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Towards Understanding the Quran
With kind permission: Islamic Foundation UK
Introduction to Tafheem | Glossary | Verbs
Other resources: Maarif | Dawat 

 Surah As-Saffat 37:1-21 [1/5]
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Verse Summary -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
وَٱلصَّـٰٓفَّـٰتِBy those lined
صَفًّا(in) rows,
فَٱلزَّٲجِرَٲتِAnd those who drive
فَٱلتَّـٰلِيَـٰتِAnd those who recite
ذِكْرًا(the) Message,
إِلَـٰهَكُمْyour Lord
لَوَٲحِدٌ(is) surely One,
ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ(of) the heavens
وَٱلْأَرْضِand the earth,
وَمَاand what
بَيْنَهُمَا(is) between both of them
وَرَبُّand Lord
ٱلْمَشَـٰرِقِ(of) each point of sunrise.
إِنَّاIndeed, We
زَيَّنَّا[We] adorned
ٱلسَّمَآءَthe heaven
بِزِينَةٍwith an adornment
ٱلْكَوَاكِبِ(of) the stars.
وَحِفْظًاAnd (to) guard
يَسَّمَّعُونَthey may listen
ٱلْمَلَإِthe assembly
ٱلْأَعْلَىٰ[the] exalted
وَيُقْذَفُونَare pelted
وَلَهُمْand for them
عَذَابٌ(is) a punishment
مَنْ(him) who
ٱلْخَطْفَةَ(by) theft
فَأَتْبَعَهُۥbut follows him
شِهَابٌa burning flame,
فَٱسْتَفْتِهِمْThen ask them,
أَهُمْ`Are they
أَشَدُّa stronger
مَّنْ(those) whom
خَلَقْنَآ‌ۚWe have created?`
إِنَّاIndeed, We
خَلَقْنَـٰهُمcreated them
طِينٍa clay
عَجِبْتَyou wonder,
وَيَسْخَرُونَwhile they mock.
وَإِذَاAnd when
ذُكِّرُواْthey are reminded,
يَذْكُرُونَthey receive admonition.
وَإِذَاAnd when
رَأَوْاْthey see
ءَايَةًa Sign,
يَسْتَسْخِرُونَthey mock,
وَقَالُوٓاْAnd they say,
هَـٰذَآ(is) this
سِحْرٌa magic
أَءِذَاIs it when
مِتْنَاwe are dead
وَكُنَّاand have become
وَعِظَـٰمًاand bones,
أَءِنَّاshall we then
لَمَبْعُوثُونَbe certainly resurrected,
ءَابَآؤُنَاour fathers
وَأَنتُمْand you
دَٲخِرُونَ(will be) humiliated.`
فَإِنَّمَاThen only
زَجْرَةٌ(will be) a cry
فَإِذَاthen, behold!
يَنظُرُونَwill see.
وَقَالُواْAnd they will say,
يَـٰوَيْلَنَا`O woe to us!
يَوْمُ(is the) Day
ٱلدِّينِ(of) the Recompense.`
يَوْمُ(is the) Day
ٱلْفَصْلِ(of) Judgment
كُنتُمyou used to
بِهِۦ[of it]

