Surah An‘am (25-45)

Surah An‘am (25-45)


Qur'anic Exegesis

وَ مِنۡہُمۡ مَّنۡ یَّسۡتَمِعُ اِلَیۡکَ ۚ وَ جَعَلۡنَا عَلٰی قُلُوۡبِہِمۡ اَکِنَّۃً اَنۡ یَّفۡقَہُوۡہُ وَفِیۡۤ اٰذَانِہِمۡ وَقۡرًا ؕ وَ اِنۡ یَّرَوۡا کُلَّ اٰیَۃٍ لَّا یُؤۡمِنُوۡا بِہَا ؕ حَتّٰۤی اِذَا جَآءُوۡکَ یُجَادِلُوۡنَکَ یَقُوۡلُ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡۤا اِنۡ ہٰذَاۤ اِلَّاۤ اَسَاطِیۡرُ الۡاَوَّلِیۡنَ ﴿۲۵﴾وَ ہُمۡ یَنۡہَوۡنَ عَنۡہُ وَ یَنۡـَٔوۡنَ عَنۡہُ ۚ وَ اِنۡ یُّہۡلِکُوۡنَ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡفُسَہُمۡ وَ مَا یَشۡعُرُوۡنَ ﴿۲۶﴾وَلَوۡ تَرٰۤی اِذۡ وُقِفُوۡا عَلَی النَّارِ فَقَالُوۡا یٰلَیۡتَنَا نُرَدُّ وَلَا نُکَذِّبَ بِاٰیٰتِ رَبِّنَا وَ نَکُوۡنَ مِنَ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ ﴿۲۷﴾بَلۡ بَدَا لَہُمۡ مَّا کَانُوۡا یُخۡفُوۡنَ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ ؕ وَلَوۡ رُدُّوۡا لَعَادُوۡا لِمَا نُہُوۡا عَنۡہُ وَ اِنَّہُمۡ لَکٰذِبُوۡنَ ﴿۲۸﴾

There are some among them who listen to you intently. But We have cast veils over their hearts [in accordance with Our law[1]] so that they may not understand [what they hear] and have made their ears deaf [so that they are not able to listen in spite of listening]. Even if they see signs of all kinds, they will not believe in them.[2] So much so, when they will come to argue with you, these disbelievers will say: "This is nothing but fables of the ancients."[3] They stop others from it and ignore it themselves as well, and in reality ruin none but themselves, but do not understand this. If you could see them when they would be made to stand beside Hell, then they will say: "Would that we are sent back so that we can testify to and not deny the revelations of our Lord[4] and become believers." [Certainly not!] In fact, the reality which they had concealed before has manifested itself to them. If they are sent back, they will do the same which they had been forbidden.[5] They are absolute liars. (25-28)

وَقَالُوۡۤا اِنۡ ہِیَ اِلَّا حَیَاتُنَا الدُّنۡیَا وَ مَا نَحۡنُ بِمَبۡعُوۡثِیۡنَ ﴿۲۹﴾وَ لَوۡ تَرٰۤی اِذۡ وُقِفُوۡا عَلٰی رَبِّہِمۡ ؕ قَالَ اَلَیۡسَ ہٰذَا بِالۡحَقِّ ؕ قَالُوۡا بَلٰی وَ رَبِّنَا ؕ قَالَ فَذُوۡقُوا الۡعَذَابَ بِمَا کُنۡتُمۡ تَکۡفُرُوۡنَ ﴿۳۰﴾قَدۡ خَسِرَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَذَّبُوۡا بِلِقَآءِ اللّٰہِ ؕ حَتّٰۤی اِذَا جَآءَتۡہُمُ السَّاعَۃُ بَغۡتَۃً قَالُوۡا یٰحَسۡرَتَنَا عَلٰی مَا فَرَّطۡنَا فِیۡہَا ۙ وَ ہُمۡ یَحۡمِلُوۡنَ اَوۡزَارَہُمۡ عَلٰی ظُہُوۡرِہِمۡ ؕ اَلَاسَآءَ مَا یَزِرُوۡنَ ﴿۳۱﴾وَمَا الۡحَیٰوۃُ الدُّنۡیَاۤ اِلَّا لَعِبٌ وَّ لَہۡوٌ ؕ وَ لَلدَّارُ الۡاٰخِرَۃُ خَیۡرٌ لِّلَّذِیۡنَ یَتَّقُوۡنَ ؕ اَفَلَا تَعۡقِلُوۡنَ ﴿۳۲﴾

