Translation & Commentary of Verses from Surah al-Rum (No. 30) [6 – 19]

[6] Allah’s Promise; 9 Allah fails not His promise; but most people do not know.


9. Yusuf Ali comments: “The promise refers to the Decision of all things by the Command of Allah (swt), Who will remove all troubles and difficulties from the path of His righteous Believers, and help them to rejoice over the success of their righteous Cause. This refers to all times and all situations. The righteous should not despair in their darkest moments, for Allah’s help will come. Ordinarily men are puffed up if they score a seeming temporary success against the righteous, and do not realize that Allah’s Will can never be thwarted.‏”

[7] They know but the apparent of the worldly life; but of the Hereafter, they are unmindful.10


10. That is, (and if we summarize what the earliest scholars had to say: Au.), “They know all about commerce, industry, agriculture, and how to build the land, but little else.” (Ibn Jarir)

 Zahir wa Batin

The ayah implies that the world consists of the apparent and the non-apparent. The apparent is known and understood by all; but not the non-apparent. Its non-apparent aspect is that which leads to the Hereafter; whose blessings are to be earned through righteous living. Also, the nakira form employed for “zahir” implies that there are many aspects of the apparent, of which the unbelievers know only one: the most obvious one (i.e. the profane one: Au.) – Zamakhshari

Imam Razi writes that the outward aspect of the world is its glitter and pleasantness, while the inner aspect is the harm and fatigue that it brings. The unbelievers understand only its outward visible nature, but have no idea of its concealed ephemeral character.

Hasan al-Busri has said, “By Allah, one of them knows this world so well that he can tell you the weight of a coin by balancing it on his nail, but he cannot do his Prayers well!” (Zamakhshari and Qurtubi in part, IbnKathir in full)

Alusi recalls Kirmani’s simple definition: The apparent(zahir) is that which is visible to the eye at one glance, while the inapparent(batin) is that reality which has to be arrived at through intellectual reasoning.

In the words of contemporary writers, man has in the modern age learnt to fly in the air like birds, swim in water like fishes, but has not learnt how to walk on the earth. (Au.)

[8] Have they not reflected within themselves?11 Allah created not the heavens and the earth, and what is between them, but in truth and to a named term.12 But surely, most of the people are disbelievers in the encounter with their Lord.


11. After commenting upon man’s refusal to look beyond the apparent, the ayah now invites him to reflect over the created world, which can lead to some understanding of the non-apparent (batin). – Au.

12. That is, the whole as well as its parts are created in Truth, to serve its purpose and conclude to a predetermined end. E.g., every plant on this planet has a predetermined life-term, while there is no difference in opinion that this earth (unless destroyed earlier) has about four billion years left to it before the sun enlarges in size to take it within its radius to burn down everything to ashes.

To consider the non-living, at the macrocosm level, the sun will last another five billion years while on the microcosm, atoms are known to have a rate of decay that will lead to its final annihilation. If the others are not known to be affected by decay, it could perhaps be because their life runs into time incomprehensible to the humans.(Au.)

[9] Have they not travelled in the land to see how was the end of those before them? They were stronger than them in might; they cultivated the land13 and populated it more than they themselves have populated it; and their Messengers came to them with clear evidences. Thereupon, Allah was not such as to wrong them but rather they were wronging themselves.14


13. The translation reflects the understanding of most scholars. However, Ibn `Abbas – as in IbnJarir – interpreted the textual:as meaning, “they owned the lands and tilted them.”

14. “Let not any generation think that it is superior to all that went before it. We may be ‘heirs to all the ages, in the foremost files of times.’ That is no reason for arrogance, but on the contrary adds to our responsibility. When we realize what flourishing cities and kingdoms existed before, how they flourished in numbers and prosperity, what chances they were given, and how they perished when they disobeyed the law of Allah (swt), we shall feel a sense of humility, and see that it was rebellion and self-will that brought them down. Allah (swt) was more than just. He was also merciful. But they brought about their own ruin.” (Yusuf Ali)

[10] Then the end of those who did evil was evil,15 for that they cried lies to the signs of Allah and used to ridicule them.16

[11] Allah begins the creation and then repeats it; then to Him you shall be returned.


