Verses from Surah 25: Al-Furqan (The Criterion) [55 – 61]

IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE KIND, THE COMPASSIONATE

 [55] But they worship apart from Allah what can neither benefit them nor harm them. And the unbeliever is ever a partisan against his Lord.65

[56] And We have sent you not (O Muhammad) but as a bearer of glad tiding and a warner.

Commentary

65. Partisan in the sense that he is a helper to Shaytan against his Lord. This is how many of the Salaf understood it (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

[57] Say, ‘I ask of you no wage for this, save that whosoever will, might take unto his Lord a way.’66

Commentary

66. In his own style and words, Ibn Jarir expresses the following: The Prophet does not seek wages for his efforts; he is in no need of it, being provided by Allah; yet, if someone wished to expend and thus take a way to Allah, he could do so by expending his wealth on charity among the needy. That would be taking a way to Allah.

Or, Imam Razi adds, if he wished, he could spend in charity after embracing Islam.

In his translation, Asad suggests another possible connotation, and quite a nice one for that: The man who wishes to take a way unto his Lord, could himself be a reward unto the Prophet.

[58] And place your trust in the Ever-Living who will not die,67and celebrate His Praise. And sufficient is He to be acquainted with the sins of His servants.68

Commentary

67. “The epithet, ‘who dies not,’ or ‘Imperishable,’ may have been necessitated by the very widely prevalent custom of deicide or godslaughter. ‘Deicide, once supposed to find its only example in the crucifixion, has been, in fact, a wide-spread custom, which has left a deep impress on the religious thought of the race’ (ERE, IV., p. 523). The God of Islam, it required special emphasis, is the Immortal, the Imperishable, the Deathless.” (Majid)

68. The fact that words, “And place your trust in the Ever-Living who will not die,” are followed by “And sufficient is He to be acquainted with the sins of His servants” leads one to believe that to place trust in other than Allah is a kind of sin that the Lord is Aware of (Au.).

[59] (He) who created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six periods69 and then attained Istawa’ on the `Arsh:70 Al-Rahman, so ask any well-informed about Him.71

Commentary

69. Zamakhshari and Imam Razi point out that Allah was quite capable of creating the universe in one go. But creation in stages is more miraculous than a sudden creation which could have been attributed to an accident.

As to why six, the answer is, says Zamakhshari, there is no significance attached to them. It could have been any other number. There are nineteen keepers of Hell-fire, the bearers of `Arsh are eight, a week has seven days, there are five Prayers a day, and so on. Allah knows best why in each case He chose those numbers.

The textual word is “yawm” (day). But what day was it? Obviously not the day and night caused by the sun, for, as Zamakhshari has pointed out, the sun had yet to be created. Therefore, it could only have been “days” of another definition. Imam Razi speculates that, perhaps, Allah first created “time” and then created the heavens and the earth in six days. He is inclined to believe that those were six earth-days. But, of course, this is only a guess. For, even now, the days of the Hereafter are different. Verse 5 of Al-Sajdah tells us that the day of the other world is equal to one thousand years of ours. Another verse says (70: 4), “Angels and the Ruh rise up to him in a day whose measure is fifty thousand years.”

See detailed discussion at verse 54, note 81 of Surah Al-A`raf.

70. Imam Razi points out that our knowledge that the `Arsh was created before the heavens and the earth, should teach us caution in fixing the meaning of Allah’s “istawaa’” on it.

71. “I.e., (questions such as) ‘What is His name? What are His attributes?’” (Majid), etc., maybe addressed to him who has knowledge of Him, such as the Prophet (Alusi and others). Or, in the words of Asad, “Ask God Himself: since He alone holds the keys to the mysteries of the universe, it is only by observing His creation and listening to His revealed messages that man can obtain a glimpse, however distant, of God’s Own reality.”

[60] And when they are told, ‘Prostrate yourselves to Al-Rahman,’ they ask, ‘And what is Al-Rahman?72 Should we prostrate ourselves to what you bid us?’73 And it increases in them aversion.74

Commentary

72. The pagans of the Prophet’s time denied that Allah could be designated as Al-Rahman. They said that the only Al-Rahman they knew was that of Yamamah, (that is, Musaylimah, the Liar).

At Hudaybiyyah, when the Prophet began to dictate the letter of armistice saying, “Write, ‘In the name of Allah, Al-Rahman, Al-Raheem,’” they said, “Neither do we know Al-Rahman, nor Al-Raheem. But rather, write as you used to write, ‘In your name, O Allah.’” (Ibn Kathir)

73. This question was asked by the Makkan pagans in the same vein as Fir`awn had done with Musa when he offered him faith in the Lord of the worlds. He asked (26: 23), “And what is (this) Lord of the worlds?” – Razi, Alusi.

74. That is, the call to prostrate themselves to the All-Compassionate increases only aversion in them.

[61] Blessed is He who set constellations75 in the heaven and placed therein a lamp76 and a shining moon.77

Commentary

75. The translation reflects the understanding of Mujahid and Qatadah as in Ibn Jarir, as also of Sa`id b. Jubayr, Hasan and Abu Saleh as in Ibn Kathir. Alusi attributes it to Ibn `Abbas and even names a dozen constellations that could have been alluded to. He points out further that although it cannot be denied that the heavenly bodies could influence the earth in some way or the other, (a point acknowledged by modern science), but they play no role in such events as births, conceptions, etc.

However, Ibn Jarir’s own opinion is with `Atiyyah b. Sa`d, Ibn Rafe`, Ibrahim and Abu Saleh, who said that the allusion is to a well-guarded fort in the heaven. They draw strength from another verse of the Qur’an which uses the word ‘buruuj.’ It says (4: 78), “Death will overtake you even if you were in fortified forts.”

Ibn Jarir cites some poetical pieces to support this view.

This second opinion was also that of `Ali, Ibn `Abbas and others, although the first opinion seems to be weightier, unless the stars of reference also happen to be the well-guarded palaces, in which case the two opinions can be reconciled (Ibn Kathir).

76. That is, the sun. Allah said elsewhere (71: 16), “And made the sun a lamp.”

Another reading of the textual Siraj has been Suruj – meaning, brightly shining stars (which would include the sun: Au.) – Ibn Jarir, Razi, Qurtubi, Alusi.

77. There has been at least one variant reading – that of Isma`i who was not trusted – who read the word qamar as qumur, meaning, moons. (Qurtubi)

 (To be continued)