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Holy Quran Section > Commentary of the Holy Quran by Dr. Basharat Ahmad > Chapter 52 (At-Tur - The Mountain)

Commentary of Chapter 52 (At-Tur - The Mountain) of the Holy Quran:
by Dr. Basharat Ahmad
Translated by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed

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This chapter was revealed at Makkah and is one of the earliest revelations of the Holy Quran.

In the last chapter, Adh-Dhariyat (The Scatterers), we were informed that this guidance and reformation which came into operation by means of the Holy Quran were totally in accordance with the laws of nature.

As the teachings of the Almighty had disappeared from the world and the water of His guidance had become dry the teachings of the Holy Quran had come in the nick of time just as the rains come opportunely to revive the dead earth. And this is all in accordance with laws of nature which we see in operation every day in the physical world and which were also in evidence continuously in the history of past religions.

In this chapter, it is quite rightly stated that this mighty reformation which was being ushered in by the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was in keeping with a prophecy that was repeatedly made by the former prophets of Allah, Most High, in particular, Prophet Moses (as) who foretold of a prophet like unto himself and Prophet Abraham (as) who had offered a supplication to the Almighty at the time of the renovation of the Ka’bah. The time for the fulfilment of that prophecy and the acceptance of the petition (du‘a) had now come. And the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was that prophet whom Prophet Moses had foretold and who was also the answer of Prophet Abraham’s supplication (du‘a). Thus the opponents are warned that whoever opposed him would be destroyed like Pharaoh whilst those who followed his word would be rewarded with success and prosperity. Thus, evidence is put forever in the following verses to establish the fact that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) is no lying, sinful poet or soothsayer but is indeed a true prophet of Allah, Most High.

1. By the Mountain!
2. And a Book written
3. On unfolded vellum!
4. And the frequented House,
5. And the elevated canopy,
6. And the swollen sea!
7. The chastisement of the Lord will surely come to pass –
8. There is none to avert it;
9. On the day when the heaven will be in a state of commotion.

Tur means a mountain and here At-Tur (The Mountain) refers specifically to Mt Sinai on which the Torah was revealed to Prophet Moses (as), and on which he received revelation from Allah, Most High, and thus made the grand prophecy of the advent of a coming prophet who would be "like unto him."

Al-bait-ul ma‘mur (the frequented House) is the Ka‘bah which is always filled with devotees who are either worshipping or making circumabulation (tawaf). This wondrous occurrence led Maulana Nur-ud-Din to relate an experience of his visit to the two holy places several years ago. He tells how he often visited the Ka‘bah to perform divine service and for a long time he cherished the desire that at some time or the other he should have the opportunity to circumambulate the Ka’bah all by himself. But he never got the chance except once. It was during the night, but then, there he was himself making circumambulation. Besides the period of the Hajj (Pilgrimage), all through the year, day and night, one can never find the Ka‘bah devoid of people either worshipping or circumambulating it.

By the words as-saqful marfu‘ is meant the sky. The word elevated (marfu‘) is used to describe it because its roof is so high that it is beyond man’s ability to ascend it.

Al bahr-ul-masjur means the sea that is filled up or the waves which are tumultuous. Here, the reference is to the Red Sea that was parted at the time when Prophet Moses and the Israelites crossed it and was filled up and full of water when Pharoah and his armies entered it and the dry path was covered over with water (and so they all drowned).

Kitab mastur is a written book and the reference is to the heavenly scriptures, the Torah and the Holy Quran.

Raqqim is paper or anything like paper that can be written on, for example, deerskin on which people wrote in ancient times.

Manshur means something that is spread out whether it is the paper itself that is spread far and wide or whether it is the book that is published and circulated throughout the country or all over the world.

I have clearly explained in the last chapter (51), Adh-Dhariyat, the purpose of oaths in the Holy Quran and I have fully established the fact that they are given with the intent of emphasising and augmenting evidence put forward. Accordingly, the purpose is the same here. A few matters have been presented as testimony by way of oaths and the answer to which is shed in a sworn testimony: "Certainly the punishment of thy Lord will come to pass!"

The first matter that is presented as evidence is that of the mountain. At-Tur (the mountain) is no other than Mt Sinai on which Prophet Moses (as) received the Torah in which he was given intimation from Allah, Most High, and so made the magnificent prophecy of the advent of a prophet like himself. This prophecy is recorded in Deuteronomy 18:18-20:

"And the Lord said unto me, They have well said that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I should command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him."

Further to this, there is another prophecy of Prophet Moses (as) in chapter 33 in which he clearly specifies the place of the appointment of that prophet "like unto himself" and in which he also disclosed several unique details of that prophet’s life.

Let us first examine the prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:17-20:

"And the Lord said unto me, They have well said that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I should command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. But the prophet, which shall speak a word presumptuously in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die."

Next, we shall look at Deuteronomy 33:1-2:

"And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. And he said,
The Lord came from Sinai,
And rose from Seir unto them;
He shined forth from mount Paran,
And he came from the ten thousands of holy ones:
At his right hand was a fiery law unto them."

After this, kitab mastur is put forward as evidence that those prophecies made by Prophet Moses (as) on Mt Sinai are still extant in book form (the Torah) and by raqqim manshur the point is further stressed that this is not a hidden or concealed book. In short, its written pages have been published in every nation. If there were one or more printed editions hidden by someone, then people could have suspected that somebody at a later stage inserted his writing in it or at least added to it.

Or if it were not a written book, then one can very well refuse to place reliance on another’s memory and might even say that God alone knows what the real words were and what were subsequently added to it, or what someone may have inserted of his own in it. However, when those prophecies are not dependent on memory but are present in written form in a book which is itself not concealed but is published and disseminated throughout the world, then who can deny that these were indeed prophecies that Prophet Moses (as) himself made and of which the Almighty informed him?

So if someone should claim to be the object of these prophecies and whatever events are contained in those prophecies are all exactly fulfilled by him, then there can be no doubt about the truth of those, neither can one deny that the promised personage has come from the Almighty, Himself.

Now, let us look at kitab mastur from a different angle. Firstly, it is the initial duty of a promised one who claims to be the object of the prophecies of past prophets to make a public announcement to the effect that Allah, Most High, Himself, had informed him of this affair.

Secondly, since it may be possible for the claimant to change his words later on, he should present his claims in the form of a written book. But in order to ensure that there may be no subsequent change or alteration in his words, it is also essential that this book be circulated among the people.

Thirdly, the events of his life should lend additional credence to his claim. As a result, the purpose here is to clarify the point that not only is the Torah a kitab mastur which has been published among the nations of the world, but the Holy Quran, which attests to the Holy Prophet being the fulfilment of those prophecies, is also a written book and not a secret document. In fact, it is a written book that has been published and publicly disseminated throughout all the nations of the earth.

Therefore, whatever has been written in the Holy Quran and has been very challengingly and openly presented to people and published far and wide can now in no way be ignored. So, if the bearer of the Holy Quran should be confirmed as the true fulfilment of all those details which are mentioned in the former prophecies and in addition, the events of his life should unfold exactly as foretold in those prophecies, then no one can entertain any doubt in his mind regarding his authenticity.

Let us examine the similarities more closely. Firstly, the Holy Quran has publicly endorsed the prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:17-20 that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the prophet whom the Prophet Moses (as) prophesised that he would be the like of him when it says in 73:15: 

"Surely We have sent to you a Messenger, a witness against you, as We sent a messenger to Pharaoh."

Secondly, the words of the Torah, "I shall put My words in his mouth," are repeated in the following verse of the Holy Quran:

"Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed" (53:3-4).

Thirdly, similarly the words of the Torah, "But the prophet, which shall speak a word presumptuously in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die" (Deut. 18:19), find fulfilment in 88:21-26 of the Holy Quran: 

"So remind. Thou art only one to remind. Thou art not a warder over them — But whoever turns back and disbelieves, Allah will chastise him with the greatest chastisement. Surely to Us is their return. Then it is for Us to call them to account."

Fourthly, the threat embodied in the words of the Torah, "But the prophet, which shall speak a word presumptuously in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die" (Deut. 18:20), is vouched for in the following words of the Holy Quran: 

"And if he had fabricated against Us certain sayings, We would certainly have seized him by the right hand, Then cut off his heart’s vein" (69: 44-46).

In other words, the Holy Quran itself has also presented the same touchstone to judge the truth of a claimant as laid down in the Torah. However, not only did the Holy Quran protect the Holy Prophet from assassination exactly according to this said criterion, but the success that attended his mission has left no lingering misgiving in the minds of people concerning his appointment by Allah, Most High. Further, the truth of this criterion has become more resplendent when we consider how, on one side, not only the Makkan unbelievers but also all the unbelievers of Arabia together with the Chosroes of Persia and several other rulers and even the Jews spared no effort in trying to extirpate him and failed; whilst on the other side, the Holy Quran addressed the Holy Prophet and repeatedly assured him of protection from Allah, Most High, as the following verse assures him:

"And surely Allah will protect you from men" (5:67).

And this was fulfilled exactly as it was revealed to him.

All those who tried to kill and exterminate him were themselves destroyed and, besides being protected from all opponents, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was honoured with success not paralleled in world history. If anyone would place the slightest credence in this acid test to which both the Torah and the Holy Quran have attested, he would have no recourse but to bow before the truthfulness of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). In addition, to this criterion let us now examine the picture of this triumph which is mentioned in Deuteronomy 33:1-3:

"And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. And he said, The Lord came from Sinai, and rose from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came from the ten thousands of holy ones: at his right hand was a fiery law unto them."

Research scholars have verified that Sinai is the mountain on which the Torah was revealed to Prophet Moses (as) whilst Seir is the mount in which Prophet Jesus (as) used to preach and Paran the ancient name by which the mountains in the environment of Makkah was called.

There are three distinct strands of this prophecy which says firstly that "the Lord came from Sinai." This points to the appointment of Prophet Moses (as). Secondly, the statement, "And rose from Seir unto them," is a reference to the appointment of Prophet Jesus (as) whilst the third declaration, "He shined forth from mount Paran," is a clear indication of the Prophet Muhammad’s appointment which took place in Makkah.

The distinguishing feature in the words of the three parts of this prophecy is clearly elucidated by the fact that the first two appointments, that is, the coming of the Lord and his rising only served as a precursor and that the true manifestation of God’s glory is inseparably bound up with the mount of Paran.

It is further written:

"And he came from the ten thousands of holy ones."

