Surah al-Shura, Verses 27 - 53
وَلَوْ بَسَطَ اللَّهُ الرِّزْقَ لِعِبَادِهِ لَبَغَوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَكِنْ يُنَزِّلُ بِقَدَرٍ مَا يَشَاءُ إِنَّهُ بِعِبَادِهِ خَبِيرٌ بَصِيرٌ
27. And if Allah were to enlarge the provision for His servants, they would surely rebel in the earth, but He sends down by measure as He wills. Truly! He is in respect of His servants the Well-Aware, the All-Seer.
In the same manner that Divine Bounties are His Favors, depravations are at times Divine Favors. In the same vein, enlarging provision for servants leads at times to their neglect, rebellion, and exceeding limits.
Many a servant have trodden the way to perdition owing to mundane possessions. as sending down provision by measure impedes corruption, enlarging the same and granting respites to the affluent serve as trials.
Thus provision is measured as per a general rule, but man’s provision may be enlarged as a means of trial.1
Thus, the blessed Verse in question guides believers saying that they should not be saddened by the restriction of their provision, since they are supposed to know that their interest lies in the same and it is preordained by Divine Will and Wisdom that some should have access to less means, since the increase in their provision will lead to the disobedience of the concupiscent soul whetting their vain desires for mundane possessions and making them veer off the path of Divine Law.
Poverty is one of the means of making man approach God Almighty, since the poor believe in the measurement of Divine provision and they are at all times preoccupied by the same and turn to Him and seek their provision from Him.
Au contraire, worldly possessions and affluence may preoccupy man with attending to concupiscent desires and he is thus made remote from the Truth, since God Almighty is All-Aware of the affairs of His servants.
He restricts the provision and enlarges the same through His Divine Wisdom. It is worthy of note that healthful social relations are prerequisites for rational and well measured life style. Divine Bounties are granted as per Divine Wisdom and Discretion rather than human desires.
وَهُوَ الَّذِي يُنَزِّلُ الْغَيْثَ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا قَنَطُوا وَيَنْشُرُ رَحْمَتَهُ وَهُوَ الْوَلِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ
28. And He it is Who sends down the rain after they have despaired and spreads His Mercy. And He is the Protector, Worthy of all praise.
Rain is a manifestation of Divine Mercy and decrease in the amount of rain impedes man’s disobedience.
The Arabic word ghayth is applied to fruitful rain whereas the word matar designates any kind of rain, fruitful or harmful, as it is reflected elsewhere2 in the Holy Qur’an:
The blessed Verse in question says that one of the Signs of Divine Bounty and Mercy is that you were desperate at the time of famine, but He sent down rain for you and distributed His Mercy so that your provision may be enlarged and your trees and crops may thrive. He is you Friend whom you are supposed to obey in return for His Bounties and you are supposed to praise your Lord.
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَثَّ فِيهِمَا مِنْ دَابَّةٍ وَهُوَ عَلَی جَمْعِهِمْ إِذَا يَشَاءُ قَدِيرٌ
29. And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and whatever moving [living] creatures He has dispersed in them both. And He is Omnipotent over their assembling whenever He wills.
Creation of the heavens, the earth, and moving living creatures is one of Divine Signs. All creatures in the heavens, on the earth, and those in between them from inanimate beings, plants, and animals dispersed in them are all Signs of the Existence of the Necessary Existent Being and the Most Beauteous Names indicating His Omniscience, Omnipotence, Will, Unity, and so on serve as Attributes of the Glory and Beauty of the Creator and the Provider of the world, since we may know the Originator of creation through such intelligible and praise and worship the Lord.
The word dabba may indicate animals and mankind that will be assembled on the Day of Resurrection and the prepositional phrase:
may include all creatures in the heavens as well, like angels and other creatures whose knowledge of existence rests with God Almighty.
All these creatures existing between the heavens and the earth shall be assembled on the Day of Resurrection through Divine Will.
وَمَا أَصَابَكُمْ مِنْ مُصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَيَعْفُو عَنْ كَثِيرٍ
30. And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons many [of your sins].
There exists a nexus between man’s conduct and the vicissitudes of life;
His problems are the consequences of some of his vicious deeds rather than all of them, since God Almighty forgives many sins committed by man;
The blessed Verse is a warning to sinners that whatever hardship or misfortune befalling on them is the consequence of their deeds.
It is a reference to the fact that vicious deeds breed undesirable consequences which are different from the recompense of wrong doing to inferiors whose venomous fruits are reaped in a brief period of time, as it is imagined by the short-sighted that the recompense to which sinners are warned is not solely restricted to their recompense in this world but it is far less than the one to be measured at the Divine Tribunal on the Day of Resurrection.
indicates that many a sin will be forgiven by God Almighty since He is the Glorious, of permanent Bounties, and Pre-Eternal of Beneficence (qadim al-ihsan), such that He pardons many a sin committed in a number of years with one single repentance.
It should not be imagined that whoever is afflicted with some affliction or hardship is paying for his evil deeds, since the blessed Verse in question addresses sinners who are afflicted by misfortunes as the consequences of their sins.
