Introduction to chapters of the Holy Quran: Surah al-Kahf, Maryam, Ta Ha, al-Anbiya, al-Hajj and al-Mu‘minun

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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 18: Surah al-Kahf

This is a Meccan surah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 111 verses. It was revealed in the fourth or fifth year of the Holy Prophet’ssa prophethood.

Surah al-Kahf starts with the very subject of Surah Bani-Isra‘il wherein, with majesty, it has been elaborated that Hazrat Jesusas was a human being. In very plain terms, it has been announced that they had no knowledge whatsoever as to how Hazrat Jesusas was born, nor did they know that Allah the Almighty was absolutely free of the reproductive system. They forged a big lie against Allah. Their claim had no worth at all.

Thereafter are mentioned early Christians that how they, in order to protect the unity of God, migrated from the face of the earth into caves. Before the discussion of the people of the kahf [the catacombs], in the initial verses of the surah, it was stated that the worldly bounties provided to mankind were meant as a trial for them. But a time was going to come when such bounties would be confiscated from them, and would be given to those who, for the sake of Allah, preferred to live in caves instead of in adornment of worldly pleasures.

Next is mentioned the similitude of two such jannahs, i.e. orchards, on account of which one person prided over the other that he had been bestowed upon all such bounties as compared to the other who was empty-handed. But a warning was also issued along with it that when the calamities of the wrath of God would descend on their progress, they would destroy them completely. The very subject matter of “saeedan juruza” has been repeated in other words.

In this very surah, the journey of Hazrat Mosesas accompanied by Hazrat Jesusas has been mentioned wherein they were shown the last limits of their people. And that stage was pointed out where the fish of spiritual sustenance went back into the sea. This refers to that era of Christianity before the advent of Islam where they had become bereft of spirituality.

Next, the Holy Prophetsa has been depicted in the similitude of a holy man who is commonly known as Hazrat Khizar. It was stated that the verities which would be bestowed on him were beyond the reach of Mosesas and the patience required to reach its essence was not granted to Mosesas. Thus, the excellence the Holy Prophetsa was bestowed over Mosesas was that he was made privy to divine verities.

Thereafter is mentioned Dhul-Qarnain, which again refers to the Holy Prophetsa that he would get sovereignty over two ages – one, over earlier ones, and second, over latter ones. The details of the journey of Dhul-Qarnain discussed here indicate many things that cannot be elaborated at this point. But one thing is for sure, that the ummah (followers) of the Holy Prophetsa would spread to the West as well, where the sun can be seen setting in the murky waters of the false belief of the people of the West. As for the East, his journey would be to that territory beyond which there is no barrier between the sun and the earth.

It has been conclusively proven at the end of this surah that the account of Christianity’s rise and fall has been mentioned here. The rise was due to early unitarians, whereas the fall took place when a divine belief went into decline and ended up deifying hundreds; rather, thousands of holy men. Thus, practically in this age the deification of so-called saints has been discussed towards the close of the surah in the following terms: 

اَفَحَسِبَ الَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوۡۤا اَنۡ يَّتَّخِذُوۡا عِبَادِيۡ مِنۡ دُوۡنِيۡۤ اَوۡلِيَآءَ

“Do those who disbelieve in the Holy Prophetsa think that they can take the servants of God as protectors instead of Him?”

The Holy Prophetsa was given a very clear understanding that this surah had a connection with the Dajjal (Antichrist). Therefore, he directed that he who recited the first 10 and last 10 verses of the surah would be protected against the trials of the Dajjal. Despite the fact that he himself was a human being, he was made to utter the announcement that he was a human, yet free from any kind of idolatry. “If you, too, seek to attain divine communion, then you will have to free yourself of all kinds of idolatry.” 

Here, the prophecy of the continuation of divine revelation has been made as well in that Allah the Almighty would also communicate with those holy men who would protect themselves against idolatry.  

Chapter 19: Surah Maryam

This is a Meccan surah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 99 verses. Its revelation time is before the emigration to Abyssinia, in the fourth or fifth year of the call to prophethood.

This surah discusses the fatherless birth of Hazrat Jesusas and states that this birth was such a miracle which the world at that time failed to understand. 