They say:[6] "There is no other life but this worldly life of ours and we shall certainly not be raised to life after death." If you could see them when they are made to stand before their Lord! He will ask them: "Is this not the reality?" "Yes, by our Lord," they will reply. He will say: "Taste then the punishment in return for your disbelief!" Indeed, they incurred loss who denied this meeting with God. Until when suddenly that hour will arrive, they will say: "Pitiful is [our] negligence in this regard," and they would be bearing their burden on their backs. Listen! Very evil is the burden they will be bearing. In reality, the life of this world is but a sport and entertainment. The abode of the Hereafter is far better for those who fear. Then will you not understand? (29-32)

قَدۡ نَعۡلَمُ اِنَّہٗ لَیَحۡزُنُکَ الَّذِیۡ یَقُوۡلُوۡنَ فَاِنَّہُمۡ لَا یُکَذِّبُوۡنَکَ وَلٰکِنَّ الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ بِاٰیٰتِ اللّٰہِ یَجۡحَدُوۡنَ ﴿۳۳﴾ وَ لَقَدۡ کُذِّبَتۡ رُسُلٌ مِّنۡ قَبۡلِکَ فَصَبَرُوۡا عَلٰی مَا کُذِّبُوۡا وَ اُوۡذُوۡا حَتّٰۤی اَتٰہُمۡ نَصۡرُنَا ۚ وَ لَا مُبَدِّلَ لِکَلِمٰتِ اللّٰہِ ۚ وَ لَقَدۡ جَآءَکَ مِنۡ نَّبَاِی الۡمُرۡسَلِیۡنَ ﴿۳۴﴾

We have been aware[7] that what they say[8] grieves you. [Show patience on this, O Prophet (sws)] because it is not you that they reject; these wrongdoers reject God's revelations.[9] Other messengers before you were also [similarly] rejected; so, they patiently bore their rejection and their persecution until Our help arrived: none can change the decrees of God, [and to understand this practice of Ours] the accounts of the prophets have already reached you.[10] (34)

وَ اِنۡ کَانَ کَبُرَ عَلَیۡکَ اِعۡرَاضُہُمۡ فَاِنِ اسۡتَطَعۡتَ اَنۡ تَبۡتَغِیَ نَفَقًا فِی الۡاَرۡضِ اَوۡ سُلَّمًا فِی السَّمَآءِ فَتَاۡتِیَہُمۡ بِاٰیَۃٍ ؕوَ لَوۡ شَآءَ اللّٰہُ لَجَمَعَہُمۡ عَلَیالۡہُدٰی فَلَا تَکُوۡنَنَّ مِنَ الۡجٰہِلِیۡنَ ﴿۳۵﴾ اِنَّمَا یَسۡتَجِیۡبُ الَّذِیۡنَ یَسۡمَعُوۡنَ ؕؔ وَ الۡمَوۡتٰی یَبۡعَثُہُمُ اللّٰہُ ثُمَّ اِلَیۡہِ یُرۡجَعُوۡنَ ﴿۳۶﴾

If [in spite of this] you find their aversion hard to bear, find if you can make a trench in the earth or a stairway in the sky by which you may bring them a sign.[11] Had God willed, He would have gathered all of them on guidance; so, do not become of those who are overcome by emotions.[12] Only those people will accept [this call of Ours] who listen. As for these dead, [the fate of all of them is that] God will raise them; then they shall be returned to Him. (35-36)

وَ قَالُوۡا لَوۡ لَا نُزِّلَ عَلَیۡہِ اٰیَۃٌ مِّنۡ رَّبِّہٖ ؕ قُلۡ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ قَادِرٌ عَلٰۤی اَنۡ یُّنَزِّلَ اٰیَۃً وَّ لٰکِنَّ اَکۡثَرَ ہُمۡ لَا یَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۳۷﴾ وَ مَا مِنۡ دَآبَّۃٍ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ وَ لَا طٰٓئِرٍ یَّطِیۡرُ بِجَنَاحَیۡہِ اِلَّاۤ اُمَمٌ اَمۡثَالُکُمۡ ؕ مَا فَرَّطۡنَا فِی الۡکِتٰبِ مِنۡ شَیۡءٍ ثُمَّ اِلٰی رَبِّہِمۡ یُحۡشَرُوۡنَ ﴿۳۸﴾ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَذَّبُوۡا بِاٰیٰتِنَا صُمٌّ وَّ بُکۡمٌ فِی الظُّلُمٰتِ ؕ مَنۡ یَّشَاِ اللّٰہُ یُضۡلِلۡہُ ؕ وَ مَنۡ یَّشَاۡ یَجۡعَلۡہُ عَلٰی صِرَاطٍ مُّسۡتَقِیۡمٍ ﴿۳۹﴾

