*1 Several Surahs of the Qur'an begin with one or the other such introductory sentence, which is meant to declare at the outset wherefrom this discourse is being issued. This is apparently the same sort of an introductory sentence as an announcer speaks in the beginning of a radio programme to tell which radio station he is speaking from. But unlike the ordinary announcement from a radio station, when the extraordinary declaration at the beginning of a Surah is made to the effect that this message is being issued by the Ruler of the Universe, it is not merely meant to specify the origin of the discourse, but, besides, it also puts forward a big claim, a great challenge and a severe warning, for at the very outset it gives the big news that this .is not human but the Lord of the Worlds' Word. This declaration at once brings man face to face with the grave question: "Should I or should I not accept this claim? If I accept it I shall have to bow my head in submission before it for ever. Then, Ishall be left with no freedom concerning it. If I do not accept it, I shall have to take the great risk that if it be really the Lord of the Worlds' Word, I shall have to meet with eternal misery and misfortune in consequence of rejecting it." That is why this introductory sentence solely on account of its extraordinary nature compels man to listen to this Word with frill attention and seriousness,. and then take the decision whether he would accept it as Divine Word or not; Here, what has been said is not merely that this Book has been sent down by the Lord of the Worlds, but, besides, it also asserts most forcefully:" It is without any doubt the Book of God: there is absolutely no room for doubt about its having been revealed by Allah." If this assertive sentence is studied in the actual context itself, it will be seen that it contains the argument also along with the assertion, and this argument was not hidden from the people of Makkah before whom the assertion was being made. The whole life of the person presenting it had been spent before them. They had known him before he presented the Book as well as after he had presented it. They knew that the person presenting the Book with that assertion was the most righteous, the most serious and the most pious and virtuous man of their society. They also knew that until a day before he made the claim to Prophethood, no one had ever heard from him those things which he had started presenting suddenly just after his claim to Prophethood. They found a marked difference between the diction and style used in the Book and the diction and style used by Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) himself, in his daily life, and they also recognized naturally that one and the same person could not have two styles so different from each other. They were also experiencing the highly miraculous literature being presented in the Book and, being the Arabic speaking people themselves, knew that all their literary men and poets were feeling utterly helpless in producing anything the like of it. They were also not unaware that there was a world of difference between the literary productions and orations of their poets and sorcerers and orators, and the Divine discourses being recited before them and the sublimity of the pure themes being presented in them. They did not see in the Book and in the message of the one presenting it any trace whatever of selfishness, which is always present in the work and message of a false claimant to prophethood. They could not fmd out, however, hard they might have tried, that Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) by laying claim to Prophethood was trying to secure a certain benefit for himself or his family or his clan and tribe, or that he had any vested interest in the message he gave. Then, they could also see what sort of the people of their society wcrc being drawn to his message and what great revolution was taking place in them as soon as they came in contact with his invitation. AII these things together supported and proved the assertion and claim. That is why in that background it was enough to say that it is beyond any doubt a Book that pas been sent down by the Lord of the Worlds. No further argument was needed to substantiate the claim.
*2 After the above introductory sentence, the first objection of the polytheists of Makkah, which they raised concerning the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet, is being dealt with.
*3 This is not merely a question but also an expression of great surprise and astonishment. It means to imply this: In spite of alI those things on account of which this Book is, without any doubt, a Revelation from Allah, do those people yet say stubbornly that Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) has himself forged it and is falsely attributing it to Allah? Don't they feet any shame in uttering such a senseless and baseless accusation? Don't they at all realize what opinion will those people form who are aware of Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) and his work and his discourses and also understand the Book, when they hear their absurd accusation?(32:3) Or do2 they say: “He has fabricated it?”3 Nay, it is the Truth from your Lord so that you may warn a people to whom no warner came before you;4 perhaps they will be guided to the Right Way.5
*4 Just as in the first verse it was considered sufficient to say, 'It is without any doubt the Book of God," and no further argument was needed to be advanced to prove the Qur'an to be Divine Word, so in this verse also the only thing being said to refine the disbelievers' charge that the Qur'an was being forged is: "It is the Truth from your Lord." The reason for it is the same as we have given in E.N. 1 above. The listeners wcrc well aware of the person who was presenting the Qur'an, of the environment in which he was presenting it and the confidence and grace with which he was presenting it; they also knew the Book, its diction and literary excellence and its themes; they were also feeling the influence and impact it was having on contemporary society of Makkah. Under those conditions the Book's being the Truth sent down by the Lord of the Worlds, was such an evident factual reality that the mere mention of it in clear and definite terms was enough to refute the accusation of the disbelievers. Any attempt to strengthen this assertion by resort to reasoning would have caused it to be weakened instead. The case would be like this. Supposing it's day and the sun is shining bright, and a stubborn person calls it a dark night. To refute him it would be enough to say: "Do you call it a night when the bright day is clearly visible aIIaround`.'" If after this, one tried to bring logical arguments to prove the day to be day. it would not in any way strengthen the reply but would rather weaken it instead.
