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37. (Drawn Up In) Ranks

THIS CHAPTER contains five long sections arranged in 182 Meccan verses. It was revealed after the chapter on Livestock 6 and before Luqman 31.

Here we find a vivid description of what men can expect to meet after Doomsday (I): eternal bliss, or the Infernal Tree (II). We also hear the story of several prophets in rapid narrative: Noah, Abraham and Isaac (III): Moses, Aaron, Elijah and Lot (IV); and finally Jonah (V), each summed up by a unifying refrain: "Thus We reward those who act kindly..."

The angels "drawn up in ranks" finally speak out in v. 165, and we are told at the very end that God is not a father (V). The word Jahim is used rather consistently for 'Hades', and not Jahannim or 'Hell', in an alliterative effect. The whole chapter provides a very moving picture.

In the name of God, the Mercy-giving, the Merciful!

(I) * As the Ranks are drawn up,
*rebuking with restraint
* and reciting a Reminder,
* your God is One [Alone],
** Lord of Heaven and Earth
and whatever lies between them,
plus Lord of the Eastern parts!

* We have beautified the worldly sky
with the splendor of stars
* plus a safeguard against every stubborn devil
so they may not listen to the supreme council
and are hurled forth on every side.
Driven away, they will have lingering torment
except for someone who tries to eavesdrop
so that a blazing meteor follows him.

* Ask their opinion whether they or someone We created have been created stronger. We created them from sticky clay. * Rather you have been surprised as they sneered; * yet whenever they are reminded, they do not recall anything. * Whenever they see some sign, they make fun of it ** and say: "This is just sheer magic! * When we have died and become dust and bones, will we be raised up again? * Along with our earliest forefathers.


* SAY: "Yes, and you yourselves abashed." * There will only be a single rebuke and then, they shall see! ** They will say: 'How awful it is for us; this is the Day for Repayment! * This is the day for sorting things out which you have been denying."

The Road to Hades

(II) *Summon the ones who have done wrong plus their spouses, and anything they have been worshipping * instead of God; lead them along the road towards Hades. * Stop them! They must be questioned: "What's wrong with you that you do not support each other?"

* Rather today they are surrendering. * Some of them will step forth to question one another. * They will say: "You used to come at us from the right." * They will say: "Rather, you were not believers! ** We have no authority over you. Instead you have been such arrogant folk. * Our Lord's sentence has been confirmed against us; we are indeed tasting it! * We lured you on, we were seducers."

*They will become partners in torment on that day. * Thus We deal with criminals! ** They have acted so proudly whenever: "There is no deity except God [Alone]" was said to them, * and they were saying: 'Should we abandon our gods for a crazy poet?"
* Rather he has brought the Truth and vouches for the emissaries.


* Yet you will taste painful torment * and only be rewarded for what you have been doing, ** except for God's sincere servants. * Those will have an acknowledged provision * of fruit, and will be honored * in gardens of Bliss facing one another on couches. ** A cup will he passed around for them from a clear spring * [which will be] delicious for anyone who drinks from it! There will be no hangover from it nor will they feel exhausted by it. With them will be bashful women whose eyes still sparkle * as if they were hidden [like hatching] eggs.

** Some of them will step forward to question one another. * Someone among them will speak up and say: "Once there was a soulmate of mine * who used to say: 'Have you become convinced? * When we have, died and become dust and bones, will we he called to account?" He will say: "Will you (all) just take a look?"

Hades Again

** "So he did look down and saw he was [standing] in the midst of Hades! He said: "By God, you have almost ruined me! * If it were not for my Lord's favor, I'd have been made to appear. *Arent we mortal except for our first death? Will we not be punished? ** This is the splendid Achievement!'"

The Infernal Tree

* For such as this let workers toil. * Is that a better welcome or is the Infernal Tree? * We have placed it as a trial for wrongdoers. * It is a tree that rises from the depths of Hades. ** Its cluster [of fruit] looks like devils' heads; * they will eat some of it and fill their stomachs wit it. * Then on top of it, they will have a concoction made from bathwater [to drink].

* Then their return must be to Hades. * They discovered their forefathers had been misled ** and yet they went scurrying along in their footsteps. * Most primitive men went astray before them, * even though We had sent warners out among them; * yet see what the outcome was for those who were warned * except for God's sincere servants.


(III) ** Noah called out to Us, and how favored are those [like him] who respond! * We saved him and his family from serious grief, * and set his offspring up as survivors. * We left [mention] of him among later men: "Peace be upon Noah throughout the Universe!"

** Thus We reward those who act kindly:
* he was one of Our believing servants.


* Then We let the rest drown.