They say: "Why was no sign sent down to this prophet from his Lord?"[13] Say: "God is fully capable of sending down a sign [whenever He intends to] but most of them [make this demand because they] are not aware of certain realities."[14] [Do you not see that] all the beasts that roam on their legs on the earth and all the birds that soar on both their wings in the air[15] are all communities like your own. And [in order to make you understand,] We have left no stone unturned in Our Book.[16] After this [what only remains is that one day] they be gathered before their Lord. The ones who have decided to deny Our revelations, those deaf and dumb are engulfed in darkness. God [in reality, according to His law[17]] confounds whom He pleases, and guides to the right path whom He pleases. (37-39)

قُلۡ اَرَءَیۡتَکُمۡ اِنۡ اَتٰىکُمۡعَذَابُ اللّٰہِ اَوۡاَتَتۡکُمُالسَّاعَۃُ اَغَیۡرَ اللّٰہِ تَدۡعُوۡنَ ۚ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ صٰدِقِیۡنَ ﴿۴۰﴾بَلۡ اِیَّاہُ تَدۡعُوۡنَ فَیَکۡشِفُ مَا تَدۡعُوۡنَ اِلَیۡہِ اِنۡ شَآءَ وَ تَنۡسَوۡنَ مَا تُشۡرِکُوۡنَ ﴿۴۱﴾

Tell them: "What if God's punishment visits you or the Hour of Doom arrives, will you call anyone except God if you are truthful [in your claims]. [No], in fact, [at every such instance] you call Him alone. Then if He pleases, He relieves the affliction for which you called Him and [at that time] you forget all those you made partners of God.[18] (40-41)

وَ لَقَدۡ اَرۡسَلۡنَاۤ اِلٰۤی اُمَمٍ مِّنۡ قَبۡلِکَ فَاَخَذۡنٰہُمۡ بِالۡبَاۡسَآءِ وَ الضَّرَّآءِ لَعَلَّہُمۡ یَتَضَرَّعُوۡنَ ﴿۴۲﴾فَلَوۡلَاۤ اِذۡ جَآءَہُمۡ بَاۡسُنَا تَضَرَّعُوۡا وَ لٰکِنۡ قَسَتۡ قُلُوۡبُہُمۡ وَ زَیَّنَ لَہُمُ الشَّیۡطٰنُ مَا کَانُوۡا یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۴۳﴾فَلَمَّا نَسُوۡا مَا ذُکِّرُوۡا بِہٖ فَتَحۡنَا عَلَیۡہِمۡ اَبۡوَابَ کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ ؕ حَتّٰۤی اِذَا فَرِحُوۡا بِمَاۤ اُوۡتُوۡۤا اَخَذۡنٰہُمۡ بَغۡتَۃً فَاِذَا ہُمۡ مُّبۡلِسُوۡنَ ﴿۴۴﴾ فَقُطِعَ دَابِرُ الۡقَوۡمِ الَّذِیۡنَ ظَلَمُوۡا ؕ وَ الۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰہِ رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ﴿۴۵﴾

Before[19] you also, We sent forth Our messengers to many nations [and they rejected them]; so, We afflicted them with calamities and misfortunes so that they might show humility.[20] Then why did they not show humility when Our torment visited them?[21] In fact, their hearts hardened [further] and Satan made [their] deeds that they had been doing seem fair to them. Then when they forgot[22] that through which they had been reminded, We opened the doors of all kinds of comforts to them until just as they were rejoicing in what they were given, We suddenly seized them; their condition then was that of utter amazement. In this manner, they were uprooted[23] who had been transgressing [against their souls] and gratitude is for God alone, the Lord of the Universe [that He exterminated such transgressors from the face of the earth].[24] (42-45)

(Translated by Dr Shehzad Saleem)

[1]. Ie., in accordance with the law which is mentioned at various instances in the Qur'an. As per this law, when a person becomes rebellious against the truth and intentionally rejects it, God gives him some respite. If he is not prepared to avail this opportunity, then his heart and mind are sealed for any message of the truth to enter. This is actually a punishment of God which he faces even before his death because of his evil deeds. For details of this law, readers can look up the following Qur'anic verses: 4:155, 7:100-102; 16:106-108; 61:5.

[2]. This is not merely an exaggeration. It is, in fact, an expression of reality. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... The implication is that it is not because any signs and miracles did not manifest themselves to them. After all, what is this whole universe, the heavens, the earth, the sun, the moon, the seas, the mountains, the clouds, the wind, then night and day?Are they not signs and miracles? The whole universe is replete with such signs but what is the cure for people who do not have eyes that can really see? They are blind to all such signs and miracles. And if some other miracles are shown to them, they will make some excuse and remain obstinate in their ways. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 34)

[3]. Ie., when the Qur'an warns them by narrating to them the incidents of the 'Ad, the Thamud, Madyan, Saba, the people of Lot (sws) and the Pharaoh and his nation they do not seek a lesson from them. Instead, they become unnerved and say that these are merely tales of the ancients which are being related to them by, God forbid, a mad person.