Was this scene of the true manifestation of the Lord’s glory on Mount Paran not enacted when the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) entered Makkah in total triumph with ten thousand of his holy companions, and the true glory of the Lord was manifested on the mount of Paran, and in his right hand was the Holy Quran, the bearer of the fiery law mentioned in the prophecy?

After the prophecies of Prophet Moses (as), attention is drawn by way of further test to the Prophet Abraham’s prophecies which are recorded in the Scriptures and are still extant. The Holy Prophet, too, has not only established the fact that these prophecies refer to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) but has also publicised them in written form throughout the world. They are presented in the words al baitul ma‘mur (the frequented House) which relate to the Ka‘bah which is always filled with pious ones performing divine services and making the tawaf (circumambulation). Is this not the House, the foundations of which Prophet Abraham (as) raised in an arid desert devoid of water and vegetation and of which Prophet Ishmael (as) was made the guardian? And did the Almighty not promise Prophet Abraham:

"And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation."

The Torah is replete with prophecies relating to the Ka‘bah being always filled with worshippers. One of those was already quoted in the last chapter, Adh-Dhariyat (The Scatterers), namely the one mentioned in Isaiah: 54:1-3, in which the Almighty spoke in relation to Prophet Ishmael (as) promising to give him good offspring and great prosperity. It begins like this:

"Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations; spare not: lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes. For thou shalt spread abroad on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall possess the nations, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited" (Isaiah: 54:1-3).

The promise continues later on in verses 11-15:

"O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will set thy stones in fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy pinnacles of rubies, and thy gates of jewels, and all thy border of pleasant stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression, for thou shalt not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near thee. Behold, they may gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall because of thee."

In this prophecy, wherever mention is made of the spiritual inheritance of Prophet Ishmael’s people, side by side, the Ka‘bah is also spoken of as a house of honour, grandeur and nobility as well as a place of peace to which the Holy Quran attests in the following words: 

"And how many a living creature carries not its sustenance! Allah sustains it and yourselves. And He is the Hearing, the Knowing" (29:60).

Is it not true that the Ka‘bah is that House the sublimity of which is a permanent feature as well as its position as the qiblah (place of turning the face in prayer) for Muslims as the Holy Quran itself claims in the words: "And when We made the House a resort for men and a (place of) security" (2:125)?

On the other hand, consider the Temple of Jerusalem: how many times it was built and how many times it was demolished! How often its position of honour and its reputation as a place of peace and sanctuary have been interrupted and violated. Look at the numerous occasions when it was razed to the ground and no longer served as an asylum and place of security for mankind. However, the Ka‘bah is the only House that suffered no decline in its majestic reverence and no break in its being a place of tranquillity and safety for man. Thus it is this House alone that is spoken of in the above prophecy from the Book of Isaiah: 54: 13-14:

"And great shall be the place of thy children. In righteousness shall thou be established."

Isaiah: 60:1-11 speaks of the Ka‘bah in this manner:

"Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And nations shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at [thy] side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory. Who [are] these [that] fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows? Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee. And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in My wrath I smote thee, but in My favour have I had mercy on thee. Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night."

Does this prophecy not disclose in clear terms that when the whole world will be enveloped in dense darkness and people will see the coming to pass of the verse of the Holy Quran, "Corruption has appeared in the land and the sea on account of that which men’s hands have wrought, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, so that they may return (30:41)," that the divine light of the sun will rise on this House in the form of the prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh), and not only Arabia, but the entire world will derive light from it and that people will come from afar to perform the pilgrimage at the threshold of that House as the Holy Quran tells us:

"And proclaim to men the Pilgrimage: they will come to thee on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every remote path" (22:27).

Indeed, around which House besides the Ka‘bah did the multitude of camels and the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah gather? Is it the Holy Temple at Jerusalem? By no means! Saba is in the kingdom of Yaman and from there, it is to Makkah that gold and frankincense were brought and not to Palestine. Again, who was Kedar? It is well-known that he was a prominent personality from the descendants of Prophet Ishmael (as) and from his progeny descended the twelve tribes of the Quraish. Thus "the flocks of Kedar" can be no other than those of Prophet Ishmael (as) and no one else. The statement "The rams of Nebaioth shall come with acceptance in Mine altar" is a clear picture of the sacrifices during the Pilgrimage.

Again, consider the exalted status that the Almighty conferred on this House that its servants are not only the descendants of Prophet Ishmael (as) but non-Arab nations too, who have become Muslims, also consider it a signal honour to be of service to it. Moreover, powerful non-Arab kings also have made vows and offerings in testimony of their faith at its threshold. This is the House, the gates of which are open day and night for devotion and are never closed at any time.

In short, in the phrase, al baitul ma‘mur (the frequented House), evidence has been put forward in relation to that House of which prophecies were continuously made in the revealed scriptures of the People of the Book concerning its sanctity, place of turning to prayer (qiblah), and its forever being filled with worshippers that the time had come when all these prophecies should be fulfilled, and that this first House for the worship of One God should become established for all times as the final sanctuary, centre and qiblah (direction of prayer) for mankind. Furthermore, all these matters were not mere verbal claims but the Holy Quran had issued mighty challenges in plain language and circulated them in written form throughout the world to the effect that the time had arrived for the fulfilment of Prophet Abraham’s prayer which he had made when he was rebuilding the Ka‘bah, in regard to the Children of Ishmael and the Ka’bah and which is recorded in the Holy Quran in such plain and unambiguous words: 

"And proclaim to men the Pilgrimage: they will come to thee on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every remote path: My Lord, surely they have led many men astray. So whoever follows me, he is surely of me; and whoever disobeys me, Thou surely art Forgiving, Merciful. Our Lord, I have settled a part of my offspring in a valley unproductive of fruit near Thy Sacred House, our Lord, that they may keep up prayer; so make the hearts of some people yearn towards them, and provide them with fruits; haply they may be grateful" (14:35-37).

In addition, in order for them to be saved from idol worship and to establish prayer, he had made another petition for a prophet to be raised in their midst. This is recorded in 2:129 of the Holy Quran as follows: 

"Our Lord, and raise up in them a Messenger from among them who shall recite to them Thy messages and teach them the Book and the Wisdom, and purify them. Surely Thou art the Mighty, the Wise."

Thus, the Holy Quran has plainly supported this claim that those supplications were fulfilled in the person of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), and as the Holy Quran was written down at the same time that revelations were being received from on High and was simultaneously being circulated among the people, this claim was very unreservedly written down and also made public.

As a result, in chapter 62, Al-Jumu’ah (The Congregation) it was explicitly proclaimed that the appointed time for the acceptance of Prophet Abraham’s supplication had arrived and that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the one for whose sake he had petitioned the Almighty. The Holy Quran says: 

"He it is Who raised among the illiterates a Messenger from among themselves, who recites to them His messages and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom — although they were before certainly in manifest error" (62:2).

And in chapter 2, Al-Baqarah (The Cow), an unmistakable declaration was made that the command given to Prophets Abraham (as) and Ishmael (as), "Purify My House for those who visit (it) and those who abide (in it) for devotion and those who bow down (and) those who prostrate themselves" (2:125), was now about to be fulfilled. Thus this House was now cleared of idols and was to be filled with pious ones circumambulating and performing devotions.

It now remains for us to see whether there was substance to the proclamation or whether it was just a bombastic claim that bore no fruit. Is it a mystery to people who know the detailed incidents of the Prophet’s life that, notwithstanding the severest opposition, this House was purified of idols for all times to come and was established as a place which in future will be always filled with worshippers performing circumbulation and doing divine service to only One God? And as I have been explaining above, see how manifestly Allah’s promise to Prophet Abraham (as) was fulfilled in the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and how the truth of the prophecies contained in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah concerning his appointment were consummated word for word? Has the Almighty, in using the words baitul ma‘mur (frequented House), not placed a seal of authenticity on the veracity of these prophecies and in the truth of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) being a sent one from Himself?

The verse as-saqful marfu‘ (the elevated canopy) proves the point that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was only a mortal. He lived on earth. No human has been able to breach the heavens for that canopy is too high for man. If the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was not a messenger and (may Allah forbid!) he was an impostor, is it not evident to all that he received constant assistance from Heaven? Is it not a fact also that if Heaven does not decide on a matter nothing can happen on earth? Thus, when people witness with their own eyes a person being blessed with miraculous help from Allah, Most High, and extraordinary heavenly assistance, then they will have to admit that the Almighty is with that chosen one. Otherwise, man cannot ascend to the high heavens and appropriate heavenly means in his support. What relationship is there between an earthly-minded person and Heaven? Thus, if the opponents should observe such celestial signs and miraculous Divine assistance descending on the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to such a magnitude that earth cannot claim any credit for the occurrence, and they are forced to confess that the source lies in Heaven, then every wise one from among them will be compelled to admit that this person has come from Allah, Most High, and that the Almighty is rendering him assistance from on High and is displaying manifest signs to prove his truthfulness.

Those who are acquainted with the circumstances of the Holy Prophet’s life will know that throughout his life he was the recipient of exactly such heavenly signs and Divine assistance. A brief look at his life will show how he stood along, weak and helpless, without wealth or riches, or a community, or a standing army, facing for many years the bitterest opposition and persecution in his attempt to propagate the message he brought from Allah, Most High, to the point of having to leave his hometown and flee for his life. However, his enemies were not prepared to allow him to live in peace in his exile and so they raised a well-equipped army and marched against him (in Madinah) with the intention of eradicating him from this earth forever. And so, at Badr, they launched their assault against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his small, ill-equipped community in order to grind them into the dust. However, the Almighty came to his assistance with heavenly means and resources, wreaking destruction in a manner not witnessed before except in the time of Prophet Moses (as) and the destruction of his enemies.

Thus, the phrase, al-bahrul masjur (the swollen sea) is put forward as proof. That is, the parted sea, or the swollen sea, which served as a heavenly sign in the age of Prophet Moses (as) and was a veritable criterion of his truth is presented as evidence. For it was from this sea that Prophet Moses (as) and his weak party were saved and it was in this sea that his enemies were drowned. Look at how the sea was parted and a dry path made for Prophet Moses (as) and how, when Pharaoh attempted to follow them, the same sea rose high and drowned them all. Is this within the power of man to do or is the source of this help not Divine? Do we not clearly see the hand of Allah, Most High, at work in this occurrence? This, too, is what we observe in the events of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his enemies.

