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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 87: (Al-A‘la: The Most High)



Chapter 87: (Al-A‘la: The Most High)
(Revealed at Makkah: 1 section; 19 verses)

1. Introduction:

The title of this chapter is taken from the injunction to the Prophet to glorify his Rabb, his nourisher to perfection, The Most High, the indication clearly being that the Prophet himself would be raised to the highest position. See further 1a. The reference to the scriptures of Abraham and Moses in the concluding verse is to show not only that the Holy Qur’an agrees with previous scriptures in essential principles, but also that those scriptures contain prophecies of the Holy Prophet’s advent. The chapter is one of the earliest revelations.

2. Translation:

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

1 Glorify the name of thy Lord, the Most High!a

2 Who creates, then makes complete,

3 And Who measures, then guides,a

4 And Who brings forth herbage,

5 Then makes it dried up, dust-coloured.a

6 We shall make thee recite so thou shalt not forget —

7 Except what Allah please.a Surely He knows the manifest, and what is hidden.

8 And We shall make thy way smooth to a state of ease.a

9 So remind, reminding indeed profits.a

10 He who fears will mind,

11 And the most unfortunate one will avoid it,

12 Who will burn in the great Fire.

13 Then therein he will neither live nor die.a

14 He indeed is successful who purifies himself,

15 And remembers the name of his Lord, then prays.

16 But, you prefer the life of this world,

17 While the Hereafter is better and more lasting.

18 Surely this is in the earlier scriptures,

19 The scriptures of Abraham and Moses.a

3. Commentary:

1a. There is here in fact a message of great importance, not only for the Prophet, that he would be raised to the highest place to which man can rise, but for every man that, through the glorification of God, he can rise to the highest place to which he is capable of rising. Hence the order to glorify The Most High is immediately followed by the words that He not only creates and makes complete but has also ordained a measure for everyone and He guides everyone to this goal. The glorification of God is thus here stated to be the means of raising man to the highest place to which he is capable of rising. It should be noted that the most important dhikr in prayer is subhana rabbiya-l-A‘la, which is repeated again and again when man is in a state of prostration and assumes the humblest position of which he is capable, thus showing that it is by humbling himself to his utmost before God that he can rise to the highest place. [Back to verse 1]

3a. Vv. 2 and 3 speak of four Divine acts, khalq or creation, taswiyah or completion, taqdir or measuring, and hidayah or guiding. Everything in this universe is subject to these four laws, and so is man. He is created from a very humble and low beginning, his first condition being that of a life-germ which cannot be seen. Then it develops gradually to complete human form. This is the subject-matter of v. 2. The third verse then lays down that everything in creation is held under control: it is made according to a measure and its progress lies along a certain line; and that it is God Who guides it or makes it walk along that line. The whole is in special reference to the spiritual advancement of man through Divine glorification. [Back to verse 3]

5a. This is to show that herbage, too, receives life but there is no higher purpose in its creation beyond the fact that it serves to sustain man; so it dries up. But there is a higher purpose in the creation of man; and it is to fulfil that purpose that God sends His revelation, which is spoken of in the next verse. [Back to verse 5]

7a. Man is apt to forget, and the Prophet was a human being and he too was apt to forget. But he never forgot a word of the Divine revelation which came to him. He sometimes received long chapters, such as the sixth, which runs into twenty sections, on a single occasion, but the whole was so deeply impressed on his mind that once it was read out to him by the Holy Spirit, he repeated it without forgetting a word of it. Still more difficult was his task when chapters were received piecemeal. The reference in what Allah please is not to Divine revelation which the Prophet never forgot, but to other things which he forgot as a human being. [Back to verse 7]

8a. The words predict the Prophet’s triumph and the removal of the distress in which Islam was. [Back to verse 8]

9a. For in, meaning qad, or indeed, see LL, which quotes numerous instances from the Qur’an as well as from Arabic prose and poetry. [Back to verse 9]

13a. There is no life in hell, for life is only for the righteous; neither is there death, because death signifies a state of complete rest. [Back to verse 13]

19a. The preference of the good of the Hereafter to the transitory advantage of this life is the one great truth preached by all prophets. There is also a reference here to the prophecies concerning the Holy Prophet which are to be found in the revelation granted respectively to Abraham and to Moses; see 2:124a and 2:41a. Or, the essential principles of religion are meant, which are common to all the great religions. [Back to verse 19]



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Chapter 86: Al-Tariq (The Comer by Night)

Chapter 88: Al-Ghashiyah (The Overwhelming Event)

Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 87: (Al-A‘la: The Most High)


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