وَ یَسۡـَٔلُوۡنَکَ عَنِ الرُّوۡحِ ؕ قُلِ الرُّوۡحُ مِنۡ اَمۡرِ رَبِّیۡ وَ مَاۤ اُوۡتِیۡتُمۡ مِّنَ الۡعِلۡمِ اِلَّا قَلِیۡلًا ﴿۸۶﴾
وَيَسۡـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلرُّوحِۖ قُلِ ٱلرُّوحُ مِنۡ أَمۡرِ رَبِّي وَمَآ أُوتِيتُم مِّنَ ٱلۡعِلۡمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلٗا
1647. In the period of their spiritual decline and decadence the Jews seem to have come to dabble in occult practices like many modern Spiritualists, Theosophists and Hindu Yogis. Some of the Jews of Medina also seem to have resorted to these practices in the time of the Holy Prophet. This is why when the Meccan idolaters sought their help to confute the Holy Prophet, they suggested that they (the Meccan idolaters) should question him about the human soul. The Qur’an answers them by the verse under comment by saying that the soul derives its powers from the command of God and anything else that is claimed to be acquired by the so-called spiritual exercises and magical art is all humbug. The question regarding the nature of the human soul is reported to have been first put to the Holy Prophet at Mecca by the Quraish and then, according to ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud, by the Jews at Medina. The soul has been described here as something created by the direct command of God. According to the Qur’an all creation falls under two categories: (1) Original creation which is brought about without the aid or help of any substance or matter previously created. (2) Subsequent creation which is brought about with the aid and help of the means and matter previously created. The former kind of creation falls under the category of Amr (lit. command) for which see 2:118, and the latter is known as Khalq (lit. creating). The human soul belongs to the first category.
The word Ruh also means, Divine revelation (Lane). The context seems to support this meaning. (close)
Various meanings have been assigned to the word روح (soul) by scholars of different schools of Muslim religious thought. According to some of the commentators it applies to all angels; according to others it means only the angel to whom is entrusted the task of the creation of the world; yet others think that it particularly applies to the Archangel Gabriel.
Some scholars, however, are of the view that الروح means the word of God, while some others take it as applying to the Quran. But the most appropriate meaning of this word is "the human soul."
The question regarding the nature of the human soul was first put to the Holy Prophet at Mecca by some of the Meccan idolaters, probably at the instance of the Jews of Medina, when the news reached the latter that he had claimed to be a Divine Prophet. In reply the Prophet recited to them the present verse. When, however, he came to Medina the question appears again to have been put to him by the Jews and he must naturally have recited to them the same verse, thus giving rise to the wrong notion held by some traditionalists that this verse was revealed in Medina or that, after having been first revealed at Mecca, it was again revealed at Medina. The fact is that it was only revealed once and that was at Mecca.
As stated above, the most appropriate meaning of the word الروح is the human soul. The soul has been described here as something created by the direct command of God. As a matter of fact according to the Quran all creation falls under two categories: (1) Original creation which is brought about without the aid or help of any substance or matter previously created. (2) Subsequent creation which is brought about with the aid and help of means and matter previously created. The former kind of creation falls under the category of امر (lit. command) for which see 2:118, and the latter is known as خلق (lit. creating). In this verse we are told that the human soul belongs to the first category.
In the period of their spiritual decadence the Jews seem to have come to dabble in spiritualism and occult practices like many modern Spiritualists, Theosophists and Hindu Yogis. They had come to believe in magic and so-called spiritual practices. These occult practices appeared to have exercised great influence on them. It appears that the Jews started taking interest in magic and occult practices in the time of the Prophet David. These practices became very popular with them in the time of Jesus. According to Philo and the well-known Jewish writer, Josephus, the Essenes in the time of Jesus greatly indulged in these practices and by a life of renunciation they had greatly developed this art. The Quran also refers to the Jewish counterparts of the modern spiritualists in 72:8-10. References to black and white magic may also be found in the books of the Old and New Testaments. Some of the Jews of Medina also seem to have resorted to these practices in the time of the Holy Prophet. This is why when the Meccan idolaters sought their help in confuting the Prophet they suggested that they (the Meccan idolaters) should enquire of him regarding the powers and attributes of the human soul. The Quran answers this inquiry in the verse under comment by saying that the perfect soul derives its powers from the command of God and anything else that is claimed to be acquired by so-called spiritual exercises and magical arts is all meaningless. It may be added that by الروح is particularly meant the perfect soul. That the knowledge acquired by so-called spiritual exercises and by their professed communication with the dead carries little weight has often been demonstrated by the fact that the information claimed to be furnished by departed souls to different mediums regarding the next world always varies.
