Exposition of the Holy Quran – 43 Az-Zukhruf (G A Parwez)
Surah 43: Az-Zukhruf
(Vanity / Gold)
(1) Allah Almighty, who deserves all hamd and glory, says:
(2-3) The doctrines and laws of this lucid divine book stand witness to the fact that We have made it unambiguous and it clearly shows the truth, so that you can understand it by using your intellect.
(4) Its origin and source is Our knowledge, which is the basis and dispenser of all laws. It is indeed sublime and full of wisdom.
(5) (Ask these opponents) “Do you expect that, because you are rebellious and have crossed all limits, We will be afraid of you and withhold the Qur’anic laws? Or change historical episodes (so that what happened with the previous nations would not happen to you)?”
(6) (These historical episodes are why) We sent so many anbiya to the nations before you.
(7) And there never was a nabi whose people did not ridicule him.
(8) So Our Law of Mukafat destroyed those nations, even though the grip of those people was far stronger than that of your opponents. So whatever happened to them will also happen to these people.
(9) If you ask them about the creator of the heavens and the earth, they will surely say that it is Allah; that He wields full control and authority; and that He is all-knowing. (They admit to the authority of the Almighty Who has created the universe, but are not willing to accept that human society should also be established according to His laws – 29:61.)
(10) (It is true that the universe has been created by Him) God has made the earth a resting place for you, and He has made various paths on it so that you may reach your destinations.
(11) And it is He Who sends down rain from the clouds in due measure, thus giving life to dead land.
Likewise, Allah has made arrangements to give you new life through the guidance in this Qur’an.
(12) He has created pairs of things of different kinds, and has also made boats and animals for you to ride on (so that you can reach your destination).
(13) And when you sit firm and square on them, recall the bounties and blessings of your Rabb and exclaim, “Allah Almighty is most certainly free of all shortcomings! He is the One who has made all these subservient for our use as (had He not done so) it would not have been possible for us to harness them.
(14) “Hence it should always be your conduct that every step you take should lead you to the path guided by Him.”
(15) Through their ignorance, on the one hand they accept that the universe was created by God, but at the same time they have the conviction that Allah also has offspring. One fundamental objection to this is the fact that whenever birth occurs through the process of procreation, some part of the father is transferred to the offspring. This makes the father that much deficient. Allah Almighty, however, is far above this concept of becoming deficient(1).
See how human beings try to conceal and deny such evident realities.
(16) They also believe that deities and angels are daughters of the Almighty. (Firstly, the very belief that Allah Almighty has offspring is wrong. Moreover, it is not acceptable to assign to Him offspring which they themselves do not desire, and to say that He has chosen daughters for Himself and favoured them with sons – 16:58.)
(17) (They believe that having daughters is degrading and depressing.) When any one of them hears the news of the birth of a daughter, his face darkens with shame and he becomes sad. This then is their feeling about daughters, whom they assign as the Almighty’s offspring!
(18) They assign Allah’s own creation as His progeny. Furthermore, this progeny is brought up among ornaments; and she is always deeply involved in beautifying herself and making an outward show. So much so that due to sheer emotions and ignorance, she cannot even express herself in plain and unambiguous words(2).
(19) And they also believe that malaika, who are all obedient creations of Ar-Rahman, are females (deities). Ask them, were they present when We created the malaika, to see that they belong to the female gender?
Their testimony shall be recorded in their personal scroll and they will be asked to prove their claim.
(20) When they are asked about their reasons for worshipping these beings, they justify it by attributing it to their fate. They say, “(Everything happens as willed by Ar-Rahman; and a human being is helpless.) If Ar-Rahman had so willed, we would never have worshipped them.”
In actual fact, they do not know what taqdeer is; and what Allah’s Mashiyya means. They are just guessing. (Had they known the facts they would not have said that all this happens due to God’s will; and that they had no choice. In reality the human being has been endowed with the ability to choose his actions. He is thus always responsible for his deeds – 6:149, 36:47.)
(21) (They do not have any rational proof based on knowledge. And) We had not sent any book to them, wherein were written such beliefs to which they now hold steadfastly. (Therefore the concept of taqdeer is contradictory to divine guidance, as well as human knowledge and intellect.)
(22) The only evidence and argument they put forward is, “We found our ancestors following this way; and we are being guided by their footsteps.” (Their assertion that they have inherited it from their forefathers is unsound and false.)
(23) But this is not the first time that such an argument is being presented. Even before your time, whenever We sent a rasool, who warned them about the catastrophic results of their erroneous deeds, the people who were used to an easy and luxurious way of life always opposed him. These people (who shunned doing any research or in-depth study and did not work for their living) were happy to live off the labour of other people and their earnings. They said, “We found our forefathers on a path; and verily we are going to follow their footsteps. We will not leave at any cost.” (The success of their priesthood was based on people following them blindly, without stopping to think.)