It is important to mention that in this age, the Christian researchers themselves have proven conclusively that a virgin can bear a child without the agency of a man. Earlier, it was believed that only a baby girl could be born, but latest research has proven that a baby boy can also be born.

As for the miraculous birth, generally a child is born with the father and mother’s consummation, but sometimes it can take place at an age when apparently birth is impossible. The same thing happened in the case of Hazrat Zachariahas. He desired to have a child, but he had so advanced in age that with white hair on his head, it was as if he was all aflame with hoariness and the wife was not only old but she was barren as well. Thus, this was an example of miraculous birth that despite both [of these apparent barriers] he was bestowed upon Hazrat Yahyaas [John]. He had developed the desire to have a child having pondered over the circumstances of Hazrat Maryamas who was to show the miracle of the fatherless birth of Hazrat Jesusas

Next, the details wherein Hazrat Maryamas left Palestine and settled somewhere towards its east are discussed. There, she kept herself busy, day in and day out, in the remembrance of Allah; at that very place, she was given the glad tidings of a son by a personified angel. 

After the birth, once Hazrat Maryamas reached Palestine along with Hazrat Jesusas, the Jews made terrible commotion that God forbid the child was illegitimate. At this, God Almighty directed Hazrat Maryamas to keep a fast of silence and that this son (who at that time was yet in the cradle i.e., two or three years old) himself would reply to them. Hazrat Jesusas spoke so philosophically before the Jewish scholars which an illegitimate child could never even think of. This talk also included the prophecy of his becoming a prophet in the future. He also prophesied that Allah the Almighty would protect him from their schemes of murdering him. 

Thus, he said: 

وَ‭ ‬السَّلٰمُ‭ ‬عَلَيَّ‭ ‬يَوۡمَ‭ ‬وُلِدۡتُّ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬يَوۡمَ‭ ‬اَمُوۡتُ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬يَوۡمَ‭ ‬اُبۡعَثُ‭ ‬حَيًّا

“And peace was on me the day I was born, and my death will be a natural death, and [peace will be on me] the day I shall be raised up to life [again].”

A very similar verse to it is found about Hazrat Yahyaas as well. It said: 

سَلٰمٌ عَلَيۡهِ يَوۡمَ وُلِدَ وَ يَوۡمَ يَمُوۡتُ وَ يَوۡمَ يُبۡعَثُ حَيًّا

“And peace was on him the day he was born, and the day he will die, and [peace will be on him] the day he will be raised up to life [again].” From this verse, I infer that Hazrat Yahyaas as well was not killed. 

Thereafter, talking about Hazrat Abrahamas, his miraculous offspring was also discussed when he fathered Hazrat Ishmaelas and Hazrat Isaacas in advanced age, and after him Hazrat Jacobas was born among his descendants. 

Next is the mention of some other prophets where various ways of spiritual descendants have been discussed. And the similitude of ascension of Hazrat Jesusas has been cited with the citing of ascension of Hazrat Idrisas (Enoch). All of these were those pious men of God whose generations failed to keep themselves righteous; they neglected Prayer and followed their evil desires. Thus, they are warned that they must face the consequences of their wickedness.

The divine attribute of rahmaniyyat has been discussed repeatedly in this surahRahman means, the one who is immeasurably kind and who bestows on without being asked. The subject matter of this surah exactly matches this attribute.

At the end of the surah, ascribing a son to the Gracious God has been declared a hideous sin as a result of which the heavens and earth might well-nigh burst. It means that these very people would be involved in extremely terrible warfare, which would be so horrible as if the heavens had burst unto them.

In comparison to this, those people are mentioned in the final verses of the surah who are righteous and do good deeds. The Gracious God would engender mutual love in their hearts, and not the mutual malice and enmity, discussed earlier.

Chapter 20: Surah Ta Ha

This is a Meccan surah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 136 verses.

This surah starts with the abbreviated letters of “Ta Ha”, and no other surah has been started with these letters before. Ta Ha means, “O Holy Prophet and a Perfect Guide”.

The news of the horrible wars, discussed in the preceding surah, must have been distressing for the Holy Prophetsa. Therefore, Allah the Almighty comforted him by emphatically telling him, “Do not worry at all because of it. It is a “tanzil” [revelation] from He Who created the heavens and earth. He is the Gracious God Who is settled on the Throne.”

