لَا یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِہٖ وَ قَدۡ خَلَتۡ سُنَّۃُ الۡاَوَّلِیۡنَ ﴿۱۴﴾
لَا يُؤۡمِنُونَ بِهِۦ وَقَدۡ خَلَتۡ سُنَّةُ ٱلۡأَوَّلِينَ
a. 26:202. (close)
b. 26:202. (close)
The evil habit of ridiculing God’s Prophets referred to in v. 12 results in the hardening of the heart and debars the mockers from believing in their Prophet in spite of seeing clear signs in his support. The verse means to say that such has been the end of the scoffers of the Prophets in the past and such will be the end of those who mock at the Holy Prophet now. (close)
وَ لَوۡ فَتَحۡنَا عَلَیۡہِمۡ بَابًا مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ فَظَلُّوۡا فِیۡہِ یَعۡرُجُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۱۵﴾
وَلَوۡ فَتَحۡنَا عَلَيۡهِم بَابٗا مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ فَظَلُّواْ فِيهِ يَعۡرُجُونَ
1484. The verse may mean that if God were to open the gates of His mercy and avert punishment, then instead of turning to Him, the disbelievers would become engaged in the acquisition of material prosperity and comforts. (close)
See note on the succeeding verse. (close)
لَقَالُوۡۤا اِنَّمَا سُکِّرَتۡ اَبۡصَارُنَا بَلۡ نَحۡنُ قَوۡمٌ مَّسۡحُوۡرُوۡنَ ﴿٪۱۶﴾
لَقَالُوٓاْ إِنَّمَا سُكِّرَتۡ أَبۡصَٰرُنَا بَلۡ نَحۡنُ قَوۡمٞ مَّسۡحُورُونَ
1485. Disbelievers have become such strangers to spiritual matters that even if they were to enjoy some of the spiritual experiences which the Holy Prophet had gone through and were to have some of the visions of the spiritual heights to which he had arisen, they would not believe and would only say that they had become victims of magic or witchcraft. (close)
In verse 8 mention was made of the objection of disbelievers that, if the Prophet was not the subject of hallucination, it was impossible to explain that the angels which he said came to him with the Divine Message could not be seen by anyone of them. In answer to this objection it was pointed out, firstly, that angels descended on men according to their natural affinity and that, since disbelievers were the fit objects of punishment, only the angels of punishment could come to them (v. 9); secondly, that when God had afforded protection to the Messages of the previous Prophets, there was no reason why He should not have given His protection to the Message of the present claimant (v. 10); thirdly, that the mockery of disbelievers was nothing to be wondered at, since all disbelievers in their time extended the same treatment to their respective Prophets. In fact, disbelievers indulged in mockery to such an extent that they lost all fear of sin which, became as it were, second nature with them. The opponents of the Holy Prophet would meet with a similar fate (vv. 12, 13).
In the present verse another line of argument has been adopted, for in answer to the objection of disbelievers it is here said that not all men are in a position to understand all things, because understanding requires mental affinity on the part of him who wishes to understand. Disbelievers had become such strangers to spiritual matters that even if they were to undergo some of the spiritual experiences which the Holy Prophet had undergone and were to have some of the visions of the spiritual heights to which he rose, they would not believe and would only end by saying that they were subject to magic or witchcraft. The opening of "a door from heaven," spoken of in the preceding verse, refers to having spiritual experiences and "ascending through heaven" refers to visions of spiritual heights. The words "a door" i.e. not all doors but only one of the doors, are intended to hint that such people could only have passing experience of spiritual matters, which cannot conduce to any real spiritual advancement, the experience being intended only to provide them with proof of the truth of such spiritual matters.
The verse may also be taken to mean that when punishment is about to overtake disbelievers, they get frightened and say that if they were now saved from it, they would believe in the Divine Messenger. In this sense, the clause ولو فتحنا علیھم بابا من السماء (And even if We opened to them a door from heaven) occurring in the preceding verse would be taken to mean, "And if We open the door of Divine mercy and avert their punishment"; and the words فظلوا فیه یعرجون (and they began ascending through it) would mean "they, instead of turning to God, become engaged in the acquisition of material prosperity and comforts." The verse thus rebukes disbelievers that they have become so hard hearted that when they see punishment overtaking them, they repent; but when it is averted from them, they relapse into their old life of sin and engrossment in worldly pursuits. (close)
وَ لَقَدۡ جَعَلۡنَا فِی السَّمَآءِ بُرُوۡجًا وَّ زَیَّنّٰہَا لِلنّٰظِرِیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۱۷﴾
وَلَقَدۡ جَعَلۡنَا فِي ٱلسَّمَآءِ بُرُوجٗا وَزَيَّنَّـٰهَا لِلنَّـٰظِرِينَ
b. 37:7; 41:13; 67:6. (close)
1486. It is not merely the beautiful appearance of the planets and the stars at night that is meant here. The great purpose which their creation serves is mentioned in the following verses as well as in 16:17 and 67:6, and it is in the fulfilment of that great purpose that their real beauty lies. (close)
a. 37:7; 41:13; 67:6. (close)
1723. Important Words:
بروجا (mansions of stars) is the plural of برج (burj) which is from the verb برج (baraja) which means, it was or became apparent, manifest or conspicuous; or it was or became high or elevated. ابرج means, he built a tower. برج (burj) means a tower; a chamber built upon the sides of a fortress or palace; a sign of the Zodiac. بروج means, mansions (i.e. the courses or stages) of the moon or the stars; or asterisms or constellations (Lane).
