Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XLI.: ENTITLED SURAT AL FUSSILAT (EXPLANATION). Revealed at Makkah. - The Quran, vol. 4
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CHAPTER XLI.: ENTITLED SURAT AL FUSSILAT (EXPLANATION). Revealed at Makkah. - Mohammed, The Quran, vol. 4 
A Comprehensive Commentary on the Quran: Comprising Sale’s Translation and preliminary Discourse, with Additional Notes and Emendations (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, and Co., 1896). 4 vols.
Part of: The Quran, 4 vols.
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ENTITLED SURAT AL FUSSILAT (EXPLANATION).
In some manuscripts this chapter is entitled Worship or Adoration, “because,” says Sale, “the infidels are herein commanded to forsake the worship of idols and to worship God; but the thirty-second chapter bearing the same title, that which we have here prefixed is, for distinction, generally used.”
According to Hishám, 186 (Coussin de Perc, i. 375 seq.), the design of Muhammad in enunciating the revelations of this chapter was the conversion of Utba bin Rábia to Islám. This story accords well enough with the teaching of the chapter, but there is nothing in it to bar the idea of a more general application.
There is little in this chapter to distinguish it from other Makkan Suras, unless it be the vehemence with which Muhammad asserts his own prophetic claims and the inspired character of the Qurán. The Qurán is declared to be the Word of God (vers. 1-3, 41, 42), which has been revealed in the Arabic language (vers. 2 and 44) in order that the Quraish might have no good excuse for rejecting it (ver. 44). The Quraish are, however, charged with having rejected it (vers. 3 and 4); but this was not to be regarded as affording any evidence of the falsity of its claims, but rather of the contrary, inasmuch as the writings of Moses had met with similar treatment (ver. 45). The unbelievers are therefore threatened with the fate of the Ádites and of the Thamúdites (vers. 13-15), while believers are assured of protection in this life and of glorious rewards in Paradise (vers. 17 and 30-32). The folly of the worship of the idolaters is exposed by reference to the fact that God is the Creator of all things, especially of the objects of Makkan worship.
Throughout the chapter Muhammad appears as a prophet of God, yet a simple preacher of Islám, a “warner” of the people of Arabia.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
Granting that this chapter was written in order to convert Utba bin Rábia to Islám, yet, as Noëldeke points out, this gives us no certain data wherewith to fix the date of the writing of it. True, Ibn Hishám gives the narrative of this attempt at conversion immediately after that of the conversion of Hamza, yet, when we remember that, in relating the events prior to the Hijra, this writer pays little attention to exact chronological order, we cannot infer that this attempt was really made at that time; moreover, nothing certain is known as to the time of Hamza’s conversion. It therefore follows that nothing certain can be learned from tradition as to the date of this chapter.
Having regard, however, to the style and contents of the chapter, we may fix the date approximately at about b.h. 8, a time when there was offered to the Muslims a sturdy opposition at Makkah, but as yet without violence to the person of the Prophet or his followers.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) H. M. This is a revelation from the most Merciful; (2) a book the verses whereof are distinctly explained, an Arabic Qurán, for the instruction of people who understand; (3) bearing good tidings and denouncing threats; but the greater part of them turn aside, and hearken not thereto. (4) And they say, Our hearts are veiled from the doctrine to which thou invitest us; and there is a deafness in our ears, and a curtain between us and thee: wherefore act thou as thou shalt think fit; for we shall act according to our own scntiments. (5) Say, Verily I am only a man like you. It is revealed unto me that your God is one God: wherefore direct your way straight unto him; and ask pardon of him for what is past. And woe be to the idolaters; (6) who give not the appointed alms, and believe not in the life to come! (7) But as to those who believe and work righteousness, they shall receive an everlasting reward.
∥ (8) Say, Do ye indeed disbelieve in him who created the earth in two days; and do ye set up equals unto him? He is the Lord of all creatures. (9) And he placed in the earth mountains firmly rooted, rising above the same: and he blessed it; and provided therein the food of the creatures designed to be the inhabitants thereof, in four days; equally, for those who ask. (10) Then he set his mind to the creation of heaven, and it was smoke; and he said unto it, and to the earth, Come, either obediently, or against your will. They answered, We come, obedient to thy command.(11) And he formed them into seven heavens, in two days; and revealed unto every heaven its office. And we adorned the lower heaven with lights, and placed therein a guard of angels. This is the disposition of the mighty, the wise God. (12) If the Makkans withdraw from these instructions, say, I denounce unto you a sudden destruction, like the destruction of Ád and Thamúd. (13) When the apostles came unto them before them and behind them, saying, Worship God alone; they answered, If our Lord had been pleased to send messengers, he had surely sent angels; and we believe not the message with which ye are sent. (14) As to the tribe of Ád, they behaved insolently in the earth, without reason, and said, Who is more mighty than we in strength? Did they not see that God, who had created them, was more mighty than they in strength? And they knowingly rejected our signs. (15) Wherefore we sent against them a piercing wind, on days of ill luck, that we might make them taste the punishment of shame in this world: but the punishment of the life to come will be more shameful; and they shall not be protected therefrom.(16) And as to Thamúd, we directed them: but they loved blindness better than the true direction: wherefore the terrible noise of an ignominious punishment assailed them, for that which they had deserved; (17) but we delivered those who believed and feared God.
