Exposition of the Holy Quran – 42 Ash-Shoora (G A Parwez)
Surah 42: Ash-Shoora
(1-2) Allah, Who deserves all hamd and glory and who is all-knowing, all-hearing and the supreme law maker, says:
(3) This book is being revealed to you through wahi. Wahi was also revealed to others (anbiya) who preceded you. It is being sent by God, Who has all wisdom and power. He has authority and control over everything, and this is based entirely on wisdom. (His control is not irrational.)
(4) Everything in the heavens and on the earth (in all corners of the universe) is working according to the programme determined by Him. He is worthy of all grandeur and greatness.
(5) (By enacting and enforcing their self-created laws, human beings create so much chaos in their society that it results in bloodshed. So much so that) It is not long before they are completely destroyed (19:90). (However, man can only create such distraction in his own world. The outer universe is beyond his reach and authority; and that is why it is safe. Therein all heavenly forces are continually making His Nizam-e-Rabubiyya worthy of all hamd; and people living on the earth are provided with every safety measure. Furthermore, according to His very programme, mankind is safe from all sorts of calamities and continues to receive means of development.)
(6) (This happens because control and authority in the universe rests with Allah.) Those who have taken others as their protectors are being watched by Him; and His Law of Mukafat will take care of them. (O Rasool!) Their affairs have not been assigned to you.
(7) This clear and explicit code of laws has been revealed to you so that firstly you can caution people living in and around the metropolis (Makkah) about the destructive results of their erroneous way of life. Then warn them that (if they do not abandon this way of life, then) all groups will be gathered in an open field. One group will enter heavenly society (as victors); while the other will fall in the ditch of jahannam (as losers). Tell them that this is undoubtedly bound to happen.
(8) It is true that if Allah had so willed, He could surely have made all human beings tread only one path (like animals). (In this way they would have had no discretion to differ from one another; nor would have there been the struggle between good and evil. However, His will was different. He has given human beings the faculty of discretion and left the choice to them.) Whoever so desires can choose the right path and thus make himself worthy of all the blessings of God. (But it should be clearly understood that) Whosoever wishes, can rebel, but the ultimate result will be doom. There will be no one to protect them from this doom or help them.
(9) (Ask them) Why have they chosen others as their protectors, leaving God aside? Only Allah can be the protector. He alone can bring the dead to life. He has set measures for everything and has full control over them.
(10) It is possible that you may disagree with one another due to various reasons, attitudes or differences in personalities. The proper way to settle differences is to decide all matters in accordance with Allah’s law (which is the final authority for everyone – 4:59).
This is the Allah, Who is my Rabb. I place my trust in Him and I shall always refer to His laws.
(11) He created the universe. He has also made, from your kind, mates for you. They become your companions. Likewise, He has made pairs of cattle. He has thus arranged for increase in your progeny. There cannot be anyone else like Him who can do all this. There is nothing like Him. He is all-hearing, all-seeing.
(12) All power and authority in the universe (heavens and earth) belong to Him; and He holds the keys to all the treasures. All affairs are decided according to laws set by Him. Whosoever abides by the laws and wants abundance in his provisions, gets it; and whoever disobeys His laws, will receive in restricted measure. Allah has full knowledge about everything (concerning a person’s struggle and how much he should get).
(13) (Like His laws which operate in the outer universe, He has devised laws for mankind. Since the beginning these laws have been conveyed through wahi to anbiya. Therefore) The way of life devised for you is the same as was revealed to Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus (and the other anbiya). All of them were told to establish the system proposed by God and to refrain from creating sects in it (because the main objective of the divine system is that humanity should become one universal entity by the removal of all differences – 3:32, 3:104, 6:160, 45:17-18). Your call for the removal of sectarian differences for the sake of unity is not acceptable to those who consider other powers as their helpers and to those who mix man-made rules with divine laws. (Therefore, how can they come to the right path? As regards their objection to your selection as a Rasool, tell them) Allah Almighty selects the one He considers suitable for this important task. The selection is not according to your standards, but according to His Mashiyya (programme). Your task is to seek guidance from the wahi revealed to the nabi. The guidance is available to anyone who seeks it willingly. It cannot benefit those who do not seek guidance.
