Verses from Surah Al-Hijr (28-50)

[28] And when your Lord said to the angels, ‘I am about to create a human being from a clay of (stinking) transmuted slime.

[29] When I have proportioned him and blown into Him of My Spirit,29 fall into prostration before him.30


29. The translation is literal. But the meaning is not. The words “My spirit,” is by way of honor, just as in this Qur’an itself, “Allah’s House”, “Allah’s camel,” etc., or (Nisa’, 17), “And a spirit from Him” (Qurtubi, Shawkani). Asad explains: “God’s breathing of His spirit” into man is obviously a metaphor for His endowing him with life and consciousness: that is, with a soul.” There is no room, ‘Uthmani quotes from Imam Razi, to imagine “hulul wa itthihad (interfusion and unison).”

The word “ruh” has also been used by the Qur’an in the sense of “light of guidance”, as in verse 22 of Surah Hadeed. It says, “You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having affection for those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even if they are their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred. Those, He has inscribed faith upon their hearts, and has strengthened them with a Spirit from Himself” (Au.). This being the first occurrence of the word “ruh”, Alsui discusses its nature over several pages, but to no substance. He picks up Munawi’s statement which is perhaps worth quoting here: Many individual scholars and schools of thought have spent their good energies trying to resolve this issue. But no one has been able to say anything convincing. Of the thousand or so opinions concerning the nature of the soul, none is more trustworthy than another because every one of them is based on sheer conjecture.

30. A report in Muslim says, “When Allah had fashioned Adam in Paradise He left him to himself for a while. Iblis circled around him several times. When he found him hollow, he knew that this is a creation that will not be able to control itself (against desires). – Qurtubi

[30] So the angels prostrated themselves, all of them together.

[31] Except Iblis.31 He refused that he should be with the prostrate.


31. “Iblis: the name has in it the root-idea of desperation or rebellion” (Yusuf Ali).

[32] He asked, ‘What ails you, O Iblis, that you are not among those who prostrated themselves?’32


32. Either he was originally of the angels, as some scholars have thought, or was included among those that were commanded, because Iblis lived among them (Kashshaf, Razi, Qurtubi and others).

[33] He replied, ‘I am not one to prostrate myself unto a human You created from a clay of (stinking) transmuted slime.33


33. His true reason was given in Al-A`raf, verse 12, where he said, “I am better than he. You created me from Fire, while You created him from slime” (Shawkani).

[34] He ordered, ‘Then get out of here, for you are accursed.

[35] And the curse will rest on you until the Day of Judgement.’34


34. Yusuf Ali comments: “The curse on Iblis remained, i.e., he was deprived of Allah’s grace and became in the spiritual world what an outlaw is in a political kingdom.”

[36] He pleaded, ‘My Lord! Allow me respite until the Day they are resurrected.’

[37] He replied, ‘You shall be of those allowed respite.

[38] Until a known time.’35


35. Imam Razi thinks that when Iblis said, “Allow me respite until the Judgment-day”, his intention was that he should not die until then. And, if he did not die until then, then, he wouldn’t die at all, since no one is going to die after the Judgment-day. Therefore, Allah (swt) said that he is allowed respite until a known day. And that “known day” itself is, according to the prevalent opinion, the day when the Trumpet is blown for the first time.

[39] He said, ‘My Lord! For Your putting me into error,36 I shall deck (sins)37 fair unto them in the earth, and surely I shall put them all into error.38


36. What Iblis meant is, ‘since You put me to the test, in which I failed, You are the cause of My error’ (Zamakhshari).

Yusuf Ali adds: “Satan cannot be straight or truthful even before Allah. By his own arrogance and rebellion he fell; he attributes this to Allah.”

37. The word in parenthesis is following the explanation in Ibn Jarir.

38. “Iblis is powerless against Allah. He turns, therefore, against man.” (Yusuf Ali)

“Thus, the Qur’an makes it clear that despite his ostensible ‘rebellion’ against his Creator, Satan fulfils a definite function in God’s plan: he is the eternal tempter who enables man to exercise his God-given freedom of choice between good and evil and, thus, to become a being endowed with moral free will.” (Asad)

[40] Excepting Your chosen servants among them.’39


39. Dahhak has said that the allusion by the words “the chosen servants” is to the faithful. (Ibn Jarir)

[41] He said, ‘This is a path unto Me, straight.40


40. The translation herewith follows the understanding of Mujahid, Hasan and others as in Ibn Jarir.

[42] Surely, My own servants, you have no power over them except those who follow you of the deviators.41


41. What the verse means is that Allah (swt) does not allow His chosen slaves (those who chose Him over Satan: au.), to be wholly captured by Satan and His prompting. An error here, an error there, is not ruled out, as in case of Adam (asws) and many others (Qurtubi, Ma`arif).