∥ (18) And warn them of the day on which the enemies of God shall be gathered together unto hell-fire, and shall march in distinct bands; (19) until, when they shall arrive thereat, their ears, and their eyes, and their skins shall bear witness against them of that which they shall have wrought. (20) And they shall say unto their skins, Wherefore do ye bear witness against us? They shall answer, God hath caused us to speak, who giveth speech unto all things: he created you the first time; and unto him are ye returned. (21) Ye did not hide yourselves while ye sinned, so that your ears, and your eyes, and your skins could not bear witness against you; but ye thought that God was ignorant of many things which ye did. (22) This was your opinion, which ye imagined of your Lord: it hath ruined you, and ye are become lost people. (23) Whether they bear their torment, hell-fire shall be their abode; or whether they beg for favour, they shall not obtain favour. (24) And we will give them the devils to be their companions; for they dressed up for them the false notions which they entertained of this present world, and of that which is to come: and the sentence justly fitteth them, which was formerly pronounced on the nations of genii and men who were before them; for they perished.
∥ (25) The unbelievers say, Hearken not unto this Qurán, but use vain discourse during the reading thereof; that ye may overcome the voice of the reader by your scoffs and laughter. (26) Wherefore we will surely cause the unbelievers to taste a grievous punishment, (27) and we will certainly reward them for the evils which they shall have wrought. (28) This shall be the reward of the enemies of God,namely, hell-fire; therein is prepared for them an everlasting abode, as a reward for that they have wittingly rejected our signs. (29) And the infidels shall say in hell, O Lord, show us the two that seduced us, of the genii and men, and we will cast them under our feet, that they may become most base and despicable.(30)As for those who say, Our LordisGod, and who behave uprightly; the angels shall descend unto them, and shall say, Fear not, neither be ye grieved; but rejoice in the hopes of Paradise which ye have been promised. (31) We are your friends in this life, and in that which is to come: therein shall ye have that which your souls shall desire, and therein shall ye obtain whatever ye shall ask for; (32) as a gift from a gracious and merciful God.
∥ (33) Who speaketh better than he who inviteth unto God, and worketh righteousness, and saith, I am a Muslim? (34) Good and evil shall not be held equal. Turn away evil with that which is better; and behold, the man between whom and thyself there was enmity shall become, as it were, thy warmest friend: (35) but none shall attain to this perfection except they who are patient; nor shall any attain thereto except he who is endued with a great happiness of temper.(36) And if a malicious suggestion be offered unto thee from Satan, have recourse unto God; for it is he who heareth and knoweth. (37) Among the signs of his power are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Worship not the sun, neither the moon: but worship God, who hath created them; if ye serve him. (38) But if they proudly disdain his service, verily the angels, who are with thy Lord, praise him night and day, and are not wearied. (39) And among his signs another is, that thou seest the land waste; but when we send down rain thereon, it is stirred and fermenteth. And he who quickeneth the earth will surely quicken the dead; for he is almighty. (40) Verily those who impiously wrong our signs are not concealed from us. Is he, therefore, better who shall be cast into hell-fire, or he who shall appear secure on the day of resurrection? Work that which ye will: he certainly beholdeth whatever ye do. (41) Verily they who believe not in the admonition of the Qurán, after it hath come unto them, shall one day be discovered. It is certainly a book of infinite value: (42) vanity shall not approach it, either from before it, or from behind it: it is a revelation from a wise God, whose praise is justly to be celebrated. (43) No other is said unto thee by the infidels of Makkah than what hath been formerly said unto the apostles before thee: verily thy Lordis inclined to forgiveness, and is also able to chastise severely. (44) If we had revealed the Qurán in a foreign language, they had surely said, Unless the signs thereof be distinctly explained, we will not receive the same: is the book written in a foreign tongue, and the person unto whom it is directed an Arabian? Answer, It is, unto those who believe, a sure guide, and a remedy for doubt and uncertainty: but unto those who believe not, it is a thickness of hearing in their ears, and it is a darkness which covereth them; these are as they who are called unto from a distant place.
Twenty Fifth Sipara.
