اُولٰٓئِکَ الَّذِیۡنَ اشۡتَرَوُا الضَّلٰلَۃَ بِالۡہُدٰی ۪ فَمَا رَبِحَتۡ تِّجَارَتُہُمۡ وَ مَا کَانُوۡا مُہۡتَدِیۡنَ ﴿۱۷﴾
a. 2:87, 176; 3:178; 14:4; 16:108. (close)
35. (1) They have given up guidance and taken error instead; (2) both guidance and error were offered to them but they preferred error and refused guidance. (close)
مَثَلُہُمۡ کَمَثَلِ الَّذِی اسۡتَوۡقَدَ نَارًا ۚ فَلَمَّاۤ اَضَآءَتۡ مَا حَوۡلَہٗ ذَہَبَ اللّٰہُ بِنُوۡرِہِمۡ وَ تَرَکَہُمۡ فِیۡ ظُلُمٰتٍ لَّا یُبۡصِرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸﴾
36. The word "fire" is sometimes used for war. "The kindler of fire" in the verse may signify either the hypocrites who conspired with disbelievers to wage war against Islam, or the Holy Prophet who under God’s command kindled a Divine light. He is reported to have said: 'My example is like that of a person who kindles a fire' (Bukhari). (close)
b. 6:40, 123; 24:41. (close)
37. The expression signifies that the hypocrites fomented wars in order to re-establish their lost influence but the actual result of these wars was the exposure of their hypocrisy and their consequent confusion and perplexity. The word Zulumat has always been used in the Qur’an in the plural, signifying moral and spiritual darkness. Sin and vice never exist in isolation. One vice attracts another and one misfortune draws another. The meaning is that the hypocrites are overtaken by manifold dangers and calamities. (close)
صُمٌّۢ بُکۡمٌ عُمۡیٌ فَہُمۡ لَا یَرۡجِعُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۱۹﴾
c. 2:172; 6:40; 7:180; 8:23; 10:43; 11:25; 17:98; 21:46; 27:81; 30:53-54; 43:41. (close)
38. As they turned a deaf ear to the Prophet’s admonition and did not express their doubts to have them dispelled and had become insensitive to the progress that Islam was making before their very eyes, they are spoken of as deaf, dumb and blind. (close)
اَوۡ کَصَیِّبٍ مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ فِیۡہِ ظُلُمٰتٌ وَّ رَعۡدٌ وَّ بَرۡقٌ ۚ یَجۡعَلُوۡنَ اَصَابِعَہُمۡ فِیۡۤ اٰذَانِہِمۡ مِّنَ الصَّوَاعِقِ حَذَرَ الۡمَوۡتِ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ مُحِیۡطٌۢ بِالۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ ﴿۲۰﴾
39. Sama’ means, anything which hangs overhead and gives shade; the sky or the heaven; a cloud or clouds (Lane). (close)
a. 6:40, 123; 24:41. (close)
b. 13:13; 24:44; 30:25. (close)
40. This and the preceding verses refer to two classes of hypocrites: (1) Disbelievers who posed as Muslims; and (2) believers, bad in faith and worse in works, with leaning towards disbelief. The purport of the verse seems to be that the condition of the latter class of hypocrites is like that of those timorous people who, at a mere shower of rain with thunder and lightning, become alarmed and fail to benefit by it. (close)
یَکَادُ الۡبَرۡقُ یَخۡطَفُ اَبۡصَارَہُمۡ ؕ کُلَّمَاۤ اَضَآءَ لَہُمۡ مَّشَوۡا فِیۡہِ ٭ۙ وَ اِذَاۤ اَظۡلَمَ عَلَیۡہِمۡ قَامُوۡا ؕ وَ لَوۡ شَآءَ اللّٰہُ لَذَہَبَ بِسَمۡعِہِمۡ وَ اَبۡصَارِہِمۡ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ عَلٰی کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ قَدِیۡرٌ ﴿٪۲۱﴾
c. 4:73-74. (close)
41. The hypocrites, described as weak believers, are very near to losing their sight. They have not actually lost it, but if they are repeatedly confronted with situations demanding courage and sacrifice symbolized by lightning and thunder, they are very likely to lose it—their faith. But the mercy of God has so ordained that lightning is not always accompanied by thunderbolt. Often it is only a brilliant flash, which lifts the veil of darkness and helps the wayfarer to move on. In case Islam seems to make progress, these hypocrites make common cause with the Muslims. But when lightning is accompanied by thunder, i.e. when the situation demands sacrifice of life or property the world becomes dark to them; they become dumbfounded and stand still, refusing to move on with the Faithful. (close)