The word بروج may be taken here either in the sense of "mansions" of planets and stars i.e. the spaces or courses wherein the planets perform their circuits, or it may signify the stars themselves.
It is not merely the beautiful appearance of the planets and the stars at night that is meant here, because they are not meant to serve only as an ornament for the heavens or to provide a beautiful sight. In reality their creation serves a great purpose which is mentioned in the succeeding verses as well as in 16:17 & 67:6 and it is in the fulfilment of that great purpose that their real beauty lies. See the following verses. (close)
وَ حَفِظۡنٰہَا مِنۡ کُلِّ شَیۡطٰنٍ رَّجِیۡمٍ ﴿ۙ۱۸﴾
وَحَفِظۡنَٰهَا مِن كُلِّ شَيۡطَٰنٖ رَّجِيمٍ
c. 37:8; 41:13. (close)
1487. The verse points out that just as in the physical world evilly disposed persons exercise some sort of power or influence and can cause a certain amount of injury to other men but cannot completely deprive them of heavenly blessings, e.g. the wholesome influence of stars, etc. similarly, in the spiritual world, satans too have no control over the Prophets and their true followers (v.43). "Satan" in the verse under comment refers to such disbelievers as desire to attain union with God independently of the Prophets (vv.14-16). Against such persons the spiritual heavens have indeed been guarded and their gates barred. (close)
b. 37:8; 41:13. (close)
In v. 10 the Quran speaks of the "guarding of the heavenly Exhortation," and in the verse under comment it speaks of the "guarding of the heavens" themselves. So the question arises here, what connection is there between the guarding of the heavenly Exhortation and the guarding of the heavens themselves, and why is it that immediately after speaking of the guarding of the heavenly Exhortation, the Quran speaks of the guarding of the heavens. From a study of the Quran it appears that it claims and repeatedly points to a strong resemblance between the physical and the spiritual systems of the world and, in order to bring home to the reader its various spiritual lessons, the Quran repeatedly draws his attention to the physical system of the world.
The denizens of this earth see over their heads a sky set with stars which do their work regularly in their respective spheres and none has the power to make the least change in this great system of nature, for it has been made secure by God. The Quran repeatedly refers to this system as an illustration of the spiritual heavens above us and it is for this very purpose that the celestial system has been referred to in the verse under comment. It is pointed out that just as the physical system of the heavens has been established on strong foundations, similarly, the spiritual system has been laid on solid foundations, and, like the physical heavens, the spiritual heavens are also divided into various spheres. There can beabsolutely no interference in the higher spheres of the spiritual heavens, but in the lowest sphere there may be an attempt at some interference; but it, too, has been fortified with spiritual stars which guard it against any real interference.
Just as the physical heavens are sustained by the physical stars, similarly, the spiritual heavens are sustained by the spiritual stars. Nay, just as the physical heavens mean the sum total of stars which also serve as an adornment for them, similarly, the spiritual heavens are the sum total of the spiritual stars and the latter also serve as an ornament for them. Again, just as the physical stars serve to protect the physical heavens, for they are their component parts, and if they are in any way upset, the whole system will thereby be upset, similarly, the spiritual stars serve to protect the spiritual heavens and if they are disturbed in any way the whole spiritual system will be disturbed. Hence it is that if anyone seeks to disturb the working of the spiritual stars, he is visited with punishment from God i.e. "fire" and "stones" rain upon him, as is clear from the word رجوما (stoning) in 67:6 and the word شھاب (flame) in the following verse.
The spiritual system has been compared to the physical system in other verses of the Quran also. In 33:47, for instance, the Holy Prophet has been likened to the sun, thus indicating that as the sun is the central figure in the physical system, so is the Holy Prophet the central figure in the spiritual realm; he is like the sun in the firmament of Prophets who are like so many stars and moons as compared with him. On a smaller scale, the Holy Prophet is also like the sun among his Companions, whom he likened to stars. He is reported to have said: "My Companions are like so many stars; whichever of them you follow, you will be rightly guided" (Saghir).
The analogy between the two systems, physical and spiritual, is brought out clearly in chapter 12, where Joseph is spoken of as having seen in a vision eleven stars along with the sun and the moon making obeisance to him (12:5). The interpretation of this vision by Joseph himself showed that the sun and the moon in his vision represented his parents and the eleven stars his eleven brethren.
