Verses from Surah al-Ra’d (28-34)

[28] Those who have believed, and whose hearts find comfort in Allah’s remembrance; and lo, in Allah’s remembrance do hearts find comfort.56

Commentary

56. Majid comments: “This state of serene tranquility and steady peace of mind, is clearly marked off from boisterous merriment the invariable concomitant of material pleasures to be inevitably followed by a sad reaction. The greater the communion of man with his Maker, the more contended, the more optimistic would he be in his outlook of life.”

Alusi and Thanwi have elaborated on the cause of “comfort” (alternatively “rest”), as, “a Light (nur) emanating from Allah (swt) and descending into the hearts following true and sincere faith in Him. This Light expels the inner restlessness (wahsha) and the fear of “other than Him,” calming it down. Further, Thanwi adds, this comfort can co-exist with the fear of Allah, (which is not similar to fear of deadly things, rather, a fear out of awe, in other words, “khashyah” and not “khawf”).

Alusi states a few reasons why the heart finds rest and comfort in the remembrance of Allah. When a heart remembers one of the things of the world, it wishes to indulge in it, maneuver it, and control it. That makes the heart restive. But since Allah (swt) is beyond indulgence, maneuvering, or control, the search ends with Him and the hearts find rest in Him. Again, when the heart thinks of something material, then, after a while, it wishes for something better, there always being something better, more attractive. In contrast, Allah is the Ultimate Good. There is nothing better than Him to desire. Hence the rest and comfort in remembrance of Him (slightly modified).

We can add on to what has been stated above and say that by no other means can this restiveness and anxiety of the inner self, the heart and the soul, which occupy every heart, can be got rid off, except by renewing faith through remembrance of Allah. Resorting to games, music, drugs, films, and other means will only keep the heart occupied until engaged in those activities. Once those diversions are removed, the hearts are back with the feeling of restlessness and anxiety of various sorts. Recent studies conducted in the United States of America says that the immediate after-effect of watching television programs is depression and feelings of loneliness. Most of the people are less happy after shutting down the TV than they were before. As for music, it leads to such feelings of depression and other psychological disorders that the producers and listeners have to often resort to hard drugs (Au.).

[29] Those who believed and worked good deeds, bliss57 for them, and a happy resort.

Commentary

57. The “tuba” of the text has been variously explained as, happiness, comfort, cool of the eye, joy, bliss, blessedness, and a tree in Paradise (Ibn Jarir). Imam Ahmed has a report coming through Abu Sa`id Khudri. Someone said to the Prophet, “Messenger of Allah, tuba (blessings) for him who saw you and believed in you.” He replied, “Tuba for him who saw me and believed in me. And tuba, and then tuba and then tuba for someone who believed in me without having seen me.” Someone asked, “What is tuba?” He replied, “It is a tree in Paradise which a rider will take a hundred years to cross. Clothes for the inhabitants of Paradise are produced from its bark” (Ibn Kathir).

The hadith is Sahih of status and is in Ahmed, Ibn Hibban and Albani’s Sahih al-Jami’ (S. Ibrhim).

In other words, points out Shabbir, tuba as used here is a noun (a tree in Paradise) but also has other linguistic implications.

[30] Thus We sent you among a people before whom many nations have passed so that you may recite unto them that which We have revealed unto you, the while they are rejecting the Merciful.58 Say, ‘He is my Lord. There is no god but He. In Him I have put my trust, and to Him is my return in penitence.’

Commentary

58. It is reported that when the Prophet’s writer began to write the peace treaty at Hudaybiyyah, beginning with “In the name of Allah, Al-Rahman (the Kind), al-Rahim (the Merciful),” the pagans interjected saying, “Al-Rahman? Who is Al-Rahman? Rather, begin simply with, “In the name of Allah” (and drop the rest). The Prophet’s Companions said, “Let us instead fight these people, O Messenger of Allah!” the Prophet (saws) said, “Rather, write down as they say” (Ibn Jarir). The substance of the hadith is in Bukhari. And Muslim has a hadith that says that the most approved of names with Allah (swt) are: ‘Abdullah and ‘Abdul-Rahman” (Ibn Kathir).

[31] If there was a Qur’an59 whereby the mountains were moved, or the earth cut asunder, or the dead spoken to60 nay, but Allah’s is the affair altogether.61 Have the believers not given up hopes that, had Allah wished,62 He could have guided all the peoples (aright)?!63 But those who have disbelieved will always have a calamity strike them for their doing, or it will alight close to their dwellings, until Allah’s promise comes to pass; surely, Allah will not fail the tryst.64 

Commentary

59. Linguistically, the word “qur’an” is for any piece of writing, or written material. The Prophet (saws) has used it in the sense of a scripture. He said in a hadith of Bukhari, i.e., “The Qur’an was made easy for Da’ud. He would order his mount readied, and would finish off his Qur’an before it could be saddled. And he never ate but from the earnings of his hands.” The allusion by the word “Qur’an” is to Zabur (Ibn Kathir).

60. That is, if any writing could achieve that, then the Qur’an was better qualified to do it.

This verse came in response to the suggestion by the pagans that they could believe in him only if he could widen their town by moving the mountains surrounding their city, made rivers flow through the town, and bring back to life their forefather. They were told that had in the past any other piece of writing moved the mountains, split the earth and quickened the dead, then this writing, the Qur’an, would have also done it (Ibn Jarir).

