Sura/Chapter:

Verse:    Count: 112
Tafseer/Commentary:
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Translations:
21: Al-Anbiya - الانبياء

21:1
[ Original ]
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ اقْتَرَبَ لِلنَّاسِ حِسَابُهُمْ وَهُمْ فِي غَفْلَةٍ مُعْرِضُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Closer and closer to mankind comes their Reckoning: yet they heed not and they turn away.
[ Saheeh International ]
[The time of] their account has approached for the people, while they are in heedlessness turning away.
Tafseer Commentary

2662 Every minute sees them nearer to their doom, and yet they are sadly heedless, and even actively turn away from the Message that would save them.


21:2
[ Original ]
مَا يَأْتِيهِمْ مِنْ ذِكْرٍ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ مُحْدَثٍ إِلَّا اسْتَمَعُوهُ وَهُمْ يَلْعَبُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Never comes (aught) to them of a renewed Message from their Lord, but they listen to it as in jest,-
[ Saheeh International ]
No mention comes to them anew from their Lord except that they listen to it while they are at play
Tafseer Commentary

2663 In each age, when the Message of Allah is renewed, the very people who should have known better and welcomed the renewal and the sweeping away of human cobwebs, either receive it with amused self-superiority, which later turns into active hostility, or with careless indifference.


21:3
[ Original ]
لَاهِيَةً قُلُوبُهُمْ ۗ وَأَسَرُّوا النَّجْوَى الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا هَلْ هَٰذَا إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِثْلُكُمْ ۖ أَفَتَأْتُونَ السِّحْرَ وَأَنْتُمْ تُبْصِرُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Their hearts toying as with trifles. The wrong-doers conceal their private counsels, (saying), "Is this (one) more than a man like yourselves? Will ye go to witchcraft with your eyes open?"
[ Saheeh International ]
With their hearts distracted. And those who do wrong conceal their private conversation, [saying], "Is this [Prophet] except a human being like you? So would you approach magic while you are aware [of it]?"
Tafseer Commentary

2664 Allah's Message is free and open, in the full light of day. His enemies plot against it in secrecy, lest their own false motives be exposed. Their jealousy prevents them from accepting a "man like themselves" as a teacher or warner or guide.

2665 Literally, "in a state in which you (actually) see (that it is witchcraft)". When Allah's Messenger is proved to be above them in moral worth, in true insight, in earnestness and power of eloquence, they accuse him of witchcraft, a word which may mean nothing, or perhaps some mysterious deceitful arts.


21:4
[ Original ]
قَالَ رَبِّي يَعْلَمُ الْقَوْلَ فِي السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Say: "My Lord knoweth (every) word (spoken) in the heavens and on earth: He is the One that heareth and knoweth (all things)."
[ Saheeh International ]
The Prophet said, "My Lord knows whatever is said throughout the heaven and earth, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing."
Tafseer Commentary

2666 Notice that in the usual Arabic texts (that is, according to the Qira'ah of Hafs) the word qala is here and in 21:112 below, as well as in 23:112, spelt differently from the usual spelling of the word in other places (e.g., in 20:125-126). Qul is the reading of the Basrah Qim'ah, meaning, "Say thou" in the imperative. If we construe "he says", the pronoun refers to "this (one)" in the preceding verse, viz.: the Prophet. But more than one Commentator understands the meaning in the imperative, and I agree with them. The point is merely one of verbal construction. The meaning is the same in either case. See n. 2948 to 23:112. (R).

2667 Every word, whether whispered in secret (as in 21:3 above) or spoken openly, is known to Allah. Let not the wrongdoers imagine that their secret plots are secret to the Knower of all things.


21:5
[ Original ]
بَلْ قَالُوا أَضْغَاثُ أَحْلَامٍ بَلِ افْتَرَاهُ بَلْ هُوَ شَاعِرٌ فَلْيَأْتِنَا بِآيَةٍ كَمَا أُرْسِلَ الْأَوَّلُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"Nay," they say, "(these are) medleys of dream! - Nay, He forged it! - Nay, He is (but) a poet! Let him then bring us a Sign like the ones that were sent to (Prophets) of old!"
[ Saheeh International ]
But they say, "[The revelation is but] a mixture of false dreams; rather, he has invented it; rather, he is a poet. So let him bring us a sign just as the previous [messengers] were sent [with miracles]."
Tafseer Commentary

2668 The charges against Allah's inspired Messenger are heaped up "Magic!" says one: that means, "We don't understand it!" Says another, "Oh! but we know! he is a mere dreamer of confused dreams!" If the "dreams" fit in with real things and vital experience, another will suggest, "Oh yes! why drag in supernatural agencies? he is clever enough to forge it himself!" Or another suggests, "He is a poet! Poets can invent things and say them in beautiful words!" Another interposes, "What we should like to see is miracles, like those we read of in stories of the Prophets of old!"


21:6
[ Original ]
مَا آمَنَتْ قَبْلَهُمْ مِنْ قَرْيَةٍ أَهْلَكْنَاهَا ۖ أَفَهُمْ يُؤْمِنُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
(As to those) before them, not one of the populations which We destroyed believed: will these believe?
[ Saheeh International ]
Not a [single] city which We destroyed believed before them, so will they believe?
Tafseer Commentary

2669 'If such miracles as you read of failed to convince Unbelievers of old, what chance is there that these Unbelievers will believe? Miracles may come, but they are not cures for Unbelief.'


21:7
[ Original ]
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا قَبْلَكَ إِلَّا رِجَالًا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِمْ ۖ فَاسْأَلُوا أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Before thee, also, the messengers We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: If ye realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message.
[ Saheeh International ]
And We sent not before you, [O Muhammad], except men to whom We revealed [the message], so ask the people of the message if you do not know.
Tafseer Commentary

2670 See 16:43 and n. 2069. This answers the Unbelievers' taunt, "he is just a man like ourselves!" True, but all messengers sent by Allah were men, not angels or another kind of beings, who could not understand men or whom men could not understand.


21:8
[ Original ]
وَمَا جَعَلْنَاهُمْ جَسَدًا لَا يَأْكُلُونَ الطَّعَامَ وَمَا كَانُوا خَالِدِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Nor did We give them bodies that ate no food, nor were they exempt from death.
[ Saheeh International ]
And We did not make the prophets forms not eating food, nor were they immortal [on earth].
Tafseer Commentary

2671 As men they were subject to the laws governing the physical bodies of men. They ate and drank, and their bodies perished in death (Cf. 7:148 and 25:7).


21:9
[ Original ]
ثُمَّ صَدَقْنَاهُمُ الْوَعْدَ فَأَنْجَيْنَاهُمْ وَمَنْ نَشَاءُ وَأَهْلَكْنَا الْمُسْرِفِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
In the end We fulfilled to them Our Promise, and We saved them and those whom We pleased, but We destroyed those who transgressed beyond bounds.
[ Saheeh International ]
Then We fulfilled for them the promise, and We saved them and whom We willed and destroyed the transgressors.
Tafseer Commentary

2672 But, however difficult (or impossible) their mission may have appeared to them, or to the world at first, they won through eventually, even those who seemed to have been defeated. Examples are given in the latter part of this Surah, especially in 21:51-93. They were delivered from the Wrath which overtook the Unbelievers, as were those with them who accepted Allah's Message and placed themselves in conformity with His Will and Plan. That is the meaning of "whom We pleased".


21:10
[ Original ]
لَقَدْ أَنْزَلْنَا إِلَيْكُمْ كِتَابًا فِيهِ ذِكْرُكُمْ ۖ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
We have revealed for you (O men!) a book in which is a Message for you: will ye not then understand?
[ Saheeh International ]
We have certainly sent down to you a Book in which is your mention. Then will you not reason?

21:11
[ Original ]
وَكَمْ قَصَمْنَا مِنْ قَرْيَةٍ كَانَتْ ظَالِمَةً وَأَنْشَأْنَا بَعْدَهَا قَوْمًا آخَرِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
How many were the populations We utterly destroyed because of their iniquities, setting up in their places other peoples?
[ Saheeh International ]
And how many a city which was unjust have We shattered and produced after it another people.

21:12
[ Original ]
فَلَمَّا أَحَسُّوا بَأْسَنَا إِذَا هُمْ مِنْهَا يَرْكُضُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Yet, when they felt Our Punishment (coming), behold, they (tried to) flee from it.
[ Saheeh International ]
And when its inhabitants perceived Our punishment, at once they fled from it.
Tafseer Commentary

2673 When they had every chance of repentance and reform, they rejected Allah's Message, and perhaps even put up an open defiance. When they actually began to feel the Wrath coming, they began to flee, but it was too late! Besides, where could they flee to from the Wrath of Allah? Hence the ironical appeal to them in the next verse: better go pack your luxuries and what you thought were your permanent homes! Cf. Christ's saying in the present Gospel of St. Matthew (3:7): "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the Wrath to come?"


21:13
[ Original ]
لَا تَرْكُضُوا وَارْجِعُوا إِلَىٰ مَا أُتْرِفْتُمْ فِيهِ وَمَسَاكِنِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُسْأَلُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Flee not, but return to the good things of this life which were given you, and to your homes in order that ye may be called to account.
[ Saheeh International ]
[Some angels said], "Do not flee but return to where you were given luxury and to your homes - perhaps you will be questioned."
Tafseer Commentary

2674 See last note. 'You thought your homes so comfortable: why don't you go back to them? You will be called to account. Perhaps there may be rewards to be given you, who knows?' This irony is itself the beginning of the Punishment, but the ungodly now see how wrong they had been. But their sighs and regrets now avail them nothing. It is too late. They are lost, and nothing can save them.


21:14
[ Original ]
قَالُوا يَا وَيْلَنَا إِنَّا كُنَّا ظَالِمِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
They said: "Ah! woe to us! We were indeed wrongdoers!"
[ Saheeh International ]
They said, "O woe to us! Indeed, we were wrongdoers."

21:15
[ Original ]
فَمَا زَالَتْ تِلْكَ دَعْوَاهُمْ حَتَّىٰ جَعَلْنَاهُمْ حَصِيدًا خَامِدِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And that cry of theirs ceased not, till We made them as a field that is mown, as ashes silent and quenched.
[ Saheeh International ]
And that declaration of theirs did not cease until We made them [as] a harvest [mowed down], extinguished [like a fire].
Tafseer Commentary

2675 The two similies present two different aspects of the lamentations of the ungodly. When they really see the Wrath to come, there is a stampede, but where can they go to? Their lamentation is now the only mark of their life. But it dies away, as corn vanished from a field that is being mown, or as a dying fire is slowly extinguished! They do not die. They wish they were dead! ( Cf. 36:29 and 78:40).


