Monday 2 November 2020

Surah Al Buruj - The Constellations: Exegesis 85th Chapter of Quran

Sūrah Al-Burūj " البروج " (pronounced Al Burooj) is the eighty fifth sürah with 22 āyāt , part of the 30th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'ān. The Surah is so designated after the word al buruj appearing in the first verse.

This one of the earliest Makkan sūrahs, chronologically cognate with S. xci. The subject  matter is the persecution of Allah's votaries. Allah watches over His own, and will deal with enemies of Truth as He dealt with them in the past.

Its theme is to warn the disbelievers of the evil consequences of the persecution and tyranny that they were perpetrating on the converts to Islam, and to console the believers, so as to say: "If you remain firm and steadfast against tyranny and coercion, you will be rewarded richly for it, and Allah will certainly avenge Himself on your persecutors on your behalf."

In this connection, first of all the story of the people of the ditch (ashab al-ukhdudأَصْحَابُ الْأُخْدُودِ ") had been related, who had burnt the believers to death by casting them into pits full of fire. By means of this story the believers and the disbelievers have been taught a few lessons. 
  • First, that just as the people of the ditch became worthy of Allah's curse and punishment, so are the chiefs of Makkah also becoming worthy of it. 
  • Second, that just as the believers at that time had willingly accepted to sacrifice their lives by being burnt to death in the pits of fire instead of turning away from the faith, so also the believers now should endure every persecution but should never give up the faith. 
  • Third, that Gods acknowledging Whom displeases the disbelievers and is urged on by the believers, is Dominant and Master of the Kingdom of the earth and heavens; He is self-praiseworthy and is watching what the two groups are striving for. 
Therefore, it is certain that the disbelievers will not only be punished in Hell for their disbelief but, more than that, they too will suffer punishment by fire as a fit recompense for their tyranny and cruelties. Likewise, this also is certain that those, who believe and follow up their belief with good deeds, should go to Paradise and this indeed is the supreme success. Then the disbelievers have been warned, so as to say: "God's grip is very severe. If you are proud of the strength of your hosts, you should know that the hosts of Pharaoh and Thamud were even stronger and more numerous. Therefore, you should learn a lesson from the fate they met. God's power has so encompassed you that you cannot escape His encirclement, and the Qur'an that you are bent upon belying, is unchangeable: it is inscribed in the Preserved Tablet, which cannot be corrupted in any way."

We have already presented the overview / summary of the sürah. Let us now read the verse by verse translation and exegesis / tafseer in English. You may also listen to its Tafsir / exegesis by eminent Muslim scholar, exegete and linguist Nouman Ali Khan at the end of the post:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

وَالسَّمَاءِ ذَاتِ الْبُرُوجِ 
( 1 )   By the sky containing great stars

Literally: By the heaven having constellations. Some of the commentators have interpreted it to mean the twelve signs of the zodiac in the heavens according to ancient astronomy, However, according to Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah, Hasan Basri, Dahhak and Suddi it implies the glorious stars and planets of the sky.

Ibn Kathir Explanation:
The Buruj are the giant stars, as Allah says, (Blessed is He Who has placed in the heaven Buruj, and has placed therein a great lamp (the sun), and a moon giving light.) (Surah 25. Al-Furqan: 61) Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and As-Suddi, all said, "Al-Buruj are the stars.'' 

Al-Minhal bin `Amr said, (By the heaven holding the Buruj.) "The beautiful creation.'' Ibn Jarir chose the view that it means the positions of the sun and the moon, which are twelve Buruj. The sun travels through each one of these "Burj'' (singular of Buruj) in one month. The moon travels through each one of these Burj in two-and-a-third days, which makes a total of twenty-eight positions, and it is hidden for two nights.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Here is an appeal to three Signs in verses 1-3, and the substantive proposition is in verses 4-8, a denunciation of wicked persecutors of the votaries of Allah, persecutors who burnt righteous men for their Faith. The three Signs are: (1) the Glorious Sky, with the broad belt of the Constellations marking the twelve Signs of the Zodiac; (2) the Day of Judgment, when all evil will be punished; and (3) certain Persons that will be witnesses, and certain Persons or things that will be the subjects of the witness. 

