(ENGLISH) COMMENTARY BY MUHAMMED ESED
( BY MUHAMMED ESED )
39 - AZ-ZUMAR
In the name of god, the most gracious, The dispenser of grace: (1)

1 - According to most of the authorities, this invocation (which occurs at the beginning of every surah with the exception of surah 9) constitutes an integral part of "The Opening" and is, therefore, numbered as verse I. In all other instances, the invocation "in the name of God" precedes the surah as such, and is not counted among its verses. - Both the divine epithets rahman and rahrm are derived from the noun rahmah, which signifies "mercy", "compassion", "loving tenderness" and, more comprehensively, "grace". From the very earliest times, Islamic scholars have endeavoured to define the exact shades of meaning which differentiate the two terms. The best and simplest of these explanations is undoubtedly the one advanced by Ibn al-Qayyim (as quoted in Mandr I, 48): the term rahman circumscribes the quality of abounding grace inherent in, and inseparable from, the concept of God's Being, whereas rahrm expresses the manifestation of that grace in, and its effect upon, His creation-in other words, an aspect of His activity.

        
REVEALED in the middle of the Mecca period, this surah derives its title from the incidental mention of the word zumaran (in throngs) in verses 71 and 73. Its central theme is the evidence, in all manifestations of nature, of Gods existence and oneness - from which it follows that He alone can determine mans fate, and that it is to Him that man is ultimately responsible. A pivotal idea is expressed in verse 53 - O you servants of Mine who have transgressed against your own selves! Despair not of Gods mercy: behold, God forgives all sins, i.e., to him who repents before his death. Hence, a large part of the surah consists of allegories of the Last Hour and the Day of Judgment - for in this way does God imbue His servants with fear (verse 16), just as He promises the righteous that all that they have ever yearned for awaits them with their Sustainer (verse 34).
1. THE BESTOWAL from on high of this divine writ issues from God, the Almighty, the Wise:
2. for, behold, it is We who have bestowed this revelation upon thee from on high, setting forth the truth: so worship Him, sincere in thy faith in Him alone!
3. Is it not to God alone that all sincere faith is due? And yet, they who take for their protectors aught beside Him [are wont to say], We worship them for no other reason than that they bring us nearer to God. (1) Behold, God will judge between them [on Resurrection Day] with regard to all wherein they differ [from the truth]: (2) for, verily, God does not grace with His guidance anyone who is bent on lying [to himself and is] stubbornly ingrate! (3)

1 - This relates not only to the worship of saints, angels and deified persons as such, but also to that of their symbolic representations (statues, pictures, relics, etc.) and, in the case of defunct human personalities, of their real or reputed tombs. Since all such practices are based on the worshippers hope of mediation between himself and God, they obviously conflict with the concept of His omniscience and justice, and are, therefore - notwithstanding their widespread occurrence - utterly rejected by the Quran.

2 - I.e., between those worshippers and the spiritual leaders who have led them astray (cf. 34: 31-33).

3 - Cf. 6: 22-24 and the corresponding notes.

4. Had God willed to take Unto Himself a son, He could have chosen anyone that He wanted out of whatever He has created - [but] limitless is He in His glory! (4) He is the One God, the One who holds absolute sway over all that exists!

4 - The implication is this: Since God is almighty, He can have or do anything that He wills; and so, if He wanted, He could take unto Himself a son (which is an allusion to the Christian doctrine of Jesus as the son of God). Since, however, He is limitless in His glory - i.e., complete in His excellence and utterly remote from all imperfection - He is ipso facto remote from the incompleteness inherent in the need of, or desire for, progeny, which logically precludes the possibility of His having a son. (Cf. the last sentence of 6: 100 and the corresponding note.)

5. He it is who has created the heavens and the earth in accordance with [an inner] truth. (5) He causes the night to flow into the day, and causes the day to flow into the night; and He has made the sun and the moon subservient [to His laws], each running its course for a term set [by Him]. (6) Is not He the Almighty, the All-Forgiving?

5 - See note on the last but one sentence of 10: 5.

6 - See note on 13: 2.

6. He has created you [all] out of one living entity, and out of it fashioned its mate; (7) and he has bestowed upon you four kinds of cattle of either sex; (8) [and] He creates you in your mothers wombs, one act of creation after another, in threefold depths of darkness. (9) Thus is God, your Sustainer: unto Him belongs all dominion: there is no deity save Him: how, then, can you lose sight of the truth? (10)

7 - See 4: 1 and the corresponding note.

