وَ مِنَ النَّاسِ مَنۡ یُّعۡجِبُکَ قَوۡلُہٗ فِی الۡحَیٰوۃِ الدُّنۡیَا وَ یُشۡہِدُ اللّٰہَ عَلٰی مَا فِیۡ قَلۡبِہٖ ۙ وَ ہُوَ اَلَدُّ الۡخِصَامِ ﴿۲۰۵﴾
وَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن يُعۡجِبُكَ قَوۡلُهُۥ فِي ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَا وَيُشۡهِدُ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا فِي قَلۡبِهِۦ وَهُوَ أَلَدُّ ٱلۡخِصَامِ
a. 63:5. (close)
243. There are persons whose eloquence and feigned love for fellow-beings would deceive the listener, but at heart they love and seek only their own interests and vehemently dispute with others for their smallest rights, supposed or real; not giving any proof of that spirit of sacrifice which is essential for real human progress. (close)
211. Important Words:
یعجبك (would please thee) is derived from عجب meaning, he wondered; he became pleased. عجبه means, it pleased him and caused him to wonder (Aqrab).
الد (most contentious) is derived from لد (ladda). They say لده meaning, he contended or quarrelled with him vehemently. So الد, which is the noun of pre-eminence from it, means, one who is a great quarreller. The plural of الد is لد––ludd (Aqrab).
الخصام (quarrellers) is the plural of خصم (quarreller). They say خاصمه i.e. he quarrelled or disputed with him. خصم and خصیمand مخاصم all give the same meaning, i.e. quarreller. The word الخصام is also used, in the infinitive sense, meaning the act of quarrelling (Aqrab & Lane).
Two kinds of men have already been mentioned: (1) those who seek only the things of this world (2:201); and (2) those who seek both the good things of this world and those of the next (2:202). The present verse and those that follow mention two extreme types of these two classes. Of the former class, states the verse under comment, there are those who wax eloquent in their talk about this world, pleading for the necessity of improving the conditions of life for mankind and calling God to witness their sincerity. Their eloquence and apparent love for fellow beings would deceive the listener, but at heart they love only their own selfish interests and, would vehemently dispute with others for their smallest rights, supposed or real, displaying none of that spirit of sacrifice which is essential for real human progress. They would look to their own interests or the interests of their family or those of their community or their nation only and would not make any sacrifice for, or even do justice to, others.
The clause, he would call Allah to witness, shows that such people outwardly profess faith in God but at heart are lacking in the quality of universal brotherhood which must result from a true belief in a Universal God—"Lord of all the worlds", as the Quran puts it. (close)
وَ اِذَا تَوَلّٰی سَعٰی فِی الۡاَرۡضِ لِیُفۡسِدَ فِیۡہَا وَ یُہۡلِکَ الۡحَرۡثَ وَ النَّسۡلَ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ لَا یُحِبُّ الۡفَسَادَ ﴿۲۰۶﴾
وَإِذَا تَوَلَّىٰ سَعَىٰ فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِ لِيُفۡسِدَ فِيهَا وَيُهۡلِكَ ٱلۡحَرۡثَ وَٱلنَّسۡلَۚ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلۡفَسَادَ
244. Harth means, (1) a piece of land ploughed for sowing, or actually sown with some crop; (2) crop or produce of land whether field-crop or garden-crop; (3) gain, acquisition or earning; (4) reward or recompense; (5) worldly goods; (6) wife or wives, because a wife is like tilth in which seed is sown to produce crop in the form of children (Lane). (close)
212. Important Words:
تولی (he is in authority) is derived, from ولی. تولی means: (1) he turned his back, he went away from one’s presence; (2) he held command, or he was in authority; he became a والی or ruler (Aqrab & Taj).
سعی (runs about) means: (1) he walked briskly or he ran; (2) he made an effort; or he strove to obtain an object (Aqrab).
الحرث (the crops) is the noun-infinitive from حرث i.e. he ploughed or tilled the soil; he sowed seeds or planted plants in it; he acquired or earned or laboured for wealth or sustenance; he worked or laboured for the goods of the world. حرث means: (1) a tilth or a piece of land ploughed for sowing, or land actually sown with some crop; (2) land under crop; (3) crop or produce of land whether field crop or garden crop; (4) gain, acquisition or earning; (5) reward or recompense; (6) worldly goods; (7) wife or wives, because a wife is like a tilth in which seed is sown to bear crop in the form of children; (8) a much used road or a beaten track (Lane).
