Introduction to chapters of the Holy Quran: Surah al-An‘am, al-A‘raf, al-Anfal, al-Taubah, Yunus and Hud

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Last Updated on 11th December 2021

The English translation of the introduction to chapters of the Holy Quran as given by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IVrh is being presented for the benefit of our readers. Insha-Allah, in the coming issues, we will endeavour to publish the introduction to all chapters of the Holy Quran:

Chapter 6: Surah al-An‘am

This surah was revealed in the Meccan period. Including “Bismillah …, it consists of 166 verses.

In the last verse of the preceding surah, it was stated that Allah was the Master of all the worlds and everything between them. And the current surah starts with the very subject with more clarity and grandeur. That is to say, “All praise belongs to Allah, Who created the heavens and earth; and despite numerous types of darkness hindering the way to acquire the essence of their knowledge, Allah also bestowed the required divine insight to continuously dispel all darkness.” 

Thus, today’s scientific advancement has uncovered the enshrouded creation of the heavens and earth in such a way that their essence, and what is in them, is coming to light ever greatly. And all darkness is turning into light. As the account of dispelling the darkness at the beginning of (creation) heavens is found, similarly turning of the darkness of the land and sea into light is also found in it. In the same way, from the heavens, calamities befall human beings, which are attracted by the darkness of their inner self. This subject can be found in verse 66 of the current surah.

One such [group of] people are the scientists who are enlightened, as a result of their inquisition, with the secrets of the heavens and earth. The others are the great men of God, like Hazrat Abrahamas, to whom Allah the Almighty disclosed the Kingdom of the heavens and earth. And light descends onto them from the heavens, as has been mentioned in verse 76.

This surah repeatedly talks about the Prophets, descent of their divine books and descent of the guiding light. 

This surah also discusses the sprouting of closed seeds and stones as to how from their darkness comes into life flourishing plants. Similarly, the account of stars is found therein as to how they dispel the darkness of land and sea and guide the travellers. 

A very profound verse consisting of this topic is found in the ruku that starts from verse 96, i.e. all types of clustered seeds are brought forth from foliage and all types of fruit are produced. Ponder over the system of ripening of these fruits. There are numerous signs in it for those who believe in the signs of Allah the Almighty. 

Foliage is produced from chlorophyll, which in itself is a great sign. The scientists failed to find any evolutionary stages in it. It is an extremely complex chemical that is more complex than any other chemical. In the very inception of life, chlorophyll is required, which caused man’s creation. The question of through which evolutionary stages, at that time, chlorophyll came into being is still a mystery. The remarkable point to be noted is that chlorophyll makes life with the help of light, and not fire. The very subject of light as to what revolutions it has brought in the heavens and earth reaches its culmination at the end of this surah.

This surah also discusses worn-out superstitions of the idolaters related to an‘am i.e. cattle who had been created by Allah the Almighty as a support for human life; but they, through various idolatrous rituals, laid to waste all wisdom with regard to cattle.

At the end of the surah, not only are lawful and unlawful things with relation to the cattle explained; rather, morally lawful and unlawful things are also explained. In other words, not only physical sustenance but spiritually lawful and unlawful things are discussed; and we are exhorted to be kind to one’s parents, who go through extreme hardships for their children.

There is a verse at the end of this surah that mentions the complete obedience of the Holy Prophetsa before his Lord with such perfection that anything better than that was impossible. No divine book, the world over, contains such a verse. The Holy Prophetsa was directed to announce that his prayers and all his sacrifices were not like that of an‘am; rather, sacrifices of the emotions of his heart, his life and his death had been dedicated purely for his Lord.

Chapter 7: Surah al-A‘raf

This surah was revealed in Mecca with the exception of a few verses. Including “Bismillah …” it contains 207 verses.

Two preceding surahs, i.e. Surah al-Baqarah and Surah Al-e-Imran, started with the abbreviated letters of الم [alif laam meem]. This surah starts with an additional letter ofص‭ ‬ [saad] on الم [alif laam meem], which connotes that the subject-matters discussed in the preceding surahs will be added with some more, which relate to Allah’s attribute of being Sadiq [Truthful].

Saad also stands for saadiqul-qaul [truthful in statement]. But in verse 3, the Holy Prophet’ssa chest has been called sadr, which implies that the Holy Prophetsa was fully convinced about the subject-matters of the surahs that started with alif laam meem and their being from God.

This surah adds an additional subject-matter to the preceding ones that not only will the disbelievers of the Prophets be held accountable; rather, the Prophets themselves will also be held accountable as to what extent they discharged their responsibilities.

