وَأَنْ لَّا تَعْلُوا عَلَى اللهِ إِنِّي آتِيكُم بِسُلْطَانٍ مُّبِينٍ (19)
These words constitute the message which Moses (sws) was required to deliver to the Israelites: they should plainly accept this directive of God. If they adopt a tyrannical attitude, then this tyranny will not be merely against Moses (sws); it will primarily be against God because Moses (sws) is merely an envoy of God.
The words إِنِّي آتِيكُم بِسُلْطَانٍ مُّبِينٍ refer to the miracles of the staff and the white hand given to Moses (sws). In other words, he holds a very clear sanction that he is God's envoy and shows these miracles to the Israelites so that they are left with no doubt about his veracity. Since Moses (sws) was sent to a very tyrannical and oppressive king, the Almighty from the very beginning armed him with such miracles which could convey his veracity to his opponents.
وَإِنِّي عُذْتُ بِرَبِّي وَرَبِّكُمْ أَن تَرْجُمُونِ (20)
These words were uttered by Moses (sws) when his demand to let the Israelites go with him had caused great commotion among the Copts. At that time, his life had also been threatened, and there was a chance that his nation might lose its mind and stone him to death. At that time, he proclaimed to the people that if they intended to stone him, he would seek refuge with his Lord Who was also their Lord. The words وَرَبِّكُمْ (and also your Lord) have a very effective appeal in them, a very subtle call to the truth and a very austere warning; concealed in these words is also the sarcasm that while being led away by the big devil who poses himself as their "great Lord" they should not do something which dooms the whole nation.
وَإِنْ لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا لِي فَاعْتَزِلُونِ (21)
The words imply that if these people are not ready to believe that Moses (sws) is God's envoy, then at least they should not besmear themselves with the sin of killing or stoning him to death and that they should leave him to himself. They should let him take along the Israelites to wherever he wants to take them; it would have been better if they believed in what he said and professed faith in him; this act would have ensured their success in both this world and the next. If they cannot do this, then at least they should not cause hindrance to his mission.
فَدَعَا رَبَّهُ أَنَّ هَؤُلَاء قَوْمٌ مُّجْرِمُونَ (22)
The Copts were not the least moved by this appeal made by Moses (sws). They continued to conspire and plan against him. At last, Moses (sws) pleaded to his Lord thus: "Lord! These people will not listen to and accept my call; they are chronic criminals; only you can save me from their grasp."
فَأَسْرِ بِعِبَادِي لَيْلًا إِنَّكُم مُّتَّبَعُونَ (23)
Moses (sws) made this invocation at the right time, and hence it was accepted forthwith. It was not even deemed necessary to say a few words of immediate acceptance of this invocation which showed that Moses (sws) was as a result directed to do what this verse states. He was directed to take along with him the servants of God during the night, and he was also warned that he would be followed. This warning was given because though the Pharaoh was frustrated at the calamities which befell Egypt because of Moses' invocation to God and therefore allowed Moses (sws) to take them away for a few days. When Moses (sws) embarked upon the journey with the whole nation, the Pharaoh changed his mind. He realized that he had made a mistake in giving him this permission. He immediately went in pursuit of them, with all his regional leaders, so that he could force them to come back. The Almighty had already informed Moses (sws) of this so that there was no delay in his march with his people and they would be able to cross the sea at the appointed time.
وَاتْرُكْ الْبَحْرَ رَهْوًا إِنَّهُمْ جُندٌ مُّغْرَقُونَ (24)
The word رَهْوmeans "standing still". The implication is that Moses (sws) should leave the sea before the dying down of the wind which God would use to part the sea and make way for them. As soon as they left the sea, it would become calm and the displaced water would come back to its position. During this time the Egyptians while pursuing them would be within the sea and water would engulf them in a manner that they would neither be able to move backward nor forward.