Abu Jahl was the Pharaoh of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and by Allah’s wondrous power, that field in which the well of Badr was situated was also called Badr (Sea). Now, when, like Pharaoh, Abu Jahl marched to Madinah in order to annihilate the Holy Prophet’s community, did the two parties not encounter each other on a plain called Badr (Sea)? And who, like Prophet Moses (as), was the person who not only escaped from the raging sea (bahr) but was also helped and emerged triumphant? Was he not the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)? Further, was the one who was destroyed like Pharaoh not Abu Jahl together with all the pagan leaders of Makkah, a circumstance which engulfed the city in a sea of mourning which spared not a single family from among them? Look again at how an army of 1000 brave, valiant, skilled and bloodthirsty pagan soldiers was routed by a small and weak group of 313 men comprising old men and youths who were ill-trained and possessed few weapons? If one should read about these incidents with an open mind it will become abundantly clear to him that Heaven was lending assistance to this tiny community.

Let us consider the events more clearly. Firstly, rain fell and this solidified the sand. The Muslims who were standing on sandy ground had a firm footing. Secondly, it was the work of angels that brought peace and security to the hearts of Muslims despite their paucity of members and military weakness, and instilled fear and trepidation in the minds of the unbelievers notwithstanding their numerical superiority and martial expertise. Thirdly, when the attack of the unbelievers against this small group of Muslims raged at its fiercest, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) threw a handful of gravel against them whereupon a strong gust of wind arose and blew the sand into the eyes of the attackers thus blinding them with the result that the Muslims were able to wreck havoc on them. Was all this not evidence of Divine help and a display of heavenly signs? Referring to this, the Holy Quran corroborates: "when thou threwest (a handful of dust) it was not thy act, but Allah’s" (8:17), thus proving that it was the Hand of the Almighty working behind the scenes, for it was not within the power of man to raise such a storm as would send sand into the eyes of the enemy.

In short, the coming to pass of the prophecies of Prophet Moses (as), and the supplication of Prophet Abraham (as) and his prophecies, together with the fulfilment of these in the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and the miraculous help and heavenly signs showered on him and the destruction of his enemies in similar fashion to those of Prophet Moses (as) prove the truth of the verses, "The chastisement of thy Lord will surely come to pass—There is none to avert it" (52:7-8). It also contains a warning to present day antagonists against "the like of Prophet Moses" that their fate will be the same as those of Prophet Moses (as).

After this, a picture of the punishment is drawn in the following two verses: 

9. On the day when the heaven will be in a state of commotion,
10. And the mountain will pass away, fleeing.

There is no doubt whatsoever that all these things will also be truly and plainly evident at the time of the Great Resurrection for in the truest sense the manifestation of Divine punishment will take place on that day. However, it is generally known that in the age of a law-bearing prophet also, the good or evil consequences of man’s deeds are witnessed so they may serve as proof of the coming of the Resurrection or the Great Hour, and also to establish the fact that every deed definitely carries its own consequences even though, generally speaking, the full disclosure of the results of man’s deeds is not visible in this earthly life. For that purpose, there is another life and another world where the results of deeds will definitely be unveiled and there man will have to taste in full measure, the fruits of his deeds, whether good or evil.

However, the recompense for deeds that take place in the age of a law-giving prophet is called the Middle Resurrection and is given in a small measure in order to alert man to the Great Resurrection whilst on a personal level the condition that man experiences in the grave according to his deeds is called the Small Resurrection. Accordingly, in these two verses also, besides the punishment in the Hereafter, there is also a pointed reference to the punishment in this world, too, and this is the same that was given in the expression bahrul-masjur as a form of testimony and proof of the Great Resurrection.

What a wonderful description of this promised punishment is given in these two verses! What a beautiful metaphorical expression is used in the first verse, "On the day when the heaven will be in a state of commotion," and see how the agitation took place: rain fell and then angels descended from above bringing peace and tranquillity to the hearts of the believers and putting fear in the hearts of the unbelievers; a storm arose and turned the fortunes of the war upside down. These were all heavenly means that were set in motion. And look at the result: "The mountains passed away, fleeing." The Arab nobles with an eye on their pomp and glory, and their power and solidarity referred to themselves as mountains. We are told that on that day all these mountains would disappear as if in flight. That is, the pagan aristocracy would be exterminated and whatever obstacles there were in the path of the believers’ success - and there were many standing tall and imposing like mountains – would all be swept away and the road of success for the righteous ones would be made smooth. It is impossible to describe the events of the Battle of Badr in more concise yet comprehensive words. Again, look how strikingly clear subsequent events demonstrated the truth of this prophecy! In other words, everything came to pass just as it was foretold. 

11. Woe on that day to the deniers,
12. Who amuse themselves by vain talk (khaudin).

Khaudun means falling or slipping into objectionable behaviour like, for example, mocking, belying or rejecting (the truth).

We are told that the day of punishment will be a most distressing time for the beliers for it will be a day of disgrace and destruction for them. Those are the very ones who, today, are paying no heed to the truth and consider it a sport and play and so have fallen into the mire of mockery, denial and opposition. If they had paid respect and pondered over the truth and not chosen the path of play and sport then they would have discovered the truth. The root cause of denial and opposition lies in not applying the mind to the contemplation of truth.

13. The day when they are driven to hell-fire with violence.
14. This is the Fire which you gave the lie to.
15. Is it magic or do you not see?

We are told that on the day of the threatened punishment not only will they suffer ignominy and perdition, but, in addition, after their death and disgrace they will be dragged into the fire of Hell, and when they come face to face with it they will be told, as confirmation of the warning they had received in life, that that was the fire which they had belied. They will be asked whether it was magic or whether what they were seeing was real or not. When they were alive in this world, the deniers used to raise all kinds of objections as regards the Resurrection. Firstly, they used to say that all talk of Judgement Day was magic or enchanting talk that had no truth to it. Secondly, they used to ask why were they not seeing this hell with their own eyes. That is why they will be asked: "Dear Sir, is this magic or are you witnessing it with your own eyes?" 

16. Burn in it, then bear (it) patiently, or bear (it) not, it is the same to you. You are requited only for what you did.

That is, they will be told that it is their own deeds that gave rise to the fire of hell which they had created for themselves by stoking the fire of their desires and passions. Thus, the time to escape from it was when they were performing their deeds in their earthly life. Now, the time had come when the consequences of deeds would be requited and so there was no way of escape open to them whether they displayed patience or cried out for help. That punishment was inexorable, they are told, and why should it not be so when their own deeds had brought it into being? If someone should take poison and consequently has to suffer the pangs of an agonising death, then whether he endures it patiently or engages in loud lamentations, it is all the same, for the pain is inevitable. If he feared pain, then he should have thought of it at the time when he was about to take the poison.

17. The dutiful will surely be in Gardens and bliss
18. Rejoicing because of what their Lord has given them; and their Lord saved them from the chastisement of the burning Fire.

A muttaqi (righteous one) is a person who meticulously fulfils the rights of others whether of Allah, Most High, or of His servants. For those who believe and do good, that is, the rewards for piety (taqwa) will be gardens and streams and all kinds of boons and favours which will afford the recipients no end of ecstasy and bliss. And this will come as a gift from their Lord (Rabb). In other words, this is Divine providence (Rububiyyat) which bestowed on man his inner capacities and his spiritual powers which, when nourished by good deeds, created for him a garden and all sorts of heavenly delights, thus preparing for him a place of peace and unalloyed pleasure.

Furthermore, good deeds are a direct result of Divine guidance. If guidance did not come from the Almighty in the form of a revealed book, man would have fallen prey to his egoistic desires and base animal passions, thereby preparing for himself a bed of fire.

Thus, a righteous person who acts in consonance with the Book of Allah, Most High, not only inherits the delights of Paradise but also saves himself from falling into the pit of hell-fire. In other words, it is a double blessing: profiting from the pleasures of Paradise and avoiding the fire of Hell for the latter is, in itself, a blessing in its own right.

19. Eat and drink with pleasure for what you did,
20. Reclining on thrones set in lines, and We shall join them to pure, beautiful ones (hurin‘in)

Hur is the plural of haura and means fair, beautiful women with lovely eyes. Metaphorically, it refers to one who possesses beauty of every kind. Paradise is also the name of a life of peace and serenity, and happiness and dignity. However, there are some who raise certain objections to the effect that if there is really a next life, how can there be greater comfort there than in this life and how can it be that the provisions for man’s residence and food and drink be superior in comfort and pleasure? Further, they ask, how could he be the possessor of the seat of honour in that society and the one to enjoy the companionship of young beautiful wives of the same age as he?

I cannot understand why people should object to beautiful women (hurs) in Paradise and why they think that it is a sinful and impure thing for pious men to meet with pure, beautiful women in the next life. Will people consider it something impure in today’s world for a man to have as his wife a pretty woman of noble character? If not, then why deem it impious in the life hereafter? Finally, where will these women who live in this world go? Will they be rendered totally extinct, or will a next world be created for them? Are women such unclean beings that their presence in Heaven is forbidden? In short, all these objections are the product of ignorance. If, in this life, male and female companionship is something natural and it is considered a badge of honour for husband and wife to live together in love and happiness, then if that same companionship should exist in the next life, can any wrong be attached to it?

I do not know what concept the Christians and the Arya Samaj have about the next world. After all, that is another life and if there is going to be pleasure (anand) in that life then it can only mean that that existence will be one of extreme happiness and delight. If by anand a life of inaction and an absence of sensation are meant, then that is tantamount to death or worse.

However, if this is not so and in that world there will also be life in which knowledge and feelings will form part, then in that existence our soul or spirit can derive pleasure only from those senses and knowledge that it had carried over from this world. Our soul was nurtured in this earthly life by means of those senses and faculties that existed in our body and learnt to enjoy happiness only through these very senses and faculties that are found in our physical body. For example, the body is there to eat delicious food and the tongue to experience the taste of it, but to derive pleasure is the province of the human soul or spirit. Thus, the soul acquires delight from sense that the body possesses and hence body and soul are partners as regards the senses. So, when the human soul leaves this earthly body, although what it will receive in the next life will be different and of an infinitely more sublime nature, yet if there is a potential for pleasure for the soul in that life, then it will have to be through those very senses which it shared with the body in this world and through which it used to experience joy and delight here.

It will retain its five senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. It will also taste the sweetness of marital love although its form there will be of a higher nature than the carnal passions in this life and more conducive to progress also. However, it will exist and along these same lines, too, for the very reasons stated above.