النسل (progeny). نسل الولد means, he begot a child. نسل الرجل means, the man had many children; the progeny of the man increased. نسل means: (1) creatures; (2) children; (3) progeny, whether of man or beast (Aqrab & Lane).
This verse further develops the idea contained in the preceding one. The type of man described in the previous verse (i.e. one whose talk about the affairs of this world is very pleasing but who is selfish at heart) becomes unmasked when he happens to be in authority, or when he goes away from the presence of the people and meets his associates in private. Thus both the meanings of the word تولی as mentioned under Important Words are appropriate here: (1) While he is in the presence of those who are sincere lovers of mankind, he says pleasing things; but when he goes away from them and meets his comrades in private, he strives to create disorder on the earth. (2) Similarly, when he happens to come to power, he becomes exposed and all his talk about improving the affairs of the world vanishes like smoke, and instead of acting like a reformer, he actually becomes a source of disorder.
The clause, destroy the crops and the progeny, means that all his efforts are directed towards harming people and their property. The words حرث and نسل have a number of meanings and all are applicable here. They refer to all kinds of damage relating to person and property.
The words, Allah loves not disorder, come as a fitting reply to the clause in the preceding verse, i.e. he calls Allah to witness as to that which is in his heart. Allah’s evidence goes against him, for the man is after disorder, and Allah loves not disorder. (close)
وَ اِذَا قِیۡلَ لَہُ اتَّقِ اللّٰہَ اَخَذَتۡہُ الۡعِزَّۃُ بِالۡاِثۡمِ فَحَسۡبُہٗ جَہَنَّمُ ؕ وَ لَبِئۡسَ الۡمِہَادُ ﴿۲۰۷﴾
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُ ٱتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ أَخَذَتۡهُ ٱلۡعِزَّةُ بِٱلۡإِثۡمِۚ فَحَسۡبُهُۥ جَهَنَّمُۖ وَلَبِئۡسَ ٱلۡمِهَادُ
245. All his efforts are directed towards injuring the interests of other people and furthering his own. (close)
246. Lexicographers agree that Jahannam has no root in Arabic. The word may have been derived from Jahuma which means, he became frowning or contracted or ugly in the face. If that be so the letter nun in Jahannam would be something additional (Muhit). Thus Jahannam means, a place of punishment which is dark and waterless and which makes the face of its inmates ugly and contracted. (close)
247. A false sense of dignity and prestige is his chief stumbling block, his vanity inciting him to further acts of sin, till it virtually encompasses him on all sides. Such a one paves his own way to Hell. (close)
213. Important Words:
اخذته (incites him) is from اخذ meaning, he took, or he took hold; or he seized; or he punished etc. (Aqrab). اخذته بکذاmeans, you incited him to do that and made him stick to it (Kashshaf). اخذته العزة بالاثم may also mean, pride encompasses him with sin (Muhit); or pride seizes him owing to his sin (Fath).
العزة (pride) is derived from عز which means, he became mighty and honoured and noble. عزالشیء means, the thing became rare. العزة means, (1) might and power; (2) high position; (3) honour; (4) self-exaltation (Lane); (5) consciousness of one’s position and rank; (6) pride in bad sense; (7) vanity (Aqrab).
جھنم (Hell). Lexicographers differ as to the origin of the word جھنم but they generally agree that in Arabic it has no root except itself and is used as a proper name for the place of punishment reserved for the evildoers in the next world. It is, however, possible that the word has been derived from جھم meaning, he became frowning or contracted, or ugly in face. جھمة means, the middle or the darkest part of the night. جھام means, clouds that have no water (Lane). In this case the ن in جھنم would be something additional as in the word الندد derived from الد meaning, a quarreller (Muhit). Thus جھنم would mean, a place of punishment which is dark and waterless and makes the faces of its inmates ugly and contracted.
The description of the kind of man mentioned in 2:205 is continued in this verse also. When such a person comes to power and enters upon a career of disorder and destruction, he becomes deaf to advice and good counsel. Nay, if anyone makes bold to offer him a word of advice, he flares up and becomes all the more stiffened in his tendency towards mischief-making. A false sense of dignity and prestige is his chief stumbling block, his vanity inciting him to further acts of sin, till his pride virtually encompasses him on all sides. Such a one paves his own way to Hell, which is indeed a bad resting place.