61. That is, if He wished, Allah (swt) could do it. But if He did not, nobody can make Him do it (Razi).

Alternatively, and in Asad’s words, “…no ‘miraculous sign’ can ever convince those whose hearts God has ‘sealed’ in consequence of their ‘breaking their bond with Him.’”

62. The translation is literal, the meaning and purport are clear in Arabic, but the construction difficult to analyze. Hence, several interpretations have been offered. According to ‘Ali, Ibn ‘Abbas and others, the meaning is, “Is it still not apparent to the believers..?” (Ibn Jarir).

Zamakhshari, Razi, Qurtubi and others quote poetical pieces to demonstrate that the usage as in the verse was not uncommon in classical times.

63. “The meaning is that God grants man the freedom to choose between right and wrong: ‘He guides unto Himself all who turn unto Him’ (verse 27 above) and ‘are true to their bond with God’ (verse 20); on the other hand, He withholds His guidance from ‘the iniquitous, who break their bond with God’ (2: 27-27)” – Asad.

64. Our translation reflects the literal sense and Hasan’s opinion. Asad adds his comment in the same vein: “…an unceasing succession of calamities and social catastrophes, fratricidal wars and mutual deprivation which, in consequence of their deliberate disregard of all spiritual values, will directly befall ‘those who are bent on denying the truth (alladhina kafaru),’ or will, indirectly, cause them to suffer by affecting their whole organic environment..”

However, and more correctly, the opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas, ‘Ikrimah, Mujahid and several others would render the meaning as, “One or the other Muslim raiding party (sent by the Prophet) will keep attacking the pagan positions, or You, (O Prophet) will (yourself) go down for an attack, until Allah’s promise of the fall of Makkah is fulfilled.” That is, they understood the “qari`ah” as alluding to a Muslim raiding party and not as calamity, and the pronoun in “tahullu” referring to the Prophet and not to the “qari`ah” (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Alusi and others). A rough count shows that the Prophet (saws) had sent some 80-90 sorties, to various parts of the Arabian Peninsula in eight years after Hijrah, which works out to an average of one every month. Surely, that would have kept the pagans on their edge (Au.).

Yusuf Ali writes: “Let not the unbelievers think that if they seem to prosper for a time, that is the end of the matter. They are warned of three things: (1) their ill deeds must carry evil consequences for them all the time, though they may not perceive them for a certain time. (2) Their homes, their places of resort, the circles in which they move, will also be haunted by their ill deeds and their consequences. For evil makes a complex of its environment. The walls of Jericho, when they fall, must bring down all Jericho in its ruins. (3) The Ultimate Disaster, the final Reckoning, must come, for Allah never fails in His promise. True values must eventually be restored: the good to the good, and the evil to the evil.”

[32] Indeed, Messengers were scoffed at before you, but I granted respite to the unbelievers, and then seized them. So (see) how (awesome) was My retribution.

[33] Is He then who stands65 over every soul for what it earns – while they declare associates to Allah – say, ‘Name them.66 Or, will you tell Him what He knows not in the earth? Or, is it (a statement) with apparent words?’67 Rather, decked out fair to the unbelievers is their scheming,68 and (so) they are prevented from the Path. And he whom Allah leaves unguided, will not have a guide. 

Commentary

65. The textual word “qa’im” has been explained as, the guard, knowing, watcher, etc. (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

66. Asad remarks: “‘Name them!’ Most of the commentators explain this phrase as an expression of utter contempt for those allegedly ‘divine’ beings, i.e., ‘they are so unreal and meaningless as not to deserve even a name.’”

Further, naming them would immediately demonstrate the hollowness of their claim, since, firstly, they would have to name hundreds, if not thousands, as those “divine” beings to whom they address their prayers and worship, and secondly, the exercise of naming “gods” is so shameful, that they will shy away from the undertaking. Thus, “Name them,” is a pithy, devastating remark (Au.).

67. That is, do you follow and worship other than Allah, merely following apparent words, without any meaning and substance?

68. Mawdudi renders “makr” as foul contriving and then explains in two notes:

“The association of others with God in His divinity by the unbelievers has been branded as a ‘foul contriving.’ For the celestial bodies or angels or spirits or saints which are said to be God’s associates in His attributes, powers and rights, have never made any such claims. They do not ask the unbelievers to worship or bow down before them. It is merely a contriving of some unscrupulous human beings who, in order to establish their own control over ordinary people and usurp their earnings, have invented false gods and have misled people into becoming the devotees of those same false gods. This enables them to exploit the people under the claim that they were authorized representatives of gods.

“Another reason for branding polytheism as a ‘foul contriving’ is that it is an act of self-deception. For it provides one with an opportunity to fully engross oneself in worldliness and in evading moral scruples. It also provides a moral rationale for total permissiveness and licentiousness.

“Such is human nature that when a person prefers a certain course of action, he comes forward with arguments in support of it. He does so in order to satisfy his own conscience as well as to justify his choice to others. He has recourse to a variety of contrived arguments and specious rhetoric with a view to malign and degrade the course he has rejected. It is for this reason that it was pointed out that when the unbelievers made up their minds to deny the truth, in consonance with the law of their nature their ‘foul contriving’ was made attractive to them. It is in this sense that they were barred from finding the right path.”

[34] For them is a chastisement in the life of this world, but the chastisement of the Hereafter is more severe, and they shall have none to shield them from Allah.