41A. Shai’ signifies that which is willed or desired. (close)
یٰۤاَیُّہَا النَّاسُ اعۡبُدُوۡا رَبَّکُمُ الَّذِیۡ خَلَقَکُمۡ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِکُمۡ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَتَّقُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۲۲﴾
42. This verse contains the first commandment of God given in the Qur’an. As the words show the commandment is addressed to all mankind and not to Arabs only, which indicates that Islam, from the very beginning, claimed to be a universal religion. It abolished the ideal of national religion and conceived mankind as one brotherhood. (close)
a. 4:2, 37; 5:73, 118; 16:37; 22:78; 51:57. (close)
الَّذِیۡ جَعَلَ لَکُمُ الۡاَرۡضَ فِرَاشًا وَّ السَّمَآءَ بِنَآءً ۪ وَّ اَنۡزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَآءِ مَآءً فَاَخۡرَجَ بِہٖ مِنَ الثَّمَرٰتِ رِزۡقًا لَّکُمۡ ۚ فَلَا تَجۡعَلُوۡا لِلّٰہِ اَنۡدَادًا وَّ اَنۡتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۲۳﴾
b. 20:54; 27:62; 43:11; 51:49; 71:20; 78:7. (close)
c. 51:48; 78:13; 79:28-29. (close)
43. The expression suggests that just as a building or a roof is a means of protection for those living in or under it, similarly the remoter parts of the universe serve as a protection for our planet (earth); and those who have studied the science of the stars, the clouds and other atmospheric phenomena, know how the other heavenly bodies, running their courses through the boundless expanse rising high above the earth on all sides, make for its safety and stability. It is also hinted here that the perfection of the material world depends upon the co-ordination between earthly and heavenly forces. (close)
وَ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ فِیۡ رَیۡبٍ مِّمَّا نَزَّلۡنَا عَلٰی عَبۡدِنَا فَاۡتُوۡا بِسُوۡرَۃٍ مِّنۡ مِّثۡلِہٖ ۪ وَ ادۡعُوۡا شُہَدَآءَکُمۡ مِّنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ صٰدِقِیۡنَ ﴿۲۴﴾
d. 10:39; 11:14; 17:89; 52:35. (close)
44. The subject of the incomparable excellence of the Qur’an has been dealt with at five different places, i.e. in 2:24; 10:39; 11:14; 17:89 & 52:34, 35. In two of these five verses (2:24 & 10:39) the challenge is identical, while in the remaining three verses three separate and different demands have been made from disbelievers. At first sight this difference in the form of the challenge at different places seems to be incongruous. But it is not so. In fact, these verses contain certain demands which stand for all time. The challenge is open even today in all the different forms mentioned in the Qur’an as it was in the time of the Holy Prophet.
Before explaining the various forms of these challenges it is worth noting that their mention in the Qur’an is invariably accompanied by a reference to wealth and power, except in the present verse which, as already stated, does not contain a new challenge but only repeats the challenge made in 10:39. From this it may be safely concluded that there exists a close connection between the question of wealth and power and the challenge for the production of the like of the Qur’an or a part thereof. This connection lies in the fact that the Qur’an has been held out to disbelievers as a priceless treasure. When disbelievers demanded material treasures from the Holy Prophet (11:13), they were told that he possessed a matchless treasure in the form of the Qur’an; and when they asked, Wherefore has not an angel come with him (11:13), they were told in reply that angels did descend upon him, for their function was to bring the Word of God and the Divine Word had already been vouchsafed to him. Thus both the demands—for a treasure and for the descent of angels—have been jointly met by the Qur’an which is a matchless treasure brought down by angels, and the challenge to produce its like has been put forward as a proof of its peerless quality.
