Exposition of the Holy Quran – 46 Al-Ahqaaf (G A Parwez)

Surah 46: Al-Ahqaaf

(The Sand Dunes)

(1) Allah Almighty, Who deserves all hamd and glory, says:

(2) This divine code has been revealed by Allah, Who has power over everything in the universe. His power is not based on ruthlessness, but on rationality and wisdom.

(3) He says that We have created the heavens and the earth and all that is in between (the universe) as a reality for a limited period (the main purpose being that every action should produce appropriate results – 45:22). However, people who refuse this reality turn away when they are told that their wrong attitude will bring destruction on themselves.

(4) Ask them, “Have you ever seriously thought about those whom you invoke, instead of Allah? Have you ever given serious thought to this matter? Can you show me anything they have created out of this earth; or if they have any say in the affairs of the universe? If you can, justify your claim and in its support produce either a reference from any previous divine book or an argument based on knowledge.”

(5) (Tell them) Who else could be more misled than the one who leaves Allah aside and instead invokes deities which cannot answer his calls till the day of resurrection; and these deities are even unaware that they have been invoked.

(6) On the day when the results are manifested, they (the deities) will face them as enemies and will clearly tell them that they never asked to be worshipped.

(7) Whenever Our clear revelations are read out to those who deny the truth they say, “This is a manifest lie!”

(8) They go to the extent of saying that all this has been fabricated by him (the Rasool); and that he attributes it to Allah as His wahi. Tell them, “If I do so, then no power can save me from the calamity that Allah will inflict on me. (In fact it is because you want to pursue selfish ends that) You indulge in such frivolous talk. He is fully aware of this reality. He is witness to my claim of nabuwwa as well as to your opposition and denial. Only He provides means of protection and nourishment.”

(9)  Tell them, “I am not the first one among the rusul. Neither have I started the process of risala, nor am I telling you something new. (The institution of risala started from the very beginning and messengers have been sent to every nation. I am also one of them and am bringing the same message that was brought by earlier messengers. I am sure the just system I am presenting will ultimately overcome falsehood.) However, because of the confrontation between you and me, I can neither be certain about my ultimate result nor yours, nor is it my concern. My duty is to follow the wahi being revealed to me and to warn you about the consequences of your erroneous ways.” (The result of my efforts will appear before you at the proper time, according to the divine Law of Mukafat.)

(10) Tell those who oppose you (particularly the Jews), “Have you ever seriously pondered over the consequences of your denial, if what I present is really from Allah Almighty? It is really amazing that you are denying this (although all ambia from the Bani-Israel were giving similar messages). And about one of them, Moses, you know very well that his revolutionary message was similar to the one being given now. He had also testified to the advent of one like him(1) (73:15). Now do you consider yourself greater than your messenger who believed in this reality, so that you spurn it and take pride in your arrogance? Just think! How can people who tread the wrong path get guidance towards the right course of life?”

(11) Those (Jews) who deny the truth of the Qur’an say that if there was any good in this message, how was it possible that they did not believe it while the ummi Arabs did. (They claim that there is no field in which these people are ahead of them. Therefore it is obvious that the Qur’an does not offer anything that is intellectually high enough for them to believe. However, the fact is) Out of sheer jealousy and stubbornness these people failed to get guidance from the Qur’an. Just to save face they now say that it offered the same old lies which people have been concocting since long (54:2).

(12) (As has been mentioned before) The book revealed earlier to Moses was a code of correct guidance and a source of nourishment for human beings. (However, it did not stay in its original form.) Now this book has been sent to practically prove the claims mentioned in that earlier book. This book has been revealed in an explicit language (Arabic), so that you can warn those who have left the right course and have adopted aggressive and unjust ways. Also, you can give glad tidings to those who lead balanced and righteous lives;

(13) That is to those who believe in the reality, and stand firm on their conviction that Allah alone is their Rabb. These shall have no fear or worry whatsoever (41:30).

(14) They are destined to live a life of janna, where they shall abide as a consequence of all that they had been doing.

