Section 1: Qur’an, a Guidance and Mercy for the Righteous
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
تِلْكَ ءَايَاتُ الْكِتَابِ الْحَكِيمِ
هُدًي وَرَحْمَةً لّـِلْمُحْسِنِينَ
الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاَةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُم بِالأَخِرَةِ هُمْ يُوقِنُونَ
1. “Alif, ‘A’, Lam, ‘L’, Mim ‘M’.”
2. “These are the verses of the Book of Wisdom.”
3. “A guidance and a mercy for the righteous ones,”
4. “Those who establish prayer and pay the poor-rate and they are certain of the Hereafter.”
Twenty nine Suras of the Qur’an begin with abbreviated letters in twenty four of which the greatness of the Qur’an has been stated after those letters which denote that this Qur’an has been compiled out of these very letters that are before you, but none of you can bring the like of it. It contains such a high and great content that practicing it may totally change the man’s fate.
Most of writers have not find their books empty of deficiency and, therefore, have apologized to the readers for those deficiencies and faults and they do accept the new suggestions and proper critics, but it is only Allah who, concerning His Book, explicitly says:
Therefore, next to the abbreviated letters, it says:
The word /tilka/ in Arabic is used for a distanced thing and, as it has repeatedly been said, this application is specially metonymy and refers to the greatness and importance of these verses, as if they were in high skies and in a very far point.
The Arabic word /kitab/ (Book) here being qualified by the Qur’anic term /hakim/ (wisdom) is either for the firmness of its content, because by no means falsehood penetrates in it, and it is aloof of any superstition, and it says naught but the Truth, and it does not invite save to the Truth. It is exactly opposite to /lahwul hadiθ/ (idle talk) which will be dealt with in later verses.
Or it is in the sense that this Qur’an is like a wise learned man who, in his silence, usually speaks with thousand different tongues, instructs others, admonishes, encourages, warns, tells instructive stories and, shortly speaking, possesses wisdom and statement with complete meaning.
This introductory meaning has a direct relation with the words of Luqman, the wise, which are referred to in this Surah.
Of course, there is no problem that both of the meanings of /hikmat/ are meant in the above verse.
The next verse states the ultimate aim of the descent of the Qur’an by saying:
‘Guidance’ is, in fact, an early preparation for Allah’s mercy, because, at first an alert man finds the fact under the light of the Qur’an and believes in it and then he uses it in his actions and after that he will be involved in the endless Divine bounties and His All-Embracing Mercy.
It is noteworthy that here the Holy Qur’an is counted as the source of guidance and mercy for the righteous and at the beginning of Surah An-Naml, No. 27, verse 2, the Qur’an implies it is the source of guidance and glad tidings for the believers:
and at the beginning of Surah Al-Baqarah, No. 2 verse 2, it qualifies the Qur’an as:
This very difference of statements may be for the sake that without piety and righteousness the soul of submission and accepting the facts will not become active in man and naturally there will not be any guidance for him.
Next to this stage, i.e. the stage of accepting the truth, there comes forth the stage of being faithful in which, besides ‘guidance’, the glad tidings to Divine bounties will also exist.
And when we pass the stages of piety and faith, we reach the stage of righteous deed where the mercy of Allah will be added.
Thus, the above mentioned verse reiterates three stages of development of the servants of Allah one after another: the stage of accepting the truth, the stage of having faith, and the stage of righteous action, and in these three stages the Qur’an is sequentially the source of: “guidance”, “glad tidings”, and “mercy”. / (Be careful)
The next holy verse qualifies the righteous ones with three qualifications. It says:
Their link with Allah is through prayer, with the servants of Allah by means of paying poor-rate, and their certainty to the court of Judgment in Hereafter is a powerful motive for avoiding from sin and for fulfilling the duties.
أُوْلَئِكَ عَلَي هُدي مِن رَبّـِهِمْ وَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
5. “These are on (true) guidance from their Lord, and they are the ones who are successful.”
The Divine guidance is bestowed on the righteous ones, because guidance relates to the dignity of Lordship. Of course, felicity belongs to those who establish prayer, give poor-rate, and are certain of the Hereafter.
