Exposition of the Holy Quran – 39 Az-Zumar (G A Parwez)
Surah 39: Az-Zumar
(1) This divine code is revealed from Allah Who wields supremacy over everything and runs the entire universe according to His plan.
(2) (O Rasool!) We have revealed to you this code of laws in a perfect manner. It will bring out positive and constructive results. The thing to do now is to leave everything aside and follow it with complete devotion.
(3) Proclaim that obedience is due only to Allah’s laws. In gross error are those who leave Allah aside and follow other protectors on the pretext that they would help bring them close to the Almighty are. (In fact, to achieve proximity to Allah, all that is needed is to follow the code of laws given by Him, without any intermediaries whatsoever – 5:35, 17:57.)
In any case, people have adopted many different ways. Now Allah Almighty (through the Qur’an) will settle all the disputed matters. Whosoever attributes false things to Allah or conceals what has been revealed by Us, will never be able to reach his destination.
(4) (The erroneous belief that intermediaries are needed to attain proximity to Allah, also produced the false notion that in order to be near Him, there is no better way than to approach Him through His progeny. The Christian concept that Jesus is Allah’s son is based on this notion.) Tell them that if Allah wanted to have a son He could have directly chosen anyone from amongst His creations. Verily, He is far above requiring the assistance of a son. He alone is Almighty and holds absolute control over all forces.
(5) He created the heavens and the earth in true and perfect proportions, to bring out positive and constructive results. He made the earth revolve in such a manner that the night blankets the day, and the day covers the night. He has made the sun and the moon subservient to His laws. Each heavenly body follows a set course, up to a limited time. All this is happening according to the laws of Allah, Who has absolute control and supremacy and has the provisions for protecting everything.
(6) He initiated your creation from a single living cell (6:79) and then caused it to split into two parts, one becoming the male and the other female. He also created eight types of cattle (namely camel, cow, sheep and goats, all in pairs – 6:144:145). When you are still in the mother’s womb, He fashions you, inculcating creative changes at different stages. These changes constitute one act of creation after another; and all this takes place (not in one but) under three veils(1) of darkness.
This then is your Allah, according to Whose laws of Rabubiyya your development and nourishment take place. He alone wields total authority and power in the universe. No one else has such power or authority. (By leaving Him aside) Just reflect on where you are going. (After leaving God’s laws, is there another way?)
(7) (In view of the above facts, wisdom demands that you obey only the divine laws, but) your rejection of these laws brings no harm to Allah; only you shall suffer. He does not need your obedience. If you follow your self-made laws, your way of life will not be that which has been ordained by Him for your development. If you follow the divine laws, then you are following the course which He has approved for your development. (Therefore, it is entirely up to
you to either follow His laws for your own benefit or to reject them and suffer the consequences. It should also be clearly understood that according to His Law of Mukafat) everyone has to bear the consequences of his own deeds, not anyone else’s. Every step of yours takes you towards His Law of Mukafat, and you cannot escape its ambit. Accordingly, you are bound to face the result of every action of yours. And this refers not only to those actions which you do openly, but also to the thoughts and intentions which pass through the depths of your hearts.
(8) Man, however, is strange. When he is afflicted he cries out to Allah from the depth of his heart. But as soon as he obtains comfort, he forgets all the cries with which he had implored the Almighty, and claims that the affliction was removed by so and so. Thus, not only does he himself go astray, he misleads others too.
Just tell them, “By denying the divine laws, you can derive as much benefit as you like for a while, but ultimately all this will come down to ashes.”
(9) (While there is one who leads his life in the manner mentioned earlier, in contrast) There is a person who very earnestly follows divine laws and has dedicated all his abilities for the divine order. He is busy doing so all day long and (if the situation so warrants) he continues to stand and to prostrate himself in obedience during the night. He does all this not only for his immediate gains, but he is also mindful of his future life. He is extremely cautious that there should be no lapse in this regard. It is his desire that the divine system of rahma and rabubiyya should reach everyone.
Ask them if the two, namely those who have the knowledge of this reality (about the aim and objective of life) and those who are unaware of it, can ever be alike? Only those who use their wisdom can derive benefit from these admonitions.
(10) Tell them (that the Almighty says), “O you people who are convinced of these realities, you should guard the laws of your Rabb. Remember that for people who lead their lives in a righteous manner there are many pleasant things in this life (as well in the hereafter). Therefore, try to live your life in this way. If you do not find a favourable environment in one particular place, then look for another. Allah’s earth is wide open. Allah will reward you beyond your reckoning for this fortitude and steadfastness.”