The word حسب (sufficient) in the clause, Hell shall be his sufficient reward, points to the fact that as such a man is never contented in this life, and is always hungering for more wealth and more power and more dominion, so nothing in this world would suffice him. He will find satisfaction and sufficiency only in the fire of Hell. Similarly, the word مھاد (place of rest) points to the fact that the man who tramples on the rights of others in order to secure comfort for himself will find no rest in this life; his only rest will be in Hell. (close)
وَ مِنَ النَّاسِ مَنۡ یَّشۡرِیۡ نَفۡسَہُ ابۡتِغَآءَ مَرۡضَاتِ اللّٰہِ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ رَءُوۡفٌۢ بِالۡعِبَادِ ﴿۲۰۸﴾
وَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن يَشۡرِي نَفۡسَهُ ٱبۡتِغَآءَ مَرۡضَاتِ ٱللَّهِۚ وَٱللَّهُ رَءُوفُۢ بِٱلۡعِبَادِ
248. In contrast to the people mentioned in the previous verses there is a class of men whose sole concern is to seek the pleasure of Allah as if they had given away their souls for that very purpose. (close)
a. 3:31; 9:117; 57:10. (close)
a. 3:31; 9:117; 57:10. (close)
214. Important Words:
رؤوف (Compassionate) is derived from رأف. They say رأف به meaning, he pitied him, he was compassionate to him. رأفة(compassion) is like رحمة (mercy) but signifies greater tenderness, though the latter is certainly more extensive in meaning. رؤوف means, compassionate or pitiful, and is one of the attributes of God, though like رحیم it may also be applied to human beings as in 9:128 (Lane).
Having completed the description of an extreme type of man belonging to the first-mentioned class of people, i.e. those who seek only the things of this world, the Quran now describes a type of man belonging to the second-mentioned class, i.e. those who seek the good things of this world as well as of the next. And of these, it singles out here the noblest type whose aim is to seek the pleasure of God alone. To such men the good things of this world mean only such spiritual blessings as are vouchsafed to righteous men in this very world or such things as lead to the attainment thereof (2:202). Their sole concern is to seek the pleasure of their Lord, as if they had given away their souls for that very purpose. They use the things of this world, not because these things please them, but because God’s law has made them the support of a life which they find pleasure in devoting to the service of God. Thus they approach the things of this world not directly but through God. To such servants of His, God is indeed most Compassionate and His compassion for them has a good leaven of tenderness in it. (close)
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوا ادۡخُلُوۡا فِی السِّلۡمِ کَآفَّۃً ۪ وَ لَا تَتَّبِعُوۡا خُطُوٰتِ الشَّیۡطٰنِ ؕ اِنَّہٗ لَکُمۡ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِیۡنٌ ﴿۲۰۹﴾
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱدۡخُلُواْ فِي ٱلسِّلۡمِ كَآفَّةٗ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُواْ خُطُوَٰتِ ٱلشَّيۡطَٰنِۚ إِنَّهُۥ لَكُمۡ عَدُوّٞ مُّبِينٞ
249. Kaffah means, (1) all together; (2) wholly or completely; (3) repulsing the enemy and (4) restraining oneself or others from sin and digression (Mufradat). (close)
b. See 2:169. (close)
215. Important Words:
السلم (submission) is derived from سلم meaning, he was or became safe from danger or disease or defect, etc. سالمه means, he made peace with him.
اسلم means, he submitted; he embraced Islam. السلم therefore, means (1) submission; (2) peace; (3) the religion of Islam (Aqrab).
کافة (wholly) is derived from کف. They say کف الاناء meaning, he filled the vessel to the full. کف الشیء means, he collected the thing all in one place. کفه عن الامر فکف means, he turned him away from it and consequently he (the latter) kept back; he prevented or restrained him from the affair, so that, as a result thereof, he (the latter) desisted from it. Thus کف is both transitive and intransitive. کافة is the feminine from کاف and means: (1) all together with none standing aside (Aqrab); (2) wholly or completely, not partially or half-heartedly (Lane); (3) preventing the enemy and turning him back; and (4) restraining oneself, or restraining the people from sin and digression (Mufradat).
Having completed the description of the two classes of men along with their sub-divisions in the previous verses, the Quran now fittingly addresses believers generally and those weak in faith particularly, calling upon them to try to be reckoned among the best and noblest type of men. To attain this end they should do two things, one positive and the other negative: (1) Individually they should come into submission or, in other words, they should enter Islam, wholly. Partial submission and half-hearted obedience will not do; and collectively they should try to offer submission all together, allowing no member to stand aside and remain outside the circle. (2) They should eschew the ways of Satan, who is an open enemy of Islam and is out to cut all holy ties asunder (2:169).
Besides the above two meanings, the clause ادخلوا فی السلم کافة (come into submission wholly) is capable of yet another meaning. As کافة also means, restraining or turning one back, the clause may be translated as, "come into submission wholly, shutting all such doors through which sin may enter". This is indeed a most comprehensive advice and can save many a soul, if people only care to act up to it.