كَمْ تَرَكُوا مِن جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ (25) وَزُرُوعٍ وَمَقَامٍ كَرِيمٍ (26) وَنَعْمَةٍ كَانُوا فِيهَا فَاكِهِينَ (27)
The verse implies that they would become prey to the waves of the sea while being deprived of the orchards, fountains, crop fields, grand mansions and luxury items which had made them arrogant. They reckoned that these things were a guarantee of their success and development, and those who threatened them with destruction were absolutely insane. However, it was proven on the contrary that without the fear of God these things were a prelude to destruction and when destruction came none of these things were of any benefit.
كَذَلِكَ وَأَوْرَثْنَاهَا قَوْمًا آخَرِينَ (28)
The words نفْعَلُ بِالْمُجْرِمِيْن are suppressed after كَذَلِكَ because of textual indication. The meaning would be: "We did with them what we do with sinners and thus shall We do in the future." The next part of the verse means that the Almighty made others the owners of these things. "Others" do not refer to the Israelites. It is not established that once the Israelites left Egypt, they returned later. It is possible that "others" refer to neighbouring nations which the Pharaoh and his companions constantly feared would join hands with the Israelites and occupy Egypt. It is evident from the Torah that the motive of the campaign of killing the male members of the Israelites had been launched for fear that if the Israelites increased in number they might join hands with the enemies and pose a threat for the Pharaoh and his people.
فَمَا بَكَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ السَّمَاء وَالْأَرْضُ وَمَا كَانُوا مُنظَرِينَ (29)
The verse refers to the fact that as long as the Pharaoh and his nation remained in power, they thought that they were the pioneers of a great civilization and culture and that the whole world would remain under the burden of their favour, but neither did the heavens nor the earth shed a tear on their destruction; in fact, they heaved a sigh of relief at the extirpation of their filthy existence from this world.
Here it needs to be kept in mind that the heavens and the earth do cry at the death of an innocent being who has been the target of oppression. It is stated in the Torah (Genesis, 4:10) that the blood of Abel cries out to the Lord from the earth. However, at the death and destruction of the oppressed and the defiant both the heavens and the earth rejoice – especially at the destruction of the defiant to whom the Almighty has conclusively conveyed the truth through His messengers.
وَلَقَدْ نَجَّيْنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ الْمُهِينِ (30) مِن فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّهُ كَانَ عَالِيًا مِّنَ الْمُسْرِفِينَ (31)
The words مِن فِرْعَوْنَ are a permutative (badal) from الْعَذَابِ الْمُهِينِ. In other words, the Almighty has dubbed the Pharaoh as humiliating punishment. The Pharaoh regarded Moses (sws) and all his people to be lowly; however, to God it was the Pharaoh who was not only lowly but a humiliating punishment.
The words إِنَّهُ كَانَ عَالِيًا مِّنَ الْمُسْرِفِينَ express why the Pharaoh is regarded as a humiliating punishment. The Qur'ān says that this is because he was very rebellious and among those who transgress the bounds set by God. People who rebel against God are a punishment for the oppressed and shall stand humiliated before God.
وَلَقَدِ اخْتَرْنَاهُمْ عَلَى عِلْمٍ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ (32)
The verse implies that while the Almighty had the Pharaoh and his people drowned, He chose the Israelites – who had been trampled upon by them – for the guidance of the world. It may be kept in mind that a nation who is made the recipient of God's sharī'ah is naturally the most capable and worthy of guiding people. However, this position is conditional on the fact that it will discharge with full honesty the responsibility imposed on it by virtue of this position. If it does not discharge this responsibility, the Almighty confiscates this position and consigns it to others. In a particular period of time, the Israelites were given this position but when they did not remain worthy of it they were deposed and the responsibility of guiding people was entrusted to the Muslim ummah.
The words عَلَى عِلْمٍ allude to the philosophy of history: the rise and fall of nations in this world does not occur by chance; it is the Almighty Who selects a nation which meets His standards and those who do not are rejected by Him. The message which can be gauged from this is that those who have been deposed of this position should censure themselves on their own inability instead of blaming others, and those who are sovereign should show gratitude to God instead of being overcome by pride and arrogance and should discharge their responsibilities. The rise and fall of nations which takes place in this world is according to a divine design and its basis depends on the moral conduct of nations. God's knowledge is inerrant and His wisdom is unbiased.
