اُولٰٓئِکَ مَاۡوٰٮہُمُ النَّارُ بِمَا کَانُوۡا یَکۡسِبُوۡنَ ﴿۹﴾
أُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ مَأۡوَىٰهُمُ ٱلنَّارُ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَكۡسِبُونَ
The verse uses the words یکسبون (they earn) and not یعملون (they do) to point to the philosophy of sin. Only a wrongful act done deliberately or repeatedly deserves to be punished. He is not a sinner, delaying punishment, who in a state of passing forgetfulness and with no deliberate intention is guilty of a temporary moral lapse, nor is that person a sinner in the true sense of the word who falters and commits a sin but is immediately after seized with sincere remorse and repents of his action, and at once sets about mending his conduct. The subject has also been dealt with in 53:33.
Speaking of the punishment of sinners, the verse says, It is these whose abode is Fire. The word ماوی (abode) is used to signify a place which a person repairs to for lodging and which he looks upon as a refuge and an asylum (see 79:42). It seems strange that "Fire" should be spoken of as a refuge and an asylum, but the Quran has used this word in order to point to the real significance and true nature and purpose of Divine punishment, which is that the punishment of God is not meant to inflict pain but to heal. According to Islam, Hell is not a place of torture but a sort of reformatory or hospital. And just as a man, though disliking the pain caused by a surgical operation, submits to it gladly because he sees his own good in it. Similarly when sinners come to realize the real purpose of Divine punishment, they will look upon it as a place of refuge, i.e. a means of deliverance from the real punishment which is the displeasure of God and estrangement from Him. Thus, by using the word ماوی (abode) with regard to the fire of Hell the Quran means to point out that it is not with the intent of torture but a necessary means of purification. (close)
اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَ عَمِلُوا الصّٰلِحٰتِ یَہۡدِیۡہِمۡ رَبُّہُمۡ بِاِیۡمَانِہِمۡ ۚ تَجۡرِیۡ مِنۡ تَحۡتِہِمُ الۡاَنۡہٰرُ فِیۡ جَنّٰتِ النَّعِیۡمِ ﴿۱۰﴾
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَٰتِ يَهۡدِيهِمۡ رَبُّهُم بِإِيمَٰنِهِمۡۖ تَجۡرِي مِن تَحۡتِهِمُ ٱلۡأَنۡهَٰرُ فِي جَنَّـٰتِ ٱلنَّعِيمِ
b. 2:278; 4:176; 13:30; 14:24; 22:15, 24. (close)
1240. The word, taht (beneath), is used here figuratively denoting subordination. In this sense of the word the expression, beneath them, would signify that the inmates of Heaven will be the masters and owners of its streams and not merely their users as tenants or occupiers. (close)
a. 2:278; 4:176; 13:30; 14:24; 22:15, 24. (close)
The words, their Lord shall guide them, show that true guidance is achieved only through true faith. Mere actions are of no value, unless they are accompanied by the purification of the heart. The man who has a mind to steal but who finds no opportunity to do so cannot be called honest. Similarly, if a person’s heart is inspired by fear of anyone other than Allah, even though he does not outwardly worship them, he cannot be called a true worshipper of God. But it would be wrong to infer from this that Islam attaches no importance to the doing of good actions and holds "faith" to be sufficient. What Islam emphasizes is that good works should be accompanied by faith, which is another name for the purification of the heart. It is impossible for a man with a pure heart to fail to do good works. The heart of man is beyond all external control. His actions can be controlled, but not his heart; God has, therefore, made guidance dependent on something which is entirely in one’s own power and totally beyond the control of others. So, by adding the words, because of their faith, the Quran alludes to the fact that a man’s actions will be rewarded according to the degree of his faith. The deeds of two persons may be equal and analogous to all outward appearance, but their rewards may be entirely different according to the measure of the faith, sincerity and love which inspire their actions. This is indeed a point worth remembering.