(14) (Now the question arises that if deen has been the same since the very beginning, then why did different religions come into existence and why have so many differences arisen amongst people? It is not that the Almighty had given different religions to different people; nor was the wahi revealed by Him such that it created these differences. This was not the case. The fact is that) When a nabi departed after removing differences in the light of wahi, his followers again divided themselves into factions due to personal pride, stubbornness, rivalries and jealousies. This is how followers of one deen split into various factions.
Had God so willed, their differences could have been decided upon immediately, but from the very beginning He had laid down the law that there would be a time-lag between actions and their consequences. Accordingly, all this will be settled at the appropriate time. (This book has been revealed to efface all differences. Had they thought about it with an unprejudiced mind, they would have easily united themselves into one entity by removing all differences. However, their stubbornness, prejudices, and personal interests are blocking their way. As such) The people to whom this book has been revealed are doubtful about it and these doubts are disturbing them a great deal.
(15) (You need not worry or be sad about their attitude. Your job is to) Keep inviting them towards deen; reach out to everyone and do this with steadfastness, as you have been commanded. In this regard do not follow their whims and wishes. Tell them clearly, “I have full faith in the truth of the divine code which has been revealed to me. I have been commanded that (in spite of your opposition) I should ensure justice amongst you. (You may believe in whatever you like, but my own faith is that) Allah is my Rabb as well as yours. (My mission is to establish His Nizam-e-Rabubiyya, without any distinction between people. If you oppose it, then) You will have to face the consequences of your actions, while we shall be responsible for ours (109:6). Let there be no contention between us. (The issue is explicitly clear; you continue doing your own work and we will carry on with ours.) In spite of this, should you take up arms against us, then we too will be forced to come out against you. Eventually everything will be decided according to the divine laws.
(16) Although many have rationally accepted it, there are people (like those who face consequences in the battlefield) who will continue to argue about the divine system. (Everything has been made abundantly clear so that there should not be any doubt). According to the divine law, their dispute will be absolutely baseless and therefore all their negative efforts will completely fail. They will have to face severe chastisement.
(17) Allah has revealed this code of laws, setting forth the scales of truth and equity (the practical system), whereby every action will be appropriately assessed and its consequences will appear forthwith. (The opponents shall see for themselves the consequences of their opposition.) Who knows! The time for the appearance of these results may well be very near!
(18) People who do not believe in the Law of Mukafat make a lot of noise and say, “Why does the revolution (the time when the consequences shall confront us) not occur soon?” But those who believe in its truth know that its occurrence is an absolute reality. And they also realize that they will have to pass through difficult stages, each of which demands steadfastness. Accordingly, they are watchful of it.
Remember that those who have the slightest doubt about its occurrence have indeed gone far astray. (The ability to follow the right path depends on whether one believes in the Law of Mukafat.)
(19) (Some people wonder that if these opponents are wrong, then why they have abundant wealth and means of sustenance. The reason is that as far as sustenance is concerned) Allah is most gracious to His subjects. (He has devised means for obtaining sustenance.) Those who work hard in accordance with these set laws will be rewarded for their labour. His laws are so strong and powerful that one’s emotions or feelings cannot affect them.
(20) Amongst the seekers of sustenance there are two groups of people. One desires the pleasures of life, both in this world and in the hereafter. For them We add to the fruits of their efforts. Both their present and their future are bright. The other group seeks only the material gains in the present worldly life. We do give them ample reward for their effort in this world, but they have no share in the pleasures of the future (17:19-21).