The word خطوات (footsteps) in the clause, follow not the footsteps of Satan, apparently seems to be superfluous, for, "following Satan" seems to give the same meaning as "following in his footsteps", but it is not so really. The word خطوات (footsteps) has been very wisely added to hint that those who follow Satan do so slavishly and blindly. Just as a blind man who cannot see his way, finds it convenient to place his hand on the shoulder of any passer-by and then blindly tread on in his footsteps, so do they. (close)
فَاِنۡ زَلَلۡتُمۡ مِّنۡۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَتۡکُمُ الۡبَیِّنٰتُ فَاعۡلَمُوۡۤا اَنَّ اللّٰہَ عَزِیۡزٌ حَکِیۡمٌ ﴿۲۱۰﴾
فَإِن زَلَلۡتُم مِّنۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَتۡكُمُ ٱلۡبَيِّنَٰتُ فَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
The preceding verse called upon believers, particularly those weak in faith, to try to become perfect Muslims, and pointed out to them the means by which they could become so. The present verse makes it clear that if, even after this warning and after God’s clear Signs had come to them, they should slip and digress from the true path, they would find God "Mighty and Wise", hinting that in that case they would rightly deserve punishment by the Wise God Who possesses the power to punish.
The word "Wise" also hints that erring ones should not despair; for, God being Wise, He has kept the way open for their return to the right faith. In fact, the liability of man to err is not without purpose. In His eternal wisdom, God has made man a free agent who is liable to err, so that his error might serve as an incentive for him to rise again and make a redoubled effort towards the ideal. (close)
ہَلۡ یَنۡظُرُوۡنَ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ یَّاۡتِیَہُمُ اللّٰہُ فِیۡ ظُلَلٍ مِّنَ الۡغَمَامِ وَ الۡمَلٰٓئِکَۃُ وَ قُضِیَ الۡاَمۡرُ ؕ وَ اِلَی اللّٰہِ تُرۡجَعُ الۡاُمُوۡرُ ﴿۲۱۱﴾٪
هَلۡ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَّآ أَن يَأۡتِيَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ فِي ظُلَلٖ مِّنَ ٱلۡغَمَامِ وَٱلۡمَلَـٰٓئِكَةُ وَقُضِيَ ٱلۡأَمۡرُۚ وَإِلَى ٱللَّهِ تُرۡجَعُ ٱلۡأُمُورُ
a. 6:159; 16:34; 89:23. (close)
250. The phrase, "coming of God," is used by the Qur’an elsewhere also (16:27; 59:3) and signifies God’s punishment. (close)
251. The word al-Ghamam has been used by the Qur’an to express both mercy (7:161) and punishment (25:26). (close)
252. The reference is to the Battle of Badr, when God helped the believers by sending down clouds and rain (Bukhari), as was promised to them (25:26), and also sent down angels (8:10) who inspired the believers with courage and filled the hearts of the disbelievers with fear (8:13). Some of the disbelievers are reported to have actually seen the angels on that day (Zurqani). (close)
a. 6:159; 16:34; 89:23. (close)
217. Important Words:
یاتیھم الله (Allah should come to them) is a metaphorical expression, meaning, Allah should come to them with His punishment, i.e. Allah should punish them. The metaphor ایتان الله i.e. coming of God, is used by the Quran elsewhere also (16:27; 59:3). In contrast to this, the Quran uses the metaphor توب الله i.e. turning of God, to express His turning with mercy (2:38; 9:117.) Similarly, ایتان الملئکة i.e. the coming of the angels, indicates their coming with punishment.
ظلل (coverings) is the plural of ظلة (zullah) which is derived from ظل and اظل the latter word meaning, he or it afforded or cast a shadow. But whereas ظل (zill) the plural of which is ظلال or اظلال means, shadow, ظلة whose plural is ظلل, means, a covering or a shade, i.e. a thing that casts or gives a shade or a shadow (Aqrab). The word ظلة or ظلل is generally used in connection with punishment (Mufradat).
الغمام (clouds) for which see 2:58. The word has been used by the Quran both in connection with mercy (7:161) and punishment (25:26).