21:16
[ Original ]
وَمَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاءَ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لَاعِبِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Not for (idle) sport did We create the heavens and the earth and all that is between!
[ Saheeh International ]
And We did not create the heaven and earth and that between them in play.
Tafseer Commentary

2676 The Hindu doctrine of Lila, that alt things were created for sport, is here negatived. But more: with Allah we must not associate any ideas but those of Truth. Righteousness, Mercy, Justice, and the other attributes implied in His Beautiful Names. He does not jest nor play with His creatures (Cf. 51:56).


21:17
[ Original ]
لَوْ أَرَدْنَا أَنْ نَتَّخِذَ لَهْوًا لَاتَّخَذْنَاهُ مِنْ لَدُنَّا إِنْ كُنَّا فَاعِلِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
If it had been Our wish to take (just) a pastime, We should surely have taken it from the things nearest to Us, if We would do (such a thing)!
[ Saheeh International ]
Had We intended to take a diversion, We could have taken it from [what is] with Us - if [indeed] We were to do so.
Tafseer Commentary

2677 If such an idea as that of play or pastime had been possible with regard to Allah, and if He had wished really to indulge in pastime, He would have done it with creatures of Light nearest to Him, not with the lowly material creation that we see around us (Cf, 41:47).


21:18
[ Original ]
بَلْ نَقْذِفُ بِالْحَقِّ عَلَى الْبَاطِلِ فَيَدْمَغُهُ فَإِذَا هُوَ زَاهِقٌ ۚ وَلَكُمُ الْوَيْلُ مِمَّا تَصِفُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Nay, We hurl the Truth against falsehood, and it knocks out its brain, and behold, falsehood doth perish! Ah! woe be to you for the (false) things ye ascribe (to Us).
[ Saheeh International ]
Rather, We dash the truth upon falsehood, and it destroys it, and thereupon it departs. And for you is destruction from that which you describe.
Tafseer Commentary

2678 Such as that (1) Allah has partners (21:22), or (2) that He has gotten a son (21:26), or (3) has daughters (16:57), or any other superstitions derogatory to the dignity and glory of Allah.


21:19
[ Original ]
وَلَهُ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ وَمَنْ عِنْدَهُ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِهِ وَلَا يَسْتَحْسِرُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
To Him belong all (creatures) in the heavens and on earth: Even those who are in His (very) Presence are not too proud to serve Him, nor are they (ever) weary (of His service):
[ Saheeh International ]
To Him belongs whoever is in the heavens and the earth. And those near Him are not prevented by arrogance from His worship, nor do they tire.
Tafseer Commentary

2679 The pure angelic hosts, whom we imagine to be glorious creatures of light, high in the spiritual world, near the Throne of Allah Himself, are yet His creatures, and serve Him without ceasing, and are proud to do so. Such is the majesty of Allah Most High.


21:20
[ Original ]
يُسَبِّحُونَ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ لَا يَفْتُرُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
They celebrate His praises night and day, nor do they ever flag or intermit.
[ Saheeh International ]
They exalt [Him] night and day [and] do not slacken.

21:21
[ Original ]
أَمِ اتَّخَذُوا آلِهَةً مِنَ الْأَرْضِ هُمْ يُنْشِرُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Or have they taken (for worship) gods from the earth who can raise (the dead)?
[ Saheeh International ]
Or have men taken for themselves gods from the earth who resurrect [the dead]?
Tafseer Commentary

2680 The different kinds of false gods whom people raise from their imagination are now referred to. In verses 21-23, the reference is to the gods of the earth, whether idols or local godlings, or deified heroes, or animals or trees or forces of the nature around us, which men have from time to time worshipped. These, as deities, have not life except what their worshippers give them.

2681 The answer of course is "no". No one but Allah can raise the dead to life. The miracle in the story of Jesus ( 3:49 and 5:112-115 ) was "by Allah's leave' 1 . It was a miracle of Allah, not one of Jesus by his own power or will.


21:22
[ Original ]
لَوْ كَانَ فِيهِمَا آلِهَةٌ إِلَّا اللَّهُ لَفَسَدَتَا ۚ فَسُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَرْشِ عَمَّا يَصِفُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
If there were, in the heavens and the earth, other gods besides Allah, there would have been confusion in both! but glory to Allah, the Lord of the Throne: (High is He) above what they attribute to Him!
[ Saheeh International ]
Had there been within the heavens and earth gods besides Allah, they both would have been ruined. So exalted is Allah, Lord of the Throne, above what they describe.
Tafseer Commentary

2682 After the false gods of the earth (verse 21), are mentioned the false gods in the heavens and the earth, like those in the Greek Pantheon (verse 22), who quarrelled and fought and slandered each other and made their Olympus a perfect bear-garden!


21:23
[ Original ]
لَا يُسْأَلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ يُسْأَلُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
He cannot be questioned for His acts, but they will be questioned (for theirs).
[ Saheeh International ]
He is not questioned about what He does, but they will be questioned.
Tafseer Commentary

2683 Allah is Self-Subsisting. All His creatures are responsible to Him and dependent on Him. There is no other being to whom He can be responsible or on whom He can be dependent.


21:24
[ Original ]
أَمِ اتَّخَذُوا مِنْ دُونِهِ آلِهَةً ۖ قُلْ هَاتُوا بُرْهَانَكُمْ ۖ هَٰذَا ذِكْرُ مَنْ مَعِيَ وَذِكْرُ مَنْ قَبْلِي ۗ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ الْحَقَّ ۖ فَهُمْ مُعْرِضُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Or have they taken for worship (other) gods besides him? Say, "Bring your convincing proof: this is the Message of those with me and the Message of those before me." But most of them know not the Truth, and so turn away.
[ Saheeh International ]
Or have they taken gods besides Him? Say, [O Muhammad], "Produce your proof. This [Qur'an] is the message for those with me and the message of those before me." But most of them do not know the truth, so they are turning away.
Tafseer Commentary

2684 See above, n. 2682, where two kinds of false worship are noted. Now we are warned against a third danger, the worship of false gods of any sort. Pagan man is prolific of creating abstract images for worship, including Self or abstract Intelligence or Power. In verse 26 below is mentioned a fourth kind of false worship, which imagines that Allah begets sons or daughters.

2685 This verse should be read with the next. All reason revolts against the idea of conflicting gods, and points to Unity in Creation and Unity in Godhead. This is not only the Message of Islam ("those with me") but the message of all prophets who came before the Holy Prophet Muhammad ("those before me"), and the line of prophets was closed with him. The Message given to every prophet in all ages was that of Unity as the fundamental basis of Order and Design in the world, material, moral, and spiritual.


21:25
[ Original ]
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ قَبْلِكَ مِنْ رَسُولٍ إِلَّا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدُونِ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Not a messenger did We send before thee without this inspiration sent by Us to him: that there is no god but I; therefore worship and serve Me.
[ Saheeh International ]
And We sent not before you any messenger except that We revealed to him that, "There is no deity except Me, so worship Me."

21:26
[ Original ]
وَقَالُوا اتَّخَذَ الرَّحْمَٰنُ وَلَدًا ۗ سُبْحَانَهُ ۚ بَلْ عِبَادٌ مُكْرَمُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And they say: "((Allah)) Most Gracious has begotten offspring." Glory to Him! they are (but) servants raised to honour.
[ Saheeh International ]
And they say, "The Most Merciful has taken a son." Exalted is He! Rather, they are [but] honored servants.
Tafseer Commentary

2686 This refers both to the Trinitarian superstition that Allah has begotten a son, and to the Arab superstition that the angels were daughters of Allah. All such superstitions are derogatory to the glory of Allah. The prophets and angels are no more than servants of Allah: they are raised high in honour, and therefore they deserve our highest respect, but not our worship.


21:27
[ Original ]
لَا يَسْبِقُونَهُ بِالْقَوْلِ وَهُمْ بِأَمْرِهِ يَعْمَلُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
They speak not before He speaks, and they act (in all things) by His Command.
[ Saheeh International ]
They cannot precede Him in word, and they act by His command.
Tafseer Commentary

2687 They never say anything before they receive Allah's command to say it, and their acts are similarly conditioned. This is also the teaching of Jesus as reported in the Gospel of St. John (12:49-50): "For I have not spoken of myself: but the Father which sent me. He gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And 1 know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so 1 speak." If rightly understood, "Father" has the same meaning as our "Rabb", Sustainer and Cherisher, not Begetter or Progenitor.


21:28
[ Original ]
يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلَا يَشْفَعُونَ إِلَّا لِمَنِ ارْتَضَىٰ وَهُمْ مِنْ خَشْيَتِهِ مُشْفِقُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
He knows what is before them, and what is behind them, and they offer no intercession except for those who are acceptable, and they stand in awe and reverence of His (Glory).
[ Saheeh International ]
He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they cannot intercede except on behalf of one whom He approves. And they, from fear of Him, are apprehensive.
Tafseer Commentary

2688 Cf. 20:109. "Acceptable" means that they have conformed to the Will of Allah and obeyed His Law, thus winning the stamp of His approval.

2689 They: the usual interpretation refers the pronoun to the servants of Allah who intercede: it may also refer to those on whose behalf the intercession is made: they do not take it as a matter of course, but stand in due awe and reverence of Allah's great glory and mercy.


21:29
[ Original ]
وَمَنْ يَقُلْ مِنْهُمْ إِنِّي إِلَٰهٌ مِنْ دُونِهِ فَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِيهِ جَهَنَّمَ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الظَّالِمِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
If any of them should say, "I am a god besides Him", such a one We should reward with Hell: thus do We reward those who do wrong.
[ Saheeh International ]
And whoever of them should say, "Indeed, I am a god besides Him"- that one We would recompense with Hell. Thus do We recompense the wrongdoers.

21:30
[ Original ]
أَوَلَمْ يَرَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ كَانَتَا رَتْقًا فَفَتَقْنَاهُمَا ۖ وَجَعَلْنَا مِنَ الْمَاءِ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ حَيٍّ ۖ أَفَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?
[ Saheeh International ]
Have those who disbelieved not considered that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity, and We separated them and made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?
Tafseer Commentary

2690 The evolution of the ordered worlds as we see them is hinted at. As man's intellectual gaze over the physical world expands, he sees more and more how Unity is the dominating note in Allah's wonderful Universe. Taking the solar system alone, we know that the maximum intensity of sun-spots corresponds with the maximum intensity of magnetic storms on this earth. The universal law of gravitation seems to bind all mass together. Physical facts point to the throwing off of planets from vast quantities of diffused nebular matter, of which the central condensed core is a sun.