These verses very sternly warn the Israelites who during the time of their revelation were opposing the Qur'ān and Muhammad (sws). This warning does not require any explanation. If they had only understood that the Almighty chose them on the basis of His knowledge, and now on the basis of that very knowledge had decided that they were no longer worthy of it, they would have saved themselves from the evil fate that they faced as a consequence of their opposition to Islam.
وَآتَيْنَاهُم مِّنَ الْآيَاتِ مَا فِيهِ بَلَاء مُّبِينٌ (33)
The real meaning of the word بَلَاءis "trial" and "test"; however, this trial can come through blessings and favours as well as through calamities and hardships. The former trial is to test whether people remain grateful or not and the latter trial is to test whether people remain patient or not. Contextual indications show that in this verse this word is used in the first of these meanings just as in verse seventeen of Sūrah Anfāl it has been mentioned with the adjective حَسَناً. The reference is to the favours which the Almighty granted them in a variety of ways while they were crossing the desert and later in the life they spent in the desert and in the conquest of Palestine as well as in later phases. Their details are mentioned in Sūrah Baqarah.
Section III: Verses (34-57)
In the succeeding verses, the real reason for the rebelliousness of the Quraysh is highlighted: they do not imagine that there is life after this worldly existence; for this reason they are engrossed in the present and unmindful of the future. In order to remove this misconception of theirs, first the intellectual and natural arguments which substantiate the law of reward and punishment are cited. After this, the fate of both the believers and the disbelievers is depicted.
Readers may now proceed to recite these verses.
Text and Translation
إِنَّ هَؤُلَاء لَيَقُولُونَ (34) إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا مَوْتَتُنَا الْأُولَى وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمُنشَرِينَ (35) فَأْتُوا بِآبَائِنَا إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ (36) أَهُمْ خَيْرٌ أَمْ قَوْمُ تُبَّعٍ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ أَهْلَكْنَاهُمْ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا مُجْرِمِينَ (37) وَمَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لَاعِبِينَ (38) مَا خَلَقْنَاهُمَا إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ (39) إِنَّ يَوْمَ الْفَصْلِ مِيقَاتُهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ (40) يَوْمَ لَا يُغْنِي مَوْلًى عَن مَّوْلًى شَيْئًا وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ (41) إِلَّا مَن رَّحِمَ اللهُ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ (42) إِنَّ شَجَرَةَ الزَّقُّومِ (43) طَعَامُ الْأَثِيمِ (44) كَالْمُهْلِ يَغْلِي فِي الْبُطُونِ (45) كَغَلْيِ الْحَمِيمِ (46) خُذُوهُ فَاعْتِلُوهُ إِلَى سَوَاء الْجَحِيمِ (47) ثُمَّ صُبُّوا فَوْقَ رَأْسِهِ مِنْ عَذَابِ الْحَمِيمِ (48) ذُقْ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْكَرِيمُ (49) إِنَّ هَذَا مَا كُنتُم بِهِ تَمْتَرُونَ (50) إِنَّ الْمُتَّقِينَ فِي مَقَامٍ أَمِينٍ (51) فِي جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ (52) يَلْبَسُونَ مِن سُندُسٍ وَإِسْتَبْرَقٍ مُّتَقَابِلِينَ (53) كَذَلِكَ وَزَوَّجْنَاهُم بِحُورٍ عِينٍ (54) يَدْعُونَ فِيهَا بِكُلِّ فَاكِهَةٍ آمِنِينَ (55) لَا يَذُوقُونَ فِيهَا الْمَوْتَ إِلَّا الْمَوْتَةَ الْأُولَى وَوَقَاهُمْ عَذَابَ الْجَحِيمِ (56) فَضْلًا مِّن رَّبِّكَ ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ (57) فَإِنَّمَا يَسَّرْنَاهُ بِلِسَانِكَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ (58) فَارْتَقِبْ إِنَّهُم مُّرْتَقِبُونَ (59)
These people emphatically say: "We shall die only this first death and after this we shall not be raised to life; so bring back to us our fathers, if you are truthful." (34-36)
Are they better or the people of Tubba' and those who were before them? We destroyed them. Indeed, they were a defiant people. (37)
And We did not create the heavens and the earth and all that is between them for amusement. We did not create them but for a purpose, but most of them are not aware of this fact. Indeed, the Day of Judgement is the appointed time for all. On that Day, no relative shall be of any benefit to a relative nor shall they be helped. Except those to whom God shows mercy. Indeed, He alone is the Mighty One, the Merciful. (38-42)