The form of speech has been changed here from the second to the third person. The verse has apparently been addressed to either disbelievers or to hypocrites and the weak in faith. If it be taken to refer to disbelievers, as the change of form in the address indicates, it would mean that by desisting from belief they are, as it were, waiting for the punishment of God, and the verse incidentally hints that appointed punishment would come to them through raining clouds. The reference is to the Battle of Badr, when God helped believers by sending down clouds and rain (Bukhari), as was promised (25:26), and also sent down angels (8:10) who inspired the believers with courage and filled the hearts of the disbelievers with fear (8:13). Some of the disbelievers are reported to have actually seen the angels on that day (Zurqani). The matter was then "decided"; for, on that memorable day, all the chief leaders of the Quraish were killed, the Muslims obtaining a decisive victory which broke the power of the enemy. The coming of clouds refers to the rainfall which on the battlefield of Badr proved a blessing for the Muslims. It made the sand firm for them, while the land on the side of the enemy, being clayey, became slippery.
If, however, the verse be taken to refer to the hypocrites or the weak in faith, as the preceding two verses would suggest, then the clause, that Allah should come to them in the coverings of the clouds, would mean that if they did not mend their ways, God would have to chastise them even though they were apparently resting in the shade of faith, which is likened to a غمام or cloud. As shown under Important Words above, the word غمام (clouds) is sometimes used in connection with God’s mercy (7:161). (close)
سَلۡ بَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ کَمۡ اٰتَیۡنٰہُمۡ مِّنۡ اٰیَۃٍۭ بَیِّنَۃٍ ؕ وَ مَنۡ یُّبَدِّلۡ نِعۡمَۃَ اللّٰہِ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَتۡہُ فَاِنَّ اللّٰہَ شَدِیۡدُ الۡعِقَابِ ﴿۲۱۲﴾
سَلۡ بَنِيٓ إِسۡرَـٰٓءِيلَ كَمۡ ءَاتَيۡنَٰهُم مِّنۡ ءَايَةِۭ بَيِّنَةٖۗ وَمَن يُبَدِّلۡ نِعۡمَةَ ٱللَّهِ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَتۡهُ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ شَدِيدُ ٱلۡعِقَابِ
b. 17:102; 28:37. (close)
253. This does not mean that God is unnecessarily severe in punishment, but that Divine punishment is bound to be felt severely. (close)
a. 17:102; 28:37. (close)
The preceding verses referred to those weak in faith who had not yet "come into submission wholly" (2:209). The position of these people was that they had received a favour of God but practically they sought to "change" it. They wished to be known as Muslims and yet to be free to live as they liked. This was exactly what the Israelites had done before. So the Quran fittingly turns here to the story of the children of Israel who afforded an object-lesson for Muslims. The Holy Prophet and, for that matter, every reader of the Quran is asked to enquire of the descendants of Israel how many and how varied were the Signs which God had bestowed upon them as a favour and how persistent and impudent was their rejection of His Messengers and their disregard of His teachings.
The expression, whoso changes the gift of God, appears to be rather peculiar; but really the word یبدل (changes) gives a very interesting meaning. For believers it means, accepting the teaching of a Prophet in theory but rejecting it in practice, as unfortunately is very often the case with the weak in faith. They receive a thing as a gift or blessing, but by abstaining from acting upon it, they incur the displeasure of God, thus practically "changing" a favour into a disfavour.
For disbelievers the expression means converting a مبشر Prophet into a منذر Prophet. The Quran speaks of the Prophets of God as a نعمة i.e. a favour or gift (5:21) and it further holds that the mission of every Prophet is twofold—he is a مبشر or bearer of glad tidings for those who accept him, and he is a منذر or warner of coming punishment for those who reject him (18:57). Now when God sends a Prophet, He wishes the people to accept him as a bearer of glad tidings only, and it is the people themselves who reverse the position by rejecting him. In this way the people, as it were, "change" the مبشر Prophet into the منذر Prophet.
Again, for Israelites or Jews the expression, whoso changes the gift of Allah, may mean that though they knew that their Scriptures embodied the word of God which was a favour and a blessing, yet they had the audacity to interfere with it in order to meet their own ends (5:14), thus "changing" the very substance of God’s favour.
The expression may have yet another meaning. The شریعة or Law being meant as a guidance, is a mercy or a blessing of God (5:4 & 6:155, 156). But Christians, who are an offshoot of the Jews have "changed" it into a curse (Gal. 3:13).
