Exposition of the Holy Quran – 37 As-Saaffaat (G A Parwez)

Surah 37: As-Saaffaat

(The Columns / Ranks)

(1) Groups of mujahideen (the forces) which stand ready for the defense of the divine system;

(2) And those entrusted with the state authority of the divine system to restrain mischief mongers from violating the law;

(3) And other momineen who follow the Qur’anic teachings.

(4) The existence of all these is a living proof of the reality that command and control rests only with Allah, and none else. All human beings should therefore obey only Him.

(5) It is the obedience of the God Whose Laws of Rabubiyya are in force in the whole universe (70:40). His Rabubiyya or sustenance is not only for nourishment and physical development, but it also provides guidance to all mankind, as all sources of human knowledge and that of wahi emanate from it.

(6) (As has been mentioned in verse 15:16-18) These people contend that their astrologers and priests can also tell them things similar to whatever the Rasool claims to be from Allah. However, the reality of the stars is that they are nothing but planetary bodies in orbit in space, which look beautiful because of their brightness.

(7) And We have kept them safe from every destructive element. (This is the reality of these stars, about which the priests claim that they make or mar human destiny. Therefore, the priests use them to forecast the future and possible human thoughts. They claim that the source of wahi and the knowledge of the priests is the same. This is wrong.)

(8-9) Their priests and astrologers are just guessing. The highest divine echelons where standards and laws are laid and set for everything cannot be reached by them. Human guesswork is repelled and pushed away from all sides. That stage is beyond the limits of the human intellect and people who are involved in such superstitions can never progress in practical life. For them there is everlasting suffering and punishment (1:18, 26:212, 67:5, 72:8-9).

(10) Of course, some of the things foretold by them do come true, but this is either just by chance or by sheer guesswork. Such things were accepted as spiritual attainment when people were living in the dark ages, devoid of the light imparted by knowledge. However, after the revelation of divine guidance, there is no room for it. Each guess or prophecy can be pursued until it is exposed by the flame of knowledge.

(11) Ask the people who believe that human destiny is under the influence of the stars: As far as creation is concerned, are these inert bodies (which have no discretionary authority) capable of having more power than the human being, whom We have endowed with intellect and discretion? All these planets are only masses of particles which are attached together; whereas human life has progressed and passed through innumerable stages of development (32:7).

(12) Whereas, you are surprised (at their stupidity that in spite of being superior, human beings consider themselves to be under the influence of stars and have faith in the superstitions of these soothsayers), they mock you. (So how can matters based on knowledge and wisdom benefit them?)

(13) That is why when you present the Qur’an to them (which is all wisdom and knowledge), they do not take it seriously.

(14) That is not all. They also select a verse and then call upon other people to join them in their mockery.

(15) (And when you tell them to bear in mind that after this worldly existence there is another life which continues after death) They retort, “This is certainly a pack of lies.” And they say:

(16-17) “How is it possible that we would be raised again after we die; and that our flesh and blood would be turned into dust and only the bones of the skeleton would remain? And not only us! Even our forefathers (who died centuries ago – 36:78, 75:3)?

(18) Tell them that it will surely happen like this. (However, to see the results of your deeds you do not have to wait till life after death. The process of retribution starts right here in this life.) You will soon see how much you would be humiliated (by opposing the truth).

(19) Only one single assault would be enough for this purpose. They will be shocked to see how it would put a stop to their rebellion.

(20) And they will say, “At last our end has come. This is the very day of reckoning about which we were being warned.”

(21) They will be told, “Yes this is the very day you used to belie. On this day everything will be sorted out and settled!”

(22) (In order to confront them now) Gather all those people who along with their supporters used to indulge in oppression, as well as those whom they considered their lords (leaving God aside).

(23) And after collecting them, take them to the jahannam of doom and destruction.

(24) But detain them for a while, because they have to be questioned.

(25) They will be asked, “(Earlier you used to talk a lot. What has happened now?) Why don’t you help each other?”

(26) They will not be able to answer and their eyes and heads will be lowered in submission.

(27) Instead, they will confront each other and ask questions.

(28) The followers amongst them will say (to their leaders), “You used to come to us with all your strength and power, in order to stop us from the right path!”