However, the Qur’an explains the end of the righteous as follows:
The first sentence of the verse, from one side, shows that their guidance has been guaranteed from the side of their Lord and, from other side, the application of the word /‘ala/ (on) in this verse is an evidence for this fact that as if guidance were for them as a calm and level mount on which they are riding and have mastered it.
By this explanation, the difference between this guidance and the guidance mentioned at the beginning of the Surah is made clear, because the first guidance is the very preparation of accepting the truth, and this guidance is the program of reaching the destination.
By the way, the Qur’anic sentence:
which, according to the Arabic literature is a reference for its restriction, shows that the only way of felicity is this way which is the way of the good doers, the way of those who are in relation with Allah and the servants of Allah, and the way of those who have a perfect faith in both Origin and Resurrection.
At the end, it is understood from this verse that felicity is gained by the success and guidance of Allah (s.w.t.) which is, of course, given to man because of his effort and endeavour, too, as, in another occurrence, the Qur’an says:
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُواً أُوْلَئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُهِينٌ
6. “And there are, among men, those who purchase idle talk to lead (others) astray from the way of Allah without knowledge, and to take it in mockery; for these shall be a disgracing chastisement.”
To invest capital for cultural attack and struggling against the truth surely has a long and vast precedent. Whatever exists opposite to wisdom is idle and it is a hinder for reaching to perfection.
Some of the commentators have said that the verses under discussion are revealed about ‘Nadr-ibn-i-Harith’. He was a merchant who used to travel to Iran and sometimes it happened that he told the Iranian stories for the members of Quraysh.
“If Muhammad (S) reiterates the story life of ‘Ad and Thamud, I reiterate the stories of Rustam and ’Isfandiyar, the news of Kasra and the kings of non-Arab.”
Thus, people used to gather around him and they abandoned listening to the recitation of the Qur’an.
Some other commentators have said that these verses of the Qur’an have been sent down about a man who had bought a maid-servant who could sing songs. All days and nights she sang for him and caused him to neglect the remembrance of Allah.
After mentioning this occasion of revelation, the Late Tabarsi says:
“The tradition which has been narrated from the holy Prophet (S) in this regard confirms the above occasion of revelation, because he (S) said:
‘Teaching music to maid-servant singers is unlawful, and bargaining them as well as Profit gained from it is unlawful, too. The reference to this (matter) is mentioned in the Book of Allah (where it says):
However, the words in this holy verse are about a group of people who use their capitals for vanity and leading others astray by which they buy the wretchedness in this world and the next for themselves.
At first, it says:
Then, at the end of the verse, it adds:
Purchasing idle talks and falsehood is either in this manner that they really earn superstitious and false fables by giving money, like that that we studied in the story of Nadr-ibn-i-Harith.
Or it is in this way that for arranging some meetings of vanity, singing, and falsehood they buy some maid-servant singers, as was said in the occasion of revelation through the tradition of the Prophet (S).
Or they spend wealth in any way or form that by which they get this unlawful aim, i.e. the false and idle talks.
It is surprising that these blind hearted persons bought the false and idle matters for the dearest price, but they used to ignore the Divine verses and wisdom that Allah had given them without money.
This probability also exists that the word ‘purchase’ has an ironical meaning and its purpose is any kind of struggle and effort for reaching this aim.
The Arabic phrase /lahwul hadiθ/ (idle talk) has such a vast meaning that envelops any kind of talks or amusing musical songs which drive man into idleness or aberration, whether they are from the sort of lascivious music, sounds, and songs, or the words that, not by the way of tune, but by means of its content drive man towards vanity and mischief; or by means of both of them; like love poetry and songs of the ordinary singers that both their content and tune are perverse; or like the superstitious stories and fables which cause people to deviate from the Divine straight way cause their deviation.
Or the ridiculous statements which are said with the purpose of dismissing the truth and weakening the basis of Faith, like what is narrated from Abujahl and his companions who, addressing the Quraysh, said to them:
“Do you want me to feed you from Zaqqun by which Muhammad threatens us?”
Then he ordered his men to provide some butter and date and said that it was that very ‘Zaqqum’; and thus he used to mock the noble verses of Allah.