(11) Tell them, “(You can do whatever you like but) I have been commanded to obey the divine laws in such a way that it does not imply any obedience to others.
(12) “And I have been commanded to be the first amongst those who submit to the divine laws. (In other words my task is not only to deliver sermons, but as a first step to become subservient to these laws and thereafter, to invite others to follow and form a group of like-minded people.)”
(13) And tell them, “Allah’s Law of Mukafat is such that (in terms of consequences, no one is spared or given any sort of concession; and let alone others) if even I were to disobey these laws, I too would be unable to escape the chastisement on the great day (of decisions). (If this is my own position, then how can I save others from facing the consequences? No one can help in this regard.)
(14) “Therefore, I obey only the divine laws with full devotion (and so should you).
(15) “My point of view is very clear. If you want to obey some other authority besides Allah you can do so; but only you will suffer. Remember! The true losers will be those who, together with their companions, bring losses upon themselves in their future life. Indeed such a loss is most obvious.”
(16) This unpleasant life will be such that a scorching fire will blaze above them, and they will also be burnt from a similar fire from beneath. This is the widespread destruction about which Allah warns His subjects. He tells them that in order to remain safe from this destruction, they should come within the protection provided by His laws.
(17) These are the glad tidings for people who refrain from obeying non-divine powers and who turn only to divine laws at every step.
(18) These glad tidings are for those who listen to the Qur’an very attentively, and then follow the injunctions which are well suited and practicable in view of the issues under consideration. (This is what is referred to as pondering over the Qur’an – 7:145, 39:55.) These are the people who tread the way specified by Allah and they are the ones endowed with insight and understanding. (The people who ponder over the Qur’an and its light use their own intellect.)
(19) As per the divine laws, the end result for the one who goes against this will be nothing but destruction. No one can save him from that doom.
(20) As they go ahead in widespread development, all the pleasant things of an elevated life are available to these people who follow the laws of their Rabb and lead their lives according to His law of Rabubiyya. They continue to achieve more as they evolve and attain an ever rising status. Since the edifice of their life is based on very sound foundations, there will be no shortage in the flow of His bounties to them. This is the final and unalterable result of Allah’s law of Rabubiyya. Nothing can happen contrary to it.
(21) (Every day you can observe how Allah’s law of Rabubiyya. works. For example) Allah sends down rain from the clouds and then causes it to flow on the earth. This helps the growth of various crops. Then the crops ripen, dry up and wither away. There is lot of food for thought in the law of Rabubiyya. for those who are rational and wise.
(22) (After reflecting on these matters one’s heart opens up to accept divine laws.) Hence, can you equate the one whose heart is opened up for Islam and who spends his life in the light of wahi sent by his Rabb, with one whose heart has hardened and become too inflexible to accept the divine laws? The latter are most obviously lost in error, and for them there is doom and destruction.
(23) Allah Almighty has revealed this wahi which is perfect in beauty and balance. Every one of its parts juxtaposes perfectly with the other and it is fully consistent within itself. No differences or contradictions can be found therein. Furthermore, its contents are explained by pairing its statements with antonyms, for example light and darkness, and life and death. Such comparisons make the matters more clear and obvious. Also, the repetition of (some) verses over and over, also makes their meaning clearer. In this way the book presents its own exposition (15:87).
People who ponder over the Qur’an in this manner and comprehend the results of doing anything contrary to its teachings, tremble at the very thought of how destructive this would be. However, they do not become disheartened because of this. Instead their hearts become mellower and more receptive to obeying the divine laws.
Thus, this is the divine code which provides correct guidance to everyone who seeks it. However, no one can take the person who adopts a way of life against the wahi, to the desired goal. (Always remember a wrong path can never lead anyone to the right destination.)
(24) Consider a person who (instead of making the divine law his protective shield) makes himself the protective shield. How can he be saved? This would surely be an error. On the day of decisions, all those who rebelled against the divine laws, will be asked to taste the fruit of their own deeds. No one will be able to save them from this chastisement.
(25) Many earlier nations had also belied the divine laws. Accordingly, doom and destruction befell them from sources which they could not perceive.
(26) Although in this life they suffered disgrace and humiliation, according to Allah’s law, a much severer punishment awaits them in the life hereafter. If only they (who deny the truth) knew it!
(27) In the Qur’an We thus propound various kinds of parables and historical episodes so that such people may contemplate.
(28) It is for this purpose that We have revealed the Qur’an in a language (Arabic) which is precise and expounds all things clearly, and which is free from perplexities, ambiguities and doubts. This is so that they may clearly understand it and escape the pitfalls of life.
