1. This verse is the brief introduction to the Surah, and immediately after this begins its theme. “These are the verses of the Book and a clear Quran”: These are the verses of that Quran which makes its meaning lucid and understandable.
2. This is to refute the fallacious argument of the disbelievers that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not a true Prophet because they had received no prompt punishment for their disbelief. It is like this: We have never seized a community at the first committal of kufr.
We prescribe a limit for every community to hear and understand the message and reform its ways. Then We tolerate its mischief and evil deeds up to that limit and allow it full freedom to do as it likes, and give it respite till the term expires. That is why We are tolerating their attitude of ridicule and denial. (For the full meaning of respite, please refer to ( E.N. 18 of Surah Ibrahim).
3. The word zikr literally means “to cause to remember”, “to caution” and “to give advice”. But the Quran has used it as a technical term for “admonition”, which comes as a precept. Thus all the Books that had been sent down to the Messengers were zikr, and the Quran is also zikr.
4. This was a sarcastic remark that was made by the opponents, for they did not acknowledge that the admonition had been sent down to the Prophet (peace be upon him): otherwise they could not say that he was insane. What they really meant by this remark was: You, who claim that the admonition has been sent down to you, are insane. A similar remark was also made by Pharaoh concerning Prophet Moses (peace be upon him). Addressing his courtiers, he said: The Messenger who has been sent to you is insane. (Surah Ash-Shuara, Ayat 27).
5. “We do not send down the angels.” We do not send down the angels for the mere fun of it in response to the request of the people, nor are they sent to unveil the reality before them in order to show to them all the unseen things to which the Messengers invite them to believe. As a matter of fact, angels are sent down on that occasion when it is decreed to pass judgment on sane wicked people. At that time the judgment comes into operation without extending any invitation to the condemned people to accept the message, for their period of respite ends as soon as the reality is unveiled before them. “Except with truth.”
They bring down truth with them. That is, they come down to eradicate falsehood and to establish truth in its stead. Or, in other words, it means, they come down to put into force the judgment of Allah.
6. That is, you should note it well that it is We Who have sent down this zikr. Thus it is not Our Messenger whom you are calling insane but in fact this abusive remark applies to Us. Moreover, you should know that it is Our Word and We are preserving it. Therefore, you can do no harm to it, nor can you discredit it by your ridicules, taunts and objections, nor can you hamper its progress. Whatever you may do against it, no one will ever be able to change or tamper with it.
7. The majority of the translators and commentators are of the opinion that the pronoun “it”( Ayat 12), refers to their mockery, occurring in (Ayat 11), and in “they would not believe in it” in (Ayat 13), refers to the admonition occurring in (Ayat 9). Then (Ayats 12-13) will be rendered like this: “Thus we cause mockery enter into the hearts of the criminals and they do not believe in the admonition”. Though grammatically there is nothing wrong with this version, yet our version of “it” will be better even grammatically. According to this (Ayat 12) will mean, when the admonition enters into the hearts of the believers it gives them peace of mind and comfort of heart. But when the same enters into the hearts of the criminals it becomes a hot rod, and burns their minds and hearts.
8. In the preceding( Ayats 14-15) it was stated that the disbelievers had become so hardened against the Quran that they would not have believed in it even if they had ascended the Heaven and seen with their own eyes the signs mentioned in it. Now in (Ayats 16-22), some of the signs are being cited in order to convince there of its truth.
Buruj (mansions of stars) are signs of Allah. For it is not possible to pass through one sphere of the Heaven into another, as each sphere of the space has been fortified by invisible boundaries. In this connection, it may be noted that literally the Arabic word burj means a fortified place, but as a technical term of ancient astronomy this stood for each of the twelve signs of the Zodiac, which marked the sun’s path through the heavens. This has led some of the commentators to form the opinion that in this verse the word buruj refers to the same. But there are some others who think that it means stars or planets. However, if we consider this word in the context of (Ayat 19), we are led to the conclusion that probably it stands for spheres.
9. “We have beautified it”: We have placed a shining star or planet in each of these spheres and made them look beautiful. In other words, it means; We have not made the boundless universe dismal, desolate and frightful, but so beautiful that one finds marvelous order and harmony in it everywhere, and sights therein are so attractive that each one of these charms hearts and minds. This wonderful structure of the universe is a clear proof of the fact that its Creator is not only Great and All-Wise but is also a perfect Artist. The Quran has also stated this aspect of the Creator in (Surah As-Sajadah, Ayat 7): (Allah is) that God Who has created in perfect beauty everything He has created.