*5 That is; "Just, as its being the Truth and a Revelation from Allah is absolutely certain, so is its being based on wisdom and Allah's mercy for you also evident. You yourselves know that for the past many centuries no Prophet has been raised among you, and you also know that your entire nation has been involved in ignorance and moral degeneration and sheer backwardness. In a state like this if a Prophet has been raised among you to awaken you and show you the right way, you should not be surprised. This was a great need which Allah has fulfilled for the sake of your own welfare and well-being. One should note that in Arabia the light of the true Faith was first of aII spread by the Prophets Hud and- Salih, who lived in the pre-historic age. They were followed by the Prophets Abraham and Ishmael, who lived 2,500 years before the Holy Prophet. After them the last Prophet to be raised in Arabia before the Holy Prophet was the Prophet Shu'aib, who had passed about 2,000 years earlier. This is a very long period. That is why it has been said, and rightly so, that no warner had come to those people. This did not mean that no warner had ever come to them, but it meant that the people had long stood in need of a warner. Here, another question may arise in the minds, which should be answered straightaway. One may ask: When no Prophet had come to the Arabs for hundreds of years before the Holy Prophet, what would be the basis of accountability of the people who had lived in that age of ignorance? They could not tell guidance from deviation and error. Then, if they had gone astray, how could they be held responsible for their deviation? The answer is this: The detailed knowledge of the true Faith might have been lost to those people, but even in that age of ignorance the people were not unaware that the true Faith was based on TauhId, and the Prophets had never taught idol-worship to their followers. This truth was also contained in those traditions which the Arabs had received from the Prophets born in their own land, and they were also aware of this through the teachings of the Prophets Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus (peace be upon alI of them) who had been born in the land adjoining their own. In the traditions of Arabia also it was well known that in the earliest times the Arabs' real religion was the Religion of Abraham and that idol-worship had been .introduced among them by a person named `Amr bin Luhayy. In spite of the prevalence of shirk and idol-worship, there were living in different parts of Arabia many such people, who rejected shirk, professed Tauhid and openly condemned offering of sacrifices at the shrines of idols. In the age close to the Holy Prophet's own, there had passed people like Quss bin Sa`idat-il-Iyadi, Umayyah bin Abi as-Salt, Suwaid bin `Amr alMustaliqi, Waki' bin Salamah bin Zuhair al-Iyadi', `Amr bin Jundub al-Juhani, Abu Qais Sarmah bin Abi Anas, Zaid bin `Amr bin Nufail, Waraqah bin Naufal, 'Uthman bin al-Huwairith, `Ubaidah bin Jahsh, `Amir bin az-Zarb al-'Advani ' Allaf bin Shahab at-Tamimi; , Al-Mutalammis bin Umayyah al-Kinani; , Zuhair bin Abi Salma, Khalid bin Sinan bin Ghais al-'Absi, `Abdullah al-Quda`i and many others, who were known as Hunafa'. These people publicly professed Tauhid as the basis of the Faith and declared their dissociation from the religion of the mushriks. Obviously they had got this concept from whatever had remained behind from the influence of the teaching of the Prophets. Moreover, the inscriptions belonging to the 4th and 5th centuries A. D. , which have been discovered in Yaman as a result of modern archaeological research and investigation, reveal that a monotheistic religion existed there in that age, whose followers acknowledged ar-Rahman (the All-Merciful) and Rabb-us-sama' wa!-ard ( Lord of the heavens and earth) alone as the One and only Deity. An inscription. dated 378 A.D. has been found from the ruins of a house of worship, which says that this house of worship has been built for the worship of "God of heavens" or "Lord of heavens". In an inscription of 465 A.D. there are words which clearly point to the doctrine of Tauhid. Similarly, an inscription of 512 A.D. has been discovered at Zabad, a place between the river Euphrates and Qinnasrin, in northern Arabia, bearing the words: Bism-ilahu, la 'izza illa lahu, /a shukra, ills lahv. All this shows that before the advent of the Holy Prophet, the teachings of the former Prophets had not altogether been forgotten, and there still existed many means which at least reminded man of the truth: "Your God is only One God. " (For further explanation, see E.N. 84 of Surah AI-Furqan).(32:4) It is Allah6 Who created the heavens and the earth and all that is between the two, in six days, and then He established Himself on the Throne.7 You have no guardian or intercessor other than He. Will you, then, not take heed?8
*6 Now the second objection of the mushriks which they raised against the Holy Prophet's message of Tauhid, is being dealt with: They were severely critical of him because he rejected their gods and saints and openly invited the people to the creed that there is no helper, no fulfiller of needs except Allah and no answerer of prayers, no remover of ills and no sovereign other than Him.
