مَا تَسۡبِقُ مِنۡ اُمَّۃٍ اَجَلَہَا وَ مَا یَسۡتَاۡخِرُوۡنَ ﴿۶﴾
مَّا تَسۡبِقُ مِنۡ أُمَّةٍ أَجَلَهَا وَمَا يَسۡتَـٔۡخِرُونَ
a. 7:35; 10:50; 16:62. (close)
a. 7:35; 10:50; 16:62. (close)
وَ قَالُوۡا یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡ نُزِّلَ عَلَیۡہِ الذِّکۡرُ اِنَّکَ لَمَجۡنُوۡنٌ ؕ﴿۷﴾
وَقَالُواْ يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِي نُزِّلَ عَلَيۡهِ ٱلذِّكۡرُ إِنَّكَ لَمَجۡنُونٞ
b. 37:37; 44:15; 68:52. (close)
1480. Majnun does not mean 'one possessed by a devil or a jinn' or simply 'possessed', but 'a mad or insane person', or 'one whose intellectual faculties have become very much impaired' (Lane). (close)
b. 37:37; 44:15; 68:52. (close)
1713. Important Words:
الذکر (this Exhortation) is derived from ذکر (dhakara). They say ذکرہ i.e. he remembered it; he preserved it in his memory; he talked of it. ذکر (dhikr) means, remembrance; the presence of a thing in the mind; memory; the mention or relating of a thing; the praise and glorification of God; praise or eulogy of another; dispraise or evil speech; a thing that is current upon the tongue; fame, renown or reputation, as they say له ذکر فی الناس i.e. he has fame among the people; eminence, nobility or honour; a book containing an exposition of religion and an institution of religious laws; any Book of a Prophet and especially the Quran, also the Torah; an exhortation, an admonition or a warning (Lane & Aqrab). See also 2:41, 153, 201 & 6:69.
الذکر i.e. Exhortation or Eminence being one of the names of the Quran (21:51), the verse shows that this name was well-known to disbelievers. The calling of the Quran by the name الذکر also implied a prophecy that it was to prove a means of bringing special eminence to its followers. God says with reference to the Quran, فیه ذکرکم (wherein lies your own honour, 21:11). See Important Words. Disbelievers, however, used this word ironically, as the epithets العزیز (the mighty) and الکریم(the honourable) have been used ironically about them in 44:50.
The words, "madman," contain an allusion to v. 3 wherein it is said that disbelievers will often wish that they had been Muslims. When that verse was revealed, the condition of Muslims was so weak and that of their enemies so strong that, when the latter heard the claim made about them in the above verse, they simply laughed at it and declared that only a madman could make such foolish claims.
Disbelievers used the word الذکر (Exhortation or Eminence) for the Quran with a view to ridiculing the idea of its being a means of honour for Muslims. They knew that they had subjected Muslims to bitter persecution and in their arrogance thought that they would speedily crush them. So in the existing circumstances it was quite natural on their part to say that it was mere madness to say that the Quran would raise Muslims to such eminence that disbelievers themselves would begin to desire that they had been Muslims.
The word مجنون (a madman) has been erroneously rendered by some translators as "possessed by a devil or by a jinn" or simply "possessed." It does not mean that but "a mad or insane person" or "one whose intellectual faculties are impaired" (Lane & Aqrab). (close)
لَوۡ مَا تَاۡتِیۡنَا بِالۡمَلٰٓئِکَۃِ اِنۡ کُنۡتَ مِنَ الصّٰدِقِیۡنَ ﴿۸﴾
لَّوۡمَا تَأۡتِينَا بِٱلۡمَلَـٰٓئِكَةِ إِن كُنتَ مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰدِقِينَ
c. 6:9; 11:13; 25:8. (close)
a. 6:9; 11:13; 25:8. (close)
In the previous Surahs and also in the beginning of the present Surah it has been claimed that the victory of Islam will be brought about through Divine revelation vouchsafed to the Holy Prophet. In answer to this claim, disbelievers dubbed the Holy Prophet a madman, tauntingly saying that, as he claimed that his revelations were brought to him by angels, the latter ought to have been visible to other men also. Since nobody ever saw these angels it was evident that he suffered from hallucinations and that his mind was affected. (close)
مَا نُنَزِّلُ الۡمَلٰٓئِکَۃَ اِلَّا بِالۡحَقِّ وَ مَا کَانُوۡۤا اِذًا مُّنۡظَرِیۡنَ ﴿۹﴾
مَا نُنَزِّلُ ٱلۡمَلَـٰٓئِكَةَ إِلَّا بِٱلۡحَقِّ وَمَا كَانُوٓاْ إِذٗا مُّنظَرِينَ
d. 6:9. (close)
1481. Disbelievers are here told that when in accordance with the requirements of truth, justice and wisdom (Bilhaqq) they will become deserving of Divine punishment, angels will descend upon them and they will be granted no respite. (close)
a. 6:9. (close)
The word حق (due right) here signifies either (1) the True Word of God, or (2) the due right. In the former sense the verse signifies that as angels descend with the true Word of God, therefore they descend only on His chosen Messengers. But as disbelievers who demanded the appearance of angels (see the preceding verse) were neither Divine Messengers nor deserved a Divine Message, angels could not possibly descend on them.