(29) They will reply, “This is wrong. You yourself were not keen to accept the truth.

(30) “We had no control or power to keep you away from the right path. It was you who openly adopted a rebellious course. Now you are throwing all the blame on us.

(31-32) “Our only fault was that when we saw you leaving the right path and going astray, we called you to join us as we ourselves were treading the wrong path (and we wanted as many people as possible to join us). Thus we led you astray.

“Now the Law of Mukafat has confronted all of us as a stark reality. We have to taste the chastisement (and there is no escape for you or for us).”

(33) So on that day, all the leaders and their followers will share a common suffering (14:21, 33:67, 34:32, 40:47).

(34) Such treatment is not confined to these people only. Our Law of Mukafat always deals with all the guilty ones in the same way.

(35) These are the guilty ones who scoffed in arrogance when they were told, “There is no authority except that of Allah, and obedience to anyone else is not permissible.”

(36) They said, “Should we give up our deities and leaders just because a mad poet says so?” (This is also what the other people are saying.)

(37) Our Rasool is neither a poet nor mad, and he has brought a reliable code of life for you, which is based on absolute reality and truth. It will prove the truth of all the messages brought by the earlier rusul. It confirms their true teachings.

(38) Tell them, “You are about to taste a grievous chastisement.

(39) “And this punishment has not come from anywhere outside. This is the natural consequence of your own deeds.”

(40) On the other hand, there are Our other devoted subjects who in order to lead their lives according to divine guidance, had separated themselves from the others.

(41) They will have all the comforts and pleasant things of life, which are well known and have so often been mentioned in the Qur’an.

(42) All these shall be the delicious fruits of their hard labour. Such people will be highly dignified and honorable.

(43-44) They will be sitting on couches in the gardens of delight and felicity, facing each other without any discrimination.

(45) During their sittings, cups containing chilled and pleasant drinks from unsullied flowing springs will be passed around.

(46) These drinks will be delicious and pure white like snow.

(47) They will neither have side effects such as the dulling of the senses and intoxication; nor will this lessen the deliciousness, taste or flavor (56:19).

(48-49) Such a life will not be restricted to men alone; women too would share it; women with the most beautiful and modest eyes. In other words, besides having physical beauty they will be an embodiment of virtue and modesty. Such shall be the heavenly society, these people would constitute.

(50) They will enjoy each others’ conversation with full attention.

(51-53) One of them would say that he had a companion who used to ask him, “Are you also one of those who believes in the truth of the message that after we are dead and our bodies become mere dust and bones, just a skeleton, we will be raised to life again? Will this happen so that we are requited?”

(54) The other would reply, “Just look this way.”

(55) He would look and notice that the same person is in the midst of the blazing fire of jahannam.

(56) On seeing him there, he would exclaim, “By God! You had left no stone unturned to ruin me too!

(57) “For had it not been for the grace of my Rabb and had I not taken to the right path I too would have been among those who are in the blazing fire.

(58-59) “Thanks to Allah we do not have to die again. The death which was to come has already come and we will not be inflicted with any punishment.

(60) “This indeed is a great achievement for us; and we have found our cherished desires.”

(61) (O Rasool! Tell these people that) Every worker has to strive for such achievements and happiness.

(62) Also ask them, “Which is better, the nourishment described above or the Shajra-tuz-zaqqum(1), namely the wealth and goods obtained through oppression and cruelty and which later on becomes a terrible burden for man (17:60, 44:44, 56:45).

(63) Always remember that any wealth collected by oppression and cruelty eventually becomes a chastisement for man.

(64) It is like that wicked tree which can never bear fruit and which grows from the very root of jahannam. (That is by eating it, all human abilities are ruined and further evolution and development is blocked.)

(65) Its spathes are (repulsive) like the head of a deadly cobra (which is full of poison) and the heads of rebellious and dictatorial people (which are full of superiority and hatred for others).

(66) One can eat from it to fill one’s belly (that is the physical needs of man are fulfilled; but the development of his personality stops – 37:68).

(67) Furthermore, they will be given impure boiling water. (Instead of quenching their thirst, this hot water will enhance it. The water itself will not be pure as it will be mixed with all kinds of impurities of deceptive life.)

(68) As a result of all their efforts (which are full of deceit and oppression), the further growth of their personality is stopped and they lead a miserable life.