(24) In response, each rasool said, “If I bring to you better guidance than your ancestors, which would put you on the straight path, would you still prefer your own way?”
They replied, “We are not prepared to listen to anything. We reject whatever you say.” (We neither want to listen to anything against the creed of our ancestors, nor are we ready to leave it.)
(25) As this attitude of theirs was against knowledge, logic and divine revelation, Our Law of Mukafat seized them. You can refer to the pages of history to see what happened to those who belied the truth.
(26) (An important historical episode is the story of Abraham and his people. They are fully aware of this, because they are from amongst his progeny. Ask them whether Abraham had also adopted this attitude and followed the ways of his ancestors?)
(On the contrary) He openly told his father and people, “I detest whatever it is that you worship. I have nothing to do with them!
(27) “I only accept the Almighty who brought me into being. Only He can guide me to the path which can take me to the destined goal.”
(28) (He himself abandoned the path of his ancestors and followed divine guidance; and thereafter) He left this legacy for his progeny, so that they may turn towards the truth and leave aside their erroneous ways.
(29) (This was the guidance that Abraham gave them and) We gave abundant sustenance to these people and their ancestors. (However, they ignored the true and right teachings of Abraham.) Our Rasool has now come to them with clear facts.
(30) When the truth was explained to them they said, “All these are lies and we are not prepared to accept them.”
(31) (Now consider the objection they raise against him. They say) Why was the Qur’an not revealed to some leading man from either of the two cities (Makkah or Taif)? (How can we accept that a poor orphan has been selected to become a rasool, leaving aside all our leaders and rich people? How can we obey such a person?)
(32) (In other words) These people want that even nabuwwa, which is Allah’s exclusive rahma and gift, should be distributed according to their criteria! In fact, let alone nabuwwa, even worldly sustenance is not distributed according to their criteria. The basic capability to acquire sustenance differs from person to person. Therefore, there is a difference in how much everyone earns. The difference in capabilities exists because society needs different tasks to be carried out, and for this different abilities are needed. In human society the collective social system functions like that (16:53, 16:71). But this does not affect the dignity and respect of man.
Accordingly, if even the ability to earn is not self-created by individuals but bestowed by Allah Almighty, how can nabuwwa which is Allah’s gift of the highest order, be granted according to the standards of these people? The bestowal of nabuwwa is an exclusive discretionary favour from Allah Almighty, and He grants it to a specially selected and suitable person according to His programme.
(33) If it was not in Our programme that all humanity should eventually become one universal community (2:213, 10:19), then We would have left alone the people who deny Our Nizam-e-Rabubiyya. These people want to collect colossal material wealth for themselves and amass such riches that they would like to make even the roofs and stairs of their houses of silver.
(34-35) And they would also like the doors of their houses and the couches on which they recline, to be made of gold. (However, this gross difference between various sections of society would not have allowed humans to become one brotherhood. It is for this reason that We continue to send such messages and create parties which raise their voices against unjust distribution of wealth. They also proclaim that) The objective should not be comfort and luxury in this worldly life only, but should also be happiness and success in the future world. (This future objective can only be achieved if the human social system is subservient to the divine law and guidance. In this way, despite the fact that different people will have varying capabilities of earning, the whole of humanity can become one brotherhood.)
(36) (However, most people turn away from this basic reality of life and) As soon as one person turns away from the concept of Nizam-e-Rabubiyya, people with a similarly rebellious attitude join him and become his intimate associates (41:25).
(37) These companions obstruct such people from coming to the right path. (They throw such a snare of deception around them, that they do not realize that they have gone astray.) And they believe that they are on the right path;
(38) And they do so until the time that the results of their erroneous deeds are manifested before them. Then they realize their error and say in utter disappointment. “Alas! How we wish there was a great divide between us and our companions. What evil companions they were! Besides themselves, they also ruined us.”
(39) They will be told, “Nothing can benefit you on this day. Since all of you committed zulm (injustice) collectively, all of you will suffer the chastisement together.”
(40) (This then is the plight of these people! Firstly, they consider such gains to be the sole objective of this worldly life; and then they get companions who further incite them towards selfish ends. Therefore, O Rasool!) Can you make such deaf people hear; and show such blind men the right path? Who can guide to the right path the person who wants to keep himself in explicit error?
(41) (These people wish that you would depart from this world as soon as possible, so that they may remain in peace. But they are under a wrong impression. The doom and destruction about which you are warning them will be the result of their own doing. It has nothing to do with your life or death.) Therefore, even if you go away from this world, Our retribution is bound to face them.
(42) And even if it occurs right in front of you (it will still be the result of their own doings). It will certainly happen according to Our Law of Mukafat, which possesses power and strength to manifest its results (10:46, 13:40, 23:95, 40:78).