8 - Lit., eight [in] pairs, i.e., the male and the female of four kinds of cattle (sheep, goats, camels and bovine cattle). For an explanation of my rendering, see note on 6: 143-144, where the same kinds of domesticated cattle are spoken of in connection with certain meaningless, superstitious taboos of pre-Islamic times, whereas here they are mentioned as bestowed upon you by God, and therefore lawful. Beyond this, the mention of cattle in this context is meant to remind man that it is God who provides his sustenance and therefore, man is utterly dependent on Him.

9 - Lit., by creation after creation, in three darknesses: an allusion to the successive stages of embryonic development, repeatedly spoken of in the Quran (cf. 22: 5 and 23:12-14), and to the darkness of the womb, the membrane enveloping the embryo, and its pre-natal blindness.

10 - Lit., how, then, are you turned away? - i.e., from the truth.

7. If you are ingrate (11) behold, God has no need of you; none the less, He does not approve of ingratitude in His servants: whereas, if you show gratitude, He approves it in you. And no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear anothers burden. (12) In time, unto your Sustainer you all must return, and then He will make you [truly] understand all that you were doing [in life]: for, verily, He has full knowledge of what is in the hearts [of men].

11 - Or: If you deny the truth.

12 - This statement occurs in the Quran five times in exactly the same formulation (apart from the above instance, in 6: 164, 17: 15, 35: 18 and 53: 38 - this last being the earliest in the chronology of revelation). In the present instance, it contains an allusion to (and rejection of) the Christian doctrine of vicarious atonement and, indirectly, to the worship of saints, etc., spoken of in verse 3 above and referred to in the corresponding note above. (See also note on 53: 38.)

8. NOW [thus it is:] when affliction befalls man, he is likely to cry out to his Sustainer, turning unto Him [for help]; (13) but as soon as He has bestowed upon him a boon by His grace, he forgets Him whom he invoked before, and claims that there are other powers that could rival God * - and thus leads [others] astray from His path. (14) Say [unto him who sins in this way]: Enjoy thyself for a while in this thy denial of the truth; [yet,] verily, thou art of those who are destined for the fire!

13 - Lit., he cries out, i.e., instinctively, and as a rule.

14 - *Lit., and gives God compeers (andad, sing. nidd). Cf. the last sentence of 2: 22 and the corresponding note.

9. Or [dost thou deem thyself equal to] one who devoutly worships [God] throughout the night, prostrating himself or standing [in prayer], ever- mindful of the life to come, and hoping for his Sustainers grace? (15) Say: Can they who know and they who do not know be deemed equal? [But] only they who are endowed with insight keep this in mind!

15 - Alternatively, the above verse could be rendered thus: Is, perchance, he who worships hoping for his Sustainers grace, [equal to one who denies the truth]?

10. Say: [Thus speaks God:] (16) O you servants of Mine who have attained to faith! Be conscious of your Sustainer! Ultimate good awaits those who persevere in doing good in this world. And [remember:] wide is Gods earth, (17) [and,] verily, they who are patient in adversity will be given their reward in full, beyond all reckoning!

16 - This interpolation is justified by the fact that the possessive pronoun in the subsequent phrase servants of Mine obviously relates to God.

17 - I.e., there is always a possibility of doing good and migrating from evil unto God - which is the permanent, spiritual connotation of the concept of hijrah implied here: see note on 4: 97.

11. Say [O Muhammad]: Behold, I am bidden to worship God, sincere in my faith in Him alone;
12. and I am bidden to be foremost among those who surrender themselves unto God.
13. Say: Behold, I would dread, were I to rebel against my Sustainer, the suffering [which would befall me] on that awesome Day [of Judgment].
14. Say: God alone do I worship, sincere in my faith in Him alone
15. and [it is up to you, O sinners, to] worship whatever you please instead of Him! Say: Behold, the [true] losers will be they who shall have lost their own selves and their kith and kin on Resurrection Day: for is not this, this, the [most] obvious loss? (18)

18 - Implying that on Resurrection Day they will be irretrievably separated from all whom they had loved, and all who had been close to them in this world. The loss of ones own self signifies, I think, the destruction of ones true identity and uniqueness as a human being, which is described in the next clause as the most obvious loss that man may be made to suffer in the life to come.