*7 For explanation, see E.N. 41 of Al-A'raf, E.N. 4 of Yunus and E.N. 3 of Ar-Ra'd.
*8 That is, "Your real God is the Creator of the heavens and earth. But you in your folly have set up others than Him as your helpers and supporters in the vast 'Kingdom of this Universe. The Creator of this whole Universe and whatever it contains is Allah. Here, everything except Himself is created, and Allah has not gone to sleep after having created and made the world go. But He Himself is the Ruler and Sovereign and Sustainer of His Kingdom. Then, how senseless you are that you have set up a few of His creatures as the masters of your destinies ! If Allah dces not help you, none of them has the power to help you. If Allah should seize you, none of them has the power to secure your liberty. If Allah does not permit, none of them has the power to intercede for you before Him. "(32:5) He governs from the heaven to the earth and then the record (of this governance) goes up to Him in a day whose measure is a thousand years in your reckoning.9
*9 That is, "The events of a thousand years of your history are a day's work for AIlah." He entrusts His scheme of work to the "angels of destiny", who submit their report of work before Him and receive orders for the scheme of the next day (whose length according to your calculation would be a thousand years). "This thing has been expressed at two other places also in the Qur'an, the study of which can help to understand it fully well. The disbelievers of Arabia said, "Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) claimed to be a Prophet many years ago. He has warned us again and again that if we did not accept his message and rejected his invitation, we would be seized by Allah's torment. He has been repeating this threat since many years, but the torment has not overtaken us, although we have denied and rejected him clearly over and over again. Had his threats any substance in them, we would have been seized in the torment long ago " In this connection, in Surah AI-Hajj Allah says: "These people are demanding of you to hasten the chastisement. Allah will never fail to fulfil His threat, but a day with your Lord is equal to a thousand years as you reckon." (v. 47) In Surah AI-Ma'arij (vv. 1-7), it has been said: "An asker has asked for a torment, (the torment) which must befall the disbelievers. There is none to avert it. It is from that God Who is the Owner of the Steps of Ascent. The angels and the Spirit ascend to His Presence in a day whose measure is fifty thousand years. So, have patience, O Prophet, a graceful patience! They think it is far off, but We see it near at hand. " What is meant to be impressed in these verses is this: Allah's decrees are not passed and enforced in the history of mankind according to the earthly watches and calendars. When a nation is warned that if it adopted such and such an attitude in life, it would meet with such and such an end, the people would be foolish if from this they understood that the predicted consequences would follow their evil acts and deeds immediately. Not to speak of days and months and years, the occurrence of the results may even take centuries.(32:6) He knows10 all that is beyond as well as all that is within a creature's sense-perception. He is the Most Mighty,11 the Most Compassionate,12
*10 That is, "For others one thing may be open and known but countless other things hidden. Whether angels or jinns, prophets or saints, or other pious people, none of them has the knowledge of everything. It is Allah alone Who knows everything. He knows all that has passed, all that is present, and all that will happen in the future. "
*11 11. "The All-Mighty": The One Who is dominant over everything: no power in the universe can hinder Him in His Design and Will and obstruct His Command from being enforced. Everything is subdued. to Him and nothing can resist Him.
