In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate
بِسۡمِ اللهِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِيۡمِ
(2:1) Alif, Lam, Mim.1 الٓمّٓۚ
(2:2) This is the Book of Allah, there is no doubt in it;2 it
is a guidance for the pious,3 ذٰ لِكَ الۡڪِتٰبُ لَا رَيۡبَۛۚۖ فِيۡهِۛۚ هُدًى لِّلۡمُتَّقِيۡنَۙ
(2:3) for those who believe in the existence of that which is beyond the
reach of perception,4 who establish Prayer5 and spend
out of what We have provided them,6 الَّذِيۡنَ يُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِالۡغَيۡبِ وَ يُقِيۡمُوۡنَ الصَّلٰوةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقۡنٰهُمۡ
(2:4) who believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed
before you,7 and have firm faith in the Hereafter.8 وَالَّذِيۡنَ يُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِمَۤا اُنۡزِلَ اِلَيۡكَ وَمَاۤ اُنۡزِلَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِكَۚ
وَبِالۡاٰخِرَةِ هُمۡ يُوۡقِنُوۡنَؕ
(2:5) Such are on true guidance from their Lord; such are the truly successful.
اُولٰٓٮِٕكَ عَلٰى هُدًى مِّنۡ رَّبِّهِمۡ وَاُولٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ الۡمُفۡلِحُوۡنَ
(2:6) As for those who have rejected (these truths),9 it is
all the same whether or not you warn them, for they will not believe.
اِنَّ الَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوۡا سَوَآءٌ عَلَيۡهِمۡ ءَاَنۡذَرۡتَهُمۡ اَمۡ لَمۡ
تُنۡذِرۡهُمۡ لَا يُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ
(2:7) Allah has sealed their hearts10 and their hearing, and
a covering has fallen over their eyes. They deserve severe chastisement.
خَتَمَ اللّٰهُ عَلَىٰ قُلُوۡبِهِمۡ وَعَلٰى سَمۡعِهِمۡؕ وَعَلٰىٓ اَبۡصَارِهِمۡ
غِشَاوَةٌ وَّلَهُمۡ عَذَابٌ عَظِيۡمٌ
1. The names of letters of the Arabic alphabet, called huruf muqatta'at,
occur at the beginning of several surahs of the Qur'an. At the time of the Qur'anic
revelation the use of such letters was a well-known literary device, used by
both poets and orators, and we find several instances in the pre-Islamic Arabic
literature that has come down to us.
Since the muqatta'at were commonly used the Arabs of that period generally knew
what they meant and so they did not present a puzzle. We do not notice, therefore,
any contemporaries of the Prophet (peace be on him) raising objections against
the Qur'an on the ground that the letters at the beginning of some of its surahs
were absurd. For the same reason no Tradition has come down to us of any Companion
asking the Prophet about the significance of the muqatta'at. Later on this literary
device gradually fell into disuse and hence it became difficult for commentators
to determine their precise meanings. It is obvious, however, that deriving right
guidance from the Qur'an does not depend on grasping the meaning of these vocables,
and that anyone who fails to understand them may still live a righteous life
and attain salvation. The ordinary reader, therefore, need not delve too deeply
into this matter.
2. One obvious meaning of this verse is that this Book, the Qur'an, is undoubtedly
from God. Another possible meaning is that nothing contained in it can be subject
to doubt. Books which deal with supernatural questions, with matters that lie
beyond the range of sense perception, are invariably based on conjecture and
their authors, despite their brave show of competence, are therefore not immune
from a degree of scepticism regarding their statements. This Book, which is
based wholly on Truth, a Book which is the work of none other than the All-Knowing
God Himself is distinguishable from all other books. Hence, there is no room
for doubt about its contents despite the hesitation some people might express
either through ignorance or folly.
3. This means that while the Book is potentially for all, only those who
possess certain qualities can benefit from it. The first such quality is piety:
those who want to benefit should be disposed to distinguish between good and
evil, and to shun evil and do good. Those who lead an animal existence, who
never to consider whether their actions are either good or bad, whose cynically
follow the prevailing winds, who are helplessly tossed about by the animal desires
that dominate their minds, such persons are all together incapable of deriving
any benefit from the guidance embodied in the Qur'an.
4. This is the second prerequisite for deriving benefit from the Qur'an.
Ghayb signifies the verities which are hidden from man's senses and which are
beyond the scope of man's ordinary observation and experience, for example the
existence and attributes of God, the angels. the process of revelation, Paradise,
Hell and so on. 'Belief in the ghaib' means having faith in such matters, based
on an absolute confidence in the Messengers of God and despite the fact that
it is impossible to experience them.
