THIS CHAPTER consists of 52 verses arranged in seven sections which are all late Meccan, except for VV. 28 & 29 which date from Madina. It was revealed after Noah 71 and before Prophets 21.
The chapter contains two parables, "Ashes in the Wind" (III) and "The Good and the Bad Tree" (IV). Abraham's famous prayer is found in section VI (VV. 3541); this is followed by a graphic picture of the Day of Reckoning with which the chapter ends.
In the name of God, the Mercy-giving, the Merciful!
(I) * A. L. R.
We have sent down a Book to you in order to bring men out of darkness into Light by their Lord's permission, towards the road of the Powerful, the Praiseworthy, * God, Who holds whatever is in Heaven and whatever is on Earth. Alas, because disbelievers will have harsh torment, * those who would rather have worldly life in preference to the Hereafter and obstruct God's way, seeking to make it crooked; those stray far afield.
* We have not sent any messenger unless he was to explain to them in his folk's own tongue. God lets anyone He wishes go astray, and guides anyone He wishes; He is the Powerful, the Wise. ** We sent Moses with Our signs: "Lead your people out of darkness into Light, and remind them of God's days. In that are signs for every patient, grateful person."
* So Moses told his folk: 'Remember God's favor towards you when He saved you from Pharaoh's court, who had imposed the worst torment on you, and slaughtered your sons while letting your women live. That was a serious trial from your Lord."
(II) * So your Lord announced: 'If you act grateful, I shall give you even more, while if you are thankless, then My torment will be severe." * Moses said: "Even if you and whoever is on earth should disregard it, God will still be Transcendent, Praiseworthy."
* Has not news come to you concerning those who preceded you such as Noah's folk, and Ad's and Thamud's, as well as those who came after them? Only God knows who they were. Messengers brought them explanations yet they merely stuffed their hands into their mouths and said: "We disbelieve in what you have been sent with. We are in suspicious doubt about what you are inviting us to do." ** Their messengers said: "Is there any doubt about God, the Originator of Heaven and Earth? He invites you in order to forgive you some of your offences and to postpone things for you during a specific period." They said: "You are only human beings like ourselves! You want to divert us from what our forefathers have been worshipping, so bring us some clear authority."
* Their messengers told them: "We are only human like yourselves, but God showers blessings on any of His servants whom He wishes. It is not for us to bring you any authority except with God's permission. On God should believers rely." * Why should we not rely on God when He has guided us along our [several] ways? And so we may patiently endure how you persecute us? On God [Alone] should the reliant rely!
(III)* Those who disbelieved told their messengers: "We'll run you out of our land unless you return to our sect!" Their Lord [however] inspired them [as follows]: "We shall wipe out wrongdoers * and settle you on the land to succeed them." That is [in store] for anyone who fears My position and fears My threat.
** They sought to conquer, and every stubborn oppressor blundered. * Beyond him there lies Hell where he will be given stagnant water to drink. * He will gag on it and not quite swallow it. Death will come at him from everywhere, while he will not quite die. Beyond him lies harsh torment.
Ashes in the Wind
* The works of those who disbelieve in their Lord may be compared to ashes which the wind whips around on a stormy day. They cannot do a thing with anything they have earned. That is going far afield!
* Have you not seen how God has really created Heaven and Earth? If He so wished, He would remove you and bring on a fresh creation. ** That is not unfeasible for God [to do]. * They will all march forth to [meet] God, and the weaklings will tell those who acted so proudly: "We formed a following for you; can you help us out now in any way against God's torment?" They will say: "If God had guided us, then we'd have guided you. It's all the same for us whether we panic or act patient; we'll have no escape."
Blame is not Shifted
(IV) * Satan will say, once the matter has been settled: "God has given you a true promise, while I have both promised you and then broken my word with you. I have no authority over you except that I appealed to you, and you responded to me. Do not blame me but blame yourselves! I have no claim on you nor have you any claim on me. I disown how you have associated me [with God] up till now. Wrongdoers will have painful torment."
* Those who believe and perform honorable deeds will be shown into gardens through which rivers flow, to live there with their Lord's permission. Their greeting in it will be: "Peace!"
The Good and the Bad Tree
* Do you not consider how God makes up a parable? A good word may be compared to a good tree whose root is firm and whose branches soar up into the sky. ** It yields its food each season with its Lord's permission.
God composes parables for mankind so that they may be reminded. * A bad word may be compared to a bad tree: it will be uprooted from the face of the earth; it has no foothold.
* God braces those who believe with firm speech during worldly life and in the Hereafter; while God lets wrongdoers stray away. God does whatever He wishes!
(V)* Have you not seen those who pay back God's favor with disbelief and settle their folk in the home of Perdition- * Hell! They will roast there, and how awful is such a plight! ** They place rivals alongside God to le others astray from His path.
SAY: "Enjoy yourselves even though your goal will be the Fire!" * Tell My servants who believe to keep up prayer and spend what We have provided them with both secretly and openly before a day comes along when there will be no bartering nor any intimacy."
* God is the One Who has created Heaven and Earth, and sends down water from the sky. He brings forth produce by means of it as sustenance for you. He has subjected ships to you so they may sail at sea by His command; and subjected rivers to you. * He regulates the sun and moon for you, both journeying on and on, and regulates night and day for you. He gives you everything you ever ask Him for. If you counted up God's favor(s), you would never [be able to] number them; yet man is so unfair, ungrateful.
(VI) * So Abraham said:
"My Lord, make this countryside safe and keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols. * My Lord, they have led so many men astray! Anyone who follows me belongs to me, just as anyone who disobeys me [will still find] You are Forgiving, Merciful.
"Our Lord, I have had some of my offspring reside in a valley without any crops alongside Your Hallowed House, our Lord, so that they may keep up prayer. Make men's vitals feel fond of them, and provide them with fruit so they may act grateful.
* "Our Lord, You know whatever we hide and whatever We display, nothing on earth nor in the sky is hidden from God. * Praise be to God Who has bestowed Ishmael and Isaac on me in my old age. My Lord is so Alert to anyone's appeal!
** "My Lord, make me keep up prayer,
and have my offspring [do so too].
* "Our Lord, accept my appeal!
Our Lord, forgive me, both my parents,
and believers on the Day
when the Reckoning will be set up!"
(VII) * Do not reckon God is oblivious of what wrongdoers are doing; He is merely putting them off till a day when their eyesight will be glazed * as they dash along with their heads tilted forward, their glances not checking back for them, and their vital organs gaping open. * Warn mankind against a day when torment will come upon them. Those who have done wrong will say: "Our Lord, put us off for a short while; we will answer Your appeal and follow the messengers!"
(Did you not use to swear previously that you would never [face] extinction? ** You have inhabited the dwellings of those who wronged themselves; it was explained to you how We had dealt with them, and We made up parables for you.)
* They hatched their plot while God held up their plot, even though their plan had been to transport the mountains by means of it! * Do not reckon God will break His promise to His messengers; God is Powerful, the Wielder of Retribution.
* Some day the earth wilf be changed into a different earth, and [so will] Heaven; they will emerge for God Alone, the Irresistible! * You will see criminals linked together by means of fetters on that day; ** their garments will be [smeared] with tar while fire will cover their faces, * so God may reward each soul according to whatever it has earned. God is Prompt at reckoning!
* This is a proclamation for mankind;
let them feel they are warned through it
and know that He is God Alone.
May prudent persons bear it in mind!