Introduction to chapters of the Holy Quran: Surah al-Rum, Luqman, al-Sajdah, al-Ahzab and Saba

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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 30: Surah al-Rum

This is a Meccan surah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 61 verses. 

This surah too starts with the abbreviated letters of  الم [Alif, laam, meem). The surahs that start with الم discuss that Allah the Almighty is All-Knowing as to what happened and what is yet to happen.

Towards the end of the preceding surah, a claim was made that surely Allah the Almighty was with those who did good and the Holy Prophetsa was the best of those who did good. Thus, he is being given the glad tidings of further victories which are found to be mentioned at numerous places in the current surah. In the first place, it has been mentioned in a prophetic style that when the polytheists of Persia triumphed against the Christian state of Rome in a small territory they took it as an omen that they would be given a conclusive victory as well against those who associated themselves with Allah the Almighty. This surah announced that it would never take place. The Romans would certainly retrieve their territories that they lost at the hands of the polytheists of Persia; and the Muslims would rejoice at this in good faith that now, God willing, the Muslims as well would achieve a great victory against the polytheists. 

This prophecy belongs to the time when the Muslims were extremely weak and nobody could claim their victory. In this connection, this prophecy was also implied in the promise of victory that the Muslims would also get victory over the powerful state of the polytheists, i.e. the state of Persia. Thus, it took place exactly as mentioned. Despite having witnessed this very clear proof, people continue to deny the existence of Allah the Almighty. Thus, once again, their attention has been drawn to the fact that they should ponder over the heavens and earth, or their own selves, so that they might witness the signs of the existence of Allah the Almighty within themselves, the earth and in the firmament of the heavens. Similarly, their attention is drawn once again to the relics of past peoples as to whether they were oblivious of their state; if so, then they ought to reflect on the end of the past peoples. From a worldly point of view, they were very powerful peoples and as compared to the people of the time of the Holy Prophetsa, they had populated the earth to a greater degree. But once they denied the prophets that came to them, all their grandeur was ruined to dust.

Next, through various examples, this subject recurs that wherever you cast your eyes you will find the subject matter of death after life and vice versa spread all around. But regretfully, man fails to ponder over the fact that his final destination cannot be to create him time and again for this very world. The final life must be when he will be presented before God for accountability. 

Thus, the Holy Prophetsa once again has been advised to exercise patience. The promise of Allah is true in any case. And those who did not believe would not be able to move him from his stance. At this point, patience means to stick to virtues and abandon not the truth at any cost. 

Chapter 31: Surah Luqman

This is a Meccan surah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 35 verses.  

This surah as well starts with the abbreviated letters of الم [Aliflaammeem]. The subject matters of Surah al-Baqarah, the first surah that started with الم , have been repeated in this surah in a new style. As the subject of the descent of Al-Kitab [the Book] was discussed in the beginning of Surah al-Baqarah, similarly, in its beginning, the current surah discusses the guidance that descends from Allah the Almighty. But the subject matter has been advanced further in that according to the initial connotation of taqwa [true awareness of God], there [in Surah al-Baqarah] the Book was to become a guidance for those who had the courage to profess truth openly. But at this place, it is claimed that this Book is a guidance for such people as well who are advanced in taqwa and have been designated the status of muhsineen [who do good]. This never-ending source of taqwa will continue to satiate in all the uncountable and everlasting advanced stages further ahead.  

Once again, emphasis in the current surah has been laid on the point that Allah the Almighty possesses a number of powers that cannot be seen by the naked eye, just as gravity cannot be seen. “How then will you be able to see with the naked eye the Creator of such powers?” 

Hazrat Luqman was a renowned man of wisdom – he would talk very wisely. In this surah, the word Al-Hakeem has been added with Al-Kitab after “Alif laam meem”, which gives a clue that now, wisdom will be discussed in different manners with reference to the noble Luqman. The most important among his wise discourses is his admonishment to his son not to ever associate any partner with Allah. 

Next, he taught him to be kind to his parents because they resembled the Lord in the sense that they became an ostensible means of the birth of children. 

Next, he admonished that the All-Knowing and Wise Allah, Who had the knowledge of things as small as a mustard seed latent in the earth or rocks, and was All-Aware, would come to know even if an iota of polytheism came to his mind. At this point, the word Khabeer [All-Aware] seems to refer to the fact that He knows as to what is going to happen to them in future and what end they will meet. 

