them and to keep on calling others towards it. They should naturally value very highly all those who respond to the message of the Truth. Such persons should not be forsaken or neglected, however humble their station in the world. As for those who willfully reject the message of God, one need not pursue them too far. They should rather be left alone to proceed towards their doom since they themselves wish so, and are insistent on doing so.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
God's Plan is to use the human will to co-operate in understanding Him and His relations to us. This is the answer to an objector who might say: "If He is All-powered, why does sin or evil exist in the world? Can He not destroy it?" He can, but His Plan is different, and in any case it is not for a Teacher to force any one to accept the truths which he is inspired to preach and proclaim.

Verses 108 – 117 Islam is the truth but do not insult or mock other beliefs: The believers must not to insult the gods of other religions because it might cause the polytheists to insult God.  In the end they will understand the error of their ways.  Sometimes the unbelievers swear that they would believe if they saw a sign, but the signs are all around them yet they refuse to see them.  Even if angels appeared before them or the dead spoke to them they would not believe.  God will abandon them to wander blindly in their wrongdoing.  Every prophet had enemies, so turn away from the disbelievers and what they have invented.

God is the Judge! Not the others that are worshiped instead of or besides Him.  He sent this Book (the Quran), and those who received scriptures before know very well that the Quran is the truth.  It cannot be altered.  Be mindful that most of the people are trying to turn you away from God however God knows who goes astray and who remains faithful.

وَلَا تَسُبُّوا الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ فَيَسُبُّوا اللَّـهَ عَدْوًا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ زَيَّنَّا لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ عَمَلَهُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِم مَّرْجِعُهُمْ فَيُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ 
( 108 )   And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made pleasing to every community their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them about what they used to do.
The Prophet (peace be on him) and his followers are admonished not to allow their proselytizing zeal to dominate them so that their polemics and controversial religious discussions either lead them to be offensive to the beliefs of non-Muslims or to abuse their religious leaders and deities. Far from bringing people closer to the Truth, such an attitude is likely to alienate them from it further.

Here we should bear in mind, as we have pointed out earlier, that God declares those things which take place as a result of the operation of the laws of nature to be His own acts, for it is He Who has made those laws. Whatever results from the operation of those laws, therefore, results from His command. Whenever God states that a certain act was His, the same might be described by humans as occurring in the natural course of things.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
A man's actual personal religion depends upon many things; his personal psychology, the background of his life, his hidden or repressed feelings, tendencies, or history (which psychoanalysis tries to unravel), his hereditary dispositions or antipathies, and all the subtle influences of his education and his environment.

The task before the man of God is: (1) to use any of these which can subserve the higher ends, (2) to purify such as have been misused, (3) to introduce new ideas and modes of looking at things, and (4) to combat what is wrong and cannot be mended: all for the purpose of leading to the truth and gradually letting in spiritual light where there was darkness before. If that is not done with discretion and the skill of a spiritual Teacher, there may be not only a reaction of obstinacy, but an unseemly show of dishonour to the true God and His Truth, and doubts would spread among the weaker brethren whose faith is shallow and infirm.

What happens to individuals is true collectively of nations or groups of people. They think in their self-obsession that their own ideas are right. God in His infinite compassion bears with them, and asks those who have purer ideas of faith not to vilify the weaknesses of their neighbours, lest the neighbours in their turn vilify the real truth and make matters even worse than before. In so far as there is active evil, He will deal with it in His own way. Of course the righteous man must not hide his light under a bushel, or compromise with evil, or refuse to establish right living where he has the power to do so.

 وَأَقْسَمُوا بِاللَّـهِ جَهْدَ أَيْمَانِهِمْ لَئِن جَاءَتْهُمْ آيَةٌ لَّيُؤْمِنُنَّ بِهَا ۚ قُلْ إِنَّمَا الْآيَاتُ عِندَ اللَّـهِ ۖ وَمَا يُشْعِرُكُمْ أَنَّهَا إِذَا جَاءَتْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ 
( 109 )   And they swear by Allah their strongest oaths that if a sign came to them, they would surely believe in it. Say, "The signs are only with Allah." And what will make you perceive that even if a sign came, they would not believe.
'Sign' in this context signifies a tangible miracle which is so impressive that it leaves people with no alternative but to believe in the veracity of the Prophet (peace be on him) and the truth of his claim to have been appointed by God.