(29) How much peace and tranquility is obtained by a man (if he follows the laws of God) can be understood from one example. Consider a person who is a servant to several masters, who in turn are short-sighted and at variance with each other due to bad temper. (Can you imagine the plight of such a servant?) Can the state of mind of this servant be deemed equal to that of a man serving only one master?
One person has to either obey different masters or follow his own emotions which are in conflict with each other; while the other has to obey only the divine code, wherein there is no ambiguity, doubt or psychological conflict or anxiety. Say, which of these two is leading a more peaceful life (12:39)?
This, then is the divine code! It most certainly deserves all hamd, and by following this code all issues or controversies of life are sorted out straightway. However, most people do not understand this fact (that real and lasting happiness can be achieved by following the laws of one Allah only).
(30) Anyway, there is no need to quarrel with these people. You have to die and they too are bound to die one day.
(31) On the Day of Judgment, all your disputes will be presented and settled as per the laws of your Rabb. The results of the deeds themselves will declare who was right and who was wrong.
(32) The reality that no one can be more zalim than the one who attributed his own opinion to Allah and further denied the truth when it was placed before him, will confront him on that day. It will also be explicitly clear that jahannam is the proper abode for those who reject the divine laws.
(33) On the contrary, those who presented the truth as well as confirmed it will remain safe from the destructive results of following the erroneous way of life.
(34) Those who lead a virtuous and balanced life shall have all that they wish for from their Rabb’s Law of Mukafat. Obviously, they would only yearn for that which is justifiable and proper according to the divine law.
(35) Their good deeds will efface from their record the wrongs that they had ever done, and reward them in accordance with the best that they have done.
(36) People frighten you that their deities, religious leaders and chieftains will harm you because you oppose them. Tell them that there is no reason for you to be afraid. Allah alone is enough as a protector for His subjects.
(In fact these people do not want to use their intellect; they blindly follow either self interest or their ancestors. The divine law is that one who adopts such an attitude and is prejudiced and stubborn, can never find the straight path of life.) No one can bring back to the right path those who follow such a course!
(37) On the other hand, a person who uses his intellect as well as his wisdom and adopts the path as indicated by the divine code, cannot be led astray.
(All this happens according to Allah’s Law of Mukafat. Nothing can happen against it. This is because it is the law of God.) He is all-powerful and exercises His might to ensure the correct outcome of everyone’s deeds.
(38) If you ask them about the creator of the heavens and the earth, they will say, “Surely it is Allah (29:61).” Ask them, “If Allah is the Creator and Owner of the entire universe, then how can the deities that you invoke possess such power to offset any harm Allah wants to do to me (according to his Law of Mukafat)? Or if He wants to bestow His blessings on me, can they withhold it?”
Ask them, “If this is the situation, would it not be factually correct to say that Allah is enough for my protection? (I have full faith in His Law of Mukafat) All those who have trust, place it in Him alone.”
(39-40) Tell them, “(In order to see how the Law of Mukafat brings out its results) You should do all that you want to according to your programme, whereas I will do my work according to my programme. The result will indicate who will become inflicted with ignominy and everlasting suffering which cannot be reversed; and that is complete destruction (6:136, 11:93-121, 20:135, 39:39).”
(41) (You should challenge them with confidence because) The claims of the divine code that has been revealed to you are based on facts and its purpose is for the benefit of the entire humanity. Whosoever lives by it will benefit from it, while the one who adopts an erroneous way of life by ignoring it will only harm himself. (Now it is up to them to choose their course of life.) You have not been made responsible for them.
(42) (One can exercise his choice and discretion only when he is conscious. When his consciousness is suspended, he cannot make decisions. This is observed in everyday life. For example) In the state of sleep the conscious mind stops functioning but when one wakes up, it starts functioning again. (As such the conscious state was temporarily suspended.) However, in case of death, the conscious, along with the physical body, is permanently dislodged (or as far as this worldly life is concerned, it is finally taken away). In both these cases the consciousness does not function and therefore choice or discretion cannot be utilized.
(The situation is similar to one’s moral life. When one is overpowered by his emotions or follows something blindly, his mind becomes practically ineffective. Under such circumstances if he is neither stubborn nor prejudiced, there is still a possibility that his conscience could take him to the right course. On the other hand if he remains stubborn, then his mind becomes redundant and there is no possibility of re-awakening. These are the people about whom it is said that their minds or centres of consciousness are sealed – 2:7.)
In these facts there are clear signs for those who want to reach the truth by thinking and using their intellect.
(43) In the light of the above explanation, just imagine the state of people who are so ignorant and superstitious that in adverse times, they leave Allah and seek the help of idols carved with their own hands, and their own imagined deities. They do so despite it being obvious that they have neither any power whatsoever, nor any intellect or mental capability. (How can they be regarded as people who possess vision and consciousness?)