According to this verse, Qur'anic guidance can prove helpful only to those prepared
to affirm the truths of the suprasensory realm. People who make their belief
in these questions conditional upon sensory perception of the object of belief,
and who are not prepared even to consider the possibility of the existence of
things that cannot be weighed or measured, cannot profit from this Book.
5. This is the third requirement. It is pointed out that those to whom belief
means merely the pronouncement of a formula, who think that a mere verbal confession
of faith is enough and that it makes no practical demands on them, can derive
no guidance from the Qur'an. To benefit from the Qur'an it is essential that
a man's decision to believe should be followed immediately by practical obedience
Prayer is the first and continuing sign of practical obedience. No more than
a few hours can pass after a man has embraced Islam than the mu'adhin calls
to Prayer and it becomes evident whether or not the profession of faith has
been genuine. Moreover, the mu'adhin calls to Prayer five times every day and
whenever a man fails to respond to his call it becomes clear that he has transgressed
the bounds of practical obedience. An abandonment of Prayer amounts to an abandonment
of obedience. Obviously, if a man is not prepared to follow the directives of
his guide, it is immaterial whether or not true guidance is available to him.
It should also be noted that the expression 'establishment of Prayer' has a
wider meaning than mere performance of Prayer. It means that the system of Prayer
should be organized on a collective basis. If there is a person in a locality
who prays individually but no arrangements are made for congregational Prayer,
it cannot be claimed that Prayer is established in that locality.
6. This, the fourth prerequisite for a person to benefit from the Qur'an,
demands that the person concerned should neither be niggardly nor a worshipper
of money. On the contrary, he should be willing to pay the claims on his property
of both God and man, and should not flinch from making financial sacrifices
for the sake of his convictions.
7. The fifth requirement is that one should believe in the Books revealed
by God to His Prophets in the various ages and regions of the world, in the
Book revealed to Muhammad (peace be on him) as well as in those revealed to
the other Prophets who preceded him. The door of the Qur'an is closed to all
those who do not consider it necessary for man to receive guidance from God.
It is also closed to those who, even if they believe in the need for such guidance,
do not consider it necessary to seek it through the channel of revelation and
prophethood, but would rather weave their own set of ideas and concepts and
regard them as equivalent to Divine Guidance.
This door is also closed to those who believe in Divine books as such, but confine
this belief to those books accepted by their forefathers, and spurn Divine Guidance
revealed to anyone born beyond their own racial and national boundaries. The
Qur'an excludes all such people and is prepared to open the source of its grace
only to those who believe that mankind does require Divine Guidance, who acknowledge
that this guidance does not come to people individually but reaches them through
Prophets and Divine Books and who are not given to racial or national chauvinism
but are devotees of Truth alone, and are therefore prepared to submit to Divine
Guidance wherever it be found.
8. Belief in the After-life is the sixth and last requirement. The term al-Akhirah
embraces a whole set of ideas: (i) that man is not an irresponsible being, but
is answerable to God for all his conduct in this world; (ii) that the present
order of the world is not timeless, but will come to an end at an appointed
hour known only to God; (iii) that when this world comes to an end God will bring
into being another world in which He will resurrect, at one and the same moment,
all the human beings ever born on earth. He will gather them together, examine
their conduct and grant each one just reward for his actions; (iv) that those
who are accounted good in God's judgement will be sent to Heaven, and those
judged by Him as evil-doers will be consigned to Hell; (v) that the real measure
of success and failure is not one's prosperity in the present life, but one's
success or failure according to God's judgement in the Next. Those who do not
accept this set of beliefs can derive no benefit from the Qur'an. For if a man
is merely in a state of doubt and hesitation with regard to these matters -
let alone disbelieving them - he cannot advance even one step forward along
the path charted out by the Qur'an.
9. That is, those people who do not meet these six requirements, or reject all
or any one of the fundamentals set out above.
10. This does not mean that their rejection of the Truth is a consequence
of God sealing their hearts. What is meant is that God sealed their hearts and
ears as a consequence of their decision to reject the fundamentals of faith,
of their deliberate choice of a path divergent from that charted out by the
Qur'an. Anyone who has worked for the dissemination of the Truth often finds
that if, after full consideration, a person decides against a doctrine, his
mind begins to move in a completely opposite direction so that he fails to appreciate
anything that is explained to him. His ears become deaf, his eyes are blinded
to the merits of that doctrine, and one gets the distinct impression that the
person's heart has indeed been sealed.