[4]. The actual words are: وَلَا نُکَذِّبَ. This is the light indefinite tense (mudari' khafif), but is not the answer to the desire expressed in the first part of the sentence. Its accusative form evidences the fact that the answer to the desire that is co-ordinated to it is suppressed here. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

A very obvious answer to the desire was فنصدق or a similar one. Hence it was suppressed and this suppression was indicated through the particle of co-ordination in وَلَا نُکَذِّبَ. The eloquence in this expression is very telling: not only does longing exude from it, but their confession is also evident from it. In other words, today these people are showing arrogance and regarding the Qur'an to be a tale of the ancients; however, on the day of judgement they will long to come back in this world to testify to the revelations of their Lord and not deny them. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 36)

[5]. This is because the reason for their denial is not that they were not fully clear about the message presented to them. They were fully convinced that what the messenger of God was presenting them was the absolute truth. At that time the love of the world and arrogance and jealousy had cast a veil on their eyes and even if they were sent back again, these factors would not let them accept the truth.

[6]. After delineating the fate of those who denied the Qur'an, the succeeding verses mention the fate of those denied the Day of Judgement. They were the ones who would either not believe in the resurrection or by regarding it to be far-fetched would find ways to evade it.

[7]. The actual words are: قَدۡ نَعۡلَمُ. The actual expression is قَدۡ كُنَّا نَعۡلَمُ. When the word قَدۡ is pre-posed to an indefinite verb, then according to linguistic principles an incomplete verb is suppressed before it. Its presence signifies that the actual purport is: "It has remained and is in our knowledge."

[8]. This is the mention of the demands mentioned earlier and which are also coming up.

[9]. These are very affectionate and tender words to assure the Prophet (sws). The implication is that he is not saying anything on his own. It is God's word and Book that he is delivering at God's behest; if they are refuting it, they are in fact refuting God. Hence, he should leave this to God. He will take care of these wrongdoers.

[10]. This is a reference to the established practice of God which has been prescribed by Him for His messengers and their followers. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... In order to become entitled to God's help, prophets and their followers have to pass through a long and enduring phase.Without this God's help does not come. During this phase, the people of the prophets continue to refute and reject them. They are inflicted with all sorts of tribulations and are harassed. In this manner, whatever enmity the enemies harbour in their hearts fully manifests itself and whatever abilities prophets and their followers have are polished and become evident. It is at this time that the truth stands conclusively delivered by God to the rejecters of the truth, and a prophet and his followers become entitled to God's help. This is an established practice of God and no one can change it. The accounts of all messengers of God bear testimony to this established practice. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 44)

[11]. The answer to the condition found in this verse is suppressed. This is a common linguistic style of Arabic. I have unfolded it in the translation.

[12]. The implication is that this world has been created to try and test the knowledge and intellect, will and intention of people. God could have forcibly gathered people on guidance or created a situation in which all hindrances to reality were removed and people were able to directly observe it. However, He did not do this. The scheme He adopted on the contrary was that people are made to go through this test and then either succeed or fail in it. Thus in desiring their faith, the Prophet (sws) must not be so overwhelmed with emotions that he is not able to discern this established practice of God.

Here it needs to be appreciated that the emotions of the Prophet (sws) referred to here had no negative element in them. They were wholly and solely positive; however, when they were deemed to have crossed limits God checked him. There exists an apparent rebuke in the verse for the Prophet (sws). However, there is great affection concealed in it. If there is any harshness in it, it is directed to the wretched people whose not professing faith had made the Prophet (sws) very anxious.

[13]. It will become gradually evident from the succeeding verses that this demand was of such a sign that would prove that if these people adhered to their denial, they would be inflicted by a punishment.