15. The original su’a is the feminine of aswa’, just as “husna” is that of “ahsan.”(Zamakhshari and others)

16. The translation of the verse reflects the understanding of Ibn `Abbas and Qatadah, as in Ibn Jarir (Au.). The report is in Ibn Abi Hatim as narrated by Dahhak b. Muzahim (Ibn Kathir).

[12] And, the Day the Hour is called the criminals will be struck with despair.17


17. Since the ta`ulu of the original has been explained as meaning “incline” by Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Suddi and others, another rendition of the phrase could be: “in order that you might not incline (toward one of them to the neglect of others)” – Ibn Jarir.

[13] No intercessors shall they have from among those they associated (in Allah’s Divinity)18 but rather, they shall disown their associates.19


18. The general interpretation is that in the pre-Islamic times the dower was taken away by the father or the trustee to the denial of the bride herself. Allah forbid this and ordered that the women (and not others) be given their dower (Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, IbnKathir).

Majid quotes: “Sidaq of a wife, ‘a dowry or nuptial gift’ is, in Islamic law, either a sum of money or other form of property to which the wife becomes entitled by marriage. ‘It is not a consideration proceeding from the husband for the contract of marriage, but it is an obligation imposed by the law on the husband as a mark of respect for the wife as is evident from the fact that the non-specification of dower at the time of marriage does not affect the validity of marriage.’ (Abdur Rahim) And, …Sidaq in Islam is not to be confused with the price of the bride or the purchase-money so customary in the ancient world… ”Notwithstanding the prohibition in the Laws of Manu, marriage by purchase is found to this day even among the high castes, and is frequently practiced among the Sudras” (Westermark, Short History of Marriage, pp. 166-169).

19. The word nihlah has been variously interpreted. One meaning is in the translation. In addition, it has been explained as an “obligation” by authorities such as `A’isha, Qatadah, Ibn Jubayr, as well as “dower” by Ibn `Abbas (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Shawkani).

Alusi writes: The term nihlah literally means a gift. The dower given to the wife cannot be said to be the price of pleasure that a man draws from sexual union with her, for she has an equal share of it, if not more. So nothing is due to her that way. In fact, she is, in addition, provided for by the husband. Therefore, sidaq can only be a gift, hence the use of the term nihlah, although our Shar` has made such gift-offering obligatory and a condition of marriage: and hence the other interpretations. Further, (as pointed out by other commentators), the words “Hand over to the women their dower” hold the direct implication that sidaq is the woman’s own property over which the parents have no right whatsoever, as against the general concept and practice in some parts of the Arab world today.

Asad writes: “The expression nihlah signifies the giving of something willingly, of one’s own accord, without expecting a return for it (Zamakhshari). It is to be noted that the amount of the marriage-portion, or dower, which the bridegroom has to give to the bride has not been circumscribed by the Law: it depends entirely on the agreement of the two parties, and may consist of anything, even a mere token. According to several authentic Traditions recorded in most of the compilations, the Prophet made it clear that ”even an iron ring” may be enough if the bride is willing to accept it, or, short of that, even “the imparting of thy bride of a verse of the Qur’an.”

That said, the Qur’an has not set an upper limit either. It says, in this same surah, verse 20: “… even if you have given them a heap (of gold or property), do not take any of it back (at the time of separation)” – Au.

[14] And, the day the Hour is called, that Day they shall split (into groups).20


20. Into groups of believers and unbelievers, never to be brought together again (Tabari, IbnKathir from Qatadah).

[15] Then, as for those who believed and acted righteously, they shall be made happy21 in a green meadow.22


21. Mujahid and Qatadah said that the meaning is, “They will enjoy a life of luxury.” Another meaning of “yuhbarun” as forwarded by Yahya ibn abi Kathir is, “They will be offered songs and music” (Ibn Jarir, Kashshaf, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

On the topic of songs and music in Paradise, Ibn al-Qayyim reproduces in his Bada’e` a hadith from Abu Nu`aym’sSifatulJannah. It is on the authority of Ibn `Umar who narrates the Prophet (saws) as having said:

“Spouses of the inhabitants of Paradise will sing for them in voices so sweet as never heard by anyone before. Of what they would sing: ‘We are the good ones. We are spouses of an honored folks. They see with eyes like those of cows.’