The word تحت (beneath) is also used figuratively, denoting subordination. Taken in this sense, the expression, beneath them, would signify that the inmates of Heaven will be masters and owners of its rivers and not merely their users as tenants or occupiers. It may also be incidentally noted here that the word تحت (beneath) is also used as a noun meaning a person of low status and poor origin. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said,
لا تقوم الساعة حتی تظھر التحوت و تھلك الوعول
i.e. "the Hour of Resurrection will not come until those belonging to the poor and labouring class shall prevail and the rich classes shall perish," which means that the truth of the Promised Messiah whose time has been stated as marking the approach of the "Hour of Resurrection," shall not prevail unless workers and labourers have ascendency over the rich and wealthy (Taj under the word تحت). This prophecy has been wonderfully fulfilled by the rise of the labour class in most countries, particularly in Soviet Russia. (close)
دَعۡوٰٮہُمۡ فِیۡہَا سُبۡحٰنَکَ اللّٰہُمَّ وَ تَحِیَّتُہُمۡ فِیۡہَا سَلٰمٌ ۚ وَ اٰخِرُ دَعۡوٰٮہُمۡ اَنِ الۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰہِ رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ﴿٪۱۱﴾
دَعۡوَىٰهُمۡ فِيهَا سُبۡحَٰنَكَ ٱللَّهُمَّ وَتَحِيَّتُهُمۡ فِيهَا سَلَٰمٞۚ وَءَاخِرُ دَعۡوَىٰهُمۡ أَنِ ٱلۡحَمۡدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَٰلَمِينَ
1241. The glorification of God will be spontaneous and instinctive, because in Heaven the reality of things will become manifest to men and they will realize that every work of God was based on deep wisdom. This realization will make them exclaim instinctively and spontaneously, Glory be to Thee, O Allah. The verse also indicates that the ultimate end of the believers is always happy. They give expression to their joy by proclaiming the glory of God. (close)
a. 14:24; 36:59. (close)
The verse purports to say that on having been endowed with the rewards of Heaven and on experiencing its supreme bliss, the believers will at once cry out, Glory be to Thee, O Allah. This glorification will be spontaneous and instinctive, because in Heaven the true reality of things will become manifest to all. Even in this life a true believer praises and glorifies God whenever he sees a praiseworthy thing, the inward reality of which he does not know. He does so because he knows that no work of God is devoid of wisdom. But in Heaven, the reality of all things will become apparent to man. He will come to realize on the basis of his personal observation and experience that every work of God is founded in deep wisdom. The realization of this eternal truth will make him exclaim instinctively and involuntarily, Glory be to Thee, o Allah.
The verse proceeds to say that believers in Heaven will salute each other with the greeting of peace. In fact, all our sufferings (i.e. lack of peace) in this world are due to our ignorance of the true reality and properties of things and, as these will be disclosed to us in Heaven, we shall attain there complete and real peace, for we shall then become secure against all harm by knowing the true properties of all things and will get complete freedom from pain and suffering. Hence, after glorifying God on learning the realities of things and experiencing the complete bliss of Heaven, believers will go about exclaiming, "There is peace here, nothing but peace", for, after attaining perfect knowledge of things, they will no longer suffer by making wrong use of them.
Finally, when believers will see perfect peace reigning in Heaven and will have vented their happy feelings to one another, they will turn again to God and the conclusion of their prayer will be, "All praise be to Allah, Who has placed us in such a place of perfect bliss." (close)
وَ لَوۡ یُعَجِّلُ اللّٰہُ لِلنَّاسِ الشَّرَّ اسۡتِعۡجَالَہُمۡ بِالۡخَیۡرِ لَقُضِیَ اِلَیۡہِمۡ اَجَلُہُمۡ ؕ فَنَذَرُ الَّذِیۡنَ لَا یَرۡجُوۡنَ لِقَآءَنَا فِیۡ طُغۡیَانِہِمۡ یَعۡمَہُوۡنَ ﴿۱۲﴾
۞وَلَوۡ يُعَجِّلُ ٱللَّهُ لِلنَّاسِ ٱلشَّرَّ ٱسۡتِعۡجَالَهُم بِٱلۡخَيۡرِ لَقُضِيَ إِلَيۡهِمۡ أَجَلُهُمۡۖ فَنَذَرُ ٱلَّذِينَ لَا يَرۡجُونَ لِقَآءَنَا فِي طُغۡيَٰنِهِمۡ يَعۡمَهُونَ
b. 17:12. (close)
1242. The word Khair also meaning wealth (Lane), the verse means that disbelievers direct all their energies to the earning of wealth, and neglect God altogether. Their conduct demands that evil should overtake them. But God is slow to punish. If He had been as quick in punishing them as their conduct deserves, they would have been destroyed long ago. If the word Khair be taken in the sense of 'good' as in the text, the verse would mean that if God were as quick to inflict punishment on disbelievers for their evil deeds as He is to bestow good, then they would already have been destroyed. (close)
c. See 10:8. (close)
a. 17:12. (close)
b. See 10:8. (close)
1287. Important Words:
الخیر (wealth) is a common Arabic word giving among others the following meanings: (1) good, moral or physical, actual or potential; (2) a thing that all desire, being profitable or useful; (3) wealth or property; (4) good fortune, happiness or prosperity (Lane).