However, the Qur’anic phrase: /lahw-ul-hadiθ/ (idle talk) has a vast meaning which encompasses all of these senses and the like of them, and if some particular Islamic narrations, or the words of the commentators have emphasized on one of them, it does never indicate to the restriction of the concept of the verse.
The auspicious traditions narrated by the way of Ahlul Bayt (as) contain some points which refer to the same vastness of the concept of this term, too.
Among them is a tradition from Imam Sadiq (as) in which he has said:
“The session of /qina’/ is a session that Allah does not look at its people (and He does not bestow His mercy on them) and this is (the extension of what Allah, the Almighty and Glorious, has said:
The application of the Qur’anic phrase /lahwul-hadiθ/ (idle talk) instead of saying /’al-hadiθ-ul-lahw/ may refer to this fact that their main aim is that very vanity, and ‘talk’ is a means for reaching it.
The Qur’anic sentence “to lead (others) astray from the way of Allah” also has a vast meaning which involves both ‘to lead mentally astray, such that was said in the story of Nadr-ibn-i-Harith and Abujahl, and to lead ethically astray, such that the above traditions about ‘singing songs’ indicate.
The Qur’anic phrase /biqayr-i-‘ilm/ (without knowledge) points to the fact that this misleading and deviated group do not believe even in their own false school either, but they follow only ignorance and blind imitations. They are some ignorant persons who cause others to be afflicted with their ignorance, too.
This meaning is in the case that we count the phrase ‘without knowledge’ as a quality for ‘those who lead others astray’, while some other commentators have also said that it may be a quality for ‘those who are led astray’, that is, they unknowingly lead some ignorant persons to deviation and falsehood.
These unaware people go further than this, too; i.e., they do not suffice to only the amusing and neglecting aspects of these issues, but they use their vain and idle talks as a means for mocking the verses of Allah, and this is the same thing that the Qur’an points to at the end of the above verse by saying:
The word ‘chastisement’, here is qualified by the word ‘disgracing’ for the reason that punishment should be equivalent with the crime. They disgraced the Divine verses, and then Allah has also appointed a chastisement for them which is both painful and disgracing.
At the end, Imam Baqir (as) said:
“Profane singing is among the sins for which Allah has promised the (Hell) Fire”,
and then he recited the verse under discussion. Therefore, profane singing is one of the great sins, since a great sin is the sin for which punishment has been promised in the Qur’an.
وَإِذَا تُتْلَي عَلَيْهِ ءَايَاتُنَا وَلَّي مُسْتَكْبِراً كَاَن لَّمْ يَسْمَعْهَا كَأَنَّ فِي اُذُنَيْهِ وَقْراً فَبَشّـِرْهُ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ
7. “And when Our signs are recited to him, he turns back proudly as if he had not heard them, as though in his ears were a heaviness, therefore give him the tidings of a painful chastisement.”
Listening to the idle talks removes the man’s receptivity for accepting the truth.
The Arabic word /waqr/ means: ‘heavy load, burden’; the persons with personality and reverence are called ‘venerate’, too.
This holy verse points to the reaction of this group before the verses of Allah. In fact, it compares it with their reaction before /lahwul-hadiθ/ (idle talk), and says:
The application of the Arabic phrase: /walla mustakbiran/ (he turns back proudly) refers to this point that his turning back is not only for bothering his worldly profits and desires, but it is beyond this and the motive of pride and haughtiness before Allah and the verses of Allah, which is the greatest sin, exists in his deeds, too.
It is interesting that it says:
and he passes by it completely heedlessly. Then the Qur’an implicitly adds that not only he does not hear these verses but also as if he were deaf and heard no word. The punishment of such persons is also appropriate to their deeds. In the same manner that their deed was painful for the people of truth, Allah has appointed their punishment painful, too, and gives them a painful chastisement.
It is also necessary to note this point that the application of the Arabic word /baššir/ (give glad tidings), concerning the Divine painful chastisement, agrees with the action of the proud ones who used to mock the verses of Allah and rendered Zaqqum of the Hell into butter and date.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتُ النَّعِيمِ
خَالِدِينَ فَيهَا وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقّاً وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
8. “Verily those who believe and do righteous deeds, for them are the gardens of Bliss,”
9. “To dwell therein; the promise of Allah is true, and He is the Mighty, the Wise.”