The Prophet (peace be on him) denies his ability to perform miracles. That power lies with God alone. If God wants a miracle to take place, He has the power; if He does not want miracles to take place, none will. And so indeed does every Prophet of God - Ed.

These words are addressed to the Muslims. Driven by the restless yearning to see people embrace Islam - a yearning which they sometimes expressed in words - they wished some miracle to happen which might lead their erring brethren to the true faith. In response to this wish and longing they are told that their embracing the true faith does not depend upon their observing any miraculous sign.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
If the Unbelievers are merely obstinate, nothing will convince them. There is no story more full of miracles than the story of Jesus. Yet in that same story we are told that Jesus said: "A wicked adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the Prophet Jonas": Matt. xvi. 4. There are Signs given by God every day -understood by those who believe. A mere insistence upon some particular or special Sign meant mere contumacy and misunderstanding of the spiritual world.

  وَنُقَلِّبُ أَفْئِدَتَهُمْ وَأَبْصَارَهُمْ كَمَا لَمْ يُؤْمِنُوا بِهِ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَنَذَرُهُمْ فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ 
( 110 )   And We will turn away their hearts and their eyes just as they refused to believe in it the first time. And We will leave them in their transgression, wandering blindly.
This shows that they still suffer from the same mentality which had made them reject the call of the Prophet (peace be on him) at the outset. Their outlook has undergone no change. The same mental confusion, the same opacity of vision which had kept them from developing sound understanding and.a correct perspective still warps their understanding and clouds their vision.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Where there is sheer obstinacy and ridicule of faith, the result will be that such a sinner's heart will be hardened and his eyes will be sealed, so that he cannot even see the things visible to ordinary mortals. The sinner gathers impetus in his descent towards wrong.

Cf. ii. 15. God's grace is always ready to help human weakness or ignorance and to accept repentance and give forgiveness. But where the sinner is in actual rebellion, he will be given none, and it will be his own fault if he wanders about distractedly, without any certain hope or refuge.

Ruku / Sections 14: Verse 111-121

 وَلَوْ أَنَّنَا نَزَّلْنَا إِلَيْهِمُ الْمَلَائِكَةَ وَكَلَّمَهُمُ الْمَوْتَىٰ وَحَشَرْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ قُبُلًا مَّا كَانُوا لِيُؤْمِنُوا إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّـهُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ يَجْهَلُونَ 
( 111 )   And even if We had sent down to them the angels [with the message] and the dead spoke to them [of it] and We gathered together every [created] thing in front of them, they would not believe unless Allah should will. But most of them, [of that], are ignorant.
 The people under discussion are so perverse that they do not prefer to embrace the Truth in preference to falsehood by rightly exercising their choice and volition. The only way that is left for them to become lovers of the Truth is, therefore, that by His overpowering will God should render them truth-loving not by their choice and volition, but by metamorphizing their very nature. Such a course, however, goes against the wisdom which underlies the creation of man. Hence it is futile to expect God to intervene in the matter and to force those people to believe by the exercise of His will.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The most stupendous miracles even according to their ideas would not have convinced them. If the whole pageant of the spiritual world were brought before them, they would not have believed, because they -of their own choice and will -refuse knowledge and faith.

 وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَا لِكُلِّ نَبِيٍّ عَدُوًّا شَيَاطِينَ الْإِنسِ وَالْجِنِّ يُوحِي بَعْضُهُمْ إِلَىٰ بَعْضٍ زُخْرُفَ الْقَوْلِ غُرُورًا ۚ وَلَوْ شَاءَ رَبُّكَ مَا فَعَلُوهُ ۖ فَذَرْهُمْ وَمَا يَفْتَرُونَ 
( 112 )   And thus We have made for every prophet an enemy - devils from mankind and jinn, inspiring to one another decorative speech in delusion. But if your Lord had willed, they would not have done it, so leave them and that which they invent.
The Prophet (peace be on him) is told that he should not be unnerved even if the evil ones among both mankind and the jinn stood united against him and opposed him with all their might. For this was not the first time that such a thing had happened. Whenever a Prophet came and tried to lead people to the Truth, all the satanic forces joined hands to defeat his mission. 'Specious talk' signifies all the trickery and manoeuvring to which the enemy resorts, all his efforts aimed at sowing doubts about Islam and undermining people's faith in it, so as to arouse them against both the Prophet (peace be on him) and his message. Taken as a whole, these are characterized as 'delusion', for the weapons used in their crusade by the opponents of the Truth have the effect of deluding others as well as themselves, no matter how beneficial and successful those weapons may appear to be.

