Section 6: The Disbelievers Warned
قُلْ كَفَي بِاللَّهِ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكُمْ شَهِيداً يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالاَرْضِ وَالَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا بِالْبَاطِلِ وَكَفَرُوا بِاللَّهِ اُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ
52. “Say: ‘Allah is sufficient as a witness between me and you’. He knows what is in the heavens and the earth; and those who believe in the falsehood and disbelieve in Allah, these, they are the losers.”
This verse is a cause of solace for the Prophet of Islam (S) and as a threat for the obstinate pretext-seekers, since Allah (s.w.t.) is a witness upon what happens between the Prophet (S) and pagans, and He reckons everything.
So, this verse says:
It is obvious that the more aware the witness is the more valuable his testimony is.
That is why, by the next sentence, the verse adds:
Now, we are going to know how Allah has testified to the truthfulness of His prophet.
This witness may be a practical witness, for when Allah gives a great miracle, such as Qur’an, to His Prophet (S), He has signed the document of his legitimacy. Is it possible that Allah, the Wise, the Just, gives the Miracle to a liar (God forbid)? Therefore, giving such a miracle to the self of the Prophet (S) is the best way of Allah’s attestation to his prophecy.
In addition to the abovementioned practical witness, there has also been given some oral attestations in a lot of verses of the Qur’an; as Surah Ahzab, No. 33, verse 40 says:
And Surah Al-Fath, No. 48, verse 29 says:
Some commentators have said that the verse under discussion has been sent down in Medina in answer to some chiefs of the Jews, such as Ka‘b-ibn-’Ashraf, and his followers.
They told the Prophet (S):
“Who testifies that you are the messenger of Allah?”
The verse was sent down and said that Allah testifies to it.
By regarding to this statement, another commentary and explanation for the above verse can also be understood. It shows that the purpose of it is the testimony and witness of Allah mentioned in the former Divine Books of which the scholars of the People of the Book are well aware.
In the meanwhile, there is no contradiction between these three commentaries, and all of them may be found in the meaning of the verse.
At the end of the verse, as a warning, the Holy Qur’an says:
What a loss is greater than this that once one loses all the capitals of his self for nothing, the same as the polytheists did. They set their heart and spirit at the disposal of idols and spent their whole bodily powers, social facilities and personal potentialities in the way of propagation and putting in circulation the belief of idolatry and wiping the Name of Allah, while they obtained nothing save that they became losers.
The Holy Qur’an often refers to this great loss in its verses, and sometimes it shows this fact by the Arabic word /’axsar/ (more loser) and there is no loss greater than this.1
More important than this is that in a bargain, it happens that one loses his whole capital and he smashes up, but sometimes it goes further than this and a heavy debt remains for him, which is the worst kind of trade fallen; and polytheists are just in the same case. They sometimes cause the failure and aberration of others, too, and they form a chained failure.
وَيَسْتَعْجِلُونَكَ بِالْعَذَابِ وَلَوْلآ أَجَلٌ مُسَمًّي لَجَآءَهُمُ الْعَذَابُ وَلَيَأْتِيَنَّهُم بَغْتَةً وَهُمْ لاَ يَشْعُرُونَ
يَسْتَعْجِلُونَكَ بِالْعَذَابِ وَإِنَّ جَهَنَّمَ لَمُـحِيطَةٌ بِالْكَافِرِينَ
53. “And they demand of you to hasten the chastisement! And had not a term been appointed, the chastisement would certainly have come to them; but it shall certainly come upon them suddenly when they are not aware.”
54. “They demand of you to hasten the chastisement! And verily Hell encompasses the unbeliever.”
The disbelievers, who were threatened to divine punishment because of disbelief or mockery, or that they frequently asked their prophet for a sudden punishment, have been referred to in the Qur’an in several occurrences, and this haste of pagans has been criticized in all instances.
In the delay of Divine chastisement, of course, there are some bounties, including:
1- It is an opportunity for repentance.