Some difference of opinion exists among commentators as to the meaning of the first part of this verse. This difference has arisen owing to the word خیر (wealth) being misconstrued as "good" or "virtue", which it does not always mean. The word خیر as shown under Important Words, also means wealth or property, and it is in this sense that it has been used in the present verse. The verse thus means that disbelievers have directed all their energies to the earning of wealth and have altogether neglected God. Their conduct demands that evil should overtake them. But God is slow to punish. If He had been as quick in punishing as their conduct deserves, they would have been destroyed long ago. But God gives people respite to repent and mend their ways. If, however, the word خیر be taken in the sense of "good", then the pronoun ھم in the expression استعجالـھم would be taken as the object of the word استعجال and not as the subject, and in this case the verse would mean that if God had been as quick to inflict punishment as He is to bestow good, then they would already have been destroyed; but God, being Forgiving and Merciful, gives them time to repent.
The words, But We leave those who look not for the meeting with Us to wander distractedly in their transgression, do not mean that God desires to leave the transgressors in their transgression, but that, in spite of their transgression, He grants them respite so that they may not die in a state of transgression but may have a chance to correct themselves and escape punishment.
As already pointed out in 10:4 above, the Quran sometimes omits to mention a question and only indirectly alludes to it by giving the answer. Thus this verse shows that 10:4 was a reply to the demand of the disbelievers for a speedy decision. All these verses therefore occur in a perfectly natural order and contain a reply to an implied question. (close)
وَ اِذَا مَسَّ الۡاِنۡسَانَ الضُّرُّ دَعَانَا لِجَنۡۢبِہٖۤ اَوۡ قَاعِدًا اَوۡ قَآئِمًا ۚ فَلَمَّا کَشَفۡنَا عَنۡہُ ضُرَّہٗ مَرَّ کَاَنۡ لَّمۡ یَدۡعُنَاۤ اِلٰی ضُرٍّ مَّسَّہٗ ؕ کَذٰلِکَ زُیِّنَ لِلۡمُسۡرِفِیۡنَ مَا کَانُوۡا یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳﴾
وَإِذَا مَسَّ ٱلۡإِنسَٰنَ ٱلضُّرُّ دَعَانَا لِجَنۢبِهِۦٓ أَوۡ قَاعِدًا أَوۡ قَآئِمٗا فَلَمَّا كَشَفۡنَا عَنۡهُ ضُرَّهُۥ مَرَّ كَأَن لَّمۡ يَدۡعُنَآ إِلَىٰ ضُرّٖ مَّسَّهُۥۚ كَذَٰلِكَ زُيِّنَ لِلۡمُسۡرِفِينَ مَا كَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُونَ
a. 30:34; 39:9, 50. (close)
a. 30:34; 39:9, 50. (close)
1288. Important Words:
مسرفین (the extravagant) is the plural of مسرف which is the active participle from اسرف which again is derived from سرفmeaning, he was ignorant; or he was unmindful or heedless. سرف الطعام means, the wheat or food became cankered or eaten away. اسرف means, he exceeded or transgressed the just or right limit or measure; he acted extravagantly or immoderately. They say فلان اسرف فی ماله meaning, such a one was hasty in respect of his property i.e. he expended his property extravagantly without keeping within proper bounds. اسرف فی القتل means, he exceeded the due bounds or just limits in slaying. اسراف, which is the noun-infinitive from اسرف, also signifies the committing of many faults, offences, or crimes and sins. مسرف means, one exceeding or transgressing the right limit or measure; one acting extravagantly; one unmindful, negligent or heedless; one denying or disacknowledging the favours or benefits or the Unity or the Prophets or the Law of God; a disbeliever or an unbeliever (Lane & Aqrab).
This verse describes the different attitudes which a man assumes when he is stricken with distress. Sometimes the blow is so hard that he falls to the ground. This state is described in the words, lying on his side. Again, sometimes distress renders a man restless and uneasy. This state is described in the words, sitting or standing, because the constant changing of posture is a sure sign of restlessness.