Since all prophethoods are conferred as a result of divine graciousness, and like preceding surahs the current surah as well continues the subject-matter of graciousness, therefore the account of Hazrat Mosesas has been given once again as to how Allah the Almighty, on account of His graciousness, chose him to be a messenger of His. All the favours bestowed on Hazrat Mosesas were done as a result of graciousness.

In this very surah, the account of the magicians’ prostration has also been given as a threat of extremely dangerous punishments from Pharaoh to them. Those who have witnessed the manifestations of the Gracious God cannot be daunted by such threats. Thus, despite all types of threats, their belief in Hazrat Mosesas was upheld firmly.

Next, addressing the Holy Prophetsa, Allah the Almighty says, “They ask you concerning the mountains.” The fact is that the Holy Prophetsa was never asked concerning the mountains. But the idolatrous people definitely asked as to how he would succeed against the superpowers, who stood like mountains. On the one hand was the mountain of the power of Khosrow [the Persians], whereas on the other stood the mountain of the power of Caesar [the Romans]. The reply that was taught was that very big and arrogant nations of the world, even if they were as huge as mountains, would not believe unless their arrogance was shattered; and unless they became like desert sand which was absolutely even, with no depression or elevation. Only in such a case would they follow a prophet, in whose [teaching there] was no crookedness.

Verse 109 also repeats the attribute of graciousness, and the succeeding verse 110, too, discusses the manifestation of divine graciousness, amid whose majesty and awe all voices will be hushed. Even if they all talked, that would be no more than a subdued murmur.

Thereafter, the account of Hazrat Adamas recurs, as his birth too fell under the category of the manifestation of graciousness. And the first time the four aspects of his Shariah have been mentioned at this point, i.e. whoever accepts the ministry of Hazrat Adamas would be guaranteed that they would not hunger, nor would they be naked, nor would be thirsty, nor would they be exposed to the sun.

Thereafter, once again, the Holy Prophetsa has been admonished to bear with patience the persecution from the opponents and to glorify his Lord with His praise before the rising of the sun and before its setting and in the hours of the night and at both ends of the day. All the daily prayers of the day and night have been mentioned in this noble verse. 

At the close of the surah, it is said to say, “Each one is waiting (as to what would be the result of this endeavour), and wait you, therefore, and you will soon know who are the people of the right path and who follow [true] guidance.”

Chapter 21: Surah al-Anbiya

This is a Meccan surah and it was revealed in the fourth or fifth year of the call of prophethood. Including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 113 verses.

Following the reckoning of people mentioned at the end of the preceding surah and that it would become manifest to the people that it was he who was on the right path, in the beginning of the current surah, it has been stated that that time of reckoning had arrived, but most people were unmindful of it.

Next, it is stated in this surah, “We sent none as Messengers before you but men, and they were not given bodies that lived without food.” Here, implicatively, the divinity of Hazrat Jesusas has been refuted, as he had been taking food throughout his life.

Immediately after this is stated that ignorant people had taken gods from the earth, and a wonderful argument is presented on this that the existence of two gods was impossible. Had it been possible, both the heavens and earth would have gone to ruin. Every god would have taken their creation and set themselves aside, and the universe would have been hampered and ruined to such an extent that it could never have been repaired. However, wherever one may look, one will not find any sign of disunion in it. That is why it was said, “We have revealed, ‘There is none worthy of worship except the One God’ to all those prophets as well that were sent before this.”

Verse 27 mentions their false claim that Allah the Almighty had taken a son. But whenever a hypothetical son is deified, it fails to stop there and many more are added to this hypothesis. Therefore, immediately thereafter it is said that there were many more holy men of God like Hazrat Jesusas who had been considered partners of Allah.

Immediately thereafter is mentioned a verse that unveils such secrets of the universe as were beyond the imagination of man at that age. It said, “The entire universe was a tightly closed-up mass, like a ball, out of which nothing could come out. Then We opened it out and the entire universe popped up, and with water, every living thing was created.” 

Thereafter, the cycle of water associated with firm mountains (“rawasi”) is mentioned. It is also mentioned as to how the heavens protected the earth and its inhabitants. Next is mentioned the perpetual circulation of the heavens and earth and all heavenly bodies; and as the heavens and earth are not ever-lasting, it was pointed out that man too was not going to live forever. “And O Prophet! None of the people that lived before you have lived eternally.”