The question of the powers and attributes of the human soul is of more than local importance, inasmuch as it had not only agitated the minds of the Medinite Jews of the Prophet’s time but has also agitated those of Hindu Yogis, Theosophists and Spiritualists in our own time. Taking الروح in its general sense the verse would mean that the human soul is as much the creation of God as the human body. (close)
وَ لَئِنۡ شِئۡنَا لَنَذۡہَبَنَّ بِالَّذِیۡۤ اَوۡحَیۡنَاۤ اِلَیۡکَ ثُمَّ لَا تَجِدُ لَکَ بِہٖ عَلَیۡنَا وَکِیۡلًا ﴿ۙ۸۷﴾
وَلَئِن شِئۡنَا لَنَذۡهَبَنَّ بِٱلَّذِيٓ أَوۡحَيۡنَآ إِلَيۡكَ ثُمَّ لَا تَجِدُ لَكَ بِهِۦ عَلَيۡنَا وَكِيلًا
1648. The verse seems to imply a prophecy that a time would come when Quranic knowledge would depart from the earth. A similar prophecy of the Holy Prophet has been reported by Merdawaih, Baihaqi and Ibn-e-Majah that there would come a time when the kernel and spirit of the Qur’an would disappear from the earth, and not all the so-called mystics and Sufis of the time claiming, like their Jewish prototypes, to possess supernatural powers, would be able to restore it with their concerted efforts. (close)
The present verse furnishes further evidence in support of what has been said in the previous verse. The words of the present verse appear to be addressed to the Holy Prophet but as a matter of fact they are not. As the question referred to in the previous verse was not asked by him, so the answer is evidently meant for those who had asked it. The verse means to say that the human soul is so weak that, far from revealing new spiritual truths, it is incapable even of reproducing those already revealed if they happen to disappear from the world.
The verse also implies a prophecy that a time would come when Quranic knowledge would depart from the earth. A similar prophecy of the Holy Prophet has been reported by Ibn Merdawaih and by Baihaqi and Ibn Majah that there would come a time when the kernel and spirit of the Quran would disappear from the earth and not all the so-called mystics and sufis of the time claiming, like their Jewish prototypes, to possess supernatural powers would be able to restore it with their concerted effort. (close)
اِلَّا رَحۡمَۃً مِّنۡ رَّبِّکَ ؕ اِنَّ فَضۡلَہٗ کَانَ عَلَیۡکَ کَبِیۡرًا ﴿۸۸﴾
إِلَّا رَحۡمَةٗ مِّن رَّبِّكَۚ إِنَّ فَضۡلَهُۥ كَانَ عَلَيۡكَ كَبِيرٗا
a. 28:87. (close)
a. 28:87. (close)
The meaning of the expression, Surely, His grace towards thee is great, among other things, is that when the spirit of the Quran disappeared from the world and its letter only remained, God alone could and would bring it back. (close)
قُلۡ لَّئِنِ اجۡتَمَعَتِ الۡاِنۡسُ وَ الۡجِنُّ عَلٰۤی اَنۡ یَّاۡتُوۡا بِمِثۡلِ ہٰذَا الۡقُرۡاٰنِ لَا یَاۡتُوۡنَ بِمِثۡلِہٖ وَ لَوۡ کَانَ بَعۡضُہُمۡ لِبَعۡضٍ ظَہِیۡرًا ﴿۸۹﴾
قُل لَّئِنِ ٱجۡتَمَعَتِ ٱلۡإِنسُ وَٱلۡجِنُّ عَلَىٰٓ أَن يَأۡتُواْ بِمِثۡلِ هَٰذَا ٱلۡقُرۡءَانِ لَا يَأۡتُونَ بِمِثۡلِهِۦ وَلَوۡ كَانَ بَعۡضُهُمۡ لِبَعۡضٖ ظَهِيرٗا
b. 2:24; 10:39; 11:14; 62:35. (close)
1649. The challenge is held out in the first place to those people who indulge in occult practices that they should summon to their aid the hidden spirits from whom they claim to receive spiritual knowledge. The challenge also stands for all time to all people who deny the Divine origin of the Holy Qur’an. (close)
b. 2:24; 10:39; 11:14; 52:35. (close)
This verse confirms the interpretation of the two preceding verses, for it develops the argument embodied in them. It holds out the challenge to those who indulge in occult practices and by means of these practices claim to receive spiritual knowledge from the departed spirits that, if they seriously think their claim to possess any substance, then let all of them assemble together and summon to their aid the hidden spirits which they think can communicate to them the knowledge of spiritual matters, and with their concerted and combined effort produce a book like the Quran. If they failed to produce such a book, and most certainly they would fail if they ever made such an attempt, then the falsity of their claim to receive spiritual knowledge from departed spirits would become established beyond doubt as also would their assertion that the Holy Prophet had acquired the knowledge contained in the Quran by means of certain spiritual exercises. (close)
وَ لَقَدۡ صَرَّفۡنَا لِلنَّاسِ فِیۡ ہٰذَا الۡقُرۡاٰنِ مِنۡ کُلِّ مَثَلٍ ۫ فَاَبٰۤی اَکۡثَرُ النَّاسِ اِلَّا کُفُوۡرًا ﴿۹۰﴾
وَلَقَدۡ صَرَّفۡنَا لِلنَّاسِ فِي هَٰذَا ٱلۡقُرۡءَانِ مِن كُلِّ مَثَلٖ فَأَبَىٰٓ أَكۡثَرُ ٱلنَّاسِ إِلَّا كُفُورٗا
c. 17:42; 18:55. (close)
1650. Human faculties being limited man can, at best, deal with only a limited number of problems. But the Qur’an has fully dealt with all those matters that concern his moral and spiritual development. (close)
a. 17:42; 18:55. (close)
2019. Important Words:
صرفنا (We have set forth in various ways).
