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 53: Surah al-Najm
This surah was revealed in the fifth year of the Call, shortly after the emigration to Abyssinia. Including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 63 verses.
This surah is titled as Al-Najm (the star), and at the end of the preceding surah, اِدۡبَارَ النُّجُوۡمِ [setting of the stars] is cited as well. Thereafter, the subject of polytheists is discussed, and a prophecy has been made about the falling of that star which was worshipped by the polytheists. And it says, “The Holy Prophetsa did not say this of his own accord because he never speaks out of his own volition.”
Earlier, at the end of Surah al-Dhariyat, Allah was called ذُو الۡقُوَّةِ الۡمَتِيۡنُ [the Lord of Power, the Strong] as well as الرَّزَّاقُ [the Great Sustainer] and the current surah calls Allah شَدِيۡدُ الۡقُوٰي and ذُوۡ مِرَّةٍ i.e. “the Lord of mighty powers and Possessor of unprecedented wisdom”.
Thereafter starts the account of the incident of Mi‘raj (ascension). Thus, the Holy Prophetsa neared his Lord and Allah the Almighty leaned down towards him with beneficence; and he became like one cord of two bows. These are very complicated verses which have been sought to be explained in various ways.
Certainly, this account does not refer to a physical sky; rather, this is a reference to an unusual account of what passed in the heart of Muhammadsa, the Chosen one; a vision whose precedent is not found in the life of any other Prophet. His heart ascended to the firmament in Allah’s love, and Allah, out of love for His servant, descended to his heart. And قَابَ قَوۡسَيۡنِ means that the Holy Prophetsa became that chord which had become one chord between the bow of Allah the Almighty and that of the Holy Prophetsa. In other words, the arrow shot from the bow of Allah was the same shot from the bow of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. This explanation is exactly in-line with the verse of the Holy Quran:
وَ مَا رَمَيۡتَ اِذۡ رَمَيۡتَ وَ لٰكِنَّ اللّٰهَ رَمٰي
[“And thou threwest not when thou didst throw, (but) it was Allah Who threw.”] Therefore, this explanation cannot at all be termed as a personal opinion.
Then, the belief that the Mi‘raj was physical has been totally refuted, when it states:
مَا كَذَبَ الۡفُؤَادُ مَا رَاٰي
[“The heart (of the Prophet) was not untrue to that which he saw.”] That is, physical eyes did not see Allah; rather, Allah was seen by the eyes of the Holy Prophet Muhammad’ssa heart, and his heart was not untrue in relating this account.
Thereafter, a سِدۡرَةِ [lote-tree] is mentioned which is like a boundary hedge between Allah the Almighty and His servants. In fact, this is an old custom of the Arabs which is found among them even to this date that between the lands of two farmers, the boundaries are divided by thorny plants which are grown as a boundary line. Thus, there was no tree grown in Heaven beyond which the Holy Prophetsa did not have access. This is an extremely ridiculous explanation which has been presented by some commentators of the middle-ages. It only means that the Holy Prophetsa had access to that high station of nearness to Allah beyond which no human had access to, because after that starts the subject of transcendent attributes of Allah Almighty.
Next, talking about hypothetical deities of the disbelievers, Allah says that “they have no proof of their existence; they follow nothing but conjecture. This is the utmost limit of their knowledge.”
Here, الشِّعۡرٰي (Sirius) stands for that najm [star] which was a deity of the disbelievers.
Next, the evil end on which the past idolatrous people ended up as a result of their polytheism is outlined briefly as a warning and lesson.
Chapter 54: Surah al-Qamar
This surah was revealed in Mecca and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 56 verses.
In the preceding surah, the falling of شِعۡرٰي (Sirius), a false deity of the idolaters, is cited. In other words, the prophecy was made that polytheism, along with its hypothetical gods, would definitely be annihilated.