Adamas has been discussed in this surah again. He was created with the command of Allah the Almighty. Once Allah the Almighty had breathed His spirit into Adamas, He commanded human beings to obey him. Here, the discussion of the Holy Prophetsa is implied in the sense that the greatest of the prostrations ever done to Allah the Almighty was made by the Holy Prophetsa. It is in this relation that all human beings have been commanded to submit to him. And this prostration of the Holy Prophet’ssa has been discussed at the end of the preceding surah in the following words:

قُلۡ‭ ‬اِنَّ‭ ‬صَلَاتِيۡ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬نُسُكِيۡ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬مَحۡيَايَ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬مَمَاتِيۡ‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬رَبِّ‭ ‬الۡعٰلَمِيۡنَ

[That is, “Say, ‘My Prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the worlds.’”]

In conclusion, submission to the one who has dedicated everything of his in the way of Allah does not at all amount to idolatry; rather, obedience to him will be counted as obedience to Allah the Almighty.

Thereafter comes the mention of the dress which Adamas wore apparently in the form of leaves. In reality, it meant nothing but libaasut-taqwa [the attire of righteousness]. Similarly, human beings have been warned that as Satan misled the people of Adamas, in this age, he is also misleading the people of other prophets. Expulsion from Heaven in truth means expulsion from the sphere of the Shariah, as within the sphere of Shariah lies Heaven, and without it lies nothing but Hell. 

Even today, as a result of going out of the sphere of Shariah of the Holy Quran, all human beings have been afflicted with all sorts of physical and spiritual Hell. The very subject that true beauty, in reality, is that of righteousness, has been discussed in the following verse, that “you cannot attain beauty by going to the mosque unless you go along with your beauty” i.e. righteousness. 

This surah also discusses the loftiest standing of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, which was not bestowed upon any other Prophet. That is to say, he and his Companionsra enjoyed such cognisance of the people of Heaven that because of their spiritual standing, they would be able to tell apart the inmates of Heaven from Hell on Judgement Day.

Thereafter, many other prophets have been mentioned that they too were sent merely for the guidance of their respective people. And they made utmost sacrifices for their respective people and procured the means of their guidance. But above all, it was the Holy Prophet, Muhammadsa who procured means for the guidance of people. 

Thereafter, it has been clearly explained that the past Prophetsas too had attained lofty spiritual stations. But their munificence was limited, and before the Holy Prophetsa, no other prophet came with universal munificence. Thus, the Holy Prophetsa was selected as the chief of all the Prophets because he was a source of mercy for the whole world. That is to say, he was a mercy for the East and West, and for Arabs and all the foreign lands, as well as for human beings and animals. This is something that has been profusely mentioned in hadith literature.

The first of the judgements that were to occur by the Holy Prophetsa occurred in the very lifetime of the Holy Prophetsa, which finds its mention in

اِقۡتَرَبَتِ‭ ‬السَّاعَةُ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬انۡشَقَّ‭ ‬الۡقَمَرُ

[“The Hour has drawn nigh, and the moon is rent asunder.”] The second judgement was to occur in the Latter Days in the time of the “akharin”, because the dead who had died once again after their revival had to be revived once again. Then there is another judgement which was to occur on ashraarun-naas [the worst of people]. All these judgement days are closely linked with the advent of the Holy Prophetsa

Chapter 8: Surah al-Anfal

This surah was revealed in Medina. Including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 76 verses. The financial blessings of God as a result of war are called anfal.

In the preceding Surah Al-A‘raf (verse 188), the time of the occurrence of “sa‘ah”, or Judgment was asked about by the infidels. Its first manifestation has been explained in detail in the current surah. It has been communicated that that sa‘ah has fallen on the Arabs in whose result the era of disbelief and idolatry would come to an end.

At the end of the preceding surah, a warning was given [to the believers] as to a very terrible time that was going to be faced. Therefore, from now onwards, [the Holy Prophetsa] should supplicate to Allah the Almighty humbly and earnestly, humbly submitting to Him in private and aloud because all the difficulties would be resolved only by his prayers.

At the very outset of this surah, glad tidings are given that as a result of difficulties, the believers would be relieved of their straitened circumstances. In connection to the difficulties, first of all, the Battle of Badr is mentioned. 