The verse brings home to disbelievers their complete inability to produce a book like the Quran. It purports to say that their mental faculties are limited. They can deal with only such matters of which they have made a special study. The Quran, on the other hand, has comprehensively dealt with all sorts of subjects—Politics, Physical Science, Ethics, Economics, etc., and has provided right guidance in matters of belief and conduct about which the various existing religions disagree. These people have not the capacity even to understand and appreciate these matters, much less to produce a book like the Quran—humanity’s infallible guide. In spite of their patent inability to accept the above challenge they persist in their denial of the Divine origin of the Quran out of sheer obstinacy. One day they will reap the fruit of their wayward denial. (close)
وَ قَالُوۡا لَنۡ نُّؤۡمِنَ لَکَ حَتّٰی تَفۡجُرَ لَنَا مِنَ الۡاَرۡضِ یَنۡۢبُوۡعًا ﴿ۙ۹۱﴾
وَقَالُواْ لَن نُّؤۡمِنَ لَكَ حَتَّىٰ تَفۡجُرَ لَنَا مِنَ ٱلۡأَرۡضِ يَنۢبُوعًا
When the Meccans were confounded by the answers of the Quran to their questions and objections, they turned round and demanded of the Prophet that if the Quran comprehended every kind of knowledge then he should be able to work miracles—cause springs to gush forth from the earth, grow gardens and build houses of gold for himself. The demand was either intended as mockery or had its basis in the belief that they shared with the Jews that most wonderful works could be performed by special spiritual exercises and by the help of disembodied spirits. (close)
اَوۡ تَکُوۡنَ لَکَ جَنَّۃٌ مِّنۡ نَّخِیۡلٍ وَّ عِنَبٍ فَتُفَجِّرَ الۡاَنۡہٰرَ خِلٰلَہَا تَفۡجِیۡرًا ﴿ۙ۹۲﴾
أَوۡ تَكُونَ لَكَ جَنَّةٞ مِّن نَّخِيلٖ وَعِنَبٖ فَتُفَجِّرَ ٱلۡأَنۡهَٰرَ خِلَٰلَهَا تَفۡجِيرًا
a. 25:11. (close)
1651. When the Meccans were confounded by the answers of the Qur’an to their questions and objections, they turned round and demanded of the Holy Prophet that if the Qur’an comprehended every kind of knowledge then he should be able to work miracles—cause springs to gush forth from the earth, grow gardens and build houses of gold for himself, etc. (close)
a. 25:11. (close)
اَوۡ تُسۡقِطَ السَّمَآءَ کَمَا زَعَمۡتَ عَلَیۡنَا کِسَفًا اَوۡ تَاۡتِیَ بِاللّٰہِ وَ الۡمَلٰٓئِکَۃِ قَبِیۡلًا ﴿ۙ۹۳﴾
أَوۡ تُسۡقِطَ ٱلسَّمَآءَ كَمَا زَعَمۡتَ عَلَيۡنَا كِسَفًا أَوۡ تَأۡتِيَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡمَلَـٰٓئِكَةِ قَبِيلًا
Disbelievers mockingly told the Holy Prophet, that, if he could not bring to them any of the good things which they demanded he might as well cause the sky to fall upon them or let God and His angels destroy them. (close)
اَوۡ یَکُوۡنَ لَکَ بَیۡتٌ مِّنۡ زُخۡرُفٍ اَوۡ تَرۡقٰی فِی السَّمَآءِ ؕ وَ لَنۡ نُّؤۡمِنَ لِرُقِیِّکَ حَتّٰی تُنَزِّلَ عَلَیۡنَا کِتٰبًا نَّقۡرَؤُہٗ ؕ قُلۡ سُبۡحَانَ رَبِّیۡ ہَلۡ کُنۡتُ اِلَّا بَشَرًا رَّسُوۡلًا ﴿٪۹۴﴾
أَوۡ يَكُونَ لَكَ بَيۡتٞ مِّن زُخۡرُفٍ أَوۡ تَرۡقَىٰ فِي ٱلسَّمَآءِ وَلَن نُّؤۡمِنَ لِرُقِيِّكَ حَتَّىٰ تُنَزِّلَ عَلَيۡنَا كِتَٰبٗا نَّقۡرَؤُهُۥۗ قُلۡ سُبۡحَانَ رَبِّي هَلۡ كُنتُ إِلَّا بَشَرٗا رَّسُولٗا
1652. In answer to their impudent demands the disbelievers are told that these demands pertain either to God or to the Prophet. The demands of the first category are frivolous in character and God is above such frivolities. As for their demands pertaining to the Holy Prophet, they are incompatible with his limited powers as a human being and his mission as a Prophet of God. (close)