16. Clouds of fire will they have above them, and [similar] clouds beneath them In this way does God imbue His servants with fear. (19) servants of Mine! Be, then, conscious of Me O you

19 - As in many other instances, the Quran alludes in this phrase to the allegorical nature as well as to the real purpose of all descriptions of the suffering which awaits the sinners in the hereafter; cf. 74: 35-36 - that [hell-fire] is indeed one of the great [forewarnings]: a warning to mortal man.

17. seeing that for those who shun the powers of evil lest they [be tempted to] worship them, (20) and turn unto God instead, there is the glad tiding [of happiness in the life to come]. Give, then, this glad tiding to [those of] My servants

20 - For my rendering of at-taghut as powers of evil, see note on 2: 256. In the present context, this term apparently circumscribes the seductive force of certain evil ambitions or desires - like striving after power for its own sake, acquisition of wealth by exploiting ones fellow-beings, social advancement by all manner of immoral means, and so forth - any of which may cause man to lose all spiritual orientation, and to be enslaved by his passions.

18. who listen [closely] to all that is said, and follow the best of it: (21) [for] it is they whom God has graced with His guidance, and it is they who are [truly] endowed with insight!

21 - According to Razi, this describes people who examine every religious proposition (in the widest sense of this term) in the light of their own reason, accepting that which their mind finds to be valid or possible, and rejecting all that does not measure up to the test of reason. In Razis words, the above verse expresses a praise and commendation of following the evidence supplied by ones reason (hujjat al-aql), and of reaching ones conclusions in accordance with [the results of] critical examination (nazar) and logical inference (istidlal). A somewhat similar view is advanced, albeit in simpler terms, by Tabari.

19. On the other hand, (22) could one on whom [Gods] sentence of suffering has been passed [be rescued by man]? Couldst thou, perchance, save one who is [already, as it were,] in the fire? (23)

22 - This, to my mind, is the meaning of the prefix fa in fa-man - stressing, by implication, the contrast between the glad tiding given to those who have attained to faith and the suffering which awaits those who shall have lost their own selves through sinning (verses 15-16).

23 - In view of the repeated Quranic statements that God always accepts a sinners sincere repentance, provided it is proffered before the hour of death, His ineluctable sentence of suffering obviously relates to such as die without repentance, and hence find themselves, as it were, already in the fire.

20. As against this they who of their Sustainer are conscious shall [in the life to come] have mansions raised upon mansions high, beneath which running waters flow: [this is] Gods promise - [and] never does God fail to fulfill His promise.

24 - Lit., But (lakin), indicating a return to the theme of verses 17-18.

21. ART THOU NOT aware that it is God who sends down water from the skies, and then causes it to travel through the earth in the shape of springs? And then He brings forth thereby herbage of various hues; and then it withers, and thou canst see it turn yellow; and in the end He causes it to crumble to dust. (25) Verily, in [all] this there is indeed a reminder to those who are endowed with insight!

25 - As in many other instances, the above Quranic reference to the endless transformations and the miraculous cycle of life and death in all nature serves to emphasize Gods almightiness and, specifically, His power to resurrect the dead - thus alluding, indirectly, to the statement at the end of the preceding verse that never does God fail to fulfill His promise.

22. Could, then, one whose bosom God has opened wide with willingness towards self-surrender unto Him, so that he is illumined by a light [that flows] from his Sustainer, [be likened to the blind and deaf of heart]? Woe, then, unto those whose hearts are hardened against all remembrance of God! They are most obviously lost in error!
23. God bestows from on high (26) the best of all teachings in the shape of a divine writ fully consistent within itself, repeating each statement [of the truth] in manifold forms (27) [a divine writ] whereat shiver the skins of all who of their Sustainer stand in awe: [but] in the end their skins and their hearts do soften at the remembrance of [the grace of] God. Such is Gods guidance: He guides therewith him that wills [to be guided] (28) whereas he whom God lets go astray can never find any guide (29)

26 - Lit., has been bestowing from on high, i.e., step by step. The verbal form nazzala indicates both gradualness and continuity in the process of divine revelation and may, therefore, be appropriately rendered by the use of the present tense.

