Verses from Surah Al-Anbiya’ (41 – 50)

[41] Messengers were indeed mocked before you. But those who mocked them, were hemmed by the very thing they were mocking.

[42] Say, ‘Who protects you by the night and the day from the All-Merciful?’53 Yet from the remembrance of their Lord they are turning away. 

Commentary

53. As Zarkashi has pointed out (Al-Burhan) a second meaning of Al-Rahman is “the Most Powerful.” It seems it has been used here in this sense (Au.).

However, if we go by the standard meaning then we might note Asad’s explanation, “.. in this context, as the Most Gracious (ar-Rahman) is meant to bring out the fact that He – and He alone – is the protector of all creation.”
And, by way of connection it may be stated that when Allah (swt) said in a previous verse (no. 39) that the unbelievers will not be able to ward off the Fire from their faces in the Next World, they are now being told that in this world too they have no protectors. If it was not for Allah’s protection from natural calamities they could not have lived in peace on the earth (Razi).

[43] Or, have they gods apart from Us who will defend them? They are not capable of helping themselves, nor will they be protected from Us.54

Commentary

54. Lit., “La yus-habun” should be rendered as “they will not be allowed (Our) company” which Ibn `Abbas explained as meaning, “they will not be given (Our) protection” (Ibn Jarir). That is because, Al-Mazini has said, when you say in Arabic “Asbahta al-rajul”, it means, “you prevented him” (Razi). However, most commentators have understood the terms as expressed in the translation since, as Yusuf Ali pointed out, “.. with ‘an or min it has also the meaning of defend or remove from someone.”

Alternatively, as Majid rendered it, “and against Us they cannot be kept company with.” Then? he explains with a sentence in Arabic picked up from R aghib: “That is, they shall not enjoy from Us what will accompany them of peace, tranquility and the impulse to do good works, the kind of blessings that accompany Allah’s Friends.”

[44] Nay, We generously provided these people and their forefathers, until a great length of time passed over them.55
Do they not notice that We set upon the land, decreasing it at its borders?56 Then, is it they who will prevail? 

Commentary

55. “Lit., ‘until their lives (`umur) grew long’ – i.e., until they grew accustomed to the thought that their prosperity will last forever” (Asad from Zamakhshari).

56. The allusion is, Hasan al-Busri said, to Islam’s triumph over unbelief (Ibn Kathir). Its expansion into Kufr territory is another shade of meaning (Zamakhshari).

Yusuf Ali has some words that the Islamic Da`wah workers over the world, especially in the West, will do well to remember, “The particular significance is that Islam spread from the outer borders, social and geographical, gradually inwards. The social fringe was the humbler people, such as slaves and poor men. The geographical reference is to Madinah and tribes away from the Makkan center. The proud and unbelieving Quraish were the last to come in when the circle was gradually drawn tighter around them. The general signification applies to all times. Allah’s truth makes its way first among the poor and the lowly, those whose minds are unsoiled by prejudice of false pride or false knowledge, but it gradually hems in the obstinate, until it prevails in the world.”

Also See surah Al-Ra`ad, note 78 for further explanation.

[45] Say, ‘I only warn you by the Revelation.’ But the deaf do not hear the call when they are warned.57

Commentary

57. The words “But the deaf do not hear the call when they are warned” could be intriguing to some. How can they hear the call when they are deaf? A sentence from Yusuf Ali clears the doubt, “According to the English saying, “none is so deaf as those who will not hear.”

 

[46] But if a whiff of the punishment of your Lord should touch them, they will surely say, ‘Alas for us! We indeed were the transgressors.’58

Commentary

58. “This refers to God’s punishment which the unbelievers sarcastically requested should strike them” (Mawdudi).

[47] And We shall set up the Just Scales for the Day of Resurrection, so that no soul shall be wronged in the least.59
And, even if it were to be the weight of a mustard seed, We shall bring it forth; although, sufficient are We as reckoners.60

Commentary

59. We cannot be sure of the nature of the Scales. But hadith literature speaks of pans. Mawdudi adds, “This much, however, is certain: that it will weigh good and bad deeds and thereby indicate precisely the moral worth of every person.”

Basing on the usage here in plural (not meezaan, but mawaazeen), it has been speculated that either there could be a Scale for everyone of those whose deeds will be weighed, or, there could be several kinds of Scales to weight different kinds of deeds (Qurtubi).

Accordingly, some men will be weighed as stated in ahadith. (Au.).

Ibn Kathir states here the oft-quoted hadith of Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, although weak, but which gathers strength from other directions: A man will be brought in front of the entire humanity on the Judgment Day. Ninety-nine account books will be opened up before him, every book reaching the extent of the sight. He will be asked, “Do you deny any of it? Did My scribers do you any wrong?” He will reply, “No, my Lord.” He will be asked, “Do you have an excuse? Or a good deed?” The (awestruck man) will reply, “No my Lord.” Allah will say, “Rather, you have a good deed. No wronging today.” At that, a piece of paper will be brought out saying, “I bear witness that there is no deity save Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger.” He will say, “Come forward to (witness) your weighing.” The man will say, “My Lord! What will this piece of paper do against these books?” But the piece of paper weigh down (against the other). Nothing can be heavier against Allah’s name.