2- There may come forth some righteous children from deluded fathers.
3- People are examined in religiousness and resistance, (perseverance).
However, the grace or wrath of Allah is wisely, accurate, and has order, so that it does not change with the haste of this one and that one. But the fall of man’s thought is so horrible that he agrees to be annihilated, but not to accept the truth.
In this holy verse, the third kind of their seeking pretext is pointed out. It implies that they hasten for the punishment and demand it from the Prophet (S) to fall swiftly.
The verse says:
They say if the punishment of Allah (s.w.t.) is right and encompasses the pagans, then why does it not come to them? In reply to their statement, the Qur’an delivers three answers.
At first, it says:
This appointed time is for the sake that the essential aim, i.e., vigilance, or the argument should be completed to them. Allah never makes haste in His Affairs when it is against His Wisdom.
The second is that those who say this statement, how much are they certain that every moment the Divine punishment may seize them?
The verse continues saying:
The proper time of coming punishment is, indeed, defined and appointed, but the expedience is in this that they should not be aware of it and it comes suddenly. If its time were known, the pagans and sinners would become rather bold and they might continue their infidelity and committing sins until the last moment, and when the last moment of the appointed time of punishment was approaching, they would return toward the truth.
The educational philosophy of these punishments requires that their time should be concealed in order that the fear and terror of them in all moments may become an impedimental factor.
By the way, it becomes clear from what was said that the purpose of the Qur’anic sentence: /wa hum layaš‘urun/ (when they are not aware) is not that they do not perceive the principle of the existence of punishment, else the philosophy of punishment would be vanished, but the purpose of it is that they do not discriminate the moment of its occurrence and its preliminaries.
In other words, the punishment suddenly, and like lightning, comes over them, attacking unawares.
It is well understood from the different verses of the holy Qur’an that this pretext seeking was not confined to the pagans of Mecca, but many other nations persisted on the hastening of punishment, too.
The third answer has been stated in the next verse, where the Qur’an says:
The worldly punishment may be postponed, but the punishment of Hereafter is one hundred percent certain.
It is so certain that the Qur’an mentions it as an existing thing at the present time, and says:
As the result of being polluted by infidelity and sin, they burn in the Hell which they themselves have provided for them i.e. the Hell of war and blood, the Hell of conflict and discord, the Hell of insecurity, the Hell of injustice and oppression, and the Hell of evil passions and ungovernable desires.
يَوْمَ يَغْشَاهُمُ الْعَذَابُ مِن فَوْقِهِمْ وَمِن تَحْتِ أَرْجُلِهِمْ وَيَقُولُ ذُوقُوا مَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
55. “On the Day when the chastisement shall cover them from above them, and from beneath their feet, and He shall say: ‘Taste now what you were doing’.”
The encompassing punishment of Hell is because of the continuation of our wrong deeds.
This verse says:
This verse may be an explanation for the punishment of Hell upon disbelievers on the Day of Hereafter, or it may be considered as an independent statement for their painful punishment which, as the result of their deeds, has surrounded them today, and tomorrow it will appear manifestly.
However, that the verse says:
but it does not mention other limbs and other sides, it is, in fact, because of the evidence of the subject and clarity of the discussion. Moreover, when the flames of Fire come from under their feet and are poured over their heads from above them, the Fire will envelop the entire of their body and it will be from all sides to cover them.
Principally, this kind of meaning is used in languages including Persian and Arabic that they say so and so, from head to feet is covered with, for example, the pollution of impurity, which means his whole entity is covered with sin.
Thus, keeping this explanation in mind, the question that some commentators have faced with saying that why the sides of above and below have been mentioned and the rest of four sides are not pointed out is removed.
The sentence that Allah says:
not only is a kind of psychological punishment for such persons, but also declares this fact that the divine punishment is nothing but the reflection of the man’s own deeds in the growth of Hereafter.
يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا إِنَّ أَرْضِي وَاسِعَةٌ فإِِيَّايَ فَاعْبُدُونِ
56. “O’ My servants who believe! Verily My earth is vast, therefore, Me alone should you worship!”
Many of the commentators believe that this verse has been sent down about the believers who were under such a so hard pressure of the pagans in Mecca that they were not able to perform their Islamic duties. So, they were commanded to migrate from that region.
Since the words in previous holy verses were about the different reactions of polytheists against Islam and Muslims, now the verses under discussion refer to the situation of the early Muslims themselves and their duty and responsibility concerning one of their problems in connection with the pagans, i.e., the problem of restriction, pressure, and harm and trouble they were faced with.
This holy verse addresses the Muslim believers who were under the pressure of the enemy because of fulfilling their religious duties and implies that Allah’s land is vast and they should migrate to somewhere else and worship Him alone.
The verse says:
However, Islam has enjoined migration for a group of people. Those who live in places where infidelity and tyrant govern, who are involved with cruelty and restrictions and who find their own growth and deliverance in emigration, they must migrate.
But, for fulfilling this duty, there will be some temptations cast on man from inside and outside, the answer of which will be given through later verses. One of these temptations is the danger of death and one may say: if he migrates death might not come to him, but the next verse announces that wherever he lives he tastes death.
Another temptation is for detaching one’s heart from his residence, which is difficult for him, and he may hesitate not to migrate. Verse No. 58 answers them that instead of the worldly residence, those believers who migrate will be rewarded with lofty chambers of Paradise; and verse 59 implies that this temptation must be removed by patience and relying on the Lord.
Another temptation is for providing provision. He who thinks of emigration may say that his emigration deprives him from income and sustenance. Verse No. 60 answers him that how many a moving creature that does not carry its own provision but Allah sustains it, let alone those emigrants who work and struggle.
Emigration is the factor of creating sincerity.
Those who do not migrate, when they ought to do, and depend themselves on an individual, party, region, tribe and possibilities of this and that one, desirably or undesirably, the regional, racial, and tribal problems, and insularities raised from jealousies, and negative rivals from the side of both familiar and foreign persons bring out man from sincerity.
Thus, emigration to the places wherein these affairs are absent is the best circumstance for the appearance of sincerity and devotion.
In the explanation of this verse, Imam Baqir (as) says:
“Do not follow the mischievous governor, and if you fear that they cause you deviate from your religion, then do migrate.”2
Of course, we must bear the bitter hardships of emigration by the Divine friendly call, because Allah (s.w.t.) has a special attention to the believers when He in this verse says:
كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَآئِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ثُمَّ إِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ
57. “Every soul tastes death, then unto Us you shall be returned.”
Perhaps this verse is in connection with the previous one, explaining the man’s duty if his death approaches when he is in emigration.
This verse announces that do not afraid of death when emigration is necessary, because death is the certain fate of everybody, but it is not an end.
The verse says:
You will come to Us and We will bestow the reward of the death in the path of emigration on you; and We will chastise the oppressors who forced you to migrate, though reaching that reward and retribution prolongs.
The application of the Arabic word /θumma/, in this verse, indicates a long length of time.
وَالَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَنُبَوِّئَنَّهُم مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ غُرَفاً تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الاَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا نِعْمَ أَجْرُ الْعَامِلِينَ
58. “And those who believe and do righteous deeds, We will certainly lodge them in lofty chambers of Paradise beneath which rivers flow, therein dwelling forever; how excellent is the recompense of those who act (aright).”
The condition of being admitted to Heaven is Faith and righteous deed. Allah has promised Paradise unto the believers, so, in this verse, He says:
Such believers will surely abide in the castles which are surrounded by Heavenly trees from every side, and beneath which, according to other verses of the Qur’an, various rivers, with different special tests and views, flow.
Be attentive that the Arabic word /quraf/ is the plural form of /qurfah/ which means a lofty building that is dominant over its sides.