Now, take the different verses containing this challenge separately. The greatest demand is made in 17:89, where disbelievers are required to bring a book like the whole of the Qur’an with all its manifold qualities. In that verse disbelievers are not required to represent their composition as the Word of God. They may bring it forward as their own composition and declare it to be the equal of, or, for that matter, better than, the Qur’an. But as at the time when this challenge was made the whole of the Qur’an had not yet been revealed, the disbelievers were not required to produce the like of the Qur’an then and there; and the challenge thus implied a prophecy that they would never be able to produce the like of it, neither in the form in which it then was, nor when it became complete. Again, the challenge was not confined to the disbelievers of the Prophet’s time alone, but extended to doubters and critics of all time. The reason why the disbelievers in 11:14 have been called upon to produce ten Surahs and not the whole of the Qur’an is that the question in that verse did not relate to the perfection of the whole of the Qur’an in all respects, but to that of only a portion of it. The disbelievers had objected to some parts of it being defective. Hence they were not required to bring a complete book like the whole of the Qur’an, but only ten Surahs in place of those parts of the Qur’an which they deemed to be defective, in order that the truth of their assertion might be tested. As for the selection of the specific number 10 for this purpose, it may be noted that since in 17:89 the whole of the Qur’an was claimed to be a perfect Book, its opponents were called upon to produce the like of the whole of it; but as in 11:14 the point was that certain portions of it were objected to, so they were asked to choose ten such portions as appeared to them to be most defective and then produce a composition even like those portions. In 10:39 disbelievers were called upon to produce the like of only one Surah of the Qur’an. This is because, unlike the above-mentioned two verses, the challenge in that verse was in support of a claim made by the Qur’an itself and not in refutation of any objection of the disbelievers. In 10:38 the Qur’an claimed to possess five very prominent qualities. In support of this claim, verse 10:39 throws out a challenge to those who deny or doubt it to produce a single Surah containing these qualities in the same perfect form in which they are contained in the 10th Surah. The fifth challenge to produce the like of the Qur’an is contained in the verse under comment (2:24) and here also, as in 10:39, disbelievers have been called upon to bring forward a single Surah like that of the Qur’an. This challenge is preceded by the claim that the Qur’an guides the righteous to the highest stages of spiritual progress. The disbelievers are told that if they are in doubt about the Divine origin of the Qur’an, then they should bring forward a single Surah that may be comparable to it in the spiritual influence it exercises over its followers. See also "The Larger Edition of the Commentary," pp. 58-62.
The above explanation will show that all these challenges calling upon disbelievers to produce the like of the Qur’an are quite distinct and separate one from the other, and all of them stand for all time, none of them superseding or cancelling the other. But as the Qur’an comprises sublime and lofty ideas, it was inevitable that a most beautiful diction and the chastest style should have been employed as the vehicle for the expression of those ideas; otherwise the subject-matter was liable to remain obscure and doubtful and the perfect beauty of the Qur’an would have been marred. Thus, in whatever form and in whatever respect disbelievers have been challenged to produce a composition like the Qur’an, the demand for beauty of style and elegance of diction comparable to that of the Qur’an also forms a part of the challenge. (close)
فَاِنۡ لَّمۡ تَفۡعَلُوۡا وَ لَنۡ تَفۡعَلُوۡا فَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِیۡ وَقُوۡدُہَا النَّاسُ وَ الۡحِجَارَۃُ ۚۖ اُعِدَّتۡ لِلۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ ﴿۲۵﴾
a. 3:11; 66:7. (close)
45. The word "fuel" may be taken in a figurative sense, meaning that the punishment of Hell is caused by idol-worship. So the idols are like fuel for hell-fire being a means of bringing it into existence. Or, "stones" mean idols which the idolaters worship as gods, the idea being that the idolaters will be humiliated by witnessing that their gods were cast into the fire. (close)
46. The words an-Nas (men) and al-Hijarah (stones) may also be taken as indicating two classes of inmates of Hell; an-Nas may denote those disbelievers who retain something of the love of God, and al-Hijarah (stones), those who have no love left for God in their hearts. Such men are indeed no better than stones. The word is plural of Hajar which means, a stone; a rock; gold, and also one unequalled, i.e. big man; a leader (Lane). (close)
وَ بَشِّرِ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَ عَمِلُوا الصّٰلِحٰتِ اَنَّ لَہُمۡ جَنّٰتٍ تَجۡرِیۡ مِنۡ تَحۡتِہَا الۡاَنۡہٰرُ ؕ کُلَّمَا رُزِقُوۡا مِنۡہَا مِنۡ ثَمَرَۃٍ رِّزۡقًا ۙ قَالُوۡا ہٰذَا الَّذِیۡ رُزِقۡنَا مِنۡ قَبۡلُ ۙ وَ اُتُوۡا بِہٖ مُتَشَابِہًا ؕ وَ لَہُمۡ فِیۡہَاۤ اَزۡوَاجٌ مُّطَہَّرَۃٌ ٭ۙ وَّ ہُمۡ فِیۡہَا خٰلِدُوۡنَ ﴿۲۶﴾