بِسۡمِ اللهِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِيۡمِ وَالصّٰٓفّٰتِ صَفًّا ۙ‏  فَالزّٰجِرٰتِ زَجۡرًا ۙ‏  فَالتّٰلِيٰتِ ذِكۡرًا ۙ‏  اِنَّ اِلٰهَكُمۡ لَوَاحِدٌ ؕ‏  رَبُّ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ وَمَا بَيۡنَهُمَا وَرَبُّ الۡمَشَارِقِ ؕ‏  اِنَّا زَيَّنَّا السَّمَآءَ الدُّنۡيَا بِزِيۡنَةِ اۨلۡكَوَاكِبِۙ‏  وَحِفۡظًا مِّنۡ كُلِّ شَيۡطٰنٍ مَّارِدٍ​ۚ‏  لَّا يَسَّمَّعُوۡنَ اِلَى الۡمَلَاِ الۡاَعۡلٰى وَيُقۡذَفُوۡنَ مِنۡ كُلِّ جَانِبٍۖ ‏  دُحُوۡرًا  وَّلَهُمۡ عَذَابٌ وَّاصِبٌ  ۙ‏  اِلَّا مَنۡ خَطِفَ الۡخَطۡفَةَ فَاَتۡبَعَهٗ شِهَابٌ ثَاقِبٌ‏  فَاسۡتَفۡتِهِمۡ اَهُمۡ اَشَدُّ خَلۡقًا اَمۡ مَّنۡ خَلَقۡنَاؕ اِنَّا خَلَقۡنٰهُمۡ مِّنۡ طِيۡنٍ لَّازِبٍ‏  بَلۡ عَجِبۡتَ وَيَسۡخَرُوۡنَ‏  وَاِذَا ذُكِّرُوۡا لَا يَذۡكُرُوۡنَ‏  وَاِذَا رَاَوۡا اٰيَةً يَّسۡتَسۡخِرُوۡنَ‏  وَقَالُوۡۤا اِنۡ هٰذَاۤ اِلَّا سِحۡرٌ مُّبِيۡنٌ​ ۖ​ۚ‏  ءَاِذَا مِتۡنَا وَكُـنَّا تُرَابًا وَّعِظَامًا ءَاِنَّا لَمَبۡعُوۡثُوۡنَۙ‏   اَوَاٰبَآؤُنَا الۡاَوَّلُوۡنَؕ‏  قُلۡ نَعَمۡ وَاَنۡـتُمۡ دٰخِرُوۡنَ​ۚ‏  فَاِنَّمَا هِىَ زَجۡرَةٌ وَّاحِدَةٌ فَاِذَا هُمۡ يَنۡظُرُوۡنَ‏  وَقَالُوۡا يٰوَيۡلَنَا هٰذَا يَوۡمُ الدِّيۡنِ‏  هٰذَا يَوۡمُ الۡفَصۡلِ الَّذِىۡ كُنۡتُمۡ بِهٖ تُكَذِّبُوۡنَ‏ 
(37:1) By those who range themselves in rows; (37:2) by those who reprove severely, (37:3) and those who recite the Exhortation;1 (37:4) surely your God is One,2 (37:5) the Lord of the heavens and the earth and of whatever lies between the two, the Lord3 of the Easts.4 (37:6) We have adorned the lower heaven with the adornment of the stars5 (37:7) and have protected it from every rebellious satan.6 (37:8) These satans cannot listen to what transpires in the High Council for they are pelted away from every side (37:9) and are repelled. Theirs is an unceasing chastisement. (37:10) And if any is able to snatch a fragment, he is pursued by a piercing flame.7 (37:11) So ask them (that is, human beings): “Were they harder to create than the objects We created?”8 We created them from sticky clay.9 (37:12) You marvel (at the wondrous creations of Allah) and they scoff at it, (37:13) and when they are admonished, they pay no heed; (37:14) and if they see any Sign, they laugh it away (37:15) and say: “This is nothing but plain sorcery.10 (37:16) Is it ever possible that after we die and are reduced to dust and (a skeleton of) bones, we will be raised to life? (37:17) And so also shall our forefathers of yore be raised to life?” (37:18) Tell them: “Yes; and you are utterly helpless (against Allah).”11 (37:19) There will be a single stern rebuff and lo, they will be observing with their own eyes (all that they had been warned against).12 (37:20) They will then say: “Woe for us. This is the Day of Judgement.” (37:21) “Yes, this is the Day of Final Decision that you used to deny as a lie.”13

.1 The majority of the commentators agree that all these three groups imply the groups of the angels, and the same explanation of it has been reported from Abdullah bin Masud, Ibn Abbas, Qatadah, Masruq Said bin Jubair, Ikrimah, Mujahid, Suddi, Ibn Zaid and Rabi bin Anas. Some commentators have given other commentaries also, but this commentary is more in keeping with the context. The words “range in ranks” refer to the fact that all the angels who arc administering the affairs of the universe, are the humble servants of Allah, and are ever ready to carry out any service and implement any of His commands. This theme has been further repeated in (verse 165 )below, where the angels say with regard to themselves: “We are the ranged servants (of Allah).”