The contemptuous tone of the disbelievers’ discourse is continued in this verse. They are represented as saying to the Prophet that if he could not accomplish any of the things they demanded of him, he might at least have some good things for himself. Pharaoh had challenged Moses that he could not be a true Prophet because he possessed no bracelets of gold (43:54); but the Meccan disbelievers went a step further and declared that the Prophet’s claims could only be regarded true if he possessed a house made of gold.
The words, Or thou ascend up into heaven…that we can read, contain a derisive reference to the Mi‘raj or the Ascension of the Prophet. The disbelievers meant to say that they would not believe in his ascension unless he stayed in the heavens and let fall to them a book that they might read. To these foolish demands of the disbelievers the words, Say, Holy is my Lord! I am not but a man sent as a Messenger, embody a crushing reply. They are told that their demands fall under two heads: (a) those that pertain to God; (b) those that pertain to the Prophet. The demands of the first category are frivolous in character and God is above such frivolities. These demands have nothing to do with the spiritual development of man for which Divine Messengers are raised. As for their demands pertaining to the Prophet, they are incompatible with his humanity and his mission as a Prophet of God. A human being, even one invested with prophethood, could not and would not indulge in such acrobatic feats. (close)
وَ مَا مَنَعَ النَّاسَ اَنۡ یُّؤۡمِنُوۡۤا اِذۡ جَآءَہُمُ الۡہُدٰۤی اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ قَالُوۡۤا اَبَعَثَ اللّٰہُ بَشَرًا رَّسُوۡلًا ﴿۹۵﴾
وَمَا مَنَعَ ٱلنَّاسَ أَن يُؤۡمِنُوٓاْ إِذۡ جَآءَهُمُ ٱلۡهُدَىٰٓ إِلَّآ أَن قَالُوٓاْ أَبَعَثَ ٱللَّهُ بَشَرٗا رَّسُولٗا
b. 17:60; 23:25; 34:44. (close)
a. 17:60; 23:25; 34:44. (close)
In the previous verse the Holy Prophet, in reply to the foolish and frivolous demands of disbelievers, was commanded to say to them that he was nothing beyond a Messenger of God. The present verse contains their strongest objection that he is only a mortal. In fact, the words, Has Allah sent a man as a Messenger, contain not one but several objections. The first is that, God being so great, it is incompatible with His dignity to appoint a mere mortal as His Messenger. This objection in reality implies rejection and denial of revelation itself. Some people reject a Prophet out of vanity and a false sense of self-importance. They do not deny the possibility of Divine revelation, but in their pride and egotism they cannot bring themselves to think that God could possibly choose a man of no consequence, as they think, to be the bearer of His Message. Another class of people hold that man, being endowed with great natural gifts and talents, is quite fit to find the right path by the help of these natural faculties alone and needs no Divine revelation to guide him. Yet a third class would object to any mortal being a Divine Prophet on the ground that a Prophet requires higher and better faculties for the effective discharge of his onerous duties than those possessed by a mere mortal. These people are ever ready to believe in the claims of any mountebank if only he professes to possess superhuman powers, but find it hard to believe in similar claims of another person possessed of the highest moral and spiritual stature who might be sincere enough to disclaim all such superhuman powers. This class of men fall an easy prey to supernaturalism. Persons who suffer from such mental distempers might well profess to believe in the past Prophets, but their failure to recognize the truth of a new claimant to Prophethood amply proves that the faith which they profess in the old Prophets is but an empty and customary faith inherited from their forefathers and is devoid of all reality. (close)