And of what they would sing: ‘We are eternally abiding, not to die. We are the peace givers, so let no one be apprehensive. We are stayers who will not move away.’” (Haythami treated the report as trustworthy Au.).

Another report comes through Anas b. Anas. The Prophet said,“Wide-eyed Houries will sing (in Paradise), ‘We are the beautiful Houries who have been created for honorable spouses.’”

This hadith is also from Abu Nu`aym’sSifa and declared Sahih by Albani: Yusri.

He has several other reports but they are weak.

Nonetheless, IbnAbiDunya and Diya’ al-Maqdisi have in their Sifatu al-Jannah a statement from Ibn `Abbas, which Suyuti thought was trustworthy. He said, “There is a tree in Paradise of such large trunk that a traveler could cover the tree’s shade in one hundred years. The inhabitants of Paradise will come out, and chat under its shade. One of them will remember worldly music. Allah will send a wind from Paradise that will flutter the tree with every music played in the world” (Shawkani).

22. The translation of “rawdah” is influenced by Raghib’s note (Au.).

[16] But, as for those who disbelieved and cried lies to Our signs, and to the encounter of the Hereafter, they indeed shall be brought forth into the torment.23

[17] So glory to Allah when you do your evening and when you do your morning.


23. It is noteworthy that while right belief was coupled with righteous deeds for salvation, disbelief has not been made conditional to evil deeds. This is to indicate that disbelief in Allah is by itself a crime which deserves everlasting punishment, whether coupled with evil deeds or not (Mawdudi).

[18] His is the Praise in the heavens and the earth – and (glory to Him) at the sun’s decline,24 and when you do your noon.25


24. `Ashiyy is for the time between the sun’s decline until next morning (Raghib). Qurtubi however mentions that according to Jawhariyy`ashiyy is for the time between Maghrib and `Isha’.

25. Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, IbnZayd and others have said that the verse thus mentions four of the five daily Prayers: Maghrib(when you do your evening), Fajr (when you do your morning), `Asr (the sun’s decline), and Zuhr (when you do your noon).When Ibn `Abbas was asked whether five daily Prayers were mentioned in the Qur’an anywhere, he recited this verse and that of Surah Nur(no.58):And after the `Isha Prayer – three (times) of privacy for you.”

Mujahid however believed that the five-daily Prayers were in this present verse itself, explaining the textual tumsun as covering both the Maghrib as well as `Isha Prayers.(Tabari)

Ibn `Abbas reports the Prophet as having said, (in a trustworthy report found in Abu Da’ud and Tabarani: IbnKathir): “Whoever said these words at the morning (as in text above) will regain what he lost during his day, and whoever said them in the evening will regain what he lost during his night.” (Kashshaf, IbnKathir)

Imam Razi points out that the five daily Prayers done by a Muslim between sunset and sunrise, as well as at the early hours of the day and night – all in all seventeen raka`ah (cycles), for seventeen hours that he is awake – as if keep him in Prayers the whole of the time he is awake, to put him on par with the angels about whom Allah said (21: 20): “They glorify (Him) by night and day, and take no break.”

Shabbir draws our attention to the timing of the five daily Prayers in reference to the Sun, which has been revered by the pagans of all times and even worshipped as the greatest of gods. The first Prayer of the day is done before the Sun appears. (There are no Prayers until the Sun is in its glory, having risen up in the sky). Next Prayer is offered only after it begins to decline; the next after it begins to acquire paleness; the next after it has set; and the last after every trace of its light and shine has been lost. That is, all the prayers are offered at times when the sun has lost part or all of its glory (Au.).

