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72. Sprites

THIS GRAPHIC chapter was revealed after The Heights 7 and following the Prophet's apparently unsuccessful mission to the mountain town of Taif (OR Tayif) 50 miles to the southeast of Mecca. This event took place in 620 A.D., or two years before the Hijra or his Transfer to Madina. It, like the previous chapter, contains 28 Meccan verses arranged in two sections. Its style resembles that of Chapter 18 on The Cave, for it relates similar allegories.

The terms jinn or 'genie' (which forms the usual rendering for the title) are confusing, and when employed they tend to give an undesirable "Arabian Nights" atmosphere to this sacred text. The jinn (which is a plural in Arabic) are intelligent yet immaterial beings created from fire. If the cognate word 'spirits' is used in English, it can be confused with the Holy Spirit (or Ruh-who in Islamic theology is the archangel Gabriel); thus I prefer the more popular term 'sprites', which somewhat makes them resemble the gremlins, elves or the so-called 'little people' in Western folklore, especially in Celtic areas. Professor Faruqi calls them: 'spiritual beings between man and angels" (in referring to 51:iii).

We can also remember the evil spirits which Jesus cast out in Matthew 8:16 and Mark 5. Some commentators consider these sprites to be opponents of the Prophet's mission, because of those associated with Solomon.

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

(i) * SAY: "It has been revealed to me that a band of sprites sat listening, and then said: 'We have heard a wonderful Reading * guiding [people] to normal behavior, so we have believed in it. Not one of us will ever associate anyone else with our Lord. * Our Lord's excellence must be exalted! He has taken no consort nor any son. * Some fool among us has been saying outrageous things about God. ** We thought that no human being nor any sprite would ever tell a lie about God!'

* "Once human men used to take refuge with men from the sprites and it made them even more pretentious. * They thought, just as you have supposed, that God will never send anyone up again.

* "We reached out for Heaven and found it staffed with stern guards and shooting stars. * We used to squat in some of its seats to listen, though anyone who eavesdrops now finds a shooting star lurking there for him. ** We do not know whether evil is intended for anyone on earth, or their Lord wants integrity for them. * Some of us are honorable while others of us are quite the opposite of that: we [travel] along such diverse routes.

* "We supposed we would never escape God on earth, and we shall never escape Him by fleeing. * When we heard about guidance, we trusted it. Anyone who trusts in his Lord needs not fear about being undersold nor caught short. * Some of us are Muslims while others of us are [still] holding back. Those who have committed themselves to (live in) peace are dedicated to integrity; ** while those who hold back will become kindling for Hell."

Association Forbidden

* If they would only keep straight along the highway, We will let them drink plenty of water * so We may test them by means of it; while it will lead anyone away to mounting torment who avoids mentioning his Lord. * Mosques belong to God, so do not appeal to anyone besides God (in them). * Yet whenever God's servant stood up to appeal to Him, they almost crowded in upon him!

(II)** SAY: "I appeal only to my Lord and never associate anyone else [in my worship of] Him." * SAY: "I do not control any harm for you nor any integrity." * SAY: "No one grants protection from God nor will I ever find any sanctuary besides that in Him * except through a decree from God, and in His message. Anyone who defies God and His messenger will have Hell fire to live in for ever * until once they see what they have been promised, they will realize who has the weakest supporter and are fewest in numbers."

** SAY: "If I only knew whether what you are promised is near, or whether my Lord has set a grace period for it; * Knowing the Unseen, He never discloses his Unseen [secrets] to anyone * except for some messenger whom He approves of. He leads him off with an escort both before him and behind him * so He may know that they have delivered their Lord's messages. He embraces anything that lies in their prescnce, and calculates everything by means of numbers."


Published with authorization from Dr.T.B.Irving .