If people should claim that there will be no feelings in Paradise, then that amounts to saying that there will be no life there, for when feelings are absent there will be neither hell nor heaven, nor happiness nor sorrow. For example, in a dream or vision, if we are given something spiritual, a fruit, for instance, it is always identical in form to a physical fruit, and its taste is just like an earthly one even though its sweetness may be thousands of times greater. In any case, it is with the same sense of taste that we have in this life that we savour the deliciousness of the fruit.

21. And those who believe and whose offspring follow them in faith — We unite with them their offspring and We shall deprive them of naught of their work. Every man is pledged for what he does.

Rahinah comes from rahana and rahn means something that is held back as a security for a loan. As rahn also conveys another meaning, that is, an obstruction or impediment, the word is therefore used metaphorically here to signify an obstacle. That is, in the recompense for deeds every soul will be stopped at the point where it had sent its actions beforehand. In other words, every soul will be rewarded according to its deeds. It will not be possible for an evildoer to reap the rewards of righteous ones. Instead, his bad deeds will block him right at that point where the recompense for his actions has been stationed.

In this verse, I have deliberately adopted this meaning, that is, impediment, for sinful deeds because in another place of the Holy Quran (74:38), we find the following words: "Every soul will be pledged or obstructed as a recompense for its deeds except the companions of the right hand," that is, the inhabitants of Heaven.

Thus, it is made clear that it is really evil deeds that impede man from making progress and enjoying Divine favours. It we ponder over these verses it becomes obvious to us that the children of believers will be joined with their family provided that they, too, followed in the footsteps of their virtuous parents. That is, just belonging to the family will carry no weight for them in the Hereafter, for there, everyone will be responsible for his own deeds. The children of righteous people will join the ranks of their pious ancestors only if they fulfil the condition laid down in the verse under discussion: "Whose offspring follow them in faith."

The same meaning is conveyed in the following verse of the Holy Quran:

"So when the trumpet is blown, there will be no ties of relationship among them that day" (23:101).

In other words, on the Day of Resurrection, mere lineage will be of no avail to man. Instead, of value to him will be his faith and good deeds as the Holy Prophet (pbuh) explained to his daughter, Lady Fatimah (ra):

"My dear daughter, the fact that I am your father will not help you on the Day of Resurrection. Of benefit to you will be your good deeds."

Of course, those who follow their elders in faith will, if they are qualified for Heaven, be united with their families. I have emphasised the pre-condition of being inhabitants of Paradise because later on the Holy Quran itself removes all doubt from the matter when it say: "Every man is pledged for what he does."

I have explained earlier that this verse refers to evildoers who are impeded from further human progress. Thus, those who behaved badly will not be united with their righteous families for the Almighty has already specified that wrong doers will be blocked.

A question arises here: Suppose the deeds of good children do not reach the same degree of righteousness as their ancestors, what will be the case? The answer is that the Creator is full of beneficence and He can, through His grace, make compensation for their shortfall. The meaning of the words, "We shall deprive them of naught of their work," is that nothing will be taken away from their deeds. Thus, when believing children are joined with their believing parents, it will not happen that a higher level of virtuous people will be placed among those of a lower standard of piety for the very reason that the reward for good deeds is not diminished as that is far removed from Allah’s mercy and grace. In fact, the uniting of family members will take place in this way: among parents and children, those of an inferior rank of goodness will be joined with those of a higher degree because the reward of the dwellers of Paradise cannot be reduced. Instead, more can be given through the bounty of Allah, Most High.

22. And We shall aid them with fruit and flesh, as they desire.
23. They pass therein from one to another a cup, wherein is neither vanity, nor sin.

I have mentioned earlier on that heaven also is the name of an existence in which comfort and happiness reign and that if the human soul is to have any enjoyment there, then it will be through the medium of these same feelings which existed in the physical body and by means of which it learnt to experience delight. Of course, it is true that just as that life will be perfect in every detail and will lead to unlimited growth and progress, in the same way, too, man’s feelings will be infinitely more sophisticated and more capable of advancement than his earthly feelings to such an extent that in this world it is beyond our power to estimate the reality of that life. In any case, the soul should make progress along the same lines on which it was nurtured in this world’s life.

In this life, the best sources of nourishment we can find for health, strength and vitamins are to be found in fruits and meat. And whether it is a matter of taste or the nurturing of human faculties, we can prescribe no better kinds of sustenance then these two. In Heaven, too, the Almighty has divided the celestial food into these two components. There is no doubt that those provisions will be a representation of man’s good deeds through which his spiritual capacities are nourished in this physical world. However, in the Hereafter, its likeness will have the same relationship with the physical sustenance our bodies enjoyed in this life, for if it were different we will neither be able to comprehend these favours nor will we be able to derive any enjoyment from it.

In the words "as they desire," there is a subtle indication suggesting that those people who bring their desires in total conformity with the pleasure of Allah, Most High, will find that their passions adhere to the straight path so steadfastly that no evil promptings will arise in their hearts, and ultimately they will advance to such an exalted station that whatever feelings spring in their hearts will be completely in accordance with the pleasure of their Creator. Thus, provisions for their perfection are constantly under preparation by the Almighty.

That cup from which they will drink will contain neither vanity nor sin. Sin is that which is harmful to man whilst vanity (laghv) is something which neither harms nor profits. One of the characteristics of a true believer is given in the Holy Quran in the verse: "And those who shun what is vain (laghv)" (23:3).

In other words, sin is so deleterious to the believer that it forms no part of his personality and so high a value he puts on time that he is always wary of those things which, even if they are not sinful, are yet not beneficial to him. In other words, the believer always spends his time in useful activities. Thus, those who partook neither of sin nor levity in this life will be given a drink from which these noxious elements are absent, for that beverage will be only a manifestation of this world’s life.

From this we can infer that in heavenly society there will never be any goblet containing wine or intoxicating substances, for these things engender sin or at least dull the intellect and usually lead to frivolous acts and Paradise is devoid of sin and frivolity. From this, too, we can easily deduce that in that heaven which is given as a recompense for deeds, the narrative of Prophet Adam (as) committing a sin in Paradise is a fanciful story, for the idea of committing a sin in Heaven is completely out of the question.

Yatanaza‘una means passing a cup one to the other. Besides this, it also means trying to snatch from one another.

At any rate, passing around a cup presents a delightful scene of love and friendship whilst each one trying to grab it from the other signifies the absence of the formal rules of etiquette. In other words, heavenly society is the most exalted example of affection and friendship.

24. And round about them go youths (ghilmanun) of theirs as if they were hidden pearls.

Ghilman can also refer to those children of whom a promise was made in an earlier verse that they would be united with their parents. It especially encompasses those children who have died in childhood. However, it also bears another significance and that is servants. And in order to provide service to husband and wife, neither young men nor young women are the best choice. Instead, the most excellent form of service can be performed only by little children.

There are some impure-minded people who strongly object to the presence of beautiful children in Paradise. They claim that such an eventuality can provide an opportunity for a wicked person to perpetrate immoral acts (against the children). In reply to this, I once delivered a withering reply to an elderly gentleman by pointing out to him that such lewdness can never enter Paradise for the dwellers therein will be only those people whose disposition are obedient to the commands of Allah, Most High, and in accordance with the purity of their inborn nature, neither sin nor frivolity can find a place in Heaven. To lodge in one’s mind any though of immoral actions in such a sacred residence only betrays the filthy nature of the person himself who harbours such a thought. The words "as if they were hidden pearls" refer in fact to those deeds which man had performed in the service of Allah’s creation. Those same actions which were motivated by a hidden passion will on that day come out in the open in service of the doer of good as the Holy Quran says elsewhere: "And you are not rewarded aught but for what you did" (36:54). 

25. And they will advance to each other, questioning —
26. Saying: Surely we feared before on account of our families.
27. But Allah has been gracious to us and He has saved us from the chastisement of the hot wind
28. Surely we called upon Him before. Surely, He is the Benign, the Merciful.

The common meaning of samum is hot air. A searing or burning fire is also referred to as samum.

Samum is derived from sammun which is a narrow hole.

Sammun also means to enter and so poison is also called sammun because its insidious influence penetrates the body.

Samum also signifies hot air which infiltrates every pore of the body with its noxious effects. For this reason, the phrase adhab samum refers to a fire the effects of which penetrate every pore of the body. In other words, sin is likened to a poisonous wind, the toxic influences of which infiltrates every atom of the body. Just as the poisonous effects of the wind of samum invades every opening in the human body and absorbs its coolness and freshness causing it to become agitated, bitter, hot and completely ruined, so, too, is the poison of sin which, like an evil wind, insinuates itself through every pore of man’s body and consumes his peace, tranquillity and spiritual bliss, thus creating for him a punishment of heat and spiritual turmoil.

By painting a picture of the happy and peaceful life that the dwellers of Paradise enjoy, the Holy Quran wishes to impress on the mind the real reason these people are fortunate enough to inherit such a beatific existence. They are made to speak for themselves so that every doer of good can reflect on his own situation.

The first words they are made to utter tells us that an essential component of wisdom is that before an action is completed one should think twice of the consequences. In the use of the words fi ahlina (literally, in our families) the intention is to highlight the all too common experience that when man is in the warm company of his family, a kind of heedlessness descends on him and on the strength of the honour and reputation of his family he occupies himself in activities without noticing the consequences of such engagements. This is why the dwellers of Paradise are made to say that in spite of being insulated in the bosom of their families, they still entertained fear of the Hereafter, meaning that they were always conscious of the responsibility for their deeds and always apprehensive about the repercussions of their actions. This is what is called taqwa (piety) which is the foundation of man’s success and celestial existence.

Secondly, in spite of their taqwa (righteousness), they steer clear of egoism and pride and do not attribute their presence in Heaven to their own goodness, but give all the credit to Allah’s mercy and grace. The only commendation they give themselves is that they used to make constant supplication to the Almighty appealing to Him that through His kindness and beneficence He should keep them on the straight path and open the doors of prosperity to them because He is Barr, that is, He is the most Gracious Lord, Who on account of His compassion and magnanimity repeatedly forgives us our mistakes and deviations for He is also Rahim (the Oft-returning to mercy).

Thus, they ascribe the heavenly life to supplication and piety and the avoidance of self-love and arrogance. The inhabitants of Paradise are made to speak these words so that their firsthand experience may be more appealing to us and may help us to reap huge benefits by imitating them in the kind of thoughts and deeds that lead to Heaven.