a. 3:16, 134, 196, 199; 4:14, 58, 123; 5:13, 86; 7:44; 9:72, 89, 100; 10:10; 13:36; 22:15, 24; 25:11; 2:18; 47:16; 58:23; 61:13; 64:10. (close)
b. 3:16; 4:58. (close)
46A. The Qur’an teaches that every created thing stands in need of a mate for its full development. In Paradise righteous men and women will have pure mates for perfecting their spiritual development and completing their happiness. What kind of mates these will be, will be realized only in the Hereafter. (close)
47. This verse gives a brief description of the rewards which the believers will have in the next world. Critics of Islam have raised all sorts of objections to this description. The criticism is based upon a complete misunderstanding of the Islamic teaching about heavenly blessings. The Qur’an emphatically declares that it is beyond human mind to comprehend their nature (32:18). The Holy Prophet is reported to have said: "No eye has seen them, nor has any ear heard of them, nor can the mind of man conceive of them" (Bukhari). The question naturally arises, why have the blessings of Heaven been given the names used for material things in this world? This is because the address of the Qur’an is not merely to those people who are intellectually advanced. Therefore, it has used simple words which can be understood by all. While describing the heavenly blessings, the Qur’an has used the names of things generally looked upon as good in this world, and believers are told that they would get all these things in a better form in the next world. It is to bring out this important contrast that familiar words have been used; otherwise there is nothing common between the joys of this world and the blessings of the next. Moreover, according to Islam, the next life is not spiritual in the sense that it will just consist of a mental state only. Even in the next life the human soul will have a kind of body, but that body will not be material. One can form some idea of this from the phenomenon of dreams. The scenes which a man witnesses in a dream cannot be called purely mental or spiritual, because in that state also he has a body and finds himself sometimes in gardens with streams, and eats fruits and drinks milk. It is difficult to say that the contents of dreams are only mental states. The milk enjoyed in a dream is no doubt a real experience, but no one can say that it is the material milk, found in this world which he drinks. The spiritual blessings of the next life will not be a mere subjective realization of the gifts of God which we enjoy in this world. What we have here is just a representation of the real and true gifts of God which man will find in the next world. Moreover, "gardens" represent faith; and "streams" good actions. Gardens cannot prosper without streams, nor can faith without good actions. Therefore, faith and actions are inseparable for the attainment of salvation. In the next world, gardens will remind the believers of their faith in this life and streams will remind them of their good works. They will know, then, that their faith and good works have not gone in vain. It is wrong to conclude from the words, this is what was given us before, that in Heaven the believers will be given such fruits as they had enjoyed in this world, because, as already explained, the two are not identical. The fruits of the next world will, in fact, be the images of the quality of their own faith. When they will eat them, they will at once recognize and remember that they are the fruits of the faith they had in this world; and it will be out of gratitude for this that they will say: This is what was given us before. This expression may also mean, 'what was promised to us.'
The words "mutually resembling" refer to the resemblance between the acts of worship performed by believers in this world and the fruits thereof in Heaven. The acts of worship performed in this life will appear to believers as fruits in the next. The more sincere and the more appropriate a man’s worship, the more will he enjoy his portion of the fruits in Paradise and the better in quality will they be. It, therefore, lies in one’s own power to improve the quality of one’s fruits as one likes. The verse also signifies that the spiritual food for believers in Heaven will be suited to the taste of each and every individual and to his stage of progress and degree of spiritual development.
The words, they will abide, signify that the believers in Heaven will not be subject to any change or decay. Man dies only when he cannot assimilate food or when someone kills him. But since the food of Paradise will be perfectly suited to every individual and since man will have pure and peaceful companions, death and decay will automatically disappear.
The Faithful will also have pure mates in Heaven. A good wife is a joy and a comfort. The Faithful try to have good wives in this world, and they will have good and virtuous mates in the next. Yet these Joys of Heaven are not physical. For a fuller description of the nature and reality of the blessings of Paradise see also Chapters At-Tur, Ar-Rahman and Al-Waqi‘ah. (close)