THIS CHAPTER forms one of the great treasures of the Quran, chiefly because of the lyrical hymn to Light found in section V. It contains 64 Meccan and Madinese verses arranged in nine sections. The chapter dates from before Pilgrimage 22, while V. 64 was revealed after Banishment 29. NOTE the elevated style and the frequent use of the adverb abadan or 'never' throughout this chapter.
The beginning contains advice or "light" on sex, etiquette and personal modesty, and states that marriage is desirable (IV); it also warns against committing slander and perjury. The middle portion consists of the great hymn to "Light" which gives the chapter its title, and from which much illumination and mysticism arise in Islam. Proof of God follows (VI). The end concerns etiquette and protocol in connection with public business, as Islamic society began to need rules to live by and for its own government. Old maids and eating in public are other topics which are discussed in VIII.
In the name of God, the Mercy-giving, the Merciful!
(I) * [This is] a chapter We have sent down and ordained.
We send clear signs down in it
so that you (all) may be reminded.
* Flog both the adulterous woman and the adulterous man with a hundred lashes, and do not let any pity for either party distract you from [complying with] God's religion if you believe in God and the Last Day. Have a group of believers witness their punishment. * An adulterous man may only marry an adulterous woman or one who associates [others with God]; while an adulterous woman may only be married to an adulterous man or one who associates [others with God]. Such [conduct] is forbidden to believers.
* Flog those who cast things up at honorable matrons with eighty lashes unless they bring four witnesses, and never accept their testimony from them [again]. Those are troublemakers; ** except for the ones who repent later on and reform. God is Forgiving, Merciful.
* Any persons who accuse their spouses yet have no witnesses except themselves for it, should offer testimony by swearing four times before God that he is telling the truth, * plus a fifth [time] that God's curse will rest on him if he is a liar. * It will avert the punishment. from her if she swears four times before God that he is a liar, * plus a fifth that God's anger will rest on her if he has been truthful. ** How would it be without God's bounty and mercy towards you (all)? God is the Receiver of Repentance, Wise.
(II) * Those who have brought up such slander form a clique among you. Do not reckon it is a bad thing for you; rather it will be good for you: every last man of them shall be charged with whatever he has committed the way of an offence, while whoever has assumed his leadership over them [through such gossiping] will have serious torment.
* If you believing men and believing women had only thought of something good by yourselves when you heard it, and said: "This is an obvious falsehood!" * If they had only brought four witnesses to [prove] it! When they did not bring any witnesses, those were liars before God. * If it had not been for God's bounty towards you, as well as His mercy in this world and the Hereafter, some serious torment might have afflicted you because of the talk you had indulged in.
** When you encountered it on your tongues and said something with your own mouths that you had no knowledge about, you reckoned it was trifling although it was serious with God. * If you had only said as you heard it: "We ought not to talk about this. Glory be to You! This is serious slander."
* God cautions you never to repeat anything like it again if you are believers. * God explains signs to you; God is Aware, Wise. * Those who love to spread shocking news around concerning those who believe will have painful torment in this world and the Hereafter. God knows while you (all) do not know. ** If God's bounty and mercy had only rested on you; for God is Gentle, Merciful!
(III)* You who believe, do not follow in Satan's footsteps. Satan orders anyone who follows in his footsteps to commit acts of sexual misconduct as well as dishonor. If it had not been for God's bounty and mercy towards you, not one of you would have ever been pure; but God purifies anyone He wishes. God is Alert, Aware. * Those among you possessing resources and [other] means should not fail to give [something to] near relatives paupers and those who are refugees for God's sake; let them act forgivingly and show indulgence. Do you not like God to pardon you? God is Forgiving, Merciful.
* Those who cast things up at heedless [yet] believing matrons will be cursed in this world and the Hereafter. They will have severe torment * on a day when their tongues, their hands and their feet will testify against them concerning whatever they have been doing. ** On that day God will repay them with their rightful due; they will realize that God means obvious Truth.