See Surah 15. Al-Hijr: 16 (We have indeed set constellations in the heavens and have beautified them for the beholders) The Stars of the Zodiac as well as of other Constellations are like the eyes of the Night. It may be that crimes are committed in the darkness of the night. But countless eyes are watching all the time, and every author of evil will be brought to book.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The word بُرْج means forts and castles. Here, it refers to the forts and observation posts in which angels of God are always stationed to protect the universe. Their evidence is presented to warn the arrogant leaders of Makkah and Ta’if that soon they will be held accountable for the wave of oppression they have let loose on the Muslims. The forts of the heavens bear witness that everything is in God’s sight and His angels sitting in them guard every part of this universe. This arrangement has been made because the purpose is to make this world culminate in a Day of Judgement.

 وَالْيَوْمِ الْمَوْعُودِ 
( 2 )   And [by] the promised Day (That is, the Day of Resurrection)

Ibn Kathir Explanation:
(And by the Promised Day. And by the Witness, and by the Witnessed. 85:2-3) Ibn Abi Hatim recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said, (And by the Promised Day.)( This refers to the Day of Judgement. (And by the Witness.) This refers to Friday, and the sun does not rise or set on a day that is better than Friday. During it there is an hour that no Muslim servant catches while asking Allah from some good except that Allah will give it to him. He does not seek refuge from any evil in it except that Allah will protect him. (And by the Witnessed.)( This refers to the day of `Arafah (in Hajj).) Ibn Khuzaymah also recorded the same Hadith. It has also been recorded as a statement of Abu Hurayrah and it is similar (to this Hadith).

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The Day of Judgment, when the Sinner will have to give an account of every deed, open or hidden, is not merely a matter of speculation. It is definitely promised in revelation, and will inevitably come to pass. Woe then to the Sinners for their crimes.

 وَشَاهِدٍ وَمَشْهُودٍ 
( 3 )   And [by] the witness and what is witnessed,

The commentators have expressed many different views about “the witness” and “that which is witnessed”. In our opinion what fits in well with the context is that it is every such person who will witness the Day of Resurrection, and that which is witnessed is the Resurrection itself, the dreadful scenes of which will be seen by all. This is the view of Mujahid. Ikrimah, Dahhak, lbn Nujaih and some other commentators.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The literal meaning is clear, but its metaphorical application has been explained in a variety of ways by different Commentators. The words are fairly comprehensive, and should, I think, be understood in connection with Judgment. There the Witnesses may be: (1) the Prophets (iii. 81); Allah Himself (iii. 81, and x. 61); the Recording Angels (I. 21); the Sinner's own misused limbs (xxiv. 24); his record of deeds (xvii. 14); or the Sinner himself (xvii. 14). The subject of the witness may be the deed or crime, or the Sinner against whom the testimony cries out. The appeal to these things means that the Sinner cannot possibly escape the consequences of his crime. He should repent, seek Allah's Mercy, and amend his life.

 قُتِلَ أَصْحَابُ الْأُخْدُودِ 
( 4 )   Cursed were the companions of the trench

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Who were the makers of the pit of fire in which they burn people for their Faith? The words are perfectly general, and we need not search for particular names, except by way of illustration. In ancient history, and in Medieval Europe, many lives were sacrificed at the stake because the victims did not conform to the established religion. In Arab tradition there is the story of Abraham: Nimrud tries to burn him to death, but on account of Abraham's Faith, the fire became "a means of safety for Abraham": xxi. 69. Another case cited is that of Zu-Nuwas, the last Himyarite King of Yemen, by religion a Jew, who persecuted the Christians of Najran and is said to have burnt them to death. He seems to have lived in the latter half of the sixth Christian century, in the generation immediately preceding the Prophet's birth in 570 A.D. While the words are perfectly general, a reference is suggested to the persecution to which the early Muslims were subjected by the Pagan Quraish. Among other cruelties, they were stripped, and their skins were exposed to the burning rays of the Arabian summer sun.