*12 That is, He is not tyrannous to His creatures but is Gracious and Merciful in spite of being overwhelmingly dominant and possessor of all power and authority.(32:7) He Who excelled in the creation of all that He created.13 He originated the creation of man from clay,
*13 That is, "In this limitless universe He has created countless numbers of things, but none of them is ugly and ill-shaped: everything has its own special beauty: everything is proportionate and symmetrical in its own way. Whatever He has made for a particular purpose, He has given it the most appropriate, form and invested it with the most :unable qualities for it. No better and more appropriate structure could be conceived, for example, for the eye and the ear which have been made for seeing and hearing. The air has precisely the same qualities which it should have for the purpose for which it has been made, and the water precisely the same qualities for the purpose for which it has been made. No one can point out any defect or flaw in the design of anything made by God; nor can anyone offer an alteration or modification in it. "(32:8) then made his progeny from the extract of a mean fluid,14
*14 That is, "In the beginning He created man directly by His own act of Creation, and- then placed in man himself such a procreative ability that similar men continue being produced by his sperm-drop. By one excellent act He gave life and consciousness and intellect to a combination of earthly elements by His creative Command so that a wonderful creation like man came into being; by another excellent act He placed in man's own organism such a wonderful machinery for the production of similar more men in the future, whose mode of functioning is highly astonishing and amazing. This is one of those verses of the Qur'an, which points to the direct creation of the first man. The scientists since the time of Darwin have felt greatly critical of this concept and have rejected it with contempt as unscientific. But the fact is that they cannot get rid of the concept of the direct creation of the first germ, if not of the first man, or of the first species of animals. If creationism is not accepted, then one will have to accept the utterly absurd idca that life originated merely accidentally; whereas even the simplest form of life as found in the single cell organism is so full of complexities and subtleties that regarding it as the result of an accident would be a million times more unscientific an idca than what the evolutionists think of creationism. And if once it is accepted that the first germ came into being by an act of direct creation, it would be no longer difficult to accept that the first member of every species of animal life was created by the Creator's own act of creation, and then its race started through different forms of procreation. If accepted this concept would explain away aII those riddles and complexities which have remained unsolved in their theory of evolution in spite of all the scientific theorizing by the upholders of Darwinism. (For further explanation, see E.N. 1 of An-Nisa', E.N. 10 and 146 of AI-A'raf, and E.N. 17 of Al-Hijr).(32:9) then He duly proportioned him,15 and breathed into him of His spirit,16 and bestowed upon you ears and eyes and hearts.17 And yet, little thanks do you give.18
*15 "Shaped him": developed him from a microscopic organism into a full-fledged human being and perfected him with limbs and other organs of the body.
*16 "Spirit" dces not merely imply the life because of which a living thing moves, but the essential human characteristic which imbues man with consciousness and thought, discretion and judgement, discernment, -and discrimination, by virtue of which he is distinguished from all other earthly creations and becomes possessor of a personality and self and worthy of Allah's vicegerency. Allah has called this "Spirit" His own either because it belongs to Him alone, and its being attributed to Himself is just like a thing's being attributed to its master, or because the attributes of knowledge, thought, consciousness, will, judgment, discretion, etc. with which man has been characterised are a reflection to the attributes of Allah. They have not arisen from any combination of matter, but from Allah Himself. Man has received knowledge from Allah's Knowledge, wisdom from Allah's Wisdom, and discretion and authority from Allah's Authority. He has not received these from a source which is without knowledge, without wisdom and without discretion and authority. (For further explanation, see E.N. 19 of AI-Hijr).
*17 This is a fine way of saying something. Before the mention of "breathing into him of His spirit", man has been referred to in the third person: "He created him ..... spread his progeny ...... shaped him ...... breathed into him His spirit," for till then he was not even worthy of being addressed. Then, when the spirit had been breathed into him, he became worthy of the honour and it was said: "He gave you the ears . . . gave you the eyes . . . gave you the hearts," for after having been blessed with the Spirit, man became worthy of being addressed. The ears and the eyes imply the instruments by which man obtains knowledge. Although the senses of taste and touch and smell are also instruments of obtaining knowledge, hearing and sight are the major and by far the more important senses. Therefore, the Qur'an has mentioned only these two at different places as the most important gifts of God to man. "The Heart" implies the mind which arranges the information obtained through the senses and draws inferences from it, and selects a possible way of action and decides to follow it.
