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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 57 (Al-Hadid- Iron) > Section 3 (Verses 20 to 25)



Section/Ruku 3 [Verses 20 to 25]: Truth shall be established:
Chapter 57: (Al-Hadid: Iron)
(Revealed at Madinah: 4 sections; 29 verses)

1. Translation:

20 Know that this world’s life is only sport and play and gaiety and boasting among yourselves and a vying in the multiplication of wealth and children.
a It is as rain, whose causing the vegetation to grow pleases the husbandmen, then it withers away so that thou seest it turning yellow, then it becomes chaff.b And in the Hereafter is a severe chastisement, and (also) forgiveness from Allah and (His) pleasure.c And this world’s life is naught but a source of vanity.

21 Vie one with another for forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden the extensiveness of which is as the extensiveness of the heaven and the eartha— it is prepared for those who believe in Allah and His messengers. That is the grace of Allah; He gives it to whom He pleases. And Allah is the Lord of mighty grace.

22 No disaster befalls in the earth, or in yourselves,a but it is in a book before We bring it into existence — surely that is easy to Allah —

23 So that you grieve not for what has escaped you, nor exult in that which He has given you. And Allah loves not any arrogant boaster:

24 Such as are niggardly and enjoin niggardliness on men. And whoever turns back, then surely Allah is the Self-Sufficient, the Praised.

25 Certainly We sent Our messengers with clear arguments, and sent down with them the Book and the measure,a that men may conduct themselves with equity. And We sent down iron,b wherein is great violence and advantages to men, and that Allah may know who helps Him and His messengers, unseen. Surely Allah is Strong, Mighty.

 2. Commentary:

20a. This world’s life here stands for the material side of life. It is entirely a pursuit of unreality. Individuals as well as nations are, as it were, racing for the transitory goods of this life, for means of adorning the outside, for riches and gaiety, to the utter neglect of the higher values of life which are pointed out in the next verse. [Back to verse 20]

20b. The word kuffar, which by the consensus of the opinion of all interpreters signifies here husbandmen, is the plural of kafir, which has been used throughout the Holy Qur’an to signify a disbeliever. But the context here does not allow us to adopt that significance. Kafara literally means he covered, concealed or hid a thing (LL). The disbeliever is called a kafir because he covers or conceals the benefit or favour conferred on him by God, the favour relating to the higher or moral side of life (LL). The husbandman is called a kafir because he conceals the seed under earth (LL). The material side of life is here likened to the growth of vegetation which flourishes for a time and then decays. Even thus we see individuals and nations rising to prosperity and then falling back on evil days. [Back to verse 20]

20c. Note how Divine forgiveness is constantly mentioned when punishment is spoken of, to show that the attribute of mercy is the predominant attribute of the Divine nature. [Back to verse 20]

21a. The Garden or the Paradise is here said to be as extensive as the heavens and the earth, and a similar statement occurs in 3:133. These statements afford us the key to a right conception of paradise. The following incident is related under 3:133: "A messenger of Heraclius asked the Holy Prophet: ‘If paradise were as extensive as the heavens and the earth, where would be hell?’ The Prophet replied ‘Glory be to Allah! Where is the night when the day comes?’ " (Rz). It shows clearly that heaven and hell are not the names of two places, but are really two conditions, because if paradise were the name of a particular place, hell could not exist, as paradise would according to these verses extend over the whole of space. [Back to verse 21]

22a. The book here means Divine knowledge. Disaster is here spoken of as befalling in the earth or in yourselves, i.e., it either affects the people of the world generally or the Muslims in particular. Dailami records a report from the Prophet: "A door of disasters will be opened for my community (ummah) in the latter days, which you will be unable to close, unless you meet the situation with this verse". And then the Prophet recited this verse. In view of what has already been stated in verse 16, relating to the lapse of a long time and the hardening of the hearts of the Muslims, it is easy to see that the disasters which are predicted as befalling the Muslims in the latter days are due to their own falling off from the high standard of life which they were required to follow, and hence the remedy suggested is again the making of sacrifices as pointed out in v. 18. The great World-wars, which have brought the heaviest disasters on humanity in general, and the disasters of the Muslims in particular, are all spoken of in the Hadith, which it is difficult to quote in a footnote. [Back to verse 22]

25a. As to what is meant by mizan, or the measure, see 55:7a. Here the measure is spoken of as being sent down with messengers of God along with the Book. Now the Book contains the Divine commandments or the moral code of life, and the measure is therefore clearly the example of the Prophet, who by carrying out the Divine commandments shows how the directions contained in the Book are to be followed. [Back to verse 25]

25b. Of all the metals, none has proved of greater utility than iron, and this metal has played an all-important part in civilization. It should be noted that inzal (inf. of anzala) not only signifies the sending down of a thing from above, but also means causing a thing to grow, or bringing the means of it into existence (Rz). Hence it is that in the Holy Qur’an we find the word used with reference to the clothes that man wears (7:26), and to cattle (39:6), etc.

The mention of iron undoubtedly refers to the resistance against the enemy, which as a last resort had to be effected with the sword. This is made clear by the addition of the words — that Allah may know who helps Him and His messengers, unseen. This help was rendered by the faithful by taking up the sword in defence of the faith. [Back to verse 25]



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Section 4: Double reward for believers

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Chapter 56: Al-Waqi‘ah (The Event)

Chapter 58: Al-Mujadilah (The Pleading Woman)

Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 57 (Al-Hadid- Iron) > Section 3 (Verses 20 to 25)

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