(43) Therefore, ignore what they say and follow whatever has been revealed to you. You are truly on the right path (and you are bound to reach the destination).
(44) And the Qur’an which has been guiding you and which you follow has become a source of great eminence and dignity for you and your nation of followers (21:10, 21:24). (You can tell your opponents) “You will soon be questioned (about the reasons why you opposed such a dignified code of life.).” (Their lack of eminence and dignity will itself become a question for them.)
(45) These people were not taught by any of their previous rusul to take various beings, other than Ar-Rahman, as their ilah. The claim by these Ahl-ul-Kitab that they were taught such practices by their rusul is wrong. Is it possible that any of Allah’s rusul taught them shirk? Rusul were always sent to give the pure message of tauheed.
(46) (For instance) We sent Moses to the Pharaoh and his chiefs with Our divine code. He told them that he had been sent to them by the Rabb of all the worlds;
(47) And when he presented the divine code to them, they started ridiculing it.
(48) But We kept punishing them in various ways, so that they would leave the rebellious path (7:133). These punishments successively appeared in different forms, with each new one more severe than the pervious one.
(49) And whenever such chastisement confronted them they would tell Moses, “We consider you to be a great religious leader. Therefore, on the basis of your covenant with your Rabb – that if we follow the right path the sufferings will be averted – pray to Him to do so. If this suffering is averted, we shall certainly follow the right course.”
(50) And when We averted their sufferings, they again broke their pledge.
(51) (As the Pharaoh was afraid of the popularity of this revolutionary movement) He often announced, “O my people! Am I not the owner of this country of Egypt? Aren’t the canals which flow under my management and on which your sustenance depends, mine? Don’t you ponder over these matters?
(52) “Don’t you understand that I am superior to this man? He is a weak and ordinary lower class person from amongst our subservient people. Moreover, he is such an unpolished and ignorant person that he cannot even clearly explain a simple matter.
(53) “(If his God wanted to make him a ruler then) Why has he not given him bracelets of gold and why do the angels not accompany him in a procession?”
(54) Thus with such propaganda he kept his people in deception so that they would not think, but rather continue to follow him blindly. In fact these people themselves wanted to tread the wrong path (for people who want to take the right course cannot be influenced by such propaganda).
(55) Thus when their rebellion reached extreme limits and the time came for their destruction, We drowned them all.
(56) And instead of a living nation We made them a thing of the past. They became an example of an awful episode, which is being narrated for posterity.
(57) And whenever Jesus son of Mary is mentioned by you with respect, your people (O Rasool) raise an outcry;
(58) And say “It is strange that you condemn shirk, preach tauheed and strongly oppose our deities, but at the same time you praise the deities of Christians. Do you mean that Jesus is better than our deities?”
Their objection, however, is for the sake of creating a dispute only and not for clearly understanding the point. In fact these people are contentious by nature. (They know very well that you condemn the shirk of Christians as much as theirs; and that you respect God’s rasool Jesus, who propagated tauheed.)
(59) Jesus was our subject. We had graced him with the blessings of wahi and for the Bani-Israel, We made him an exemplary embodiment of virtue.
(60) (Irrespective of the objections of the mushrikeen of Arabia, the Christians themselves have their objectionable beliefs. They believe that only the person who is pious like an angel will enter paradise. They also believe that this is possible only if one believes in the atonement of Jesus and not necessarily by virtue of good deeds. This belief cleanses man of all sins and he becomes pious like an angel(3). Tell them that if the intent was to make angels out of human beings) We could have inhabited this earth with angels, in place of you.
(61) As has been mentioned before, Jesus was a messenger of the Almighty and a
sign of revolutionary change. (Henceforth, the continuity of nabuwwa would be transferred from the progeny of Israel to that of Ishmael, to whom the last Nabi of Allah would come with the final message. That decisive moment has come and therefore you can tell the Bani-Israel) “Now you should have no doubt about this. You should follow me because this is the only straight and balanced path.
(62) “And beware! Let not your erroneous selfish desires and the clergy bar you from the right path, for all of them are your open enemies.”
(63) And when Jesus came he brought with him the divine code. He told them (the Bani-Israel), “I have brought to you the divine code which is based on absolute wisdom and knowledge. Its purpose is to clarify some of the matters on which you differ with each other. You should be conscious of the divine laws, guard them and follow me (for I also obey these law and you should do likewise);
(64) “And remember, Allah is my Rabb as well as yours. Obey only Him, for this is surely the straight and balanced path.”
(65) (In brief, this was the message of tauheed which Jesus presented to the Bani-Israel. But after him) Various factions amongst his followers differed with each other (and attributed different beliefs to Jesus, thus committing shirk). A grievous chastisement awaited those who committed such excesses.