It is even out of Divine Mercy that worldly afflictions alleviate their torments in the Hereafter. According to a Prophetic tradition narrated on the authority of Imam ‘Ali (as), the Messenger of God (S) is reported as saying:
“It is the best of Verses revealed in the Divine Book. O ‘Ali (as), there is no scratch nor falling down unless it is the consequence of committing sins and God is Greater than chastising those who have committed sins in this world but they were forgiven by Him. He is so Just that He never again chastises sinners who have been chastised in this world.”3
It is however worthy of note that the infallible Prophets and Imams (as) suffer from afflictions in this world and thereby their exalted state shall be promoted and such afflictions are not the consequences of their evil deeds.
In this vein, the blessed Imam (as) is quoted as saying as per a tradition cited in the book titled Wafi, the Chapter on believers’ afflictions, that the more believer’s faith grows, the more his afflictions will be. Thus, whoever is nearer to God Almighty is afflicted with more afflictions.
وَمَا أَنْتُمْ بِمُعْجِزِينَ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَمَا لَكُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ مِنْ وَلِيٍّ وَلا نَصِيرٍ
31. And you cannot escape from Allah [and leave His Dominance] in the earth and besides Allah you have neither any protector nor any helper.
Man pays for the consequences of his evil deeds but he may not harm God Almighty in the least. The motive behind many a vicious deed is to seek protectors and helpers, but the truth is that God Almighty is the true Protector.
The blessed Verse is an objection raised against polytheists and disbelievers warning them that they are not supposed to be able to escape from God Almighty and leave His Dominance through their evil deeds and words.
The blessed Verse aims at encouraging worship and obedience to God Almighty and discouraging disobedience saying that it is solely God Almighty Who is Able to ward off torment and He is the only Protector Who grants Succor.4
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ الْجَوَارِ فِي الْبَحْرِ كَالْأَعْلامِ
إِنْ يَشَأْ يُسْكِنِ الرِّيحَ فَيَظْلَلْنَ رَوَاكِدَ عَلَی ظَهْرِهِ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآياتٍ لِكُلِّ صَبَّارٍ شَكُورٍ
32. And among His Signs [of Omnipotence] are the ships [sailing] in the sea like mountains.
33. If He wills, He causes the wind to cease, then they would become motionless on the back [of the sea]. Truly, in this are Signs [of Divine Omnipotence] for everyone patient and grateful.
The Arabic word al-jawar is the plural form of jariya designating a sailing ship and the phrase ka-al-a’lam indicates colossal ships or moving icebergs. The role played by wind in nature is also noteworthy.
Respiration of living beings, movement of ships and clouds, pollination of plants, and modification of cold and heat all depend upon blowing of wind and it is one of the sources of energy in modern times.
The word sabbar is attested four times in the Holy Qur’an all instances of which are followed by the word:
Such coincidence bears testimony to the fact that they play a significant role together. It is narrated from the Noble Prophet of Islam (S) that faith has two branches: patience and gratitude.5
The blessed Verses in question are saying that Divine Signs of Omnipotence and Mercy include the ships as tall as mountains sailing in the seas but if the wind does not blow upon Divine Will, no one will be able to move such colossal ships in the sea.
Ships sailed in seas in former times, so if the wind blew gently and the sea happened to be calm, ships could easily reach their destinations. Nonetheless, it was quite perilous for ships to sail in stormy seas in thunder and lightning. If there was no wind, ships would stay still in water.
As a consequence, the blessed Verse reminds men that they are all Divine Signs of Omnipotence and whenever He wills, the wind blows gently and ships with their passengers and their possessions reach destinations safely;
How similar is mundane life to a ship in water. The sea is agitated at times and man is perplexed and entangled with vicissitudes and at times, it is stagnant and man is perplexed as what to do. At times, Divine Mercy is granted on him and he finds serenity.
It is as if it serves as a reminder reminding men that these are Divine Signs of Omnipotence. He makes the wind blow whenever He wills. It may be likened to man’s life wherein at times he is perplexed when he finds everything stagnant and wonders as what measure to take. At times Divine Mercy is granted to him and he finds serenity.
The blessed Verses evidently guide those whose inner eyes have opened and they see these alterations in Divine Signs of Omnipotence providing them with the admonition that they are supposed to be quite patient, tolerant, and grateful in the face of ups and down.
Such people benefit from what happens to them and they will be rescued from the sea of perplexity, since they know that what is preordained for them is through Divine Wisdom. Those who are submerged in the agitated sea of concupiscent desires will be drowned unless Divine Mercy rescue them from the abyss of the world and guide them to the shore of deliverance.
أَوْ يُوبِقْهُنَّ بِمَا كَسَبُوا وَيَعْفُ عَنْ كَثِيرٍ
وَيَعْلَمَ الَّذِينَ يُجَادِلُونَ فِي آيَاتِنَا مَا لَهُمْ مِنْ مَحِيصٍ
34. Or He may destroy them [the ships] because of that which their [owners] have earned. And He pardons many [people and does not drown them].
35. And those who dispute as regards Our Ayat [Signs, Verses] may know that there is no place of refuge for them.
The verbal form:
derives from the root w-b-q (“destroy”) and it is ad hoc employed in the sense of “drown.” The word mahis, deriving from h-’-s (“flee, escape”), designates “way of return and deliverance.”
To depict Divine Glory, the blessed Verses in question further add:
As it was reflected in the preceding Verses, human afflictions are often the consequences of his own deeds; however, man finds Divine Mercy;
If He does not grant His Mercy, no one besides the Infallible Prophets and Imams and also those pure and sincere at heart may not stay away from Divine Chastisement, as it is reflected elsewhere6 in the Holy Qur’an:
God Almighty is Omnipotent and may impede winds from blowing so that ships stay standstill in the heart of oceans and He is All-Able to turn winds into severe storms to crush colossal ships and roll them on gigantic waves, but His All-Inclusive Mercy impedes the same.