Next, the fundamental directive of the observance of Salat, which is the foremost directive in Surah al-Baqarah, is mentioned. The life of a believer depends solely on observance of Salat. The ability to enjoin good [amr bil-ma‘ruf] and forbid evil [nahi ‘anil munkar] is bestowed merely as a result of observance of Salat. But the nature of man is such that despite the fact that he gets the ability to do every righteous act from Allah, he turns his cheeks away from men in scorn over minor excellences on other people. Thus, man has been exhorted towards humility, to walk in the earth at a moderate pace and lower his voice as well. 

Thereafter, man’s attention has been drawn to being grateful, which enjoys pivotal importance in the current surah. Time and again, Hazrat Luqman admonishes his son to be grateful. Thus, the pivotal point of the wisdom bestowed on Hazrat Luqman is being grateful to God, with which initiates his exhortation. There is no end to the bounties of Allah the Almighty, Who subjected the earth and heavens and all the latent powers in them for the development of mankind; so much so that the galaxies existing at the end of the universe somehow influence the latent abilities in man. There are some people who do not have any knowledge of the universe at all, and despite their lack of knowledge, they criticise Allah the Almighty exceedingly. Neither do they possess any guidance, nor an illuminating Book that teaches polytheism. 

At this point, the word “illuminating Book” [kitabun munir] removes the misconception that the polytheists present their distorted books as a proof of it, like Vedas are presented as a proof. But the Vedas do not possess any illuminating proof; rather, they drive man further deep into the abyss of darkness. 

No knowledge can encompass the secrets of the power and wisdom of Allah spread all over the universe; so much so that if all the oceans became ink and all trees became pens, the oceans and pens would be exhausted but the account of the secrets of divine powers would not come to an end. 

A following verse (29), in a wonderful style, unravels the secrets of human creation. Man’s attention has been drawn to the fact that if he pondered over the formation of the foetus in the mother’s womb as to what innumerable stages he had to pass through, he might have limited knowledge of the secrets of the philosophy of his initial creation. Therefore, scientists assert firmly that from the beginning of pregnancy till its completion, the foetus undergoes all the changes that take place during the whole of the evolutionary process from the beginning of life. This is a very, very vast and deep subject on which all the people of knowledge and science have their consensus. Allah said, “This is your first creation. As developing from a humble insect you attained the ultimate human physical abilities, similarly, in your new birth, by the time of the Day of Resurrection you will have made so much progress that as compared to that complete formation, man will be just like the humble insect with which life initiated.”

The surah concludes at the announcement that the knowledge about the mentioned hour, when man will be raised from the dead in an absolutely perfect form again, rests with Allah alone as to when and how it will take place. In this connection, Allah also mentions some other things whose knowledge rests with Allah the Almighty alone. And this knowledge has not been shared with man in any way. These things include as to when and how rain will be sent from the sky; what is being nurtured in the wombs of mothers; what is man going to earn tomorrow and in what part of the land he will die.

One misconception needs to be removed at this point. It is claimed in this developed age of today that due to modern equipment, it can be found out as to what lies in the womb of a mother, so much so that it can also be found out whether the baby is healthy or ill by birth and whether it is a boy or a girl. Despite this absolute claim of theirs, they cannot say with conviction whether the baby in the womb is disabled or not. They merely talk about a possibility. Similarly, this prophecy of theirs is also proving to be wrong whether the baby will be a son or a daughter. It has been witnessed that in many cases, gynaecologists very firmly tell about a disability in a child by birth, but the child is born without any disability. Similarly, they assert with conviction that it is going to be a daughter, but a son is born and sometimes, vice versa. It can be witnessed excessively in our everyday routine.  

Chapter 32: Surah al-Sajdah

This is a Meccan surah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 31 verses.

At the beginning of this surah, the abbreviated letters الم [Alif, laam, meem] (which signify‭ ‬اَنَا‭ ‬اللّٰهُ‭ ‬اَعْلَمُ [I am Allah, the All-Knowing]) explain this surah’s connection with the concluding verses of the previous surah

In the concluding verses of the previous surah, it was said that there were numerous things which were not in the knowledge of anyone else except Allah, and exactly the same thing has been repeated in the claim of اَنَا‭ ‬اللّٰهُ‭ ‬اَعْلَمُ [I am Allah, the All-Knowing].