According to the second meaning of the word حق the verse would mean that the only angels who could descend on disbelievers could only be angels of punishment; for angels only descend according to due right i.e. they bring down mercy for the righteous and punishment for the wicked. In this case, when the angels of punishment came, disbelievers would be granted no respite and would be destroyed.
It may also be incidentally noted here that revelation varies in quality according to the spiritual condition of the recipient. Just as there is a great difference between the quality of the revelation received by a Prophet and that received by an ordinary believer, the Word of God revealed to different Prophets also varies in quality according to their respective capacities and the degree of their spiritual status. Hence it is that the Perfect Word of God, viz. the Quran, was revealed to the Holy Prophet, the Greatest and most Perfect of all Divine Messengers. (close)
اِنَّا نَحۡنُ نَزَّلۡنَا الذِّکۡرَ وَ اِنَّا لَہٗ لَحٰفِظُوۡنَ ﴿۱۰﴾
إِنَّا نَحۡنُ نَزَّلۡنَا ٱلذِّكۡرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُۥ لَحَٰفِظُونَ
e. 36:70; 65:11. (close)
1482. The promise about the protection and preservation of the Qur’an made in this verse has been so remarkably fulfilled that even if there had been no other proof, this fact alone would have sufficed to establish its Divine origin. This Surah was revealed at Mecca (Noldeke) when the life of the Holy Prophet and his followers was extremely precarious and the enemy could easily crush the new Faith. It was then that disbelievers were challenged to do their worst to destroy it and were warned that God would frustrate all their designs because He Himself was its Guardian. The challenge was open and unequivocal and the enemy strong and ruthless, and yet the Qur’an remained safe against corruption and interpolation and tampering with and has ever continued to enjoy perfect security. This distinction of the Qur’an is not shared by any other revealed Book. Sir William Muir, the notoriously hostile critic of Islam, says: 'We may, upon the strongest presumption, affirm that every verse in the Qur’an is the genuine and unaltered composition of Mohammad himself… There is otherwise every security, internal and external, that we possess the text which Mohammad himself gave forth and used… To compare their pure text with the various readings of our Scriptures, is to compare things between which there is no analogy' (Introduction to 'The Life of Mohammad'). Prof. Noldeke, the great German Orientalist writes as follows: 'Efforts of European scholars to prove the existence of later interpolations in the Qur’an have failed' (Enc. Brit.). The utter failure of Dr. Mingana, a few years ago, to find fault with the purity of the Quranic text, on the contrary, set the seal on the truth of its claim that among all revealed Scriptures the Qur’an alone has remained completely immune from all interpolation or tampering with it. See "The Larger Edition of the Commentary," pp.1263-1266. (close)
b. 36:70; 65:11. (close)
This verse furnishes a powerful proof of the truth of the Quran and of its Divine origin. In fact, the promise about the preservation of the Quran made in this verse has been so remarkably fulfilled that even if there had been no other proof of the truth of Islam, this alone would have sufficed to establish its Divine origin.
Verse 8 contains the demand mockingly made by disbelievers that if the Quran were really as grand a Book as it was claimed to be, it ought to have descended under the guardianship of angels. This ridicule of disbelievers has been answered in the present verse, which emphatically says that the Quran is indeed a sublime Book and that God Himself has undertaken to act as its Guardian and that He will always protect it against every kind of corruption and interference. And in order that this promise about the protection of the Quran may gain still more force, particles expressive of special emphasis, such as انا (verily We) and نحن (Ourself) and again انا followed by ل (most surely) have been used in this verse. Thus the claim has been made in the most emphatic and forceful language.
