Exposition of the Holy Quran – 38 Saad (G A Parwez)
Surah 38: Saad
(1-2) This magnificent Qur’an which guarantees the dignity and grandeur of mankind, testifies – its superior teachings stand witness to the fact – that those who oppose it do not do so on the basis of knowledge, wisdom or reason; but do so merely because of pride, stubbornness, insolence and hostility. If for once they leave these prejudices and stubbornness aside, they will know that its teachings are based on absolute truth.
(3) In their blind opposition they do not even remember that according to Our Law of Mukafat, We destroyed many nations before them because of their blind opposition. However, when the doom and destruction overtakes them, they will call for help. At that time their calls will not be of any help to them.
At that time no one can give them any kind of shelter against this catastrophe.
(4) The consequence of their false pride is that they are amazed that a person from amongst them has come to warn them of the destructive consequences of living an erroneous way of life. (They are jealous that till recently he was one of them and that now he has become superior and has started warning them. They do not have any argument to contradict you.) They simply claim that this person is a great liar and a believer in falsehood, who wrongly attributes things to God.
(5) (While ridiculing) They say, “Just look at this person who says that all the deities we worship are false; and that there is only one ilah (sovereign) and none else besides Him enjoys any power or authority. How strange it is that all our gods should disappear and only his one God should remain!” (Is it possible that only one entity can have so many different powers?)
(6) After making such statements the leaders go away, instructing their followers to remain steadfast in worshipping their idols (and to pay no head to this person), because it appears that he is determined to get his point of view accepted and there appears to be some great motive behind it.
(7) They say that what he presents has never before been heard from any of their forefathers. Obviously, this is an absolutely new deen, which he himself has devised (26:137).
(8) They think that he has no special quality for which he has been selected from amongst all of them to receive the wahi, while no one else was considered worth of it!
(O Rasool, you should not be disheartened by what they say. It appears that they consider you a liar. However, this is not so but) They doubt My set of laws. This is because they have not yet confronted the chastisement about which they have been warned.
(9) Considering the manner in which they have decided to confront the Almighty, just ask them if they have taken over the control of all means of nourishment? Such control has hitherto been in the possession of your Rabb who through this immense power provides for the development of all humanity, free of all costs or rewards.
(10) Or ask them if they hold authority over whatever exists in the heavens and on the earth? If this is so then ask them to enrich these sources and to evolve further on the basis of these resources.
(11) In spite of all this, you will see that ultimately they are merely a group of defeated people. They are on the brink of disaster, just like the others who were routed before them.
(12) Before them were the very well established people of Noah, Aad and the Pharaoh, who had (vainly) defied Our laws,
(13) Also, the people of Thamud, Lot and Midian had large armies and troops.
(14) All of them belied Our rusul, but then the result of their evil deeds confronted them as hard reality (in the form of destruction).
(15) Now also these people are waiting for the terrible single blast which will create great panic all around. Such destruction will continue to the end and will not halt in between, even for a while.
(16) These people make a lot of noise and say, “We cannot wait any longer for the day of judgment about which you threaten us so much. If you are telling the truth then ask your Rabb to hasten our punishment, even before the day of reckoning.
(17) (O Rasool!) Do not worry about their heartbreaking taunts, but remain steadfast in your program. In this regard, keep in view the events in the lives of Our previous anbiya. (For instance) Remember the episode of Our servant David. We had bestowed a lot of power on him. He was very swift in submission to Our law and the enforcement of it.
(18) Such was his strength that the rebellious mountain tribes became his subjects and were busy day and night, in implementing his programmes.
(19) All the scattered Bedouins of the tribe of Tair, gathered there and formed the mounted troops as part of his forces. They were all under his command and control (21:79, 27:16, 34:10).
(20) In this way, We strengthened his kingdom and bestowed on him the illuminating wisdom of wahi, as well as the ability to impart sound judgments (17:39, 43:63).
(21) (His nation was full of ignorant and unrefined people. They were even unaware of the normal etiquette of social living. Whenever they needed to see him to resolve any of their disputes, they would just come barging in, irrespective of the time of the day or how they reached him. Despite this, he did not get upset and continued to reform them. This is the way a reformer should be. For example) Once he was busy working in his chamber when he saw two men who entered after scaling the wall.
(22) Upon their entry, he became frightened, not knowing their intention for jumping over the wall. On noticing this they said, “There is no cause for fear. We are two parties in a dispute and one of us intends to harm the other. You should arbitrate between us with equity and justice and guide us in a balanced way without any bias towards anyone.”