As special attention was drawn towards supplications at the end of the preceding surah, it has been noticed that the victory given to the Muslims in the Battle of Badr was merely a result of the special prayers of the Holy Prophetsa. Otherwise, the 313 Companionsra who joined him in this battle were no match whatsoever against the invading army of the idolaters of Mecca, except from the spiritual point of view. The Meccans possessed the best mounts and the best war equipment, and the best divisions of archers accompanied them. Aside from that, to excite the emotions of warriors for war, the best female singers also accompanied them whose songs created a state of madness on armies. Against all this the supplications of the Holy Prophetsa triumphed, which he made in his camp crying profusely in a state that the cloth from his shoulders fell down repeatedly and Hazrat Abu Bakrra would put it back. The pinnacle of the prayer was the following utterance of his:

اَللّٰهُمَّ‭ ‬اِنْ‭ ‬تُهْلَكْ‭ ‬هَذِهِ‭ ‬الْعِصَابَةُ‭ ‬مِنْ‭ ‬اَهْلِ‭ ‬الْاِسْلَامِ‭ ‬لَا‭ ‬تُعْبَدْ‭ ‬فِي‭ ‬الْاَرْضِ

(Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Jihad) i.e. “The purpose of the creation of the jinn and humans is nothing but worship. And these men whom I have trained to worship you alone, if they are killed today, then never ever again can any community be raised to truly worship You.”

Thus, all the credit of the victory of the Battle of Badr goes merely to the supplications of the Holy Prophetsa

Furthermore, the believers have also been educated that the decisive weapon to differentiate between the truth and falsehood is none other than taqwa [true fear and awareness of God]. “In future too, if you desire to overpower the strongest powers of the world, then [remember] it is only possible when you remain steadfast on taqwa.”

Another point made clear at this juncture is that the Holy Prophetsa and his Companionsra would have never waged war [qitaal] if efforts had not been made to change their religion by force (through warfare). The biggest disorder caused in the world had always been and will continue to be, converting peoples’ faiths by force. In such a case, defensive measures are allowed, only as long as this disorder is brought to a complete end.

Similarly, it has been exhorted that one must profusely remember Allah for steadfastness. Thus, during the horrific wars, those who continuously raise the slogans of remembrance of Allah are being conveyed the glad tidings that surely, they will be the prosperous, as every success comes only with the remembrance of Allah.

The last two verses of the surah mention that if pressure from the enemy intensifies and resultantly, you have to migrate from your homeland, then this migration would be counted in the way of Allah. In lieu of this, you will be granted help from the Divine. And besides forgiveness, Allah the Almighty will abundantly bless the provisions of the emigrants. 

This prophecy has always been fulfilled in great style. Some other forms of blessings in provisions, whose mention was made at the beginning of the surah in the form of anfal, have also been mentioned here that as a result of migration, the ways of provisions would be widely opened for the migrants.

Chapter 9: Surah al-Taubah

This surah was revealed in Medina immediately after Surah al-Anfal. It consists of 129 verses. 

The wars and ensuing trials and rewards were mentioned at the end of Surah al-Anfal. The matters arising as a result of these wars i.e. that the enemy would definitely be overpowered and would feel forced to sign treaties with the Holy Prophetsa and his Companionsra, have been discussed in the very beginning of this surah. Thus, justice demands that as long as they adhere to treaties, Muslims should never violate them.

The negative consequences of violation of treaties, whose mention starts from Surah al-Fatihah and is found in various forms in all the preceding surahs, is mentioned in this surah as well. But as the enemy violates the treaties and is meted out with punishments, the believers are warned that in all circumstances, they will have to adhere to them.

Recurrently, in this surah is found the discussion that no victory of the believers is, or can be, the result of their better equipment or their outnumbering the enemy. In this very connection, the Battle of Hunain was mentioned, wherein the Muslim army heavily outnumbered the disbelievers. And some of the Muslims presumed that the disbelievers could not overpower them, whereas when outnumbered, they had been triumphing over huge confederates of the enemy. The Muslims have been exhorted at this point that when they were outnumbered, they had been triumphing only as a result of the supplications of the Holy Prophetsa. Therefore, the presumption of their outnumbering was being shattered now; but after a rout, they would again overpower the enemy as a result of the supplications and steadfastness of this very Prophetsa.

Thereafter comes the mention of the bestowal of the abundance of riches, as a result of which the jealous hypocrites failed to desist from criticising, God forbid, the Holy Prophetsa for being unjust in the distribution of war gains. Whereas whatever the Holy Prophetsa distributed was not given to his relatives; rather, he spent it on the welfare of migrants, less privileged, indigent, those entangled in problems, people caught in vicious cycles of debt and those living in straitened circumstances. Thus, they have been warned that they would be destroyed if they blamed the trustworthy Prophetsa of dishonesty. In fact, such criticisers themselves are dishonest and cheat.