Thereafter are mentioned all the prophets that came before the Holy Prophetsa as to how Allah the Almighty delivered the munificence of His graciousness to them. This part of the chapter also discusses the inviolable subject that once the dwellers of a town are destroyed, they never come back to it again; so much so that even in the time of Gog and Magog, when seemingly the scientists would claim to revive the dead, it would not be possible.

Further ahead in the surah, the mention of the rolling up of the heavens is found, and it is also said that it would not be done for eternity; rather, from the very universe, which would once go into non-existence, a new universe would be created. Allah the Almighty has the power to repeat this process.

In the last ruku of the surah, Allah the Almighty declares the Holy Prophetsa a manifestation of the Gracious God for the entire world, and states, “We have sent you, too, as a mercy for the whole world.”

In the final verse of the surah, the Holy Prophetsa prays to his Lord to judge between him and the disbelievers with the truth. As he is the representative of the Gracious, he warns the entire world that the Gracious God would not abandon this servant of His who is a manifestation of His graciousness for the whole world.

Next comes Surah al-Hajj, which is a perfect proof of the fact that the Holy Prophetsa was sent for the entire world as Rahmatun-lil-Alamin [a mercy for all peoples], and Baitullah [the Hose of Allah] is the only place where mankind assemble from all around the world to perform the Hajj.

Chapter 22: Surah al-Hajj

This is a Medinite surah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 79 verses. All human beings have been warned of the earthquake of the Hour in the first verse of the surah

The Messenger that came had invited all human beings to come under the protection of the Gracious God. As a result of the rejection of the invitation, the warning of such terrible wars is being given as if the entire earth would be destroyed. It would be such terrible destruction that mothers would forget to take care of their suckling children, and every pregnant woman would miscarry, “and you shall see men as they were drunken, while they will not be drunken”. Because of the severe chastisement from Allah, they would lose their senses.

One may ask about the Judgment Day as to how all human beings would be revived once they were all dead. It is said that Allah, Who created man from dust, and passed man through various stages in the womb of the mother, would revive him.

Next, it is said that there were those among people who worshipped Allah as if they were on the verge of a pit. As long as good befell them, they were content with it; and when there befell them a trial, they would fall into it upside down. Such people were in a state of loss in this world as well as the Hereafter.

Next, briefly are discussed the followers of all the religions that Allah would judge between them on the Day of Resurrection.

Thereafter, Allah the Almighty commands emphatically not to hinder those from the Sacred Mosque who come for the Hajj [pilgrimage] of the House of Allah. Immediately thereafter is mentioned the House of Allah [the Ka‘bah] and the directive given to Hazrat Abrahamas to always keep it clean for those who performed the Hajj and performed circuits. The directive given to Hazrat Abrahamas was not confined to his person only; but this directive was for his followers as well as the followers of the Holy Prophetsa until the Day of Judgment.

Next, the Holy Prophetsa has been commanded to give an open invitation to all mankind to come to the Sacred Mosque for Hajj. Next is discussed the sacrifices etc. that they too, like the Sacred House, are included in the sacred signs of Allah [sha‘airullah]. Desecration of those signs would be tantamount to desecrating the Sacred House. But the animals that were sacrificed for the sake of the Sacred House would be acceptable only when they were offered with taqwa. “Their flesh reaches not Allah the Almighty, nor does their blood; but only the righteousness of the person offering the sacrifice reaches Allah.”

Next, in detail, light has been shed on the subject of jihad by the sword and it is said that permission to take up arms in defence was given to those against whom war was made by their opponents, and they had been driven out from their houses only because they said, “Our Lord is Allah”. The wonderful subject was also raised that if defensive measures had not been allowed, then there was no guarantee of the security of the mosques of Muslims; rather, the synagogues and churches and cloisters etc. would also be destroyed.

Next, referring to the destruction of the disbelieving peoples of the past Prophets, it is pointed out that if man was to visit the land and, with open eyes, tried to find the buried traces of the destroyed people, surely they would become aware of the wicked end of those peoples. These days, archaeologists are working on this, and they have succeeded in discovering buried traces of a number of past peoples.