In the verse under comment, the Quran refers to the solar system in order to illustrate how the protection of the Quran promised in verse 10 is to be effected. We are here told that just as in the material universe there is a sky (which is another name for the whole body of stars), similarly, in the spiritual universe there are various Prophets who form the spiritual heaven. Again, as each star serves as an ornament for the physical heaven and is guarding it by means of gravitation and other means, which are perhaps yet unknown to man, similarly, every Prophet is an ornament for the spiritual heaven and helps to guard it. Each Prophet appeared when his presence was really needed and every one of them had a definite task to perform which he alone could do. Similarly, every Prophet helped to guard the spiritual heaven, and served the Word of God, demonstrating its true nature as well as its holy influence in his own person and in the persons of his followers. Moreover, each Prophet fought and routed those wicked people who sought to distort the Word of God, and, as it were, fell upon them like fire and stones and frustrated their designs.
The verse also points out that just as in the physical world satans, i.e. evil persons, exercise some sort of power or influence, and can cause a certain amount of injury to man but possess no power in the heavens, being unable to deprive men of heavenly blessings such as light and air and the wholesome influence of the stars, etc., similarly, in the spiritual world, satans have no control over the Prophets and their true followers (v. 43). Again, just as satans have no power over the blessings which come from the physical heavens, similarly the blessings that are manifested through the spiritual heavens (i.e. Prophets), such as Divine revelation and heavenly signs, are beyond the control of satans. This is how the verse under comment explains verse 10.
The word رجیم (rejected) signifies that such persons will be driven away from the truth and will not be able to accept Islam. Surely, those disbelievers who seek to attain salvation independently of the Prophets of God and do not follow the way which has been prescribed by Him are kept away from the truth and never accept it.
Finally, it must be noted that by the word "satan" in this verse is not meant the forces of evil which serve as a trial for men. Here the word stands for any person who wishes to make spiritual progress independently of the ways revealed by God. As Satan wished to act independently of Adam and refused to obey him, so any person who seeks to attain salvation without following the Prophets of God is called a satan on account of his likeness to Iblis. The preceding verses speak of disbelievers (vv. 14-16); so the word "satan" in the verse under comment refers to such disbelievers as refuse to obey the Prophets and desire to attain union with God independently of them. Against such the spiritual heavens have indeed been guarded, and the doors of God’s nearness are closed against them. (close)
اِلَّا مَنِ اسۡتَرَقَ السَّمۡعَ فَاَتۡبَعَہٗ شِہَابٌ مُّبِیۡنٌ ﴿۱۹﴾
إِلَّا مَنِ ٱسۡتَرَقَ ٱلسَّمۡعَ فَأَتۡبَعَهُۥ شِهَابٞ مُّبِينٞ
a. 37:11; 67:6. (close)
1488. 'Stealing the Word of God' may signify, the deceitful action of such people as pretend to represent the teachings of the Prophets as their own. They seek to deceive people into believing that the Prophets bring no new teaching and that they too have access to that knowledge which the Prophets claim to possess. Or the verse may mean that they tear out a passage from its context and try to mislead simple-minded folk by putting a wrong interpretation upon it and distorting its meaning. The words, if anyone hears stealthily, make it clear that in verse 17 the words, 'the heaven' represent the spiritual system and not the physical firmament, for the stealing away of the Word of God has nothing to do with the physical heavens. (close)
1488A. The word 'mansions of stars' in v.17 represents Divine Messengers in general, while the words 'bright flame' in the present verse or 'penetrating flame' occurring in 37:11 stand for the Prophet of the day, or the Master- Prophet (the Holy Prophet). The pursuit of satans by Shihab signifies that so long as a religious teaching remains based on Divine revelation (adh-Dhikr v.10) and gives light and guidance, Divine Reformers also continue to appear to guard it. One of the signs of the appearance of Divine Reformers in the world is the frequent occurrence of meteoric phenomenon, called the falling of stars in large numbers. In the time of the Holy Prophet meteors fell in such large numbers that disbelievers thought that both heaven and earth were going to fall asunder (Kathir). It was from these extraordinary happenings that Heraclius who, it appears, had some knowledge of astronomy, inferred that the Prophet-King of the Arabs must have appeared (Bukhari ch. Bad’ul-Wahy). In the time of Jesus also meteors fell in unusually large numbers (Bihar). This celestial phenomenon was also witnessed in our own time—in 1885. Thus both history and Hadith bear testimony to the fact that the falling of meteors in unusually large numbers is a sure sign of the appearance of a Divine Reformer. See also "The Larger Edition of the Commentary," pp.1272-1276.
'Satan' in v.18 may be taken to refer to diviners and soothsayers. In that case 'the pelting of the satans' (67:6) would mean that during the time when there is no Divine Reformer in the world, astrologers and soothsayers succeed, to some extent, in their nefarious trade of hoodwinking simple-minded people but, with the appearance of a Divine Reformer, their false knowledge becomes exposed and people can easily distinguish between the true prophecies of heavenly Messengers and the conjectures of astrologers and soothsayers. The verse may also signify that when some mischievous people, after tearing out a passage from the text of the heavenly revelation, seek to spread it in a distorted form, a fresh Sign comes like a brilliant flash and destroys the machinations of the satanic people. (close)
1725. Important Words:
استرق السمع (hears stealthily). استرق is derived from سرق. The expression سرق منه or سرقه means, he stole from him a thing; he took a thing from him secretly and by artifice; or he came clandestinely to a place of custody and took what belonged to another. استرق منه or استرقه means, he stole from him a thing or robbed him of it. استرق also means, he deceived or circumvented secretly or by stealth. The expression استراق النظر means, taking an opportunity of looking by stealth. السمعmeans, the sense of hearing; the thing that is heard; the faculty in the ear whereby it perceives sounds; the ear itself. The word is used in both the singular and plural. استرق السمع or سرق السمع means, he listened or heard by stealth (Lane).