(23) (Anyone else would have thrown these intruders out, but David knew that they had done this out of ignorance. Hence, he comforted them and asked them to explain their dispute. At this the plaintiff said) “This man is my brother. He has a flock of ninety-nine ewes and is thus well-to- do. I have only one which is my sole source of income. (Instead of giving up some ewes from his stock to help me) He is asking me to give my only ewe to him. (Since he is rich and influential) He always prevails in arguments (and other people also agree with him). This is the attitude of my brother. Now tell me, is his attitude allowable or not?
(24) David said, “He has certainly wronged you by demanding your single ewe to be added to his flock of ninety-nine, to make it one hundred. In fact most people, who have shared living or a common business, adopt this attitude and wrong the other. The only people who do not do this are those who believe in divine laws and work to improve the society. However, such people are very few.”
(When David thought over this episode deeply, he came to the conclusion that this was not just a simple odd incidence pertaining to those ewes, but that it was just one example of an extremely unjust economic system, in which the large capital attracts the smaller capital. The outcome is that the rich become richer and the poor become poorer and the gap between these two groups widens. Therefore, he felt it was his duty to organize this wrong economic system along correct lines.) He realized that this was difficult so he sought protection, help and courage from his Rabb to enable him to surmount the opposing forces. He then decided that no matter what, he would reform society in conformity with the divine laws.
(25) And We did provide him with all the necessary means of protection. He always remained close to Our laws in every matter and therefore all his affairs brought positive and pleasant results.
(26) Thus We told him (to carry on with the mission of reforming the society without any fear and) “We have granted you control over the kingdom, so that you can decide on people’s affairs with complete justice and equity in accordance with the divine laws, without following (or caring for) anyone’s personal desires. If you were to do that, these people would lead you astray from the right path. Just remember that people go astray because they forget or ignore the day of accountability (which shall come as per Our Law of Mukafat). The result is total destruction.
(27) (The logical consequence of denying the Law of Mukafat is to believe that) We have created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, without any purpose. However, the whole universe has been created for the Law of Mukafat (10:4, 11:7, 45:22, 53:31). This is the surmise of only those who deny the truth of Our laws; and the result of such an ideology is nothing but destruction.
(28) Do these people believe that We would equate those who create chaos and disorder in this world with those who have faith in Our laws and do righteous deeds to remove inequalities from society? Do they believe that those who guard Our laws and remain integrated would be treated like those who seek disintegration?
(29) This can never happen. This is simply against Our laws for the universe. This very law has been mentioned in this book that has been revealed to you. This book is full of blessings and brings happiness and prosperity in abundance. However, the only people who can benefit from it are those who reflect on its laws, using their intellect and wisdom and thus understand the subject matter fully.
(30) We had also granted David (a son), Solomon. Solomon was also extremely obedient. In each and every matter he sought guidance from Our laws and he was prompt in all positive work.
(31) He also had (a large number of) the finest breed of very swift horses. He used to inspect them in the afternoon.
(32) Once while he was inspecting the horses, he asked his companions if they knew the reason why he loved the horses so much? It was simply because they were a source of great strength in jihad and were engaged in the defense of the divine order. He used to tell this to his companions while inspecting the horses, until all the horses moved ahead and were out of sight.
(33) (However the discussion about jihad and the fact that the horses were the protectors of the divine constitution moved his heart so much that) He ordered, “Bring them back to me.” (And when they came) He started stroking their legs and necks and wiping off the dust from them. (Although this was usually done by the trainers, this is how Solomon displayed his love for jihad in Allah’s way.
(34) While Solomon possessed such great qualities, he was immensely concerned about his son who was likely to be his successor. His son was just like a lifeless body (34:14) (and did not possess any qualities which are essential to administer the kingdom(1)). However, instead of becoming disheartened, Solomon turned towards divine guidance more enthusiastically (so that he could further strengthen the divine system in his kingdom).
(35) He prayed, “O my Rabb! Save me from all kinds of dangers and grant me a state that no one can take over after me (so that I can implement and extend Your laws to a wider extent). Surely only You have the power to grant bounties like this.”
(36) And We had also bestowed upon him the knowledge of the winds and how to use them with the help of sails. Because of this he was able to raise a fleet which the winds took wherever he wanted to go (34:12).
(37) He commanded the most powerful rebellious tribal people. Some of them were builders while others were divers (21:82, 34:13).