[14]. There are many details concealed in this brevity. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… One of the things evident from this demand is that the foolish and arrogant people were not aware of the consequences of such a sign's manifestation. They regarded it to be a matter of mere amusement and jest. The fact is that if such a sign did manifest itself, it would break their backs. Secondly, these people were not aware of the wisdom and established practice which God had decreed for His messengers and their rejecters. It is not God's way to immediately punish the rejecters of His messengers; He gives them respite till a certain time period so that the truth is conclusively communicated to them in every respect. It is after this conclusive communication that He seizes them, and when He seizes them, no one can rescue them from His grasp. Thirdly, they thought that the threat sounded by the Prophet (sws) was false or that God was helpless. The fact is that God gives respite to the rebellious and hence His planning is very-well founded. However much respite He may give, there is no possibility that anyone may escape His grasp. Fourthly, those wretched people were unaware of the mercy concealed in this respite if they cared to benefit from it. God takes the lead in showing mercy and not anger. He is very merciful to His people. He keeps the door of repentance and reformation open as long as His creatures do not close them due to their stubbornness and obduracy. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 47)

[15]. The actual words are: وَ مَا مِنۡ دَآبَّۃٍ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ وَ لَا طٰٓئِرٍ یَّطِیۡرُ بِجَنَاحَیۡہِ . A little deliberation shows that in the above verse a suppression of parallel phrases has occurred. Because of the presence of the expression فِی الۡاَرۡضِ(in the earth) in the first part of the sentence, there is a suppression of its parallel expression فِی السَّمَآءِ (in the sky) in the second part. Similarly, because of the presence of the expression یَّطِیۡرُ بِجَنَاحَیۡہِ (fly on both their wings) in the second part of the sentence, a suppression of its parallel expression تَدُبُّ عَلَي رِجْلَيْهَا اَوْ اَرْجُلِهَا (roam on their legs) has occurred in the first part of the sentence.

[16]. The implication is that if they demand a sign, then they should see that every beast that roams on the earth and every bird that flies in the air is a great sign of God. Moreover, in the Qur'an as well, the Almighty has done everything to make people understand facts. In reality, both this universe and the Qur'an are replete with signs; however, what can be done of people who are not willing to understand anything?

The words اِلَّاۤ اُمَمٌ اَمۡثَالُکُمۡ of the verses are worthy of consideration. They tell us that the aspect of the beasts and birds which is being highlighted is their collective discipline. The best example of this is the collective cognizance of the honey-bee and the ant. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… One is really amazed at observing them. How splendid is their diligence in nourishing their young ones, vigilance in securing themselves from dangers, foresight in planning for future circumstances, intense sensitivity to collective responsibilities, superb division of labour, a strong system of hierarchy, expending of great effort in making available the needs of life, outstanding skill in making and protecting their food supplies and abodes, deep urge of quest and search, intelligence to realize their goal and the extent of sacrifice and selflessness. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 48)

We can observe this collective awareness in all animals and birds to some extent or the other. What becomes evident from this is that the creatures of the earth and the heavens have not been created by some blind and deaf law of nature; they have, in fact, been created keeping in view a purpose. This purpose can be understood from the individual life of a person but in their collective lives, the way they select their partners, make a family, relate themselves to other families and make elaborate arrangements for their protection, unless a person has gone mad, he cannot deny all this. It is evident that a blind and deaf law of nature cannot result in all this. The Qur'an directs their attention that if after all this they are not able to understand that behind all this is the will of a single creator and planner and not a place of diverse planners, opposing forces or the battle-ground of their alleged deities. It is in fact a place where the knowedge, wisdom, providence and mercy of their one and only creator and planner will manifest.

[17]. Ie., according to the law that only those people will be guided who are worthy of it because of their attitude, and those who insist on their wrong attitude will be consigned to it and then will never be able to find the way.

[18]. The implication is that today they are arrogantly demanding the punishment, but when it comes they will forget all their deities and call and invoke the very God to whom they ascribe partners. They know that their inner-selves bear witness to His existence alone. The reason for this is that whenever a person is faced with trials and tribulations, he forgets all his alleged deities and calls on God alone.

[19]. From here onwards, begins a mention of the established practice of God according to which the rejecters of God's messengers were destroyed. The purpose is to direct the attention of the Quraysh that nations who demanded a sign for God's punishment were never blessed with faith; in fact, the very punishment which they demanded routed them.

[20]. The actual word is: تَضَرُّعُ.This is purely a Qur'anic term which signifies bowing before God with all the humility, devotion and servitude of the heart.

[21]. This is an expression of sorrow and yearning. The implication is that the purpose of the torment was to admonish people; however, instead of receiving admonition, they became even more rebellious.

[22]. Ie., they did not learn a lesson from the calamities they were afflicted with; in fact, they totally forgot them and became devoid of any dread.

[23]. This is a very subtle expression. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... Before this, the gusts of trials that visit such transgressors only shake the branches of their trees of existence and that too temporarily. Their roots remain safe; however, when this time comes God sends on them such a scourge that uproots them from the ground. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 52)

[24]. This is an expression of the feeling that should arise in the heart of every believer regarding the fate of all those who rebel against Islam.

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