Asad adds: “…Satan will thus address his erstwhile followers on Judgment Day, ‘I had no power at all over you: I but called you – and you responded unto me.’”

[43] And indeed, Jahannum is the place promised: for them all.

[44] It has seven gates.42 For each of the gates is a class of them assigned.’43


42. ‘Ali, ‘Ikrimah and others have said that there are seven Hells, one upon another. Ibn Jurayj has named them as, Jahannum (hell), as the top most, then Laza (raging flame), Al-Hutamah (the Crusher), Al-Sa`ir (the blazing flame), Al-Saqar (hell-fire), Al-Jahim (the blazing fire), and Al-Haawiyyah, which is the bottom most. Abu Jahl is in Al-Jahim (Ibn Jarir). A similar statement has come down from Ibn ‘Abbas also, but, his ordering is different, and he did not mention Abu Jahl (Ibn Kathir). The bottom most Jahim is the hottest one (Qurtubi); and Jahannum is a common name, applicable to anyone of them, as well as to all (Uthmani).

Some other commentators have said that the reference is to seven doors of Jahannum (Thanwi and others).

43. That is, every one of the unbelievers will be assigned to a Hell in accordance with his deeds (Ibn Jarir from Qatadah). The Prophet (saws) said in a hadith of Muslim: “Some will have the Fire up to their ankles, others will have it up to their waist, and yet others will have it up to their collar bone: each according to his deeds.” Then the Prophet recited this verse, “For each of the gates is a class assigned.” (Ibn Kathir)

[45] Surely, the godfearing shall be amidst gardens44 and spring.


44. Imam Razi points out that everyone in Paradise will get four gardens (in the least) as recorded in Surah Al-Rahman where it is said (verse 46), “And for him who feared his Lord, there will be two gardens”, and (verse 62), “And, besides them, two more gardens.” And so will be the springs that everyone will have, at least four: of wine, milk, honey and water.

[46] ‘Enter here in peace, secure.’

[47] We shall remove any rancor that is there in their breasts:45 (like) brothers, on couches46 facing each other.


45. Abu Sa`id al-Khudri reports that the Prophet (saws) said, “After the believers have crossed over the Fire, they will be held on a bridge between Heaven and Hell and left to deal with retaliation for wrongs committed against each other in the world. Thus cleansed, and past sense of injury obliterated, they will be allowed entry into Paradise. And,” the Prophet added, “one of you will find it easier to locate his place in Paradise than he does in this world” (Ibn Jarir). The earlier part of the hadith is in Bukhari (H. Ibrhim).

And `Ali is widely reported as saying to Talha’s son, “I and Talha will be the first to whom this verse will be applied” (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Razi and others). [Talha had sided with `A’isha (ra) against Ali during the Jamal battle: Au.]. According to another report once when Talha’s killer went to see ‘Ali, he kept him waiting for a long time, avoiding to see him. But the man persisted. Finally, when he was allowed in, ‘Ali told him, “I and Talha hope to be of those about whom Allah said, “We shall remove any rancor that is there in their breasts: (like) brothers, on couches facing each other” (Ibn Kathir).

46. One opinion is that the word “sarir” is derived from a couch that has been designed as a seat of joy. Hence, majlis al-surur (an assembly for pleasantries). – Razi

[48] No fatigue shall touch them there, nor shall they ever be expelled from there.

[49] And declare unto My slaves that I am the All-forgiving, the all-Compassionate.47


47. The implication hidden in the word, “My slaves” is that whoever acknowledged His Lordship, shall have His forgiveness and Compassion, and whoever denied will receive chastisement. (Razi)

[50] And that My chastisement is a painful chastisement.48


48. That is, ‘Let him, who persist in sins and does not repent, know that My punishment is very severe indeed: of a kind that cannot be compared to anything.’ (Ibn Jarir)

Muslim has a hadith which runs as follows: the Prophet (saws) said, “If a believer knew what Allah has in store of punishments, he will never hope to obtain His Paradise. And, if an unbeliever knew what Allah has in store of mercy, no one would ever lose hope of His mercy” (Qurtubi). And, ‘Ata’ has said that by implication the Prophet is being told that he should let his Ummah’s individuals to remain on the middle path of hope and fear (Ruh). However, Thanwi adds, if there is an excess of hope, out of love of Allah, and does not lead to weakness in deeds, then there is no harm in it (slightly modified).

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