وَ لَنَبۡلُوَنَّکُمۡ بِشَیۡءٍ مِّنَ الۡخَوۡفِ وَ الۡجُوۡعِ وَ نَقۡصٍ مِّنَ الۡاَمۡوَالِ وَ الۡاَنۡفُسِ وَ الثَّمَرٰتِ ؕ وَ بَشِّرِ الصّٰبِرِیۡنَ ﴿۱۵۶﴾ۙ
وَلَنَبۡلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيۡءٖ مِّنَ ٱلۡخَوۡفِ وَٱلۡجُوعِ وَنَقۡصٖ مِّنَ ٱلۡأَمۡوَٰلِ وَٱلۡأَنفُسِ وَٱلثَّمَرَٰتِۗ وَبَشِّرِ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ
b. 3:187. (close)
182. This verse constitutes fitting sequel to the preceding one. Muslims should be prepared not only to lay down their lives in the cause of Islam but should also be prepared to suffer all sorts of afflictions which will be imposed on them as a trial. (close)
a. 3:187. (close)
162. Important Words:
لنبلونکم (and We will try you). لنبلون is derived from بلاء which has two meanings: (1) learning the state or condition of a person by means of a trial or test whether through favours or afflictions; (2) manifesting the goodness or badness of an object by a similar means. ابتلاء also means, a trial or a test imposed on a person with a view to learning or manifesting his true condition (Aqrab & Lane). See also 2:50.
This verse comes as a fitting sequel to the preceding one. Muslims should be prepared not only to lay down their lives in the cause of Islam but also to suffer diverse forms of affliction which will be imposed on them as a trial. According to the Quran, God has generally two purposes in "proving" men. He "proves" or tries those who have attained to a high stage of spiritual advancement, as was the case with Abraham (2:125); and He also tries those who have not yet attained to thatstage (29:3). His object in "proving" the former is to bring them to the notice of the people and make them shine as models of virtue and purity; while in the case of the latter, the purpose is to make them acquainted with their own weaknesses so that they may try to improve their condition. Though misfortunes and afflictions involve a certain amount of pain, they also afford a good opportunity for spiritual reformation and purification. Thus afflictions and calamities have their use. They serve to strengthen the faith. Those who remain steadfast under trials, despite afflictions, become entitled to a great reward from God. A trial also sometimes becomes a means of exposing the weakness of a person and of his downfall; for after all it is an examination which, though held with the object of promoting a student, sometimes results in his failure. See 7:177.
The tests by means of which God intended to "prove" the faithful are, as stated in this verse: (1) Fear, i.e. a state or condition in which fear will dominate them, the enemy surrounding them with diverse dangers. (2) Hunger, i.e. shortage of food; the enemy will not only cut off their means of communication but will also completely boycott them, leaving them stranded without food or provision. The word "hunger" may also signify a state of famine. (3) Loss of wealth and property. The enemy will raid Muslims repeatedly and inflict heavy losses on them. (4) Loss of lives, i.e. the cruel war inflicted on them by the enemy will also cause loss of life. (5) Loss of fruits. The action of the enemy will not be confined to inflicting loss of lives and property only but will extend to inflicting loss of crops as well. As ثمرة (fruit) also means the fruit of one’s labour or the profit accruing to a man from any source, loss of fruits also signifies disorganization of trade and industry.
All these losses coming together constituted indeed a very heavy burden; but they were borne by the Muslims with such patience and fortitude as is unrivalled in all history. God tried them and found them truly patient. (close)
الَّذِیۡنَ اِذَاۤ اَصَابَتۡہُمۡ مُّصِیۡبَۃٌ ۙ قَالُوۡۤا اِنَّا لِلّٰہِ وَ اِنَّاۤ اِلَیۡہِ رٰجِعُوۡنَ ﴿۱۵۷﴾ؕ
ٱلَّذِينَ إِذَآ أَصَٰبَتۡهُم مُّصِيبَةٞ قَالُوٓاْ إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّآ إِلَيۡهِ رَٰجِعُونَ
c. 22:36. (close)
d. 7:126; 26:51. (close)
183. God is the Master of all we possess, including our ownselves. If the Owner in His infinite wisdom deems fit to take away anything from us, we have no ground for complaint or demur. So every misfortune that befalls us should, instead of depressing us, spur us to make yet greater efforts to achieve still better results in life. Thus the formula contained in this verse is not a mere verbal incantation but a wise counsel and a timely warning. (close)
a. 22:36. (close)
b. 7:126; 26:51. (close)
This verse provides a true definition of the term صابر (a patient person) as mentioned in the concluding portion of the preceding verse. A صابر who is vouchsafed glad tidings in the foregoing verse is one who bears all sorts of calamities and afflictions with complete restraint and fortitude, uttering no word of complaint or murmur but sincerely saying, Surely to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return. These words comprise a formula which every Muslim is directed to utter when he is afflicted with any misfortune relating to life, property, etc.