Verse 35 says:
Such people may not be granted Divine Forgiving, since they willfully rise against him and persist in their enmity and obduracy. They are deprived of His emanating fountainhead of Forgiving and Mercy and may not find deliverance from His torment.
As mentioned above, the word mahis, deriving from h-’-s (“flee, escape”), designates “way of return and deliverance.” The word mahis denotes place and is employed in the sense of place of refuge.
فَمَا أُوتِيتُمْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ فَمَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَمَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَی لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَلَی رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
36. So whatever you have been given is but [a transient] enjoyment for this worldly life, but that which is with Allah is better and more lasting for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord.
The preceding Verses treated of disputes and the blessed Verse in question evidently reveals that disputes spring from attachment to this worldly life which is not more than a transient enjoyment.
However, it is worthy of note that the blessed Verse addresses mankind saying that whatever God Almighty gives them from worldly possessions, knowledge, and other things is to benefit from this world.
In other words, man is granted Bounties so as to proceed on the path of betterment, but whatever is with God Almighty, e.g. otherworldly Bounties, true knowledge, and everlasting life, is far better and intransient for those who regard God Almighty, their Lord and Provider, as their refuge and rely on His Grace.
وَالَّذِينَ يَجْتَنِبُونَ كَبَائِرَ الْأِثْمِ وَالْفَوَاحِشَ وَإِذَا مَا غَضِبُوا هُمْ يَغْفِرُونَ
37. And those who avoid the grave sins and vicious deeds, and when they are angry, forgive.
The preceding Verse treated of faith and putting one’s trust in God Almighty both of which are attached to the heart. The blessed Verse in question treats of believers’ practical strategies.
What are grave sins (kaba’ir al-ithm)? In his Tahrir al-Wasila, Imam Khomeini (May God Almighty sanctify his noble spirit) in discussing the qualifications of the Imam leading a congregational prayer states that it is incumbent upon such Imam to abstain from committing grave sins which include any sin for committing which the Holy Qur’an promises torment, or those against which there are strict injunctions, or those for which there exist arguments bearing testimony to the fact that they are on a par with or worse than grave sins, or the ones which are deemed as such by intellection, or those regarded as such by the common run of believers, or there exists certain reason to regard them likewise.
Then, he proceeds to enumerate a number of instances, including:
1. Despair of Divine Mercy
2. Forging lies against Allah and His Noble Prophet (S)
3. Homicide and fornication
4. Accusing a married woman of a groundless imputation
5. Desertion at the time of war
6. Being cursed and disinherited by one’s parents
7. Breaking off all relations with relatives
8. Practicing magic
11. Transgressing the rights of the orphan
12. Withholding truth
13. Bearing false testimony
14. Breaking one’s promise
15. Drinking alcoholic drinks
16. Overstepping the stipulations of a will
19. Stinting or scrimping in selling something
20. Consumption of pork and corpse
21. Bearing wrong-doers assistance and relying on them
22. Extravagance and prodigality
23. Withholding people’s rights
24. Forging lies
26. Treachery and disloyalty
28. Underestimation of the excellence of pilgrimage to Mecca
30. Failing to establish of daily prayers
31. Withholding religious alms tax (zakat)
32. Persistence in committing lesser sins
33. Preoccupation with libidinous pleasures
34. Associating partners to God Almighty
36. Consumption of blood
37. Consumption of corpse
38. Consumption of the meat of an animal at whose slaughter the Name of God Almighty was not uttered or the one slaughtered by non-Muslims
39. Bearing false testimony
40. Feeling safe against Divine Scheme
41. Bearing wrong-doers assistance
43. Fraudulence in transactions and entertaining hatred and stealing from the war booty before its distribution
44. Waging war against favorites of God Almighty
The blessed Verse in question treats of the exalted states of those who believe in God Almighty and put their trust in their Lord knowing that what is provided for them with their Lord is far better and enduring than the limited material possessions with which disbelievers are provided.
It is also worthy of note that it is an attribute of believers that they abstain from committing grave sins and vicious deeds and forgive others when they are in a rage against them.
وَالَّذِينَ اسْتَجَابُوا لِرَبِّهِمْ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلاةَ وَأَمْرُهُمْ شُورَی بَيْنَهُمْ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنْفِقُونَ
وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَهُمُ الْبَغْيُ هُمْ يَنْتَصِرُونَ
38. And those who answer the Call of their Lord, establish prayers, [conduct] their affairs by consultation, and expend of what We have bestowed upon them.
39. And those who when an oppressive wrong is done to them [do not surrender but] seek succor.
Attending to Divine Lordship enthuses man to act upon Divine Injunctions. Those who love establishing prayers and expending in the Cause of Allah shall reap better and enduring Bounties in the Hereafter.
Talha and Zubayr said unto Imam ‘Ali (as):
“We support you provided that you seek our consultation regarding all issues, since we are different from others.”
The Noble Imam (as) replied:
“I look into the Book of Allah and Prophetic traditions and act upon them. I have no need for your consultation in this respect; however if I come to issues for which I could not find any argument thereto and feel the need to seek your consultation, I will do likewise.”