2691 About 72 percent of the surface of our Globe is still covered with water, and it has been estimated that if the inequalities of the surface were all levelled, the whole surface would be under water, as the mean elevation of land sphere-level would be 7,000-10,000 feet below the surface of the ocean (Cf. 11:7). This shows the predominance of water on our Globe. That all life began in the water is also a conclusion to which our latest knowledge in biological science points. Apart from the fact that protoplasm, the original basis of living matter, is liquid or semi-liquid and in a state of constant flux and instability, there is the fact that land animals, like the higher vertebrates, including man, show, in their embryological history, organs like those of fishes, indicating the watery origin of their original habitat. The constitution of protoplasm is about 80 to 85 percent water (see also 24:30-31 and 24:45).


21:31
[ Original ]
وَجَعَلْنَا فِي الْأَرْضِ رَوَاسِيَ أَنْ تَمِيدَ بِهِمْ وَجَعَلْنَا فِيهَا فِجَاجًا سُبُلًا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَهْتَدُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And We have set on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with them, and We have made therein broad highways (between mountains) for them to pass through: that they may receive Guidance.
[ Saheeh International ]
And We placed within the earth firmly set mountains, lest it should shift with them, and We made therein [mountain] passes [as] roads that they might be guided.
Tafseer Commentary

2692 Cf. 16:15 and n. 2038. Lest it should shake with them: here "them" refers back to "they" at the end of the preceding verse, meaning "Unbelievers". It might be mankind in general, but the pointed address to those who do not realise and understand Allah's mercies is appropriate, to drive home to them the fact that it is Allah's well-ordered providence that protects them normally from cataclysms like earthquakes, but that they could for their iniquities be destroyed in an instant, as the 'Ad and the Thamud were destroyed before them. As pointed out in n. 2691 above, if the surface of the earth were levelled up, it would all be under water, and therefore the firm mountains are a further source of security for life which has evolved in terrestrial forms. Though the mountains may seem impassable barriers, yet Allah's providence has provided broad passes between them to afford highways for human communications (see also 27:61).

2693 In both the literal and the figurative sense. Literally, these natural mountain highways direct men in the way they should go. Figuratively, these wonderful instances of Allah's providence should turn men's thoughts to the true guidance of Allah in life and spiritual progress.


21:32
[ Original ]
وَجَعَلْنَا السَّمَاءَ سَقْفًا مَحْفُوظًا ۖ وَهُمْ عَنْ آيَاتِهَا مُعْرِضُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And We have made the heavens as a canopy well guarded: yet do they turn away from the Signs which these things (point to)!
[ Saheeh International ]
And We made the sky a protected ceiling, but they, from its signs, are turning away.
Tafseer Commentary

2694 Canopy well-guarded: the heavens form a canopy that is secure from falling down: they also form a sublime spectacle and a Mystery that man can only faintly reach. Perhaps also the mystery of spiritual life is metaphorically hinted at (Cf. also 15:16-17).


21:33
[ Original ]
وَهُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ ۖ كُلٌّ فِي فَلَكٍ يَسْبَحُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course.
[ Saheeh International ]
And it is He who created the night and the day and the sun and the moon; all [heavenly bodies] in an orbit are swimming.
Tafseer Commentary

2695 I have indicated, unlike most translators, the metaphor of swimming implied in the original words: how beautiful it is to contemplate the heavenly bodies swimming through space (or ether) in their rounded courses before our gaze! (Cf. 36:40)


21:34
[ Original ]
وَمَا جَعَلْنَا لِبَشَرٍ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ الْخُلْدَ ۖ أَفَإِنْ مِتَّ فَهُمُ الْخَالِدُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
We granted not to any man before thee permanent life (here): if then thou shouldst die, would they live permanently?
[ Saheeh International ]
And We did not grant to any man before you eternity [on earth]; so if you die - would they be eternal?
Tafseer Commentary

2696 Life on this planet without death has not been granted to any man. The Khidhr legends are popular tales. His life without death on this earth is nowhere mentioned in the Qur'an. The taunt of the Unbelievers at the Holy Prophet was therefore futile. Could any of them live without death at some time or other? Could they name any one who did?


21:35
[ Original ]
كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۗ وَنَبْلُوكُمْ بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً ۖ وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial. to Us must ye return.
[ Saheeh International ]
Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as trial; and to Us you will be returned.
Tafseer Commentary

2697 Cf. 3:185, and n. 491, and 29:57. The soul does not die, but when it separates from the body at the death of the body, the soul gets a taste of death. In our life of probation on this earth, our virtue and faith are tested by many things: some are tested by calamities, and some by the good things of this life. If we prove our true mettle, we pass our probation with success. In any case all must return to Allah, and then will our life be appraised of its true value.


21:36
[ Original ]
وَإِذَا رَآكَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِنْ يَتَّخِذُونَكَ إِلَّا هُزُوًا أَهَٰذَا الَّذِي يَذْكُرُ آلِهَتَكُمْ وَهُمْ بِذِكْرِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ هُمْ كَافِرُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
When the Unbelievers see thee, they treat thee not except with ridicule. "Is this," (they say), "the one who talks of your gods?" and they blaspheme at the mention of ((Allah)) Most Gracious!
[ Saheeh International ]
And when those who disbelieve see you, [O Muhammad], they take you not except in ridicule, [saying], "Is this the one who insults your gods?" And they are, at the mention of the Most Merciful, disbelievers.
Tafseer Commentary

2698 To the godly man the issue between false worship and true worship is a very serious matter. To the sceptics and unbelievers it is only a joke. They take it lightly, and laugh at the godly ones. They not only laugh at him, but they blaspheme when the name of the One True God is mentioned. The reply to this is in the next verse.


21:37
[ Original ]
خُلِقَ الْإِنْسَانُ مِنْ عَجَلٍ ۚ سَأُرِيكُمْ آيَاتِي فَلَا تَسْتَعْجِلُونِ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Man is a creature of haste: soon (enough) will I show you My Signs; then ye will not ask Me to hasten them!
[ Saheeh International ]
Man was created of haste. I will show you My signs, so do not impatiently urge Me.
Tafseer Commentary

2699 Haste is the very bone and marrow of man. If he is granted respite for his own sake, in order that he may have a further chance of repentance and coming back to Allah, he says impatiently and incredulously; "Bring on the Punishment quickly, that I may see if what you say is true!" Alas, it is too true! When the Punishment actually comes near and he sees it, he will not want it hastened. He will want more time and further delay! Poor creature of haste! (Cf. 75:20).


21:38
[ Original ]
وَيَقُولُونَ مَتَىٰ هَٰذَا الْوَعْدُ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
They say: "When will this promise come to pass, if ye are telling the truth?"
[ Saheeh International ]
And they say, "When is this promise, if you should be truthful?"

21:39
[ Original ]
لَوْ يَعْلَمُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا حِينَ لَا يَكُفُّونَ عَنْ وُجُوهِهِمُ النَّارَ وَلَا عَنْ ظُهُورِهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يُنْصَرُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
If only the Unbelievers knew (the time) when they will not be able to ward off the fire from their faces, nor yet from their backs, and (when) no help can reach them!
[ Saheeh International ]
If those who disbelieved but knew the time when they will not avert the Fire from their faces or from their backs and they will not be aided...
Tafseer Commentary

2700 They would not be so unreasonable if they only realised the terrible future for them! The Fire will envelop them on all sides, and no help will then be possible. Is it not best for them now to turn and repent? The Punishment may come too suddenly, as is said in the next verse.


21:40
[ Original ]
بَلْ تَأْتِيهِمْ بَغْتَةً فَتَبْهَتُهُمْ فَلَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ رَدَّهَا وَلَا هُمْ يُنْظَرُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Nay, it may come to them all of a sudden and confound them: no power will they have then to avert it, nor will they (then) get respite.
[ Saheeh International ]
Rather, it will come to them unexpectedly and bewilder them, and they will not be able to repel it, nor will they be reprieved.

21:41
[ Original ]
وَلَقَدِ اسْتُهْزِئَ بِرُسُلٍ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ فَحَاقَ بِالَّذِينَ سَخِرُوا مِنْهُمْ مَا كَانُوا بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِئُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Mocked were (many) messenger before thee; But their scoffers were hemmed in by the thing that they mocked.
[ Saheeh International ]
And already were messengers ridiculed before you, but those who mocked them were enveloped by what they used to ridicule.
Tafseer Commentary

2701 The same verse occurs at 6:10, where see n. 843. 'What they are mocking at now will be in a position to mock them in due time.'


21:42
[ Original ]
قُلْ مَنْ يَكْلَؤُكُمْ بِاللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ مِنَ الرَّحْمَٰنِ ۗ بَلْ هُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ رَبِّهِمْ مُعْرِضُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Say: "Who can keep you safe by night and by day from (the Wrath of) (Allah) Most Gracious?" Yet they turn away from the mention of their Lord.
[ Saheeh International ]
Say, "Who can protect you at night or by day from the Most Merciful?" But they are, from the remembrance of their Lord, turning away.
Tafseer Commentary

2702 'Allah is most Gracious: if, in spite of His great mercy, you are so rebellious and depraved as to incur His Wrath, who is there who can save you? His Wrath can descend on you at any rime, by night or by day.'


21:43
[ Original ]
أَمْ لَهُمْ آلِهَةٌ تَمْنَعُهُمْ مِنْ دُونِنَا ۚ لَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ نَصْرَ أَنْفُسِهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ مِنَّا يُصْحَبُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Or have they gods that can guard them from Us? They have no power to aid themselves, nor can they be defended from Us.
[ Saheeh International ]
Or do they have gods to defend them other than Us? They are unable [even] to help themselves, nor can they be protected from Us.
Tafseer Commentary

2703 Ashaba: to join as a companion: with 'an or min it has also the meaning of to defend or remove from someone. The full signification is best understood if paraphrased: 'they are not fit to be mentioned in the same breath with Us, nor can they be defended from Us.'


21:44
[ Original ]
بَلْ مَتَّعْنَا هَٰؤُلَاءِ وَآبَاءَهُمْ حَتَّىٰ طَالَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْعُمُرُ ۗ أَفَلَا يَرَوْنَ أَنَّا نَأْتِي الْأَرْضَ نَنْقُصُهَا مِنْ أَطْرَافِهَا ۚ أَفَهُمُ الْغَالِبُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Nay, We gave the good things of this life to these men and their fathers until the period grew long for them; See they not that We gradually reduce the land (in their control) from its outlying borders? Is it then they who will win?
[ Saheeh International ]
But, [on the contrary], We have provided good things for these [disbelievers] and their fathers until life was prolonged for them. Then do they not see that We set upon the land, reducing it from its borders? So it is they who will overcome?
Tafseer Commentary

2704 'Umr, or 'Umur. age, generation, period, time, life. Here "period" is most appropriate, as it covers many generations, "these men and their fathers."