As for “drive away with strength”, some commentators think that it refers to those angels who drive the clouds and arrange the rainfall. Although this meaning is not incorrect either, the meaning which is more relevant to the following context is that among these angels there is also a group of those, who scold and curse the disobedient people and the culprits, and this scolding and cursing is not merely verbal but it rains on human beings in the form of natural disasters and calamities.

“To recite the reminder” implies that among these angels there are also those, who perform the service of admonition in order to draw the people’s attention to the truth. This, they do by bringing about natural calamities from which the heedful take heed, and by bringing down the teachings to the Prophets, and in the form of revelations with which the pious men are blessed through them.

2. This is the truth to impress which an oath has been taken by the angels bearing the above-mentioned qualities. In other words, what is meant to be said is: The whole system of the universe which is functioning in the service of Allah, and all those manifestations of this universe which bring the evil consequences of deviation from the service of Allah before men, testify that the “Deity” of men is One and only One.”

The word “Ilah” applies to two meanings.

(1) The Deity who is actually being served and worshiped.

(2) The Deity who, in reality, is worthy of being served and worshiped.

Here, the word “Ilah” has been used in the second meaning, for, as far as the first meaning is concerned, men have adopted many other deities. That is why we have translated Ilahas the Real Deity.

3. The truth that has been conveyed in these verses is: The Master and Ruler of the Universe is the Real Deity of men. He alone can be, and should be the Deity. It would be utterly irrational that the Rabb (i.e. Master, Ruler, Guardian and Sustainer) of the man should be one but his Ilah (Deity) another. The basic reason for worship is that man should naturally bow down before and acknowledge the superiority of him who can bring him harm and good, who can fulfill his needs and requirements, who can make or mar his destiny and has power over his life and survival itself. If man understands this, he will automatically understand that to worship the one who has no power and not to worship Him Who has All the powers are both against reason and nature. The One who alone is worthy of worship is He who possesses the powers. As far as the powerless beings are concerned, they are neither worthy of worship, nor is it in any way profitable to worship and pray to them, for it is not in their power to take any action whatsoever on man’s petitions and prayers. To bow before them humbly and to petition them would be as foolish and meaningless an act as to bow before and petition another one who has himself gone before a ruler to make obeisance and submit his petitions.

4. The sun does not always rise at the same point but at a different point every day. Moreover, it does not rise at one and the same time for the whole world but rises at different times for the different parts of the earth. That is why the plural “mashariq” (Easts) has been used to indicate the different points at which the sun rises according to the season of the year. The corresponding word “magharib” (Wests) has not been used because Mashariq itself points to Magharib However, in Surah Al-Maarij, the word magharib also has been used along with mashariq: Rabb-almashariqi wal-magharib.

5. “Lower heaven”: The nearest heaven which can be seen with the naked eye, without the help of a telescope. The worlds beyond which can be seen through the telescopes of different powers, and the worlds which have not so far been observed through any means, are the distant heavens. In this connection, one should also note that “sama” is not something definite and determined, but man generally has been using this word and its other synonyms for the heavens since the earliest times.

6. That is, heaven is not merely empty space so that anyone who likes may enter it, but it has been fortified strongly, and its different regions have been bounded by such strong barriers that it is impossible for any rebel satan to exceed them. Every star and planet in the universe has its own circle and sphere escaping from which is as difficult as entering it. With the naked eye one can only see empty space, but, in reality, there are countless regions in space which have been even more strongly fortified and protected than they could be by steel walls. One can imagine and estimate the strength of these barriers by the difficulties man is experiencing in the way of reaching the moon, which is our nearest neighbor in space. Similar difficulties prevent the other creation of the earth, the jinns, from ascending towards the heavens.