[19] He brings out the living from the dead and brings out the dead from the living, 26 and He quickens the earth after its death – in the like manner you shall be brought out.


26. To most, the ayah is in material sense, (e.g., chicken from egg and egg from chicken), but Hasan al-Busri said that the meaning is, “Allah (swt) brings out a believer out of a non-believer, and a non-believer out of a believer.” (Ibn Jarir)

Although science is unable to define life, to the modern scientific mind, eggs are living matter and hence, a chicken out of egg is the emergence of the living from the living. But there are other examples of the living coming out of the dead. The best examples are viruses, viroids and prions. In their natural form, these three are mere chemical bonds, or to define precisely, a macromolecular package.

In its natural state, a virus is nothing but a particle of dust. There can be billions of them strewn around us. Ordinarily harmless, we breathe millions of them in an out without any harm. They contain within them a small strand of RNA or DNA. This is surrounded by a protein layer. The outer surface (the protein capsule) can be round, square or many sided (In fact, outwardly, they are beautiful to observe). The RNA or DNA encode anything from a few to hundreds of genes.

Once one of them can find a cell (human, animal or plant), whose surface matches its own, the protein covering of the virus binds with a particular surface component of the host cell. Soon, and through a few chemical reactions, it finds its way into the cell, and lo! the same dead dust particle, comes alive. It orders the host cell to make copies of its own kind which, when once filled, burst out of the cell and begin to invade other cells, dysfunctioning them, cell by cell. In a few hours they can spread to millions of cells of a body causing various illnesses.

Viriods are simpler than viruses in their construction. They are pure RNA without a protein coat. The RNA can be anything between 240 to 600 nucleotide length. A viroid works the same way as a virus does, invading a cell, and then taking over the cell machinery to produce more of itself. The effects of viroids on crops can be serious. A particular type of viroid disease called cadang-cadang has in the past devastated coconut palm groves in the Philippines. Others have affected other kinds of plants in USA.

A prion is much simpler than a viriod in that it lacks even a Nucleic acid chain – DNA or RNA. It is a mere block of protein. It enters into the brain of the victim and stays there quietly for years before springing to action. The best example is that of the CJD disease, which is caused by a prion that sits in the brain of cows. It can sit there dormant, for as long as ten years. And, since, it does nothing, it cannot be detected, nor an animal can be tested for its presence. But, one fine day, for no apparent reason, it becomes active, begins to produce more of itself, and damage the functioning of the brain (hence the common reference to it as “mad cow disease”). It is said that they strike those animals that are fed on other animals’ reprocessed body material; (perhaps nearest to being referred to as the Jallalah of the Islamic concept, which is declared unlawful by the Fuqaha: Jallalah is that cattle which feeds on the faeces of other animals).

The most amazing part – or not so amazing for Muslims who believe in Allah’s Planning – is that the prion protein is encoded by a gene within the host cell’s own chromosome. In other words, the body of an organism actually brings the disease upon itself by actively engaging in the production of its enemy, without any request by the latter. The self-inflicted disease is then transmitted to human beings. But, more strangely, attempts to transmit the disease caused by prions have failed. That is, a living body could not be induced to catch the disease through forced transmission. It seems it must do it on its own, without human intervention: what we can call as ‘by Allah’s will.’

At the moment we have these three examples of non-living coming to life by Allah’s command. No one knows how many more are there in the unknown (16: 8):“And He creates what you know not.

To be sure, we also have the dead molecules turning into living ones. This happens, (as Rashid Rida and Sayyid have discussed, though not at this point), during digestion when what has been cooked, and its characteristics of life are destroyed, it is again converted into living matter. To elaborate, the stomach breaks the food into molecules. These molecules are passed on through the blood stream to the cells of the body. There, they are either used as molecules, or further broken down into atoms, which are absorbed and brought into the life cycle. Obviously, atoms by themselves are not living matter, but, once within the cell, they are converted into such molecules as have the characteristics of the living matter, such as, the DNA which has the ability to replicate: an important characteristic of life, as understood by the scientists who deny the soul. (Au.)


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