(15) (This blissful society will also be established in this world, where every member of the household would be an embodiment of virtue and would lead a superior human life, rising above that of animals. Even in the animal world parents look after their offspring; but when the offspring grow up they cease to recognize their parents. It was therefore emphasized upon human beings to be kind towards their parents. This is the epitome of human life and therefore there are some requirements.) We enjoined upon man to display the best of behaviour towards his parents. His mother carried him in her womb with hardship and gave birth to him in pain (and took care of him round the clock, forgetting her own rest and sleep. This was not for a day or so but) The period of bearing and weaning him takes (about) thirty months (2:233, 31:14) (2).

And when the child reaches the age of forty years, and has matured further with experience, he says, “O My Rabb, grant me the strength and inspiration to keep myself disciplined and under control, so that I can make proper use of the blessings and bounties with which you have favoured my parents and me. Thus, I can work righteously as commanded by your programme; and bring up my offspring properly so that they too can work honestly. I turn towards you in every matter and submit before every command conveyed from You.”

(16) We accept the honest efforts of members of such families and if they make a mistake, We protect them from its ill effects. These are the people of a heavenly life. Their life of comfort is a fulfilment of the promise made to them in the Qur’an. This consequence of their deeds is in accordance with the Law of Mukafat.

(17) (That was the reference to righteous offspring. On the other hand there are) Others who tell their parents, “Fie upon both of you for trying to imbibe me with faith so that I could come back to life after death; although I see that many generations have passed before me (and none of them has ever come back to life).” At times parents implore Allah’s help and pray to Him (to grant vision to their offspring so that they may come to the right path). Sometimes they warn their children, “Alas! Why are you out to destroy yourself? Have faith in the Law of Mukafat and life after death. Remember that everything the Almighty has promised is true, word by word.”  In reply they say, (we know for certain that) “All these are fables concocted by previous generations (which have successively reached you. No one is resurrected after death).”

(18) Allah’s chastisement will actually manifest itself on such disobedient people, just as it did upon generations which have passed away. There was no distinction between the civilized or uncivilized communities. Even civilized and powerful communities which erred by denying life after death perished.

(19) Remember the absolute reality that according to the Law of Mukafat everyone will get full reward for their deeds; nothing less, nothing more. Every one of them will be assigned a position in accordance with his deeds. None will be shown any favour and no one will be wronged. This is Allah’s Law of Mukafat.

(20) When people (who deny Our Law of Mukafat) confront the destruction of jahannam, they will be told, “You made enjoyment of worldly comforts and luxuries your sole aim of life. You exhausted yourself with these, and they all ended with your physical death. On the basis of this (wealth and status) and in your arrogance you glorified yourself on earth. You wanted greatness and rewards without doing any righteous deeds. That is why you chose other means and left the right path ordained by Us. Hence, today you shall be requited with humiliating suffering.

(21) (O Rasool! You should) Tell them the story of the tribe of Aad which was one amongst the nations that adopted such an attitude and way of life. We sent their brother (Hud) to them as a rasool. He was not a new messenger. Earlier, many messengers had gone to various other nations and many more came after him. (He is being mentioned at this time because in many ways your opponents are similar to that nation. Nevertheless) He had come to warn people living in the area of Ahqaf about the destructive results of their erroneous deeds. He told his nation, “Do not obey anyone except Allah Almighty. I am afraid that because of the ways you have adopted, the suffering of an awesome day will befall you.”

(22) They replied, “Have you been sent to us to turn us away from our gods? Bring the chastisement upon us (right now) if you are a man of truth! Why are you delaying it?”

(23) He said, “The knowledge about the timing and type of punishment rests with Allah alone. My duty and mission is to convey to you the message I have been entrusted with. However, I see that you are extremely ignorant and foolish. (So much so that you do not ponder over what I say, but insist upon hurrying up the chastisement about which I warn you.)

(24) (Owing to a long drought at that time they were in dire need of rain.) Thus when they saw a dense cloud approaching their valleys they exclaimed, “This cloud will bring (welcome) rain to us which will water our lands!” But that was not a rain cloud. It was a furious storm that was on its way to destroy them. This was the destruction which (so contemptuously) they had sought to hasten.

(25) In accordance with the divine law the storm uprooted everything and caused destruction everywhere. The state of that habitation became such that nothing except the ruins of their dwellings (in which the residents perished) could be seen.