The tree of the Zaqqūm shall be the food of the sinners. Like dregs of oil; it will sizzle in the belly the way hot water sizzles. Seize him and drag him into the depths of Hell; then pour out the punishment of hot water over his head. Taste this! You posed to be very powerful and honourable. This is the very thing about which you remained doubtful. (43-50)
As for the righteous, they shall dwell in a peaceful place amid gardens and fountains. They will be dressed in sundus andistabraq sitting opposite one another. Thus shall be the God-fearing treated. And We shall wed them to large-eyed houris. They shall ask for every kind of fruit, with peace. Here, after their first death, they shall not taste death again and God protected them from the torment of Hell. This will be specially because of your God's grace. This indeed is great success. (51-57)
إِنَّ هَؤُلَاء لَيَقُولُونَ (34) إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا مَوْتَتُنَا الْأُولَى وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمُنشَرِينَ (35)
The verse states that these people very emphatically claim that the threat of the Day of judgement is mere bluff. Death is only faced once – and that is in this world. There is no other death or life after this.
فَأْتُوا بِآبَائِنَا إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ (36)
In order to substantiate their claim stated earlier, they would demand of the believers to bring back any of their forefathers to life if they were truthful in saying that there is life after death; if the believers met their demand, they would regard life after death to be a reality. This subject is discussed in Sūrah Jāthiyah in the following words:وَإِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُنَا بَيِّنَاتٍ مَّا كَانَ حُجَّتَهُمْ إِلَّا أَن قَالُوا ائْتُوا بِآبَائِنَا إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ (45: 25) (and when Our clear verses about life after death are recited to them, their only argument is: "if you are true in your claim, bring back to us our fathers!"(45:25)). The Qur'ān has regarded this to be their only argument, and after referring to it has just ignored it and not even refuted it. This is an allusion to the fact that such is the nonsensical nature of their only argument in which they take pride that it does not even need to be commented upon.
أَهُمْ خَيْرٌ أَمْ قَوْمُ تُبَّعٍ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ أَهْلَكْنَاهُمْ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا مُجْرِمِينَ (37)
The nation of Tubba' refers to the Tabābi'ah of Yemen who were very famous in Arabia because of their material might and advancement as well as for their intellectual abilities. Arab poets have eulogized them a lot.
In response to the previously mentioned claim of the Quraysh, the Qur'ān has asked them to speak up if they are superior to the nation of the Tubba'viz a viz material might and advancement and intellectual abilities, and if in spite of the superiority of the nation of the Tubba' the Almighty destroyed them – neither did their material might benefit them nor their intellectual prowess; so what is the reason for the arrogance of the Quraysh thinking that no one will be able to seize them? When the Almighty destroyed people more powerful than them, why can't He destroy them? Earlier nations too met with a similar fate. The people of the 'Ād, the Thamūd and some other nations were superior to the Quraysh in every respect; but when they became rebellious against God, the Almighty destroyed them. So what superiority and eminence do the Quraysh have that they will always remain in favour with God even though they are more rebellious than these ancient nations? What counts for God is character and morality and not material wealth and riches nor grand mansions nor atom bombs and missiles. When nations become morally corrupt, the Almighty destroys them with the very same bombs they made to destroy other nations, and thus they are forced to commit suicide with their own weapons.
Examples of God's law of retribution are found in this world and are found so abundantly that they are uncountable. So why should such a Day of reward and punishment be doubted on which the Almighty shall reward and punish individuals the way He rewarded and punished nations in this world.
وَمَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لَاعِبِينَ (38) مَا خَلَقْنَاهُمَا إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ (39)
In the afore-mentioned paragraphs, historical evidence as well as evidence from the world around man was presented to substantiate reward and punishment. In these verses, argument for the same is drawn from the attributes of God and from what they morally and intellectually entail. The verse states that the Almighty has not created the heavens and the earth and what is between them for amusement; on the contrary, He has created them for a higher purpose and a true objective. It is an essential requirement of this true objective that one day this world cease to exist and after that a day come when the Creator rewards those who spent their lives in accordance with God's will, and punishes those who remained disobedient. If such a day does not come and this world continues without end or ends abruptly such that neither its pious inhabitants are rewarded nor the evil ones punished, then this means that its Creator, God forbid, is a merry-maker who while sitting in the heavens is witnessing a drama of the oppression and the oppressed, and when gets bored from watching this drama, He will dismantle this world or perhaps this drama will continue unabated forever. Obviously, this notion is such a wrong estimation about the merciful and wise creator of this world that cannot even be imagined. It is strange however that the majority is inflicted with this notion and is absolutely unaware of its consequences.
The fact that this is a deviant notion has been explained in detail in the exegesis of the previous sūrahs. Hence, I will content myself here with this brief comment.
إِنَّ يَوْمَ الْفَصْلِ مِيقَاتُهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ (40)
Stated in this verse is the essential outcome of the fact that this world has been created with a true objective: it is against the knowledge, justice, wisdom and mercy of God that this world continues the way it is or ends abruptly; it is essential that a day come in which the Almighty sits in His chair of justice and decides the affairs of all. As a result, those who spent their lives in an upright manner will be rewarded and those who spent their lives in transgression and usurpation will be bear punishment. That day will be the day on which perfect justice manifests itself and no one will escape from it. The small and the big, the rulers and the ruled, the beggar and the king – all will be called to justice and such will be this justice that neither will any reality remain hidden nor will anyone be able to cause hindrance to the justice being dispensed. The word أَجْمَعِيْنَ should be specially paid attention to.
يَوْمَ لَا يُغْنِي مَوْلًى عَنْ مَّوْلًى شَيْئًا وَلَا هُمْ يُنْصَرُونَ (41)
The word مَوْلًى is used for members of a family and tribe who are related to a person through his blood and lineage and who have mutual feelings of support and unity. The verse states that that day will be of such selfishness that no relative will be of any benefit to another relative.
The expression وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ points to the fact that there will be no other source of help either. It is evident from contextual indication that this help refers to the help which the Idolaters of Arabia expected from their deities.
إِلَّا مَنْ رَّحِمَ اللهُ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ (42)
The verse says that on that day only those who are blessed with God's grace will succeed and only those receive His grace who are worthy of it. God is powerful and at the same time He is also merciful. No one will be able to bail out people seized by Him. And no one will be able to deprive people who are worthy of His mercy. In other words, people should fear Him alone and expect mercy from Him alone as well.
إِنَّ شَجَرَةَ الزَّقُّومِ (43) طَعَامُ الْأَثِيمِ (44) كَالْمُهْلِ يَغْلِي فِي الْبُطُونِ (45) كَغَلْيِ الْحَمِيمِ (46)
Earlier, the Day of Judgment was mentioned. Here what will befall the sinners as a result of the verdicts delivered therein is depicted. It is stated that the tree of cactus will provide subsistence to the sinners. This cactus is the cactus of Hell; hence, only God knows what it actually is. We can only vaguely imagine it by drawing an analogy from the cactus of this world. We cannot grasp what it actually is.
People have translated the word مُهْل variously. By giving preference to its etymological construction, I have translated it as the sediment of oil. The verses say that it will seethe in the bellies of the sinners the way the sediment of oil does, and shall sizzle the way water sizzles.
In other words, this food will boil the way the sediment of sour oil boils viz a viz its intensity, heat and bitterness and will sizzle like sizzling water. When oil is heated, it gets very hot but it does not sizzle; when water is heated it sizzles as well. Here in this simile both facets of heating are combined.