God is the Master of all we possess, including our own selves. If the Owner in His infinite wisdom deems fit to take away anything from us, we have no ground for complaint or murmur. We should indeed be grateful for what we receive from God, but there is no justification for murmuring at a loss, because we possess no inherent right to any gift.
The clause to Allah we belong also teaches us the great spiritual truth that we have no real connection with the things of this world and, therefore, the loss of such things should cause us no real grief. Similarly, the other part of the formula, viz., and surely to Him shall we return, also contains an equally grand principle. We come from God and will have to go back to Him, when we shall have to render an account of all our deeds. So every misfortune that befalls us should, instead of depressing us, spur us to make yet greater efforts to achieve still better results in life. Thus the formula contained in this verse is not a mere verbal incantation but a great counsel and a great warning. When a Muslim sincerely utters this formula on occasions of loss, grief or bereavement, its true import is bound to be deeply impressed upon his mind and to sustain him in his hours of trials and tribulations. Nay, it is calculated to do something more; it helps to strengthen his connection with his Maker and make Him the centre of all his thoughts and actions. (close)
اُولٰٓئِکَ عَلَیۡہِمۡ صَلَوٰتٌ مِّنۡ رَّبِّہِمۡ وَ رَحۡمَۃٌ ۟ وَ اُولٰٓئِکَ ہُمُ الۡمُہۡتَدُوۡنَ ﴿۱۵۸﴾
أُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ عَلَيۡهِمۡ صَلَوَٰتٞ مِّن رَّبِّهِمۡ وَرَحۡمَةٞۖ وَأُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلۡمُهۡتَدُونَ
This verse speaks of the great reward of those who prove themselves to be truly صابر or patient. It is, in fact, an explanation of the word, glad tidings, occurring in 2:156. Truly patient people who are steadfast in their connection with God and whom each and every affliction finds spiritually rising higher and higher will inherit three things: (1) blessings from their Lord; (2) His mercy; and (3) His guidance. God will bless them in every way, will cover them with His mercy and forgiveness and will look after them, providing guidance for them whenever they may need it. He will, as it were, become their friend and guardian, eager to come to their help on all occasions. (close)
اِنَّ الصَّفَا وَ الۡمَرۡوَۃَ مِنۡ شَعَآئِرِ اللّٰہِ ۚ فَمَنۡ حَجَّ الۡبَیۡتَ اَوِ اعۡتَمَرَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَیۡہِ اَنۡ یَّطَّوَّفَ بِہِمَا ؕ وَ مَنۡ تَطَوَّعَ خَیۡرًا ۙ فَاِنَّ اللّٰہَ شَاکِرٌ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۵۹﴾
۞إِنَّ ٱلصَّفَا وَٱلۡمَرۡوَةَ مِن شَعَآئِرِ ٱللَّهِۖ فَمَنۡ حَجَّ ٱلۡبَيۡتَ أَوِ ٱعۡتَمَرَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيۡهِ أَن يَطَّوَّفَ بِهِمَاۚ وَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيۡرٗا فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ شَاكِرٌ عَلِيمٌ
184. As-Safa and Al-Marwah are the names of two hills near the Ka‘bah in Mecca, the first-mentioned being the nearer of the two. These hills stand as a memorial to Hagar’s great patience and extraordinary loyalty to God on the one hand and to God’s special care of her and her son, Ishmael, on the other. A visit to these hills deeply impresses the pilgrim with the love, fidelity to and power, of God. (close)
a. 22:33. (close)
185. The words, whoso does good beyond what is obligatory, do not refer to Hajj (Greater Pilgrimage), which under certain conditions is obligatory on every Muslim once in a life-time, but to ‘Umrah (Lesser Pilgrimage) which is not obligatory but only supererogatory. The words may also be considered to refer to any additional pilgrimage which a Muslim may perform, after he has performed the obligatory one. (close)
165. Important Words:
الصفا والمروة (As-Safa and Al-Marwah) are the names of two hills near the Ka‘bah in Mecca, the first-mentioned being the nearer of the two. Both Arabian history and the traditions of Islam connect these hills with the story of Hagar and Ishmael when Abraham left them near these hills under God’s command. Ishmael was yet a child, and when the scanty provisions ran out and he was in a pitiable condition for want of water, Hagar anxiously and repeatedly ran between these two hills in search of water and help, but none was found. When, however, she was in her seventh circuit, an angel of God called to her saying that God had brought forth a spring of water near her son and that she should go and look to it (Bukhari, ch. on Anbiya’). Thus the hills of صفا (Safa) and مروة (Marwah) became شعائر الله i.e. Signs of God worthy of due honour and respect in the sight of every true believer. The Bible also makes mention of مروة in a somewhat changed form (Gen. 22:2; also Enc. Bib. under Moriah) in connection with the sacrifice of Abraham’s son.
شعائر (Signs) is the plural of شعیرة which is derived from شعر meaning, he knew or he perceived. Thus شعیرة means: (1) anything by means of which another thing may be known; (2) a sign; (3) anything which is considered or is performed as a mark of submission to God; (4) the rites of pilgrimage and practices pertaining thereto (Aqrab).
حج (is on pilgrimage) means: (1) he sought a person or thing; (2) he went or repaired to a person or thing; (3) he went to a person again and again; (4) he visited a holy place; (5) he performed حج (Pilgrimage) to the Ka‘bah; (6) he overpowered a person in argument (Aqrab).
اعتمر (performs ‘Umrah) is derived from عمر which means, he occupied or tenanted a house; he worshipped God and prayed to Him. اعتمر means, he went to, or visited, a place. عمرة means, visiting a place; worshipping and praying to God; performing Lesser Pilgrimage in which some of the rites of حج are left out (Aqrab).
تطوع (does beyond what is obligatory) is derived from طاع i.e. he obeyed; he did an act willingly and voluntarily. The infinitive الطوع means: (1) obedience; (2) doing an act willingly without its being obligatory on one. تطوع means, he performed an act with effort and volition. تطوع خیرا means, he performed a good act which was not obligatory on him (Aqrab & Mufradat).
To a superficial observer the verse under comment dealing with the subject of Pilgrimage appears to have no connection with the preceding ones which deal with the subject of trials and sacrifices. But a deeper study will at once disclose a very close connection between the two. The preceding verses warned Muslims to be prepared for sacrifices and gave them the glad tidings that if they performed the required sacrifices willingly and patiently, God would bless them greatly and would show special mercy to them and would remember them with kindness and would provide guidance for them whenever needed. Now, in order to bring home to them the truth of this promise, He invites the attention of Muslims to the great sacrifice of Abraham near the site of As-Safa and Al-Marwah. Abraham obeyed His Lord and left his wife Hagar and his son Ishmael near these two hills of Mecca, which was then a most desolate tract. The seed was sown in a soil which was apparently the most barren of all soils, but how wonderfully it prospered! God was a most Loving and Faithful God who so fondly remembered His servants, Abraham and Ishmael, even after the lapse of 2,500 years, and Muslims can expect the same love and the same fidelity from Him, if they too love and obey Him. Safa and Marwah, as explained under Important Words above, are two hills which stand as a memorial to Hagar’s great patience and extraordinary loyalty to God on the one hand and to God’s special treatment of her and her son on the other. A visit to these hills makes the pilgrim deeply impressed with the love, fidelity and power of God.