This is the way We requite the ones guilty of erroneous deeds. (Tell them that their end will be similar if they too will not abandon the wrong ways.)

(26) (That was not an ordinary nation.) Unlike you, they enjoyed much power, might and strength. Moreover, they were not uncivilized or illiterate. We had endowed them with the ability to hear, see and reason, but they opposed the divine laws because of their overpowering selfishness. As such, their faculties of wisdom, intellect and reason were of no use to them (45:23) and (eventually) they were encircled by the very things they ridiculed. (When human intellect works under guidance of wahi, the results are very pleasant. However, when emotions overpower man, his intellect and wisdom are switched off, just as he loses control when he is intoxicated.)

(27) (This was not an exception for the tribe of Aad). In a similar manner We destroyed many other habitations living around you. We repeat these historical episodes time and again, so that these nations may turn back from their evil ways and adopt the right course of life.

(28) (Ask them) Why did the deities which they worshipped not help them? They had adopted the deities after leaving aside Allah, believing that these would give them high status and make them close associates of the Almighty. However, when the punishment came the deities could not be seen anywhere. In fact, their conviction was merely because of their own delusion and false assumptions. It had no reality whatsoever.

(29) (O Rasool! You should not be worried that people living in urban areas are opposing your mission. We have sent you as a messenger for the entire humanity – 34:28. It includes all categories of people – urban, rural, civilized, uncivilized, and nomads. The rural people and nomads are getting your attention. You will recall that) Once We sent you a group of nomads from the desert, so that they could listen to the Qur’an (72:1). When they came to the place where the Qur’an was being explained, they asked each other to listen to it quietly. When the explanation was over they went back to their community and warned them about the consequences of their wrong-doings.

(30) They went back to their people and told them, “O our people. We have just listened to a book revealed (upon Muhammad) after Moses. It reaffirms what has been revealed earlier in the book of Moses. It guides human beings towards the truth and the straight path leading to their destination.

(31) “O our people! You should accept the call of this Messenger of Allah. You should profess eiman on Allah, as he says. Allah will protect you from the adverse effects of your mistakes and save you from painful suffering.

(32) “Remember! Whoever rejects His call will find that no power on earth can defeat His law. (Therefore he is bound to suffer.) Nobody can protect him or help him except Allah. People who do not accept His call are lost in manifest error.”

(33) (The matter was understood by this rural tribe. However, why is it that members of the Quraish who are the most cultured tribe of Makkah, do not understand this?) Have they never pondered that Allah was not tired(3) by the effort of creating the heavens and the earth; and that He is capable of giving life to the dead (50:15)? Yes, most certainly He has the power to do that. He has set measures and determined unchangeable laws for everything. He has full control over everything (and it is according to these laws that the dead can come to life).

(34) When these people who reject the divine laws are brought within sight of the fire of jahanam, they will be asked, “Now! Is all that you were told true or not?” They will say, “Yes and our Rabb is a witness testifying all that has come before us as reality.” They will be told, “Then taste the suffering which you rejected!”

(35) (Nevertheless, O Rasool! Do not worry about their opposition but) Remain firm and steadfast on your programme, as was done by other rusul who had great courage and firmness of heart. And do not ask for a speedy end for them (as the period of respite is not long). On that day they will see the chastisement which has been promised to them; and they will feel that the period of respite was no longer than just an hour of the day.

You should convey Our message to them. Only those who go astray from the right path will perish. Those who do not, will not face destruction. Therefore, if they want to save themselves they should follow the path suggested by God.

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(1)          The Torah (Deuteronomy XVIII, Verses 15 and 18) has testimony of Moses. In it God told him, “I will send a nabi like you from amongst their brothers.”

(2)          For legal purposes, the Holy Qur’an has fixed a period of two years for lactation (2:233, 31:14). This does not mean that the baby must be weaned at the age of two years and not earlier. As regards pregnancy, the period is usually nine months, although it could be more or less. During the first two to three months, the pregnancy is light. It becomes heavy and more difficult after that (7:189). Accordingly, the six months of heavy pregnancy and two years of lactation make up the thirty month period.

(3)          This contradicts the assertion in the Bible that God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh day because He was tired.

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