The verse means that, although disbelievers continue to demand that if the Prophet of Islam is really sent by God, they should be visited with punishment for their rejection of him, yet when Divine punishment actually overtakes them, they are seized with despair. It thus embodies two important lessons. The first is that we should not be hasty in attacking the motives of other people, because the verse clearly says that the disbelievers do not commit evil deeds deliberately, knowing them to be so, but only do what appears good in their eyes, i.e. their evil deeds are the result of faulty reasoning and defective vision. It may be asked here, why then will disbelievers be punished for doing what appears good in their eyes. The answer to that question is that the verse does not say that the evil deeds of each and every individual appear good in his sight but that it is only to the extravagant that they so appear. The offence of the disbelievers lies in the fact that they become extravagant, and so they justly deserve to suffer the consequences of an extravagant life.
The second important lesson contained in this verse is that the plea of good motives is not always acceptable and therefore it cannot always save a person from the consequences of his actions. It is only when the motives themselves become vitiated on account of corrupt living or when it is in our power to rectify our motives but we fail to do so, that we become deserving of punishment. In the law of nature, as against the law of Shari‘ah, motives count for nothing, the consequences being invariably determined by the nature of one’s actions. He who takes a fatal dose of poison must die, no matter what his motives are and no matter what kind of life he leads. But in the law of Shari‘ah due allowance is made for the circumstances in which a certain deed is done and for the motives that prompt it. (close)
وَ لَقَدۡ اَہۡلَکۡنَا الۡقُرُوۡنَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِکُمۡ لَمَّا ظَلَمُوۡا ۙ وَ جَآءَتۡہُمۡ رُسُلُہُمۡ بِالۡبَیِّنٰتِ وَ مَا کَانُوۡا لِیُؤۡمِنُوۡا ؕ کَذٰلِکَ نَجۡزِی الۡقَوۡمَ الۡمُجۡرِمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۴﴾
وَلَقَدۡ أَهۡلَكۡنَا ٱلۡقُرُونَ مِن قَبۡلِكُمۡ لَمَّا ظَلَمُواْ وَجَآءَتۡهُمۡ رُسُلُهُم بِٱلۡبَيِّنَٰتِ وَمَا كَانُواْ لِيُؤۡمِنُواْۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَجۡزِي ٱلۡقَوۡمَ ٱلۡمُجۡرِمِينَ
b. 6:7; 20:129; 32:27. (close)
1243. Punishments are of two kinds: (1) Those that are the result of the contravention of the laws of nature, and (2) those that come when the law of the Shari‘ah is flouted. The latter class of punishments overtake a people when they lead wicked lives, or when a Prophet appears among them and they reject him and put all sorts of obstacles in his way. Punishments of this kind are known by certain characteristics. Other class of punishments, such as the rise and fall of nations, come as the result of the contravention of the ordinary laws of nature. (close)
a. 6:7; 20:129; 21:12. (close)
1289. Important Words:
القرون (the generations) is the plural of القرن which gives a number of meanings: (1) part or division of time; (2) people of one time; (3) a generation coming after another; (4) a people that is destroyed so as to leave no remnant behind it; a century (Aqrab and Lane).
This verse brings to light some eternal divine truths. One is that it is always a life of wrongdoing i.e. the contravention of the law of nature or that of Shari‘ah that brings about the downfall and destruction of a people. The entire history of the world bears eloquent testimony to this great truth. The other divine law hinted at in this verse is that Divine punishment does not overtake a people unless a Prophet of God first appears among them to warn them of their evil ways and of the Divine punishment that will come upon them, if they do not follow him and give up their wicked practices. Thus it is the mercy of God and not His punishment that is meant to be emphasized in this verse, because we are told that when God sees that a certain people have made themselves deserving of His punishment on account of their evil lives, He, out of His great mercy, sends to them a Prophet so that they may follow him and, by reforming themselves, escape the impending punishment and become heirs to His favours. It is only when they reject the Divine Messenger and instead of mending their ways, begin to persecute him that God sends down punishment on them.