(38) There were also many other rebellious tribes who were under his command. He obtained appropriate work
(39) We had told Solomon, “The power
and authority which We have bestowed on you is an unlimited bounty from Us.” Due to this you have subjugated the barbaric tribes. But this does not mean that you have to keep them chained in slavery. Instead, give them proper training and education and set free without any compensation those who achieve a civilized standard. However, hold back those who need further education. (In this way the barbaric tribes will gradually turn into peaceful people and become useful for the society, which in turn will remain safe from the evil doings of those who do not reform.)
(40) Solomon kept himself very close to Our laws and referred to them in every matter. This was the reason that every action of his produced beautiful and pleasant results.
(41) Also consider the story of Our servant Job (Ayyub) (21:83-84). During a journey he got into a difficult situation. His companions became separated from him and he ran short of water. The journey left him exhausted and thirsty. On top of that he was bitten by a snake. He was thus surrounded by all kinds of miseries (but he stood firm to face all calamities).
(42) We guided him to a place that had a spring of refreshing water. On reaching there, he refreshed himself by drinking cold water. He also washed himself and soaked his bitten foot in the water. This relieved the pain.
(43) Thereafter his companions also joined him. An equal number from another group also joined them in eiman. All this was a gesture of Our rahma and rabubiyya. A lot can be learnt from this story by those who reflect on it using their intellect and wisdom.
(44) (People advised him to treat the snakebite through superstitious ways which were prevalent at that time. However, as these ways amounted to a form of shirk) He did not incline towards the superstitious ways but rather treated it using herbs. Thus, he was cured.
He faced this painful situation with patience and fortitude. He never violated Our laws and took guidance from them at every step. (Thus he eliminated the superstitions which were practiced by those people).
(45) Similarly, there were Our servants Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Keep their life stories before you. We had endowed them with authority, power, intellect and vision.
(46) Their greatest quality was that they always kept the future in mind (and therefore never took any decision outside the ambit of the divine laws). For this reason We placed them in a special category, separate from other people.
(47) And in Our sight, they were the specially chosen people who always excelled in beneficial works.
(48) Similarly recall Ishmael, Elisha (Al-Yasa) and Ezekiel (Zul-Kifl); like other anbiya all of them excelled in working for the benefit of mankind.
(49) These are the historical commemorations of the anbiya (who had undergone untold hardships when following and implementing the divine order; but they stood firm and never faltered). All these stories establish the one truth that) People who are watchful of the divine laws may have to initially suffer a lot. However, ultimately they achieve excellent rewards in return and their end is very balanced.
(50) In other words, they live a heavenly life in this world and in the hereafter their abode will be heaven, the doors of which will always remain open to them.
(51) Your companions who are striving to establish the divine order will also enjoy a heavenly life on earth. They will recline with ease in that life. They will be freely able to ask for the best fruits and most delicious drinks.
(52) (These heavenly comforts will not be for men alone.) Along with them will be women, who will also have similar qualities and be chaste.
(53) This is a glimpse of the society that will be formed at the time of the day of decisions; and it will be a result of your own deeds.
(54) These provisions of life which are bestowed by Us will never diminish nor end.
(55) This will be the state of affairs (for the virtuous); but on the other hand the abode of those who rebel against Our laws will be terrible.
(56) They will enter jahannam, wherein they will keep on burning. And what a terrible abode that would be!
(57) This will be the result of their deeds. They will have provisions, but instead of providing nourishment, it will increase their restlessness; and it will not support their development. (For instance) The water would be either boiling hot or freezing cold, both of which will destroy the crops (78:25),
(58) And there shall be other torments of similar nature.
(59) Their leaders will be told, “Here is the multitude of your followers who will go into jahannam with you (because they used to follow you blindly).” They will reply in return, “They surely deserve such treatment and no respite should be given to them. They should always roast in jahannam.” (It was because of their company that we also became so rebellious.)
(60) Their followers will say, “Today you are holding us responsible, whereas it was you who were rebellious. So you also do not deserve any respite or leniency. It was you who prepared this jahannam for us. Now see for yourself how evil a place it is to live in (14:21, 33:67, 34:32, 37:29, 40:47)!
(61) Then they shall beseech their Rabb and say, “O our Sustainer! Give them twice as much punishment because they have brought us to this state (one, for their own crimes, and the second, for misguiding us.) ”
(62) And then they will ask their leaders (tauntingly), “Why is it that we do not see those (the momineen) in jahannam whom we considered wicked and mischievous at your behest?
(63) “And we ridiculed them because we considered them inferior. What has actually happened to them and where are they? Are they really not in jahannam? Or are our eyes failing us?”