 النَّارِ ذَاتِ الْوَقُودِ 
( 5 )   [Containing] the fire full of fuel,

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Lit., "those responsible (ashab) for the pit of fire abounding in fuel". In order to explain this parabolic passage, the commentators interpret it - quite unnecessarily - in the past tense, and advance the most contradictory legends meant to "identify", those evildoers in historical terms. The result is a medley of stories ranging from Abraham's experiences with his idolatrous contemporaries (cf. {21:68-70}) to the Biblical legend of Nebuchadnezzar's attempt to burn three pious Israelites in a fiery furnace (The Book of Daniel iii, 19 ff.), or the persecution, in the sixth century, of the Christians of Najran by the King of Yemen, Dhu Nawas (who was a Jew by religion), or the entirely apocryphal story of a Zoroastrian king who burnt to death those of his subjects who refused to accept his dictum that a marriage of brother and sister was "permitted by God"; and so forth. None of these legends needs, of course, to be seriously considered in this context. As a matter of fact, the very anonymity of the evildoers referred to in the above Qur'anic passage shows that we have here a parable and not an allusion to "historical" or even legendary events. The persecutors are people who having no faith whatsoever, hate to see faith in others (see verse {8} below); the "pit of fire" is a metaphor for the persecution of the latter by the former a phenomenon not restricted to any particular time or to a particular people but recurring in many forms and in varying degrees of intensity throughout recorded history.

 إِذْ هُمْ عَلَيْهَا قُعُودٌ 
( 6 )   When they were sitting near it

 وَهُمْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَفْعَلُونَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ شُهُودٌ  
( 7 )   And they, to what they were doing against the believers, were witnesses.

The people of the ditch were those who had burnt the believers at stake and witnessed their burning themselves. Destroyed were: Cursed were they by God and they became worthy of Hell torment. On this an oath has been sworn by three things:

(1) By the heaven having constellations.

(2) By the Day of Resurrection which has been promised.

(3) By the dreadful scenes of the Day of Resurrection and all those creatures who will witness those scenes.

The first of these testifies to the truth that the Sovereign, Absolute Being Who is ruling over the glorious stars and planets of the universe, cannot allow this contemptible, insignificant creature called man to escape His grip. The second thing has been sworn by on the basis that the wicked people committed whatever tyranny they wanted to commit, but the Day of which men have been fore-warned is sure to come when the grievances of every wronged person will be redressed and every wrongdoer will be brought to book and punished. The third thing has been sworn by for the reason that just as these wicked people enjoyed witnessing the burning of the helpless believers, so will all human beings on the Day of Resurrection witness how they are taken to task and burnt in Hell.

Several events have been mentioned in the traditions of the believers having been thrown into pits of blazing fire, which show that such tyrannies have been inflicted many a time in history.

One of the events has been reported by Suhaib Rumi from the Prophet (peace be upon him), saying that a king had a magician at his court who on becoming old requested the king to appoint a boy who should learn magic from him. Accordingly, the king appointed a boy. But the boy while going to the magician's place and coming back home also started visiting on the way a monk, who was probably a follower of the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), and being influenced by his teaching turned to a believer. So much so that by his training he acquired miraculous powers. He would heal the blind and cure the lepers. When the king came to know that the boy had believed in the Unity of God, he first put the monk to the sword; then wanted to kill the boy, but no instrument and no device had any effect on him. At last, the boy said to the king: If you are bent upon killing me, shoot an arrow at me with the word: Bi-ismi Rabbil-ghulam (in the name of this boy’s Lord) in front of the assembled people, and I shall die. The king did as he was told and the boy died. There upon the people cried out that they affirmed faith in the Lord of the boy. The courtiers told the king that the same precisely had happened which he wanted to avoid: the people had forsaken his religion and adopted the boy’s religion. At this the king was filled with rage. Consequently, he got pits dug out along the roads, got them filled with fire and ordered all those who refused to renounce the new faith to be thrown into the fire. (Ahmad, Muslim. Nasai, Tirmidhi, Ibn Jarir. Abdur Razzaq. Ibn Abi Shaibah, Tabarani. Abd bin Humaid).

The second event has been reported from Ali. He says that a king of lran drank wine and committed adultery with his sister resulting in illicit relations between the two. When the secret became known, the king got the announcement made that God had permitted marriage with the sister. When the people refused to believe in it, he started coercing them into accepting by different kinds of punishment; so much so that he began to cast into the pits of fire every such person who refused to concede it. According to Ali, marriage with the prohibited relations among the fire-worshippers has begun since then. (Ibn Jarir).

The third event has been related by lbn Abbas, probably on the basis of the Israelite traditions, saying that the people of Babylon had compelled the children of Israel to give up the religion of the Prophet Moses (peace he upon him), so much so that they cast into pits of fire all those who refused to obey. (Ibn Jarir, Abd bin Humaid).