(21) The path that these people have adopted for themselves has not been ordained by the Almighty. They have made other entities (their religious leaders) partners of God. These entities devise different ways (sharia) for them. The deen (the way of life) which these entities promote has not been sanctioned by the divine law. (God’s law tells you one thing, while the sharia of these religious leaders tells you something else. This is great shirk.)
Had there not been the law of respite, the consequences of their erroneous ways would have appeared before them immediately, and everything would indeed have been decided upon quickly. However, results are manifested only after the period of respite is over. At that time, these zalimeen will face grievous retribution.
(22) When they face the consequences of their deeds, you will see the zalimeen tremble. (If only they had believed that) Such a thing was bound to happen (then they would have retreated from the wrong path).
On the contrary, those who believe in the divine Law of Mukafat and work according to His constructive program, will be living in the blissful grandeur of janna (30:15). Their Sustainer will provide them whatever they wish for. This indeed is a great favour. Can there be a greater blessing from God?
(23) These are the bounties and blessings about which Allah gives glad tidings to those who believe in the truth of the divine laws and do righteous deeds.
In this regard, O Rasool! Tell them, “I do not ask for any reward from you for saving you from destruction and bringing you towards God. But, you should give due regard to human relationships. Do not take your opposition to such extremes that you even forget the love and affection of your near and dear ones (9:8, 25:57, 34:47)(1).”
According to Our law we will add to the prosperity of those who lead a righteous life. If you do so, you will see how Allah keeps you safe from dangers and how your efforts produce overwhelming results!
(24) As regards this divine code (wherein there is not an iota of self-interest), these people say that it has been fabricated by yourself and then falsely attributed to Allah.
(25) (You should tell these people that since the reasons have been explained to them clearly) If they leave the wrong path and adopt the right one, Allah’s Law of Mukafat will efface the ill effects of their erroneous ways. Allah knows about everything that they have done and what they are doing at present; as well as the results and consequences.
(26) (As per His law) Whenever they (the people who go astray) accept belief in the truth of His laws and work righteously as laid down by Him, then as a reward for their efforts He bestows plentiful bounties and much more on them. However, those who continue to reject His laws and have no desire to leave their erroneous ways will have to face terrible punishment.
If the Qur’an had not been revealed according to God’s Mashiyya, Allah would have sealed your heart, so that you would never have thought about it. However, the proof (that this revelation is in fact from Allah and no one else) is that false ideologies and the systems based on them, never endure. They are eventually effaced; but the system based on truth remains (13:17, 13:39). As such, ensuing results will prove whether the system to which I invite you is based on truth or not. And Allah’s Law of Mukafat has full knowledge of what is in their hearts. Neither can anyone defraud it, nor does it make errors in the compilation of results.
(27) (It is also a divine arrangement that, while human beings can violate ethical values, they cannot go against Allah’s physical laws. If this was possible, imagine what they could have done! For example) As per His law, means of sustenance can be extracted from the earth according to set measures. If this was not the case, sustenance from the earth would have come out continuously, without any set standard or measure. It is thus possible that those who could have acquired possession of this abundant sustenance, might have created havoc in the world. But Allah is fully aware of everything about His people and keeps full watch over them! (That is why he has even set limits to man’s choices.)
(28) By the same law, people become disappointed when rainfall fails; and they lose all hope. Then with the onset of rain, His benevolence is spread everywhere. It is in this manner that Allah’s attribute of taking care of His creation, which is worthy of all hamd, is manifested.
(29) (His laws of nature are not confined to earth. They encompass the whole universe. That is why) Among His signs are the very creation of the earth and other celestial bodies, as well as other living creatures which He has spread over them. At present these habitations are separated from one another but when He so wishes, Allah Almighty has the power to bring them together. (It is possible that creatures living on different planets can establish contact and meet with each other – 116:49(2).