The statement that God Himself is the Guardian of the Quran does not mean that angels do not guard it. They also do so, for when the master himself is guarding a thing, the servants must also be necessarily engaged in that service. By saying, most surely We will be its Guardian, God, however, points to the fact that there are certain peculiarities of the Quran which it is beyond the power of angels to guard and, therefore, God Himself has undertaken to do that work.
This Surah was revealed at Mecca. According to Ibn Hisham, it was revealed in the fourth year of the Holy Prophet’s ministry. Sprenger, Rodwell and Nöldeke all agree that it belongs to the Meccan period. Now it is a well-known fact that during the Meccan period, the life of the Holy Prophet and his followers was extremely precarious. They did not even know how to save themselves or where to hide themselves. For no less than three years the Prophet and his few helpless followers were virtually imprisoned in the Shi‘b (valley) of Abu Talib from where they could not venture out. They were under a ban. Is it not then astonishing that when the very lives of Muslims were in peril and the enemy was so strong that he could easily crush the new Faith, disbelievers were challenged to do all that lay in their power to destroy the Quran, and were told that God would frustrate all their designs because He Himself was its Guardian? The challenge was open and unequivocal and the enemy strong and ruthless. But what was the result? The Prophet and his Companions not only remained safe and sound but thrived and prospered and the number of converts continued to swell and the Quran remained safe against all corruption and has ever continued to enjoy perfect security. This distinctive feature of the Quran has not been shared by any other book revealed to any other Prophet.
Sir William Muir, the well-known critic of Islam, says about the Quran: "We may, upon the strongest presumption, affirm that every verse in the Quran is the genuine and unaltered composition of Mohammad himself." Again, "There is otherwise every security, internal and external, that we possess the text which Mohammad himself gave forth and used." Again, "To compare (as the Muslims are fond of doing) their pure text with the various readings of our Scriptures, is to compare things between which there is no analogy." (Introduction to "The Life of Mahomet"). Prof. Nöldeke, the great German Orientalist writes as follows: "Slight clerical errors there may have been, but the Quran of Othman contains none but genuine elements, though sometimes in very strange order. Efforts of European scholars to prove the existence of later interpolations in the Quran have failed." (Enc. Brit.). Professor Nicholson, says in his "Literary History of the Arabs": "Here (in the Quran) we have materials of unique and incontestable authority for tracing the origin and early development of Islam—such mater-ials as do not exist in the case of Buddhism or Christianity or any other ancient religion."
The importance of this security of the Quranic text is further enhanced when we compare it with other revealed Scriptures. The Quran was revealed among an illiterate people, while most other Scriptures were revealed among peoples who were comparatively more literate and therefore better qualified to preserve the purity of their Scriptures. Yet they failed to do so, while the Quran, the most widely read of all revealed Scriptures, enjoys complete immunity from all sorts of corruption. This miraculous preservation of the Quranic text is no mere accident. It has been brought about by the special providence of God in accordance with an openly declared prophecy of the Quran.
The means adopted to safeguard the purity of the text of the Quran have been briefly referred to in verse 2 in the memorable words الکتاب (the Written Book) and قرآن مبین (the Illuminating Recital) signifying: (a) That every verse of the Quran was committed to writing as soon as it was revealed and this writing was most tenaciously preserved. (b) That it was committed to memory as soon as revealed by a number of Muslims. And this pious practice has increasingly continued so much so that in the past centuries hundreds of thousands of Muslims have had the entire Quran literally on the tips of their tongues. Add to this the fact that from the very beginning of Islam the recital of parts of the Quran in the five daily Prayers was made obligatory.
The following additional factors also very materially contributed to the preservation of the Quran:
(1) God has inspired the Muslims with an extraordinary love for the Quran. They enjoy the reading of the Book even if they do not understand the meaning of the text. This leads to its being preserved in their hearts.
(2) The rhythm of the Quran is so sweet and its language so charming and so easy to learn and the construction of its sentences so beautiful that it can be committed to memory with great ease.