∥ (45) We heretofore gave the book of the law unto Moses; and a dispute arose concerning the same: and if a previous decree had not proceeded from thy Lord,to respite the opposers of that revelation, verily the matter had been decided between them by the destruction of the infidels; for they were in a very great doubt as to the same. (46) He who doth right, doth it to the advantage of his own soul; and he who doth evil, doth it against the same: for thy Lordis not unjust towards his servants. (47) Unto him is reserved the knowledge of the hour of judgment: and no fruit cometh forth from the knops which involve it; neither doth any female conceive in her womb, nor is she delivered of her burden, but with his knowledge. On the day whereon he shall call them to him, saying, Where are my companions which ye ascribed unto me? they shall answer, We assure thee there is no witness of this matter among us: (48) and the idols which they called on before shall withdraw themselves from them; and they shall perceive that there will be no way to escape. (49) Man is not wearied with asking good; but if evil befall him, he despondeth and despaireth. (50) And if we cause him to taste mercy from us after affliction hath touched him, he surely saith, This is due to me on account of my deserts: I do not think the hour of judgment will ever come: and if I be brought before my Lord, I shall surely attain, with him, the most excellent condition. But we will then declare unto those who shall not have believed that which they have wrought; and we will surely cause them to taste a most severe punishment. (51) When we confer favours on man, he turneth aside, and departeth without returning thanks; but when evil toucheth him, he is frequent at prayer. (52) Say, What think ye? if the Qurán be from God, and ye believe not therein; who will lie under a greater error than he who dissenteth widely therefrom?(53) Hereafter we will show them our signs in the regions of the earth, and in themselves; until it become manifest unto them that this book is the truth. Is it not sufficient for thee that thy Lord is witness of all things? (54) Are they not in a doubt as to the meeting of their Lordat the resurrection? Doth not he encompass all things?
[(1) ]H. M. See Prelim. Disc., pp. 100-102.
[(2, 3) ]See notes on chap. xi. 2 and 3.
[(6) ]Alms. See notes on chap. ii. 42, 219, and ix. 60.
[(8) ]Two days. “The two first days of the week.”—Sale, Jaláluddín. Comp. chaps. vii. 55, x. 3, and xi. 8.
[(9) ]Mountains firmly rooted. See chaps. xv. 19, and xvi. 15 notes.
[(10) ]Smoke. “Or darkness. Al Zamaḳhsharí says this smoke proceeded from the waters under the throne of God (which throne was one of the things created before the heavens and the earth), and rose above the water; that the water being dried up, the earth was formed out of it, and the heavens out of the smoke which had mounted aloft.”—Sale.
[(11) ]Two days, viz., “On the fifth and sixth days of the week. It is said the heavens were created on Thursday, and the sun, moon, and stars on Friday; in the evening of which last day Adam was made.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(13) ]Apostles . . . before and behind. “That is, on every side, persuading and urging them continually, and by arguments drawn from past examples and the expectation of future rewards and punishments.”—Sale.
[(14) ]Ád. See Prelim. Disc., pp. 20-22, and notes on chaps. vii. 66, and xi. 50-60.
[(15) ]Days of ill luck. “It is said that this wind continued from Wednesday to Wednesday inclusive, being the latter end of the month Shawwál; and that a Wednesday is the day whereon God sends down his judgments on a wicked people.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(16) ]Thamúd. See Prelim. Disc., p. 22 seq., and notes on chap. xi. 61-68.
[(18) ]Distinct bands. Comp. chap. xxxix. 71.
[(21) ]i.e., “Ye hid your crimes from men, little thinking that your very members, from which you could not hide them, would rise up as witnesses against you.”—Sale. See note on chap. xxxvi. 65.
[(24) ]Companions. See notes on chaps. vii. 39, 180, and x. 19, &c.
[(25) ]Vain discourse. “Or loud talk.”—Sale. The practice here animadverted on is very common among modern Muslims whenever the Gospel is preached among them.
[(29) ]The two, &c, i.e., “Those of either species who drew us into sin and ruin. Some suppose that the two more particularly intended here are Iblís and Cain, the two authors of infidelity and murder.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(30) ]The angels shall descend. “Either while they are living on earth, to dispose their minds to good, to preserve them from temptations, and to comfort them; or at the hour of death, to support them in their last agony; or at their coming forth from their graves at the resurrection.”—Sale, Jaláluddín.
[(35) ]Endued with a great happiness of temper. Rodwell translates the most highly favoured.
[(36) ]See chap. cxiv.
[(37) ]Worship God. Comp. Rev. xix. 10. Passages like this illustrate the superiority of Muhammad over his countrymen as well as his power as a preacher.
[(38) ]Comp. Rev. iv. 8.
[(42) ]Either from before, &c. “That is, it shall not be prevailed against, or frustrated by any means or in any respect whatever.”—Sale.
[(44) ]See note on chap. xvi. 105.
[(45) ]Here again we see Muhammad likening himself to the former prophets. See Introd. chap. xi. The allusion probably is to the unbelief of the Israelites in the wilderness.
[(46) ]Comp. chap. xlv. 14.
[(47) ]No witness. “For they shall disclaim their idols at the resurrection.”—Sale. See above in note on ver. 29.
[(48) ]See chap. xxviii. 62-66 and 74.
[(50) ]See chap. xvii. 69.
[(53) ]We will show them our signs . . . in themselves. “By the surprising victories and conquests of Muhammad and his successors.”—Sale, Baidháwi. A better interpretation, and one in accord with the spirit of the chapter, is that the unbelievers would recognise the truth of Muhammad’s teaching in the resurrection and the judgment. See vers. 41 and 52. Many years subsequent to the date of this chapter Muhammad disclaimed the ability to foretell future events. See chap. vi. 49, and note there.