27 - This is the most acceptable meaning, in this context, of the term mathani (p1. of mathna), as explained by Zamakhshari in his commentary on the above verse. Another possible meaning, preferred by Razi, is pairing its statements, i.e., referring to the polarity stressed in all Quranic teachings (e.g., command and prohibition, duties and rights, reward and punishment, paradise and hell, light and darkness, the general and the specific, and so forth). As regards the inner consistency of the Quran, see also 4: 82 and 25: 32, as well as the corresponding notes.

28 - Or: He guides therewith whomever He wills, either of these two formulations being syntactically correct.

29 - See note on 14: 4.

24. Could, then, one who shall have nothing but is [bare] face to protect him from the awful suffering [that will befall him] on Resurrection Day [be likened to the God-conscious]? (30) [On that Day,] the evildoers will be told: Taste [now] what you have earned [in life]!

30 - Lit., who will protect himself with his face: an idiomatic phrase implying that the person concerned has nothing whatever with which to protect himself.

25. Those who lived before them did [too] give the lie to the truth - whereupon suffering befell them without their having perceived whence it came:
26. and thus God let them taste ignominy [even] in the life of this world. (31) Yet [how] much greater will be the [sinners] suffering in the life to come - if they [who now deny the truth] but knew it!

31 - Cf. 16: 26, which contains the additional sentence, God visited with destruction all that they had ever built , etc., which explains the present reference to their suffering and ignominy in the life of this world.

27. THUS, INDEED, have We propounded unto men all kinds of parables in this Quran, so that they might bethink themselves; (32) [and We have revealed it]

32 - As in many other passages of the Quran, the use of the term parable (mathal) immediately or shortly after a description of mens condition - whether good or bad - in the hereafter is meant to remind us that all such descriptions relate to something that is beyond the reach of a created beings perception (al-ghayb), and cannot, therefore, be conveyed to man otherwise than by means of allegories or parables expressed in terms of human experience and therefore accessible, in a general sense, to human imagination.

28. as a discourse in the Arabic tongue, free of all deviousness, so that they might become conscious of God. (33)

33 - Lit., without any deviousness (iwaj), i.e., which could obscure its meaning: see note on 18:1, where this term occurs in a slightly different phrasing. As regards the stress on the formulation of this divine writ in the Arabic tongue, see 12: 2, 13: 37, 14: 4 and 41: 44, as well as the corresponding notes.

29. [To this end,] God sets forth a parable: A man who has for his masters several partners, (34) [all of them] at variance with one another, and a man depending wholly on one person: can these two be deemed equal as regards their condition? (35) [Nay,] all praise is due to God [alone]: but most of them do not understand this.

34 - Lit., with regard to whom there are [several] partners (shuraka), i.e., as masters: a metaphor for belief in a plurality of divine powers.

35 - The term mathal, which is usually rendered by me as parable (e.g., at the beginning of this verse as well as in verse 27), primarily denotes a likeness, i.e., of one thing to another; but sometimes it is used tropically as a synonym for sifah (the quality, intrinsic attribute or nature of a thing) or halah (its state or condition). In the present instance, the last mentioned of these meanings is most appropriate, inasmuch as it alludes to mans condition arising from either of two contrasting attitudes: a belief in Gods transcendental oneness and uniqueness, on the one hand, and a readiness to ascribe divine powers and qualities to a variety of created beings or supposed incarnations of God, on the other.

30. Yet, verily, thou art bound to die, [O Muhammad,] and, verily, they, too, are bound to die:
31. and then, behold, on the Day of Resurrection you all shall place your dispute before your Sustainer.
32. And who could be more wicked than he who invents lies about God? (36) and gives the lie to the truth as soon as it has been placed before him? Is not hell the [proper] abode for all who deny the truth? (37)

36 - In this instance, the inventing of lies about God alludes to the attribution of a share in His divinity to anyone or anything beside Him, whether it be a belief in a plurality of deities, or in an imaginary incarnation of God in human form, or in saints allegedly endowed with semi-divine powers.

37 - Lit., Is not in hell an abode, etc.: a rhetorical question indicating, firstly, that otherworldly suffering is the unavoidable destiny -symbolically, an abode - of all such sinners; and, secondly, that in the concept and picture of hell we are given an allegory of that self-caused suffering.