* Bad women are for bad men, and bad men are for bad women; while good women are for good men, and good men are for good women. The latter are absolved from anything they may say; they will have and generous provision.
(IV) * You who believe, do not enter any houses except your own homes unless you act politely and greet their occupants; that is best for you so you may remember. * If you do not find anyone in them, still do not enter them until permission has been granted you. If you are told: "Get out !", then turn back; it is more fitting for you. God is Aware of anything you do. * It will not be held against you, however, for entering any houses which are not inhabited, for some property belonging to you. God knows anything you show and anything you hide.
** Tell believers to avert their glances and to guard their private parts; that is chaster for them. God is Informed about anything they may produce. * Tell believing women to avert their glances and guard their private parts, and not to display their charms except what [normally] appears of them. They should fold their shawls over their bosoms and show their charms only to their husbands, or their fathers or their fathers-in-law, or their own sons or stepsons, or their own brothers or nephews on either their brothers' or their sisters' side; or their own womenfolk, or anyone their right hands control, or male attendants who have no sexual desire, or children who have not yet shown any interest in women's nakedness. Let them not stomp their feet in order to let any ornaments they may have hidden be noticed. Turn to God, all you believers, so that you may prosper!
Marriage is Desirable
* Marry off any single persons among you, as well as your honorable servants and maids. If they are poor, God will enrich them from His bounty. God is Boundless, Aware. * Yet let those who do not find [any way to] marry, hold off until God enriches them out of His bounty.
Should those whom your right hands control desire their freedom, then draw up such a writ for them if you recognize anything worthwhile in them. Give them some of God's wealth which He has given you. Do not force your girls [whom you control] into prostitution so that you may seek the display of worldly life, if they want to preserve their chastity. Anyone who forces them (to do otherwise) [will find] God is Forgiving, Merciful, even after forcing them to. * We have sent you down clarifying signs and an example in those who have passed on before you, as well as instruction for the heedful.
God as the Light of the World
(V) ** God is the Light of Heaven and Earth!
His light may be compared to a niche
in which there is a lamp; the lamp
is in a glass; the glass
is just as if it were a glittering star
kindled from a blessed olive tree,
[which is] neither Eastern nor Western,
whose oil will almost glow though fire
has never touched it. Light upon light,
God guides anyone He wishes to His light.
God composes parables for mankind;
God is Aware of everything!
Houses of Worship
* There are houses God has permitted to be built
where His name is mentioned; in them
He is glorified morning and evening
* by men whom neither business nor trading
distract from remembering God,
keeping up prayer, and paying the welfare tax.
They fear a day when their hearts and eyesight
will feel upset * unless God rewards them
for the finest things they may have done,
and gives them even more out of His bounty.
God provides for anyone He wishes
without any reckoning!
* Those who disbelieve [will find] their deeds
[will disappear] like a mirage on a desert:
the thirsty man will reckon it is water
till, as he comes up to it,
he finds it is nothing.
Yet he finds God [stands] beside him
and he must render Him his account;
God is Prompt in reckoning!
** Or like darkness on the unfathomed sea:
one wave covers up another wave,
over which there [hang] clouds;
layers of darkness, one above the other!
When he stretches out his hand,
he can scarcely see it. Anyone
whom God does not grant light to
will have no light!
Proof of God
(VI) * Have you not seen how everyone in Heaven and Earth glorifies God, even to the birds lined up (in flight)? Each knows its prayer and how to glorify Him. God is Aware of whatever they do. * God holds control over Heaven and Earth; towards God lies the goal!
* Have you not seen how God drives along the clouds, then masses them together, next piles them into layers? You see a downpour coming from inside of them; He sends down mountainous masses from the sky with cold hail in them, and pelts anyone He wishes with it and wards it off from anyone He wishes. A flash from His lightning almost takes one's sight away!
* God alternates night and daylight;
in that there lies a lesson
for those possessing insight.