(66) (Their main objection was that their deities were being condemned, whereas Jesus was not; but these people just did not listen to reason.) They are waiting for that time (of the impending revolution) which will come upon them so suddenly, that they will be taken completely by surprise.
(67) At that time all bonds of relationship will end and friends will become each other’s enemies. However, relationships of the muttaqeen, which are based on common ideology will remain intact; because in reality this is the basis on which genuine bonds are formed.
(68) They (the muttaqeen) will be told that they need not be apprehensive about the revolution. They have nothing to fear or be anxious about.
(69) They are the people who believed in the truth of Our laws and obeyed them completely.
(70) They will be told, “Enter janna where, along with your companions, you will enjoy a wonderful life and rejoice with songs (30:15).
(71) Golden platters and goblets will be passed around containing all kinds of eatables. They will get everything that their hearts desire and all that which pleases their eyes will be available. They will be told, “Henceforth you will abide here.
(72) “This is the janna which you have earned as a result of your (good) deeds. Accordingly, there is no question of you losing it.
(73) “And here you shall have plenty of fruit to eat.”
(74) On the contrary, the guilty will be confined to the torment of jahannam.
(75) There shall be no relaxation in the severity of their suffering and they will be in utter despair. (It will be the worst kind of punishment.)
(76) (And remember) This shall not be any excess against them. In fact it will be the result of the zulm they had committed on themselves.
(77) The punishment will be so severe that they will cry out and ask the custodian of jahannam, “Beseech your Rabb to finish us once and for all, so that we rid ourselves of this chastisement.” However, they will be told that death does not occur there; and that they will have to stay there and suffer forever.
(78) (Allah will tell them) “We sent towards you a divine code which was based on absolute truth; but most of you were averse to the truth (and opposed it).” (This chastisement is the natural consequence of that opposition.)
(79) (O Rasool!) These people have strengthened their plans to forcefully oppose you, but to counter this, We too have firmly established our strategy.
(80) They think that We are totally unaware of their secret plans and cannot hear their secrets and stealthy consultations. This impression is wrong. In fact Our messengers stay with them all the time and keep recording everything (10:21).
(81) Tell them that if (as they believe) Ar-Rahman can have sons (or daughters) they can take such a being as their god; but you yourself would be the first one to show aversion to it.
(82) Tell them, “The entity Whom I consider my God is far above these false notions. He is the Rabb of the universe and provides sustenance to all; and He retains the central command and control in His own hands.”
(83) (Nevertheless, everything has been explained to these people in no uncertain terms. If they still do not abandon the wrong path then) Leave them to indulge in meaningless efforts, until the arrival of the day of decisions about which they are being warned.
(84) This warning is from the Almighty, Whose law is in force in the outer universe as well as in the human world. All control and authority in the universe is with Him; and the entire system works on absolute wisdom and knowledge.
(85) Absolute authority and control over everything in the heavens and on the earth and whatever is in between, rests with one God. Everything in the universe is busy fulfilling His Nizam-e-Rabubiyya. Only God knows when that great revolutionary era (when this universal divine law shall also be applied to the human world) will come. Verily, however, every step of yours goes in that direction.
(86) Those whom they invoke for help, and consider as having control and authority, do not have any power to intercede. In the divine court of justice, no one can stand witness for another, except the one who has knowledge and wants to testify to the truth; and has God’s permission (2:255).
(87) (Furthermore) If you ask them about their creator, and that of the universe, they confess that this is Allah (43:9). Ask them then where they are heading; and why not towards His laws?
(88) (The Almighty Who knows that these people will perish in the coming revolution, also understands the grief with which) The Rasool cries out, “O my Rabb, why do these people not save themselves from doom and destruction by believing in the truth of the divine laws (18:6, 25:38, 26:3)?”
(89) There is no use, however, of taking pity on the person who is keen on destroying himself. Therefore, (O Rasool) just leave them alone and tell them, “Whatever I say or do is entirely for your safety and peace.”
If even after this they do not take the right path, they will soon come to know the outcome of their erroneous ways.
(1) That is why God’s way of producing things is creation and not procreation. The same objection could be raised against the belief that the human soul is part of God’s soul; that the latter has been separated and is stuck in this world, and that its destiny is for it to merge again with its origin. (Allah is beyond that.) The human self is not part of God’s Self, it has been created by God. The self (the personality) of each individual is an indivisible whole. It cannot be divided.
(2) The Holy Qur’an makes these statements about untrained and uneducated women of the ignorant era, before the Qur’an. It does not consider that women are born that way. The women of heavenly society who receive education and training are completely different (see 56:35-37).
(3) This is the fundamental concept of Christianity. One may refer to St. Paul’s letters in the New Testament.
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