(30) (This is Allah’s system of Rabubiyya, which is spread all over the universe. Its objective is to develop and nourish every living being.) Any calamity that befalls you is the outcome of your misdoings; whether these are committed by an individual or collectively because of an improper social system (4:79). (Allah does not inflict calamities without any reason. On the contrary) His law is that if one corrects his mistake, it saves him from most of the damage (caused by these mistakes).
(31) However, you cannot continue to violate the divine laws and also escape the consequences of your wicked deeds. You cannot elude the divine Law of Mukafat. Remember! No one except the divine law can protect you.
(32) Amongst the signs of His system of Rabubiyya are ships that sail (with the force of winds), looking like mountains moving across seas.
(33) If He had so willed, He could have stopped the winds from blowing and making the boats sail. These boats would then have been stranded on the surface of the water.
(What do you conclude from all this? Do you not appreciate that the One Who created you has also made excellent arrangements for your nourishment? However, in the human world, only those who remain steadfast in adversity and put everything to its proper use can derive benefit (from Allah’s system of Rabubiyya).
(34) And people who do not behave like this face destruction because of their erroneous doings. This is despite the fact that their minor mistakes are overlooked, so that they may correct themselves and adopt the right path.
(35) In this way those who dispute the truth of Our laws and rebel against them, will find that ultimately there is no escape for them. No one can go outside the limits of the divine Law of Mukafat.
(36) All this is for Our Nizam-e-Rabubiyya, which pertains to the physical life of this world. Likewise the divine system nurtures and develops human life (and this system is given through wahi). The development of physical life ends with death, but human life (the self of a person, which is far superior to physical life) continues to develop and go further. It does not change. However, only those who have implicit faith and trust in the permanent values given by their Rabb, can benefit from it.
(37) Such people abstain from heinous crimes which weaken the human self, as well as from acts which tend to incite universal abomination and selfishness. (But if some minor slip does take place by mistake and they are ashamed of it, then it is another matter – 4:31, 53:32.) In a situation when someone says something unintentionally and brings about an angry reaction, they do not retaliate but readily forgive.
(38) These are the people who respond to the call and come forward to establish the Nizam-e-Rabubiyya. They obey His laws and remain within the bounds of Nizam-us-Sala, which teaches them to decide their affairs through mutual consultations and according to divine laws. Furthermore, they keep open for the nourishment of other (needy) human beings, whatever means of sustenance they have been provided with. (In effect, they retain for themselves only what is necessary for their own survival.)
(39) They spend their lives as members of one community. Whenever tyranny or oppression afflicts them from anywhere, all of them collectively help each other and defend themselves; and take revenge on the transgressor.
(40) While doing so, however, they respect the principle that punishment should be commensurate with the offence committed and that in no way should it be excessive. If on the other hand they feel that the aggressor is remorseful about what he has done, and believe that if they forgive him there is a possibility that he will reform, then they will forgive him. It is due to this very attitude that the divine law produces positive results.
Because they obey the divine laws they do not under any circumstance commit zulm on anyone. In the eyes of this law, zulm and aggression are most unworthy.
(41) (As has been mentioned above) They do avenge themselves against any aggression committed on them and according to the law of justice this is obviously not a crime. (Rather it discourages the crime.)
(42) Actually, the offenders are those who commit aggression and zulm against others. They unjustly create chaos in the country (being intoxicated by power). These people deserve grievous punishment.
(43) On the other hand, people who (in spite of acquiring authority and power) remain steadfast on the path of fairness, and safeguard the interests of the weak, show that such conduct requires considerable courage and will. This reflects the superiority and greatness of their character.
(44) No one can protect those who leave the divine laws and go astray. It is the plight of such rebellious people that when they face the chastisement, they will cry out “Is there any way of turning it back?”
(45) When they are brought to face the chastisement, their arrogance and haughtiness will disappear. They shall be extremely humble and will stealthily look around to see if anyone will take pity on them.
And the people who had professed eiman will say to them, “You have seen for yourselves that ultimately only those who had opted for immediate gains and ignored the future life were losers. They themselves were destroyed, and they also took their close associates along with them.