Verse 38 lays emphasis on consultation in the administration of society hence the designation of the Chapter, Shura (“consultation”). A number of traditions will be cited hereunder regarding consultation.7
“Consult with pious scholars, those who fear God Almighty who prefer the Hereafter to worldly possessions. Consult with the wise who are knowledgeable and experienced. Do not consult with the avaricious, the timid, and the greedy.
Consult with those who are truthful and have no attachments. Reveal your secrets unto them so that they may present their comprehensive and complete opinions. Consultation with the benevolent wise leads to growth and Divine Blessing. Regarding your affairs, consult with one who possesses five excellences: sensibility, knowledge, experience, benevolence, and fear of God Almighty.”8
It is worthy of note that one is supposed to seek consultation regarding the affairs of people, but one is not supposed to do likewise concerning Divine matters, e.g. Resurrection, Imamate, and worship of God. Establishment of prayers is a Divine Covenant and believers are supposed to keep their promise without seeking consultation.
Imamate and leading the Muslim community are also Divine Covenants, since Abraham (as) invoked God Almighty and asked Him to appoint his offspring to lead the community and God Almighty answered to him:
“Leadership and Imamate are My Covenants and appointment of individuals to the same is dependent upon My Will rather than your invocation, since wrong-doers do not deserve leadership.”
Thus, we should surrender to Him in terms of the leadership of the Muslim community, as it is reflected in the Holy Qur’an,
Imamate depends upon Divine Will, but consultation regards people’s social affairs rather than Injunctions and Divine Laws. It is noteworthy that that Islam is a comprehensive and complete religion in terms of ideological, ethical, social, economic, religious, and political issues. The present tense indicating progression is employed to express such characteristics.9
Other characteristics of those who believe in God and in Whom they put their trust is that they act upon Divine Injunctions and establish prayers. In establishing their prayers, they seriously observe the outward aspects, e.g. the order of their parts and conditions, and the inward aspects, e.g. sincerity and presence of mind and all the affairs that lead to the acceptance of their acts by God Almighty.
Believers also consult with each other and act upon each other’s discretion. They do not act opinionatedly. Consultation is fruitful in consulting with the wise and scholars since it leads to favorable consequences.
Besides, it breeds friendship amongst believers, since they trust each other in their secrets, keep company with them, and seek their own good from them. Furthermore, believers provide others with the material possession, knowledge, recognition, and rank which are all granted to them by God Almighty.
They expend their material possessions in the Cause of Allah through bearing aid to the poor and the miserable. They make use of their power and rank to assist the oppressed and the needy.
Verse 39 is saying that it is a characteristic of believers who take vengeance upon disbelieving wrong-doers when they are wronged by them. They never surrender to their opponents rather they struggle against them valiantly such that they defeat them, since the humility of Muslims is on a par with that of the Islamic faith.
It is worthy of note that it is incumbent upon Muslims to defend themselves with seeking aid from believers. Silence against being wronged is forbidden. It is incumbent upon Muslims to forgive believers but believers are supposed to defend themselves against wrong-doers and seek aid from other believers
وَجَزَاءُ سَيِّئَةٍ سَيِّئَةٌ مِثْلُهَا فَمَنْ عَفَا وَأَصْلَحَ فَأَجْرُهُ عَلَی اللَّهِ إِنَّهُ لا يُحِبُّ الظَّالِمِينَ
وَلَمَنِ انْتَصَرَ بَعْدَ ظُلْمِهِ فَأُولَئِكَ مَا عَلَيْهِمْ مِنْ سَبِيلٍ
40. The recompense for an evil is an evil like thereof; but whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is with Allah. Indeed, He likes not the wrong doers.
41. And indeed whosoever seeks succor [for compensation] after he has suffered wrong for such there is no blame against them.
One may take just vengeance against the transgression of his rights;
however, one who is powerful enough to take vengeance but he forgives and makes reconciliation shall be granted a great Reward;
is attested twice in the Holy Qur’an; an instance of which10 regards Meccan Emigrants (Muhajirun) and the other instance concerns forgiving the evil deeds committed by others attested in the blessed Verse in question. Thus, it is evident that the recompense for forgiving and making reconciliation is on a par with emigration toward Allah.
The blessed Verse 40 is saying that believers are such that if someone wrongs them, they take a well-measured vengeance upon them and a believer who forgives the wrong done to him by his brother in faith shall be granted a great Reward by God Almighty, since Allah does not favor wrong-doers.
Verse 41 is saying that one who takes his revenge upon someone who has wronged him shall stay unharmed by the Muslim community nor shall he be chastised nor reproached for his vengeance.
It is everyone’s legitimate right to take revenge upon the wrong-doer since it is not reproached in this world nor will it be recompensed in the Hereafter. However, if he forgives the wrong-doer, he shall be rewarded by God Almighty.
إِنَّمَا السَّبِيلُ عَلَی الَّذِينَ يَظْلِمُونَ النَّاسَ وَيَبْغُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ أُولَئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
وَلَمَنْ صَبَرَ وَغَفَرَ إِنَّ ذَلِكَ لَمِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ
42. The way [of blame] is only against those who oppress men and rebel in the earth without justification; for such [wrong-doers] there will be an excruciating torment.
43. And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives [the wrong-doer] that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah.
It is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an11 that
It was also reflected in the preceding Verse that the oppressed are not subject to reproach. The blessed Verse 42 is saying that wrong-doers are to be reproached. Islam is a comprehensive religion that recognizes the rights of the oppressed and also leaves room for forgiving. Verses 41 and 42 express the states of the wrong-doers and the wronged.