At the end of this surah is mentioned a verse that says, “This is the Prophetsa who undergoes hardships purely for your welfare. Whatever pain you undergo in the way of Allah the Almighty is grievous for him. And hardness against the disbelievers has nothing to do with the hardness of his heart. His heart is so compassionate and full of mercy that he is an embodiment of the Compassionate and Merciful God.”

Chapter 10: Surah Yunus

This is a Meccan surah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 110 verses.

Surah al-Baqarah and Surah Al-e-Imran start with the abbreviated letters of “Alif laam meem”, whereas in this surah, the letter meem has been replaced with raa. Adopting the previous translation style, this may be translated as: 

اَنَا‭ ‬اللّٰهُ‭ ‬اَرَي

that is, “I am Allah, the All-Seeing”.

The major theme of this surah is the trial of Hazrat Jonahas [Jonah]; for this very reason, this surah is called Yunus. 

In the very beginning of the surah, Allah the Almighty raises a question, “Is it a matter of wonder for men that We have sent down revelation to a man from among them?” The answer implied [in the question] is that peoples’ wonder is the testimony from their own selves as they have inclined entirely to materialism, which is why Allah the Almighty does not send down revelation to them. In fact, judging from their own yardstick, they presume that Allah the Almighty cannot send down revelation to any man whatsoever.

Immediately thereafter, Allah the Almighty says that it is Allah Who created the entire universe and adopted the best strategy in everything; would He allow this work to go to waste. The culminating point of this strategy is to raise such an intercessor i.e. the Holy Prophetsa who, by the command of Allah, will intercede not only for the deserving men of his own people but intercede in favour of the righteous men from all the past peoples.

Thereafter, the similitude of the Holy Prophetsa has been given with a sun, through whose light earthly life benefits. And with its munificence, a full moon is yet to be raised who, in the hours of darkness, would continue to deliver the benefit of the sun’s light to earth. 

It is a wonderful phenomenon that even in the material world, some vegetables grow so fast in the lustre of the moon that even the sound of their growth can be heard. As regards melons, scientists say that a sound is produced because of the fast speed of their growth, which is audible by human ears. Thus, it is Allah Who made the day as well as the night a source of life. 

Surah Yunus talks about a people who were entirely saved from a punishment, whose threat they had received. And the following Surah Hud talks about such peoples who were totally destroyed because of their disbelief. 

Chapter 11: Surah Hud

This is a Meccan surah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 124 verses.

Its connection with the preceding surah has been explained in the introduction of the previous one. One aspect of this surah is quite prominent that according to its 113th verse:

فَاسۡتَقِمۡ‭ ‬كَمَاۤ‭ ‬اُمِرۡتَ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬مَنۡ‭ ‬تَابَ‭ ‬مَعَكَ

“So stand thou upright, as thou has been commanded, and [also] those who have turned [to Allah] with thee”, so huge a responsibility had been laid on the Holy Prophetsa that he said:

‭ ‬شَيَّبَتْنِيْ‭ ‬هُوْدٌ‭ ‬

that is, “Surah Hud has made me old.” 

Furthermore, this surah discusses those peoples who were destroyed because of refusing to accept a prophet. The Holy Prophetsa was extremely pained because of their grief as well.

Verse 18 of this surah mentions a past testimony in favour of the Holy Prophetsa i.e. the testimony of Hazrat Mosesas, and also talks about a witness who was to be born after the Holy Prophetsa. The mention of this witness is found in Surah al-Buruj in the following words:

‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬شَاهِدٍ‭ ‬وَّ‭ ‬مَشْهُوْد‭ ‬

i.e. “In a future age, a great shahid [witness] would testify in favour of the truthfulness of the greatest mashhood [the one for whom testimony is given]” i.e. the Holy Prophetsa.

Thereafter, as Surah Yusuf starts with a verse that mentions one of the best accounts, therefore, at the end of this surah, Allah the Almighty says that all the accounts of the past prophets related before the Holy Prophetsa are meant to strengthen his heart. It also implies that the accounts mentioned in Surah Hud were not meant to hurt the feelings of the Holy Prophetsa.

(Translated from the original introduction of chapters as presented in the Urdu translation of the Holy Quran by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IVrh. Translated by Shahid Mahmood Ahmad, missionary in Ghana)

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