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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 37:1-10 [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,

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 
(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

.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).