In the very beginning of Surah al-Qamar, the information is given that the time for its end has approached; and the moon testified to it by renting asunder into two. The moon stands for the period of sovereignty of the Arabs. And this interpretation of the moon is reported by the Holy Prophetsa himself. Thus, the era of sovereignty of the polytheists came to an end for good, and that time approached which was the time of revolution and which was to take place with the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, the Chosen one.
Next follows a verse which absolutely proves that the idolatrous people of that time, for a fleeting moment, did see the moon renting asunder into two. The commentators, rightly or wrongly, have given many exegeses about this, but this reality cannot be denied. If the polytheists had not witnessed the incident of the moon’s renting asunder into two, immediately they would have denied its occurrence. And the believers too would have renounced their belief because the belief was founded solely on the truthfulness of the Holy Prophetsa. By saying سِحۡرٌ مُّسۡتَمِرٌّ [a continuous sorcery], the polytheists of Mecca testified that the incident did take place, but, according to them, “it was sorcery and such sorceries were regularly performed by Muhammadsa”.
Once again, the past idolatrous peoples are cited, that every one of them declared the Prophet of their time to be insane. And they were destroyed one after another as a result of their disbelief and insolence.
One verse has been repeatedly cited in the current surah and that is, “We have made the Holy Quran easy to take heed”. That is, if anyone had given a little consideration to the circumstances of the past people, they would have understood easily that most of the destruction in the world was caused by polytheism. But is there anyone to take heed? Neither did the majority among the past peoples take heed, nor did the majority of the following peoples.
Chapter 55: Surah al-Rahman
This surah was revealed in the early Meccan period. Including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 79 verses.
In this surah, two different idioms have been used for man and the Holy Quran. Nowhere has the word خَلق been used for the Quran, but for man خَلق has been used. Thus, as a result of not pondering over this surah, some Muslims of the middle-ages believed the Quran to be a creation and some others as non-creation. And because of this reason, a lot of blood was shed of Muslims.
A ميزان [measure] has also been mentioned in this noble surah. Allah says, “A balance will be found all over the heavens; and in fact, every exaltation requires this balance. Thus, if the believing servants of Allah the Almighty always safeguard this measure, and never go against justice, Allah the Almighty will grant them very exalted stations as well.”
Next, addressing the jinn and men, it has been reiterated, “Which then of the favours of your Lord will you twain deny?” In this connection, the difference between the creation of jinn and men has also been laid down that the jinn have been created of the flame of fire. In the present age, various interpretations of the word jinn are presented. But at this point, one interpretation of jinn is that of virus and bacteria and that they too are also jinn who came into being as a result of fiery radioactive waves coming from the sky in the beginning of creation. In this age, all scientists have agreed that bacteria and viruses come into existence by taking energy directly from fire.
Then, about man, a prophecy is made which uncovers deep secrets of magnificent wisdom and creation. The concept of man’s creation by mud is found in all past [divine] books. But the concept of the creation of man of dry ringing clay is a concept which is not found in any other book before the Holy Quran. This is not the occasion of mentioning its details. But scientists know that a stage came in the course of creation where it was necessary to dry the material of creation in the form of ringing clay. And then, the sea once again engulfed this dry material with its waves. And a journey of chemical progress of man started wherein these essential chemicals did not have to revert back to their earliest stage time and again for human creation.
Next, a prophecy is made that Allah the Almighty would remove the defining boundary between the two seas and they would merge into each other.
Then, there is another noble verse which could not have come in any man’s imagination in the age when the Quran was revealed. Man was not able enough to jump a metre or two high. Who could have imagined that influential as well as non-influential people would endeavour to go beyond the اَقْطَارُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الْاَرْضِ [the confines of the heavens and earth]? This endeavour started with man’s journey to the moon. And endeavours are being made to reach the planets beyond. But the Holy Quran prophesies that man cannot break through the boundaries of the universe without سُلۡطٰن, i.e. magnificent reasoning. And whenever they try to go beyond it physically, they will be showered with fire and molten copper. There is no doubt that unless scientists take all possible defensive measures against meteor showers, they cannot travel in space in rockets.