Furthermore, we should always bear in mind that, according to the Qur'an, there is a tremendous difference between 'God's will' and 'God's good pleasure'. The failure to differentiate between the two often gives rise to serious misconceptions. If a certain thing takes place in accord with the universal will of God, and thus by His sanction, that does not necessarily mean that God is pleased with it. Nothing at all takes place in the world unless God permits it to take place, unless He makes it a part of His scheme, and unless He makes it possible for that event to take place by creating its necessary conditions. The act of stealing on the part of a thief, the act of homicide on the part of a murderer, the wrong and corruption of the wrong-doer and the corrupt, the unbelief of the unbeliever and the polytheism of the polytheist - none of these are possible without the will of God. Likewise, the faith of the believer and the piety of the pious are inconceivable without the will of God. In short, both these require the will of God. But whereas the things in the first category do not please Him, those in the second do.

Even though the will of God is oriented to ultimate good, the course of the realization of that good is paved with conflict between the forces of light and darkness, of good and evil, of what is sound and pure on the one hand and what is corrupt and defiled on the other. With larger interests in view, God has endowed man with the disposition of obedience as well as of disobedience. He has created in man Abrahamic and Mosaic as well as Nimrodic and Pharaonic potentialities. Both the pure, unadulterated human nature and the satanic urges are ingrained in man's being and have been provided with the opportunity to work themselves out by coming into conflict with each other. He has granted those species of His creatures who are possessed of authority (viz. man and jinn) the freedom to choose between good and evil. Whosoever chooses to act righteously has been given the power to do so, and the same is the case with him who chooses to be evil. People of both categories are in a position to use material resources within the framework of the broader considerations underlying God's- governance of His universe. God will be pleased, however, only with those who are working for good. God likes His creatures to exercise their freedom of choice properly and commit themselves to good of their own volition.

Unlike the angels, who carry out God's commands without resistance from any quarter, the task entrusted to men is to strive to establish the way of life sanctioned by God in the face of opposition and hostility from evil-doers and rebels against Him. In the framework of His universal will, God allows even those who have chosen the path of rebellion to strive for the realization of their goals, even as He grants the believers every opportunity to strive along the path of obedience and service to God. Despite this granting of freedom and choice to all there is no doubt that God is pleased with, and guides, directs, supports and strengthens the believers alone because their overall direction is to His liking. Nevertheless, they should not expect that by His supernatural intervention God will either force those who are disinclined to believe into believing or that He will forcibly remove the satanic forces - among both men and jinn - who are resolved to spare neither their mental and physical energy nor their material resources to impede the triumph of the Truth. Those determined to strive in the cause of the Truth, and of virtue and righteousness are told that they must prove their earnest devotion by waging a fierce struggle against the devotees of falsehood. For had God wanted to use miracles to obliterate falsehood and usher in the reign of the Truth, He would not have required human beings to accomplish the task. He could have simply seen to it that no evil one remained in the world, leaving no possibility for polytheism and unbelief to exist.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
What happened in the history of the Holy Prophet happens in the history of all righteous men who have a Message from God. The spirit of evil is ever active and uses men to practice deception by means of highly embellished words and plausible excuses and objections. God permits these things in His Plans. It is not for us to complain. Our faith is tested, and we must stand the test steadfastly.

  وَلِتَصْغَىٰ إِلَيْهِ أَفْئِدَةُ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ وَلِيَرْضَوْهُ وَلِيَقْتَرِفُوا مَا هُم مُّقْتَرِفُونَ 
( 113 )   And [it is] so the hearts of those who disbelieve in the Hereafter will incline toward it and that they will be satisfied with it and that they will commit that which they are committing.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
People who have no faith in the future destiny of man may listen to and be taken in by the deceit of evil. If they take a delight in it, let them. See what they gain by it. Their gains will be as deceitful as their delight. For the end of evil must be evil.