The expression "gift of God" may refer to the manifold and multifarious favours which God had bestowed upon the Israelites in the form of Prophets and their noble teachings. But they "changed" the gift of God by rejecting the Prophets and disobeying their teachings. The expression may also refer to the Holy Prophet and the religion brought by him; they are certainly the greatest gifts of God for mankind, and whoever rejects Islam either by disbelieving or disobeying its teachings, deserves God’s severest punishment. In either case, the verse also warns hypocrites and those weak of faith among Muslims that if they accepted the Holy Prophet outwardly but rejected him in their heart or if they accepted his teachings as being from God but did not act upon them, they would be "changing" the gift of God and would make themselves liable to severe punishment. (close)
زُیِّنَ لِلَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوا الۡحَیٰوۃُ الدُّنۡیَا وَ یَسۡخَرُوۡنَ مِنَ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا ۘ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ اتَّقَوۡا فَوۡقَہُمۡ یَوۡمَ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ یَرۡزُقُ مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ بِغَیۡرِ حِسَابٍ ﴿۲۱۳﴾
زُيِّنَ لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنۡيَا وَيَسۡخَرُونَ مِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْۘ وَٱلَّذِينَ ٱتَّقَوۡاْ فَوۡقَهُمۡ يَوۡمَ ٱلۡقِيَٰمَةِۗ وَٱللَّهُ يَرۡزُقُ مَن يَشَآءُ بِغَيۡرِ حِسَابٖ
c. 3:15; 18:47; 57:21. (close)
a. 3:38; 24:39; 35:4; 40:41. (close)
a. 3:15; 18:47; 57:21. (close)
b. 3:38; 24:39; 35:4; 40:41. (close)
219. Important Words:
زین (is made to appear attractive) is passive voice from زین which is derived from زان. They say زان الشیء or زین الشیءmeaning, he decorated or embellished or beautified the thing so as to make it look attractive (Aqrab).
یسخرون (they scoff) is formed from سخر. They say سخر منه or سخربه i.e. (1) he mocked at or scoffed at or laughed at him; he derided or ridiculed him; (2) he cut a joke with him or made a jest of him; (3) he deemed him ignorant (Aqrab & Lane).
فوقھم (above them). The word فوق is the infinitive noun from فاق. They say فاقه i.e. he was above him or was superior to him (in any sense); he excelled him in rank, eminence, nobility, knowledge or any other good quality; he overcame him in argument (Aqrab & Lane).
یوم القیامة (the Day of Resurrection) is a compound expression being made up of یوم (day) and القیامة (resurrection). The word یوم (day) is also used to denote time generally as already explained in 1:4; and القیامة (resurrection) is derived from قام meaning, (1) he stood up, or (2) he stood still. The expression قامت الساعة means, the appointed hour of resurrection came to pass. القیامة therefore, means the rising of the dead or the Resurrection (Aqrab). The word is also used for such occasions on which people leave their homes and gather in a place in response to a call, as in the Friday Prayers (Taj). Thus figuratively the word القیامة (resurrection) may denote a state of unusual life and activity following a state of inertia and lifelessness. The word القیامة is really القیام (the act of standing) which is the noun-infinitive from قام, the final ة being added to denote the act of resurrection being sudden and all together (Mufradat).
As the preceding verse spoke of those who change the gift of God by rejecting it or refusing to act upon it, the present verse fittingly provides the underlying reason of such rejection or refusal. The attention of these people is devoted to the affairs of this world, which appear so attractive to them as to leave no room in their hearts for God and His Messenger. The فاعل or author of the act denoted by the verb زین which is in the passive voice, has not been named here; but elsewhere the Quran clearly states that it is Satan who has taken upon himself to make the things of this world look beautiful and attractive in the eyes of unbelieving people (15:40), who thus become engrossed in the affairs of the world.
Intoxicated with their material gains and worldly possessions, disbelievers, and for that matter, hypocrites also, look down upon believers and scoff at them when they see their apparently low worldly position and hear promises of victory and future greatness being made to them. In view of the utter helplessness of the believers, they cannot possibly bring themselves to conceive that believers will ever become heirs to that eminence and glory which is promised to them by God and, therefore, they treat such promises with contempt. But truth has always triumphed over falsehood in the end. The history of all religions and particularly that of Islam bears undeniable testimony to this fact.
The clause, but those who fear God shall be above them on the Day of Resurrection, does not mean that the triumph of the Faithful over disbelievers will be confined to the next world only. The words "the Day of Resurrection" have been added to point out that whereas believers will also triumph in this world, as borne out by the facts of history, their triumph in the next world will be complete and perpetual. These words may also refer, according to Arab usage, to the time of the downfall of disbelievers and the rise of the Faithful in this very world. In this sense the clause would signify, "wait a while, for the appointed time is not far distant when Muslims will triumph over their enemies and will be above them in all respects", i.e. in knowledge, wealth, power, etc.—a fact to which the early history of Islam in Medina, Damascus, Baghdad, Egypt, Spain, etc., bears ample testimony. To quote only one instance, i.e. that of the Arabs being in their time above the rest of the world in science, Robert Briffault says: "The debt of our science to that of the Arabs does not consist in startling discoveries or revolutionary theories; science owes a great deal to Arab culture; it owes its existence" (The Making of Humanity).