In Section I, historical facts were put forward as evidence of the truth of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) as a messenger of Allah, Most High. That is, prophecies from the scriptures of former prophets were selected and presented and so it was conclusively demonstrated that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was the fulfilment of those prophecies.

In Section II, in support of the authenticity of the Holy Prophet and his messengership, intellectual arguments are advanced in a rational manner – arguments that establish the nobility of the Holy Prophet’s teachings and demonstrate his truthfulness beyond the shadow of a doubt.

The Holy Prophet is instructed in the following verse: 

29. So remind (fa dhak-kir) for, by the grace of thy Lord, thou art no soothsayer, nor madman.

Dhikr is a reminder but it also means nobility and eminence.

The Holy Quran is called dhikr firstly because its teachings serve as a reminder to man’s nature (fitrah) reminding him of the exalted purpose of his creation for which he has been equipped with such sublime talents and aptitudes, and secondly, because its doctrines elevate man to the station of honour and dignity for which he was brought into being.

Thus the meaning of fa dhak-kir (so remind) is that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) should propagate the message of the Holy Quran which is suited to man’s inner nature and which, if man should take advantage of it, will transport him to the heights of dignity and eminence for which he was created.

The verse then goes on to say that it is through the grace of Allah, Most High, that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was not a soothsayer nor a madman, for what connection can either of them have with dhikr (honour and reminder)? A madman or a soothsayer can never produce teachings of such a sublime nature and which, in addition, are consonant with human nature.

Generally speaking, there were two classes of people who claimed to have news of the future. Firstly, there was the madman who mouthed all sorts of idle boasts and, when his mind was disturbed, uttered astounding pronouncements concerning the future. When the Holy Prophet (pbuh) announced the mighty revolution that prophetic appointment would bring into being, it appeared so far-fetched to the Makkans that they adjudged his proclamation to be nothing but the ravings of a madman. How could they visualise the success of a weak and helpless individual as the Holy Prophet was at the time and foresee the failure of the Quraish and all the Arab and non-Arab opponents as well as the forces of the Choroes of Persia ranged against him? Thus Allah advises that future events will unfold later on. However, the opponents should consider that if the teachings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) should produce a human being with an unblemished character and propel him to the pinnacle of great honour and dignity, then the bringer of this message can never be a madman.

Secondly, there were the diviners who claimed to be able to foretell the future after receiving inspiration from the jinns. After appraising most of their clients on the basis of their speech, actions and appearance they would draw certain conclusions about the future and in the guise of issuing prophetic words they would clothe their predictions with such ambiguity that whether their prophecy turned out true or not, they would still gain benefit for themselves by stretching the meaning of their words to suit every eventuality.

We are told that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was not a diviner who was nothing but a vile glutton and who, for a few rupees, would fabricate a cryptic pronouncement concerning future events. Such a person could never bring teachings that would resuscitate the spirit of man and engender noble morals in him. People like soothsayers have no connection with principles that would inculcate the kind of high morals in man and cause him to soar to spiritual eminence as the Holy Prophet (pbuh) brought for the reformation of mankind.

Thus, by Allah’s mercy and grace, the Holy Prophet was not a madman nor was he a diviner. But would the objectors ever admit to a mistake? When the Holy Prophet (pbuh) invited them to his lofty, exalted and pure teaching and they could not come up with any explanation for it, they switched to calling him a poet as the following verse informs us:

30. Or say they: A poet — we wait for him the evil accidents of time.
31. Say: Wait, I too wait along with you.

Raibun means a misfortune, the timing of which is uncertain, whilst manun signifies death, destruction and time.

The rejecters of Makkah called the Holy Prophet (pbuh) a poet and themselves set up another criterion to test his truthfulness saying that they would await the accidents of time to overtake him. The meaning is that the words of a poet are transitory and contain no permanent value. Poets stir up the passions of the public by their verses and generate a short-lived excitement but as they do not act according to their own words, nor is there any steadfastness in them that would cause a whole world to accept their words before they depart, therefore, after creating a fleeting impression, their words are forgotten and after a short time their influence, too, is erased. Thus their verses suffer the cruel vicissitudes of time.

Hence the reply given in the verse: "Have a good wait. I, too, will wait." That is, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was saying that he was not a poet whose words would create a temporary flutter and then be forgotten. Instead, they were the Creator’s revealed words that would accomplish a transformation in the world and remain forever. Those who were waiting for this revelation to be effaced would themselves sink into oblivion. Subsequent events were to prove what was lasting and what was evanescent.

32. Or do their understandings bid them this? Or are they an inordinate people?

The verse asks whether they utter this pronouncement after mental deliberation or whether it is their rebellious nature that causes them to speak like that. It is evident that this cannot be an intellectual decision, for to look at a righteous man who has brought a message that is replete with sublime morals and which is eminently suited to man’s inborn nature, and to call him sometimes a madman or a diviner and sometimes a poet cannot be the work of a wise person. Thus, the truth is that on account of their rebellious attitude, these people do not make use of their reasoning powers. Otherwise, it would not have been difficult for them to discover the truth and accept faith. When opposition, rebellion and wickedness cause man to reject faith, then there is no remedy for him – however reasonable and logical the matter may be, he still persists in denial.

33. Or say they: He has forged it. Nay, they have no faith.
34. Then let them bring a saying like it, if they are truthful.

In these verses, a silencing refutation is given to the charge that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was a poet. By accusing him thus, the deniers were saying, in effect, that he had composed these sayings by himself and had attributed their providence to the Almighty. They are told such was not the case for these were Divinely revealed words and that it was incumbent on all men to believe in them. However, as these people were qaumun taghun (an inordinate people) their rebellion and opposition prevented them from adopting the religion of Islam.

The challenge: "If this is the word of a poet, then produce something like it," merits some consideration. This was issued in the earliest period of the Holy Prophet’s mission and see how forcefully and dauntlessly the claim was put forward that the Holy Quran is unique and how boldly the challenge was given to produce something like it – this at a time when the Arab people took great pride in the fluency and eloquence of their expression and exulted so much on their power of speech that they called themselves Arabs, that is, those who excelled in exposition, and referred to the rest of the world as ‘ajam, that is, dumb. Even everyday speech was strewn with poetic allusions so much so that children, too, spoke poetry in their homes and large fairs were organised where poets gathered to recite their compositions for which they received praise and applause from the audience.

In short, poetry held such sway and was accorded such honour and high status that in point of linguistic excellence this art had reached the summit of perfection. It was at this time that the open challenge was given to them that if they brought together all their eminent poets to compose even one chapter like that which was revealed to the Holy Prophet (pbuh), they would not be able to do it. The fact is that they could not do it and even up to the present time no one has been able to do so.

Look how beautifully Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, emphasises this point in verse:

How can the word of man be equal to the word of the Almighty?
In His there is grandeur, whilst helplessness characterises man’s.
If angels confess their ignorance in His presence,
Can man claim parity with Him in eloquence?
Man can never create even the foot of an insect,
So how will it be easy for him to produce the light of truth?

In addition to this, the uniqueness of the Holy Quran is comprehensive in its application. In other words, its singularity is not restricted to superiority in fluency and eloquence, but its claim encompasses these three points which can be associated with any book: 

1. Perfection of eloquence in its elegant literary style and diction. The felicity and gracefulness of the Quranic diction so overwhelmed the whole Arab nation that they finally had to bow their heads to it in acquiescence to the point that the Holy Quran has become the pre-eminent touchstone of fluency and eloquence in the Arabic language.

2. Its matchlessness as regards its profundity of meaning or, in other words, perfection of subject matter comprehending all verities, divine knowledge, wisdom and truth. So comprehensively and yet so concisely has it expounded diverse principles like the oneness of the Almighty and divine gnosis, divine revelation, prophethood and messengership, the life after death and the consequences of deeds, social life, politics, morals and many other subjects that it appears as if the whole ocean has been condensed into a goblet. Further, whenever it has elucidated the principles of truth, it has also refuted the false tenets of all religions and wherever a claim is made, or a principle or command put forward, supporting evidence is always furnished. As regards the all-comprehensive nature of its subject matter, even the smallest chapters possess this unique excellence in that they deal with a particular topic in its entirety and encompass the scope of a whole book. Further, whatever verities are presented are eternal and can withstand the attacks of falsehood from any angle.

3. The vast and incomparable effect of its teachings. This influence is so deep, pervasive and unparalleled that even to this day no book has come close to achieving this miracle. If any doubt lingers in the mind, one has only to look at how it transformed a wild, ignorant, idol-worshipping nation into a civilised people with noble morals, and from a civilised state, it improved them further into becoming a God-fearing nation: how, in the short space of twenty-three years, it gave birth to such a magnificent material and spiritual revolution that it lifted a whole nation from the lowest depths of degradation and helped them to soar to the topmost summit of humanity concerning which the whole world is forced to admit that no other book has been able to achieve such a stupendous task. Further, its claim to being a guidance for all mankind is no idle boast, for so wide and perfect is its range that the like of it has not been witnessed in the entire history of mankind.

In short, this challenge to produce something similar to the Holy Quran or even to its shortest chapters is so great a miracle and so powerful an argument that it has remained unanswered up to the present day. The truth is that the Holy Quran is the word of the Creator of man and man, himself, is keenly aware of his inability to create something like the word of the Almighty. With this weakness in mind, certain questions are addressed in the following verses:

35. Or were they created without a (creative) agency? Or are they the creators?
36. Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Nay, they are sure of nothing.

Khalaqa means to create or to measure and here the both meanings are applicable. That is, the Holy Quran asks: Do these people think that they came into existence all by themselves without the agency of One Who creates and Who measures all things? It is human nature that stands accused here and attention is drawn to the suggestion that every human being, each in his own situation, should reflect on the fact that everything of his is created according to a measure. For example, his lungs, liver, stomach, intestines, kidneys, heart, brain and every limb of his body have been created for a special purpose, and according to a specific measure, and each is performing its function in its own place so that man can enjoy a stable existence. Can he therefore, be the creator of all these organs that call for such specific proportion and infinite wisdom or is there another Being Who is powerful, omnipotent, knowing and wise? It is quite evident that far from being the creator, man is quite ignorant of their essential nature and condition. He does not even know where his heart or his brain is. There are hundreds of doctors and physicians who claim to be experts in anatomy and physiology and who have spent a whole lifetime acquiring knowledge of the structure and function of these organs and have still been unable to do so. Man takes pride in the little knowledge he gains of these matters and gets the title of doctor and physician although according to Sir Isaac Newton, in spite of that knowledge, man has not yet entered the sea of the universe but is still standing on the shore collecting sea-shells.