(3) God so ordained that immediately after the Quranic revelation became complete, it spread far and wide, to the remotest corners of the world, among all nations and all peoples, so that it became practically impossible for anyone to tamper with its text.
(4) From the beginning the Quran formed for Muslims the basis of all the sciences and learning they acquired and developed with a view to serving it. Various branches of knowledge such as Grammar, Rhetoric, History, Philosophy and Logic were cultivated and developed by Muslims for the sake of a better understanding of their holy Book.
(5) God has preserved Arabic, the language of the Quran, as a living language, while the languages of all other revealed Books, which were not meant to last forever, have become practically dead.
Again, it is not only the text of the Quran that has been preserved intact by God. He has provided for the preservation of its spirit also. This has been done by raising divinely inspired Reformers among the Muslims from time to time. These Reformers, known in Islamic terminology as Mujaddids, receive revelations from God and interpret and explain the true meaning of the Quranic text. Such Reformers appeared among the followers of other religions also, but that was only for so long as such scriptures served as guides for their followers. After the advent of Islam, however, all other religious systems and their scriptures, which were intended only for specific periods and specific peoples, became abrogated and divinely inspired Reformers ceased to appear among them. Now, therefore, the Quran alone among all revealed Scriptures of the world holds the field as a living Book and hence divinely inspired Reformers now appear only among the followers of Islam. In our own time God has raised Ahmad, the Promised Messiah, Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, to demon-strate the truth and excellence of the Quran in a manner unparalleled in the history of Islam. Ahmad’s present-ation of Islam is not like one praying for a hearing, as was the vogue among the apologetic school of Muslim writers, but as a victor challenging the protagonists of all other religious systems and the so-called Modernists and Higher Critics to find fault with any teaching of Islam; and also as a judge passing his judgement upon them. The appearance of such Reformers in itself constitutes proof of the living power of a religion and its Scripture inasmuch as they are really the fruit of their religion and their appearance proves its efficacy.
The question here arises, if the Scriptures revealed to the previous Prophets have not been preserved in their original purity, what guarantee is there to believe that the Quran would enjoy permanent security? In this connection it should be noted that the promise of protection made by God in this verse mentions the word الذکر (rendered in the text as "this Exhortation") and not the Quran or any other word; and herein lies the answer to the above question. For, to become deserving of the permanent protection of God it is essential that the Divine revelation should be الذکر of which the necessary attributes are: (1) that it should establish a close and permanent relationship between man and his Maker, inspiring in the former constant remembrance of God, the word ذکر meaning remembering; and (2) that it should elevate man to a state where God may also remember him or in other words favour him with His words and with heavenly help, the word ذکر also means eminence. The verse under comment thus purports to mean that God undertakes to protect any Scripture so long as it serves the above two purposes. But when, through changes in the conditions and circumstances of man, any Scripture ceases to perform these functions and God, in His infallible wisdom, deems it necessary to reveal another Scripture, He naturally ceases to extend His protection to earlier revelations. The question as to when any particular Scripture at any particular time ceases to serve the above-mentioned purposes has to be decided on facts. It is a fact beyond doubt that at the present time no religion other than Islam can claim that there is among its followers anyone who fulfils in his person the conditions mentioned above, viz. attainment of such nearness to God that God begins to speak to him and manifests His special powers for his sake. Such a claim can be made only by a follower of the Quran. As stated above Ahmad, the Promised Messiah, has made this claim in our own time and has proved by powerful heavenly signs that his claim is founded on fact and God is helping his cause wonderfully. It is, therefore, natural that Muslims should claim and believe that now the protection of God is a privilege enjoyed by the Quran alone.
As regards the future, our belief based upon promises made in the Quran is that whenever Muslims forget, or fall away from, the teachings of the Quran, God will, by raising heavenly Reformers, restore to them their faith in its pristine purity. The teachings of the Quran will thus remain effective for all time and will ever continue to enjoy Divine help and protection. (close)
وَ لَقَدۡ اَرۡسَلۡنَا مِنۡ قَبۡلِکَ فِیۡ شِیَعِ الۡاَوَّلِیۡنَ ﴿۱۱﴾
وَلَقَدۡ أَرۡسَلۡنَا مِن قَبۡلِكَ فِي شِيَعِ ٱلۡأَوَّلِينَ
1717. Important Words:
شیع (parties) is the plural of شیعة (a party) which is derived from شاع meaning, it (a thing or a piece of news) became spread or disclosed. اشاع الخبر means, he spread or disclosed the news. شیع بالابل (shayya‘a) means, he (a pastor) called to the camels whereupon they (gathered together and) followed one another. شیعة of which the plural is شیع means, a separate or distinct party of men, so called from their agreeing together and following one another; the followers or assistants of a man; any people that have combined in or for an affair; any people or party whose affair or case is one and who follow one another’s opinion (Lane).