مبین (bright). See 2:169.
شھاب (flame) is derived from شھب which means, it was or became of the colour in which whiteness predominated over blackness; or in which whiteness was interrupted by blackness. شھاب of which the plural is شھب (shuhub) means, a brand or a flame of fire; or a مشعلة of fire gleaming or radiating; a shooting or falling star; a star or the like of a star that darts across the sky; a shining star; one who is penetrating, sharp or energetic in an affair (Lane).
The verse purports to say that so long as the Word of God is in the heavens and till it descends on the Prophets, it is secure and safe against all interference and stealing, but when, after descending on the lowest heaven it is recited to human beings and when men begin to repeat it to one another, then satans i.e. the enemies of God’s Prophets, try to steal it and make a wrong use of it. Then either as a result of this stealing they are visited by heavenly punishment or the Prophet of the day and his followers explain the true nature of the Divine revelation to the people and expose the deception of the stealers, who then become disgraced and humiliated. Thus the stealing of the Word of God in this verse means that, like thieves who take unlawful possession of the property of other people, the enemies of God’s Prophets seek to steal the Word of God not in order to believe in it but to mislead people by mis-representing and misinterpreting it.
Stealing the Word of God may also refer to the action of such people as seek to represent the teachings of the Prophets as their own. In this way they seek to deceive other people into believing that the Prophets have brought no new thing and that they too have access to that knowledge which the Prophets of God claim to possess. Some of them even go so far as to pretend that it is from them that the Prophets stole their knowledge. But, just as a stolen dress does not fit the body of the thief, similarly the teachings which are stolen from the Prophets do not fit in with the false beliefs of those who steal them and consequently their theft becomes easily exposed.
The words, But if anyone hears stealthily, make it clear that in verse 17 the words, "the heaven" represent the spiritual system, and not the physical firmament, for the stealing away of the Word of God has nothing to do with the physical heavens. The word مبین (bright) which means both a thing that is bright in itself and a thing that illuminates others (2:169) and which has been added to the word شھاب (flame) in the present verse also, shows that the verse speaks of no physical or material flame. The physical شھاب (flame) either means a flame of fire or the light which appears in the sky and looks like a shooting star. It is superfluous to qualify a thing which itself is bright by the epithet مبین (bright). But if the heavens be taken to mean the spiritual heavens and شھاب (flame) be taken as meaning a Prophet of God who brings with him the illuminating light of heavenly signs and fights the evil machinations of those who seek to tamper with the Word of God, then the word مبین (bright) can be used as quite an appropriate adjective to the noun شھاب (flame), for in this case this word would express an additional idea by referring to the bright signs shown by the Prophets.
Stars in these verses represent God’s Prophets, while شھاب مبین (bright flame) or شھاب ثاقب (penetrating flame) occurring in 37:11 represent the Prophet of the day, for although every Prophet is a star and serves as an ornament for the spiritual heaven, yet every Prophet is not always acting as شھاب (flame) destroying the satans who tamper with religion. This is done only by the Prophet of the day or by a living Prophet whose prophet-hood knows no end and whose Law is always in force. When the people of the time of such a Prophet become corrupt and God raises from among his followers a Reformer or subordinate Prophet, in that case also the Master-Prophet is called a شھاب (flame), because it is his spiritual power and influence which works through the subordinate Prophet. According to this significance of the word, Moses, Jesus, and other past Prophets may indeed be called the stars of the spiritual heavens, but they cannot be called شھب(flames), for they have now ceased to be the means for the destruction of satans. But the epithet of شھاب (flame) will always apply to the Holy Prophet, for his mission will continue till the end of days and Divine Reformers will continue to be raised from among his followers who, by receiving spiritual power and influence from him, will continue to destroy the satans of their day.
Of the different meanings of شھاب (see Important Words), it is in the sense of star that the word is used in the verse under comment. This interpretation is supported by vv. 37:7-8 & 67:6, in which it is stated that the protection of the heavens is secured by means of stars which are used as a means of stoning satans. So the pursuing of satans by شھبmeans that so long as a Divine revelation continues to be a living revelation and deserves to be called الذکر (v. 10), God also continues to send شھب or, in other words, heavenly Messengers for its protection. In the verse under comment it has been promised that this method of protecting Divine revelation applies particularly to the Quran. In fact, it constitutes the most effective method of protection, for the heavenly Messengers not only defend the Divine Law from the attacks of satans by the help of heavenly signs but, being favoured by Divine revelation, they are also in a position to give believers a true interpretation of the Word of God, which leaves no room for doubt. Believers thus get rid of those contradictory interpretations which had been puzzling the minds of the people before the coming of the heavenly Messenger.