So, if man should ponder over what is within his body, he will immediately realise that he was not the creator of himself. The fact that every limb of his body and indeed every atom of his being are created according to a specific measure and a fixed purpose as well as a particular function cries out to him that it is a Being with perfect knowledge and absolute power Who has brought him into existence, and that he is not that Being but it is Someone else Who is all knowing and omnipotent. He is also told that that Being is not only the Creator of man but also the Maker of the heavens and the earth.

If man should just extend his gaze a little, will he still think that it is he who made the earth and the entire expanse of the heavens? Is it not true that man was not present in the world from the very beginning? If the heavens and the earth were not in existence before him and hundreds of thousands of earthly and heavenly means had not worked in unison, then man would never have come into being and no provisions would have been made for establishing his life on earth. If there were no sun, nor moon, or wind, nor rain, nor land, nor animals, nor an agglomeration of hundreds and hundreds of similar means, man could never have come into being, nor could he have remained alive after his birth. He is the last link in the evolutionary process involved in the creation of the whole universe. So who was there before him to create the heavens and the earth from the interaction of which man, himself, was born? Was he not predated by a wise and omnipotent Being Who created him and everything else for a purpose and according to a measure as the Holy Quran says elsewhere: 

"Glorify the name of thy Lord, the Most High! Who creates, then makes complete, And Who measures, then guides" (87:1-3).

So, if man was created for a special purpose, then it was necessary that his Creator should also furnish him with guidance. Again, as man makes use of knowledge to carry out his intentions, it was also expedient that whatever guidance was provided for him to achieve his prescribed goal should be given in the form of knowledge that encompassed the requisite laws and principles needed for him to observe so as to fulfil the purpose of his creation. The name of this knowledge that is received from the Almighty is revelation or book, which is certain knowledge that contains neither doubt nor conjecture. However, unfortunately, when man evinces no desire for certainty, what can one do?

Revelation or divine guidance (kitab – literally book) brings infallible knowledge by which doubts, misgivings and conjecture are blown away like ashes yet man prefers to stay far from this knowledge for his rebellious nature makes him nervous of subscribing to the limits laid down by certainty, for that will mean placing shackles on his untrammelled animal passions. He loves to lead a life of doubt and uncertainty for that allows him to remain heedless of the consequences of his deeds, for he derives a kind of pleasure from being a slave to his carnal desires.

In short, since the Creator of man is an all-powerful Being called Allah, then it is His responsibility to provide guidance for man. And so, when that guidance comes in the form of the Holy Quran and it is conclusively established that it is not the word of a diviner or a poet but that of the Almighty, then for man to spurn it can only be the result of his obstinacy and rebellion which undoubtedly have as their motivation his pride and self-conceit. A denier never likes to submit to Allah’s elect, or, in other words, his chosen messenger. Instead, he would prefer the choice of messenger to bring guidance to him to be someone suited to his predilection and that the teachings, too, should not contain anything that goes against his desires. In relation to these tendencies, the following verse asks:

37. Or have they the treasures of thy Lord with them? Or have they absolute authority?

What prevents them, the Holy Quran asks, from submitting to Allah’s chosen messenger, especially since they do not possess the treasures of their Lord to apportion them as they see it, nor do they have any control over their distribution.

By using the expression Rabbika (your Lord), the Holy Quran is indicating that only those who, like the Holy Prophet (pbuh), bring their perfect servitude (‘ubudiyyat) under the total Providence (Rububiyyat) of Allah, Most High, will be able to enjoy blessings from the treasury of nearness to Him and communication with Him. Thus, that grace is Allah’s Providence which a servant receives from the Almighty as a result of his perfect obedience and servitude, for this treasure falls under the province of Allah’s attribute of Rububiyyat (Providence) and is not under the control of man for him to dispense as he pleases. On the other hand, Allah, Most High, under His attribute of Rabb (Universal Provider), gives to whom He pleases and it is only the deserving one who finds favour with Him.

The verse also questions how these objectors have earned the right to have a share in the control of Allah’s Providence although the treasures of Allah are not in their custody nor do they have permission to interfere at the time when they are distributed. The following is the impediment which comes in the way of man and the same evil whispering that recurs whenever it comes to recognising or acknowledging not only a messenger (rasul) of Allah, Most High, but also a reformer (mujaddid) or sent one (mamur): man wishes that whoever he likes should also be pleasing to Allah, Most High. Thus, when a person who claims to be a reformer or commissioned one appears in a certain place or in a particular nation not favourable to some people, they immediately reject him. They are blind to this person’s pure life, his impeccable example or his holy teachings. Instead, all their anger is centred on questioning why he should come from such a place or from such a nation and not from a place or people of whom they approve. This is nothing but a manifestation of their egoistic pride from which may we all be preserved by Allah’s grace.

Thus, it is Allah’s prerogative, in virtue of His perfect knowledge, to choose whomsoever He pleases and to invest him with a message of guidance for human beings. So, He selected the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as the agent to give guidance to the whole world and sent down all kinds of signs and clear arguments in support of his truthfulness. In the selection of this medium, man has no input whatever, for his knowledge cannot envisage the purity of anyone’s heart nor the extent of his latent capabilities. So, man has no excuse for not accepting the chosen one of the Almighty. Even so, he rejects every kind of sign and every manner of proof only because the claimant to messengership was not selected in accordance with his taste.

It is quite true that there can be another possible way for the opponents to oppose and that is they may put forward from their own circle of deniers and rejecters another claimant to messengership who they may avow is a recipient of Divine or, in other words, the means of guidance and they may even aver that his teachings are consonant with their own desires and are dramatically opposed to the message of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). As a result, they may question why they should accept the Holy Prophet’s message when there was another person who was bringing guidance exactly in keeping with their own desires. The answer to this is that if such a person exists then they should produce him. Accordingly, the Holy Quran answers this objection in the following verse:

38. Or do they have the means (sullamun) by which they listen? Then let their listener bring a clear authority.

Sullamun means a staircase or a ladder or ways and means. It also refers to everything that can be of help in reaching something higher or, in other words, the ways and means that can elevate someone to an exalted position.

In this verse, a challenge is issued to the opponents telling them that if they were dissatisfied with the Holy Prophet (pbuh) as the instrument of Divine guidance, then they should bring forward another person who claimed to hear the voice of the Almighty and to bring guidance from Him. However, there was one condition: if another claimant should come forward, then he should furnish decisive evidence in his support. They should not just bring a soothsayer or some such person and leave the matter there untested. Instead, every assertion should be proven. Just as Allah, Most High, sends down incontrovertible proof and celestial signs to establish the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as His apostle and chosen medium of heavenly guidance so, too, must they follow the same in the case of their protagonist. 

39. Or has He daughters and you have sons?
40. Or askest thou a reward from them so that they are over-burdened by a debt?
41. Or possess they the unseen, so they write (it) down?

The challenge that is given to the deniers to produce another claimant to messengership is accompanied by a demand for evidence and signs and this request contains three constituent parts: firstly, what does the teaching of this claimant tell us about the Oneness of the Almighty and His attributes, for this is the basic principle of any religion? Secondly, what is the moral status of this person? In other words, what effect does this message have on the person himself? Does he possess any purity of character and any spirituality or is he just another creature of the earth? Thirdly, if this person’s teaching is really from Allah, Most High, then did the Almighty send any signs in his support, or did He vouchsafe any prophecies to him from His knowledge of the unseen to prove that this claimant’s teaching emanates from the Creator? What really is the truth behind these matters?

In relation to the first part, the Holy Quran asks: "Or has he daughters and you have sons?" (verse 39). That is, these people are asked whether their faith allowed them to ascribe daughters to Allah, Most High, although they considered the same daughters to be so repugnant that ascribing female babies to them is regarded as a monstrous disgrace. In short, they would prefer only males to be born in their homes. Female babies were not welcome. Elsewhere in the Holy Quran, the attitude of these deniers is clearly described. For example, in 43:17:

"And when one of them is given news of that of which he sets up a likeness for the Beneficent, his face becomes black and he is full of rage."

Also in 16:57-60: 

"And they ascribe daughters to Allah. Glory be to Him! And for themselves is what they desire! And when the birth of a daughter is announced to one of them, his face becomes black and he is full of wrath. He hides himself from the people because of the evil of what is announced to him. Shall he keep it with disgrace or bury it (alive) in the dust? Now surely evil is what they judge! For those who believe not in the Hereafter are evil attributes and Allah’s are the sublime attributes. And He is the Mighty, the Wise."

Thus, by not hesitating to ascribe shamelessly to Allah, Most High, what to them is a terrible shame and disgrace, they expose their base and indecent conception of the Almighty even though true knowledge of Him discloses the fact that: "His are the most beautiful names…" (59:24).

By doing so, they reveal their defective knowledge of the nature of the Divine Being and His attributes.

At this point, one should not entertain the wrong idea that what is displeasing to Allah, Most High, is that they attribute daughters to Him and not sons who would have been more acceptable to Him for the Holy Quran categorically rules out such a possibility in the following verses and in many other places also: 

"It beseems not Allah that He should take to Himself a son. Glory be to Him…" (19:35);

"He begets not nor is He begotten" (112:3).

The fact is that when a nation is bereft of true knowledge of the Creator and His attributes, they begin to attribute loathsome and vile things to Him. For example, the Aryas and the Christians subscribe to the belief that the quality of absolute mercy is not manifested in the Almighty, although they would not say the same of a mere mortal, for that would amount to condemning that individual as a most cruel and heartless person. However, they have no qualms of conscience in saying so of the Divine Being. Similarly, the Hindu scriptures ascribe to the three members of their Trinity, that is, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, as well as to countless other gods and goddesses, such obscenities and indecencies that to accuse an honourable human being of even one of these crimes is to commit the grossest slander against him.

Thus, the opponents are told that if, according to them, they do not need any reformer because their intellect and wisdom are sufficient to direct them along the right path, then they should consider how that very intellect has taught them such erroneous and nonsensical things concerning the nature of the Almighty.

In regard to the second topic, the Holy Quran asks: "Or askest thou a reward from them so that they are over-burdened by a debt?" (verse 40).