2705 Cf. 13:41 and n. 1865. The particular signification is that Islam spread from the outer borders, social and geographical, gradually inwards. The social fringe was the humbler people, such as slaves and poor men. The geographical reference is to Madinah and tribes away from the Makkah centre. The proud and unbelieving Quraysh were the last to come in when the circle was gradually drawn tighter and tighter around them. The general signification applies to all times. Allah's Truth makes its way first among the poor and the lowly, those whose minds are unsoiled by prejudices of false pride or false knowledge, but it gradually hems in the obstinate, until it prevails in the end.


21:45
[ Original ]
قُلْ إِنَّمَا أُنْذِرُكُمْ بِالْوَحْيِ ۚ وَلَا يَسْمَعُ الصُّمُّ الدُّعَاءَ إِذَا مَا يُنْذَرُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Say, "I do but warn you according to revelation": But the deaf will not hear the call, (even) when they are warned!
[ Saheeh International ]
Say, "I only warn you by revelation." But the deaf do not hear the call when they are warned.
Tafseer Commentary

2706 According to the English saying, "none is so deaf as those who will not hear". When they deliberately shut their ears to the warning from the Merciful Allah, meant for their own good, the responsibility is their own. But their cowardice is shown in the next verse by their behaviour when the first breath of the Wrath reaches them.


21:46
[ Original ]
وَلَئِنْ مَسَّتْهُمْ نَفْحَةٌ مِنْ عَذَابِ رَبِّكَ لَيَقُولُنَّ يَا وَيْلَنَا إِنَّا كُنَّا ظَالِمِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
If but a breath of the Wrath of thy Lord do touch them, they will then say, "Woe to us! we did wrong indeed!"
[ Saheeh International ]
And if [as much as] a whiff of the punishment of your Lord should touch them, they would surely say, "O woe to us! Indeed, we have been wrongdoers."

21:47
[ Original ]
وَنَضَعُ الْمَوَازِينَ الْقِسْطَ لِيَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ فَلَا تُظْلَمُ نَفْسٌ شَيْئًا ۖ وَإِنْ كَانَ مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍ مِنْ خَرْدَلٍ أَتَيْنَا بِهَا ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِنَا حَاسِبِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
We shall set up scales of justice for the Day of Judgment, so that not a soul will be dealt with unjustly in the least, and if there be (no more than) the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it (to account): and enough are We to take account.
[ Saheeh International ]
And We place the scales of justice for the Day of Resurrection, so no soul will be treated unjustly at all. And if there is [even] the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it forth. And sufficient are We as accountant.
Tafseer Commentary

2707 Not the smallest action, word, thought, motive, or predilection but must come into the account of Allah. Cf. Browning (in Rabbi Ben Ezra): "But all, the world's coarse thumb and finger failed to plumb, So passed in making up the main account; All instincts immature, All purposes unsure, That weighed not as his work, yet swelled the man's account; Thoughts hardly to be packed Into a narrow act, Fancies that broke through language and escaped; All I could never be, All, men ignored in me, This, I was worth to God, Whose wheel the pitcher shaped."

2708 The literalism of Sale has here excelled itself: he translates, "and there will be sufficient accountants with us"! What is meant is that when Allah takes account, His accounting will be perfect: there will be no flaw in it, as there may be in earthly accountants, who require other people's help in some matters of account which they do not understand for want of knowledge of that particular department they are dealing with. Allah's knowledge is perfect, and therefore his justice will be perfect also; for He will not fail to take into account all the most intangible diings that determine conduct and character. See last note. There is no contradiction between this and 18:104-105, where it is said that men of vain words, i.e., shallow hypocritical deeds, will have no weight attached to their deeds. In fact the two correspond.


21:48
[ Original ]
وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَىٰ وَهَارُونَ الْفُرْقَانَ وَضِيَاءً وَذِكْرًا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
In the past We granted to Moses and Aaron the criterion (for judgment), and a Light and a Message for those who would do right,-
[ Saheeh International ]
And We had already given Moses and Aaron the criterion and a light and a reminder for the righteous
Tafseer Commentary

2709 Cf. 2:53 and n. 68, where the meaning of Furqan is discussed. Here three things are mentioned as given to Moses and Aaron: (1) The Criterion for judgement; this might well be the wonderful Proofs they saw of Allah's goodness and glory from which they could have no doubt as to Allah's will and command; (2) the Light; this was the inner enlightenment of their soul, such as comes from inspiration; and (3) the Message, the book, the original book of Moses, which Aaron as his lieutenant would also use as a guide for his people.


21:49
[ Original ]
الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ بِالْغَيْبِ وَهُمْ مِنَ السَّاعَةِ مُشْفِقُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Those who fear their Lord in their most secret thoughts, and who hold the Hour (of Judgment) in awe.
[ Saheeh International ]
Who fear their Lord unseen, while they are of the Hour apprehensive.
Tafseer Commentary

2710 Note the three kinds of fear mentioned in 21:48-49. Taqwa is the fear of running counter to the will of Allah; it is akin to the love of Him; for we fear to offend those we love; it results in right conduct, and those who entertain it are "those who would do right". Then there is Khashyah, the fear of Allah, lest the person who entertains it may be found, in his inmost thoughts, to be short of the standard which Allah wished for him; this is also righteous but in a less high degree than Taqwa which is akin to love. And thirdly, there is the fear of consequences on the Day of Judgement (ishfaq); this also may lead to righteousness, but is on a still lower plane. Perhaps the three correspond to the Criterion, the Light, and the Message (or Warning) of the last verse.


21:50
[ Original ]
وَهَٰذَا ذِكْرٌ مُبَارَكٌ أَنْزَلْنَاهُ ۚ أَفَأَنْتُمْ لَهُ مُنْكِرُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And this is a blessed Message which We have sent down: will ye then reject it?
[ Saheeh International ]
And this [Qur'an] is a blessed message which We have sent down. Then are you with it unacquainted?
Tafseer Commentary

2711 Here is a Prophet and a Book, greater than Moses and his Book. Are you going to reject him and it? (R).


21:51
[ Original ]
وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ رُشْدَهُ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا بِهِ عَالِمِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
We bestowed aforetime on Abraham his rectitude of conduct, and well were We acquainted with him.
[ Saheeh International ]
And We had certainly given Abraham his sound judgement before, and We were of him well-Knowing
Tafseer Commentary

2712 Rushd: right conduct, corresponding in action to the quality expressed in the epithet Hanif (sound or true in Faith) applied to Abraham in 2:135 and elsewhere.

2713 Hence Abraham's title "Friend of Allah" (Khalil Allah): 4:125.


21:52
[ Original ]
إِذْ قَالَ لِأَبِيهِ وَقَوْمِهِ مَا هَٰذِهِ التَّمَاثِيلُ الَّتِي أَنْتُمْ لَهَا عَاكِفُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Behold! he said to his father and his people, "What are these images, to which ye are (so assiduously) devoted?"
[ Saheeh International ]
When he said to his father and his people, "What are these statues to which you are devoted?"
Tafseer Commentary

2714 Reference is made to Abraham in many places. In 19:42-49 it was with reference to his relations to his father: the problem was how a righteous man should deal with his father, when his duty to his father conflicts with his duty to Allah. Here the problem is: how a righteous man should deal with evil and overcome it; how he should fight against evil, and if he is subjected to the fire of persecution, how his firmness draws Allah's Mercy, and the very trouble he is placed in becomes his comfort and joy.


21:53
[ Original ]
قَالُوا وَجَدْنَا آبَاءَنَا لَهَا عَابِدِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
They said, "We found our fathers worshipping them."
[ Saheeh International ]
They said, "We found our fathers worshippers of them."

21:54
[ Original ]
قَالَ لَقَدْ كُنْتُمْ أَنْتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُمْ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
He said, "Indeed ye have been in manifest error - ye and your fathers."
[ Saheeh International ]
He said, "You were certainly, you and your fathers, in manifest error."

21:55
[ Original ]
قَالُوا أَجِئْتَنَا بِالْحَقِّ أَمْ أَنْتَ مِنَ اللَّاعِبِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
They said, "Have you brought us the Truth, or are you one of those who jest?"
[ Saheeh International ]
They said, "Have you come to us with truth, or are you of those who jest?"
Tafseer Commentary

2715 Abraham looked at life with a serious eye, and his people took it lightheartedly. He was devoted to Truth, and they cared more for ancestral custom. In the conflict, he seemed to be in their power. But he was fearless, and he triumphed by Allah's Grace.


21:56
[ Original ]
قَالَ بَلْ رَبُّكُمْ رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ الَّذِي فَطَرَهُنَّ وَأَنَا عَلَىٰ ذَٰلِكُمْ مِنَ الشَّاهِدِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
He said, "Nay, your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, He Who created them (from nothing): and I am a witness to this (Truth).
[ Saheeh International ]
He said, "[No], rather, your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth who created them, and I, to that, am of those who testify.
Tafseer Commentary

2716 For the various words for "creation" see n. 120 to 2:117, where f atara is explained and differentiated from other words of similar meaning.


21:57
[ Original ]
وَتَاللَّهِ لَأَكِيدَنَّ أَصْنَامَكُمْ بَعْدَ أَنْ تُوَلُّوا مُدْبِرِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"And by Allah, I have a plan for your idols - after ye go away and turn your backs"..
[ Saheeh International ]
And [I swear] by Allah, I will surely plan against your idols after you have turned and gone away."
Tafseer Commentary

2717 He wants to convince them of the powerlessness of their idols. But he does not do it underhandedly. He tells them that he is going to do something when once they are gone and their backs are turned to the idols-as much as to say that the idols are dependent on their care and attention. Apparently the people are amused and want to see what he does. So they leave him to his own devices.


21:58
[ Original ]
فَجَعَلَهُمْ جُذَاذًا إِلَّا كَبِيرًا لَهُمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ إِلَيْهِ يَرْجِعُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
So he broke them to pieces, (all) but the biggest of them, that they might turn (and address themselves) to it.
[ Saheeh International ]
So he made them into fragments, except a large one among them, that they might return to it [and question].
Tafseer Commentary

2718 He was enacting a scene, to make the people ashamed of worshipping senseless sticks and stones. He left the biggest idol untouched and broke the others to pieces, as if a fight had taken place between the idols, and the biggest had smashed the others. Would they turn to the surviving idol and ask him how it all happened?


21:59
[ Original ]
قَالُوا مَنْ فَعَلَ هَٰذَا بِآلِهَتِنَا إِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
They said, "Who has done this to our gods? He must indeed be some man of impiety!"
[ Saheeh International ]
They said, "Who has done this to our gods? Indeed, he is of the wrongdoers."

21:60
[ Original ]
قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا فَتًى يَذْكُرُهُمْ يُقَالُ لَهُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
They said, "We heard a youth talk of them: He is called Abraham."
[ Saheeh International ]
They said, "We heard a young man mention them who is called Abraham."
Tafseer Commentary

2719 Different groups of people are speaking. Those who were not present at Abraham's speech in verse 57 ask, "who has done this?" Those who were, at once name him, whereupon a formal council of the people was held, and Abraham was arraigned.