The words, it is no sin for him, should not be taken to mean that performing the circuit between Safa and Marwah is only permissible and not obligatory. The expression is used simply to remove the aversion to such performance found among certain persons on the basis of the fact that heathen Arabs had placed two idols on these two hills (Muslim). God removed this erroneous notion by saying that it was no sin to perform the circuit between Safa and Marwah, which on account of the great sacrifice of Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael on the one hand and the resulting blessings of God on the other, had become شعائر الله i.e. great Signs of God. That the performance of these circuits is obligatory in both حج and عمرة(the Greater and the Lesser Pilgrimage) is clear from the practice of the Holy Prophet and his injunctions to his followers (Bukhari, ch. Al-Hajj).
The words, whoso does good beyond what is obligatory, do not refer to حج (Greater Pilgrimage), which under certain conditions is obligatory on each Muslim once in a lifetime, but to عمرة (Lesser Pilgrimage) which is not obligatory but simply supererogatory. The words may also be considered to refer to any additional حج or Pilgrimage which a Muslim may perform, after he has performed the one obligatory Pilgrimage.
As this verse mentions the subject of Pilgrimage only secondarily, we are not giving here a note on the rites and philosophy of which will be discussed when we come to the relevant verses. (close)
اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ یَکۡتُمُوۡنَ مَاۤ اَنۡزَلۡنَا مِنَ الۡبَیِّنٰتِ وَ الۡہُدٰی مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ مَا بَیَّنّٰہُ لِلنَّاسِ فِی الۡکِتٰبِ ۙ اُولٰٓئِکَ یَلۡعَنُہُمُ اللّٰہُ وَ یَلۡعَنُہُمُ اللّٰعِنُوۡنَ ﴿۱۶۰﴾ۙ
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَكۡتُمُونَ مَآ أَنزَلۡنَا مِنَ ٱلۡبَيِّنَٰتِ وَٱلۡهُدَىٰ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ مَا بَيَّنَّـٰهُ لِلنَّاسِ فِي ٱلۡكِتَٰبِ أُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ يَلۡعَنُهُمُ ٱللَّهُ وَيَلۡعَنُهُمُ ٱللَّـٰعِنُونَ
186. The reference is to the Jews who concealed the prophecies contained in their Scriptures about the Holy Prophet. (close)
b. 2:175. (close)
a. 2:175. (close)
166. Important Words:
یلعنھم (curses them). For the meaning of لعن see note on 2:89.
The present verse has been taken to apply either to Muslims or Jews. In the former case the verse would be taken as a warning to Muslims that they should ever be careful to preach the truth of Islam and should in no circumstances hide or neglect it but should ever be ready to proclaim it, however bitter the opposition. Failing this, they will not only not attain the nearness of God but will be cast away from Him. If applied to Jews, and that indeed is the right application, the connection with the preceding verse may be easily seen in the reference to As-Safa and Al-Marwah in that verse. It was at these places that Abraham left his wife Hagar, and his son, Ishmael, under God’s command and it was here that, while building the Ka‘bah, Abraham and Ishmael prayed to God for the appearance of a great Prophet among their progeny. The Quran thus refers here to the Jews who were concealing the prophecies contained in their Scriptures about the Holy Prophet. The Jews are warned that if they concealed the clear prophecies given to them about the Arabian Prophet, in spite of the fact that they have now been reminded of them through the Quran, God would cast them away, depriving them of His mercy and condemning them to punishment in Hell. They are further warned that as God is the Lord of the entire universe, His curse will not come alone but everything which is subservient to Him will then begin to curse them—angels, men, the elements, laws of nature and all. (close)
اِلَّا الَّذِیۡنَ تَابُوۡا وَ اَصۡلَحُوۡا وَ بَیَّنُوۡا فَاُولٰٓئِکَ اَتُوۡبُ عَلَیۡہِمۡ ۚ وَ اَنَا التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِیۡمُ ﴿۱۶۱﴾
إِلَّا ٱلَّذِينَ تَابُواْ وَأَصۡلَحُواْ وَبَيَّنُواْ فَأُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ أَتُوبُ عَلَيۡهِمۡ وَأَنَا ٱلتَّوَّابُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ
a. 3:90; 4:147; 5:40; 24:6. (close)
b. 3:90; 4:147; 5:40; 24:6. (close)
167. Important Words:
اصلحوا (amend) is derived from صلح which means, he or it was or became good or virtuous or just or proper. اصلح means, he reformed him or he reformed himself or he amended. When اصلح is followed by the preposition بین (between) as in اصلح بینھمit means, he brought about reconciliation between them (Aqrab).