Concerning the previous verses where it was said that with their vain words people used to try to lead astray the followers of the truth. By having a proud mood and by means of not listening to the heavenly verses, they used to mock the believers.
In this verse, Allah consoles on the believers by giving the glad tidings of the bounties of Paradise and that Paradise is particular to the believers who do righteousness.
Therefore, the disgrace and mockery of the proud ones compensate with the promises and glad tidings of Allah to the true believers. Another thing is that the pride and aversion of the opponents is temporary, while the reward of the believers is eternal.
Yes, contrast to the faithless tyrants and blind-hearted misleaders, who neither see the affects of Allah in the world nor hearken to the words of the messengers of Allah, the believers by means of vigilant intellect, seeing eyes, and hearing ears that Allah has bestowed on them, believe in the Divine verses and use them in their righteous deeds both.
How interesting is this that those people had ‘painful chastisement’ and these believers have ‘the gardens of Bliss’.
The verse says:
This is more important than this is that these gardens of bliss are eternal for them and they will abide in them for ever. And this is the certain promise of Allah, a true promise.
The verse says:
Allah never gives a false promise, nor is He impotent to fulfil His promise, because, as the holy verse continues, it clearly says:
This point is also noteworthy that, concerning their pride, the word ‘chastisement’ is mentioned in singular form, but concerning the believers who do righteous deeds, the word ‘gardens’ is mentioned which is in plural form, because the mercy of Allah always precedes His Wrath (punishment).
The emphasis on eternity and Divine promise are also emphasis on the increase of mercy comparing punishment. The Qur’anic term /na‘im/ is derived from /ni‘mat/ and has a vast scope of meaning which envelops all kinds of material and spiritual bounties, even the bounties that are not perceptible for us, the prisoners of the prison of the body in this world.
Raqib in Mufradat says:
“Bliss means ‘plenty of bounty.”
خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ بِغَيْرِ عَمَدٍ تَرَوْنَهَا وَأَلْقَي فِي الأَرْضِ رَوَاسِيَ أَن تَمِيدَ بِكُمْ وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَآبَّةٍ وَأَنزَلْنَا مِنَ السَّمَآءِ مَآءً فَأَنْبَتْنَا فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ زَوْجٍ كَرِيمٍ
10. “He created the heavens without any pillars as you see them; and He cast mountains on the earth lest it shakes with you, and He spread in it of every kinds of animals; and We sent down water from the heaven, then We caused to grow therein (vegetables) of every noble kind in pairs.”
In this verse a few examples of the miracles of the Qur’an, belonging to the time when man could not even imagine them, are clearly pointed out. One of them is the unseen pillars of the settlement of the planets and stars in the sky, i.e., the gravity power and centrifugal force, the two forces that are the secret of the rotation of the globes in their orbits.
Another miracle is pointing to the settlement of the mountains for the protection of the earth from being shaken and, also, pointing to the law of conjugality in plants; so, the verse says:
The Arabic word /‘amad/ which is the plural form of /‘amud/ in the sense of ‘pillar’, and qualifying it with the term /taraunaha/ (as you see them) is an evidence that heavens have not some visible pillars.
The concept of this sentence is that the heavens do have some pillars but they are not visible. As it was formerly pointed out in the commentary of Surah Ar-Ra‘d, this meaning is a smooth indication to the law of polarization, which like a very strong pillar, but not visible, practically holds the heavenly planets in their proper places.
This meaning has been stipulated in the tradition that Hussayn-ibn-Khalid has narrated from Imam Ali-ibn-Musar-Rida (as), who said:
“Glory be to Allah, did Allah (s.w.t.) not say:
The addressee answered positively and he (as) said:
“There are some pillars but you do not see them.”
However, the above mentioned holy sentence is one of the scientific miracles of the Qur’an the explanation of which has been stated in Surah Ar-Ra‘d, No. 13, verse 2.
Then the Qur’an refers to the philosophy of the creation of mountains.