21:61
[ Original ]
قَالُوا فَأْتُوا بِهِ عَلَىٰ أَعْيُنِ النَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْهَدُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
They said, "Then bring him before the eyes of the people, that they may bear witness."
[ Saheeh International ]
They said, "Then bring him before the eyes of the people that they may testify."

21:62
[ Original ]
قَالُوا أَأَنْتَ فَعَلْتَ هَٰذَا بِآلِهَتِنَا يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
They said, "Art thou the one that did this with our gods, O Abraham?"
[ Saheeh International ]
They said, "Have you done this to our gods, O Abraham?"
Tafseer Commentary

2720 They asked him the formal question. There was no mystery about it. He had already openly threatened to do something to the idols, and people who had heard his threats were there. He now continues his ironic taunt to the idolworshippers. 'You ask me! Why don't you ask the idols? Doesn't it look as if this big fellow has smashed the smaller ones in a quarrel?' If they do not ask the idols, they confess that the idols have not intelligence enough to answer! This argument is developed in verses 64-67. Note that while the false worshipper laughed at his earnestness, he pays them back with a grim practical joke, which at the same time advances the cause of Truth.


21:63
[ Original ]
قَالَ بَلْ فَعَلَهُ كَبِيرُهُمْ هَٰذَا فَاسْأَلُوهُمْ إِنْ كَانُوا يَنْطِقُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
He said: "Nay, this was done by - this is their biggest one! ask them, if they can speak intelligently!"
[ Saheeh International ]
He said, "Rather, this - the largest of them - did it, so ask them, if they should [be able to] speak."

21:64
[ Original ]
فَرَجَعُوا إِلَىٰ أَنْفُسِهِمْ فَقَالُوا إِنَّكُمْ أَنْتُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
So they turned to themselves and said, "Surely ye are the ones in the wrong!"
[ Saheeh International ]
So they returned to [blaming] themselves and said [to each other], "Indeed, you are the wrongdoers."
Tafseer Commentary

2721 Abraham's biting irony cut them to the quick. What could they say? They turned to each other. Some among them thought he had the best of the argument. They were not keen on idolatry, and they told their fellows that it was useless arguing with Abraham. They all hung their heads in shame. But presently they thought they would face out Abraham, and take his words literally. They said, "You know quite well that idols do not speak!" This was precisely what Abraham wanted them to say, and he delivered his final blow! See n. 2723 below.


21:65
[ Original ]
ثُمَّ نُكِسُوا عَلَىٰ رُءُوسِهِمْ لَقَدْ عَلِمْتَ مَا هَٰؤُلَاءِ يَنْطِقُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Then were they confounded with shame: (they said), "Thou knowest full well that these (idols) do not speak!"
[ Saheeh International ]
Then they reversed themselves, [saying], "You have already known that these do not speak!"
Tafseer Commentary

2722 Literally, "they were turned down on their heads" which may suggest a metaphorical somersault, i.e., they recovered from their dawning shame for idolatry and were prepared to argue it out with the youth Abraham. But I think there is a better authority for the interpretation I have adopted.


21:66
[ Original ]
قَالَ أَفَتَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَنْفَعُكُمْ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَضُرُّكُمْ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
(Abraham) said, "Do ye then worship, besides Allah, things that can neither be of any good to you nor do you harm?
[ Saheeh International ]
He said, "Then do you worship instead of Allah that which does not benefit you at all or harm you?

21:67
[ Original ]
أُفٍّ لَكُمْ وَلِمَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ ۖ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"Fie upon you, and upon the things that ye worship besides Allah. Have ye no sense?"..
[ Saheeh International ]
Uff to you and to what you worship instead of Allah. Then will you not use reason?"
Tafseer Commentary

2723 As soon as they admitted in so many words that the idols could not speak, Abraham delivered his final attack: 'Then why do you worship useless impotent creatures?' After that, there remains nothing but the argument of violence, which they proceed to exercise, being the party in power. 'Burn him at the stake' is an easy cry! But it was not Abraham that suffered: it was his persecutors (21:70).


21:68
[ Original ]
قَالُوا حَرِّقُوهُ وَانْصُرُوا آلِهَتَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ فَاعِلِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
They said, "Burn him and protect your gods, If ye do (anything at all)!"
[ Saheeh International ]
They said, "Burn him and support your gods - if you are to act."

21:69
[ Original ]
قُلْنَا يَا نَارُ كُونِي بَرْدًا وَسَلَامًا عَلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
We said, "O Fire! be thou cool, and (a means of) safety for Abraham!"
[ Saheeh International ]
Allah said, "O fire, be coolness and safety upon Abraham."
Tafseer Commentary

2724 The nature of fire, by all the physical laws of matter, is to be hot. The supremacy of mind over matter is a phrase much used, but the supremacy of the spiritual over the material is not so commonly understood. And yet it is the greatest factor in the estimate of Reality. The material is ephemeral and relative. The spiritual is eternal and absolute. Through all the fire of persecution and hatred Abraham remained unhurt. The fire became cool, and a means of safety for Abraham.

2725 Can we form any idea of the place where he passed through the furnace, and the stage in his career at which this happened? He was born in Ur of the Chaldees, a place on the lower reaches of the Euphrates, not a hundred miles from the Persian Gulf . This was the cradle, or one of the cradles, of human civilisation. Astronomy was studied here in very ancient times, and the worship of the sun, moon, and stars was the prevailing form of religion. Abraham revolted against this quite early in life, and his argument is referred to in 6:74-82. They also had idols in their temples, probably idols representing heavenly bodies and celestial winged creatures. He was still a youth (21:60) when he broke the idols. This was stage No. 2. After this he was marked down as a rebel and persecuted. Perhaps some years passed before the incident of his being thrown into the Fire (21:68-69) took place, or the incident may be only allegorical. Traditionally the Fire incident is referred to a king called Ninirud, about whom see n. 1565 to 11:69. If Nimrud 's capital was in Assyria, near Nineveh (site near modern Mosul ), we may suppose either that the king's rule extended over the whole of Mesopotamia, or that Abraham wandered north through Babylonia to Assyria . Various stratagems were devised to get rid of him (21:70), but he was saved by the mercy of Allah. The final break came when he was probably a man of mature age and could speak to his father with some authority. This incident is referred to in 19:41-48. He now left his ancestral lands, and avoiding the Syrian desert, came to the fertile lands of Aram or Syria, and so south to Canaan, when the incident of 11:69-76 and the adventures of his nephew Lut took place. It is some years after this that we may suppose he built the Ka'bah with Isma'il (2:124-129), and his prayer in 14:35-41 may be referred to the same time. His visit to Egypt (Gen. 12:10) is not referred to in the Qur'an.


21:70
[ Original ]
وَأَرَادُوا بِهِ كَيْدًا فَجَعَلْنَاهُمُ الْأَخْسَرِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Then they sought a stratagem against him: but We made them the ones that lost most!
[ Saheeh International ]
And they intended for him harm, but We made them the greatest losers.
Tafseer Commentary

2726 As they could not get rid of him by open punishment, they tried secret plans, but were foiled throughout. It was not he that lost, but they. On the contrary, he left them and prospered and became the progenitor of great peoples (Cf. 19:49).


21:71
[ Original ]
وَنَجَّيْنَاهُ وَلُوطًا إِلَى الْأَرْضِ الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا لِلْعَالَمِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
But We delivered him and (his nephew) Lut (and directed them) to the land which We have blessed for the nations.
[ Saheeh International ]
And We delivered him and Lot to the land which We had blessed for the worlds.
Tafseer Commentary

2727 The land of Aram or Syria , which in its widest connotation includes Canaan or Palestine , is a well-watered fertile land, with a Mediterranean sea-coast, on which the famous commercial cities of Tyre and Sidon were situated. Its population is very mixed, as it has been a bone of contention between all the great kingdoms and empires of Western Asia and Egypt , and European interest in it dates from the most ancient times. (R).


21:72
[ Original ]
وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ إِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ نَافِلَةً ۖ وَكُلًّا جَعَلْنَا صَالِحِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And We bestowed on him Isaac and, as an additional gift, (a grandson), Jacob, and We made righteous men of every one (of them).
[ Saheeh International ]
And We gave him Isaac and Jacob in addition, and all [of them] We made righteous.
Tafseer Commentary

2728 Nafilah has many meanings: (1) booty; (2) extra work or prayer; (3) extra or additional gift; (4) grandson. The two last implications are implied here. Not only was Abraham given a son in his old age; he was given not only Isaac (Cf. 19:49), but several sons, the chief being Isma'i1 and Isaac, who both joined in burying him (Gen. 25:9); and he also saw grandsons. Isma'i1 is specially mentioned later (21:85) apart from Isaac's line, on account of his special importance for Islam.


21:73
[ Original ]
وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ فِعْلَ الْخَيْرَاتِ وَإِقَامَ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءَ الزَّكَاةِ ۖ وَكَانُوا لَنَا عَابِدِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And We made them leaders, guiding (men) by Our Command, and We sent them inspiration to do good deeds, to establish regular prayers, and to practise regular charity; and they constantly served Us (and Us only).
[ Saheeh International ]
And We made them leaders guiding by Our command. And We inspired to them the doing of good deeds, establishment of prayer, and giving of zakah; and they were worshippers of Us.
Tafseer Commentary

2729 The spiritual lesson from this passage may be recapitulated. The righteous man makes no compromise with evil. If the votaries of evil laugh at him he pays them in their own coin, but he stands firmly by his principles. His firmness causes some confusion among the followers of evil, and he openly declares the faith that is in him. They try, openly and secretly, to injure or kill him, but Allah protects him, while evil perished from its own excesses.


21:74
[ Original ]
وَلُوطًا آتَيْنَاهُ حُكْمًا وَعِلْمًا وَنَجَّيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْقَرْيَةِ الَّتِي كَانَتْ تَعْمَلُ الْخَبَائِثَ ۗ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَوْمَ سَوْءٍ فَاسِقِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And to Lut, too, We gave Judgment and Knowledge, and We saved him from the town which practised abominations: truly they were a people given to Evil, a rebellious people.
[ Saheeh International ]
And to Lot We gave judgement and knowledge, and We saved him from the city that was committing wicked deeds. Indeed, they were a people of evil, defiantly disobedient.
Tafseer Commentary

2730 Lot 's people were given to unspeakable abominations. His mission was to preach to them. He withstood Evil, but they rejected him. They were punished, but he and his followers were saved. See 15:61-74, 11:77-82, and 7:80-84.


21:75
[ Original ]
وَأَدْخَلْنَاهُ فِي رَحْمَتِنَا ۖ إِنَّهُ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And We admitted him to Our Mercy: for he was one of the Righteous.
[ Saheeh International ]
And We admitted him into Our mercy. Indeed, he was of the righteous.