Thereafter, it is said in verse 53 that in case any desire of the heart is combined with the desire of the prophet, then Allah the Almighty removes that [personal] desire through the divine revelation. The satan referred to at this point does not stand for the accursed Satan, but it refers to the satan running with the flow of blood in man. And the Holy Prophetsa said:  

وَلَكِنَّ‭ ‬اللّٰهَ‭ ‬اَعَانَنِيْ‭ ‬عَلَيْهِ‭ ‬فَاَسْلَمَ

(Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Musnad Bani Hashim) that is, “Allah the Almighty helped me against him and he has become a Muslim.” 

Thus, this verse in no way means that Satan, in reality, inspires the hearts of Prophets because, at another place (Surah al-Shu‘ara, V.222-223) it has very clearly been explained that Satan is not allowed to come anywhere near the Prophets. He descends on lying sinners and this statement does not in any way apply to the Prophets.

In the last ruku of the surah, it is stated that those so-called partners whom they called upon besides Allah were not even capable to recover anything from the mouth of a fly if it licked anything. In reality, the moment anything enters the mouth of a fly, as a result of its saliva and chemical changes in its belly, it does not remain in its original state anymore.

Striving in the cause of Allah has been admonished in the final verse of the surah, which has already been explained. It was also stated that Hazrat Abrahamas, the Holy Prophetsa and their followers have been named Muslims by Allah. He knows best as to who completely submits before Him. 

Finally, the announcement has been repeated that “this Messenger”, i.e. Muhammadsa, “is a universal Messenger”.

Chapter 23: Surah al-Mu‘minun

This is one of the last surahs revealed in Mecca. Including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 129 verses.

The subject discussed at the end of the preceding surah was that true success was due to observing the Prayer and Zakat, and in holding fast to Allah the Almighty. Thus, the great success referred to there has been detailed in the initial verses of Surah Al-Mu‘minun that the successful believers were those who observed not only the Prayers and paid Zakat, but possessed numerous other characteristics as well. They include both types of merits i.e. the things they abstain from and the good deeds they perform.

Next, it is said that though water for life descends from the sky and the system of its repeated descent from the sky is available, but for any particular reason, if Allah desires to teach human beings a lesson, He has the power to make the water vanish. 

This may be done in two ways: Firstly, Allah the Almighty can bring a change in the system of water recurrently descending from high clouds, as happened in the beginning of the creation when earthly water continuously evaporated and rose into the sky. And when it rained, because of the hot atmosphere in between, it ascended upwards again. 

The second case which we generally observe is when water goes deep down in the soil and disappears from the depths of very deep wells as well.

After the subject of water, the ships that navigate in water are mentioned. The ship of Hazrat Noahas is also mentioned in this connection, pointing out that ships are capable of navigating on the top surface of water only when allowed by God. Ships can successfully sail even in very terrible storms and sometimes suffer shipwrecks in minor storms. 

When nations show ingratitude towards the heavenly water that descends on them spiritually, then, like the material water, Allah deprives them of the spiritual one a well, so much so that they fail to benefit from the incessant appearance of prophets and remain adamant on the denial of all the Prophets that come among them one after the other like incessant rain. 

Next, the mountainous areas where springs of water gush forth and provide security and peace of mind are mentioned. Allah the Almighty transported Hazrat Jesusas and his mother in this very valley sheltering them against their opponents. Circumstances and traces show that it is none other than the valley of Kashmir.

Thereafter, in verse 79, it is pointed out that the first thing bestowed in evolutionary stages is the ability to hear, then to see and finally the heart which possesses deep insight, and they are able to understand all types of spiritual subjects.

Next, some verses are mentioned whose subject matters are similar to those which have already been elaborated. 

Then comes a verse that presents a new subject. On the Day of Resurrection, when human beings will be asked as to how long they tarried in the earth, in reply, they would say “probably a day, or part of a day”. Allah would reply that “in fact, you tarried there even for a shorter period of time”. This refers to the duration of time between death and resurrection. The world will look to be so far as passed instantly. And this is something which comes in human experience in daily life in that very distant stars, whose mass is much bigger than the whole of our solar system, look to be like very, very small specs.

The final verse of the surah consists of a supplication which was taught to the Holy Prophetsa in the following terms, addressing the Lord: “O my Lord! forgive and have mercy, and Thou art the Best of those who show mercy.”

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

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