Translation & Commentary of Verses from Surah 27, Al-Naml [20-25]

[20] As for those they invoke besides Allah (swt), they do not create anything. In fact, they themselves are created.

[21] Dead. Not alive;27 and know not when they will be resurrected.


27. Those to whom the people devote themselves are either lifeless idols carved from wood, mud or stone, in short, inanimate objects, or saints and religious figures who are also dead, long reduced to dust. What is the point in worshiping either? (Shabbir, Mawdudi)

[22] Your God is one God. As for those who do not believe in the Hereafter, their hearts are in refusal,28 and they wax proud.29


28. That is, their hearts are committed to refusal of Allah (swt), His Oneness, His bounties, life after death, and of the fact that worship is due to Him alone. (Ibn Jarir)

29. Alusi writes that every failure of the people can be concealed, but not arrogance. The arrogant can be exposed, to which Thanwi adds that, arrogance is the root cause of disbelief. It is interesting to note that Prince Charles, the British queen’s son, has said in a recent statement that “arrogance is the root cause of the insurmountable moral, social and ecological problems that the Western peoples face.” But, is there anyone ready to listen any better than the Quraysh did?

Majid quotes: “‘The monotheistic idea,’ says Palmer, ‘was not new to the Arabs but it was distasteful, and particularly so to the Quraish, whose supremacy over the other tribes, and whose worldly prosperity arose from the fact that they were the hereditary guardians of the national collection of idols kept in the sanctuary at Mecca.’ And the cry of Islam, therefore, naturally ‘sounded like a revolutionary watch word, a radical-party cry, which the conservative Meccans could not afford to despise and which they combated very energetically’ (Palmer, The Qur’an, Intro. p. xIix).”

[23] There is no doubt about it that Allah (swt) knows what they conceal and what they reveal.30 Surely, He does not approve of those who wax proud.31


30. That is, you might cleverly conceal your pride and arrogance with the help of outward humility. But Allah (swt) sees beyond the smoke screen (Au.).

31. It is reported of Hasan b. ‘Ali that he would sit in the company of the poor and the humble and say, “Allah (swt) does not approve of those who wax proud.” (Ibn Jarir)

[24] When they are asked, ‘What has your Lord sent down?’ they answer, ‘Tales of the Ancients!’32


32. This is the answer Quraysh leaders gave to the pilgrims and visitors to Makkah, when they wished to know their opinion about the Qur’an. (Kashshaf)

Sayyid writes: “Those of the pagans who waxed proud, whose hearts were filled with refusal and rejection, did not think it necessary that when asked by their compatriots, ‘What has your Lord revealed?’ they should reply in a most natural manner. They could, in reply, recite a few verses that they knew, or quote their substance, and honestly tell the inquirer what the content of the message was, whether they believed in it or not. But an honest response was not in their nature. So they said, ‘Tales of the ancients.’ And tales of the ancients are filled with myths, fantasies and superstitions. So, that’s how they described a Qur’an which cures sick hearts, deals with life’s problems, people’s behavior, matters pertaining to social interactions with reference to human condition in the past, present and the future!”

[25] So that they may bear, on the Day of Judgment, their own burdens in full, as well as some of the burdens of those they misled33 without knowledge.34 Lo! Evil is that which they shall bear.35


33. A report from the Prophet (preserved by Abu Da’ud, Ibn Majah and Musnad Ahmad: H. B. Ibrahim) helps us understand this verse, “Whoever invited to a righteous thing will have the rewards equal to the rewards of those who followed him, without their rewards being reduced. And whoever invited to an error will bear the sins of all those who followed him, without their burdens being lessened.” (Ibn Jarir, Razi, Ibn Kathir)

That is because it was binding upon everyone to make his own inquiry about the truth of the matter and reach his own conclusions, instead of blindly following other people’s opinions. (Zamakhshari)

34. A possibility exists that the term “without knowledge” is the attribute of those who are led to error: the blind followers. It is their ignorance that makes them vulnerable. (Kashshaf, Alusi)

35. For an illustration of how the burdens would be borne on the Judgment Day, see Al-An`am, Note 50, of this work.

(To be continued)

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