The best known event, however, relates to Najran, which has been related by Ibn Hisham, Tabari, Ibn Khaldun, the author of Mujam al-Buldan and other Islamic historians. Its resume is as follows: Tuban Asad Abu Karib, king of Himyar (Yaman), went to Yathrib once, where he embraced Judaism under the influence of the Jews, and brought two of the Jewish scholars of Bani Quraizah with him to Yemen. There he propagated Judaism widely. His son Dhu Nuwas succeeded him and he attacked Najran which was a stronghold of the Christians in southern Arabia so as to eliminate Christianity and make the people accept Judaism. Ibn Hisham says that these people were true followers of the Gospel of the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him). In Najran, he invited the people to accept Judaism but they refused to obey. Thereupon he caused a large number of the people to be burnt in the ditches of fire and slew many others with the sword until he had killed nearly twenty thousand of them. Daus Dhu Thalaban an inhabitant of Najran escaped and went, according to one tradition, to the Byzantine emperor, and according to another to the Negus, king of Abyssinia, and told him what had happened.

According to the first tradition, the emperor wrote to the king of Abyssinia, and according to the second, the Negus requested the emperor to provide him with a naval force. In any case; an Abyssinian army consisting of seventy thousand soldiers under a general called Aryat, attacked Yemen, Dhu Nuwas was killed, the Jewish rule came to an end, and Yemen become a part of the Christian kingdom of Abyssinia.

The statements of the Islamic historians are not only confirmed by other historical means but they also give many more details. Yemen first came under the Christian Abyssinian domination in 340 A.D. and this domination continued till 378 A.D. The Christian missionaries started entering Yemen in that period. About the same time, a man named Faymiyun (Phemion), who was a righteous, earnest, ascetic man and possessed miraculous powers, arrived in Yemen and by his preaching against idol-worship converted the people of Najran to Christianity. These people were ruled by three chiefs: Sayyid, who was the principal chief like the tribal elders and responsible for external affairs, political agreements and command of the forces, Aqib, who looked after the internal affairs and Usquf (Bishop), the religious guide. In southern Arabia Najran commanded great importance, being a major trade and industrial center with tussore, leather and the armament industries. The well-known Yemenite wrapper and cloak (hulla Yamani) was also manufactured here. On this very basis, Dhu Nuwas attacked this important place not only for religious but also for political and economic reasons. Dhu Nuwas put to death Harithah (called Arethas by the Syrian historians), killed Sayyid of Najran and also killed his two daughters in front of their mother Romah and compelled her to drink their blood and then put even her to death. He took out the bones of Bishop Paul from the grave and burnt them, and ordered women, men, children, aged people, priests and monks, all to be thrown into the pits of fire. The total number of the people thus killed has been estimated between twenty and forty thousand. This happened in October, 523 A.D. At last, in 525 A.D. the Abyssinians attacked Yaman and put an end to Dhu Nuwas and his Himyarite kingdom. This is confirmed by the Hisn Ghurab inscription which the modern archaeologists have unearthed in Yaman.

In several Christian writings of the 6th century A.D. details of the event relating to the “people of the ditch” have been given, some of which are contemporary and reported from eye-witnesses. Authors of three of these books were contemporaries with the event. They were Procopeus, Cosmos Indicopleustis, who was translating Greek book of Ptolemy under command of the Negus Elesboan at that time and resided at Adolis, a city on the sea-coast of Abyssinia, and Johannes Malala from whom several of the later historians have related this event. After this, Johannes of Ephesus (dated 585 A.D) has related the story of the persecution of the Christians of Najran in his history of the Church from a letter of Bishop Mar Simeon who was a contemporary reporter of this event. Mar Simeon wrote this letter to Abbot von Gabula; in it Simeon has reported this event with reference to the statements of the Yamanite eye-witnesses present on the occasion. This letter was published in 1881 A.D. from Rome and in 1890 A.D. in the memoirs of the martyrs of Christianity Jacobian Patriarch. Dionysius and Zacharia of Mitylene have in their Syriac histories also related this event. Yaqub Saruji also in his book about the Christians of Najran has made mention of it. Bishop Pulus of Edessa’s elegy on those who perished in Najran, is still extant. An English translation of the Syriac kitab al-Himyarin (Book of the Himyarites) was published in 1924 from London, which confirms the statements of the Muslim historians. In the British Museum there are some Abyssinian manuscripts relating to that period or a period close to it, which support this story. Philby in his travelogue entitled Arabian Highlands, writes: Among the people of Najran the place is still well known where the event of the people of the ditch (ashab al-ukhdud) had taken place. Close by Umm Kharaq there can still be seen some pictures carved in the rocks, and the present day people of Najran also know the place where the cathedral of Najran stood.