After the metaphorical discussion of Hell starts the metaphorical account of Paradise. Readers should be cautious not to take this account literally at all. This is totally metaphorical language. The thinkers can find new gems of cognisance if they ponder over it. Otherwise, their mind will stray without any gain, except for a physical concept of Paradise wherein they will fail to find any solution to many an issue. Thus, blessed is the name of Allah the Almighty; His blessings are countless. He is ذُو الۡجَلٰلِ وَ الۡاِكۡرَامِ [the Master of Glory and Honour].
Chapter 56: Surah al-Waqi‘ah
This surah was revealed in the early Meccan period and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 97 verses.
It is stated in the beginning of this surah that the magnificent prophecies of the preceding surah were definitely going to be fulfilled. Especially the news of the resurrection, cited in the preceding surah, would definitely come to pass.
Next, a comparison has been drawn between those who made sacrifices in the first stage of Islam with those who would make sacrifices in the latter stage. This shows that those who would make sacrifices in the first stage and in the latter stage would, in large numbers, resemble in making sacrifices, and they would be granted similar ranks. But many of those who made sacrifices in the first stage would excel those in numbers and ranks who would make sacrifices in the latter stage. But there are some of those belonging to the latter stage who would attain the same excellence of ranks as were granted to the people of the first stage.
Further, a description is given of the unfortunate ones of both periods, and they have been described as belonging to the left hand. And people belonging to the left hand signify the wicked people, and a description of their attributes is given which will cause them to enter Hell.
Further, a metaphorical description of the people of Hell as well as the people of Paradise, is given in this surah. And it has been made very clear that “you will never be resurrected with this physical body of yours; rather, you will be resurrected with such a transformed body that is beyond your imagination.”
Verses 61 and 62 prophesy that “you have no knowledge of the form in which Allah the Almighty will resurrect you at the time of your resurrection.” The point to note here is that superficially, its knowledge is being given and this is a warning whose words should not be taken in the literal sense. These are just similitudes, and you have no knowledge of the reality.
Then, there are four things described in that if they are reflected upon, every unbiased mind will definitely accept that no one possesses the power to create them except Allah the Almighty. Foremost is the material by which human creation was started. This material was endowed with very complicated characteristics which were to take manifestation later. For instance, the eye, ear, nose, mouth, throat, vocal cord etc. were directed in so much detail that it was decided up to what size an organ would grow and when that growth would stop.
Take teeth for example. Deciduous teeth appear after a certain period and fall after a certain period. And those who fail to look after the health of their teeth in childhood are saved from harmful effects. Then, in adult teeth, a person is responsible to look after them. Why do they stop developing after a certain size? What is it that stops them from developing any further?
There is a computerised programme in human DNA which is followed by them according to the decree of Allah the Almighty. Scientists say that teeth grow at almost the same speed as when they wear out. If they had continued developing and there was no programme of stopping them, in that case, the lower teeth would grow much further, piercing through the brain, and the upper teeth would render the chest useless by piercing through the jaw. Allah asks, “Did you produce these genetic characteristics yourself?” Obviously, the reply is in the negative.
Similarly, man believes that it is he who sows the seeds in soil. But the mechanism of their germination and development into trees, vegetables and fruits is a very complicated system, which cannot develop on its own.
Similarly, man has no control over the mechanism of water that showers from the sky to support life. And the flame by which man tries to reach the heavens also works under the decree of Allah. Otherwise, the same fire, instead of transporting them to heights, could have reduced them to ashes. In this regard, the Holy Prophetsa prophesied about airplanes which soar high in the sky that those means of transport would run on fire, but that fire would not harm the passengers that embark them.