33. But he who brings the truth, and he who wholeheartedly accepts it as true - it is they, they, who are [truly] conscious of Him!
34. All that they have ever yearned for awaits them with their Sustainer: such will be the reward of the doers of good.
35. And to this end, God will efface from their record the worst that they ever did, and give them their reward in accordance with the best that they were doing [in life].
36. IS NOT God enough for His servant? And yet, they would frighten thee with those [imaginary divine powers which they worship] beside Him! (38) But he whom God lets go astray can never find any guide,

38 - Or: instead of Him. This relates not merely to false deities, but also to saints alive or dead, and even to certain abstract concepts which the popular mind endows with charismatic qualities - like wealth, power, social status, national or racial pre-eminence, the idea of mans self- sufficiency, etc. - and, finally, to all false values which are allowed to dominate mans thoughts and desires. The godless always stress the supposed necessity of paying attention to all these imaginary forces and values, and frighten themselves and their fellow-men by the thought that a neglect to do so might have evil consequences in their practical life.

37. whereas he whom God guides aright can never be led astray. Is not God almighty, an avenger of evil?
38. And thus it is [with most people]: if (39) thou ask them, Who is it that has created the heavens and the earth? - they will surely answer, God. (40) Say: Have you, then, ever considered what it is that you invoke instead of God? If God wills that harm should befall me, could those [imaginary powers] remove the harm inflicted by Him? Or, if He wills that grace should alight on me, could they withhold His grace [from me]? Say: God is enough for me! In Him [alone] place their trust all who have trust [in His existence].

39 - For this rendering of lain, see note on 11: 7.

40 - See note on 31: 25.

39. Say: O my [truth-denying] people! Do yet all that may be within your power, [whereas] I, behold, shall labour [in Gods way]: in time you will come to know
40. who it is that shall be visited [in this world] by suffering which will cover him with ignominy, and upon whom long-lasting suffering shall alight [in the life to come]! ( 41)

41 - Lit., suffering (adhab) that will disgrace him: implying that surrender to false values inevitably leads to mans spiritual decay and, if persisted in by many, to social catastrophes and widespread suffering.

41. BEHOLD, from on high have We bestowed upon thee this divine writ, setting forth the truth for [the benefit of all] mankind. And whoever chooses to be guided [thereby], does so for his own good, and whoever chooses to go astray, goes but astray to his own hurt; and thou hast not the power to determine their fate. (42)

42 - Or: thou art not responsible for their conduct (see note on 17: 2).

42. It is God [alone that has this power - He] who causes all human beings to die at the time of their [bodily] death, and [causes to be as dead], during their sleep, those that have not yet died: (43) thus, He withholds [from life] those upon whom He has decreed death, and lets the others go free for a term set [by Him]. In [all] this, behold, there are messages indeed for people who think!

43 - According to Razi, this passage connects allegorically with the preceding - the light of guidance being likened to life, and mans going astray, to death or, if it is not permanent, to death-like sleep followed by awakening. Beyond this, however, we have here a reminder - in tune with the subsequent passages - of Gods almightiness, and especially of His exclusive power to create and to withdraw life. As to the operative verb yatawaffa, it primarily denotes He takes [something] away in full; and because death is characterized by a disappearance of all vital impulses (the soul) from the once-living body - their being taken away in full, as it were - this form of the verb has been used tropically, since time immemorial, in the sense of causing to die, and (in its intransitive form) dying or (as a noun) death: a usage invariably adhered to in the Quran. The traditional likening of sleep to death is due to the fact that in both cases the body appears to be devoid of consciousness, partially and temporarily in the former case, and completely and permanently in the latter. (The popular translation of anfus - p1. of nafs - as souls is certainly inappropriate in the above context, since, according to the fundamental teaching of the Quran, mans soul does not die at the time of his bodily death but, on the contrary, lives on indefinitely. Hence, the term anfus must be rendered here as human beings.)

43. And yet, (44) they choose [to worship], side by side with God, [imaginary] intercessors! (45) Say: Why - even though they have no power over anything, and no understanding? (46)

44 - This is the meaning of the particle am in this context (Zamakhshari, implying that despite all the evidence of Gods almightiness, many people tend to disregard it.