According to the Qur’anic Verse:
when believers take revenge upon wrong-doers proportionate to the wrong done to them, they shall not be chastised by believers since they have attained their right. Nonetheless, those who wrong people and make mischief on the earth without justification are supposed to be chastised by believers and an excruciating torment is in store for wrong-doers.
Verse 43 is saying that one who is patient and forgives believers possesses determination and excellences.
The blessed Verse may allude to the fact that those who have been wronged by others and failed to attain to their rights have been patient. Such people possess determination since it requires a strong and confident soul to confront hardships and persevere in making efforts to achieve one’s goals.
Such were Arch-Prophets (as) so strong and perseverant that they could bear the wrongs done to them by people, but they never make attempts at taking their revenge upon their enemies unless they were divinely appointed to wage war against disbelievers in order to support religion.
وَمَنْ يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ وَلِيٍّ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ وَتَرَی الظَّالِمِينَ لَمَّا رَأَوُا الْعَذَابَ يَقُولُونَ هَلْ إِلَى مَرَدٍّ مِنْ سَبِيلٍ
44. And whomsoever Allah sends astray [and abandons him in his error], for him there is no protector for him. And you will see the wrong-doers when they behold the torment, they will say: “Is there any way of return [to the world]?”
Transgression of people’s rights entails deprivation from Divine Guidance and entanglement with the abyss of error, perplexity, and remorse. Those who are in error are supposed to know that no power shall deliver them from error.
They are those who are not guided through Divine Guidance. One who voluntarily turns away from Truth and failed to be guided by God Almighty shall proceed the way toward the abyss of humility and error and he will have neither friends nor protectors.
The Noble Prophet’s (S) heart was so enlightened by Divine Light that he could notice that disbelievers would be encompassed by Hell and was also able to see that upon tasting Divine torment in the Hereafter, they would desperately inquire if they could return to the world and compensate for their evil deeds.
وَتَرَاهُمْ يُعْرَضُونَ عَلَيْهَا خَاشِعِينَ مِنَ الذُّلِّ يَنْظُرُونَ مِنْ طَرْفٍ خَفِيٍّ وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ الْخَاسِرِينَ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ وَأَهْلِيهِمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَلا إِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ فِي عَذَابٍ مُقِيمٍ
45. And you will see them brought forward to it [Hell] made humble by disgrace, [and] looking with stealthy glance. And those who believe will say: “Truly, the losers are they who lose themselves and their families on the Day of Resurrection. Verily, the wrong doers will be in a lasting torment.
Those who are arrogant today shall be in disgrace tomorrow. The fright caused by noticing the Resurrection will make evil-doers lose their eye-sight.
The blessed Verse in question addresses the Noble Prophet (S) and says:
“You also notice the state of wrong-doers who wronged themselves and were deprived of Divine Guidance. Now it is the time that they tasted Divine torment.
They will be so desperate, humbled, and disgraced that they will be afraid of taking a glance at Hellfire but look at stealthily. When believers who are saved from torment see the torment of disbelievers, they say these are the losers who spent their mundane life in vain instead of gaining benefits from their transactions.
They are losers and together with their adherents fall into the abyss of Hell. The people of the world are supposed to be aware that disbelieving and polytheist wrong-doers shall remain in torment and Hell everlastingly.”
وَمَا كَانَ لَهُمْ مِنْ أَوْلِيَاءَ يَنْصُرُونَهُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَمَنْ يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ سَبِيلٍ
46. And they will have no protectors to help them other than Allah. And he whom Allah sends astray, for him there is no way [of deliverance].
The blessed Verse in question is saying that polytheists and disbelievers who invoked idols and other objects of worship to intercede on their behalf and assumed that they would be effective in warding off torment in their time of desperate need were in error unaware of the truth that there is no friend nor support to deliver them from torment and whoever failed to find the path to happiness through Divine Guidance will have no other way of deliverance.
اسْتَجِيبُوا لِرَبِّكُمْ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ يَأْتِيَ يَوْمٌ لا مَرَدَّ لَهُ مِنَ اللَّهِ مَا لَكُمْ مِنْ مَلْجَأٍ يَوْمَئِذٍ وَمَا لَكُمْ مِنْ نَكِيرٍ
47. Answer the Call of your Lord before there comes from Allah a Day which cannot be averted. You will find no refuge on that Day nor will there be for you any denying [of your sins].
Acting upon Divine Injunctions leads to our growth.
Thus, we are supposed to obey our Provider;
Following Divinely appointed Prophets preserves man from incurring loss. The preceding Verses treated of losers and the blessed Verse in question says that the solution lies in obedience to God Almighty and serving Him.
Two possible interpretations have been provided regarding the contextual meaning of
1. Sinners may not return to the world.
2. That Day will indubitably come and it may not be averted. It is worthy of note that the blessed Verse in question addresses mankind.
They are asked to answer the Divine Call and acknowledge and act upon the Injunctions Divinely revealed to His Prophet (S) before you miss the opportunity of saving righteous good deeds in this world for the Day of desperation.
The Resurrection Day shall come whereon there shall not be any return for anyone, since losers have actually spent in vain the faculty of perfection.
They there shall be no refuge to be sought since they had all Divine Decisive Arguments available to them but they knowingly denied the Prophetic Call and the Truth of the Holy Qur’an. They may not deny their disbelief at the Divine Tribunal on the Day of Resurrection.