But what is the significance of the shooting stars that dart across the physical heavens and do they also in any way strike a blow at the satans? This is a pertinent question and the answer is that they too serve a purpose. As a matter of fact it is an invariable divine law that at the advent of every new Prophet God shows two kinds of Signs: (a) those that are manifested in the world round about us; (b) those that take place in the celestial bodies. One of the signs of the latter class is the falling of stars. History testifies to the fact that in the time of Jesus and the Holy Prophet the phenomenon of the falling of stars was frequently witnessed. In the time of the Holy Prophet meteors fell in such large numbers that disbelievers thought that both heaven and earth were going to fall asunder (Kathir, under 72:9). This sign was witnessed in fulfilment of the prophecy of the previous Scriptures, for some changes in the heavens were predicted by the Israelite Prophets as a sign of the appearance of the Holy Prophet. It was from these extraordinary happenings that Heraclius who, it appears, had some knowledge of astronomy inferred that the Prophet-King of the Arabs must have appeared (Bukhari, ch. on Bad’ul-Wahy).
From the traditions it appears that in the time of Jesus also meteors fell in unusually large numbers (Bihar). With regard to the second advent of the Messiah the Gospels say: And there shall be signs in the sun and in the moon, and in the stars (Luke 21:25; Matt. 24:29). And this actually happened in 1885 in the time of Ahmad, the Promised Messiah. Thus both history and traditions bear testimony to the fact that the falling of meteors in unusual numbers has been fixed by God as a sign of the advent of a Prophet. One reason why this phenomenon has been fixed as a sign is that it is beyond a Prophet’s power to cause such a phenomenon and its occurrence therefore leaves no doubt that it has been brought about solely by God. There may also be other unknown reasons for the occurrence of such a phenomenon on the advent of a Prophet. For instance, there may be some hidden influences accompanying the phenomenon which, unknown to man, may be helpful in counteracting the wicked designs of the opponents of the Prophets.
There is also a saying of the Holy Prophet to the effect that sometimes satans succeed in carrying their words to the people before they are overtaken by the shooting stars, and sometimes the latter overtake them before they carry their message to the people. This hadith means that whereas some enemies of the Prophets are overtaken by the sudden and immediate wrath of God, others are granted some respite until the cup of their iniquities is full and then they too are consumed by Divine punishment.
In short, these verses speak of the protection of the Word of God. The Quran says that none can know the Word of God until it is revealed to a Prophet. But when it has actually been revealed, the devils among men (i.e. common folk) and jinn (i.e. high-placed men or those who work clandestinely) try to get access to it by various means and propagate it among men by mixing much falsehood with it, and thus strive to incite the people against the Prophet. They seek to do it by quoting a passage from the teaching of the Prophet and then putting upon it a wrong interpretation. Or they tear a passage from its context and try to mislead the people by quoting it to them. This has been the invariable practice of the enemies of the Prophets of God in all ages.
It is only such "stealing" by the satans which God in His infinite wisdom has deemed fit to permit and against which He has not protected the mission of a Prophet. In fact, God Himself sometimes affords such opportunities to the opponents of the Prophets (6:113). In short, while on the one hand God has so protected His word that no enemy, external or internal, can make any change in it; on the other He, in His infallible wisdom, has permitted satanic people to disseminate wrong interpretations of His word among men and incite them by uttering lies about the revelation vouchsafed to His Prophets. When, however, they have finished doing so, a flame from the heavens pursues and strikes them, with the result that their deception is exposed by the Prophet. This peculiar treatment of the enemies of the Prophets by God casts no reflection on His power, nor does it do any real harm to His religion. The false notions spread among the enemies of the Prophet afford them only a temporary joy of which they soon become deprived.
It also appears from the Quran that satans who carry on wicked campaigns against the Word of God, are of two classes: (a) internal enemies or hypocrites; (b) external enemies or disbelievers. Proof of this division is to be found in the fact that in verse 18 and in 67:6 opposition to the Prophet has been ascribed to شیطان رجیم (Satan, the rejected), while in 37:8 it has been ascribed to شیطان مارد (Satan, the rebellious). Now the word رجیم literally means, "driven away" while مارد means, "rebellious"; hence in the present Surah as well as in Surah 67 the enemies of the truth spoken of are disbelievers who are described by the words شیطان رجیم (Satan, the rejected) for they always keep away from Islam, it being thus hinted that God will protect His word from the attacks of disbelievers; while in Surah 37 we are told that some men, though professing to be Muslims, will try to distort the sense of the Quran intentionally or unintentionally. Such people are called شیطان مارد (Satan, the rebellious). They outwardly pass as Muslims but in their heart of hearts they are rebels against Islam, though they themselves may not be conscious of the fact. God has held out the promise that He will protect His word even from the mischief of this latter class. This was really a prophecy about the future, and it was declared that whenever the so-called followers of Islam became incapable of understanding the true significance of the Quran and began to distort its true meaning, God would protect His word from such mischief by raising a Messenger who would interpret it rightly.