 أَفَغَيْرَ اللَّـهِ أَبْتَغِي حَكَمًا وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكِتَابَ مُفَصَّلًا ۚ وَالَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ مُنَزَّلٌ مِّن رَّبِّكَ بِالْحَقِّ ۖ فَلَا تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْمُمْتَرِينَ 
( 114 )   [Say], "Then is it other than Allah I should seek as judge while it is He who has revealed to you the Book explained in detail?" And those to whom We [previously] gave the Scripture know that it is sent down from your Lord in truth, so never be among the doubters.
The implied speaker in this sentence is the Prophet (peace be on him) and the words are addressed to the Muslims. The purpose of the sentence is to impress upon the Muslims that God has elucidated the relevant truths, and has also proclaimed that in their endeavour to make the Truth prevail they will have to follow the path of striving and struggle. The devotees of the Truth should, therefore, resort to those means which human beings normally employ for the successful achievement of their objectives rather than wait for any supernatural intervention that would enable them to achieve their mission without struggle and sacrifice. Moreover, since God Himself had chosen that human effort rather than supernatural intervention should lead to the prevalence of the Truth, who had the power to change this basic fact and bring about the victory of the Truth without any resort to human effort and sacrifice.

This is no mere concoction designed to explain away the current problems. All those versed in the Scriptures, and possessing true understanding of the mission of the Prophets (peace be on them all), will confirm that everything in the Qur'an is perfectly true and in fact constitutes that eternal truth which cannot suffer any change or modification.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The righteous man seeks no other standard of judgement but God's Will. How can he, when god in His grace has explained His Will in the Qur'an, with details which men of every capacity can understand? The humblest can learn lessons of right conduct in daily life, and the most advanced can find the highest wisdom in its spiritual teaching, enriched as it is with all kinds of beautiful illustrations from nature and the story of man.

  وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقًا وَعَدْلًا ۚ لَّا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمَاتِهِ ۚ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ 
( 115 )   And the word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can alter His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.
One need not follow the way of life of the majority, for the majority tend to follow their conjectures and fancies rather than sound knowledge. Their beliefs, their ideas and concepts, their philosophies of life, the guiding principles of their conduct, their laws - all these are founded on conjecture. On the contrary, the way of life which pleases God, was revealed by Him and hence is based on true knowledge rather than conjecture. Instead of trying to discover the way of life of the majority, a seeker after truth should, therefore, persevere in the way prescribed by God, even if he finds himself to be a solitary traveler.

  وَإِن تُطِعْ أَكْثَرَ مَن فِي الْأَرْضِ يُضِلُّوكَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ ۚ إِن يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَخْرُصُونَ 
( 116 )   And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah. They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying.
  إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ مَن يَضِلُّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ ۖ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ 
( 117 )   Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who strays from His way, and He is most knowing of the [rightly] guided.
Verses 118 – 121 Rules about meat consumption: Eat of that meat over which God’s name has been pronounced at the time of slaughtering of the animal.  The rules have been made clear and you know what is forbidden (except in times of dire emergency).  Remember you will be held accountable.  Do not eat meat upon which God’s name has not been pronounced, and be wary because many people and devils will cause arguments and disputes over this.

فَكُلُوا مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْهِ إِن كُنتُم بِآيَاتِهِ مُؤْمِنِينَ 
( 118 )   So eat of that [meat] upon which the name of Allah has been mentioned, if you are believers in His verses.
Many nations have imposed on themselves superfluous religious taboos, which include a variety of dietary restrictions. On the one hand, they have declared lawful many of the things which God has forbidden. On the other, there are many things which God has made lawful but which some people have forbidden to themselves. Some people have even gone so far as to consider eating animals slaughtered in the name of God as unlawful, while those slaughtered with no mention of God's name may be eaten. God repudiates this and urges the Muslims - if they really believe in Him and obey His injunctions - to smash the superstitious and prejudiced notions contrived by human beings in disregard of God's revealed guidance, and to recognize as unlawful all that God has declared to be unlawful, and as lawful all that God has declared to be lawful.