Another privilege of the chambers of Paradise is that they are not like the houses and castles of this world where after a short time and before a complete rest of man, the call of movement is heard, but they will dwell there forever.
Then, at the end of the verse, the Qur’an adds:
A simple comparison between what was said about pagans and sinners in the previous verses, and what is said in this holy verse, makes the greatness of the believers’ reward clear.
The disbelievers will be in a Fire and punishment which envelops their whole body from head to feet, and as a scorn they will be told taste whatever you used to do.
But the believers will be in the midst of bounties of Heaven, and the mercy of Allah encompasses them from every side. They do not hear any scorn, but instead they hear some words all of which are the signs of love and grace of the Gracious Lord.
Yes, they will be told:
It is obvious that the objective meaning of the Qur’anic word /‘amilin/ (those who act), with the frame of reference of the sentences before it, is those who have faith and do righteous deeds, though the word /‘amilin/ is absolute.
The holy Prophet (S) in a tradition said:
“Verily there are some chambers in the Heaven so transparent that their outwards are seen from their inwards, and their inwards are seen from their outwards.”
Someone asked him:
“To whom do these chambers belong, O’ Messenger of Allah?”
He (S) answered:
“These chambers belong to those who purify their speech, satiate the hungry (ones), observe the fact frequently, and keep prayer at night (for the sake of Allah) when people are asleep.”3
الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَعَلَي رَبّـِهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
59. “Those who are (patiently) steadfast and on their Lord do they rely.”
Patience and relying on Allah are two clear examples of righteous deed; and it is the righteous ones who must remove the spiritual pressures, barriers and difficulties of life by patience and relying on Allah.
This verse states the most important characteristics of the believers who act aright.
It says as follows:
When it requires, they separate from their wife, children, friends, relatives, and houses and they tolerate patience. They taste the troubles of loneliness, the hardships of being vagrant from home, and they are patient.
In order to protect their Faith, they usually tolerate the hurts of the enemies, and receive kinds of difficulties in the path of struggling against their selves (which is ‘the greater’ warfare), and they are patient.
Yes, patience and perseverance are the secrets of their triumph, and they are two great factors for their honour, without which no positive action is possible in the life.
Moreover, they rely neither on their properties, nor on their friends and relatives. They rely only on Allah; and they trust only on His Pure Essence. If thousand of enemies try to destroy them, they stand firm and do not fear because they know Him as their friend.
If we think properly, we find out that the root of man’s all virtues is this very patience and relying on Allah. Patience is the cause of steadfastness in front of barriers and difficulties; and confidence is the motive of moving in this way which is full of ascent and descent.
For performing righteous deed we must get help from these two ethical virtues, patience and confidence. Without these two, doing righteous deed, in a large scale, is impossible.
1. The Messenger of Allah (S) said:
“Patience is a treasure out of the treasures of Paradise.”4
2. Imam Baqir (as) said:
“Verily the patient will enter Paradise without reckoning.”5
3. The Prophet (S) said:
“Whoever likes to be the most virtuous of people, he must rely on Allah.”6
4. Once Imam Rida (as) was asked what the limit of confidence was. He answered:
“That you do not be in owe of other than Allah.”7
5. The Messenger of Allah (S) said:
“The best people with Allah is the one who trusts on Allah more than others and surrenders to Him.”8
وَكَأَيّـِن مِن دَآبَةٍ لاَّ تَحْمِلُ رِزْقَهَا اللَّهُ يَرْزُقُهَا وَإِيَّاكُمْ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
60. “And how many a moving creature that does not carry its own provision, (but) Allah sustains it and you! And He is he Hearing, the knowing.”
The Arabic word /tahmil/ is derived from /himalah/ in the sense of ‘suretyship’ and ‘to undertake’, and the purpose of ‘carrying provision’ may be used in the sense of: ‘storing up things for the future’.