Next, secrets of the heavens and earth, which are not in the knowledge of anyone except Allah the Almighty, have been discussed once again. Then, there is a verse that surprisingly discloses the age of the universe. Allah the Almighty says, “In comparison to the day that you know, Allah’s day is equal to 1,000 years.” This verse refers to the figure that we get after the multiplication of days in a human year with 1,000. And in another verse (Surah al-Ma‘arij: V.5) Allah the Almighty says, “A day of Allah is equal to fifty thousand years.” Thus, if this one day is multiplied in a mathematical manner with the day of 1,000 years, the sum is about 20 billion years. And according to scientists as well, the age of this universe is 18 to 20 billion years. In this relation, Allah the Almighty once again announces that it is only Allah Who has the knowledge of the unseen and seen; Who has made perfect everything He has created. And surprisingly, all of these things were created from clay. Thereafter are found other stages of creation which include the creation of the foetus in the womb of a mother. 

Next, people’s doubts about rising up again has been discussed and new information is added that everyone has his own angel of death, who, having the knowledge of their ailments and very intricate disorders, concludes absolutely rightly as to when they should die. And here, once again, the same subject matter of the concluding verses of the previous surah has been related in a new style.

In the last ruku of the current surah, discussing Hazrat Mosesas, the subject matter of الم has been repeated once again and it is said, “Do not be in doubt about his meeting.” According to some commentators, it does not refer to meeting with Allah the Almighty, but it refers to the Holy Prophet’ssa meeting with Hazrat Mosesas. If this meaning is to be taken, then it is evident that this is not a meeting with all the Prophets on the Day of Resurrection. But it refers especially to that meeting which he had with Hazrat Mosesas on Mi‘raj and with regard to the daily prayers, Hazrat Mosesas gave him a piece of advice, the details of which are found in the account of Mi‘raj.

In the concluding verse of the current surah, the Holy Prophetsa has been directed to turn away from his enemies and persecutors.

Chapter 33: Surah al-Ahzab

This is a Medinite surah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 74 verses.

The subject matter of the last verse of the preceding surah has been presented in the very beginning of the current surah. That is to say, “The disbelievers and hypocrites will endeavour to move you away from your ideology; avoid them and follow them not, and follow that which is revealed to you.”

An everlasting principle has been laid out in verse 5 that man cannot have exactly the same love for two distinctly separate entities. It refers to the point that one’s heart is dominated by love for Allah the Almighty, and one’s love in the world is merely on account of one’s love for the sake of Allah the Almighty. Thus, the hadith explains this subject matter which says, “If you put a morsel of food in the mouth of your wife because of your love for Allah, this act will be considered the divine worship.” 

Next, a custom of the Arabs is mentioned in which they would call their wives their mothers. Uprooting this custom, attention has been directed to the fact that the relationship between mother and son is established only by the laws of nature devised by Allah. “How can you alter this relationship by word of mouth?” Similarly, a person cannot become a son by calling himself a son. A son is none other than a son in blood relation. To call someone else a son is just an expression of love and nothing more than that.

Repeating the same subject matter, Allah says, “In the hearts is only one اَوْلٰی”, i.e. deserving of the greatest love. And as for the believers, the Holy Prophetsa should be the most loved one for them; and then step by step, other kinsmen are mentioned that “they enjoy excellence over each other as per your nearness”. 

In this very surah is also mentioned the verse of Khatamun-Nabiyyin. And some scholars, who are bereft of divine cognisance, interpret it as saying that the Holy Prophetsa is the last Prophet in the sense that no Prophet whatsoever will ever come after him. This wrong interpretation has been rejected in this surah and it mentions the mithaq [covenant] that had been taken from every prophet that “whenever there comes to you a Messenger, fulfilling that which is with you, it will be a duty of your followers to believe in him and help him instead of rejecting him.” 

In this surah, for the Holy Prophetsa it is said, “wa minka”, that is “We took this covenant from you as well”. Thus, the Holy Prophet’ssa followers are under the obligation that not only is such a Prophet’s opposition unlawful for them, rather they must help and support him with the proviso that the claimant of prophethood should be a perfect follower of the Holy Prophetsa and he shall have the bounty of prophethood bestowed upon him due to the munificence of Muhammadsa, and he shall be presenting the Holy Prophet’ssa teaching without any alteration and shall strive in his favour.