A word about astrologers and so-called spiritualists will not be out of place here. The Prophets of God succeed in extirpating the false notions and make-beliefs of these people as well. The science of the stars and the idea that they influence the actions of man so far as they deal with realities are not opposed to the teachings of Islam. The Quran, on the contrary, repeatedly exhorts its followers to study the laws of nature. It is therefore inconceivable that on the one hand God should have exhorted Muslims to study nature, which includes the study of heavenly bodies, and on the other hand should Himself have sent شھب (flames) upon those who desire to gain a knowledge of the heavenly bodies. Islam is only opposed to superstition and idolatry, and not to true knowledge and rightly-conducted research. Hence so far as these sciences tend to cause and create superstition or mere supposition, they are condemned by Islam. Similarly, these sciences are denounced when they are given the status of, and are treated as religion because then they lead to idolatry (shirk). The physical movements of stars certainly exercise influence upon man, but their influencing the actions of men falls within the purview of the laws of nature. There are thousands of things which are exercising similar influences at one and the same time, but no result can be definitely ascribed to one influence only. It is God alone Who exercises His influence independently of all others. So to think that anything happens in the world as a result of the influence of any single material object, whether a star or anything else, is virtually an act of shirk, which Islam condemns in the strongest terms. This is why the Holy Prophet is reported to have said: "Whoever says, 'We have been favoured with rain through the influence of such and such a star,' is a disbeliever in God and a believer in that star" (Bukhari, Kitabul-Istisqa).
If the word "satans" be taken to refer to astrologers, then the pelting of the satans will mean that during the time when there is no Prophet in the world, astrologers succeed to a certain extent in their trade in hoodwinking simple-minded people but, with the appearance of a Prophet, their falsehood becomes exposed and people can easily distinguish between true prophecies made by heavenly Messengers and the mere conjectures of astrologers.
Some commentators have explained these verses as meaning that satans or jinn ascend to heaven and try to listen to what is decided there and then communicate what they hear to their friends—soothsayers and diviners—mixing with it much falsehood. They further say that God has appointed sentinels to guard His decrees and when it comes to the knowledge of these sentinels that satans are listening to what is being decreed in heaven, they hurl shooting stars at them. This interpretation, however, is open to many objections. Firstly, it is inconsistent with the previous verse wherein we are told that the heavens are guarded by God against satans. It is inconceivable that satans should succeed in violating the guardianship of God and should be able to hear anything that God does not want them to hear. Secondly, if it be supposed that satans are able to steal something out of that which has been guarded by God, they may also be regarded as being able to steal something out of the revelation which is sent down to the Prophets of God, and thus the very sanctity and inviolability of the Word of God will become subject to serious doubts. Thirdly, if it be supposed that satans can have access even to such things as are under the special protection of God, then they can also succeed in tempting the Prophets of God whom He has promised to protect (v. 18). Moreover in v. 43 we are clearly told that Satan has no power over the righteous servants of God. Fourthly, if it be conceded that satans can steal things which are under the protection of God, then even the prophethood of heavenly Messengers will become doubtful, for if satans can manage to steal a little, they can also steal a considerable portion; nay, in that case they can steal even the prophethood of a Prophet. Fifthly, we know that astrologers and diviners are always trying to predict future events. If it is satans who convey and communicate to them secret things, and if they are pelted with shooting stars whenever they try to steal heavenly secrets, then whenever astrologers seek to predict the future and satans try to pry into the secrets of heaven, there should always appear in the heavens a shooting star to drive away a Satan. But such is not the case. Sixthly, the Quran says: Say, none in the heavens and the earth knows the unseen save Allah (27:66). How then is it possible that Satan should be able to know the unseen? The unseen is known only to God and His Chosen Ones. In 72:27, 28 we read: He is the Knower of the unseen; and He reveals not His secrets, to anyone, except him whom He chooses, namely, a Messenger of His. And then He causes an escort of guardian angels to go before him and behind him. This shows that the secrets of the unknown are revealed only to chosen Messengers of God. If these hidden secrets can be stolen by satans on the way, they cannot be said to reach the heavenly Messengers intact. Seventhly, satans cannot steal anything from the decrees of God because, according to the Quran, it is mere falsehood that they communicate to their friends. In 6:113, we read: And in like manner have We made for every Prophet an enemy, evil ones from among men and jinn. They suggest one to another gilded speech in order to deceive. The expression "gilded speech" according to Arabic idiom means, "lies." Eighthly, the Quran says: The satans have not brought it down, nor is it meet for them, nor are they able to do so, for they are debarred from hearing (26:211-213).