Punishments again are of two kinds: (1) those that are the result of contravention of the laws of nature, and (2) those that come when the law of Shari‘ah is flouted. The latter class of punishments never occur unless a people begin to lead wicked lives and unless a Prophet is first made to appear among them. Punishments of this kind are known by certain characteristics. For instance, (a) their occurrence is generally foretold by previous announcements based on Divine revelation; (b) they assume the form of an unusual and extraordinary upheaval in nature such as a succession of earthquakes or the widespread outbreak of virulent epidemics; and (c) they occur after a Warner has made his appearance. The other class of punishments, such as the rise and fall of nations from natural causes, are due only to the contravention of the ordinary laws of nature. These must always be distinguished from the first-mentioned class of punishments. (close)
ثُمَّ جَعَلۡنٰکُمۡ خَلٰٓئِفَ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِہِمۡ لِنَنۡظُرَ کَیۡفَ تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۵﴾
ثُمَّ جَعَلۡنَٰكُمۡ خَلَـٰٓئِفَ فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِ مِنۢ بَعۡدِهِمۡ لِنَنظُرَ كَيۡفَ تَعۡمَلُونَ
c. 2:31; 7:130. (close)
a. 2:31; 7:130. (close)
1290. Important Words:
خلائف (successors) is the plural of خلیفة which is the active participle from خلف. They say خلفه i.e. he came after, succeeded or remained after him. خلیفة means, a successor; a vicegerent or deputy; one appointed to take the place of another who has been before him (Lane). See also 2:31; 7:70 & 7:170.
The verse gives rise to a natural question, viz. when a people is made to succeed another people only when the former is superior to the latter who have met with a merited downfall, what is the significance of the words, that We might see how you would act? The answer to this question is that good works are of two kinds: (1) those that bring about and lead to the glory of a people; and (2) those that are needed to maintain that glory. There are people who acquit themselves excellently in the acquisition of greatness but, once they have attained it they fail to maintain a high standard of national morality and fall victim to sloth and lack of discipline. Moreover, the works of a people are further divided into two more categories. Some actions are virtuous by themselves, while others serve only as a basis for, and help to maintain, good deeds. By adding the clause, that We might see how you would act, the Quran means to say that God made you heirs to His favours on account of such of your initial good deeds as were needed to merit greatness, and now He will see how you do those deeds which guard and perpetuate your good actions. The truth is that the latter kind of good deeds are far more difficult to perform than the former. One of the principal causes of the decline of nations is that, while they are ready to undergo all sorts of sacrifices in order to attain honour and greatness, they do not make similar efforts to preserve and perpetuate the same willingness for sacrifice and the same love for righteousness among their posterity. The result is that with the passing of one or more deserving generations the process of decay and degeneration sets in, till at last the doomed nation falls into the abyss of ruin and destruction.
If Muslims had borne this great truth in mind, they would not have sunk to their present degradation. If even now they hearken to the voice of God and His Messenger and act upon the great truth embodied in this verse, they may yet regain their lost glory. (close)
وَ اِذَا تُتۡلٰی عَلَیۡہِمۡ اٰیَاتُنَا بَیِّنٰتٍ ۙ قَالَ الَّذِیۡنَ لَا یَرۡجُوۡنَ لِقَآءَنَا ائۡتِ بِقُرۡاٰنٍ غَیۡرِ ہٰذَاۤ اَوۡ بَدِّلۡہُ ؕ قُلۡ مَا یَکُوۡنُ لِیۡۤ اَنۡ اُبَدِّلَہٗ مِنۡ تِلۡقَآیِٔ نَفۡسِیۡ ۚ اِنۡ اَتَّبِعُ اِلَّا مَا یُوۡحٰۤی اِلَیَّ ۚ اِنِّیۡۤ اَخَافُ اِنۡ عَصَیۡتُ رَبِّیۡ عَذَابَ یَوۡمٍ عَظِیۡمٍ ﴿۱۶﴾
وَإِذَا تُتۡلَىٰ عَلَيۡهِمۡ ءَايَاتُنَا بَيِّنَٰتٖ قَالَ ٱلَّذِينَ لَا يَرۡجُونَ لِقَآءَنَا ٱئۡتِ بِقُرۡءَانٍ غَيۡرِ هَٰذَآ أَوۡ بَدِّلۡهُۚ قُلۡ مَا يَكُونُ لِيٓ أَنۡ أُبَدِّلَهُۥ مِن تِلۡقَآيِٕ نَفۡسِيٓۖ إِنۡ أَتَّبِعُ إِلَّا مَا يُوحَىٰٓ إِلَيَّۖ إِنِّيٓ أَخَافُ إِنۡ عَصَيۡتُ رَبِّي عَذَابَ يَوۡمٍ عَظِيمٖ
a. See 10:8. (close)
b. 17:74. (close)
c. 6:51; 7:204; 46:10. (close)
1244. 'Punishment of an awful day' signifies a national disaster. (close)
b. 17:74. (close)
c. 6:51; 7:204; 46:10. (close)
1291. Important Words:
تلقاء (accord) is derived from لقی. They say لقیه i.e. he came face to face with him; he found or met him. توجه تلقاء النار means, he went in the direction of the fire, or towards the fire. جلس تلقاء فلان means, he sat facing him or opposite to him. فعله من تلقاء نفسه means, he did it himself; he did it of his own accord, i.e. without being led to it by someone else or without being forced to do it (Aqrab).