خُذُوهُ فَاعْتِلُوهُ إِلَى سَوَاء الْجَحِيمِ (47) ثُمَّ صُبُّوا فَوْقَ رَأْسِهِ مِنْ عَذَابِ الْحَمِيمِ (48)
Giving due consideration to eloquence, it is suppressed that the above words will be proclaimed to these people from God. The source of this proclamation is not mentioned; only the proclamation itself is cited. In other words, the wardens of Hell will be directed to seize these people and drag them to the depth of Hell and spill buckets of boiling water on them as a sizzling punishment.
ذُقْ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْكَرِيمُ (49) إِنَّ هَذَا مَا كُنتُم بِهِ تَمْتَرُونَ (50)
This statement can be an expression of the situation that will befall these people and it can also be interpreted to be made by the wardens. Each one of them will be told that they posed to be very powerful and honourable in the previous world and as a result arrogantly denied this Day; today they should taste its torment; this is the same thing about which they created all sorts of doubts.
إِنَّ الْمُتَّقِينَ فِي مَقَامٍ أَمِينٍ (51) فِي جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ (52)
After depicting of the fate of the sinners, the verses portray the fate of the God-fearing: they will reside in a peaceful place; they will neither have any fear there nor any sorrow. They will be amidst orchards and fountains, and they will have no fear that anyone snatch away these blessings from them or that the blessings cease or that they be regarded accountable for any of them.
يَلْبَسُونَ مِن سُندُسٍ وَإِسْتَبْرَقٍ مُّتَقَابِلِينَ (53)
Sundus (سُندُس) and istbaraq (إِسْتَبْرَق) are the names of silk cloth. Some people have distinguished between them with regard to their thickness. However, since these fabrics belong to Paradise, such a distinction is unimportant. Only God knows what actually they will be like.
The word مُّتَقَابِلِينَ here refers to the fact that these people will face one another. As per the linguistic construction of the verses, verbs like يَجْلِسُوْنَ (sitting) or يَتَّكِئُوْنَ (sitting while being supported by cushions etc) will be considered as understood to be present here. In other words, they will be sitting face to face wearing attires of sundus and istabraq. Sitting facing one another shows that they will be dear to one another and will enjoy the confidence of one another. Since they gave noble advice to one another in the previous world, its noble recompense will be evident to them. For this reason, they will sit with one another whole heartedly. On the other hand, the disbelievers and their leaders will hurl insults at each other.
كَذَلِكَ وَزَوَّجْنَاهُم بِحُورٍ عِينٍ (54) يَدْعُونَ فِيهَا بِكُلِّ فَاكِهَةٍ آمِنِينَ (55)
The verse states that as culmination of their bliss, the Almighty will have them wedded to large-eyed houris, In Arabic literature, this epithet signifies the pinnacle of beauty of a woman.
The subsequent verse says that for them will be all kinds of fruit in abundance. Whatever fruit they want, they will demand from dutiful attendants. Neither will they have any fear of reduction in fruits nor any fear of being deprived of this bliss nor will they have any fear of death. They will be shielded from all fears and enjoy eternal bliss.
لَا يَذُوقُونَ فِيهَا الْمَوْتَ إِلَّا الْمَوْتَةَ الْأُولَى وَوَقَاهُمْ عَذَابَ الْجَحِيمِ (56) فَضْلًا مِّن رَّبِّكَ ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ (57)
The first implies that after the death they tasted in this world, they will never taste it again. Both their life and its pleasure will be abiding. They are rid of death and their Lord shielded them from Hell. This is a special favour to them by the Prophet's Lord, and this, in reality, is the supreme triumph and not the one which the slaves of this world have given their hearts to and have been so infatuated with their love that they think that the life of this world is all that there is; after this, there is no life or death.
Section IV: Verses (58-59)
Readers may recall that this sūrah began with the mention of the Qur'ān's exaltedness: it is indeed a great favour which the Almighty has blessed the Arabs with. If they duly honour and value it, they will be blessed with great success both in this world and in that to come. However, if out of arrogance they do not duly value it, they should remember that this great favour can become an equally great torment for them, and they will only hasten their own destruction both in this world and in that to come. After this introductory topic, the sūrah went on to state arguments which substantiate the veracity of the Qur'ān. Now at the end, the same subject discussed in the introduction is recalled from a new aspect. It is as if the sūrah ends on the same subject on which it began. Several examples of this style of similarity between the opening and the closing verses of a sūrah can be seen in earlier sūrahs. In the speeches of eloquent orators as well, subtle example of this style can be seen. An orator generally ends his speech by reminding the audience of the topic with which he began it. This is because a complete reminder is sounded to them in the end.