21:76
[ Original ]
وَنُوحًا إِذْ نَادَىٰ مِنْ قَبْلُ فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ فَنَجَّيْنَاهُ وَأَهْلَهُ مِنَ الْكَرْبِ الْعَظِيمِ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
(Remember) Noah, when he cried (to Us) aforetime:(2730-A) We listened to his (prayer) and delivered him and his family from great distress.
[ Saheeh International ]
And [mention] Noah, when he called [to Allah] before [that time], so We responded to him and saved him and his family from the great flood.
Tafseer Commentary

2730-A The date of Noah was many centuries before that of Abraham. (R).

2731 The contemporaries of Noah were given to Unbelief, oppression of the poor, and vain disputations. He carried Allah's Message to them, and standing fast in faith, built the Ark , in which he was saved with his followers from the Flood, while the wicked were drowned. See 11:25-48.


21:77
[ Original ]
وَنَصَرْنَاهُ مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا ۚ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَوْمَ سَوْءٍ فَأَغْرَقْنَاهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
We helped him against people who rejected Our Signs: truly they were a people given to Evil: so We drowned them (in the Flood) all together.
[ Saheeh International ]
And We saved him from the people who denied Our signs. Indeed, they were a people of evil, so We drowned them, all together.

21:78
[ Original ]
وَدَاوُودَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ إِذْ يَحْكُمَانِ فِي الْحَرْثِ إِذْ نَفَشَتْ فِيهِ غَنَمُ الْقَوْمِ وَكُنَّا لِحُكْمِهِمْ شَاهِدِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And remember David and Solomon, when they gave judgment in the matter of the field into which the sheep of certain people had strayed by night: We did witness their judgment.
[ Saheeh International ]
And [mention] David and Solomon, when they judged concerning the field - when the sheep of a people overran it [at night], and We were witness to their judgement.

21:79
[ Original ]
فَفَهَّمْنَاهَا سُلَيْمَانَ ۚ وَكُلًّا آتَيْنَا حُكْمًا وَعِلْمًا ۚ وَسَخَّرْنَا مَعَ دَاوُودَ الْجِبَالَ يُسَبِّحْنَ وَالطَّيْرَ ۚ وَكُنَّا فَاعِلِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
To Solomon We inspired the (right) understanding of the matter: to each (of them) We gave Judgment and Knowledge; it was Our power that made the hills and the birds celebrate Our praises with David: it was We Who did (all these things).
[ Saheeh International ]
And We gave understanding of the case to Solomon, and to each [of them] We gave judgement and knowledge. And We subjected the mountains to exalt [Us], along with David and [also] the birds. And We were doing [that].
Tafseer Commentary

2732 The sheep, on account of the negligence of the shepherd, got into a cultivated field (or vineyard) by night and ate up the young plants or their tender shoots, causing damage, to the extent of perhaps a whole year's crop. David was king, and in his seat of judgement he considered the matter so serious that he awarded the owner of the field the sheep themselves in compensation for his damage. The Roman Law of the Twelve Tables might have approved this decision, and on the same principle was built up the Deodand doctrine of English Law, now obsolete. His son Solomon, a mere boy of eleven, thought of a better decision, where the penalty would better fit the offence. The loss was the loss of the fruits or produce of the field or vineyard: the corpus of the property was not lost. Solomon's suggestion was that the owner of the field or vineyard should not take the sheep altogether but only detain them long enough to recoup his actual damage, from the milk, wool, and possibly young of the sheep, and then return the sheep to the shepherd. David's merit was that he accepted the suggestion, even though it came from a little boy: Solomon's merit was that he distinguished between the corpus and income, and though a boy, was not ashamed to put his case before his father. But in either case it was Allah Who inspired the true realisation of justice. He was present and witnessed the affair, as He is present everywhere.

2733 Whatever is in the heavens and the earth celebrates the praises of Allah: 17:44; 57:1; 16:48-50, and 22:18. Even the "thunder repeateth His praises"; 13:13. All nature ever sings the praises of Allah. David sang in his Psalms, 148:7-10: "Praise the Lord from the earth, ye...mountains and all hills...creeping things and flying fowl!" All nature sings to Allah's glory, in unison with David, and angels, and men of God. Cf. 34:10 and 38:18-19 (R).


21:80
[ Original ]
وَعَلَّمْنَاهُ صَنْعَةَ لَبُوسٍ لَكُمْ لِتُحْصِنَكُمْ مِنْ بَأْسِكُمْ ۖ فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ شَاكِرُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
It was We Who taught him the making of coats of mail for your benefit, to guard you from each other's violence: will ye then be grateful?
[ Saheeh International ]
And We taught him the fashioning of coats of armor to protect you from your [enemy in] battle. So will you then be grateful?
Tafseer Commentary

2734 The making of coats of mails is attributed to David. It is defensive armour, and therefore its discovery and supply is associated with deeds of righteousness in 34:10-11, in contrast with the deadly weapons which man invents for offensive purposes. Indeed, all fighting, unless in defence of righteousness is mere "violence."

2735 David's good work then was: (1) he was open to learn wisdom wherever it came from; (2) he sang the praises of Allah, in unison with all nature; (3) he made defensive armour. But all these things he did, because of the faculties which Allah had given him, and we must be grateful for this and for all things to Allah.


21:81
[ Original ]
وَلِسُلَيْمَانَ الرِّيحَ عَاصِفَةً تَجْرِي بِأَمْرِهِ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا ۚ وَكُنَّا بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَالِمِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
(It was Our power that made) the violent (unruly) wind flow (tamely) for Solomon, to his order, to the land which We had blessed: for We do know all things.
[ Saheeh International ]
And to Solomon [We subjected] the wind, blowing forcefully, proceeding by his command toward the land which We had blessed. And We are ever, of all things, Knowing.
Tafseer Commentary

2736 Cf. 34:12, and 38:36-38. This has been interpreted to mean that Solomon had miraculous power over the winds, and could make them obey his order. Rationalists say that he had naval power on the Mediterranean, and through the Gulf of 'Aqaba on the Red Sea , and that he therefore figuratively commanded the winds, and we may say the same of airmen at the present day. In any case the power behind was, and is, from Allah, Who has granted man intelligence and the faculties by which he can tame the more unruly forces of nature.

2737 Evidently Palestine , in which was Solomon's capital, though his influence extended far north in Syria , and perhaps far south in Arabia and Ethiopia . In the Roman ruins of Baalbek , fifty miles north of Damascus , is still shown a quarry of huge stones supposed to have been cut for Solomon. I have seen them with my own eyes. This local tradition is interesting, even if invented.


21:82
[ Original ]
وَمِنَ الشَّيَاطِينِ مَنْ يَغُوصُونَ لَهُ وَيَعْمَلُونَ عَمَلًا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ ۖ وَكُنَّا لَهُمْ حَافِظِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And of the evil ones, were some who dived for him, and did other work besides; and it was We Who guarded them.
[ Saheeh International ]
And of the devils were those who dived for him and did work other than that. And We were of them a guardian.
Tafseer Commentary

2738 As in n. 2736, the literalists and the rationalists take different views. The former say that Solomon had power over supernatural beings of evil, whom he compelled to dive for pearls and do other hard tasks. Rationalists refer this to hostile unruly races whom he subjected to his sway. It was Allah's power ultimately, Who granted him wisdom. Solomon tamed evil with Wisdom.


21:83
[ Original ]
وَأَيُّوبَ إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُ أَنِّي مَسَّنِيَ الضُّرُّ وَأَنْتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And (remember) Job, when He cried to his Lord, "Truly distress has seized me. But Thou art the Most Merciful of those that are merciful."
[ Saheeh International ]
And [mention] Job, when he called to his Lord, "Indeed, adversity has touched me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful."
Tafseer Commentary

2739 Job (Ayub) was a prosperous man, with faith in Allah, living somewhere in the northeast corner of Arabia . He suffers from a number of calamities; his cattle are destroyed, his servants slain by the sword, and his family crushed under his roof. But he holds fast to his faith in Allah. As a further calamity he is covered with loathsome sores from head to foot. He loses his peace of mind, and he curses the day he was born. His false friends come and attribute his affliction to sin. These "Job's comforters" are no comforters at all, and he further loses his balance of mind, but Allah recalls to him all His mercies, and he resumes his humility and gives up self-justification. He is restored to prosperity, with twice as much as he had before; his brethren and friends come back to him; he had a new family of seven sons and three fair daughters. He lived to a good old age, and saw four generations of descendants. All this is recorded in the Book of Job in the Old Testament. Of all the Hebrew writings, the Hebrew of this Book comes nearest to Arabic. The account given in the Biblical sources and the image that it projects of Prophet Job is decidedly different from that found in the Qur'an and the Hadith, which present him as a prophet and a brilliant example of dignified patience becoming of a great Prophet of Allah ever trustful in Him and His promises. Nothing could be further from the truth than saying that he lost his peace of mind or resorted to curses during the period of his trial. (R).


21:84
[ Original ]
فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ فَكَشَفْنَا مَا بِهِ مِنْ ضُرٍّ ۖ وَآتَيْنَاهُ أَهْلَهُ وَمِثْلَهُمْ مَعَهُمْ رَحْمَةً مِنْ عِنْدِنَا وَذِكْرَىٰ لِلْعَابِدِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
So We listened to him: We removed the distress that was on him, and We restored his people to him, and doubled their number,- as a Grace from Ourselves, and a thing for commemoration, for all who serve Us.
[ Saheeh International ]
So We responded to him and removed what afflicted him of adversity. And We gave him [back] his family and the like thereof with them as mercy from Us and a reminder for the worshippers [of Allah].
Tafseer Commentary

2740 Job is the pattern of humility, patience, and faith in Allah. It. was with these weapons that he fought and conquered evil.


21:85
[ Original ]
وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِدْرِيسَ وَذَا الْكِفْلِ ۖ كُلٌّ مِنَ الصَّابِرِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And (remember) Isma'il, Idris, and Dhu al Kifl, all (men) of constancy and patience;
[ Saheeh International ]
And [mention] Ishmael and Idrees and Dhul-Kifl; all were of the patient.
Tafseer Commentary

2741 Isma'il is mentioned specially, apart from the line which descended through Isaac (21:72), as he was the founder of a separate and greater Ummah. His sufferings began in infancy, (see n. 160 to 2:158); but his steady constancy and submission to the will of Allah were specially shown when he earned the title of "Sacrifice to Allah", (see n. 2506 to 19:54). That was the particular quality of his constancy and patience.

2742 For Idris see n. 2508 to 19:56. He was in a high station in life, but that did not spoil him. He was sincere and true, and that was the particular quality of his constancy and patience.