45 - I.e., intercessors who could act as such independently of Gods permission - an assumption which the Quran categorically denies (see note on 10: 3).

46 - A reference to the adoration of dead saints or their tombs or relics, as well as of inanimate representations of saints, of imaginary deities, etc.

44. Say: Gods alone is [the power to bestow the right of] intercession: (47) His [alone] is the dominion over the heavens and the earth; and, in the end, Unto Him you will all be brought back.

47 - Regarding the problem of intercession as such, see note on 10: 3.

45. And yet, whenever God alone is mentioned, the hearts of those who will not believe in the life to come contract with bitter aversion - whereas, when those [imaginary powers] are mentioned side by side with Him, lo, they rejoice! (48)

48 - Since cognition of God must have a sense of moral responsibility as its correlate, the godless shrink from it, and joyfully turn to the worship - real or metaphoric - of imaginary powers which make no such moral demand.

46. Say: O God! Originator of the heavens and the earth! Knower of all that is beyond the reach of a created beings perception, as well as of all that can be witnessed by a creatures senses or mind! (49) It is Thou who wilt judge between Thy servants [on Resurrection Day] with regard to all on which they were wont to differ!

49 - See the second note on 6: 73.

47. But if those who are bent on evildoing possessed all that is on earth, and twice as much, (50) they would surely offer it as ransom from the awful suffering [that will befall them] on the Day of Resurrection: (51) for, something with which they had not reckoned before will [by then] have been made obvious to them by God; (52)

50 - Lit., and the like of it with it.

51 - Cf. 3: 91 and the corresponding note.

52 - Lit., will have become obvious to them (bada lahum) from God - i.e., the fact that mans attitudes and actions in this world determine his state and further development in the hereafter: in other words, that happiness or suffering in the life to come (allegorically described as paradise or hell, and reward or chastisement) are but natural consequences of the use which man makes in this life of his capabilities, endowments and opportunities.

48. and obvious to them will have become the evil that they had wrought [in life]: and thus shall they be overwhelmed by the very truth which they were wont to deride. (53)

53 - Lit., that which they were wont to deride will enfold them or will have enfolded them: i.e., the reality of life after death and of the spiritual truths preached by Gods prophets will overwhelm them.

49. NOW [thus it is:] when affliction befalls man, he cries out unto Us for help; but when We bestow upon him a boon by Our grace, he says [to himself], I have been given [all] this by virtue of [my own] wisdom! (54) Nay, this [bestowal of grace] is a trial: but most of them understand it not!

54 - Lit., knowledge - i.e., my prosperity is due to my own ability and shrewdness: see the first sentence of 28: 78 and the corresponding note. But whereas there this saying or thought is attributed to the legendary Qarun, in the present instance - which is by far the earlier in the chronology of Quranic revelation - it is said to be characteristic of man as such (see, e.g., 7:189-190, where this tendency is referred to in connection with the experience of parenthood).

50. The same did say [to themselves many of] those who lived before their time; but of no avail to them was all that they had ever achieved:
51. for all the evil deeds that they had wrought fell [back] upon them. And [the same will happen to] people of the present time who are bent on wrongdoing: (55) all the evil deeds that they have ever wrought will fall [back] upon them, and never will they be able to elude [God]!

55 - Lit., those who are bent on wrongdoing (alladhina zalamu) from among these here.

52. Are they, then, not aware that it is God who grants abundant sustenance, or gives it in scant measure, unto whomever He wills? In this, behold, there are messages indeed for people who will believe!
53. SAY: [Thus speaks God:] (56) O you servants of Mine who have transgressed against your own selves! Despair not of Gods mercy: behold, God forgives all sins - for, verily, He alone is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace! (57)

56 - See note on the opening words of verse 10 of this surah.

57 - Sc., whenever the sinner repents and turns to Him: cf., for instance, 6: 54 - Your Sustainer has willed upon Himself the law of grace and mercy - so that if any of you does a bad deed out of ignorance, and thereafter repents and lives righteously, He shall be [found] much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace; or 4: 110 - he who does evil or [otherwise] sins against himself, and thereafter prays God to forgive him, shall find God much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.