(44) Tell them that the quality of being useful to people in difficult times belongs exclusively to Allah’s law. It is the law of that Allah Who has absolute control over the entire universe. No human being is outside the ambit of His Law of Mukafat. Every step brings one nearer to Allah and eventually everybody shall revert to Him.
(45) However, people who do not believe in Allah’s Law of Mukafat and in the life hereafter become extremely upset when told that supremacy and authority belong to Allah alone, and that no one has any share in it. On the other hand when those who consider others besides God as being capable of intercession are mentioned, they begin to rejoice (17:46, 18:57, 40:12).
(46) (In spite of their resentment and opposition) You should continue to proclaim, “O Allah! You are the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and know everything which is beyond the perception of human beings as well as all that they can see. It is You alone Who appropriately decides in matters on which people differ. (This is because human knowledge is limited and Your knowledge is unlimited.)
(47) (You should continue to pursue your mission and not worry about the reaction of these people.) On the Day of Judgment, even if these people offer all the wealth of this earth, or twice as much, in ransom to get away from the destructive consequences of their deeds, they will be unable to escape the terrible suffering. They can never imagine how much suffering, as per the divine Law of Mukafat would confront them.
(48) As such, all the chaos that their deeds had created will become visible to them and the doom they used to ridicule will surround them from all sides (79:36).
(49) Man’s plight is such that when he is in trouble he cries out for Our help and when We bestow a favour on him, he claims that to be the result of his own wisdom and craft! This however, is clearly a sign of his ignorance and stupidity. But most people do not understand this. (Whatever human beings earn is partly due to their labour, while the rest is due to reasons and elements provided by God free of cost. The foundation of man’s self-made way of life is based on the wrong assertion that whatever one earns is purely due to his own skill. And that accordingly, God’s laws should not be party to its utilization.)
(50) Similar beliefs were also held by earlier people. (Capitalists in every era have given such excuses in support of their system – 28:78.) However, when the destructive consequences of their wrong ideology confronted them, their skills and craft could not help them.
(51) The disorder and chaos created by their erroneous deeds overtook them (Whatever happened to these earlier people can also happen to those who at present are on the course of oppression.) The destructive results of their evil deeds are bound to confront them. They will neither be able to defeat nor avoid Our law of Mukafat.
(52) They should know that the restriction or abundance of wealth takes place according to Allah’s law. The wealth of those who follow His law increases while for those who negate it, it becomes restricted (20:124). In this, for those who negate it and for those who follow His law, there are many signs to understand the ultimate reality. However, only those who believe in the truth of the laws can benefit from these signs.
(53) Therefore tell My subjects that those who have committed excesses against themselves by opposing Our laws, should not be disheartened. This is because their situation, which had worsened since they went against Our laws, can be improved by following them. This law not only makes good the damage done by previous lapses but it also provides sustenance for further growth. Twofold opportunities are provided in this way. On the one hand protection against destructive elements; and on the other further nourishment of one’s self.
(54) Therefore, you should turn towards the divine laws and submit before them. But do not cause any more delay, as when the time of respite is over and the hour of judgment comes, there will be no one who can help you.
(55) Before that oncoming suffering suddenly overtakes you, you should follow the law revealed by your Rabb. In all matters, you should carefully examine the clause of the divine law that is most appropriate for that particular situation, and accordingly act upon it (39:18).
(56) We are repeating this warning again and again lest anyone say, “Alas, in sheer ignorance I failed to properly evaluate the divine law of Mukafat and took it lightly.”
(57) Or he may say, “Had I received guidance from Allah Almighty, I too could have been amongst the muttaqeen.”
(58) Or lest, on seeing the on-coming suffering he may say, “Had the course of life been reversed just once, I could also have done a lot of good work.”
(59) At that time they will be told, “Yes indeed, Our laws had been repeatedly conveyed to you, but you belied them and rebelled against them; and refused to accept them.”
(60) On the day of decisions you will see all those who attributed falsehoods to Allah. How disgraced they will be! Jahannam will be the abode for these haughty and arrogant people.
(61) Allah will bless the people who successfully lived according to the divine code. Neither will any harm come to them; nor will they feel any grief.
(62) (All this will happen according to Allah’s law of creation and evolution because) He is the Creator of all things (and He knows the potentialities of everything); and He ensures that everything becomes what it ought to be. That is why He also keeps a watch over everything.
(63) He has complete authority and control over everything in the universe. People who contravene His laws will be the losers. (It is just not possible that one can obtain positive results in spite of opposing His laws.)