Emigration was recommended through verse 56, now the abovementioned verse indicates that the knowledge of Allah provides the sustenance of all creatures:
However, the Qur’an says that you should not be worried about your sustenance, and do not accept any shame, disgrace, and captivity for it, because He Who gives sustenance is Allah.
He sustains not only you but also many of the creatures that cannot even carry their provision, and have no food stored in their nests while every new day they need a new provision and Allah does not let them be hungry. He sustains them and you, too.
Among moving creatures, animals, and insects, besides man, there are a few kinds that, like ants and bees, carry their own foodstuff from fields and deserts toward their dwelling places and store it up, and concerning their provision most of them are like sparrow, that is, every new day they must seek for the provision of that day.
There are millions of millions of them around us, far and near, in deserts, in the depth of valleys, on the top of mountains, and inside the seas that are sustained at the table of His endless bounties.
And you, O’ man! who are cleverer and more capable than them for earning and storing up your provision, why do you clasp the pollute and shameful life because of the fear of cease of sustenance and admit any injustice, cruelty, disgrace and abjectness for it?
You, too, can come out from inside of this narrow, limited and dark life of yours and sit at the stretched table of your Lord and do not care for sustenance.
On that day when you were prisoner in the womb of mother as a weak and feeble embryo, and nobody, even your kind parents, had the chance to reach you, your Lord did not forsake you and whatever you needed He gave you properly, it is the same today that you are a capable and strong being.
And in view of the fact that giving provision to the needy is in the secondary of the awareness of their existence and their need, at the end of the verse, the Qur’an says:
He hears the words of you all, and He even knows the mute tongue of you and all moving creatures. He knows the needs of all of you, and nothing is hidden from the realm of His infinite knowledge.
وَلَئِن سَاَلْتَهُم مَنْ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالاَرْضَ وَسَخَّرَ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّهُ فَاَنَّي يُؤْفَكُونَ
61. “And if you ask them: ‘Who created the heavens and the earth and made the sun and the moon subservient?’ They will certainly say: ‘Allah!’ Whence are they then perverted?”
The Arabic term /’ifk/ means ‘changing something from its real form’, viz. someone changes a fact into something else consciously.
The purpose of ‘making the sun and the moon subservient’ is their subservience in the way which is useful for us.9
In this holy verse, as well as the next verses, the Prophet of Islam (S), and in fact all believers, are addressed and the proofs of Unity through the way of creation, Lordship, and nature, viz. by three different ways, have been stated, and they are admonished that their fate is with Allah Whose effects are found in heavens and souls, not with idols, since idols have no function in this regard.
At first, it refers to the creation of the heaven and the earth and, taking help from their intrinsic beliefs, it says:
Their answer is such, because neither idolaters nor other than them say that the creator of the heavens and the earth and the subjective factor of making the sun and the moon subservient is some pieces of stone and wood which have been manufactured by their own hands.
In other words, even idolaters had no doubt in the ‘Unity of Creator’. They were polytheists in worship.
They used to say that they worshipped idols for the sake that they would intercede them before Allah, as Surah Yunus, No. 10, verse 18 announces:
They wanted to say that they were not eligible to directly communicate with Allah and they had to relate to Him by the way of idols.
They used to say:
They were inattentive that there is no gap between the Creator and the created, and He is nearer to us than our jugular vein.11 Moreover, if man, who is the best creature in the world of existence, cannot communicate with Allah, what can be his intercessor?
However, after mentioning this clear proof, at the end of the verse the Qur’an questions that after having these evidences how are they returned from worshipping Allah to the worship of some idols made of some pieces of stone and wood?
The Qur’anic term /yu’fakun/ is derived from /’ifk/ which means: ‘changing something from its real form’, and in this connection it is used for falsehood, and also for some apposite winds.
The application of the term /yu’fakun/ in its Arabic passive form, points to this fact that they have not any ability to make decision, as if they were unintentionally drawn toward idolatry!
By the way, the purpose of objecting the sun and the moon is the systems that Allah has arranged for them and by these systems He has sent them in the way of man’s benefits.