  وَمَا لَكُمْ أَلَّا تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْهِ وَقَدْ فَصَّلَ لَكُم مَّا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِلَّا مَا اضْطُرِرْتُمْ إِلَيْهِ ۗ وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا لَّيُضِلُّونَ بِأَهْوَائِهِم بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ ۗ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُعْتَدِينَ 
( 119 )   And why should you not eat of that upon which the name of Allah has been mentioned while He has explained in detail to you what He has forbidden you, excepting that to which you are compelled. And indeed do many lead [others] astray through their [own] inclinations without knowledge. Indeed, your Lord - He is most knowing of the transgressors.
See (Surah al-Nahl 16:15). We may observe in passing that this allusion indirectly establishes that Surah al-Nahl was revealed before the present surah.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Cf. v. 4. When a clear law has explained what is lawful and unlawful in food, it is wrong to raise fresh scruples and mislead the ignorant.

  وَذَرُوا ظَاهِرَ الْإِثْمِ وَبَاطِنَهُ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْسِبُونَ الْإِثْمَ سَيُجْزَوْنَ بِمَا كَانُوا يَقْتَرِفُونَ 
( 120 )   And leave what is apparent of sin and what is concealed thereof. Indeed, those who earn [blame for] sin will be recompensed for that which they used to commit.
  وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّا لَمْ يُذْكَرِ اسْمُ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْهِ وَإِنَّهُ لَفِسْقٌ ۗ وَإِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ لَيُوحُونَ إِلَىٰ أَوْلِيَائِهِمْ لِيُجَادِلُوكُمْ ۖ وَإِنْ أَطَعْتُمُوهُمْ إِنَّكُمْ لَمُشْرِكُونَ 
( 121 )   And do not eat of that upon which the name of Allah has not been mentioned, for indeed, it is grave disobedience. And indeed do the devils inspire their allies [among men] to dispute with you. And if you were to obey them, indeed, you would be associators [of others with Him].
It has been reported in a tradition transmitted by 'Abd Allah b. 'Abbas that the Jewish religious scholars used to prompt the ignorant people of Arabia to address many enquiries to the Prophet (peace be on him) so as to discredit him. One of the questions they taught them to ask was: 'Why is it that an animal killed by (the act of) God should be deemed prohibited, while one killed by us is considered lawful?'This is a common example of the warped mentality of the People of the Book. They strained their minds to contrive such questions so as to create doubts in people's minds and to provide them with intellectual weapons in their fight against the Truth.

To acknowledge the over lordship of God, yet to follow at the same time the orders and ways of those who have turned away from Him, amounts to associating others with God in His divinity. True belief in the unity of God consists in orienting one's entire life to the obedience and service of God. Those who believe that any other being besides God is to he acknowledged in principle as having an independent claim on man's unreserved obedience should know that such acknowledgement amounts to associating others with God in His divinity at the level of belief. On the other hand, if they actually do obey those who, in sheer disregard of God's guidance and injunctions, arrogate to themselves the right to declare according to their whims certain things to be lawful and others to be unlawful, and to bid and forbid people as they please, this amounts to associating others with God in His divinity at the level of action.

Ruku / Sections 15: Verse 122-129
Verses 122 – 140 Lies and inventions result in punishment:
A person who is ignorant or obstinate and trapped in the darkness is not the same as one who is guided and walking in the light.  There are evil doers everywhere, they conspire and scheme but they are unaware that they conspire only against themselves.  They think they should be messengers but God knows best who to give His message to.  He guides whom he wills, he expands their chest so that they are filled with Islam but those who are abandoned (because they themselves did not wish for guidance) feel their chest constrict as if they were climbing into the sky.  The path to the home of peace is straight.

On the Day of Judgment the jinn and humankind who thought themselves allies in evil will be allies in punishment.  Their home is the Fire.  They will testify against themselves when asked whether they had received a warning.  God did not destroy civilizations without just cause and only did so after fair warning.  God can and will destroy people and replace them with others.   If people do not listen to God and instead do whatever they want God will respond.

Some of the polytheists give God’s share of their crops and livestock to those they wrongly associate with God.  This is an evil and bad decision.  Some people are so confused that they will murder their own children because of their strange beliefs.  They have many self-imposed restrictions that they wrongly attribute to God.  These lies and inventions will result in severe punishment.  The ones who kill their children or restrict food from them because of lies about God have gone completely astray.