(69) Such is the life of those who oppose the ways leading to the truth. Another unfortunate aspect of this dilemma is that they did not adopt this way of their own accord; they just followed their ancestors who had gone astray.

(70) They are blindly following the footsteps of their predecessors. (They do not stop to even think where they are going.)

(71) Their attitude is not something new as most of the earlier nations also went astray in the same way.

(72) We had sent Our messengers to them to warn them about the consequences of their erroneous ways.

(73) Thus you can see for yourself the end result of those who were given due warning (but who chose not to pay any heed to it).

(74) At the same time look at Allah’s devoted and sincere subjects, who left such people and followed the right course. Their end was a very pleasant one.

(75) For example, take the story of Noah who called unto Us against oppressive and rebellious forces. The whole world saw how graciously We answered his call.

(76) And We saved him and his companions from that terrible calamity (which drowned the rest of his nation).

(77) All his opponents were destroyed and only his followers survived.

(78) And amongst the future generations, he was remembered graciously and with respect.

(79) (Thus) in the community of nations, Noah attained the status of a messenger of peace and tranquility.

(80) This is not confined to Noah alone. We bestow such honour and position on all those who lead their lives according to Our laws. This in fact, is the result of their deeds.

(81) Listen once again. Noah remained safe and in peace because he had implicit faith in the truth of Our laws;

(82) And his opponents drowned because they belied him and never believed in anything he said. (Had they believed him when he was making the ark in front of them, they would have realized that some calamity was imminent and that some means would be needed to protect themselves from it. On the contrary they ridiculed him.)

(83) Among those who followed his ways was Abraham.

(84) Keeping himself away from the influence of his surroundings and family members, he turned to his Rabb with a receptive heart; a heart that would bow down before the truth without hesitation.

(85) (Ignoring all) Quite candidly he asked his father and the nation, what was their concept of all the deities and the celestial bodies which they worshipped.

(86) “These objects which you take as your gods are false; and you are bowing before them, leaving aside the real God (Allah)!

(87) “What an erroneous and poor image you have formed about Him Who is actually the Rabb and the sustainer of the universe.”

(88) That nation also used to worship the stars. Abraham thought about the reality of the stars and explained to his people the reasons why they should not consider these objects worthy of worship.

(89) Then he said, “How can I consider them as my God? I am indeed disgusted with your attitude (6:78, 60:4).”

(90) The people could not give any reply to Abraham’s arguments. However, they were unwilling to leave their deities and they turned their backs on him and went away.

(91) In order to expose their wrong convictions he adopted another way. In the presence of the people, he asked their deities, “There are so many eatables lying before you. Why don’t you eat them?”

(92) “And they are imploring and asking you to fulfill their requests. What is wrong with you that you do not speak?”

(93) Then once, when he found an opportunity, he struck them forcefully and broke them (21:60).

(94) Whey they saw this they rushed towards him in rage.

(95) Without being awed by their anger, he remained calm and composed and quietly said, “Just think about it. How very irrational it is that you worship these idols which you carve with your own hands!

(96) “On the contrary, the real God is the one who has not only created you, but also all the stones out of which you have carved your idols.”

(97) As they had no answer to his arguments, they planned to finish him once and for all with some mean tactics. (They consulted each other and decided that the only way to get rid of him was to throw him into the fire, but to do it secretly.)

(98) In short, they wanted to proceed with this plan against him but We frustrated their designs and humiliated them.

(99) So he migrated from that place saying, “Verily I am going elsewhere towards my Rabb. He will certainly guide me to a society which will be agreeable to the establishment of the divine system.” (The migration of every nabi is for the sole achievement of this purpose. This is what is meant when a nabi says “I am going towards my Rabb” – 29:26.)

(100) (Thus Abraham migrated to Syria, where his mission met with success. However, he was issueless. Therefore) He prayed, “O My Rabb! Grant me a progeny that would be worthy of human respect.”

(101) So We gave him glad tidings of a son who (besides other qualities) would be patient and full of energy.

(102) When the son grew up he was able to render help to his father. One day the father told him, “O my son. I saw in my dream that I am sacrificing you. Think about it seriously and let me know your views.”