2743 Dhu al Kifl would literally mean "possessor of, or giving, a double requital or portion"; or else, "one who used a cloak of double thickness," that being one of the meanings of Kifl. The Commentators differ in opinion as to who is meant, why the title is applied to him, and the point of his being grouped with Isma'il and Idris for constancy and patience. I think the best suggestion is that afforded by Karsten Niebuhr in his Reisebeschreibung nach Arabien, Copenhagen , 1778,2:264-266, as quoted in the Encyclopaedia of Islam under "Dhu al Kifl". He visited Meshed 'Ah in Iraq , and also the little town called Kefil, midway between Najaf and Hillah ( Babylon ). Kefil, he says, is the Arabic form of Ezekiel. The shrine of Ezekiel was there, and the Jews came to it on a pilgrimage. If we accept "Dhu al Kifl" to be not an epithet, but an Arabicised form of "Ezekiel", it fits the context. Ezekiel was a prophet in Israel who was carried away to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar after his second attack on Jerusalem (about B.C. 599). His Book is included in the English Bible (Old Testament). He was chained and bound, and put into prison, and for a time he was dumb, (Ezekiel, 3:25-26). He bore it all with patience and constancy, and continued to reprove boldly the evils in Israel . In a burning passage he denounces false leaders in words which are eternally true: "Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, you kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken . . .", etc. (Ezekiel, 34:2-4). Dhu al Kifl is again mentioned in 38:48 along with Isma'il and Elisha.


21:86
[ Original ]
وَأَدْخَلْنَاهُمْ فِي رَحْمَتِنَا ۖ إِنَّهُمْ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
We admitted them to Our mercy: for they were of the righteous ones.
[ Saheeh International ]
And We admitted them into Our mercy. Indeed, they were of the righteous.

21:87
[ Original ]
وَذَا النُّونِ إِذْ ذَهَبَ مُغَاضِبًا فَظَنَّ أَنْ لَنْ نَقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ فَنَادَىٰ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ أَنْ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And remember Dhu al Nun, when he departed in wrath: He imagined that We had no power over him! But he cried through the deptHs of darkness, "There is no god but thou: glory to thee: I was indeed wrong!"
[ Saheeh International ]
And [mention] the man of the fish, when he went off in anger and thought that We would not decree [anything] upon him. And he called out within the darknesses, "There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers."
Tafseer Commentary

2744 Dhu al Nun, "the man of the Fish or the Whale", is the title of Jonah (Yunus), because he was swallowed by a large Fish or Whale. He was the prophet raised to warn the Assyrian capital Nineveh . For Nineveh see n. 1478 to 10:98. His story is told in 37:139-149. When his first warning was unheeded by the people, he denounced Allah's wrath on them. But they repented and Allah forgave them for the time being. Jonah, meanwhile, departed in wrath, discouraged at the apparent failure of his mission. He should have remained in the most discouraging circumstances, and relied on the power of Allah; for Allah had power both over Nineveh and over the Messenger He had sent to Nineveh . He went away to the sea and took a ship, but apparently the sailors threw him out as a man of bad omen in a storm. He was swallowed by a big Fish (or Whale), but in the depth of the darkness, he cried to Allah and confessed his weakness. The "darkness" may be interpreted both physically and spiritually; physically, as the darkness of the night and the storm and the Fish's body; spiritually as the darkness in his soul, his extreme distress in the situation which he had brought on himself. Allah Most Gracious forgave him. He was cast out ashore; he was given the shelter of a plant in his state of physical and mental lassitude. He was refreshed and strengthened, and the work of his mission prospered. Thus he overcame all his disappointment by repentance and Faith, and Allah accepted him.


21:88
[ Original ]
فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ وَنَجَّيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْغَمِّ ۚ وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُنْجِي الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
So We listened to him: and delivered him from distress: and thus do We deliver those who have faith.
[ Saheeh International ]
So We responded to him and saved him from the distress. And thus do We save the believers.

21:89
[ Original ]
وَزَكَرِيَّا إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُ رَبِّ لَا تَذَرْنِي فَرْدًا وَأَنْتَ خَيْرُ الْوَارِثِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And (remember) Zakariya, when he cried to his Lord: "O my Lord! leave me not without offspring, though thou art the best of inheritors."
[ Saheeh International ]
And [mention] Zechariah, when he called to his Lord, "My Lord, do not leave me alone [with no heir], while you are the best of inheritors."
Tafseer Commentary

2745 See 19:2-15, and 3:38-41. Zakariya was a priest; both he and his wife were devout and punctilious in their duties. They were old, and they had no son. He was troubled in mind, not so much by the vulgar desire to have a son to carry on his line, but because he felt that his people were not unselfishly devout, and there would be no sincere work for Allah unless he could train some one himself. He was given a son Yahya (John the Baptist), who added to the devout reputation of the family, for he is called "noble, chaste, and a prophet," (3:39). All three, father, mother, and son, were made worthy of each other, and they repelled evil by their devout emulation in virtue,

2746 It is not that I crave a personal heir to myself; all things go back to Thee, and Thou art the best of inheritors: but I see no one around me sincere enough to carry on my work for Thee; wilt Thou give me one whom 1 can train?'


21:90
[ Original ]
فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ يَحْيَىٰ وَأَصْلَحْنَا لَهُ زَوْجَهُ ۚ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَيَدْعُونَنَا رَغَبًا وَرَهَبًا ۖ وَكَانُوا لَنَا خَاشِعِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
So We listened to him: and We granted him Yahya: We cured his wife's (Barrenness) for him. These (three) were ever quick in emulation in good works; they used to call on Us with love and reverence, and humble themselves before Us.
[ Saheeh International ]
So We responded to him, and We gave to him John, and amended for him his wife. Indeed, they used to hasten to good deeds and supplicate Us in hope and fear, and they were to Us humbly submissive.
Tafseer Commentary

2747 Aslaha = to improve, to mend, to reform, to make better. Here, with reference to Zakanya's wife the signification is twofold: (1) that her barrenness would be removed, so that she could become a mother; and (2) her spiritual dignity should be raised in becoming the mother of John the Baptist; and by implication his also, in becoming the father of John.


21:91
[ Original ]
وَالَّتِي أَحْصَنَتْ فَرْجَهَا فَنَفَخْنَا فِيهَا مِنْ رُوحِنَا وَجَعَلْنَاهَا وَابْنَهَا آيَةً لِلْعَالَمِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples.
[ Saheeh International ]
And [mention] the one who guarded her chastity, so We blew into her [garment] through Our angel [Gabriel], and We made her and her son a sign for the worlds.
Tafseer Commentary

2748 Mary, the mother of Jesus, chastity was her special virtue: with a son of virgin birth, she and Jesus became a miracle to all nations. That was the virtue with which they (both Mary and Jesus) resisted evil.


21:92
[ Original ]
إِنَّ هَٰذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاعْبُدُونِ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Verily, this brotherhood of yours is a single Brotherhood, and I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore serve Me (and no other).
[ Saheeh International ]
Indeed this, your religion, is one religion, and I am your Lord, so worship Me.
Tafseer Commentary

2749 Ummah: this is best translated by Brotherhood here. "Community", "race", and "nation", and "people" are words which import other ideas and do not quite correspond to "Ummah". "Religion" and "Way of Life" are derived meanings, which could be used in other passages, but arc less appropriate here. Our attention has been drawn to people of veiy different temperaments and virtues, widely different in time, race, language, surroundings, history, and work to be performed, but forming the closest brotherhood as being men and women united in the highest service of Allah. They pre-figure the final and perfected Brotherhood of Islam.


21:93
[ Original ]
وَتَقَطَّعُوا أَمْرَهُمْ بَيْنَهُمْ ۖ كُلٌّ إِلَيْنَا رَاجِعُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
But (later generations) cut off their affair (of unity), one from another: (yet) will they all return to Us.
[ Saheeh International ]
And [yet] they divided their affair among themselves, [but] all to Us will return.
Tafseer Commentary

2750 Allah's Message was and ever is one; and His Messengers treated it as one. It is people of narrower views who come later and trade on the earlier names, that break up the Message and the Brotherhood into jarring camps and sects (Cf. 23:52-53).


21:94
[ Original ]
فَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِنَ الصَّالِحَاتِ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَا كُفْرَانَ لِسَعْيِهِ وَإِنَّا لَهُ كَاتِبُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Whoever works any act of righteousness and has faith,- His endeavour will not be rejected: We shall record it in his favour.
[ Saheeh International ]
So whoever does righteous deeds while he is a believer - no denial will there be for his effort, and indeed We, of it, are recorders.
Tafseer Commentary

2751 Allah gives credit for every act of righteousness, however small: when combined with sincere Faith in Allah, it becomes the stepping stone to higher and higher things. It is never lost.


21:95
[ Original ]
وَحَرَامٌ عَلَىٰ قَرْيَةٍ أَهْلَكْنَاهَا أَنَّهُمْ لَا يَرْجِعُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
But there is a ban on any population which We have destroyed: that they shall not return,
[ Saheeh International ]
And there is prohibition upon [the people of] a city which We have destroyed that they will [ever] return
Tafseer Commentary

2752 But when wickedness comes to such a pass that the Wrath of Allah descends, as it did on Sodom , the case becomes hopeless. The righteous were warned and delivered before the Wrath descended. But those destroyed will not get another chance, as they flouted all previous chances. They will only be raised at the approach of the Day of Judgement.


21:96
[ Original ]
حَتَّىٰ إِذَا فُتِحَتْ يَأْجُوجُ وَمَأْجُوجُ وَهُمْ مِنْ كُلِّ حَدَبٍ يَنْسِلُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Until the Gog and Magog (people) are let through (their barrier), and they swiftly swarm from every hill.
[ Saheeh International ]
Until when [the dam of] Gog and Magog has been opened and they, from every elevation, descend
Tafseer Commentary

2753 For Gog and Magog see n. 2439 to 18:94. Their geographical position was discussed in Appendix VI. Here I do not think we are concerned with their geographical position. The name stands for wild and lawless tribes who will break their barriers and swarm through the earth. This will be one of the prognostications of the approaching Judgement.


21:97
[ Original ]
وَاقْتَرَبَ الْوَعْدُ الْحَقُّ فَإِذَا هِيَ شَاخِصَةٌ أَبْصَارُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يَا وَيْلَنَا قَدْ كُنَّا فِي غَفْلَةٍ مِنْ هَٰذَا بَلْ كُنَّا ظَالِمِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Then will the true promise draw nigh (of fulfilment): then behold! the eyes of the Unbelievers will fixedly stare in horror: "Ah! Woe to us! we were indeed heedless of this; nay, we truly did wrong!"
[ Saheeh International ]
And [when] the true promise has approached; then suddenly the eyes of those who disbelieved will be staring [in horror, while they say], "O woe to us; we had been unmindful of this; rather, we were wrongdoers."
Tafseer Commentary

2754 Cf. 14:42.


21:98
[ Original ]
إِنَّكُمْ وَمَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ حَصَبُ جَهَنَّمَ أَنْتُمْ لَهَا وَارِدُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Verily ye, (unbelievers), and the (false) gods that ye worship besides Allah, are (but) fuel for Hell! to it will ye (surely) come!
[ Saheeh International ]
Indeed, you [disbelievers] and what you worship other than Allah are the firewood of Hell. You will be coming to [enter] it.