Thereafter, in line with the basic meaning of “Ahzab”[confederates], the Battle of the Ditch is mentioned when all the confederates of Arabs advanced against Medina, and apparently there was no way whatsoever of protection against them. At that time, Allah the Almighty worked a miracle and helped the Prophetsa by a terrible wind, which rendered the eyes of the disbelievers blind and in panic, they fled. Many of their mounts were tied and they did not get time to untie them. Thus, including their mounts, they left behind a lot of goods. And the terrible scarcity of food the Muslims were faced with was removed as a result of this.

This surah also mentions the condition of the people of Yathrib prior to this incident. They saw it as a horrific disaster and calamity that out of this fear, their eyes had become distracted; and the hypocrites said to the believers that there was no shelter for them that day. At that time, the believers replied that their faith had strengthened even more than before because they had already been informed about this horrific attack of hosts. They referred to Surah al-Qamar which contains the verse:

سَيُهْزَمُ‭ ‬الْجَمْعُ‭ ‬وَيُوَلُّونَ‭ ‬الدُّبُرَ

[“The hosts shall soon be routed and shall turn their backs (in flight)”]. Thus, the believers fulfilled their promise in this battle. Some of them could not join at that time, but they awaited that if only they too could be steadfast and sacrifice like other companions of the Holy Prophetsa who joined in the Battle of the Ditch. 

In verse 38 of this surah, Allah the Almighty commanded the Holy Prophetsa to marry the divorced wife of his adopted son. This commandment was very heavy on the Prophetsa. He was also worried about the criticism from the hypocrites as a result thereof. For this reason, he had serious concerns with regard to this marriage. In any case, it was compulsory to follow the divine commandment.

Next follows a verse (41) which should be called the pinnacle of the current surah, and it also relates the incident of Hazrat Zaidra. It was announced openly that the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa was neither the father of Zaidra, nor the father of any of their men, but he was Khatamun-Nabiyyin. That is to say, he was granted the title of being the spiritual father of the Prophets. This is the translation that is deduced from the context. But Khatamun-Nabiyyin may be translated in many ways, and all of them are meant by this Quranic verse. And the Holy Prophetsa is proven to be Khatamun-Nabiyyin according to every meaning. For instance, one meaning of Khatam is affirmer. And among all the shariahs [divine laws] it is only the shariah of the Holy Prophetsa that affirms all the past Prophets of all ages. No other divine book in the world contains such a magnificent verse. 

The following verse reminds us of that prayer of Hazrat Zachariahas, which Allah the Almighty revealed to him after giving him glad tidings of a son, to glorify Allah morning and evening.

Then, verses 46-47 discuss the Holy Prophet’ssa being a shahid [witness], mubashir [a bearer of glad tidings] and nadhir [a warner]. The Holy Prophetsa was witness to the truthfulness of the great Prophet Mosesas before him, as well as the truthfulness of an upcoming servant of his. The similitude of his magnificence has been given with the sun which illuminates the entire world, and the moon as well which takes its light from the sun. Thus, it is destined for a moon to deliver the very light of the Holy Prophetsa to mankind when the darkness of night takes over. So it contains the prophecy that it is going to take place in the coming dark ages.

Next, the believers have been taught the etiquette of taqwa, that keeping in mind the high status of the Holy Prophetsa mentioned earlier, they were under the obligation to be entirely respectful to him. Sometimes, the Holy Prophetsa would invite his relatives and companions for a meal at home. In these verses, the Companionsra have been admonished that when the Holy Prophetsa held such feasts, they should not, considering it like other invitations, go to his house before the time and wait for the food to be ready. They should go once the food was ready and they were invited. Thereafter, with permission, they should go back to their houses. In the course of a meal, if they need something, they can ask the Mothers of the Believers from behind a curtain. 

At this point, the wives of the Holy Prophetsa have been admonished for purity to a much greater degree than the other Muslim women because their exalted station demands that because of them, the Holy Prophetsa may not have to bear even the slightest degree of calumny. 