The son said to the father, “O my father. You should carry out every directive of the Almighty. If you think it is His command, then go ahead and sacrifice me. You will find me steadfast, because if Allah Almighty commands it, there should be no hesitation.”

(103) (Abraham taking the dream to be the Almighty’s command, prepared to slaughter his son.) Both the father and the son submitted and Abraham laid his son down, prostrate, on his temple.

(104-105) We immediately removed this thought from Abraham’s mind and called out to him, “O Abraham. You considered your dream as Allah’s command and laid your son for the purpose of slaughtering him! This was not Our command, but merely a dream of yours. Therefore, We have saved you and your son from this. We have done so because We keep those who lead their lives according to divine guidance safe from such mishaps.”

(106) This indeed was a clear and distinctive reward which was given to Abraham.

(107) As far as the son is concerned, We saved him for a far greater sacrifice. (This sacrifice refers to the fact that instead of keeping his leadership confined to Syria, We wanted him to become the custodian of Our house Ka’bah, which was located in the far off barren land of Arabia and which had to be made the centre and gathering place of all those the world over, who believed in the unity of God – 14:37.)

(108) The sacrifice which Abraham wanted to give would have remained confined to his son (Ishmael); but the sacrifice for which We saved him (that is the custodianship of the Ka’bah) would continue for posterity (even after Ishmael).

(109) In this way Abraham continued to receive blessings and salutations ever after.

(110) This is because he led his life in a balanced and righteous manner, in conformity with Our laws. And whoever leads his life in this manner will get the same results.

(111) He certainly was one of Our subjects who firmly believed in the truth of Our laws.

(112) And We had also given him the good news of (his second son) Isaac, a nabi who was amongst the saliheen (who create beauty, harmony, order in the society and perform noble deeds).

(113) So We showered Our blessings on Abraham and Isaac and from amongst their descendants, there were some who led righteous lives while others went astray, committing open aggression on themselves.

(114) And amongst the Bani-Israel, We showered Our favours and blessings on Moses and Aaron (and bestowed nabuwwa on them);

(115) And saved them and their nation from an awful calamity (of bondage).

(116) We helped them so that they eventually overpowered the Pharaoh’s people;

(117) And We gave both of them (Moses and Aaron,) a divine book which distinguished between right and wrong,

(118) It guided them towards the straight and balanced way of life;

(119) And made the story of their life worthy of remembrance for  future generations.

(120) Peace and blessings be upon Moses and Aaron.

(121) In this manner We bestow Our favours and blessings upon all those who lead their lives in a balanced and righteous manner.

(122) Certainly, both of them were Our momin subjects.

(123) Elias (Iliyaas) was also one of Our rusul.

(124) He asked his people, “Don’t you want to be saved from the destructive results of leading an erroneous life?

(125) “You are worshipping Baal (a deity), and forsaking that God who is the best of creators.

(126) “The God Who not only is your Rabb, but is also the Rabb of your forefathers.”

(127) (Thus he invited his nation towards the right path.) But they belied him and as a result of their erroneous way of life, were chastised;

(128) Except for those who parted from them and followed Elias’ (Iliyaas) call.

(129) We made this historic episode of Elias serve as an admonition and a source of guidance for future generations,

(130) He was also a messenger of peace and tranquility.

(131) This is how We reward those who lead their lives in a balanced and righteous manner.

(132) He was indeed amongst Our subjects who firmly believed in the truth of Our laws.

(133) Similarly, Lot was also one of Our rusul,

(134) We saved him and all his followers from a great suffering (in which his nation was going to be involved).

(135-136) The rest of the nation was destroyed, including his wife who was among those who stayed behind and did not go with Lot.

(137-138) You pass by the remnants of their dwellings every morning and by night. Don’t you ever think about it and realize the outcome of those who revolt against the divine laws?

(139) Jonah too was one of Our rusul.

(140) (It was an error of judgment on his part that he panicked because of the resistance from his people and decided to leave before receiving divine guidance to migrate.) He dropped his assignment and embarked on a fully laden boat along with others, to cross the river (21:87).

(141) (This was not deliberate rebellion on his part. However) This step was against Our laws. It was in this way that a mistake occurred.