God, not being vindictive, is ever ready to pardon those who repent and rectify their mistakes. But repentance must be sincere and real. Mere verbal expression of regret is not sufficient. The evildoer must try to make full amends for the wrong committed and should promise to bring about in himself a real change in future. It is only after a real change takes place in the sinner that forgiveness is promised to him. As to the Jews who concealed prophecies regarding the Holy Prophet, the verse lays down three conditions as a proof of real repentance.
Firstly, they should declare their repentance and turn back from their wrong course. Secondly, they should make amends practically, not only by reforming themselves but also by trying to reform those who have been misled through them. Thirdly, they should openly declare the truth which they have been hiding regarding the prophecies in their Scriptures. If they fulfilled these conditions, they would yet find God Forgiving and Merciful. (close)
اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا وَ مَاتُوۡا وَ ہُمۡ کُفَّارٌ اُولٰٓئِکَ عَلَیۡہِمۡ لَعۡنَۃُ اللّٰہِ وَ الۡمَلٰٓئِکَۃِ وَ النَّاسِ اَجۡمَعِیۡنَ ﴿۱۶۲﴾ۙ
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ وَمَاتُواْ وَهُمۡ كُفَّارٌ أُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ عَلَيۡهِمۡ لَعۡنَةُ ٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡمَلَـٰٓئِكَةِ وَٱلنَّاسِ أَجۡمَعِينَ
b. 3:88. (close)
a. 3:88. (close)
The word الناس (men) may either mean "all men" or "holy and virtuous men", i.e. those who deserve to be called "men" in the real sense of the word. This distinction is not arbitrary; for there is a class of men whom the Quran describes as "cattle or even worse" (7:180).
The cursing of the angels and the holy men means that as angels and holy men obey their Lord and Master and never go against His wishes, they would naturally sever connections with the disbelievers—the Jews—when they see Him doing the same. The angels, one of whose works is to help good men and punish the wicked, will turn against them and all good men will also strive to bring their evil efforts to naught. They will find the entire forces of God ranged against them.
If the word الناس (men) be taken to refer to all men, then the clause would mean that all men being subordinate to God, He would so arrange that no people would be able to help them against His decree. (close)
خٰلِدِیۡنَ فِیۡہَا ۚ لَا یُخَفَّفُ عَنۡہُمُ الۡعَذَابُ وَ لَا ہُمۡ یُنۡظَرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۶۳﴾
خَٰلِدِينَ فِيهَا لَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنۡهُمُ ٱلۡعَذَابُ وَلَا هُمۡ يُنظَرُونَ
c. 3:89. (close)
a. 3:89. (close)
169. Important Words:
ینظرون (be granted respite) is formed from نظر which means, (1) he looked; (2) he granted respite. They say نظر فلانا الدین i.e. he granted him respite in respect of the payment of debt (Aqrab).