10. That is, these spheres are so fortified that they are beyond the reach of every Satan, for all Satans including those of jinns, have been confined to that sphere in which the Earth has been placed and they enjoy no more access to visit other spheres than the other dwellers of this sphere. This has been mentioned in order to remove a common misunderstanding. The common people believed, and still believe, that Satan and his descendants have a free access to every place in the universe. On the contrary, the Quran says that Satans cannot go beyond a certain limit and they have no unlimited power of ascension.
11. This is the answer to the false claim of the soothsayers, diviners, hermits, conjurers and the like who pretended to receive communications from the Heaven. The Quran says that in fact they do not possess any means of obtaining information about unseen things. Satans, however, try to eaves-drop because they are by nature more like angels than human beings, but in reality, they succeed in obtaining very little information about it.
12. In Arabic the word shihab-i-mubin literally means a fiery flame. In Surah (As-Saffaat, Ayat 10), the same thing has been called shihab-i-thaqib (flame that pierces through darkness). This may or may not necessarily be a meteor for it is just possible that it may be some type of rays such as cosmic rays or even a stronger type which we have not been able to discover as yet. Anyhow, if the fiery flame that pursues Satans may be taken to be a meteor, a countless number of these can form a fortification around our sphere of the universe. Scientific observations made with the help of the telescope have shown that billions of these meteors are rushing from space in a mass of rainfall. towards the earth's atmosphere. Such a scene was witnessed in an eastern pan of North America on November 13, 1833.
This is so strong a fortification that it can prevent Satans from passing through any fortified sphere. With the help of the above, one can form a mental picture of the "fortified spheres" . Though there is no visible "wall" to keep distinct and separate one sphere from the others, Allah has securely guarded each of these spheres by invisible "walls" against each other. That is why our "planet" has remained safe in spite of the occasional "rainfall" of countless meteors. For as soon as they cross the protective wall of our sphere, they are burnt to ashes. But sometimes a meteorite reaches the earth from outer space as if to warn the dwellers of this planet of the existence of the "power" of the Creator. For instance, the biggest of these weighs 645 pounds and it is obvious from this that if the earth had not been made safe and secure by means of "fortified spheres" the rain of the shooting stars would have utterly annihilated it long long ago. It is these "fortified spheres" which the Qur'an calls "buruj."
13. The growth of every kind of plant in a limited extent is another sign of the wisdom and power of Allah. For the generative power of every vegetable plant is so great that if free growth had been allowed to even one kind of plant, it would have covered the whole surface of the earth. But it is by the design of the All-Wise and All-Powerful Creator that every kind of vegetable is produced in a balanced measure. There is another aspect of the vegetable life. Each and every kind of it is allowed to grow only to a fixed size, height, and thickness, which is a proof of the fact that the Creator himself prescribed the structure, the shape, the size, the height, the leaves and branches, and the number of each and every plant, and no plant is allowed to go beyond any of these fixed limits.
14. This is to bring home the fact that it is not vegetable life alone that has a fixed limit to its growth, etc. The same is true of everything that exists, whether it be air, water, light, heat, cold, mineral, vegetable, animal or power or energy, in short, each and every thing exists in the prescribed quantity, number, etc. which neither decreases nor increases. It is this determined course in each and every thing which has produced appropriate balance and proportion in the entire system of the universe to such a perfection that one is led to the inevitable conclusion that the whole thing has been designed by its All-Wise Creator. For, had the universe come into existence by mere accident or had it been created by many gods, it was impossible to have such a perfect balance and appropriate proportion with perpetual consistence in so many different things and powers.
15. It is to impress this: Your worldly life and all you possess are transitory and temporary, and Allah alone is Eternal. Your end shall come sooner or later, and you shall leave everything behind in this world, which will again become a part of Our treasure.
16. “He is All-Wise”, therefore His Wisdom demands that He should gather the entire mankind and reward or punish each individual in accordance with his deeds. And “He is All-Knowing”, therefore no individual, whosoever he may be, can escape from Him. As each and every particle of each and every individual is in His knowledge, He is able to bring entire mankind to life in the Hereafter. Thus anyone who denies life in the Hereafter is really ignorant of the Wisdom of Allah; and anyone who considers it impossible that those particles of the human body, which were all scattered about, could again be brought together in the form of the body that was alive, is ignorant of the All Comprehensive knowledge and power of Allah.