From the above it is clear that the secrets of the heavens are God’s guarded treasure to which satans have no access and which are made known only to God’s chosen ones. (close)
وَ الۡاَرۡضَ مَدَدۡنٰہَا وَ اَلۡقَیۡنَا فِیۡہَا رَوَاسِیَ وَ اَنۡۢبَتۡنَا فِیۡہَا مِنۡ کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ مَّوۡزُوۡنٍ ﴿۲۰﴾
وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ مَدَدۡنَٰهَا وَأَلۡقَيۡنَا فِيهَا رَوَٰسِيَ وَأَنۢبَتۡنَا فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ شَيۡءٖ مَّوۡزُونٖ
a. 13:4. (close)
1489. The words, Wal Arda Madadna-ha, mean, 'We have spread out the earth' or, 'We have enriched it.' Both meanings are applicable here. The verse signifies that God has made the earth so large that in spite of its being round, man feels no discomfort on account of its roundness; or it means that God has enriched the earth with fertilizers. Astronomical researches have disclosed the fact that the earth continues to acquire new strength and fertility from the stars from which particles of matter fall on it in the form of meteors or meteoric dust, which serves to increase its fertility. (close)
b. 16:16; 21:32. (close)
1489A. The earth needs a good supply of water to grow food. For this purpose God has created mountains which serve as reservoirs of water, storing it in the form of snow and distributing it over the earth by means of rivers. (close)
a. 13:4. (close)
b. 16:16; 21:32. (close)
1726. Important Words:
مددناھا (have We spread out) is derived from مد. They say مدالشیء i.e. he spread out the thing. مدالارض means, he added extraneous soil or fertilizer to the earth in order to enrich it. مدالرجل means, he helped the man (Aqrab).
The words, والارض مددناھا mean, "We have spread out the earth" or, "We have enriched it." Both meanings are applicable here. The verse signifies that God has made the earth so large that in spite of its being round, man feels no discomfort on account of its roundness; or it means that God has enriched the earth with fertilizers. It is a well-known fact that the earth continues to acquire new strength and fertility from the stars. Astronomical researches have disclosed the important fact that particles of matter have ever continued to fall on the earth from the stars in the form of meteors or meteoric dust which serves to increase the fertility of the earth. Next to such food the earth needs a good supply of water. For this purpose God has created mountains, which serve as reservoirs of water, storing it in the form of snow and distributing it over the earth by means of rivers.
Similarly, both the meanings of the word انبت viz. "to grow" and "to increase" apply here. God has made all things required for the needs of man to grow in the earth and to increase. The verse means that all the requirements of man have been determined by God in a proper proportion and as the process of consumption is also going on, the things needed by man have been suitably made to grow and increase in the earth.
The relation of this verse to the preceding one is that in the latter mention was made of the revelation of the Quran and of the special provision made for its protection and this was illustrated by comparison with certain celestial phenomena. In the present verse, however, another illustration of such protection has been furnished by a terrestrial phenomenon. The verse states that God has made special arrangements for fertilizing the earth and for replenishing and making good its losses. Some of these arrangements are external and some internal e.g. (1) matter falling to the earth from the stellar spaces; (2) the mountains; (3) the inherent powers of the earth. The same is the case with Divine Scriptures. The external arrangement made for their protection is the help which they get from heaven in the form of divine teachers who appear in the fullness of time to safeguard the spirit of these Scriptures; and the internal arrangements are their intrinsic beauties and excellences which attract the hearts of all good men. (close)
وَ جَعَلۡنَا لَکُمۡ فِیۡہَا مَعَایِشَ وَ مَنۡ لَّسۡتُمۡ لَہٗ بِرٰزِقِیۡنَ ﴿۲۱﴾
وَجَعَلۡنَا لَكُمۡ فِيهَا مَعَٰيِشَ وَمَن لَّسۡتُمۡ لَهُۥ بِرَٰزِقِينَ
c. 7:11. (close)
a. 7:11. (close)
The verse points out that though man claims superiority over other animals, yet he can make no provision for their sustenance. That provision is made by God alone and constitutes a great proof of His existence.
In the figurative sense the relation of this verse to the previous ones is that like physical sustenance, man is also in need of spiritual sustenance in every age. The people of one generation cannot provide spiritual sustenance for another generation. This is because not only human knowledge and learning but also man’s conditions and circumstances vary from age to age. This change in the conditions and circumstances of man requires a most comprehensive Divinerevelation containing teaching for his material, moral and spiritual development in all ages. For, if it were left to man himself to provide for the needs and requirements of future generations, he could never do it. The knowledge of the present generation cannot meet and satisfy the problems and needs of future generations. Ordinarily, even the Word of God revealed in one generation becomes ineffectual in another generation. But this is not so with the Quran, which is meant to be the universal and the final Law. In the Quran, therefore, God has made full provision for all the needs and requirements of man. Just as God has made provision for the sustenance of animals, for which man cannot make any provision, even so has He placed in the Quran for all future generations of man an inexhaustible store of spiritual food, which they will find in ample measure as and when the need for it arises.