In the word شیع (parties or more literally, parties forming groups) all the former peoples have been spoken of as groups. This negatives the assertion of those so-called in-dependent people who describe themselves as not belonging to any group, for every man must belong to one group or another whether old or new, known or unknown. Herding, according to psychologists, is one of the strongest instincts of man, and it is in reference to this fact that the former peoples have been spoken of as forming so many شیع (parties or groups). For the meaning of the word شیع see Important Words.
The verse purports to state that the Prophet of Islam is not the first Prophet. There have been Prophets before him and God extended His protection to their teachings also. Similarly He will protect his teaching, the Quran. On the occasion of the appearance of a Prophet who brings a new Law, this protection is afforded to his teaching, among other things, by his followers being invested with political power which enables them to give a practical demonstration of the truth of his teaching. His followers may not attain to political power very early in their career, nevertheless they achieve such influence as enables them to demonstrate by actual practice the truth of his teachings. It is indeed surprising that the opponents of every Prophet have always refused to test the truth of his claim by the criteria of the history of past Prophets, which is the easiest way to ascertain the merits of any such claim. This attitude of disbelievers proves that they are not honest or earnest about ascertaining the truth but intend only to confuse the issues. (close)
وَ مَا یَاۡتِیۡہِمۡ مِّنۡ رَّسُوۡلٍ اِلَّا کَانُوۡا بِہٖ یَسۡتَہۡزِءُوۡنَ ﴿۱۲﴾
وَمَا يَأۡتِيهِم مِّن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا كَانُواْ بِهِۦ يَسۡتَهۡزِءُونَ
a. 36:31; 43:8. (close)
a. 36:31; 43:8. (close)
The verse shows that when disbelievers addressed the Holy Prophet saying, O thou to whom this Exhortation has been sent down, thou art surely a madman (v. 7), they really used the words in jest. So what it meant in the present verse is that if disbelievers mock at the Holy Prophet, it is not a thing to be wondered at, for even Prophets whom they claim to accept were similarly mocked at by their forefathers.
Another significance of the verse is that whenever there comes a Prophet, God promises to protect his teachings, and this makes disbelievers wonder. They cannot bring themselves to believe that through his teachings he has any chance of success in the face of their opposition and, therefore, they treat him with contempt.
It is surprising that although all Prophets have been mocked at on account of their humble origins, yet whenever a new claimant appears he is expected by disbelievers to come with great pomp and splendour. Disbelievers seem to forget that if past Prophets had come with pomp and splendour, they would never have been treated with scorn. Incidentally, the verse draws our attention to the divine law that the fact that every new Messenger of God is, in the beginning, rejected and ridiculed is really a sign of the truth of his claim rather than of his falsehood. (close)
کَذٰلِکَ نَسۡلُکُہٗ فِیۡ قُلُوۡبِ الۡمُجۡرِمِیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۱۳﴾
كَذَٰلِكَ نَسۡلُكُهُۥ فِي قُلُوبِ ٱلۡمُجۡرِمِينَ
b. 26:201. (close)
1483. The pronoun 'this' refers to the disbelievers’ practice of ridiculing the Divine Prophets mentioned in the preceding verse. (close)
a. 26:201. (close)
The pronoun "this" in the expression نسلکه (do We cause this to enter) refers to the practice of disbelievers of ridiculing Prophets mentioned in the previous verse. The verse under comment thus signifies that this evil habit of disbelievers springs from their own indulgence in sin and is not imported from outside. It states a general truth, viz. when a man does wrong, his natural aversion for sin is lessened and he gradually develops a liking for it which eventually takes deep root in his heart. It thus follows that the retribution of sin is not the result of some arbitrary action on the part of God but is the natural and inevitable consequence of the sinner’s own action. (close)
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)