فَإِنْ أَعْرَضُوا فَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ عَلَيْهِمْ حَفِيظاً إِنْ عَلَيْكَ إِلَّا الْبَلاغُ وَإِنَّا إِذَا أَذَقْنَا الْأِنْسَانَ مِنَّا رَحْمَةً فَرِحَ بِهَا وَإِنْ تُصِبْهُمْ سَيِّئَةٌ بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ فَإِنَّ الْأِنْسَانَ كَفُورٌ
48. But if they turn away [do not be sad, since] We have not sent you [O Muhammad] as a protector over them [to make them believe]. Your duty is to convey [the Message]. Indeed, when We cause man to taste of Mercy from Us, he rejoices thereat [and neglects his duties]; but when some ill befalls them because of the deeds which their hands have sent forth [they consign Divine Bounties to oblivion and] then verily, man [becomes] ingrate!
The Noble Prophet’s (S) duty was to impart Divine Call rather than make people believe in God Almighty. Mercy is from God Almighty but afflictions are the consequences of man’s vicious deeds.
To console His Messenger (S) deeply concerned with disbelievers’ denial of his Call, God Almighty bids unto him to not be sad since He did not appoint him to watch over their deeds rather his duty solely lies in guiding them to the Strait Path of Divine Laws and impart his Prophetic Call.
The blessed Verse closes with human vices saying that whenever God Almighty makes man taste of His Mercy and Bounties, he rejoices and whenever he is afflicted with afflictions as the evil consequences of his vicious deeds, he becomes ingratiate, since it is a human characteristic that he is ingratitude for Blessings.
It is his natural disposition that even if he rejoices Blessings for a hundred years but is afflicted with some unfavorable circumstance, he will forgive those Blessings and Favors and complaints of afflictions and becomes ingratitude for Divine Blessings.
لِلَّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ يَهَبُ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ إِنَاثاً وَيَهَبُ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ الذُّكُورَ
أَوْ يُزَوِّجُهُمْ ذُكْرَاناً وَإِنَاثاً وَيَجْعَلُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ عَقِيماً إِنَّهُ عَلِيمٌ قَدِيرٌ
49. To Allah belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female [offspring] upon whom He wills, and bestows male [offspring] upon whom He wills.
50. Or He bestows both males and females [in the same womb], and He renders barren whom He wills. Indeed, He is the Omniscient, the Omnipotent.
Since pre-Islamic Arabs living in the Age of Ignorance preferred male offspring over female ones, the word
is employed for both male and female offspring in Verse 49 to indicate that they are both Divine Gifts and the word:
with the definite article to say that the male offspring at whom you rejoice are also Divine Gifts.
designates that God Almighty at times bestows male and/or female offspring.
Verse 49 is saying that the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth solely belongs to God Almighty since He is the Possessor of the heavens and the earth and creation of the world and all creatures has been made possible through His Omnipotence and Omniscience and everything is dependent upon His Will. He bestows male and female offspring upon whomever He wills as per His Discretion and Wisdom. He may bestow male and female offspring in pairs or many male and female offspring.
It is dependent upon His Wisdom and Discretion that He makes some females barren and sterile. He is the Omnipotent, the Omniscience. These blessed Verses make a reference to Divine Perfect Might and Knowledge. Nothing may impede His Will.
وَمَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَنْ يُكَلِّمَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَّا وَحْياً أَوْ مِنْ وَرَاءِ حِجَابٍ أَوْ يُرْسِلَ رَسُولاً فَيُوحِيَ بِإِذْنِهِ مَا يَشَاءُ إِنَّهُ عَلِيٌّ حَكِيمٌ
51. It is not given to any human being that Allah should speak unto him unless [it be] by Revelation [descended upon his heart], or from behind a veil, or [that] He sends a messenger [an angel] to reveal what He wills by His Leave. Verily, He is Most High, Most Wise.
Occasion of Revelation. A number of Qur’anic exegets present an occasion of Revelation for the blessed Verse in question whose summary is as follows.
A number of Jews came unto the Noble Prophet (S) and said:
“Why do you not speak unto God nor do you look at Him? If you are the Messenger of God, speak unto and look at Him in the manner that Moses (as) did. We never believe in you unless you do likewise.”
The Noble Prophet (S) replied:
“Moses (as) never saw God Almighty.”
Then, the blessed Verse in question was revealed unto the Noble Prophet (S) to express the manner of the Prophet’s nexus with God Almighty.12
Divine Revelation is from God Almighty. It is not dependent upon human will. It is from the Exalted Lord and it is based on His Wisdom. Since the preceding Verses treated of Divine Bounties, the blessed Verse in question treats of the most significant of Divine Bounties and Favors bestowed by Him upon humanity.
These Bounties and Favors are Divine Revelation and the Prophets’ nexus with God Almighty.
In the first place, the blessed Verse says:
in the manner that Moses son of ‘Imran spake unto God Almighty and received His Answers through sound waves produced by God in the air without His being seen, since looking at Him is impossible.
Such communication is also possible through sending a messenger to impart unto him the Divine Message
Likewise, the angel of Revelation, the Divine Messenger, Gabriel the trustworthy, descended upon the Noble Prophet of Islam (S). It is at that time that God’s Messenger imparts unto His Prophet (S) whatever He wills through His Command.