As the hypocrites would malign the Holy Prophetsa through slander, Hazrat Mosesas was also subjected to slander. Thus, the subject that the Holy Prophetsa has a number of resemblances to his preceding majestic prophet, Hazrat Mosesas has been repeated towards the end of this surah.  And as Hazrat Mosesas was informed that no matter what, he had a great position in the sight of Allah, similarly, the Holy Prophetsa was comforted that these calumnies would do him no harm because, in the sight of Allah the Almighty, he was:

وَجِيْهًا‭ ‬فِي‭ ‬الدُّنْيَا‭ ‬وَالْآخِرَةِ

In the last two verses of the surah, once again referring to Hazrat Mosesas, it has been said that the burden of trust that has been offered to the Holy Prophetsa was much greater than the burden of trust offered to Mosesas. Even the mountains shattered due to its awe. But the Holy Prophetsa stepped forward to bear this trust as a result of which he was immensely unjust to his own self, but he remained totally neglectful of its consequences. 

Chapter 34: Surah Saba

This is a Meccan surah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 50 verses.

This surah starts with the verse, “All praise belong to Allah Who is the Master of the heavens, and the earth also praises him and in the Hereafter too, songs of only His praise will be sung.” Here, it is a clear reference to the Holy Prophetsa that in his time, his devoted followers would fill the heavens and earth with divine praise.

Next, in the course of explaining mountains, it is stated that mountains also stood for hardworking mountainous peoples. As mountains were not subjected for Davidas literally, but hardworking mountainous people were subjected to him. Thus, the mountains mentioned at the end of the previous surah have been elaborated at this point.

After this account, the jinn, who were made subservient to Hazrat Davidas and Hazrat Solomonas and who performed very arduous tasks for them, have been elaborated that these were human jinn. They were not the jinn who are generally taken to be made of fire. Fire comes to an end the moment it enters water. But with regard to these jinn, at another place, the Holy Quran states that they would plunge into the sea and bring out pearls; whereas the jinn made of fire cannot plunge into the sea. Secondly, it states that these jinn were chained, whereas the jinn of fire could not be chained. All these things made the children of David obliged to God. Therefore, Hazrat Solomonas, who was the foremost descendent of David in a physical and spiritual sense, did justice to being grateful to God.

Claimed to be the Mausoleum of Prophet Suleman

But when he was informed that his son, who would be enthroned after him, would be a mere body devoid of spirituality, as a result thereof, he prayed to God that in such a case his kingdom might be wiped out in his time as he had nothing to do with such a worldly kingdom. Thus, this is what transpired exactly. 

After Hazrat Solomonas, when his son was enthroned, these very mountainous people rebelled against him once they learned that a foolish king ruled them. And the worldly kingdom of Hazrat Solomonas was shattered to pieces.

When powerful empires shatter instead of praying to remain closer to each other out of mutual love, their subjects pray for longer distances between each other as a result of mutual hatred. In such a case, they are made examples of and are ground to pieces in the mortars of the wrath of Allah. Then, long distances are created between their communities so that peculiar scenes of wilderness are found between them where the bush etc. start growing; whereas earlier they were granted great orchards and farms. 

The teaching of patience given to the Holy Prophetsa at the end of the previous surah has been repeated at this point, that he must continue exercising patience in all circumstances. And his heart was strengthened by great glad tidings that earlier major powers were just like very small nations; but Allah the Almighty granted him a spiritual kingdom of the entire world. 

Next, the attention of the opponents has been drawn towards seeking judgment from Allah the Almighty through supplication that in ones or twos, they should stand up before Allah to pray, and reflect that this prince of knowledge and wisdom, who has been granted the Holy Quran, is not insane at all. 

Next, it is stated that “you should reflect that when they will be utterly restless, to the extent that it appears never-ending, they will be seized from a place nearby.” The place nearby is the jugular vein. It means that they would be tormented terribly from within themselves. And in the next verse, “a position so far off” is a reference to the fact that repentance will be very difficult for such people. When they had failed to repent on difficult circumstances they went through, then how will they repent sincerely at the fear of seizure by Allah, which they see to be very far? Invariably a barrier is placed between such disbelievers and the attainment of their carnal desires, as had been happening with the disbelievers in past times. But these unfortunate people always remain a victim of misgivings.

 (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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