The Quran, in fact, resembles the material universe in the inexhaustibility of its resources. Just as the physical needs of man have been fully met in the past and will continue to be met in future by the material resources of the earth, similarly, his moral and spiritual needs have been met in the past and will continue to be met by the Quran, which constitutes the spiritual universe. See also the succeeding verse. (close)
وَ اِنۡ مِّنۡ شَیۡءٍ اِلَّا عِنۡدَنَا خَزَآئِنُہٗ ۫ وَ مَا نُنَزِّلُہٗۤ اِلَّا بِقَدَرٍ مَّعۡلُوۡمٍ ﴿۲۲﴾
وَإِن مِّن شَيۡءٍ إِلَّا عِندَنَا خَزَآئِنُهُۥ وَمَا نُنَزِّلُهُۥٓ إِلَّا بِقَدَرٖ مَّعۡلُومٖ
d. 40:14. (close)
1490. God possesses an unlimited stock of everything. But in His infinite mercy He directs the minds of men to a particular thing only when a real and genuine need for it arises. Like the material universe, the Qur’an is a spiritual universe in which lie hidden treasures of spiritual knowledge which are revealed to man according to the needs of the time. (close)
a. 40:14. (close)
This verse further explains the meaning of the previous verse. It purports to say that God possesses an unlimited stock of everything. But in His infinite mercy He directs the minds of men to a certain thing only when a real and genuine need for it arises. Then it happens that men begin to find access to the required thing and derive benefit from it. For example, there was a time when men did not know the various uses and properties of iron. When, however, the proper time arrived for all its manifold potentialities and uses to be known, they were discovered and these discoveries led to a great change in human affairs. Similar is the case of coal and of petroleum. These things opened up a great vista of progress for mankind. Again, discovery of electricity and the wonderful inventions that have come in its wake have revolutionized human life. Thus the universe has been unfolding its secrets from age to age. The verse under comment purports to say that, like the material universe, the Quran is a spiritual universe in which lie hidden treasures of spiritual knowledge which are revealed to man according to the needs of the time. It is not like other books that it should have served its purpose and then become a dead thing. On the contrary, like the physical universe, the Quran comprehends unlimited treasures of spiritual knowledge for all times. It is, therefore, impossible that it should be left without Divine protection until all the generations for whom its treasures are meant have received them. Other revealed Scriptures never laid any claim about the inexhaustibility of their treasures and therefore they did not enjoy eternal Divine protection.
The subject matter of the previous verse has been further developed in the verse under comment, viz. the protection and preservation of the Quran, but, in a different form. The present verse is intended to point to the provision for the removal of such doubts and misgivings as were to arise in future in the hearts of the people, including Muslims themselves. (close)
وَ اَرۡسَلۡنَا الرِّیٰحَ لَوَاقِحَ فَاَنۡزَلۡنَا مِنَ السَّمَآءِ مَآءً فَاَسۡقَیۡنٰکُمُوۡہُ ۚ وَ مَاۤ اَنۡتُمۡ لَہٗ بِخٰزِنِیۡنَ ﴿۲۳﴾
وَأَرۡسَلۡنَا ٱلرِّيَٰحَ لَوَٰقِحَ فَأَنزَلۡنَا مِنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ مَآءٗ فَأَسۡقَيۡنَٰكُمُوهُ وَمَآ أَنتُمۡ لَهُۥ بِخَٰزِنِينَ
a. 7:58; 24:44; 25:49. (close)
1491. Lawaqih are such winds as carry pollen from the male to the female trees in order to fecundate them. The word also means such winds as carry vapours rising from the earth to the upper regions where they assume the form of clouds. (close)
a. 7:58; 24:44; 25:49. (close)
1729. Important Words:
لواقح (impregnating) is the plural of لاقح which is the active-participle from لقح. They say لقحت الناقة i.e. the she camel became pregnant; or she received into her womb the seed of the stallion. لقحت النخیل means, the palm-trees became fecundated by means of the لقاح or spadix of the male tree which is bruised or brayed and sprinkled upon the spadix of the female. لاقحmeans, a she-camel having just conceived, or become pregnant. ریاح لواقح means, pregnant winds; impregnating or fecundating winds; winds which collect vapours and then form into clouds and send down rain. حرب لواقح means, a war pregnant with great events. لاقح also means, a man to whom offspring is born (Lane & Aqrab).
The word لواقح as explained under Important Words signifies such winds as carry pollen from the male to the female trees in order to fecundate them. It also means the winds which carry vapours rising from the earth to the upper air where they assume the form of clouds. In the present verse the word may be taken in the latter sense or in both senses. The verse would thus mean that it is God Who sends winds which carry the pollen from male to female trees as well as the winds which raise vapours from the earth which become transformed into clouds that send down rain, fertilizing the fecundated plants and making them bear fruit in abundance. The verse proceeds to point out that when with such a common necessity as water it is not in the power of man to preserve it in its purity, it cannot be possible for him to preserve the spiritual blessings of God in their original purity without His help and protection.
The verse is addressed to both believers and disbelievers. To the latter it answers the question of what was the need for the Quran to be revealed in the presence of previous Scriptures? They are told that just as in the presence of oceans of water on the earth there is still need for fresh water from heaven, even so the Quran was needed in the presence of the previous Scriptures. To believers it says that just as even heavenly water becomes impure and has to be renewed afresh from time to time, similarly, whenever the so-called believers would pollute the pure sense of the Quran by the interpolation of their own impure thoughts and false notions into its teachings, God would arrange to have its true meaning restored to its pristine purity by fresh revelation from heaven. (close)