It will be noted that while making the promise of future greatness, the verse substitutes the expression "those who fear God" for the expression "those who believe". This change has been made to point to the fact that to obtain triumph mere ایمان (belief) is not enough; the Muslims should effect a real change in themselves, by attaining تقوی or fear of God. The phrase "without reckoning" may mean three things: (1) that the favours and gifts of God know no ending; for a thing that does not end cannot be reckoned; (2) that God bestows upon believers more favours and more gifts than they appear to deserve, the more so because believers spend in the cause of God to the utmost of their power without keeping an account of what they spend, so God also showers His blessings upon them without reckoning; (3) that God treats the believers as friends; and as people do not keep an account of what they give to their friends, therefore God also keeps no account of what He gives to the Faithful.
As to the relevancy of this clause to the previous one, it may be noted that as God promised to grant special victory and unusual greatness to believers—so much so that they were to be "above" the disbelievers in all respects when the time of "resurrection" (i.e. the fall of the disbelievers and the rise of the believers) came—the question naturally arose, how out of all proportion to their efforts and resources were the handful of believers going to attain this glorious triumph? In reply to this implied question, the Quran says that the people need not doubt this prophecy for the matter is not to be settled by ordinary rules of cause and effect but by the fact, so amply borne out by history, that "Allah bestows His favours on whomsoever He pleases without reckoning." In this connection we may well quote from Carlyle who, while speaking of the spectacular rise of Islam to power, says: "These Arabs, the man Mohammad, one spark on a world of what seemed black unnoticeable sand; but lo, the sand proves explosive powder, blazes heaven-high from Delhi to Granada!" (On Heroes and Hero Worship). (close)
کَانَ النَّاسُ اُمَّۃً وَّاحِدَۃً ۟ فَبَعَثَ اللّٰہُ النَّبِیّٖنَ مُبَشِّرِیۡنَ وَ مُنۡذِرِیۡنَ ۪ وَ اَنۡزَلَ مَعَہُمُ الۡکِتٰبَ بِالۡحَقِّ لِیَحۡکُمَ بَیۡنَ النَّاسِ فِیۡمَا اخۡتَلَفُوۡا فِیۡہِ ؕ وَ مَا اخۡتَلَفَ فِیۡہِ اِلَّا الَّذِیۡنَ اُوۡتُوۡہُ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَتۡہُمُ الۡبَیِّنٰتُ بَغۡیًۢا بَیۡنَہُمۡ ۚ فَہَدَی اللّٰہُ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا لِمَا اخۡتَلَفُوۡا فِیۡہِ مِنَ الۡحَقِّ بِاِذۡنِہٖ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ یَہۡدِیۡ مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ اِلٰی صِرَاطٍ مُّسۡتَقِیۡمٍ ﴿۲۱۴﴾
كَانَ ٱلنَّاسُ أُمَّةٗ وَٰحِدَةٗ فَبَعَثَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ ٱلۡكِتَٰبَ بِٱلۡحَقِّ لِيَحۡكُمَ بَيۡنَ ٱلنَّاسِ فِيمَا ٱخۡتَلَفُواْ فِيهِۚ وَمَا ٱخۡتَلَفَ فِيهِ إِلَّا ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُوهُ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَتۡهُمُ ٱلۡبَيِّنَٰتُ بَغۡيَۢا بَيۡنَهُمۡۖ فَهَدَى ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لِمَا ٱخۡتَلَفُواْ فِيهِ مِنَ ٱلۡحَقِّ بِإِذۡنِهِۦۗ وَٱللَّهُ يَهۡدِي مَن يَشَآءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَٰطٖ مُّسۡتَقِيمٍ
254. Before the advent of a Prophet all men are like one people in the sense that they are all unbelievers. But when a Prophet appears, they, in spite of their mutual differences, form one united front against him. The expression, "mankind were one community" or identical words have been used, besides the present verse, at seven places in the Qur’an. In 10:20; 21:93 and 23:53 they signify "national unity" and in 5:49; 16:94; 42:9; 43:34 and in the verse under comment "identity of ideas." (close)
b. 4:166; 6:49; 18:57. (close)
255. The "difference" referred to in the verse at two separate places signifies two different kinds of disagreement. Before the advent of a Prophet people differ among themselves about their idolatrous practices. But after his appearance, they begin to differ with regard to his claims. The Prophet does not create differences. The differences are already there; they merely assume a new form after his appearance. Before a Prophet appears, the people, in spite of their mutual differences, look like one people; they become divided into two distinct camps—believers and disbelievers,—after he appears. Viewed collectively, the verse describes five different stages through which mankind has passed. In the beginning there was unity among the people, all forming one community. With the increase in population and the extension of their interests and the complexity of their problems, they began to differ among themselves. Then God raised Prophets and revealed His Will. Every new revelation was made a cause of discord and differences, particularly by the people to whom the Divine Message was addressed. God finally raised the Holy Prophet with His last Book and a universal mission, calling upon all humanity to rally round his banner. Thus a circle was completed and the world which began with unity is designed to end in unity. (close)
a. 4:166; 6:49; 18:57. (close)
In the preceding verses different classes of people––believers and disbelievers together with their sub-divisions––have been mentioned. The verse under comment not only traces the genesis of these classes but also hints to Muslims that, just as the world began with all people as one community, God now wishes them again to become one community through the Holy Prophet who, unlike previous Prophets, came with a universal mission.