Readers may now proceed to recite the verses.
Text and Translation
فَإِنَّمَا يَسَّرْنَاهُ بِلِسَانِكَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ (58) فَارْتَقِبْ إِنَّهُم مُّرْتَقِبُونَ (59)
Thus We have efficiently adorned this Qur'ān in your own tongue so that they may receive reminder. Wait you then; they too are waiting. (59)
فَإِنَّمَا يَسَّرْنَاهُ بِلِسَانِكَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ (58)
The letter فَ indicates the affinity with the subject of the previous sections of the sūrah. The aspect in which this affinity exists is already referred to above.
The word تِيْسِيْر means to make something appropriate and suitable for a purpose and to make it firm and sound in all aspects. The expression يَسَّرَ الفَرَسَ لِلرٌّكُوْب would mean to make a horse ready for riding by adorning it with a bridle, saddle, stirrups and other relevant things. The expression يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْآنَ لِلذِّكْرِ would mean to adorn the Qur'ān with all that is necessary to make it appropriate for education and reminding. People who have interpreted this verse to mean that the Qur'ān is a very easy and bland book have not been able to grasp the essence of the word. No doubt that the Qur'ān is also an easy book; however, this ease is a reference to its higher objective of teaching and reminding people for which the Almighty has revealed it. This objective has multifarious aspects, and since the Qur'ān comprehensively covers all these aspects as well as their essential consequences, it contains many difficult and intricate aspects. However, to effectively communicate these aspects to the hearts of people, it has adopted such majestic styles which cannot be emulated by anyone. However, these things themselves require deep deliberation because they relate to wisdom, and wisdom requires deep deliberation. I have alluded to some aspects of this issue in the explanation of verse ninety seven of Sūrah Maryam and God willing, I will attempt to shed more light on this issue in the exegesis of Sūrah Qamar.
The word بِلِسَانِكَ refers to the pure and unadulterated language of the Quraysh which was best archetype of eloquent Arabic, and the Prophet (sws) was best exemplar of this eloquent Arabic. This is a reference to a very important aspect of the taysīr of the Qur'ān: to conclusively communicate the truth to the Quraysh, the Almighty has revealed this Book in the language of the Prophet (sws) which is the best exemplar of the language of the Quraysh. If they do not understand the Qur'ān even in this language, then this is no fault of the Book; rather, it is their own fault for which the Prophet (sws) is not responsible.
The words لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ express the purpose of the revelation of the Qur'ān in a very elaborate and thorough manner: to receive reminder. This means that they be reminded of whatever the Almighty has inherently granted their intellect and nature, learn a lesson from the signs which are found within man and in the world outside him and bear in mind the guidance received from the previous prophets, in particular their great ancestor Abraham (sws). The Qur'ān is reminding them of all these things in the best of languages and in the best of styles. Concealed in these words is also the warning that if they are not prepared to be reminded, then they should get ready to meet the fate destined by God for such rebellious people. Moreover, their own history also reminds them of this fate.
فَارْتَقِبْ إِنَّهُم مُّرْتَقِبُونَ (59)
This verse clearly expresses the hidden warning that was concealed in the previous verse. In other words, if these people are not prepared to benefit from this Book and insist that they will only believe after observing the punishment they are being threatened with, then like them, the Prophet (sws) too should wait for this punishment. On this punishment hinges the judgement. Readers may take a look at the explanation of verse ten.
By the grace of God, with these lines, I come to the end of the tafsīr of this sūrah. فالحمد لله على إحسانه (so gratitude be to God for His favour)
22nd May 1976 AD
22nd Jumādī al-Thanī 1396 AH
(Tr. by Dr Shehzad Saleem)