54. Hence, turn towards your Sustainer [alone] and surrender yourselves unto Him ere the suffering [of death and resurrection] comes upon you, for then you will not be succoured. (58)

58 - Cf. 4: 18 - repentance shall not be accepted from those who do evil deeds until their dying hour, and then say, Behold, I now repent; nor from those who die as deniers of the truth.

55. And ere that suffering comes upon you of a sudden, without your being aware [of its approach], follow the most goodly [teaching] that has been revealed unto you by your Sustainer,
56. lest any human being * should say [on Judgment Day], Alas for me for having been remiss in what is due to God, and for having been indeed one of those who scoffed [at the truth]! (59)

59 - *Whenever there is no clear indication that the term nafs has another meaning, it signifies a human being; hence, the personal pronouns relating to this term (which is feminine in Arabic) are masculine in my rendering.

57. or lest he should say, If God had but guided me, I would surely have been among those who are conscious of Him!-
58. or lest he should say, when he becomes aware of the suffering [that awaits him], Would that I had a second chance [in life], so that I could be among the doers of good! (60)

60 - Cf. 2: 167 and 26: 102, as well as 6: 27-28 and the corresponding note.

59. [But God will reply:] Yea, indeed! My messages did come unto thee; but thou gavest them the lie, and wert filled with false pride, and wert among those who deny the truth!
60. And [so,] on the Day of Resurrection thou wilt see all who invented lies about God [with] their faces darkened [by grief and ignominy]. (61) Is not hell the [proper] abode for all who are given to false pride? (62)

61 - The phrase iswadda wajhuhu (lit., his face became black or dark) is used idiomatically to describe a face expressive of grief or ignominy (cf. 16: 58), just as its opposite, ibyadda wajhuhu (lit., his face became white or shining) describes a countenance expressive of happiness or justified pride: cf. 2: 106 - some faces will shine [with happiness] and some faces will be dark [with grief]. Apart from this, both phrases have also a tropical significance, namely, he became [or felt] disgraced, resp. honoured. As regards the inventing of lies about God spoken of in this verse, see note on verse 32 above.]

62 - See note on the last sentence of verse 32 of this surah.

61. But God will safeguard all who were conscious of Him, [and will grant them happiness] by virtue of their [inner] triumphs; no evil shall ever touch them, and neither shall they grieve.
62. GOD is the Creator of all things, and He alone has the power to determine the fate of all things. (63)

63 - For the meaning of the term wakil in this context, see note on 17: 2.

63. His are the keys [to the mysteries] of the heavens and the earth: and they who are bent on denying the truth of Gods messages - it is they, they, who are the losers!
64. Say: Is it, then, something other than God that you bid me to worship, O you who are unaware [of right and wrong]?
65. And yet, it has already been revealed to thee [O man,] * as well as to those who lived before thee, that if thou ever ascribe divine powers to aught but God, all thy works shall most certainly have been in vain: for [in the life to come] thou shalt most certainly be among the lost. (64)

64 - *I.e., it has been conveyed to thee through the divine messages revealed to the prophets. The assumption of almost all the classical commentators that this passage is addressed to Muhammad does not make much sense in view of Gods knowledge that neither he nor any of the prophets who came before him would ever commit the deadly sin (referred to in the sequence) of ascribing divine powers to aught beside God. On the other hand, the above reminder becomes very cogent and relevant as soon as it is conceived as being addressed to man in general, irrespective of time and circumstance.

66. Nay, but thou shalt worship God [alone], and be among those who are grateful [to Him]!
67. And no true understanding of God have they [who worship aught beside Him], inasmuch as the whole of the earth will be as a [mere] handful to Him on Resurrection Day, and the heavens will be rolled up in His right hand: (65) limitless is He in His glory, and sublimely exalted above anything to which they may ascribe a share in His divinity!

65 - I.e., the whole universe is as nothing before Him: for this specific allegory of Gods almightiness, see 21: 104. There are many instances, in the Quran as well as in authentic ahadith, of the clearly metaphorical use of the term hand in allusions to Gods absolute power and dominion. The particular reference, in the above, to the Day of Resurrection is due to the fact that it will be only on his own resurrection that a human being shall fully grasp the concept of Gods almightiness, referred to in the subsequent words, limitless is He in His glory (subhanahu).