This is to confirm the principle that when a claimant to messengership makes his appearance it is essential that not only must he bring a message, but the salutary impact of that heavenly teaching on the morals of the messenger himself must also be plain to all observers. On one side we had the soothsayer with his agents and his support group and followers whose livelihood and even their supposed sanctity were based on trade and conjecture. In order to fill their bellies they became a heavy burden on their people and night and day, like leeches, they were busy sucking the blood of their adherents.

On the other side, there was the Holy Prophet (pbuh) who never sought a reward of any kind. Whatever was there, was only for the sake of Allah, Most High, and in every circumstance his sole concern was for the welfare and amelioration of his people. Thus, these spiritual qualities and the abnegation of worldly benefits clearly demonstrate that a genuine Divine teacher is not interested in trade and commerce but only in the well-being and reformation of his followers. If he calls people to Allah, Most High, and liberates them from the yoke of their passions, then we can see how high he stands on the pedestal of noble morals that there is not the slightest yearning in him for wealth and riches, or power and authority, or name and fame. Instead, whatever is there, is only for the sake of Allah, Most High, and all for his people with the focus solely on conferring material and spiritual benefit on them. His own private concerns never intrude.

So, when the Holy Prophet’s presence brought no financial or other burden on his people, was it not incumbent on them to listen attentively to his words and to reflect on the motive and sincerity of this person who neglected his own comfort and luxury, and spurned all honour and renown, and instead stood helpless and alone only for the sake of his Creator? Indeed, how many a time attempts were made to beguile him with all kinds of luxuries and pleasures of this world even to the point of offering him wealth, power and beautiful women and yet he refused them all, saying: "Even if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left, I will not desist from spreading the message of truth that my Lord has entrusted to me."

Thus, when a person seeks neither reward nor compensation of any kind from others, then it is the duty of every wise person to heed his words and discover for themselves the real purpose of his message of invitation.

Addressing the third affair, the next verse (41) asks: "Or possess they the unseen, so they write (it) down?"

When a messenger brings a teaching from the Almighty, then as a sign of his having really been sent by Him, Allah, Most High, vouchsafes to him some news of the unseen which he discloses to his people. The One from Whom he came, through His absolute power and limitless knowledge, gives him these prophecies as a sign of his truthfulness and not only does the messenger communicate them to the people in speech, but also in writing he announces them to the whole world, for spoken words can be forgotten by listeners or doubts may arise as to the exact words of the revelation. Further, a tricky, worldly-minded claimant may even change the words to suit himself. For example, after certain events have come to pass, a few cunning disciples of his can claim that their spiritual mentor had predicted these occurrences in their presence long before they actually took place. As a result, whatever prophecies the Holy Quran mentioned in regard to the truth of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and his ultimate success as well as the threatened disgrace and destruction of his opponents were all boldly and challengingly proclaimed to the world in speech and were also written down and published far and wide. Besides the above, the Holy Quran made several other prophecies which no one at that time could controvert nor can anyone do so even up to the present day.

But further to that, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Imam and Reformer of the fourteenth century, has averred that these divine signs regarding the manifestation of hidden matters extend up to the day of Resurrection. He believed in the hadith of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) that nothing remained of prophethood except good news and his understanding of it was that in order to prove that the Holy Quran was the word of Allah, Most High, He, after the death of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), will give to His saints, reformers and inspired ones knowledge of unseen matters as signs of their veracity until the day of Resurrection. This is why it was his custom to write down and publish before hand whatever news of future events he received from on High so that their fulfilment would serve as further evidence of the truth of the Holy Quran.

In short, in regard to the three matters explained above, there was a person who would come and would fulfil these three demands and the only rightful claimant who could measure up to the criterion laid down was the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). However, it is common knowledge that when someone cannot win an argument by intellectual means, he is prepared to fight and kill his enemy and so he devises all kinds of stratagems and uses all his strength and power to suppress and erase the truth. This is the same treatment that was meted out to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad by his opponents who began to hatch every plot against him and who used all their resources, secret plots and schemes in their desire to eradicate the godly Movement he founded.

The Holy Quran alluded to this common behaviour when it asks in the next verse: 

42. Or do they intend a plot (kaidan)? But those who disbelieve will be the ensnared ones in the plot.

Kaid means a plan, whether good or evil. It is also used in the sense of thwarting the intention of the opponents through wise strategies.

Kaid also means war.

This verse tells us that when they could not answer the Holy Prophet’s arguments, the unbelievers begin to hatch all kinds of plots and schemes and to use all the forces and resources at their disposal in their desire to obliterate the guidance of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and his messengership. But lo! Listen to this piece of news from the Unseen: whatever plans and stratagems the unbelievers invented against the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and the very wars and opposition they instigated and waged against him would ironically become the instruments of their own loss and destruction. What a powerful prophecy of Allah was this which was written and published long before it took place and which was read and told to people. History has recorded the multitudinous plans conceived by the pagans to destroy the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and his holy companions: from attempted bribes and other promised inducements, to threats and intimidation, to hunger and boycott, and then to outright attempts at assassination while he slept; and even in Madinah, internal sedition was encouraged and wars waged against him. Yet all these attempts not only came to naught but they also engulfed the unbelievers in turmoil and finally led to their humiliating defeat starting with their first encounter at Badr when all their leaders were killed and ending with the conquest of Makkah when the last vestige of their pride and dignity was trampled in the dust. Thus the prophecy of the Holy Quran: "But those who disbelieve will be the ensnared ones in the plot," was fulfilled to the letter. 

43. Or have they a god other than Allah? Glory be to Allah from what they set up (with Him)!

The word Ilah has several meanings: 

1. Ma‘bud, that is, the One deserving of worship

2. Mahbub, that is, the One worthy of being loved

3. Matlub, that is, the One to be sought after

4. Maqsud, that is, the Object of our search or final destination

5. Muta‘, that is, the One deserving of obedience

6. The one Who has total control and power over all things

This verse tells us that besides Allah, Most High, there is no other god who has control over all things and who can do as He intends. The meaning is that there is no other god worthy of worship except Allah, Most High, and His Person is far removed from the partners they set up with Him. Therefore, all their false gods will not avail the unbelievers aught and they will not be able to avert from them the punishment that will befall them for their opposition to the holy Prophet (pbuh) and for their plotting and scheming to destroy him. Further, all their attempts to solidify the worship of their false gods and to exterminate the Holy Prophet (pbuh) will end up being totally useless for on the one hand, the seal of truth will be placed on the Prophet’s teachings concerning the Oneness of the Almighty Who alone is worthy of worship and Who alone possess absolute power, and on the other hand, the gods of the pagans will be deemed false and illusory.

And this is exactly what happened. On the day when Makkah was conquered, Abu Sufyan, who opposed and fought Allah’s messenger for many years, finally accepted Islam. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) then asked him what proof of the truth of Islam he had seen that caused him to become a Muslim. He replied thus:

"The truth is that for so long we fought against you in defence of our idols and although you were in a very weak and tenuous position and there was no doubt that we were superior to you in power and numbers, yet we could not prevent you from smashing our idols to smithereens. So, if there were any power or strength in these gods, they should have helped us. On the contrary, far from being able to come to our assistance, they could not even rescue themselves and today they have been demolished by your hands. So, in truth, the only Deity Who is worthy of worship is the One Who gave you, a lonely and helpless man, a clear and resounding victory over all the hostile forces in this world."

Thus, the verse under discussion tells us that the opponents will suffer the consequences for plotting and waging wars against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and we should rest assured that there is no god anywhere in the world to preserve them from these bitter repercussions. However, so overwhelming is their pride and so deep-rooted their negligence and unconcern for the consequences of their deeds that even if they see the punishment of the Almighty looming over them, still they will not interpret it as imminent chastisement but will consider it favourable to them. 

44. And if they were to see a portion (kisafan) of the heaven coming down (saqitan), they would say: Piled-up clouds (marqum)!

Marqum means one on top the other.

Saqata means to fall from a high to a low place, or the occurrence of a detestable event.

Kisafun is the plural of kisfatun and signifies either a big chunk of earth or a piece of cloud or something that squeezes or presses down as used in the following verse of the Holy Quran in which the opponents taunt the Holy Prophet (pbuh): "So cause a portion of the heaven to fall on us if thou art truthful" (26:187).

The verse mentioned above (52:44) informs us that these people’s negligence had become so inordinate and their egoistic passions so overblown that if they saw something unpleasant falling from the sky, like punishment for instance, they would take it for a beneficial rain cloud. (Kisafun also means a large cloud.)

At this point, one should bear in mind that the verse does not mean that the sky is made of solid matter and so kisafun is a piece of hard substance. Instead, it could be a star which, in Allah’s magnificence and the grandeur and infinite expanse of the heavens, is nothing more than a clump of earth.

Here, the extent of their heedlessness is described thus: if they happen to see a star coming down and threatening to crash against the earth, they will interpret it as clouds and to them, the reason they are piled one on the other, is that they are heavily laden with blessings. Here the word kisafun (portion) is employed in the sense of a share or portion of the promised punishment and not the full force of it for which the evil deeds of the rejecters make them liable.

So the real import of this verse is that before the onset of punishment, those conditions which give rise to the chastisement are considered by these evil ones as harbingers of good fortune. This is not a strange attitude, for it is well-known that when people are intoxicated in their opposition to the truth, they take those incidents which harbour their eventual pain and suffering as heralds of their good fortune and felicity.

The description of the mentality of the Makkan unbelievers given by the Holy Quran was proven completely true by them in every circumstance as is clearly evident from their actions. A few examples, chosen at random, will suffice to clarify the matter.

They thought the hijrah (flight) of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) from Makkah to Madinah was a huge success for them although his presence in the city acted like a protecting good luck charm averting punishment from them as the Holy Quran affirms: "And Allah would not chastise them while thou wast among them" (8:33).

Similarly, the causes that led to the Battle of Badr deceived them into thinking that they were gifted a wonderful opportunity to destroy the tiny community of Muslims. They never dreamt that this was really a small portion of Divine retribution and so they proceeded happily to their own doom.

In the same way, they considered the Treaty of Hudaibiyyah a crowning victory for them, but little did they know that this seeming victory contained the seeds of their everlasting annihilation.