The Abyssinian Christians after capturing Najran had built a church here resembling the Kabah, by which they wanted to divert pilgrimage from the Kabah at Makkah to it. Its priests and keepers wore turbans and regarded it as a sacred sanctuary. The Roman empire also sent monetary aid for this “kabah”. The priests of this very “kabah” of Najran had visited the Prophet (peace be upon him) under the leadership of their Sayyid, Aqib and Bishop for a discussion with him and the famous event of the mubahala (trial through prayer) took place as referred to in (Surah Al-Imran, Ayat 61). 

وَمَا نَقَمُوا مِنْهُمْ إِلَّا أَن يُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّـهِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَمِيدِ 
( 8 )   And they resented them not except because they believed in Allah, the Exalted in Might " الْعَزِيزِ ", the Praiseworthy "  الْحَمِيدِ ",

Ibn Kathir Explanation:
(And they had no fault except that they believed in Allah, the Almighty, Worthy of all praise!) meaning, they did not commit any sin according to these people, except for their faith in Allah the Almighty, Who does not treat unjustly those who desire to be with Him. He is the Most Mighty and Most Praiseworthy in all of His statements, actions, legislation, and decrees. He decreed what happened to these servants of His at the hands of the disbelievers - and He is the Most Mighty, the Most Praiseworthy - even though the reason for this decree is unknown to many people.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
They are being punished merely because they have professed belief in God. For this, the two attributes of the Almighty – الۡعَزِیۡز and الۡحَمِیۡد need our attention. 

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: The former depicts His power, honour and majesty while the latter His mercy, providence and being worthy of praise and gratitude. The purpose of mentioning them is that only the being who has such attributes is worthy of being professed faith in. Those who have professed faith in Him have relied on the support of someone whose support is the real support and it is only they who will succeed. The glad tidings for oppressed Muslims and the threat for those disbelievers who were harassing them found in between the lines of these verses do not require any explanation. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 291).

 الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ 
( 9 )   To whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. And Allah, over all things, is Witness.

In these verses those of Allah Almighty’s attributes have been mentioned on account of which He alone deserves that one should believe in Him, and the people who feel displeased at one’s believing in Him, are wicked and unjust. 

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
It is suggested that the persecutors will richly deserve to be punished in the Fire of Hell. That Punishment will be far more real and lasting than the undeserved cruelty which they inflicted on men for their Faith in the One True God.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Ie., He is ever watching the storm of persecution the Quraysh have unleashed on the believers and He is also observing the steadfastness of the believers. Hence, not far is the time when He will take revenge and strong revenge from the cruel people for oppressing His innocent people.

Ibn Kathir Explanation: (Re-cap verses 4-9)
(Cursed were the People of the Ditch. Of fire fed with fuel. When they sat by it. And they witnessed what they were doing against the believers. And they had no fault except that they believed in Allah, the Almighty, Worthy of all praise! To Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth! And Allah is Witness over everything.) (85:4-9)'' This is what Muhammad bin Ishaq said in his book of Sirah -- that the one who killed the People of the Ditch was Dhu Nuwas, and his name was Zur`ah. In the time of his kingdom he was called Yusuf. He was the son of Tuban As`ad Abi Karib, who was the Tubba` who invaded Al-Madinah and put the covering over the Ka`bah. He kept two rabbis with him from the Jews of Al-Madinah. After this some of the people of Yemen accepted Judaism at the hands of these two rabbis, as Ibn Ishaq mentions at length. So Dhu Nuwas killed twenty thousand people in one morning in the Ditch. Only one man among them escaped. He was known as Daws Dhu Tha`laban. He escaped on a horse and they set out after him, but they were unable to catch him. He went to Caesar, the emperor of Ash-Sham. So, Caesar wrote to An-Najashi, the King of Abyssinia. So, he sent with him an army of Abyssinian Christians, who were lead by Aryat and Abrahah. They rescued Yemen from the hands of the Jews. Dhu Nuwas tried to flee but eventually fell into the sea and drowned. After this, the kingdom of Abyssinia remained under Christian power for seventy years. Then the power was divested from the Christians by Sayf bin Dhi Yazin Al-Himyari when Kisra, the king of Persia sent an army there (to Yemen). He (the king) sent with him (Sayf Al-Himyari) those people who were in the prisons, and they were close to seven hundred in number. So, he (Sayf Al-Himyari) conquered Yemen with them and returned the kingdom back to the people of Himyar (Yemenis)

ِنَّ الَّذِينَ فَتَنُوا الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَتُوبُوا فَلَهُمْ عَذَابُ جَهَنَّمَ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابُ الْحَرِيقِ 
( 10 )   Indeed, those who have tortured the believing men and believing women and then have not repented will have the punishment of Hell, and they will have the punishment of the Burning Fire.