Then مَوٰقِعِ النُّجُوۡمِ [shooting of the stars] has been presented as a witness. Man of that age believed the stars to be like small twinkling gems or stones. But Allah the Almighty says, “You will be bewildered if you come to know what these small-looking stars are.” These stars are so huge that they can accommodate the moon, sun, earth, and planets in one of their sides. Thus, Allah says, “It’s a magnificent oath which We are giving.”
After these testimonies, Allah says, “The Holy Quran too is a hidden book. As stars are hidden from you due to being far off in the distance, similarly your eyes cannot attain the exaltations of the Holy Quran, and you take it to be an insignificant book.” Further Allah says, “You may touch it physically”, i.e. “You can touch it because you are close to it, but save for the one whose heart is purified by Allah the Almighty, no one can comprehend its subject-matters.”
Chapter 57: Surah al-Hadid
This surah was revealed in Medina and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 30 verses.
This surah starts with the proclamation that “the heavens and earth and whatever is in them glorifies Allah. He is the First and the Last, and the Manifest and the Hidden.” That is, His manifestations are plain and open, but they always remain hidden for the eye that fails to see them.
Describing the similitude of the life of this world, Allah says in a verse that it is only a sport and pastime. This is not something to last. “When man gets closer to his death, he will surely admit that this delight was only for a few days.”
There is another magnificent verse in this surah which proves that Allah the Almighty had made it clear to the Holy Prophetsa that the conspicuous concept of the heaven and hell is not correct. Thus, in verse 22, Allah says, “Vie with one another in seeking forgiveness from Allah the Almighty, and for a paradise whose span is like the span of the heavens and the earth.”
One Companionra asked the Holy Prophetsa when he recited this verse, “O Prophet of Allah! Where does hell exist if heaven spans the entire universe?” He replied, “That too exists there.” That is, it exists in the same vast universe where heaven is located. “But you do not understand as to how this can be.” Heaven and hell exist in the same place while one has no connection with the other. It clearly proves that the Holy Prophetsa was given the concept of a relativity in that age, i.e. in the same place two things have no connection with each other when dimensions are changed.
The true meaning of the word نزول is illustrated from this verse, i.e. the Holy Quran uses the term نزول for anything that is most useful among its kind. Therefore, in this regard, the word نزول comes for cattle as well as for dress. Most important of all, about the Holy Prophetsa, Allah says:
قَدۡ اَنۡزَلَ اللّٰهُ اِلَيۡكُمۡ ذِكۡرًارَّسُوۡلًا
“Allah has indeed sent down to you an incarnate Reminder, a Messenger” (Surah al-Talaq, Ch.65: V.11-12). And all scholars agree that he did not come down from sky with his physical body. Thus, no other interpretation can be made here except that among all the Prophets the most beneficial Prophet for mankind was only the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa.
Further, in this very surah, with regard to the Companionsra, it is related that they walked in a light that ran ahead of them as well as on their right, as if they saw their path ahead in that light of theirs.
Chapter 58: Surah al-Mujadalah
This surah was revealed in Medinah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 23 verses.
The central theme of Surah al-Mujadalah is that the custom of the Arabs when they were annoyed with their wives was that they would cease conjugal relations among themselves by calling their wives their mothers, thus rendering their relationships void. One’s mother is only she who gives birth to them. Further, Allah admonishes to atone for such absurd things, and keeping yourself from such absurd things, He also admonishes to establish conjugal relations with them.
Surah al-Hadid talks about حَدِيۡد and it is used to cut, pierce and tear. But this is its literal use. The words يُحَآدُّوۡنَ and حَآدَّ in Surah al-Mujadalah signify to tear each other in spiritual terms. And repeatedly, it has been described that those who inflict injury to the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa spiritually and seek to disintegrate the Companionsra, and connive with each other for this end, will end up in their own destruction. Allah says, “All those who injure Allah and His Messenger with their taunts will be frustrated. And Allah the Almighty has ordained on Himself that He and His Messengers will prevail.”
(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, a missionary in Ghana)