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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 55 (Al-Rahman- The Beneficent) > Section 1 (Verses 1 to 25)


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Section/Ruku 1 [Verses 1 to 25]: Divine beneficence:
Chapter 55: (Al-Rahman: The Beneficent)
(Revealed at Makkah: 3 sections; 78 verses)

1. Introduction:

This chapter takes its title from the name of the Divine Being, The Beneficent, with which it begins, and the entire chapter speaks of the beneficence of Allah, both in the material and spiritual realms, repeating the words: Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?

It opens with the statement that the revelation of the Qur’an to the Holy Prophet is an act of Divine beneficence, and then proceeds to speak of the means which Allah has created for the physical sustenance of man, showing that He Who made such elaborate arrangements for the material welfare of man could not have neglected his spiritual care. The second speaks of the judgment which must overtake the guilty because they persist in rejecting the spiritual benefits which a Beneficent God has provided for them. The third deals with the reward that will accrue to the faithful who avail themselves of those spiritual benefits.

The chapter belongs to the early Makkan period.

2. Translation:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

1 The Beneficent

2 Taught the Qur’an.a

3 He created man,a

4 Taught him expression.

5 The sun and the moon follow a reckoning,

6 And the herbs and the trees adore (Him).a

7 And the heaven, He raised it high, and He set up the measure,a

8 That you may not exceed the measure,

9 And keep up the balance with equity, nor fall short in the measure.

10 And the earth, He has set it for (His) creatures;

11 Therein is fruit and palms having sheathed clusters,

12 And the grain with (its) husk and fragrance.a

13 Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?a

14 He created man from dry clay like earthen vessels,

15 And He created the jinn of a flame of fire.a

16 Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?

17 Lord of the two Easts, and Lord of the two Wests.a

18 Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?

19 He has made the two seas to flow freely — they meet:

20 Between them is a barrier which they cannot pass.a

21 Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?

22 There come forth from them both, pearls large and small.

23 Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?

24 And His are the ships reared aloft in the sea like mountains.

25 Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?

3. Commentary:

2a. Al-Rahman is the Beneficent God Who brought things into existence for the sustenance of man before his creation. Man has not earned them. The same Beneficent God, we are here told, has taught the Qur’an, which is a necessity for the spiritual life of man. It is a Divine gift for the spiritual sustenance of man, like so many gifts for his physical sustenance. [Back to verse 2]

3a. I translate al-insan as meaning man in a general sense, and accordingly translate al-bayan as meaning expression, because it is in the faculty of speech that lies man’s superiority above other animals. But many commentators interpret al-insan as meaning the perfect man, i.e., the Prophet, because al-bayan, or that in which everything is made manifest (LL), is an appellation applied to the Holy Qur’an in 3:138. [Back to verse 3]

6a. This verse and the one preceding it show how everything created, from those large orbs in the heavens to the smallest herbs that grow on land, follows a law. Is not, then, a law needed for the spiritual perfection of man? Najm means star as well as herb (R). [Back to verse 6]

7a. Mizan in the Holy Qur’an does not signify a pair of scales for weighing things, but a measure, as signifying any standard of comparison, estimation, or judgment, and the term is here, as elsewhere, used in this broad sense. This is made plain in 57:25: "Certainly We sent Our messengers with clear arguments, and sent down with them the Book and the measure (Ar., mizan), that men may conduct themselves with equity", where the mizan is that which enables men to be just in their actions. It is in this sense that most of the commentators understand this word. Thus, according to Mjd, Tb, and most commentators, mizan signifies ‘adl, i.e., justice (AH), which is explained by Rz as meaning the giving of their due to those who deserve it. [Back to verse 7]

12a. The husk or the outer covering is generally considered to be a worthless thing. In speaking of it as one of the bounties of God it is hinted that even the husk can be turned into a useful and valuable thing. In contrast with the husk is mentioned the fragrance, which resembles the spirit in the body. Neither should the outer form of the Divine law be considered to be a thing of no use, nor should the spirit of the law be neglected. [Back to verse 12]

13a. This verse is repeated several times in this chapter. In the original the dual form is used instead of the plural, and thus we have instead of your Lord, rabbi-kuma, i.e., the Lord of you two. The commentators generally take the dual form literally, and suppose that the two kinds of rational beings, i.e., the jinn and the men, are meant. But see 50:24a on the meaning of the dual form, where it is shown that the form is sometimes used by the Arabs to give force to the meaning. That here the dual is used for this purpose is shown by the fact that the blessings mentioned are those which serve as means of sustenance for mankind, such as palms and grain, which are not needed for ethereal beings, as the jinn are considered to be. Hence it is mankind only that is addressed. Even if the dual is taken literally, the two classes addressed are the believers and the disbelievers or the strong and the weak, divisions which are of frequent occurrence in the Holy Qur’an. The former of these is specially referred to in the concluding words of the last chapter, and hence the personal pronoun kuma may refer to them; the jinn not being mentioned in any previous verse, the personal pronoun cannot be taken as referring to them. [Back to verse 13]

15a. For the creation of jinn from .re see 7:12 and 15:27, where it is contrasted with the creation of men from earth. The meaning is explained in 7:12a and 15:27a. [Back to verse 15]

17a. The two Easts and the two Wests signify the different points of the horizon at which the sun rises and sets at the summer and winter solstice. In modern terminology, the two Easts are the Near or the Middle East and the Far East; the two Wests are Europe and America. [Back to verse 17]

20a. The two seas are mentioned in 25:53 and 35:12 as the sweet-water sea and the salt-water sea. A note on the first of these shows what the two seas represent. As in v. 22 here, it is stated in 35:12 also that from both seas fresh flesh and ornaments are obtained; the significance being that useful men would continue to arise from among both believers and non-believers. Some understand that the Red and the Mediterranean Seas are meant. These seas were separated formerly, but are now united by the Suez Canal, and the verse is considered to contain a prophetical mention of this union. [Back to verse 20]

 

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Section 2: Judgment of the guilty


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Chapter 54: Al-Qamar (The Moon)

Chapter 56: Al-Waqi‘ah (The Event)

Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 55 (Al-Rahman- The Beneficent) > Section 1 (Verses 1 to 25)


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