أَوَمَن كَانَ مَيْتًا فَأَحْيَيْنَاهُ وَجَعَلْنَا لَهُ نُورًا يَمْشِي بِهِ فِي النَّاسِ كَمَن مَّثَلُهُ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ لَيْسَ بِخَارِجٍ مِّنْهَا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ زُيِّنَ لِلْكَافِرِينَ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ 
( 122 )   And is one who was dead and We gave him life and made for him light by which to walk among the people like one who is in darkness, never to emerge therefrom? Thus it has been made pleasing to the disbelievers that which they were doing.
'Death' signifies here the state of ignorance and lack of consciousness, whereas 'life' denotes the state of knowledge and true cognition, the state of awareness of Reality. He who cannot distinguish between right and wrong and does not know the Straight Way for human life, may be alive on the biological plane, but his essential humanity is not. He may be a living animal but is certainly not a living human being. A living human being is one who can distinguish right from wrong, good from evil, honesty from dishonesty.

The question is: 'How can they expect one who has been able to attain genuine consciousness of his true human nature and who, by virtue of his knowledge of the Truth, can clearly discern the Straight Way among the numerous crooked ways, to live like those who lack true consciousness and go on stumbling in the darkness of ignorance and folly?'

The law of God with regard to those to whom light is presented but who wilfully refuse to accept it, preferring to follow their crooked paths even after they have been invited to follow the Straight Way, is that in the course of time such people begin to cherish darkness, and to enjoy groping their way in the dark, stumbling and falling as they proceed. They tend to mistake cacti for orchids, thorns for roses. They find pleasure in every act of evil and corruption. They look forward to renewed experiences of corruption, hoping that where they were previously unsuccessful they will now find success.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Here is an allegory of the good man with his divine mission and the evil man with his mission of evil. The former, before he got his spiritual life, was like one dead. It was God's grace that gave him spiritual life, with a Light by which he could walk and guide his own footsteps as well as the footsteps of those who are willing to follow God's light. The opposite type is that which hates God's light, which lives in the depths of darkness, and which plots and burrows against all that is good. But the plots of evil recoil on itself, although it thinks that they will hurt the good. Can these two types be for a moment compared with each other? Perhaps the lead in every centre of population is taken by the men of evil. But the good men should not be discouraged. They should work in righteousness and fulfill their mission.

  وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَا فِي كُلِّ قَرْيَةٍ أَكَابِرَ مُجْرِمِيهَا لِيَمْكُرُوا فِيهَا ۖ وَمَا يَمْكُرُونَ إِلَّا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ 
( 123 )   And thus We have placed within every city the greatest of its criminals to conspire therein. But they conspire not except against themselves, and they perceive [it] not.
  وَإِذَا جَاءَتْهُمْ آيَةٌ قَالُوا لَن نُّؤْمِنَ حَتَّىٰ نُؤْتَىٰ مِثْلَ مَا أُوتِيَ رُسُلُ اللَّـهِ ۘ اللَّـهُ أَعْلَمُ حَيْثُ يَجْعَلُ رِسَالَتَهُ ۗ سَيُصِيبُ الَّذِينَ أَجْرَمُوا صَغَارٌ عِندَ اللَّـهِ وَعَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ بِمَا كَانُوا يَمْكُرُونَ 
( 124 )   And when a sign comes to them, they say, "Never will we believe until we are given like that which was given to the messengers of Allah." Allah is most knowing of where He places His message. There will afflict those who committed crimes debasement before Allah and severe punishment for what they used to conspire.
This shows that they were unwilling to believe in the statement of the Prophets that an angel of God came to each of them and delivered the message of God. They would believe, they said, only if the angel approached them directly and intimated God's message to them.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Besides the teaching in God's Word, and the teaching in God's world, of nature and history and human contacts, many Signs also come to the ungodly, in the shape of warnings or otherwise, which the ungodly either do not heed, or deliberately reject. The Signs in the two cases are not the same, and that becomes one of their perverse arguments against Faith. But God's working will be according to His own Will and Plan, and not according to the wishes whims of the ungodly.