God is slow to punish but when the cup of the iniquities of a disbelieving people becomes full to the brim and all warning is lost upon them, then severe punishment overtakes them, and no further respite is granted; and as the punishment is primarily meant as a cure, it is of sufficiently long duration and persists till all vestige of spiritual disease is rooted out. (close)
وَ اِلٰـہُکُمۡ اِلٰہٌ وَّاحِدٌ ۚ لَاۤ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ہُوَ الرَّحۡمٰنُ الرَّحِیۡمُ ﴿۱۶۴﴾٪
وَإِلَٰهُكُمۡ إِلَٰهٞ وَٰحِدٞۖ لَّآ إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ٱلرَّحۡمَٰنُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ
d. 2:256; 16:23; 22:35; 37:5; 59:23, 24; 112:2. (close)
187. As all sins spring from feebleness of faith, this verse fittingly refers to the Oneness of God, signifying that if people only believed in Divine Unity and refrained from setting up false gods, they would never deviate from the right path. (close)
b. 2:256; 16:23; 22:35; 37:5; 59:23, 24; 112:2. (close)
As all sin springs from feebleness of faith, this verse fittingly refers to the Unity of God, signifying that if people only believed in God’s Unity and refrained from setting up false gods, they would never digress from the right path. It must not, however, be understood that idol-worship consists in worshipping images only. Every man who loves anyone other than God as he ought to love Him, or fears anyone as he ought to fear Him, or trusts in anyone as he ought to trust in Him, is really guilty of idol-worship and must suffer the consequences thereof. In fact, the principal and primary object of religion, is to establish the Unity of God, and the Quran has dealt with this subject in a manner and to an extent which has no parallel in any other Book. Islam condemns both شرك جلی (manifest or visible idolatry) and شرك خفی (hidden or invisible idolatry) in the strongest of terms.
The verse may also signify that, with the advent of Islam, God, the Maker of heavens and earth, no longer remains the God of this or that people only, but becomes the God of all peoples and all mankind. The word الرحمن (the Gracious or the Provider for all peoples) occurring at the end of the verse also points to the same truth. In this sense the verse would be considered to be particularly connected with 2:159 above which speaks of the Safa and the Marwah as the special Signs of Allah, serving as pointers to the mission of the Holy Prophet of Islam. (close)
اِنَّ فِیۡ خَلۡقِ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ وَ اخۡتِلَافِ الَّیۡلِ وَ النَّہَارِ وَ الۡفُلۡکِ الَّتِیۡ تَجۡرِیۡ فِی الۡبَحۡرِ بِمَا یَنۡفَعُ النَّاسَ وَ مَاۤ اَنۡزَلَ اللّٰہُ مِنَ السَّمَآءِ مِنۡ مَّآءٍ فَاَحۡیَا بِہِ الۡاَرۡضَ بَعۡدَ مَوۡتِہَا وَ بَثَّ فِیۡہَا مِنۡ کُلِّ دَآبَّۃٍ ۪ وَّ تَصۡرِیۡفِ الرِّیٰحِ وَ السَّحَابِ الۡمُسَخَّرِ بَیۡنَ السَّمَآءِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ لَاٰیٰتٍ لِّقَوۡمٍ یَّعۡقِلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۶۵﴾
إِنَّ فِي خَلۡقِ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَٱخۡتِلَٰفِ ٱلَّيۡلِ وَٱلنَّهَارِ وَٱلۡفُلۡكِ ٱلَّتِي تَجۡرِي فِي ٱلۡبَحۡرِ بِمَا يَنفَعُ ٱلنَّاسَ وَمَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ مِنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ مِن مَّآءٖ فَأَحۡيَا بِهِ ٱلۡأَرۡضَ بَعۡدَ مَوۡتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَآبَّةٖ وَتَصۡرِيفِ ٱلرِّيَٰحِ وَٱلسَّحَابِ ٱلۡمُسَخَّرِ بَيۡنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ لَأٓيَٰتٖ لِّقَوۡمٖ يَعۡقِلُونَ
e. 3:191; 10:7; 30:23; 45:6. (close)
188. The Qur’an takes the universe as a whole to prove its theme. The objects of nature taken individually do not furnish such conclusive evidence of the existence of God as the whole universe taken collectively. The earth may be said to owe its existence to a fortuitous concourse of atoms, and a similar reason may be given for the origin of the sun and the moon and so on. But when the universe as one united whole and the deep order that permeates it are taken into consideration, it becomes impossible for one to escape the conclusion, that this universe has not come into existence accidentally. Indeed, the consummate harmony that pervades it forcefully points to the fact that the whole system has been created and is being directed by One Intelligent Being Who is All-Powerful and All-Knowing. Moreover, by laying special emphasis on the study of the phenomena of nature, the attention of disbelievers is also drawn to the fact that they could not possibly hope to succeed in their designs against the Holy Prophet, because the whole universe is controlled by God and is working in his favour and in furthering his cause. (close)
a. 3:191; 10:7; 30:23; 45:6. (close)
171. Important Words:
اختلاف (alternation) is derived from خلف. They say خلفه i.e. he or it was or became his or its successor. خلف الرجل means, he came after or remained after the man and stood in his place. اختلفه means, he followed him as his successor. اختلفوا means (1) they came one after another by turn; (2) they differed or disagreed (Aqrab).