The clause, Mankind were one community, may mean: (1) mankind, i.e. all men were originally one people; (2) all disbelievers are one people. In the first-mentioned case, the verse would mean that, in the beginning of the world, all mankind were one people. They had no social rules, no polity, no civic laws. Then in the course of time, differences arose among them with regard to these things. So God sent to them Prophets to guide them how to live good and useful lives.
In the second case, the meaning of the clause would be that before the advent of a Prophet all men are like one people in the sense that they are all disbelievers, and disbelief and wrongdoing reign supreme in the world. But when a Prophet appears, all people, in spite of their mutual differences, form one united front against him. This meaning is in harmony with the well-known saying of the Holy Prophet, الکفر ملة واحدة i.e. all disbelievers (to whatever creed or religion they may belong) are one people.
The clause, and sent down with them the Book, does not mean that God revealed a separate Book to every Prophet. In that case, "Books", instead of "the Book", would have been the appropriate word. In fact, the "sending down of a Book" to a Prophet does not always mean the actual revelation of it to him in person. The Quran uses similar words with regard to those Prophets who were not the direct recipients of any revealed Book (6:115, 157, 158; 3:73, 200; 29:47; 21:11). The clause, therefore, only means that every Prophet has received a Book from God, whether it was revealed to him direct or whether it was revealed to a previous Prophet whose mission he was called upon to serve.
The "difference" referred to in the verse at two separate places signifies two different kinds of disagreement. Before the advent of a Prophet people differ among themselves about false beliefs and idolatrous practices. But after the appearance of the truth, they begin to differ with regard to the truth itself. The advent of a Prophet, however, does not, as may be wrongly imagined, create differences. The differences are already there; they merely assume a new form. But whereas before a Prophet has made his appearance the people, in spite of their differences, look like one people, they become divided into two distinct camps, believers and disbelievers, after he has appeared.
The clause, out of envy towards one another, points to the important fact that invariably the root-cause of the rejection of a Prophet is jealousy. Disbelievers cannot reconcile themselves to the idea that an ordinary person from among them, generally inferior to many of them in wealth, power or social status, should be made their teacher and leader. Disbelievers also consider it below their dignity to ally themselves with a community a large majority of whose members are of humble origin, as is often the case with the early followers of Divine Messengers.
The clause, Now has Allah, by His command, guided believers to the truth in regard to which they (the unbelievers)differed, refers to the advent of the Holy Prophet who was raised by God with a universal mission to remove the differences of all the peoples of the earth. The expression باذنه translated as "by His command" may also mean "according to His eternal decree". In the beginning of the world God willed that the final Law-giving Prophet should come with a universal mission and should constitute, as it were, the zenith of the system of النبوة or prophecy. Says the Holy Prophet "I was a Prophet of God while Adam was yet in the making between the body and the soul" (Tirmidhi).
Viewed collectively, the verse describes five different stages through which mankind has passed: (1) When there was unity among the people, all forming one community. This was in the beginning of the human race. (2) When, with the increase in population and the extension of interests and the complexity of problems confronting man, people began to differ among themselves. (3) When God raised Prophets among different peoples and different countries to show them the right path and revealed His will to the various contending sections. (4) When the very revelation of God sent to remove differences was made a cause of difference by the mischievous people. (5) When God finally raised the Holy Prophet with His last Book and a universal mission, calling upon entire humanity to rally round his banner. Thus a beautiful circle was completed and the world which began with unity was designed to end with it. (close)