(64) Ask them, “Do you want me to leave obedience to Allah’s laws and obey other beings? How stupid and ignorant you are (to expect me to do such a thing)!”
(65) In the past also We sent revelations through different rusul. Now you are being sent the revelation. (Let alone the others) Even if you were to obey others in addition to Allah, all your deeds would go waste and you would be amongst the losers (6:15, 10:16).
(66) Therefore, you should obey Allah’s laws only. Accordingly your deeds will produce fruitful results.
(67) In fact, they have not been able to properly gauge the role and true position of Allah Almighty (6:92, 22:75). (That is why they believe that His law should apply only to the outer universe and that human affairs should function according to man-made laws. This is the practical form of shirk that has been referred to above.) However, this would not be the situation when the Qur’anic revolutionary order is established. The duality of control, that is one in the outer universe and the other in human society, would no longer exist. Allah Almighty’s laws would be in operation in both the spheres. At that time the duality of control would end, as on one hand, He would have control of the earth and on the other that of the heavens. Allah Almighty is far above this shirk. (He is sublimely exalted above anything to which they may ascribe a share of His divinity – 21:20-23, 43:84.)(2)
(68) When the first trumpet of this revolution is sounded, everyone in the heavens and on the earth would be shocked with panic; except those who as per Allah’s Law of Mashiyya(3) do not let their senses swoon (27:87).
Then, at the time of the second sounding of the trumpet, they will all stand up and see for themselves the divine Rabubiyya unveiled (83:6).
(69) At that time the earth (the human society) will glow with the effulgence of Allah’s law of Rabubiyya and every matter would be decided according to the divine
code. In this way the (perfect) order for which anbiya had been sent and the momineen had stood witness to, would be established and completed. All human affairs would be decided with justice and no one would be wronged or given less than his due.
(70) Every person shall receive the full recompense for his deeds. Nobody’s deed shall remain obscured.
(71) Those who had denied and rebelled against the divine laws will be driven in groups towards jahannam and the moment they arrive there, its gates will be opened and their keepers will ask them, “Did not the rusul of God come to you? Were they not from amongst you and did they not convey to you the divine laws and caution you to remember that one day you will have to face the consequences of what you do?” Their answer will be in the affirmative (6:13).
In this way the divine law, according to which human beings are requited for their misdeeds, will become a stark reality which the people who had denied it will see with their own eyes.
(72) They will be told, “Enter the doors of jahannam and see for yourselves how vile and terrible is the abode of those who arrogantly rebel against divine laws!”
(73) On the contrary, those who had lived according to the divine laws will be led in groups towards janna; and when they arrive they will find its gates open and the keepers will greet them saying, “Peace be upon you. Abide herein and enjoy the pleasant things of life!”
(74) On seeing the wonderful outcome of their deeds, they will spontaneously proclaim, “Indeed worthy of all hamd is Allah’s law of Mukafat, according to which all promises are fulfilled and which bestowed on us the land and gave us the freedom to dwell thereon and manage it (24:55, 33:27).”
The reward for those who do righteous deeds is indeed excellent!
(75) And all heavenly forces will be surrounding Allah’s seat of authority and will be active in making His system of Rabubiyya worthy of all hamd and appreciation. At that time all human affairs will be decided with justice and Allah’s universal order of Rabubiyya will come into force in such an outstanding manner that everyone will spontaneously cry out, “Most certainly all hamd is for Allah Almighty, Who is the Sustainer and Rabb of all the worlds!”
Note for verse 67:
Life after death, resurrection and janna and jahannam are realities in which we firmly believe. Nobody can claim to be a Muslim without this belief. However, the Qur’an also tells us that the Law of Mukafat becomes operative from life in this world. The pattern of the society established in accordance with the divine law would be similar to that in the hereafter, i.e., every matter would be decided justly and the result of every deed would be accurate – pleasant results of virtuous deeds, destructive results of evil deeds. In view of this reality, what has been said from Verses 67 to the end can also be taken to mean the Qur’anic revolution in this world; and also pertain to resurrection (after death). We have taken the former meaning, particularly because Verse 74 mentions inheritance of land. It would be more appropriate to take their meaning as conquests in this world.
(1) The veils of darkness are the skin, the womb and the placenta that holds the baby. Even the placenta itself is in two layers, and if these are counted as two, the womb could be the third layer.
(2) See note on page 777.
(3) “Illa Ma Shaallah” is normally taken to mean ‘without exception’. In Aya (27:87) the Qur’an has itself explained the exception. In the light of this, the above explanation has been preferred.
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