There exists no other means of communication between God Almighty and His servants, since He is Most Exalted and All-Wise;
He is far Exalted such they no one may see or speak unto Him. All his Acts are Wise and His Nexus with His Prophets are well-measured. The blessed Verse serves actually as a clear response to those who may out of ignorance imagine that Divine Revelation designates that Prophets may see God Almighty and speak unto Him.
The blessed Verse concisely and precisely reflects the nature and truth of Divine Revelation.
The contextual meaning of the blessed Verse indicates that there are solely three means of communication between Prophets and God Almighty:
Revelation unto heart, instances of which are to be found with many a Prophet, e.g.
From behind the veil, in the manner that God Almighty spake unto Moses (as) on the Mount of Tur
Through sending down a Messenger, in the manner that God Almighty spake with the Noble Prophet of Islam (as):
It is to be noted that it was not the exclusive means of receiving Divine Revelation by the Noble Prophet of Islam (S). Divine Revelation was also descended upon Prophets through revealing unto him Divine Message when he was awake as it was mentioned above.
At times, Prophets received Divine Revelation in sleep through true dreams, for instance in the case of Abraham (as) who received the Divine Command to sacrifice Ishmael, although a number of Qur’anic exegets have considered it an instance of Divine Revelation from behind a veil.
Although the main means of sending down Divine Revelation constitute the three means mentioned in the blessed Verse in question, but each of which may fall into further categories, as a number of Qur’anic exegets maintain that sending down Divine Revelation through the angel of Revelation constitutes four means:
Where the angel of Revelation imparted the Divine Message unto the Noble Prophet’s (S) heart without appearing before him, as it is reflected in a Prophetic tradition saying:
“The Holy Spirit has revealed unto my heart that no one dies unless he receives his provision in full; therefore, fear God Almighty and be not avaricious in seeking your provision.”
At time, the angel of Revelation appeared in human form, addressed the Noble Prophet (S) and imparted the Divine Message unto him. According to a number of traditions, Gabriel appeared in the form of Dahya (or Dihya) Kalbi.16
At times, he heard Divine Revelation like chimes and it was the hardest means of receiving Divine Revelation such that even in very cold days his blessed visage perspired and if he was mounted, the mount was not able to carry the burden and sat down.
At times, Gabriel appeared to him in his original form as he was created by God Almighty. It happened only twice in his life time, as it will be revealed below under 53:12.17
Finally, it may be mentioned that means are Divine Revelation falls into ten categories in the book Wujuh al-Qur’an; however, taking into account all the instances of the word:
and its derivatives, it may be concluded that Divine Revelation falls into two categories: legislative Revelation (wahy tashri’i) sent to Prophets (as) between whom and God Almighty existed a particular nexus through which they received Divine Commands and Truths, and existential Revelation (wahy takwini) constituting the specific instincts, faculties, conditions, and laws placed by God Almighty in different creatures of the world.
There are numerous traditions regarding Divine Revelation mentioned in Islamic sources which shed some light on this mysterious nexus between Prophets and the Originator of creation.
It is reported in a number of traditions that when the angel of Revelation descended upon the Noble Prophet (S) he was alright but when immediate nexus was established he felt an extraordinary burden such that at times he became unconscious.
According to a tradition narrated by Saduq in his Tawhid on the authority of Imam Sadiq (as) that the Noble Imam (as) was asked:
“What was the state of unconsciousness experienced by the Noble Prophet (S) at the time of Divine Revelation?”
“It occurred when the Revelation was sent down upon him at the time of Divine Immediate Manifestation.”18
When Gabriel was sent down to the Noble Prophet (S), the Archangel respected him, as it is narrated from Imam Sadiq (as):
“When Gabriel came to the Noble Prophet (S), he sat down before him like servants and never entered without permission.”19
A number of traditions indicate that it was through Divine Blessing and inward intuition that the Noble Prophet of Islam (S) could easily recognize Gabriel, as it is narrated from Imam Sadiq (as):
“It was solely through Divine Blessing that the Messenger of God (S) recognized that God Almighty had sent down angel Gabriel.”20
An interpretation which is worthy of note is attested in a tradition narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas concerning the Noble Prophet’s unconsciousness at the time of Divine Revelation:
“When Divine Revelation was descended upon the Noble Prophet (S), he felt an excruciating pain and suffered from headache and felt an extraordinary heaviness. It is in this vein that the Holy Qur’an says that God Almighty sent down a grave Word on him. The tradition further adds that Gabriel was sent down onto the Messenger of Allah (S) sixty thousand times.21
وَكَذَلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ رُوحاً مِنْ أَمْرِنَا مَا كُنْتَ تَدْرِي مَا الْكِتَابُ وَلا الْأِيمَانُ وَلَكِنْ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُوراً نَهْدِي بِهِ مَنْ نَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا وَإِنَّكَ لَتَهْدِي إِلَی صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ
صِرَاطِ اللَّهِ الَّذِي لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ أَلا إِلَی اللَّهِ تَصِيرُ الْأُمُورُ
52. And thus We have sent to you a Revelation of Our Command [the Holy Qur’an]. You knew not what the Book is, nor what the faith. But We have made it [the Qur’an] a Light wherewith We guide whosoever of Our slaves We will. And verily, you [O Muhammad] are indeed guiding [people] to the Straight Path.
53. The Path of Allah to Whom belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. Verily, all matters at the end go to Allah.