68. And [on that Day,] the trumpet [of judgment] will be sounded, and all [creatures] that are in the heavens and all that are on earth will fall down senseless, unless they be such as God wills [to exempt]. (66) And then it will sound again - and lo! standing [before the Seat of Judgment], they will begin to see [the truth]! [Cf. 37:19.]

66 - As is evident from 27: 89, the above is an allusion to the unbroken spiritual life in this world - and, therefore, happiness in the hereafter - of those who have attained to faith and have done righteous deeds. Cf. 21:103 - the supreme awesomeness [of the Day of Resurrection] will cause them no grief.

69. And the earth will shine bright with her Sustainers light. (67) And the record [of everyones deeds] will be laid bare, (68) and all the prophets will be brought forward, and all [other] witnesses; (69) and judgment will be passed on them all in justice. And they will not be wronged,

67 - I.e., with a clear revelation of His will. See also 14: 48, where it is stated that on Resurrection Day the earth shall be changed into another earth, as shall be the heavens. A further allusion to this transformation (and not annihilation) of the universe is found in 20: 105 - 107.

68 - Cf. 17: 13-14 (and the corresponding note): also 18: 49.

69 - See 4: 41 and the corresponding note. Accordingly, the above phrase may well have the meaning of all the prophets as witnesses, i.e., for or against those to whom they conveyed Gods message. In all probability, however, the term shuhada (or ashhad in 40: 51) signifies here - as its singular shahid obviously does in 50: 21 - mans newly-awakened consciousness, which will compel him to bear witness against himself on Judgment Day (cf. 6: 130, 17: 14, 24: 24, 36: 65, 41:20 ff.).

70. for every human being will be repaid in full for whatever [good or evil] he has done: (70) and He is fully aware of all that they do.

70 - Cf. 99: 7-8, he who shall have done an atoms weight of good, shall behold it; and he who shall have done an atoms weight of evil, shall behold it.

71. And those who were bent on denying the truth will be urged on in throngs towards hell till, when they reach it, its gates will be opened, and its keepers will ask them, Have there not come to you apostles from among yourselves, who conveyed to you your Sustainers messages and warned you of the coming of this your Day [of Judgment]?They will answer: Yea, indeed! But the sentence of suffering will [already] have fallen due upon the deniers of the truth; (71)

71 - I.e., as an ineluctable consequence of their unrepented sinning.

72. [and] they will be told, Enter the gates of hell, therein to abide! And how vile an abode for those who were given to false pride! (72)

72 - Sc., and therefore refused to submit to the guidance offered them by Gods apostles: cf. 96: 6-7 - man becomes grossly overweening whenever he believes himself to be self-sufficient. See also 16: 22 and the corresponding note.

73. But those who were conscious of their Sustainer will be urged on in throngs towards paradise till, when they reach it, they shall find its gates wide- open; * and its keepers will say unto them, Peace be upon you! Well have you done: enter, then, this [paradise], herein to abide! (73)

73 - *Lit., and its gates have [or will have] been opened, i.e., before their arrival, as indicated by the particle wa (lit., and), which in this case denotes precedence in time (Zamakhshari). Cf. in this connection 38: 50 - gardens of perpetual bliss, with gates wide-open to them.

74. And they will exclaim: All praise is due to God, who has made His promise to us come true, and has bestowed upon us this expanse [of bliss] as our portion, * so that we may dwell in paradise as we please! And how excellent a reward will it be for those who laboured [in Gods way]! (74)

74 - *Lit., has made us heirs to this land, i.e., of paradise. According to all the classical commentators, the concept of heritage is used here metaphorically, to denote the rightful due, or portion, of the blessed. The term ard (lit., earth or land) has also - especially in poetry - the connotation of anything that is spread (cf. Lane I, 48): hence my rendering of it, in the above context, as expanse.

75. And thou wilt see the angels surrounding the throne of [Gods] almightiness, extolling their Sustainers glory and praise. (75) And judgment will have been passed in justice on all [who had lived and died], and the word will be spoken: (76) All praise is due to God, the Sustainer of all the worlds!

75 - Whenever the term al-arsh (the throne [of God]) occurs in the Quran, it is used as a metaphor for His absolute dominion over all that exists: hence my rendering, the throne of [Gods] almightiness. (See also 7: 54 and the corresponding note.) The mention of the angels surrounding it has, obviously, a metaphorical meaning: see note on 40:7.

76 - Lit., it will be said.