* To his sect belonged Abraham * when he came to his Lord with a sound heart as he said to his father and his people: "What are you worshipping? Is it some sham; do you want (other) gods instead of God [Himself]. * What is your opinion concerning the Lord of the Universe?"

* So he took a glance at the stars * and said: "I feel heartsick!" ** They turned their backs on him: * so he shifted [his attention] to their (false) gods, and said: "Dont you eat? * What is wrong with you that you dont utter a word?" * He aimed a blow at them with his right hand.

* They quickly pounced on him. ** He said: "Do you worship something you have been carving, * while God created you and whatever you make?" * They said: "Build him a pyre and cast him into Hades!" * They wanted to plot against him, so We made them come out on the shorter end of things.

* He said; "I am going away to [meet] my Lord; He will guide me! *** My Lord, bestow some honorable men on me!" * So We gave him news about an even-tempered boy.

His Sacrifice

* When [the son] reached the stage of working alongside him, he said: "My son, I saw in my sleep that I must sacrifice you. Look for whatever you may see [in it]." He said: "My father, do anything you are ordered to; you will find me to be patient, if God so wishes."

The Supreme Test

When they both had committed themselves peacefully [to God] and he had placed him face down, * We called out to him: "Abraham, ** you have already confirmed the dream!" Thus We reward those who act kindly. * This was an obvious test. We ransomed him by means of a Splendid victim, * and left [him to be mentioned] among later men: "Peace be upon Abraham!"

** Thus We reward those who act kindly.
* He was one of Our believing servants.


* We announced to him that Isaac would become a prophet who was honorable. * We blessed both him and Isaac; some of their offspring have acted kindly while others have clearly wronged themselves.

Moses and Aaron

(iv) * We endowed Moses and Aaron ** and saved both them and their people from serious distress. * We supported them and they became victorious; * and

We gave them both the clarifying Book. * We guided them along the Straight Road * and left [mention] of them among later men; ** "Peace be upon Moses and Aaron!"

* Thus We reward those who act kindly.
* They were both Our believing servants.


* Elijah was an emissary * when he told his folk: "Will you not do your duty? ** Do you appeal to Baal and ignore the Best Creator, * God your Lord, and your earliest forefathers' Lord?" * They rejected him, yet they were made to appear, * except for God's sincere servants. * We left [mention] of him among later men: ** "Peace be upon Elijah!"

*Thus We reward those who act kindly;
* he was one of Our believing servants.


* Lot was an emissary * when We saved him and his entire family ** except for an old woman who lagged behind. * Then We annihilated the rest; * You still pass by them in the morning * and at night. Will you not use your reason?


(V) * Jonah was an emissary ** when he deserted to the laden ship, * gambled and was one of those who lost out. * The fish swallowed him while he was still to blame. * If he had not been someone who glorified [God], * he would have lingered on in its belly until the day when they will be raised up again. ** We flung him up on the empty shore and he [felt] heartsick. * We made a gourd tree grow up over him * and sent him off to a hundred thousand [people] or even more. * They believed so We let them enjoy themselves for a while.

God is Not a Father

* Ask their opinion as to whether your Lord has daughters while they have sons; ** or did We create the angels as females while they were looking on? * Are they not saying something they have trumped up with [the statement that]: * "God has fathered something!"


They are such liars! * Would He select daughters ahead of sons? * What is wrong with you? How do you make decisions? ** Will you not be reminded? * Or do you have some clear authority? * Bring on your scripture if you are so truthful! * They have even placed a tie of kinship between Him and the sprites. Yet the sprites well know that they too will be made to appear.

* Glory be to God over whatever they describe ** except for God's loyal servants! * You and anything you serve * cannot incite anyone against Him * except for someone who will roast in Hades.

* There is none of us but he has an acknowledged status. ** We are drawn up in ranks. * We are those who glorify [God]. * There were some [people] saying: "If we only had a reminder from early men * we should have become God's loyal servants."

** They have disbelieved in Him so they soon shall know! * Our word has already gone on ahead to Our servants who were sent forth; * they will indeed be supported. * Our army will be victorious over them! * Turn aside from them for a while; ** watch them, for they too will be made to watch.

* Do they seek to hasten Our torment? * Whenever it settles down into their courtyard, how dismal will be the morning for those who have been forewarned! * Turn aside from them for a while; * watch, for they too will have to watch.

Deathbed Prayer

** Glory be to your Lord,
the Lord of Grandeur,
beyond what they describe!
* Peace be on the emissaries!
* Praise be to God,
Lord of the Universe!


Published with authorization from Dr.T.B.Irving