** God has created every animal out of water; some of them walk on their belly, while others walk on two legs and still others walk on four. God creates anything He wishes; God is Able [to do) everything! * We have sent clarifying signs down, and God guides anyone He wishes to a Straight Road. * They will say: "We believe in God and the Messenger, and we obey." Then a group of them will turn away even after that; those are not believers. * Whenever they are invited to [come to] God and His messenger so He may judge among them, watch how a group of them will shunt it aside. * Yet if they have the Truth on their side, they come to it voluntarily.
** Does some malice lurk in their hearts? Either they act skeptical, or else they fear that God and His messenger will cheat them. In fact such persons are wrongdoers!
(VII) * The only statement believers should make when they are invited to [meet with] God and His messenger, so He may judge among them, is: "We have heard, and are at your orders!' Those persons will be successful. * Those who obey God and His messenger, and dread God and heed Him, will be triumphant.
* They swear before God with their most solemn oaths that they would go forth if you ordered them to. SAY:
Do not swear so; obedience will be recognized,
God is Informed about anything you do."
* SAY: "Obey God and obey the Messenger." If you should turn away he is responsible only for what he has been commissioned with while you are responsible for what you are commissioned with. If you obey him, you will be guided; the Messenger has only to announce things clearly.
** God has promised to appoint those of you who believe and perform honorable deeds as [His] representatives on earth, just as He made those before them into (such) overlords, and to establish their religion for the which He has approved for them, and to change their fear into confidence They serve Me [Alone] and do not associate anything else with me. Those who disbelieve later on will be perverse. * Keep up prayer, pay the welfare tax, and obey the Messenger so that you may receive mercy. * Do not reckon those who disbelieve can ever frustrate things on earth; their lodging will be the Fire, and how wretched is such a goal!
Good Manners at Home
(VIII) * You who believe, have those whom your right hands control and those of you who have not yet reached puberty, ask permission from you on three occasions: before the daybreak prayer; when you take off you clothes at noon [for a siesta]; and after the late evening prayer. You have three times for privacy.
There is no objection for you nor for them outside those times as they move around you so some of you may wait on others. Thus God explains signs to you; God is Aware, Wise. * Whenever any children of yours reach puberty, let them ask permission just as those before them have had to ask for such permission. Thus God explains His signs to you; God is Aware, Wise.
Unmarried Women (Old Maids)
** Those [elderly] women sitting around [after their menopause] who no longer expect to marry will meet with no objection if they take off their [outer] clothing, though without displaying their charms. Yet it is best for them to act modestly. God is Alert, Aware.
On Eating Out
* It should not be held against the blind nor against the lame, nor against the lame, nor against the sick nor against yourselves, for your eating in your own homes or at your fathers' or your mothers' homes, or your brothers' or your sisters' homes, or at your uncles' or aunts' homes on your father's side, or your uncles' or aunts' on your mother's side, or those whose keys you have in your custody, or with some friends of yours. There is no objection to your eating either together or separately. Whenever you enter any houses, greet one another with a blessed, wholesome greeting by invoking God. Thus God explains [His] signs to you so that you may reason things out.
Protocal with Public Business; Manners in Public
(IX) * Believers are merely those who believe in God and His messenger. Whenever they are with the latter on some collective errand, they should not leave until they have asked him for permission to do so. Those who do ask you for such permission are the ones who believe in God and His messenger.
Whenever they ask you for permission [to attend] to some affair of their own, then give anyone of them you may wish, leave to do so, and seek forgiveness from God for them. God is Forgiving, Merciful.
* Do not treat the Messenger's bidding you [to do something] just as if one of you were calling out to someone else. God knows which of you try to slip away, aiming to get out of something. Let anyone who opposes his order beware lest some trial afflict them or some painful torment should befall them! * God possesses whatever is in Heaven and Earth! He knows what you (all) stand for, while He will notify them about whatever they have done on the day they are returned to Him. God is Aware of everything!