The Chapter in question opened with the Verse of Revelation:
and it closes with the same;
Some Qur’anic exegets maintain that the word:
in Verse 52 refers to ruh al-amin (“the faithful or trusted spirit, Gabriel”) and some others hold that it indicates an angel more exalted in rank than other angels:
Some also hold that it makes a reference to the Holy Qur’an. The last interpretation seems to be preferable. Spirit is the essence of life and the Holy Qur’an is the secret of man’s spiritual life.
In the same manner that body without spirit disintegrates and decays, society without The Book, the Holy Qur’an, is unimaginable and in the same manner that spirit never becomes old and useless, so is the Holy Qur’an that will defy the passage of time.
It is worthy of note that the blessed Verses in question proceed the general discussion on Divine Revelation raised in the preceding Verses and treat of the same saying:
“In the same manner that We sent Our Revelation upon former Prophets through diverse means, We have sent to you a Revelation of Our Command.”
may indicate that all the three types of Divine Revelation were realized for the Noble Prophet of Islam (S) and at times he established immediate nexus with the Pure Essence of Lord, at times heard the Revelation through the angel of Divine Revelation, and at times he heard a voice like sound waves as reflected in the aforesaid Islamic traditions.
Concerning the meaning of
in this context, Qur’anic exegets maintain two views. Firstly, the Holy Qur’an is being intended which rejuvenates hearts and souls. The majority of Qur’anic exegets hold the same view.23
In his Mufradat, Raghib also says that the Holy Qur’an is termed as spirit in the Verse:
since it leads to the life in the Hereafter.
The interpretation is consistent with the different pieces of evidence attested in the Verse, e.g. the adverb:
alluding to Divine Revelation and the expression:
and the expressions regarding the Holy Qur’an under the Verse in question.
connotes the Holy Spirit or an Archangel who accompanied the Noble Prophet of Islam (S) at all times and was more exalted in rank than those like Gabriel and Michael.
Based on the same interpretation, awhayna is used in the sense of anzalna, namely We have sent down the Holy Spirit or an Archangel onto you.
The blessed Verse proceeds to say:
In other words, it was Divine Favor bestowed upon you that besides guiding you by this Great Scripture and its Guidance, He guides His other servants through this Divine Light covering the east and the west throughout the centuries to the end of the world.
Thus Verse 52 closes:
The Holy Qur’an is the Divine Light for you and all people and also a means of Guidance for those treading the path leading to Truth, and the elixir for the thirsty.
The exposition of the Straight Path follows in Verse 53:
Could there be found any path more straight than the one leading to the Originator of the world of existence? Is there any path smoother than the one leading to the Creator of the world of existence? True happiness is what God Almighty calls people unto it and the only way leading to it is the one which is chosen by Him.
The last sentence of the Verse which is the last sentence of the Chapter as well actually serves as an argument substantiating that the Straight Path is solely the one which leads toward God Almighty:
Since He is the Possessor and the Organizer of the world of existence and owing to the fact that all human plans toward perfection are to be accepted by this Great Organizer, the Straight Path is the only Path leading toward Him and any other path besides this one leads to error and falsehood.
Is there any Truth other than His Pure Essence in the world of existence? It is worthy of note that the sentence bears a glad tiding to the God fearing and a warning to wrong-doers and sinners who shall all return unto God Almighty.
It also bears testimony to the fact that Revelation should solely be from God Almighty, since the return of all existent beings shall be toward Him and with Him rests the management and judgment of all things.
Therefore, He should be the Origin of Divine Revelation sent down onto Prophets so that people may find true Guidance. Thus, the order of the Verses from the opening to the close of the Chapter is interrelated and the opening and the close of the Chapter are consistent with its prevailing theme of the same.
- 1. Tafsir al-Mizan.
- 2. 25:40
- 3. Majma’ al-Bayan.
- 4. Majma’ al-Bayan.
- 5. Tafsir Safi.
- 6. 35:45
- 7. Ibn Abi al-Hadid’s Commentary on Nahj al-Balagha, vol. 7, p. 41.
- 8. Tafsir Nur, p. 412.
- 9. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 72, p. 105, apud Tafsir Nimuna.
- 10. 4:100
- 11. 9:91
- 12. Tafsir Qurtubi, vol. 8, p. 5783.
- 13. 23:27
- 14. 4:164
- 15. 2:97
- 16. Dahya or Dihya ibn Khalifa al-Kalbi was the Noble Prophet’s (S) foster brother and one of the most handsome men of his time. At times, Gabriel came unto the Noble Prophet (S) in his form, see Majma’ al-Bahrayn, s.v. w-h-y. he was an eminent Companion of the Noble Prophet (S). The Prophet (S) sent him as an emissary to Heraclius, the Roman emperor in 6/627 or 7/628 and he lived to the reign of Mu’awiya (41-60/661-680), see Lughat-nama-yi Dihkhuda.
- 17. Fi Âalal al-Qur’an, vol. 7, p. 306.
- 18. Saduq’s Tawhid, apud Bihar al-Anwar, vol.18, p. 256.
- 19. ‘Ilal al-Shara’i’, apud Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 18, p. 256.
- 20. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 18, p. 256.
- 21. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 18, p. 261.
- 22. 97:4
- 23. For instance, Óabarsi in Majma’ al-Bayan, Shaykh Óusi in Tibyan, Fakhr Razi in Tafsir Kabir, Maraghi in Tafsir Maraghi.