اللَّهُ يُبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَآءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَقْدِرُ لَهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
62. “Allah enlarges the sustenance for whichever of His servants He pleases, and He grants him by (strict) measure, (as He pleases); verily Allah is Well-Cognizant of all things.”
Increasing and decreasing men’s sustenance is knowingly and wisely done by Allah (s.w.t.) on the base of seen and unseen criterions.
Some Islamic traditions indicate that the common good of some servants of Allah is in that they have vast sustenance and if they fall in the straitened circumstances of life, they become corruptive.
On the contrary, the common good of another group is that they have a strict measure of sustenance, and if they are granted plenty of it, they will fall in decadence.
Therefore, in this verse the Qur’an says:
The key of sustenance is in His hand, not in the hand of men, nor with idols.
That in the former verses it was said that the true believers rely only on Him is for this very fact that the authority of all things is with Him. Then why should they fear to express forth and sometimes think that their life is in danger from the side of their enemies?
If they believe that Allah is powerful but He is not aware of their state, they are in a great error, because:
Is it possible that someone is the creator and the administrator of the affairs and whose favour reaches to the creatures, and in the meantime He is not aware of their circumstance? This is not imaginable.
وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُم مَن نَزَّلَ مِنَ السَّمَآءِ مَآءً فَاَحْيَا بِهِ الاَرْضَ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَوْتِهَا لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّهُ قُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لاَيَعْقِلُونَ
63. “And if you ask them: ‘Who sends down water from the heaven and gives life with it unto the earth after its death?’ They will certainly say: ‘Allah!’ Say: ‘All praise is due to Allah.’ But most of them do not ponder.”
One of the great bounties for which we must be thankful, is the light of Faith and natural disposition. Knowing of Allah is natural, and if the dust of sin and deviation is removed from the nature of deviated ones, their clear and manifest confessions will be found out.
In this verse, where the words are about Unity of Lordship and that the descent of the main origin of provisions is from the side of Allah, it says:
This is the inner belief of idolaters that they even did not refuse to express it by their tongue, because they both knew the Creator as Allah, and introduced Allah as the Lord and also the administrator of the whole world.
Then, the verse continues saying:
Praise is for the One from Whose side all bounties come, because when water, which is the main source of life and by which all living creatures are alive, is from His side, it is clear that other provisions are from His side, too.
Therefore praise must also belong to Him alone, and other objects of worship have no share in it.
We must thank Allah, for our logic is so alive and strong that nobody is able to nullify it.
And since the polytheists’ sayings, from one side, and their speech and actions, from other side, contradicted with each other, at the end of the verse the Qur’an adds:
Else, how is it possible that a wise and thoughtful person speaks so much scattered and contrarily? From one side, he knows Allah (s.w.t.) as the creator, the giver of sustenance, and administrator of the world, and, on the other side, he falls in prostration before some idols that have no role in his fate.
From one side, they believe in the Unity of Creator and Unity of Lordship, but, on the other side, they practically worship other than Allah.
It is interesting that the Holy Qur’an does not say that they do not have mind and wisdom, but it says:
which means they have intellect while they do not use it.
- 1. Suras: Hud, No. 11, verse 22; An-Naml, No. 27, verse 5; and Al-Kahf, No. 18, verse 103
- 2. Tafsir-i-Nur-uth-Thaqalayn
- 3. The commentary of Qurtabi, following the verse
- 4. Muhajjat-ul-Bayda’, Vol. 7, P. 107
- 5. Safinat-ul-Bihar, Vol. 2, P. 5
- 6. Mishkat-ul-’Abrar, P. 50
- 7. Ibid, P. 40
- 8. Majmu‘ah Warram, Vol. 2, P. 123
- 9. The commentary entitled ‘Rahnama’
- 10. Surah Az-Zumar, No. 39, verse 3
- 11. Surah Qaf, No. 50, verse 16