Punishment of burning has been mentioned separately from the torment of Hell because they had burnt the oppressed people to death by casting them into the pits of fire. Probably this will be a different and severer kind of fire from the fire of Hell in which those people will be burnt.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The "Chastisement of the Burning Fire" has been mentioned here in addition to the "Penalty of Hell". This assumes a special significance in the background of the cruel burning of the Faithful by the "makers of the pit". These criminals would be duly retributed by being subjected to a similar kind of suffering that they had caused their innocent victims.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual word is فَتَنُوْا. In the Qur’an, this word is used for the oppression and coercion done to a person in order to force him to abandon his faith. The verse mentions women also besides men. They have been particularly mentioned because they were being specially oppressed because of their weakness. Besides other forms of torment, they shall also specially face the torment of fire.

 إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْكَبِيرُ 
( 11 )   Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds will have gardens beneath which rivers flow. That is the great attainment.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
This is almost certainly the earliest Qur'anic reference to "gardens through which running waters flow" as an allegory of the bliss which awaits the righteous in the hereafter.

إِنَّ بَطْشَ رَبِّكَ لَشَدِيدٌ 
( 12 )   Indeed, the vengeance of your Lord is severe.

 إِنَّهُ هُوَ يُبْدِئُ وَيُعِيدُ 
( 13 )   Indeed, it is He who originates [creation] and repeats.

 وَهُوَ الْغَفُورُ الْوَدُودُ 
( 14 )   And He is the Forgiving, the Affectionate,

 ذُو الْعَرْشِ الْمَجِيدُ 
( 15 )   Honorable Owner of the Throne,

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Lit., "He of the sublime throne of almightiness (al-'arsh al-majid)". For my rendering of al-'arsh as "the throne of almightiness", see Surah 7. Al-A'raf: 54.

 فَعَّالٌ لِّمَا يُرِيدُ 
( 16 )   Effecter of what He intends.

He is the All-Forgiving: If a person repents and reforms himself, he can hope to be received by Allah in His mercy. All-Loving: He has no enmity with His creatures that He would subject them to torment without any reason, but He loves the creatures He has created and punishes them only when they do not give up the attitude of rebellion against Him. Owner of the Throne, means that He alone is the Ruler of the kingdom of the universe: no one who is a rebel can escape His grip and punishment. The mention of His being Exalted is meant to warn man for his meanness when he adopts an attitude of arrogance against such a Being. Last of all, "He is Doer of whatever He intends: no one in the entire universe has the power to obstruct and resist what Allah wills to do.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Allah's Will is itself the Word and the Deed. There is no interval between them. He does not change His mind. No circumstances whatever can come between His Will and the execution thereof. Such are His Power and His Glory. Compare it with that of men, described in the next two verses.

هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ الْجُنُودِ 
( 17 )   Has there reached you the story of the soldiers -

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
In contrast to the real, all-embracing, and eternal power of Allah, what are the forces of man at their best? Two examples are mentioned. (1) Pharaoh was a proud monarch of a powerful kingdom, with resources and organization, material, moral, and intellectual, as good as any in the world. When he pitted himself against Allah's Prophet, he and his forces were destroyed. See lxxix. 15-26. (2) The Thamud were great builders, and had a high standard of material civilization. But they defied the law of Allah and perished. See Surah 7. Al-A'raf: 73-79.

Verse By Verse Quran Study Circle Explanation:
“Has there reached you the story of the soldiers – [Those of] Pharaoh and Thamud?” This is a reference to two long stories well-known to the addressees as they have been mentioned several times in the Qur’an. The two nations concerned are described here by the term “the hosts” in reference to their might and equipment. Have you heard their stories and how Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala dealt with them?