7. To understand this one should keep in view the fact that, in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), soothsaying was in great vogue in Arabia. The soothsayers used to make predictions, give news of the unseen, tell the whereabouts of the lost properties and articles, and the people used to visit them to know the events of their past and future lives. These soothsayers claimed that they had some jinns and satans under their control who brought them all sorts of news. In this environment when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was appointed to Prophethood, and he began to recite the verses of the Quran, which described the past history and contained news of the future, and also stated that an angel brought him these verses, his opponents immediately branded him a soothsayer and started telling others that, like the other soothsayers, he too was associated with a satan, who brought him news from the heavens, which he presented as revelations from Allah. To refute this accusation, Allah says: The satans have no access to heaven. They have no power to hear the conversations of the angels and bring its news for others. If by chance a little of it enters the ear of a satan, and he tries to bring it down, he is followed by a flashing flame. In other words, it means: The grand system of the universe, which is functioning under the agency of the angels has been firmly guarded and secured against any interference of the satans. Not to speak of interfering in it, they do not even have the power to obtain any kind of information about it. (For further explanation, see (Surah Al-Hijr, Ayats 17-18 )and the E.Ns thereof).

8. This is an answer to the suspicions of the disbelievers of Makkah, which they presented about the Hereafter. They thought that the Hereafter was not possible, for it is impossible that the dead men should be recreated. In answer to it, Allah presents arguments for the possibility of the Hereafter and asks: If you think that the recreation of the dead men is a very difficult task which We do not have the power to accomplish, do you think it is easy to create the earth and the heavens and the countless things that they contain? Why don’t you use your common sense? Do you think that God for Whom it was not at all difficult to create this great universe and Who has created you in the first instance, will not have the power to create you once again?

9. That is, man is not a difficult thing to make. He has been created from clay, and can again be created from the same clay. “Created them from sticky clay” means that the first man was created directly from the clay and then his race was perpetuated by means of the sperm drop. It also means that every man has been created from the sticky clay, for the whole substance of man’s body is obtained from the earth. The sperm drop of which he is created is a product of the food, and all the substances which make up his physical being, from the time he is conceived till his death, are also supplied by the food. The source of the food, whether animal flesh or vegetable, is ultimately the same earth which, in combination with water produces corn and vegetables and fruit to become food for man, and nourish the animals, which supply milk and flesh for the use of man.

Thus, the basis of the argument is: Man could not be living today if the earth and clay had not become the source of life for him. And if it is possible today to create life in it, as your own existence is a clear and definite pointer to this possibility, why should it be impossible to bring about your re-creation from the same earth tomorrow.

10. That is, this person is talking of the world of magic in which the dead will rise, and will be produced before a court and sent to Heaven and Hell, or it may also mean: This person is talking like a madman. What he talks is a clear proof that somebody has worked magic on him; otherwise a sensible person could not talk such things.

11. That is, Allah can make of you whatever He likes. When He willed, you came into being forthwith; when He wills, you will die at one command by Him; and then whenever He wills, His one command will raise you back to life.

12. That is, when the time comes for this, it will not be difficult to reestablish the whole world. Just a single shout will be enough to make the people to wake up. Here, the word “shout” is very meaningful. It depicts the Resurrection as though the people who had died since the beginning of the creation till the last Day were lying asleep, and a sudden command to them to wake up will cause them to rise up all at once.

13. It may be that this is said by the believers, or by the angels; or it may be, as it were, the common expression of the conditions prevailing in the plain of Resurrection or it may as well be another reaction of the people themselves. That is, they may be saying in their hearts. In the world, you lived in a way as if no Day of Judgment would ever come. Now you have come to your doom. This is the same Day that you used to deny.