(142) The boat was overloaded and so it sank. A big fish seized Jonah in its mouth. Realizing the situation Jonah cursed himself (as he saw this as a punishment for leaving his mission without Allah’s permission).

(143-144) He struggled hard and after a lot of effort, freed himself from the grip of the fish.

If he had not done so and had he not been a good swimmer, the fish would have swallowed him; and it would not have been possible for him to come out till doomsday.

(145) So We cast him ashore, in an open space (68:49). However, he had become very weak due to strenuous struggle and fear.

(146) He then rested under the shade of a tree with big leaves, after which he felt somewhat better.

(147) Thereafter, We sent him again to his nation which numbered over a hundred thousand people.

(148) These people believed in the truth of Our laws and therefore, for a determined period, We provided them with the means of nourishment. (These people would have ultimately believed our laws but Jonah (Yunus) left them in sheer desperation. God usually commands migration only when there is absolutely no chance of a nation reforming.)

(149) After clearly explaining the eventual fate of these earlier nations, (O Rasool! Ask your own nation whether they too want to follow such superstitions, like their ancestors did? Whether they too want to believe that these deities are God’s daughters? This belief is actually based on ignorance. Furthermore, consider their contention that when talking of God’s progeny, they are referring to daughters, while they themselves prefer sons; so much so that if they hear that their newborn is a daughter, they turn black and blue in shame and anger – 16:58).

(150) As regards their belief that We created angels as females, ask them if they were present at the time of their creation?

(151) They just do not know anything. They concoct such beliefs on their own and these eventually become their faith.

(152) Can there be a bigger lie than the assertion that Allah too has children?

(153) And that He has preferred daughters rather than sons?

(154) How absurd these beliefs are! Ask them what is amiss with them, that they pronounce such judgments?

(155) Don’t they reflect, even after such clear and convincing evidence?

(156) Or do they have any authority or proof for such frivolous convictions?

(157) And if they do have such proof, ask them to show that book wherein this is written. Prove your assertions if you think you are right!

(158) These people also establish a kinship between Him and all those invisible heavenly forces. (Sometimes they consider lightning from the sky as a deity; sometimes they consider clouds as a deity; and sometimes they consider angels as His daughters.) However, all these forces know for certain that they are arraigned before Him to carry out His command and that they remain bound within His laws.

(159) Anyway, Allah Almighty is far above the superstitions which these people ascribe to Him;

(160) And sincere and devoted subjects of God do not have such absurd and senseless beliefs.

(161-162) So, O those who oppose! Neither you nor your deities can mislead these sincere subjects from God’s way.

(163) Only the one who wants to take himself to jahannam will go astray.

(164) Our devoted subjects have a firm conviction that their place is determined in proportion to their deeds; all as defined and determined by the Qur’an.

(165) They also pronounce, “We have made up our minds to remain ever ready for the establishment of the divine order;

(166) “And we will continue to carry out this assignment throughout our lives, doing our utmost for it.”

(167-169) Their opponents used to say, “If only a book had been sent down to us, like the earlier people, we too would have been amongst the devoted people of the Almighty.”

(170) However, when that book was revealed they refused to acknowledge it. Thus, very soon they will face the consequences.

(171-172) Long ago, We had decided that this is Our law; that Our messengers who convey Our message to the people will certainly get Our support;

(173) And that those who defend Our deen and are ready to sacrifice their lives, will ultimately be victorious over their opponents.

(174) So, O Rasool! Just ignore them for the time being (and continue educating and organizing your own jama);

(175) And keep a watchful eye over your opponents (to see what they are doing). They will soon see the result of their opposition.

(176) These people wish that Our chastisement be hastened.

(177) In actual fact they do not realize the sort of chastisement it would be; but when it descends in their courtyards it will really be a terrible morning for those who have been previously warned.

(178-179)   So, for the time being, just ignore them and keep a vigil on the movements of your opponents. They will soon see the result of their opposition.

(180) On that day they will realize that your Rabb, Who wields absolute power and authority, is far above anything they ascribe to Him.

(181) And all those messengers who convey His message to others shall remain safe and in peace;

(182) And the entire world will witness that the system ordained by Almighty Allah, which ensures the development of the entire universe, is worthy of all the praise and hamd.


(1)          A tree with a very bitter and toxic fruit.

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