  فَمَن يُرِدِ اللَّـهُ أَن يَهْدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ ۖ وَمَن يُرِدْ أَن يُضِلَّهُ يَجْعَلْ صَدْرَهُ ضَيِّقًا حَرَجًا كَأَنَّمَا يَصَّعَّدُ فِي السَّمَاءِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يَجْعَلُ اللَّـهُ الرِّجْسَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ 
( 125 )   So whoever Allah wants to guide - He expands his breast to [contain] Islam; and whoever He wants to misguide - He makes his breast tight and constricted as though he were climbing into the sky. Thus does Allah place defilement upon those who do not believe.
'To open someone's breast to Islam' means to make him feel fully convinced of the truth of Islam and to remove all his doubts, hesitations and reluctance.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
God's Universal Plan is the Qadha wa Qadr, which is so much misunderstood. That Plan is unalterable, and that is His Will. It means that in the spiritual world, there are laws of justice, mercy, grace, penalty, etc., which work as surely as anything we know. If, then, a man refuses Faith, becomes a rebel, with each step he goes further and further down, and his pace will be accelerated; he will scarcely be able to take spiritual breath, and his recovery, - despite God's mercy which he has rejected,-will be as difficult as if he had to climb up to the skies. On the other hand, the godly will find, with each step, the next step easier. Jesus expressed this truth paradoxically: "He that hath, to him shall be given; but he that hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath": Mark, iv. 25. John (vi 65) make Jesus say: "No man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father."

  وَهَـٰذَا صِرَاطُ رَبِّكَ مُسْتَقِيمًا ۗ قَدْ فَصَّلْنَا الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَذَّكَّرُونَ 
( 126 )   And this is the path of your Lord, [leading] straight. We have detailed the verses for a people who remember.
  لَهُمْ دَارُ السَّلَامِ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ ۖ وَهُوَ وَلِيُّهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ 
( 127 )   For them will be the Home of Peace with their Lord. And He will be their protecting friend because of what they used to do.
 وَيَوْمَ يَحْشُرُهُمْ جَمِيعًا يَا مَعْشَرَ الْجِنِّ قَدِ اسْتَكْثَرْتُم مِّنَ الْإِنسِ ۖ وَقَالَ أَوْلِيَاؤُهُم مِّنَ الْإِنسِ رَبَّنَا اسْتَمْتَعَ بَعْضُنَا بِبَعْضٍ وَبَلَغْنَا أَجَلَنَا الَّذِي أَجَّلْتَ لَنَا ۚ قَالَ النَّارُ مَثْوَاكُمْ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّـهُ ۗ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ حَكِيمٌ عَلِيمٌ 
( 128 )   And [mention, O Muhammad], the Day when He will gather them together [and say], "O company of jinn, you have [misled] many of mankind." And their allies among mankind will say, "Our Lord, some of us made use of others, and we have [now] reached our term, which you appointed for us." He will say, "The Fire is your residence, wherein you will abide eternally, except for what Allah wills. Indeed, your Lord is Wise and Knowing."
The term finn here refers to the evil ones among the jinn.

This means that they had derived unfair benefit from one another and had served their selfish ends by mutual deception.

Even though God has the right to punish whoever He wishes and to forgive whoever He wishes, His punishing and forgiving will be neither arbitrary nor whimsical. It will rather be founded on absolute knowledge and wisdom. God will forgive those whom He knows not to be responsible for their guilt, and thus not liable to punishment according to His wisdom and justice.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Cf. vi. 100

I.e., you have misled a great number of human beings.

It is common experience that the forces of evil make an alliance with each other, and seem thus to make a profit by their mutual log-rolling. But this is only in this material world. When the limited term expires, their unholy bargains will be exposed, and there will be nothing but regrets.

Eternity and infinity are abstract terms. They have no precise meaning in our human experience. The qualification, "except as God willeth," makes it more intelligible, as we can form some idea -however inadequate- of a Will and Plan, and we know God by His attribute of Mercy as well as of Justice.

  وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُوَلِّي بَعْضَ الظَّالِمِينَ بَعْضًا بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ 
( 129 )   And thus will We make some of the wrongdoers allies of others for what they used to earn.
Just as the wrong-doers had been accomplices in sin and evil during their earthly life, they would remain companions in the After-life as well and share its punishment.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
See explanation of verse 128 above. Evil consorts with evil because of their mutual bargains. But in doing so they save the righteous from further temptation.

Here we come to the end of the Part II of the exegesis of  Sūrah Al An'am. The next part, Part III, will cover Ruku / Sections: 16-20 (Verses 130-165) - In verses 130-150 it is said that Allah's decrees will come to pass, in spite of all the crimes and superstitions of the ungodly. In verses 151-165 it is commanded that the better course is to follow the straight Way, the Way of Allah, as directed in the Qur'än, with unity and the full dedication of our lives .

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

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

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