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Monday, March 13, 2023

Your Lord is not forgetful in the least

Today, we in our series of posts on Selected verses from Qur'an, share a very meaningful verses taken from Surah 19. Mariam (Mary) in which the importance of the very revered personality of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ has been highlighted and the arch angel Jibraeel (Gabriel) is seen tending an apology for not bringing Godly commandments to him and explaining the cause of delay in the conveying to him the Godly revelations. 

At the end of the verse, the revered Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is reassured that he has not been abandoned for the Lord of the universe is not forgetful in the least and everything that happens has a specific time for which he should exhibit extreme patience and perseverance.

While the explanation of the selected verse is given by many a scholar and exegetes of Qur'an, we may add a little more to it keeping in view the Muslims as a general case. We tend to make mistakes, harm other brethren and commit sins, but when we see no harm coming to us, we think that maybe our mistakes and sins have been overlooked. But remember, if our Lord has not acted instantly, it is not because He has not noticed our wrongdoing. Instead, He is giving us time to repent and seek His forgiveness. And if we do not take advantage of this concession, then rest assured we will be taken account of, maybe in this world, but surely in the world that will be established on the Day of Resurrection.

With this brief premise, let us now return to the selected verse and its explanation:

وَمَا نَتَنَزَّلُ اِلَّا بِاَمۡرِ رَبِّكَ​ ۚ لَهٗ مَا بَيۡنَ اَيۡدِيۡنَا وَمَا خَلۡفَنَا وَمَا بَيۡنَ ذٰ لِكَ​ ۚ وَمَا كَانَ رَبُّكَ نَسِيًّا​ ۚ‏ 
(19:64) (The angels will say): "(O Muhammad!) We descend not except by the command of your Lord. To Him belongs all that is before us and all that is behind us, and all that is in between. Your Lord is not forgetful in the least.
This paragraph is a parenthesis, which has been inserted at the end of one theme and before the commencement of the other. It is obvious from this that this Surah was sent down after a long delay. At that time the Holy Prophet and his Companions were passing through very hard times and were always expecting a Revelation to guide and comfort them. When Gabriel (peace be upon him) came with the angels with this Revelation, he at first delivered that part of the Message which was immediately needed. Then before proceeding further, he said these words by the leave of Allah as an explanation for the delay and to give them comfort from Allah and counsel of fortitude. This interpretation is not only borne out by the wording of the passage but also by some Traditions of the Holy Prophet, which have been cited by Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, and the author of Ruh ulMa `ani in their commentary on this passage.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: The Angels do not descend, except by Allah's Command

Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that the Messenger of Allah said to Jibril: (What prevents you from visiting us more than you do) Then this Ayah was revealed:
(And we descend not except by the command of your Lord.) Al-Bukhari was alone in recording it and he related it with the Tafsir of this Ayah. Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas that he said, "Jibril was kept from visiting the Messenger of Allah , so he was disturbed and grieved because of this. 

Then, Jibril came to him and said, `O Muhammad, (And we descend not except by the command of your Lord.)'''

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
I.e., that which even the angels can only glimpse but not fully understand. Literally, the above phrase reads, "that which is between our hands and that which is behind us and that which is between these". Regarding this idiomatic expression, see 2:255 -"He knows all that lies open before men and all that is hidden from them"

Yusuf Ali Explanation:  
We are apt to be impatient of the evils we see around us. We may give of our best service to Allah, and yet see no results. In our human short-sightedness we may complain within ourselves. But we must not be impatient. The angels of Grace come not haphazard, but by command of Allah according to His Universal Will and Purpose. Allah does not forget. If things are delayed, it is in accordance with a wise providence, which cares for all. Our plain duty is to be patient and constant in His service.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This paragraph is parenthetical in nature. Gabriel expresses his apology in it for his delayed arrival and also urges the Prophet (sws) to show patience on his hastiness and anxiety. It is known that conclusive communication of the truth to his people was his responsibility as a messenger of God. It was but natural for him to show haste in completing it as soon as possible and succeed in the eyes of God. At the same time, the Quraysh too repeatedly demanded why the Qur’ān was not being revealed in one go. If a person is receiving such a matchless Book as the Qur’ān from the king of the universe and the lord of the worlds, it is but natural for him to wish for the whole book to be completed quickly. He acquired all the power of his heart, vibrancy of his soul, guidance for his intellect and stability for his resolve from the Qur’ān alone. These factors too contributed to his desire to get hold of this divine treasure as soon as possible. In these verses, he has been urged to exercise patience on the hastiness which must have emanated from him if a long interval elapsed before the next revelation. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī has directed our attention to some of its aspects. He writes:

The first thing worthy of note here is that Gabriel has actually presented a type of apology to the Prophet (sws) that his coming with divine revelation is based on God’s command. In other words, if angels do not come in quick succession to quench the Prophet’s (sws) desire and to end his wait, it is not because of some error on their part. Unless they are directed by God, they can neither descend to him nor bring down revelation to him. They have no say in this and are wholly under God’s command.
The second thing worthy of note is that the status of Gabriel and the whole group of angels becomes evident: everything that is in front of and behind them and in between them is under the total control and protection of God. There is not the slightest possibility that anyone of them dare exceed his limits or carry out a plan out of his own will. God is not forgetful that anyone of them can use this forgetfulness to his advantage and implement his own will and still remain unpunished. The reason for explaining this status of the angels was to refute the notion of the Arab polytheists who worshipped angels and thought that if ever the Hereafter came these daughters of God would save them from the wrath of their father by interceding for them. By reciting this statement of Gabriel, these foolish people are informed that when in the court of the Almighty, Gabriel – the leader of all angels – occupies this frail position, it can well be imagined what power other angels have. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 4, 675)

The implication is that if there is some delay, it is for some valid reason and it is not because of his Lord’s forgetfulness.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
This passage of the sūrah ends with a declaration of God’s total Lordship of the universe. Hence, people are directed to worship Him alone and to bear with patience the hard tasks involved. Furthermore, the possibility of anyone having something in common with God is absolutely negated.

Reports are unanimous that the angel Gabriel was ordered to say the first statement to the Prophet: “We descend only by the command of your Lord.” (Verse 64) This was in reply to the Prophet when he felt that revelation was slow in coming. In fact, Gabriel had not come to see him for some time, and he experienced a feeling of loneliness, keenly missing the angel whom he loved. Gabriel was then ordered by God to tell him: “We descend only by the command of your Lord.” He conducts all our affairs: “To Him belongs all that is before us and all that is hidden from us and all that is in between.” (Verse 64) He forgets nothing. Revelations are bestowed when He in His wisdom wills that they be bestowed.

Now you may listen to the following short clipped video to explanation of the aforesaid Ayat by eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan:
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān 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. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages  and Understanding Al Qur'an for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Tafsir References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the 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.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from the following sources: 
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Translation Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Qur'an Wiki
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
In addition, 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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