In this age also, we witnessed the death of a Hindu pundit, Lekhram, in exactly the same kind of circumstances. In his slander of the Holy Prophet’s character he used very unbecoming language. When his impudence exceeded all bounds of decency, the Mujaddid of the Age, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, disclosed a Divine prophecy revealed to him to the effect that on account of his virulent abuse, Lekhram would be destroyed within six years. His caustic tongue would become like a knife against him. Subsequent to this, Mirza Sahib made a public announcement divulging the news that he had seen an angel from whose eyes blood was dripping and he was inquiring after the whereabouts of Lekhram. After this, he made a further announcement that his death would take place on the day after ‘Id.

It so happened that Lekhram founded a movement to convert Muslims to the Arya Samaj faith and made a proclamation announcing that he was ready to reconvert those Hindus who had become Muslims. As a result of this, a Muslim came to him and made it known that he wanted to become an Arya Samajist. Lekhram was elated at this and with great joy he showed him around to people and appointed a day for his conversion. However, before this could be done, Lekhram was stabbed to death with a dagger by this very person who disappeared without a trace. And this took place, as predicted, on the day after ‘Id. Consider well! This very occasion which Lekhram thought would bring fame and victory to him turned out to be the cause of his destruction and he never entertained the slightest suspicion that that person was destined to be the instrument of his punishment. 

45. Leave them then till they meet that day of theirs wherein they are smitten with punishment (yus‘aqun):

Yas‘aqun is derived from sa‘aqa and it is used to mean a man who has lost his senses or is losing his reasoning powers, or to one who has died. It also means to be struck with lightning, and sa‘iqah signifies a stunning noise like a thunderbolt.

The meaning is that people who are lost in heedlessness and care nothing whatever for righteousness should be left to their own devices for finally a day will come when Allah’s punishment will strike as swiftly as a flash of lightning. 

46. The day when their struggle (kaiduhum) will avail them naught, nor will they be helped.

This kaid (plot) is the same mentioned in verse 42 above: "Or do they intend a plot (kaida)"? We are told here that on that day all the plotting and scheming of the opponents will come to naught and from no quarter will help come to them. And this is exactly what happened. Look how swiftly and unexpectedly there befell them punishment like lightning in the Battle of Badr. The leaders of unbelief who had set out in all their pride and pomposity to eliminate the Muslims were themselves exterminated and all this took place so suddenly that people were stunned in amazement.

Similarly, the treachery of the Makkan unbelievers in breaking the Treaty of Hudaibiyyah opened the way for the Holy Prophet (pbuh) to make an unforeseen entry into the Ka‘bah. They were given no respite, nor could they do anything about it. So Makkah was conquered and their idols for sake of which they were sacrificing their lives were thrown out of the Ka‘bah. Then this powerful nation was forced most humiliatingly to petition the Holy Prophet (pbuh) for forgiveness, which though granted willingly, was worse than death for such a proud and mighty people. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy embodied in verse 7 of this chapter: Wal bahril masjur (And the swollen sea). 

47. And surely for those who do wrong there is a chastisement besides that; but most of them know not.

This punishment which is mentioned in the phrase duna dhalika (besides that) clearly predated the Battle of Badr and it really refers to the seven-year famine that gripped Makkah. Otherwise, the phrase can mean "in addition to" and points to the retribution on the day of Resurrection when the evildoers will receive a bitter requital for their deeds.

The significance of the sentence, "but most of them do not know," can be that most people are unaware of this further punishment. But there is another interpretation which is more pertinent here and that is, most people do not make use of their knowledge and so do not profit from it. In other words, there are very few people who benefit from the knowledge Allah, Most High, imparts to mankind as well as the pathways He discloses in order to save man from chastisement. The Holy Quran uses this kind of phraseology in many places and this interpretation always suits the context. For example, it says elsewhere: "Most of them do not understand (Aktharuhum la ya‘qilun). This does not mean that most people do not have any intellect, or do not possess the ability to understand, for then they will be blameless and so they cannot be held responsible for not comprehending these matters as the Holy Quran clearly states: "Allah imposes not on any soul a duty beyond its scope" (2:286).

In other words, every person will be accountable only in accordance with his power and understanding. 

48. And wait patiently for the judgment of thy Lord, for surely thou art before Our eyes, and celebrate the praise of thy Lord, when thou risest,
49. And in the night, give Him glory, too, and at the setting of the stars

The expression: bi a‘yunina (under Our eyes) really means "under Our protection."

Tasbih (glorification of Allah) means to believe and to express the conviction that Allah’s attributes are free of any blemish or imperfection, whilst tahmid (praise of Allah) means to believe and to declare that Allah’s attributes possess every beauty and every perfection.

The phrase: Idbaran-nujum (at the setting of the stars) refers to the time of the dawn prayer (fajr).

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) was told that whether these rejecters accepted or not, he should wait for the command or decision of his Lord. If they wanted to oppose, he should let them do so. However, he should have no fear for they could do him no harm for he was guarded by Allah, Most High, Himself. His duty was to glorify and praise the name of his Lord day and night. True knowledge of Allah, Most High, had vanished from the earth; people had attributed all kinds of impure attributes to the Almighty as a result of which the belief in the Oneness of the Creator was non-existent and polytheism was rampant everywhere on earth.

Thus, in order to establish the fact that Allah’s attributes are free of any kind of defect or imperfection and more so, to make people understand that they possess all beauty and resplendence, it was imperative that deep knowledge of His Unity and insight into His attributes should reach every corner of the world by means of preaching. To accomplish that task called for strenuous effort and single-minded struggle (jihad). Therefore, when the Holy Prophet (pbuh) rose to pray at night, he should do so with this enthusiastic feeling in his heart that his purpose was to propagate profound knowledge of the Unity of Allah, Most High, and the right conception of His attributes throughout the world. This should be his sole concern and the predominant thought in his mind. And wherever he went, this same fervour should pervade his heart, and to whomsoever he spoke, this should be the message he must convey.

Unless that zeal was ever-present, success would never be complete in this world. This was his work during the day. Let us now turn our attention to his night-time duty. To prepare himself for such an arduous struggle that faced him, he should rise to pray during a portion of the night and this refers to the Tahajjud (after midnight) prayer. So at the time of the Tahajjud prayer and the Fajr (morning) prayer, he should make abundant supplication for effecting this mighty revolution. He should make the same glorification of his Lord in these prayers as he did when preaching during the day and he should also fall at the threshold of the Almighty in such a way that his tongue and his heart surrendered, for it was easy to preach fervently with the tongue but it was more difficult to have that same enthusiasm in the heart. Night and day man proclaims the Oneness of Allah, Most High, with his tongue and even praises Him extensively but if a little difficulty befalls him or some endeavour of his does not turn out to his liking he begins to complain. Indeed, if even once he has to face a sterner test he forsakes the threshold of his Lord and turns away in search of another and all his prior proclamations of belief in One God become an empty boast. There is no effectiveness in the speech of such a person. The preaching of one who does not live up to his words can never inspire a transformation in the hearts of others.

Thus, it is essential for man to prostate at night at the feet of his Lord and seek His assistance and with utmost sincerity his tongue and his heart should praise and glorify Him as he lies there at His threshold. He should constantly repeat his praises to the Almighty beseeching Him to infuse life into his heart so that the words that come from his tongue should really issue from his heart and with such force and abundance that they will find a permanent place in his heart. Further, he should entreat Him to strengthen and fortify his heart to such an extent that neither sorrow nor happiness should make the least difference to his heart in regard to his praise and glorification which should remain constant in every circumstance of his life. This is the kind of personality whose words make an impression on the hearts of others and whose teachings generate a glorious transformation on earth.

Thus, our Holy Prophet (pbuh) praised and glorified Allah, Most High, day and night in his prayers and so virtuously did he do so that one is forced to confess that indeed "prayer is the ascension (mi‘raj) of the believer," as he himself said. Let us ponder how, in prayer, a devoted servant, even as he stands up before his Lord, begins to sing His praise and glorification. Whether he comes to prayer in comfort and happiness or burdened with pain and sorrow, once he stands before his Master, praises begin to fall from his lips and when he bows his head to Him in obedience and then rubs his nose in prostration at His feet, it is words of praise that flow from his tongue. It is this kind of prayer that elevates man to the zenith of spirituality and transports him to the presence of his Creator and if the performer of such a prayer should make it his mission to propagate his faith and invite others to it, nothing can prevent him from achieving a tremendous reformation. It is unfortunate, however, that firstly, people do not perform their prayer, and if they do, they perform it as a matter of routine without comprehending what they recite, and if they do have an understanding, their hearts are far from Allah for their thoughts wander off in worldly concerns. This is what led an Urdu poet to compose these two lines:

Whenever I fell into prostration (sajdah), a voice would start rising from the earth,
Saying: O servant, your heart is more inclined to idol worship than to worship of your Lord.

So if man establishes his prayer as he ought to and reads his Tahajjud (after midnight) prayer, especially with the proper observance, and lauds and magnifies his Lord in such a manner that his body and soul are infused with his glorification of the Almighty, the message he propagates will deeply influence people and through him, the belief in the Unity of the Almighty and deep knowledge of His attributes will spread throughout the world. Our Holy Prophet (pbuh) followed this to perfection so that at night he stood so long in prayer making supplications that his feet used to swell. As a result, Allah, Most High, Himself, on seeing His devoted efforts, took pity on him and advised him to lessen the length of time he stood in prayer during the night as the following verses tell us: "Rise to pray by night except a little, half of it, or lessen it a little" (73:2-3).

As regards the day, nothing crossed his mind except the praise, glorification and grandeur of his Lord. At no step of his life was there any lurking intention to seek self-glorification or self-aggrandisement, neither did he allow anyone to honour him thus. To give all praise and glory to Allah, Most High, alone, was his habit every second of his life.

If, outside the time he was praying or preaching or inviting to the truth, he found himself alone without a single person to whom he could convey the message of the Unity of Allah and the true knowledge of His attributes, then two expressions kept flowing continuously from his tongue: Subhaanal-laahi wa bi-hamdi-hee, and Subhaanal-laahil ‘Azeem. In respect to these he said:

"Two expressions which are light on the tongue but heavy in the scale are dear to the Compassionate One: Glory be to Allah, and I begin with praise of Him; and Glory be to Allah, the Incomparably Great" (Bukhari and Muslim).

May Allah guide all of us to praise and glorify Him as the Holy Prophet (pbuh) did, in the night as well as the day, in happiness as well as in sorrow.



Holy Quran Section > Commentary of the Holy Quran by Dr. Basharat Ahmad > Chapter 52 (At-Tur - The Mountain)


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