Signs (آیات) are of two kinds: (1) simple signs, and (2) clear or manifest signs. To the first class belong all things, even the smallest atom of the universe, because every one of these things points to the existence of a Creator, though it is our own faculty of reasoning that draws the inference that every created thing must have a Creator. But the signs shown at the hands of Prophets speak for themselves. They are shown to establish the truth of things hidden from our eyes, viz. the existence of God, the Day of Resurrection, the truth of the Prophets, and the nature of Divine attributes. As these signs serve as evidence for matters that concern belief, they have been spoken of as آیات بینات (clear signs), while the Signs from nature are spoken of simply as آیات (signs). All pestilences, for example, are آیات while a pestilence predicted by a Prophet of God to prove the truth of his claim is آیة بینة i.e. a clear and manifest sign, for such a pestilence serves its purpose much more clearly and definitely than a general one.
The words, those who look not for the meeting with Us say, Bring a Quran other than this or change it, show that when the leaders of disbelief saw that the hearts of their followers were becoming gradually inclined towards the truth and they were beginning to accept the new faith, they became anxious and, in order to incite their followers against the Prophet, assumed the garb of peacemakers. As men naturally love peace, the leaders of disbelief exploit this natural human desire and suggest a compromise, viz. that the Prophet should introduce no new teaching but should only assume the leadership of the people which would maintain the homogeneity of the community and save it from discord or dissension. If, however, this proposal should not meet with the Prophet’s acceptance, he should at least omit from his teachings such portions as offend against the cherished ideas of the people. When making these proposals, the ringleaders know full well that the Prophet would never accede to these unreasonable demands, which cut at the very root of his divine mission, and that in this way the people would come to think that he was too narrow-minded to give up even some of his ideas for the sake of national unity and concord. Thus they think they would succeed in making the people ignore the important fact that truth and the acceptance of a Divine Call were much more precious than mere patched-up unity and that the decline of nations was always due to the denial of divine truth. In reply to these demands of his opponents the Holy Prophet is commanded to say in this verse that he could not change a teaching which was revealed by God and which was the only means of their regeneration, for such change, instead of proving useful, was sure to prove ruinous.
The expression "of my own accord" occurring in the words, It is not for me to change it of my own accord. I only follow what is revealed to me, contains a subtle hint that Divine teachings are always in accordance with the condition of the people for whom they are sent, and hence nobody can change them of his own accord. If the Holy Prophet should himself change the teachings revealed to him, it would lead to the ruin of the people because Divine teachings, being in fitness of prevailing circumstances, can alone bring about a real spiritual and moral reformation among people and any change in these teachings would certainly be not to their good. The words, Bring a Quran other than this or change it, may also refer to the prophecies of punishment and destruction contained in the Quran. Disbelievers naturally did not like these prophecies and wanted them to be changed. The verse tells them that they could have these warnings changed only if they changed their own condition, because if a change takes place in them, the nature of the warnings would automatically change.
The words, I only follow what is revealed to me, may also mean, "In respect of the Quran I follow nothing but what is revealed to me" i.e. not only are all the words of the Quran divine but its divisions into verses and Surahs as well as the arrangement thereof are also divine. Incidentally this also does away with the objection raised by certain critics of Islam that the opening verse of each Surah, viz. بسم الله was not of Divine origin but was placed there by the Prophet himself.