This verse, some like of which are found in the Qur’an, shows that mountains are some means of stability for the earth. This fact, however, has also been scientifically proved today that, in numerous respects, mountains are the cause of stability of the earth:
In this respect that their roots are jointed together and, like strong armour, protect the earth against the pressures originated from the inner heat of it. If they were not, the destructive earth-quakes were so abundant that they might not let man live on it.
And in this respect that this strong cover of the earth resists against the gravity of the moon and that of the sun in a way that if the mountains did not exist a great tide could come into being over the ground that was not unlike the flow and ebb of the seas and could make life impossible for man.
And in this respect that it breaks the pressure of storms and decreases the contact of the surrounding air of the earth, at the time of its rotation, to the least, and if they did not exist the surface of the earth, like dry salt deserts, would be the field of fatal winds and destructive storms.
Now that the bounty of calmness of the heavens by their unseen pillars and the calmness of the earth by mountains have been provided, there come the turn of the creation of living creatures and their calmness that they can step in the field of life in a calm environment.
The verse continues saying:
The application of the Qur’anic phrase /minkullidabbah/ is an indication to the variety of life and living in different features among which are the very small living creatures through our environment that can not be ordinarily seen with normal eyes, to the gigantic animals whose greatness causes man to feel horror.
Also, each group of moving creatures are in different colours and in completely various features. Those animals that live by water and those that live by air, birds, creepers, kinds of insects and the like of them have different worlds for themselves and they reflect the subject of life in hundreds of thousand forms.
But it is evident that these moving creatures need both water and food, then through next sentences the Qur’an points to these two things.
Thus, the verse refers to the main means of the life of all creatures specially man, which is water and plants. There is a table stretched all over the earth with various foods. That, from the point of creation, each of them is a proof upon the greatness and power of Allah.
It is noteworthy that in stating the creation of the first three items, the Arabic verbs are said in the form of third person singular, but when it speaks about the descent of rain and the growth of vegetables, the Arabic verbs are stated in plural form, and it says:
This itself is one of the arts of eloquence that at the time of mentioning different affairs the meanings are stated in two or more various forms so that the listener feels no fatigue. Moreover, this style of statement shows that the descent of rain and the growth of plants have been particularly regarded.
This verse points to the conjugality in the world of plants once more, and this is also one of scientific miracles of the Qur’an, because at that time the conjugality (the existence of male and female) in the world of plants had not been vastly proved, and the Qur’an revealed it.1
By the way, the Arabic word /karim/ (noble) used as an attribute for the pairs of plants, points to the kinds of merits that exist in them.
هَذَا خَلْقُ اللَّهِ فَاَرُونِي مَاذَا خَلَقَ الَّذِينَ مِن دُونِهِ بَلِ الظَّالِمُونَ فِي ضَلاَلٍ مُّبِينٍ
11. “This is Allah’s creation, but show me* what those besides Him have created. Nay! The unjust are in a manifest straying.”
One of the ways of knowing of Allah is comparing His power and others’ power. Those who go to other than Allah are both misguided and unjust.
However, next to mentioning the greatness of Allah in the world of creation and some different features of creation, the Qur’an addresses the polytheists and calls them to account. It says:
It is certain that they could not claim that any of the creatures of this world was created by idols. Therefore, they confessed the Unity of Creative power, then, how could they justify polytheism in worship, when ‘Unity of Creative power’ is an evidence for Unity of Divinity and Oneness of the administrator of the world, which in turn is the evidence for Unity of worship?
However, at the end of the verse the Qur’an considers their action as injustice and straying when it says:
We know that ‘injustice’ has a vast scope of meaning which involves putting every thing in other than its place. And since the polytheists considered worship, and sometimes the administration of the world, related to idols, they committed the greatest injustice and error.
By the way, the above interpretation is a tender hint to the relation of ‘injustice’ and ‘error’, because when man does not recognize the position of concrete beings in the world, or he recognizes them but does not observe them and does not see every thing in its proper place, this injustice certainly will cause his error and aberration.
- 1. Some more explanation about this subject can be studied in the commentary of Surah Ash-Shu‘ara’, No. 26, verse 7