*18 That is, "The wonderful human spirit with such excellent qualities has not been given to you so that you may live like the animals in the world and plan life for yourselves as an animal would. You were given the eyes so that you may see things with insight and not that you should live like the blind people; you were given the cars so that you may hear things with attention and not that you should live like the deaf people; you were given the hearts so that you may understand the reality and adopt the right way in thought and action and not that you should expend alI your capabilities for collecting the means of nourishing and sustaining your animality, or that you may devise philosophies and programmes of rebellion against your Creator. After having received these invaluable blessings from God, when you adopt polytheism and atheism, when you assume godhead yourself or become servants of other gods, when you lose yourself in sensual pleasure by serving your lusts, you in fact tell your God: "We were not worthy of these blessings: You should have made us a monkey, or a wolf, or an alligator, or a crow, instead of man."(32:10) They say:19 “Shall we be created afresh after we have become lost in the earth?” Nay, the fact is that they deny that they will meet their Lord.20
*19 After answering the disbelievers' objections about the Prophethood and Tauhid now their objection about the Hereafter, which is the third basic belief of Islam, is being dealt with. The conjunction waw(and) in the beginning of the verse connects this paragraph with the foregoing theme, as if the sequence were like this: "They say: Muhammad is not Allah's Messenger," "They say: Allah is not One and the only Deity," and "They say: we shall not be raised back to life after death. "
*20 The gap between the preceding and this sentence has been left for the listener to fill. The objection of the disbelievers as cited in the first sentence is so absurd that no need has been felt to refute it. Only its citation was regarded as enough to show its absurdity. For the two parts which make up the objection arc both unreasonable. Their saying: "When we have become dust" is meaningless for that which is "we" can never become dust. Dust is the destiny of the body after it has become devoid of the "we" The body itself is not the "we". When alive, limbs and other parts of the body may be cut off one by one, but the "we" remains intact. No part of it is cut off with the cut off limb. And when the "we" has vacated a body, the "we" remains no longer applicable even in its remotest sense although the body still remains intact. That is why a sincere lover goes and buries the body of his beloved, because the beloved is no more in the body. He buries not the beloved but the empty body, which was once the home of his beloved. Thus, the very first premise of the disbelievers' objection is baseless. As for its second part, "Shall we be re-created?" this question containing surprise and denial would not have arisen, had the objectors considered and taken into account the meaning of the "we" and its creation. The present existence of this "we" is nothing more than that a little of coal and iron and lime and sonic other earthly substances got together from here and there to combine themselves into a body, which became the home of the "we". Then what happens when it dies? When the "we" has left .the body, the constituent substances of its abode which had been gathered together from different parts of the earth go back to the same earth. The question is: He who had made this home for the "we", can He not make the same home from the same substances once again and settle the "we" in it? When this was possible before and has in actual fact existed, what can hinder its possibility and its existing as an actual fact once again? These are such things as can be understood by the application of a little of the common sense. But why doesn't man allow his mind to think on these lines? Why does he raise the meaningless objections about the life hereafter and the Hereafter? Leaving out alI these details, AIlah has answered this question in the second sentence, saying: "The fact is that they disbelieve in the meeting with their Lord." That is, "The real thing is not this that the recreation of man is something odd and remote in possibility, which they cannot understand, but in fact, what prevents them from understanding this is their desire w live freely and independently in the world and commit any sin, any excess that they please and then escape Scot-free from here: they should not be held accountable for anything, nor answerable for any of their misdeeds."(32:11) Tell them: “The angel of death who has been charged with your souls shall gather you, and then you shall be brought back to your Lord.”21
*21 That is, "Your `ego' will not mix in the dust,` but as soon as its term of action comes to an end, God's angel of death will come and will take it out of the body and seize it completely. No part of it will be allowed to become dust with the body. It will be taken intact into custody and produced before its Lord." Let us consider in some detail the facts which have been presented in this brief verse: (1) It says that death does not occur as a matter of course, like the stopping of a watch suddenly when it needs re-winding, but for this purpose Allah has appointed a special angel, who comes to receive the soul precisely in the manner as an official receiver takes something into his custody. From the details which have been mentioned at other places in the Qur'an, it becomes apparent that the chief angel of death has a whole staff of the angels under him, who perform a variety of duties in connection with causing the death, seizing the soul and taking it into custody. Moreover, their treatment of a guilty soul is different from their treatment of a believing, righteous soul. (For details, see An-Nisa': 97, AI-An`am: 93, An-Nahl: 28, AI-Waqi'ah: 83-94). (2) It also shows that man dces not cease to exist after death, but his soul survives the body. The words of the Qur'an: "The angel of death shall seize you completely," point out the same reality. For something which does not exist cannot be seized. Seizing something and taking it into custody implies that the seized thing should be in possession of the seizer. (3) It also shows that at the time of death that which is seized is not the biological life of man but his self, his ego, which is connoted by the words like "I" and "we" and "you". Whatever personality this ego may have developed during its life-activity in the world, the same is taken out intact as a whole, without effecting any increase or decrease in its characteristics, and the same is made to return to its Lord after death. The same personality will be given a new birth and a new body in the Hereafter; the same will be subjected to trial; the same will be called to account; and the same will have to experience rewards or punishments.