Some Christian writers pretend to see this verse as an effort by the Holy Prophet to justify the alleged abrogation of certain verses of the Quran. By the words, It is not for me to change it of my own accord. I only follow what is revealed to me, the Holy Prophet is supposed by these writers to have disclaimed all responsibility for abrogation in the Quran. But this assumption is absurd. Far from justifying abrogation, the verse shows that not a single verse of the Quran has ever been abrogated. When disbelievers demanded that the Holy Prophet should make some alteration in the Quran, they did not mean that they would accept it after the demanded changes had been made. Their object in making such a demand was that, if the Holy Prophet agreed to make any change in the Quran, in compliance with their demand, they would at once say that it was not the word of God but his own composition which he altered at will to meet their wishes. But if he refused to accede to their demand, they would get a ready tool to incite the masses against him, condemning him as one who had no regard for national peace and harmony. Christian writers seem to forget the fact that if, as alleged by them, certain verses of the Quran had already been replaced by others, disbelievers had no need to resort to the above device, but could justify their objection on the basis of the abrogation that had already taken place in the Quran and could seize on it as evidence of the Quran not being the word of God. Thus the verse under comment incidentally furnishes evidence that there has been no abrogation in the Quran.
The words, the punishment of an awful day, signify a national disaster. The words mean that the teachings which are revealed by God are for the good of the people themselves and it is on acting upon them that all progress depends. So, if any change is made in these teachings, it is sure to prove detrimental to the best interests of the entire people. (close)
قُلۡ لَّوۡ شَآءَ اللّٰہُ مَا تَلَوۡتُہٗ عَلَیۡکُمۡ وَ لَاۤ اَدۡرٰٮکُمۡ بِہٖ ۫ۖ فَقَدۡ لَبِثۡتُ فِیۡکُمۡ عُمُرًا مِّنۡ قَبۡلِہٖ ؕ اَفَلَا تَعۡقِلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۷﴾
قُل لَّوۡ شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ مَا تَلَوۡتُهُۥ عَلَيۡكُمۡ وَلَآ أَدۡرَىٰكُم بِهِۦۖ فَقَدۡ لَبِثۡتُ فِيكُمۡ عُمُرٗا مِّن قَبۡلِهِۦٓۚ أَفَلَا تَعۡقِلُونَ
1245. The verse embodies an infallible criterion to test the truth of a claimant to Prophethood. If the life of a Prophet before he lays claim to Prophethood presents an extraordinarily high standard of truthfulness and integrity and between that period and his claim to Prophethood there is no interval during which it might be supposed that he has fallen from that high standard of moral excellence, then his claim to Prophethood must be accepted as that of a highly moral and truthful man. Naturally, a person confirmed in a certain course of conduct through habit or temperament takes a long time to develop in himself a major change for either good or evil. How then could the Prophet of Islam suddenly turn into an impostor when all his lifetime before his claim to Prophethood he had been a singularly upright man? (close)
The argument against the abrogation theory which was begun in the previous verse is continued in the present one. Such commandments may be abrogated as are needed only for a particular time, the commandments changing with the change of circumstances. But, if any commandments were to be changed without any change having taken place in the circumstances of men, then it would be a proof of the fact that such commandments were misplaced and their promulgation quite useless.
It is regarding this fact that the Holy Prophet is made to say to the disbelievers "If the teachings given by me had not been useful and some other teachings had been more adapted to bring about a change in you, then I would not have delivered these teachings to you, neither would God have revealed them to me."
The words, I have indeed lived among you a whole lifetime before this. Will you not then understand?, embody a great criterion to test the truth of a claimant to prophethood. The Holy Prophet is here asked to refer disbelievers to the period of life he had already passed among them as proof of his sincerity and the truth of his claims. If the period of his life before he claimed to be a Prophet had presented an extraordinarily high standard of truthfulness and integrity and between that period and his claim to prophethood there was no interval during which it might be supposed that he had fallen from that high standard of moral excellence, his claim to prophethood must be accepted as coming from a highly moral and truthful man. When even the Prophet’s opponents admitted that all his lifetime he had been a singularly upright man and had even won from them the title of al-Amin (the Trustworthy) on account of his unimpeachable integrity, he could not suddenly turn an impostor. How was it possible that one who was the most upright and righteous of men a day before should have become a hardened liar the next day (for there is no greater liar than he who forges lies about God). Naturally a person confirmed in a certain course of conduct through habit or temperament takes a long time to develop in himself a major change for either good or evil. How then could the Prophet of Islam suddenly turn into an impostor? There never was a time when the Prophet’s life was hidden from the gaze of his compatriots. He was a resident of Mecca, belonged to a well-known Meccan tribe, and was popularly known in the city as الامین (the Truthful). In view of these established historical facts, the Quran, as it were, says to the disbelievers, "You ascribe to Our Messenger the most heinous of all lies, viz. forging lies against God, but you cannot produce any evidence to show when this change for the worse developed in him. On the contrary, you admit that right up to the time when he claimed to be a Prophet, he continued to live among you day and night; and you looked upon him as an exceptionally righteous and truthful man. How then can you now say that all of a sudden he has begun to forge lies against God?"