All of them will abide in lasting chastisement.
(46) At that time there will not be any protector who can help them. The only protector could have been the divine law which they had abandoned. The fact is that whoever leaves aside divine guidance and adopts an erroneous way of life, can never find a way that leads to peace and prosperity.
(47) (Therefore O Rasool! Tell these people to) Respond to the call of their Rabb and obey His directives and laws; and to do so before the day which cannot be averted arrives. “At that time you will neither get refuge anywhere; nor will you be able to escape by denying the crimes you had committed.”
(48) If after all this explanation they still turn away from this invitation, then (O Rasool! ) you will not be held responsible. We have not appointed you a guard over them (so that you can bring them to the right path by any means). Your duty is only to convey the divine code to them. (They are in a defiant mood because at present they have abundant means of sustenance.) Also, the attitude of human beings is such that when one has the comforts and luxuries of life, one begins to exult; but when one gets into any difficulty and feels aggrieved, he holds Allah responsible even if the misfortune is a consequence of his own doings. The fact is that man is extremely ungrateful.
(49) (Their attitude does not make any difference to Allah.) To Allah Almighty belongs sovereignty and command over whatever exists in the heavens and on the earth. Everything in the universe functions according to His laws; and even the physical life of human beings is not outside the ambit of His law. The wonderful phenomenon of creation also works according to His laws. This process includes human procreation, according to which some are bestowed with female and others with male offspring.
(50) Some get both male and female offspring, while some remain issueless. All this happens according to set laws which are based on His knowledge.
(51) The law of nature which is in force in the universe is conveyed to human society through wahi, which is revealed to anbiya and not to every individual. Allah communicates in three ways. Two of these are reserved for anbiya and the third for ordinary human beings. He communicates with anbiya either by instilling the contents of His wahi in their hearts (2:97); or at times by conveying it to their ears, from behind the veil (as happened with Moses – 2:253, 4:16). Both these ways are confined to anbiya(3). As far as other ordinary human beings are concerned, a rasool is sent to them. The rasool conveys to them the divine revelation bestowed by Allah’s command. (No man other than a nabi can be in communication with Allah directly.) This arrangement is made by the highly exalted Allah, Who takes all decisions rationally.
(52) Likewise O Rasool, We have revealed the Qur’an to you. It has been revealed to you from our creative command which carries a lot of energy. (You have not acquired it by virtue of your efforts, skill or knowledge. All these qualities apart) Before this you did not even know what a divine book looked like and what was meant by eiman. We made the Qur’an a shining light by which We guide Our subjects to the right path of life, according to Our law of Mashiyya. The law is that anyone who turns towards the Qur’an, using his intellect and reason, can derive guidance from it. O Rasool! This is the way you should guide people towards the straight path.
(53) This is the path that leads to Allah Almighty. Everything in the heavens and on the earth is busy accomplishing the programme designed by him. Verily all affairs are decided according to His law.
(1) This could also mean that all I want is that, at least, you should not ignore the family and other close relationships. At present, for the sake of your personal gains, you do not care about your family relations. You should not do that (2:36, 3:102).
(2) It appears from this verse that there is life on some of the planets. Man has started establishing communication. It appears possible that we establish contact with some population and thus the populations get together.
(3) No non-nabi can know the reality and nature of the phenomenon of wahi. Therefore, we cannot say how was it instilled in a nabi’s heart. How did Gabriel deliver it or what was the nature of the conversation (as in the case of Moses). As far as ordinary people are concerned, wahi reaches them through anbiya. People cannot communicate with God directly. After the end of nabuwwa, the only way to communicate with God is through the Holy Qur’an; i.e., when we read Qur’an, God communicates with us. This is because the Qur’an is the word of God. Other than through this way no one can communicate with God. Anyone who claims to do so is actually proclaiming nabuwwa.
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