الفلك (ships) is derived from the verb فلك meaning, it became round or circular. الفلك (al-fulk) means a ship, or a boat, probably because it looks round and shapeless when seen at sea from a distance. The word is both singular and plural. الفلك (al-falak) means, the vault of heaven or the firmament in which the stars move. This is also probably owing to the apparently round shape of the sky (Aqrab, Mufradat & Lane).
دابة (beast) is the active participle from دب which means, he or it crept or crawled or walked slowly like an ant or a reptile or a child or a weak or sickly person. دابة means, all such animals or insects as creep or crawl or walk slowly (Aqrab). The word is used about all moving animals, whether big or small, whether walking on two legs or on four legs or creeping on the belly, etc. (24:46). It is also used about beasts used for riding or for carrying burden, like the horse, the mule, the donkey, etc. (Lane).
المسخر (pressed into service) is the passive participle from سخر sakhkhara. They say سخره (sakhkhara-hu or سخره sakhara-hu, not سخر sakhira which gives a different meaning), i.e. (1) he employed him or imposed on him a task without compensation; (2) he subjugated him and made him subservient to himself. Thus مسخر is that who or which has been made subservient to another, being unable to free himself or itself from constraint (Aqrab).
This verse gives a twofold meaning, one literal and the other metaphorical. In the former sense, it supplies an argument in support of the existence of God referred to in the preceding verse. A careful study of the universe unfailingly points to a Creator on the one hand and to man being created with a definite object on the other. It also proves that, having created the world, God did not leave it alone but continues to watch over and control its affairs and is the First Cause of all change and every working in the universe. Heaven and earth, night and day (with alternating light and darkness), the supply of provisions, rainfall with its power of quickening and devastating, the means of communications, the blowing of winds, and shade and sunshine, all point to one controlling agency, God, the Maker of heavens and earth. And if God has done so much for the material requirements of man, He cannot be imagined to have neglected his spiritual needs which are much more important. Let all thinking men think and ponder and again think and ponder.
The Quran takes the universe as a whole to prove its theme. The objects of nature taken individually do not furnish such conclusive evidence of the existence of God as the whole universe taken together. The earth may be said to owe its existence to a fortuitous concourse of atoms, or a similar reason may be given for the origin of the sun and the moon and so on. But when the universe as one united whole and the deep order that permeates it are taken into consideration, it becomes impossible to escape the conclusion that this universe has not come into existence accidentally. Indeed, the consummate harmony that prevails throughout the universe, forcefully points to the fact that the whole system has been created and is being directed by one Intelligent Being Who is All-Powerful and All-Knowing.
Taken in the metaphorical sense, the ship mentioned in the verse will be taken to stand for Prophets who help men to cross the gulfs of carnal desires and materialistic concepts of things which separate men from God, rain being likened to God’s revelation which comes down like rain and gives life to the world after it has become dead. The clouds send down no new water. Water already exists in the vast oceans of the earth but, as it is impure, men cannot make use of it. God purifies it and changes it into clouds and then sends it back to earth in the form of pure rainwater. Similarly, by sending a new revelation God purifies beliefs, which, with the passage of time, get mixed up with false notions and superstitious ideas. It is inconceivable that God Who supplies man with fresh rainwater for the maintenance of his physical life should have omitted to supply him with heavenly water which is so necessary for the preservation of his spiritual life. Similarly, night and day stand for the alternating periods of light and darkness, it being hinted that the coming of the Holy Prophet heralds the dawn of a new day.
Moreover, by laying special emphasis on the study of the phenomena of nature in the verse under comment, the attention of disbelievers is also drawn to the fact that they could not possibly hope to succeed in their designs against the Holy Prophet, because the whole universe is controlled by God and is working in favour of His Prophet and in furthering his cause. (close)