21:99
[ Original ]
لَوْ كَانَ هَٰؤُلَاءِ آلِهَةً مَا وَرَدُوهَا ۖ وَكُلٌّ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
If these had been gods, they would not have got there! but each one will abide therein.
[ Saheeh International ]
Had these [false deities] been [actual] gods, they would not have come to it, but all are eternal therein.
Tafseer Commentary

2755 The ultimate proof of Truth and Falsehood will be that Truth will endure and come to its own, while Falsehood will be destroyed. And so the men who worshipped Truth will come to their own, while those who worshipped Falsehood will be in a Fire of Punishment they could scarcely have imagined before. In that state there will be nothing but regrets and sighs and groans, and these evil sounds will drown everything else,


21:100
[ Original ]
لَهُمْ فِيهَا زَفِيرٌ وَهُمْ فِيهَا لَا يَسْمَعُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
There, sobbing will be their lot, nor will they there hear (aught else).
[ Saheeh International ]
For them therein is heavy sighing, and they therein will not hear.

21:101
[ Original ]
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ سَبَقَتْ لَهُمْ مِنَّا الْحُسْنَىٰ أُولَٰئِكَ عَنْهَا مُبْعَدُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Those for whom the good (record) from Us has gone before, will be removed far therefrom.
[ Saheeh International ]
Indeed, those for whom the best [reward] has preceded from Us - they are from it far removed.
Tafseer Commentary

2756 In contrast to the misery of those who rejected Truth and Right, will be the happiness of those who accepted it. Their record does not lag behind: in fact it goes before. Our Deeds go before our journey in this life is completed. What then is Judgement? It is instantaneous: it will all be decided in the twinkling of an eye (16:77). The good will not hear the least sound of the groans of evil. Their true soul's desires will be fulfilled-not temporarily as in this world, but in a permanent form.


21:102
[ Original ]
لَا يَسْمَعُونَ حَسِيسَهَا ۖ وَهُمْ فِي مَا اشْتَهَتْ أَنْفُسُهُمْ خَالِدُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Not the slightest sound will they hear of Hell: what their souls desired, in that will they dwell.
[ Saheeh International ]
They will not hear its sound, while they are, in that which their souls desire, abiding eternally.

21:103
[ Original ]
لَا يَحْزُنُهُمُ الْفَزَعُ الْأَكْبَرُ وَتَتَلَقَّاهُمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ هَٰذَا يَوْمُكُمُ الَّذِي كُنْتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
The Great Terror will bring them no grief: but the angels will meet them (with mutual greetings): "This is your Day,- (the Day) that ye were promised."
[ Saheeh International ]
They will not be grieved by the greatest terror, and the angels will meet them, [saying], "This is your Day which you have been promised" -
Tafseer Commentary

2757 The Judgement and balancing of accounts will be a mighty Terror to the evil doers. But it will cause, to the righteous, not grief or anxiety, but hope and happiness, for now they will be in a congenial atmosphere, and will see the fulfilment of their ideals in the meeting and greeting of the angels, preparatory to their enjoyment of the supreme Bliss-seeing the Face of Allah.


21:104
[ Original ]
يَوْمَ نَطْوِي السَّمَاءَ كَطَيِّ السِّجِلِّ لِلْكُتُبِ ۚ كَمَا بَدَأْنَا أَوَّلَ خَلْقٍ نُعِيدُهُ ۚ وَعْدًا عَلَيْنَا ۚ إِنَّا كُنَّا فَاعِلِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
The Day that We roll up the heavens like a scroll rolled up for books (completed),- even as We produced the first creation, so shall We produce a new one: a promise We have undertaken: truly shall We fulfil it.
[ Saheeh International ]
The Day when We will fold the heaven like the folding of a [written] sheet for the records. As We began the first creation, We will repeat it. [That is] a promise binding upon Us. Indeed, We will do it.
Tafseer Commentary

2758 The world-the universe-as we know it, will be folded up like a scroll of parchment, for it will have done its work. If Allah created all this world out of nothing, He can create an entirely new heaven and a new earth, on a plane of which we can form no conception in our present life. And He will do so, for that is His promise. Some Commentators understand Sijill to be the name of the Recording Angel who closes the Book of a man's Deeds after the man's death (Cf. 39:67).


21:105
[ Original ]
وَلَقَدْ كَتَبْنَا فِي الزَّبُورِ مِنْ بَعْدِ الذِّكْرِ أَنَّ الْأَرْضَ يَرِثُهَا عِبَادِيَ الصَّالِحُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Before this We wrote in the Psalms, after the Message (given to Moses): My servants the righteous, shall inherit the earth."
[ Saheeh International ]
And We have already written in the book [of Psalms] after the [previous] mention that the land [of Paradise] is inherited by My righteous servants.
Tafseer Commentary

2759 Zabur. the Book of the Psalms of David. The name of David is expressly mentioned in connection with the Zabum in 4:163 and 17:55, although there the indefinite article is applied to the word as meaning a Book of Scripture. See Psalms 25:13, "his seed shall inherit the earth": 37:11, "the meek shall inherit the earth" (quoted by Jesus in Matt. 5:5); and 37:29, "the righteous shall inherit the land." (R).

2760 The same promise occurs in the Pentateuch, Exod. 32:13, "they shall inherit it (the land) forever."


21:106
[ Original ]
إِنَّ فِي هَٰذَا لَبَلَاغًا لِقَوْمٍ عَابِدِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Verily in this (Qur'an) is a Message for people who would (truly) worship Allah.
[ Saheeh International ]
Indeed, in this [Qur'an] is notification for a worshipping people.
Tafseer Commentary

2761 The culmination of Allah's Revelation is in the Qur'an, which confirms previous scriptures, corrects the errors which men introduced into them, and explains many points in detail for all who seek right worship and service to Allah whether they inherit the previous Books ("People of the Book") or not. It is a universal Message.


21:107
[ Original ]
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِلْعَالَمِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures.
[ Saheeh International ]
And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.
Tafseer Commentary

2762 There is no question now of race or nation, of a "chosen people" or the "seed of Abraham"; or the "seed of David"; or of Hindu Arya-varta; of Jew or Gentile, Arab or 'Ajam(Persian), Turk or Tajik, European or Asiatic, White or Coloured; Aryan, Semitic, Mongolian, or African; or American, Australian, or Polynesian. To all men and creatures other than men who have any spiritual responsibility, the principles universally apply.


21:108
[ Original ]
قُلْ إِنَّمَا يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَٰهُكُمْ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Say: "What has come to me by inspiration is that your Allah is One Allah. will ye therefore bow to His Will (in Islam)?"
[ Saheeh International ]
Say, "It is only revealed to me that your god is but one God; so will you be Muslims [in submission to Him]?"
Tafseer Commentary

2763 'Not my God only, but also your God: for there is but One God, the Universal Lord, Who made and loves and cherishes all.'


21:109
[ Original ]
فَإِنْ تَوَلَّوْا فَقُلْ آذَنْتُكُمْ عَلَىٰ سَوَاءٍ ۖ وَإِنْ أَدْرِي أَقَرِيبٌ أَمْ بَعِيدٌ مَا تُوعَدُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
But if they turn back, Say: "I have proclaimed the Message to you all alike and in truth; but I know not whether that which ye are promised is near or far.
[ Saheeh International ]
But if they turn away, then say, "I have announced to [all of] you equally. And I know not whether near or far is that which you are promised.
Tafseer Commentary

2764 'If you do not realise the significance of the Message, I at least have done my duty. I have given the Good News for the Righteous and the Warning for the Unjust, without favour or partiality, and without abating one jot of the truth, openly and squarely for all. Do not ask me when the Good News and the Warning will be fulfilled. That is for Allah to decide, not for me or for you to know.'


21:110
[ Original ]
إِنَّهُ يَعْلَمُ الْجَهْرَ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا تَكْتُمُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"It is He Who knows what is open in speech and what ye hide (in your hearts).
[ Saheeh International ]
Indeed, He knows what is declared of speech, and He knows what you conceal.
Tafseer Commentary

2765 The Messenger of Allah freely and impartially teaches all how to carry out Allah's Will and live a good life. If some of them are hypocrites and come into the Ummah (Brotherhood) from baser motives and not the pure motives of the love of Allah, their motives and conduct will be judged by Allah and not by men.


21:111
[ Original ]
وَإِنْ أَدْرِي لَعَلَّهُ فِتْنَةٌ لَكُمْ وَمَتَاعٌ إِلَىٰ حِينٍ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"I know not but that it may be a trial for you, and a grant of (worldly) livelihood (to you) for a time."
[ Saheeh International ]
And I know not; perhaps it is a trial for you and enjoyment for a time."
Tafseer Commentary

2766 In the same way if men who come into the Brotherhood from pure motives and yet feel aggrieved that those outside are better off from a worldly point of view, they are wrong. It may be that the fleeting enjoyment of this world's goods is but a trial, and they should be grateful for being saved from temptation.


21:112
[ Original ]
قَالَ رَبِّ احْكُمْ بِالْحَقِّ ۗ وَرَبُّنَا الرَّحْمَٰنُ الْمُسْتَعَانُ عَلَىٰ مَا تَصِفُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Say: "O my Lord! judge Thou in truth!" "Our Lord Most Gracious is the One Whose assistance should be sought against the blasphemies ye utter!"
[ Saheeh International ]
[The Prophet] has said, "My Lord, judge [between us] in truth. And our Lord is the Most Merciful, the one whose help is sought against that which you describe."
Tafseer Commentary

2767 See above, n. 2666 to 21:4. The better reading is "Say" in the imperative, rather than "He (the Prophet) said (or says)" in the indicative mood. Note that, on that construction, there are three distinct things which the Prophet is asked to say: viz.: (1) the statement in verses 109-111, addressed to those who turn away from the Message; (2) the prayer addressed to Allah in the first part of verse 112; and (3) the advice given indirectly to the Believers, in the second part of verse 112. I have marked these divisions by means of inverted commas.

2768 That is, Allah's judgement as between the Teacher and those who refused the Message, or between the righteous and those who taunt them for their poverty, will be the true one, and both the Teacher and the Ummah must leave the judgement to Allah.

2769 Blasphemy is a dreadful sin. We must guard ourselves from it. But as regards others, if we cannot prevent it, we must pray to Allah for assistance and not rely upon carnal weapons.


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