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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 76 (Al-Insan- The Man) > Section 1 (Verses 1 to 22)



Section/Ruku 1 [Verses 1 to 22]: Attainment of perfection:
Chapter 76: (Al-Insan: The Man)
(Revealed at Makkah: 2 section; 31 verses)

1. Introduction:

The last chapter having shown the truth of the Resurrection, this deals with man’s attainment to perfection, which is the true object of his life, and is called The Man, the word itself occurring in the opening verse of the chapter. The first section shows how man is created out of nothing, and then the way to perfection is pointed out to him. It is then shown that in the attainment of perfection there are two stages, the first stage being the perfect suppression of all evil tendencies or the stage of attaining to sinlessness, but the goal lies far beyond. It is the way uphill, as it is termed elsewhere and briefly hinted at here. The pilgrim must be prepared to accomplish the most difficult tasks and to perform astonishing deeds of sacrifice in the way of Allah. The second section shows that, if those addressed by the Holy Prophet do not accept his message, Allah will cause another people to take their place, for the Qur’an, being the perfect revelation of the Almighty, must accomplish the object which it has set before itself, and that object is none other than to enable man to attain to perfection. Its revelation belongs to a very early Makkan period.

2. Translation:

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

1 Surely there came over man a time when he was nothing that could be mentioned.

2 Surely We have created man from sperm mixed (with ovum), to try him, so We have made him hearing, seeing.

3 We have truly shown him the way; he may be thankful or unthankful.a

4 Surely We have prepared for the disbelievers chains and shackles and a burning Fire.a

5 The righteous truly drink of a cup tempered with camphora

6 A fountain from which the servants of Allah drink,a making it flowin abundance.

7 They fulfil vows and fear a day, the evil of which is widespread.

8 And they give food, out of love for Him, to the poor and the orphan and the captive.

9 We feed you, for Allah’s pleasure only — We desire from you neither reward nor thanks.a

10 Surely we fear from our Lord a stern, distressful day.

11 So Allah will ward off from them the evil of that day, and cause them to meet with splendour and happiness;

12 And reward them, for their steadfastness, with a Garden and with silk,

13 Reclining therein on raised couches; they will see therein neither (excessive heat of ) sun nor intense cold.

14 And close down upon them are its shadows, and its fruits are made near (to them), easy to reach.

15 And round about them are made to go vessels of silver and goblets of glass,

16 Crystal-clear, made of silver — they have measured them according to a measure.a

17 And they are made to drink therein a cup tempered with gingera

18 (Of) a fountain therein called Salsabil.a

19 And round about them will go youths, never altering in age; when thou seest them thou wilt think them to be scattered pearls.a

20 And when thou lookest thither, thou seest blessings and a great kingdom.a

21 On them are garments of fine green silk and thick brocade, and they are adorned with bracelets of silver, and their Lord makes them to drink a pure drink.a

22 Surely this is a reward for you, and your striving is recompensed.

3. Commentary:

3a. The right way is shown clearly; it is for man himself to walk in it and thus be thankful, or away from it and thus be unthankful. Or the meaning may be he may accept or reject. [Back to verse 3]

4a. See 69:32a. [Back to verse 4]

5a. The original for camphor is kafur, which is derived from kafr meaning to cover or to supress. Medically camphor is a cool and refreshing aromatic, but here it is used in reference to its original significance. The cup of which the righteous drink is the cup of the love of Allah, and its mixture with kafur is to indicate that by this cup all low desires and sexual passions which lead man away from the path of righteousness are suppressed, in the same manner as poisonous matter is suppressed by camphor. Man needs an intoxication and for it he generally resorts to alcoholic drinks, which bring in their train evil and slavery to sexual passions. The Prophet intoxicated his followers with the love of Allah, and as a result of this, their evil tendencies were altogether suppressed. Vv. 7 and 8 show clearly that it is of the change brought about in this very life that the Holy Qur’an is speaking here. In the spiritual advancement of man this is the first stage, because it is not until the evil tendencies of man are completely suppressed that he is able to advance to the higher stages of spiritual perfection. [Back to verse 5]

6a. The fountain from which the servants of Allah drink is the fountain of the love of God referred to in the previous verse. It is not a cup which may be exhausted with one draught; it is a fountain. The faithful are here spoken of as the servants of Allah — ‘ibad Allah — because an ‘abd is really one who is entirely lost in the love of God. But here we are further told that they not only drink of it themselves but they make it to flow forth in such abundance that others also may partake of it. [Back to verse 6]

9a. The fulfilment of vows spoken of in v. 7 is in relation to the service of God, or the act of bringing themselves closer and closer to God, while the feeding of the poor spoken of here is in relation to the service of humanity. Thus they combine the service of God with the service of humanity. The words for Allah’s pleasure (Ar., wajh) clearly show that it is of the love of God that these verses speak. Man worships Allah for the love of Allah, but the Holy Qur’an requires him to serve humanity also for the love of Allah. [Back to verse 9]

16a. That is, everyone will receive them according to the measure of his deeds. [Back to verse 16]

17a. The Arabic word for ginger is zanjabil. It is said to have a property that is heating or warming, strengthening to the venereal faculty, clearing to the phlegm, sharpening to the intellect and exhilarating (LL). The first cup of the love of God is spoken of in v. 5, as being tempered with camphor and bringing about suppression of evil, and this second cup is now spoken of as strengthening and exhilarating, i.e., enabling man to perform great and noble deeds. The love of God thus not only suppresses the evil inclinations of man, but also enables him to attain a still higher stage of spiritual advancement, giving him the strength to perform wonderful deeds of self-sacrifice. [Back to verse 17]

18a. Salsabil means easy, sweet, rapid-flowing (R). According to some it is made up of sal, meaning ask thou, and sabil, way, as if it meant, Ask thy Lord a way to it. It is now applied to an artificial fountain throwing up water (LL). [Back to verse 18]

19a. Because these are heavenly blessings, and decay cannot overtake them; see 56:17a. [Back to verse 19]

20a. The word thamma — it is different from thumma — meaning there or thither is used here in reference to the spiritual kingdom which is granted to the faithful. They are granted blessings and a great kingdom in this life as well, to which man shuts his eyes on account of his ignorance. Note, however, that the faithful followers of the Prophet were granted material blessings and a great temporal kingdom as well, a kingdom which they inherited from the Prophet himself and which subsists to this day, and is indeed widening daily. [Back to verse 20]

21a. As they led pure lives here, they were made to drink a pure drink in this very life. They will have a pure drink in the Hereafter, too, the heavenly life being the purest that can be imagined. [Back to verse 21]



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Section 2: Another generation will be raised up

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Chapter 75: Al-Qiyammah (The Resurrection)

Chapter 77: Al-Mursalat (Those Sent Forth)

Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 76 (Al-Insan- The Man) > Section 1 (Verses 1 to 22)

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