(64) Such mutual wrangling among the people of jahannam will surely be a forgone reality.
(65) (O Rasool!) Tell them that I am warning you about the impending doom. That I am also telling you again and again, that you should clearly understand that in the universe no one holds absolute authority and control except Allah. He alone is the source of all power.
(66) He alone is the sustainer of whatever lies in the heavens and on the earth. He is Almighty and only through (obeying) His laws, can men protect themselves from all dangers.
(67) Tell them, “The coming revolution about which I am informing you will be a momentous event.
(68) “If you do not take it seriously and turn away, the end result will be extremely ruinous.
(69) “(You contend that I make up stories about the future on my own. You can say that as regards the future, there is no way of knowing whether it is wahi or a story of my own creation. However, how can I tell you certain things about the past?) I did not know anything before. How can I concoct things on my own, particularly the historical episodes of the previous anbiya and their altercations and discussions with highly placed leaders in the opposition(2)?
(70) Therefore the wahi which tells me things about the past also tells me that the end result of your erroneous ways of life will be extremely destructive, and I am warning you about that.
(71) (The same wahi has told me the great facts about possible human potentialities and psychological conflicts. These facts were revealed to me in an allegorical manner in the story of Adam which has been conveyed to you earlier, and is being repeated here briefly. It begins when) Your Sustainer told the malaika (heavenly forces), “I am about to initiate the creation of a human being from inanimate matter (15:27-39).
(72) “When the human being reaches a stage where it has acquired the best of proportions in every respect (after passing through all the developmental/evolutionary stages), and I breathe into it a spark of My energy, he attains a human personality capable of making choices. Then, at that stage, you (malaika) should bow before him.”
(73) According to this command, all the heavenly forces bowed before Adam;
(74) Except his own rebellious desires (Satan). They did not bow. They revolted and refused to bow before him (2:34).
(75) Allah asked Satan (the rebellious desires of man) “Why did you not bow before him (7:12) and why did you adopt a rebellious course? Did you not see the fine
proportion I have created him in and how I have endowed him with discretion and choice? Do you want to become greater than him or even consider yourself greater than all the malaika?”
(76) Satan replied, “I consider myself better than Adam (the physical human being), because You created me from fire (energy) and him from clay (inanimate matter).” (The physical human body is always controlled by his emotions. If he gets angry, he automatically raises his hand to hit his opponent).
(77) Allah said to Satan, “Then go out from this state. Henceforth, you stand deprived of all kinds of blessings.” (If a man becomes subjugated to his own emotions and does not keep them under divine guidance, then he too is deprived of all kinds of blessings.)
(78) “And you shall stand deprived of all My blessings, till the day of the deen which is when the results shall appear.”
(79) Satan appealed to the Almighty, “O my Rabb grant me respite till the day of resurrection (15:36).”
(80) The Almighty said, “Respite then, is granted to you…
(81) …till a known time (15:37-38).”
(82) He (Satan) said, “Then I swear by Your very might and domination I shall most certainly lead human beings astray from your right path;
(83) “Except those of your servants who keep themselves isolated from the rest and follow your laws.”
(84) The Almighty said, “It is true; and whatever I say is also the truth.
(85) I will fill jahannam with you and all those who follow you.”
(86) Tell these people O Rasool! “This is the path of destruction from which I restrain you, and for this effort I do not ask for any reward; nor am I doing this just to show off.” (It is because my compassion for you compels me to try and save you from this destruction.)
(87) (But if you do not pay any heed to this, it will bring no harm to this code of laws, as it is not for you people alone. In fact) This message is a guidance for the whole of humanity. (Whoever adopts this code will attain the pleasant things of life.)
(88) And you shall certainly know its claims in due course of time. (That is when you will be faced with the consequences of your deeds, and the events of the future will vouch for the truth of all the claims of this code.)
(1) At that time, the government ran in the family of Yaqoob (Jacob) in succession.
(2) In verse 37:8, al mala al aala was understood by me (the author) to mean “God’s amr” where decisions about the universe are taken. However, here the word yakhkasemona is linked with it and hence this meaning cannot be applied here. In God’s world of amr there cannot be any ‘mutual fights’. Hence, I have translated this here to mean the big chieftains who used to oppose the anbiya, as well as each other. One school of thought is that akhtasam (mutual fights) refers to the query of malaika at the time of the creation of Adam (as has been mentioned in 2:30). However, that cannot be termed akhtasam.
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