Qurtubi and Ibn Kathir cite another report, also in Ahmad. It says that one of the Companions of the Prophet came in and sat before him. He said, “Messenger of Allah! I have two slaves. They lay the lie on me, deceive me, and disobey me. So I beat them and abuse them. What will be my situation with them?” He answered, Their deceptions, disobedience and laying lies on you will be measured against your punishments. If your punishments happen to be exactly equal to their wrongdoing, there will be nothing on you nor on them. But, if your punishments prove to be lesser than their wrongdoing, you will have the surplus. On the other hand, if your punishments prove to be in excess of their wrongdoing, they will be compensated for it (from your good deeds) in proportion to the excess. At that the man started to weep and murmur right there before them. The Prophet remarked, “What’s wrong with this man? Does he not read in the Qur’an, ‘And We shall set up the Just Scales for the Day of Resurrection, so that no soul shall be wronged in the least?’” The man said, “Messenger of Allah! I do not think there is anything better than that I should free them. So, be a witness that I have freed them all.”

The above narrative is from Tirmidhi who evaluated it as Hasan Gharib, but Albani thought it was Sahih (Au.). And Shafi` adds from Maz-hari a report originating from Hakim, Bayhaqi and Ajuri: Once `A’isha wept. Upon asking why, she asked, “I thought of the Fire which brought me to tears. Will you remember us, your family folks, on the Day of Judgment?” He answered, “There will be three points at which no one will remember anyone else. One, when the Scales are set up, until a man knows whether the pan of good deeds will outweigh the pan of evil deeds. Second, when the Books of Deed when it will be said, ‘Here, read my book) until it is known whether it will be received by the right hand or left or left, or from the rear. And three, when the Bridge is laid on Jahannum.”

According to Hakim, the chain of narration meets with the requirements of the Sheikhayn (Au.).

60. Yusuf Ali has a comment on Western learning and integrity, “The literalism of Sale (a famous translator of the Qur’an: Au.) has here excelled itself: he translates, ‘and there will be sufficient accountants with us’”! And anyone who doubts the intentional errors of this sort has no idea of the depth of dishonesty of the Western scholars (Au.).

[48] Surely, We granted 61 Musa and Harun the Criterion,62 a Light, and an Admonition 63 for the Godfearing 64 

Commentary

61. Mawdudi gives us an overall view of the passage that follows: “From here on the Prophets form the subject matter of the discourse. References – both cursory and detailed – are made to the lives of several of them. The context in which these references are made emphasizes the following points:

(1) That all Prophets were human beings, they did not belong to any other species..
(2) That the earlier Prophets were also raised for the same purpose for which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) was raised..
(3) That God treated the Prophets in a special way in so far as they were subjected to great hardships for long periods of time. They not only suffered difficulties of a personal nature but also encountered difficulties created for them by their enemies. Eventually, however, God came to their rescue, blessed them with His grace and favor, answered their prayers and removed their difficulties..
(4) That even though the Prophets enjoyed God’s special favour and were endowed with extraordinary powers by Him, they were, nevertheless, still human beings and were, like other creatures, His servants. None of them was invested with divinity.”

62. Asad renders the term “al-furqan” as “the standard by which to discern the true from the false” and then comments that it has here “twofold implication: firstly, it alludes to the Qur’anic doctrine .. of the historical continuity in all divine revelation, and, secondly, it stresses the fact that revelation – and revelation alone – provides an absolute criterion of all moral valuation. Since the Mosaic dispensation as such was binding on the children of Israel alone and remained valid only within a particular historical and cultural context, the term al-furqan relates here not to the Mosaic Law as such, but to the fundamental ethical truths contained in the Torah and common to all divine revelation.”

63. “The three words – ‘criterion’, ‘light’, and ‘admonition’ – are used to characterize the Jewish Torah. The Torah was a criterion for distinguishing between truth and falsehood; a light to show man the right way and an admonition to call attention to their forgotten lesson” (Mawdudi).

64. “Although Torah was meant for all .. only those endowed with a certain set of qualities could in fact benefit from it” (Mawdudi, with some modification).

[49] Those who fear their Lord in the Unseen and who hold the Hour in awe.65

[50] And this a blessed Reminder that We have sent down, will you then reject it?

Commentary

65. The term “mushfiqun” has special significance. Yusuf Ali explains: “Note the three kinds of fear mentioned in xxi. 48-49. (“godfearing, fear and awe” in our rendering: Au.). Taqwa is the fear of running counter to the will of Allah; it is akin to the love of Him; for we fear to offend those we love; it results in right conduct, and those who entertain are ‘those who would do right.’ Then there is khashiyat, the fear of Allah, lest the person who entertains it may be found, in his inmost thoughts, to be short of the standard which Allah wishes for him; this is also righteous but in a less high degree than Taqwa which is akin to love. And thirdly, there is the fear of consequences on the Day of Judgment (ishfaq); this also may lead to righteousness, but is on a still lower plane. Perhaps the three correspond to the Criterion, the Light and the Message (or Warning) of the last verse.”

(To be continued)