Theirs were two stories, different in nature and consequence. Pharaoh and his army were eliminated when the Children of Israel were saved by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. He gave them power to rule for a certain period in order to accomplish a certain scheme. As for the Thamud, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala exterminated them and saved His prophet, Şaleh, along with his few followers. The believers in this instance did not establish a state of their own; they were merely saved from corrupt enemies.

Both stories are manifestations of the divine will. They provide two examples of what may befall advocates of the Islamic faith. They are mentioned along with a third possibility which distinguishes the pit event. The Qur’an explains all three eventualities to the believers in Makkah and to all generations of believers.

 فِرْعَوْنَ وَثَمُودَ 
( 18 )   [Those of] Pharaoh and Thamud?

The address is directed to the people who in their false pride of having powerful hosts, are breaking the law of God on His earth. They are being warned, as if to say: Do you know what evil fate was met before by those who broke the bounds set by Allah on the strength of the power of their hosts.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Sc., "both of which were destroyed because of their sins". The story of Pharaoh and his forces, and their destruction by drowning, is referred to many times in the Qur'an; for the story of the Thamud see, in particular, Surah 7. Al-A'raf: 73.

 بَلِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فِي تَكْذِيبٍ 
( 19 )   But they who disbelieve are in [persistent] denial,

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
In spite of the great examples of the past, by which human might and skill were shown to have availed nothing when the law of Allah was broken, the unbelievers persist (in all ages) in defying that law. But Allah will know how to deal with them.

Verse By Verse Quran Study Circle Explanation:
The Surah concludes with two statements of fact and a final verdict: “But they who disbelieve are in (persistent) denial. While Allah encompasses them from behind.” The truth about the disbelievers is that they are in a constant state of disbelief, uttering lies morning and evening, but Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala surrounds them all. They are unaware that Allah’s might and His knowledge engulf them.

 وَاللَّـهُ مِن وَرَائِهِم مُّحِيطٌ 
( 20 )   While Allah encompasses them from behind.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Lit., "from behind them", an idiomatic phrase denoting a happening imperceptible to those whom it closely concerns.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Allah encompasses every thing. But the wicked will find themselves defeated not only in conditions that they foresee, but from all sorts of unexpected directions, perhaps from behind them, i.e., from the very people or circumstances which in their blindness they despised or thought of as helping them.

 بَلْ هُوَ قُرْآنٌ مَّجِيدٌ 
( 21 )   But this is an honored Qur'an

Verse By Verse Quran Study Circle Explanation:
“But this is an honored Qur’an.” The term honored signifies nobility and sublimity. Indeed, there is nothing nobler or more glorious than Allah’s word. It is inscribed on an imperishable tablet, the nature of which we cannot comprehend because it is part of the knowledge Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has reserved for Himself. We benefit, however, from the connotations of the statement and the impression it leaves that the Qur’an is well-preserved and well-guarded. It is the final word in every matter it deals with.

 فِي لَوْحٍ مَّحْفُوظٍ 
( 22 )   [Inscribed] in a Preserved Slate.

That is, the writ of the Quran is unchangeable and imperishable. It is inscribed in the guarded tablet of God, which cannot he corrupted in any way. Whatever is written in it has to be fulfilled: even the whole world together cannot avert its fulfillment.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Lit., "upon a well-guarded tablet ( lawh mahfuz لَوْحٍ مَّحْفُوظٍ )" - a description of the Qur'an to be found only in this one instance. Although some commentators take it in its literal sense and understand by it an actual "heavenly tablet" upon which the Qur'an is inscribed since all eternity, to many others the phrase has always had a metaphorical meaning: namely, an allusion to the imperishable quality of this divine writ. This interpretation is pointedly mentioned as justified by, e.g., Tabari, Baghawi, Razi or Ibn Kathir, all of whom agree that the phrase "upon a well-guarded tablet" relates to God's promise that the Qur'an would never be corrupted, and would remain free of all arbitrary additions, diminutions and textual changes. See in this connection also Surah 15. Al-Hijr: 9.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
"Inscribed in a Tablet Preserved", i.e. Allah's Message is not ephemeral. It is eternal. The "Tablet" is "preserved" or guarded from corruption: xv. 9: for Allah's Message must endure for ever. That Message is the "Mother of the book": see iii. 7.

You may now like to listen to listen to its Tafsir / exegesis of Sūrah Al-Burūj by eminent Muslim scholar, exegete and linguist Nouman Ali Khan  :

You may refer to our Reference Page "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, explanation and exegesis of other chapters of the Qur'an.

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 67 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 |
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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