The words, before this, are intended to point to the great psychological fact that the objections of the Holy Prophet’senemies after he laid claim to prophethood should carry no weight with right-thinking people, because it always happens that after a person has announced himself to be a Messenger of God, people naturally turn against him and begin to impute to him all sorts of evil things. The fact that the Emperor Heraclius asked of Abu Sufyan, when the latter was brought before him at Jerusalem, what his people thought of the Prophet before he laid claim to prophethood, also shows that he too had realized the force of this great argument.
The words, Will you not then understand?, draw our attention to the established psychological truth that a sudden change does not come upon a man except either (1) through some physical injury, etc. (for instance when a man happens to receive a blow on the head causing loss of memory or change in manners, etc.) or (2) through some great spiritual influence. History provides instances when a great shock or calamity has made a person give way to despair and thereby inclined him to evil or when the discovery of some great truth has created a sudden change in him for good. A study of the life history of the Holy Prophet shows that he had never been subject to either of these two influences. Before his exaltation to prophethood, he led a life of retirement, giving himself up to prayer and meditation. At the same time he had not despaired of his countrymen but, like a true well-wisher, earnestly worked for their good. In such circumstances it is an insult to human reason and to all known laws of human psychology to say that though before he claimed to be a Messenger of God the Prophet of Islam was a model of piety and righteousness, yet the very day he made that claim he became the greatest of liars.
For a discussion of the "illiteracy" of the Holy Prophet see under 7:158. (close)
فَمَنۡ اَظۡلَمُ مِمَّنِ افۡتَرٰی عَلَی اللّٰہِ کَذِبًا اَوۡ کَذَّبَ بِاٰیٰتِہٖ ؕ اِنَّہٗ لَا یُفۡلِحُ الۡمُجۡرِمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸﴾
فَمَنۡ أَظۡلَمُ مِمَّنِ ٱفۡتَرَىٰ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ كَذِبًا أَوۡ كَذَّبَ بِـَٔايَٰتِهِۦٓۚ إِنَّهُۥ لَا يُفۡلِحُ ٱلۡمُجۡرِمُونَ
d. 6:22; 11:19; 61:8. (close)
1246. The verse brings to light two eternal truths: (a) Those persons who invent lies about God and those who reject and oppose His Messengers can never escape God’s punishment. (b) Impostors and false prophets cannot succeed in their mission. (close)
a. 6:22; 11:19; 61:8. (close)
This verse brings to light two eternal truths. The first of these is that both those who fabricate lies against God and those who reject and oppose His Messengers are highly unjust and can never escape God’s punishment. The second is that impostors and false prophets cannot succeed in fulfilling the object of their mission. It is indeed possible that a false prophet may temporarily succeed in securing a number of followers or in amassing wealth. But even in this case he will not be regarded as having succeeded in fulfilling his mission, because the amassing of wealth or the securing of a number of followers has never been the mission of a Prophet of God. The true mission of a Divine Messenger is either to introduce and establish a new Law or to strengthen the old one, and unless he succeeds in achieving this object, he cannot be said to have been successful in his mission. This is a criterion the truth of which cannot legitimately be disputed or denied. The apparent failure of a true Prophet like John the Baptist or the apparent success of a claimant like Baha’ullah can be fully explained with the help of this touchstone. John came with the mission of announcing the coming of the Messiah, which was in the nature of strengthening the old Law, and he was successful in that mission. On the other hand, Baha’ullah, even if he be taken to have come only as a Divine Messenger and not as God’s incarnation as he declared himself to be, claimed to have brought a new law that was to replace the Quranic Dispensation and therein he utterly failed, for his law has not been truly established even in a single household, not to speak of a whole people or country. (close)