Introduction to chapters of the Holy Quran: Surah Ha Mim al-Sajdah, al-Shura, al-Zukhruf, al-Dukhan, al-Jathiyah and al-Ahqaf

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Last Updated on 24th January 2022

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:

Quran

Chapter 41: Surah Ha Mim al-Sajdah

This is a Meccan surah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 55 verses.

Surah al-Mumin is followed by Surah Ha Mim al-Sajdah, which also starts with the abbreviated letters حٰمٓ (Ha mim). 

In the very beginning of this surah, a claim is made that the Quran has been revealed in such an eloquent language that fully explains its subject matters. But in reply, the disbelievers say that “our hearts are under coverings; there is a heaviness in our ears and there is a veil between you and us.” And addressing the Prophetsa, they challenge him to do whatever he may for “we, too, are resolutely busy in our works”. 

One must not harbour a misunderstanding at this point that the enemy gives full liberty to the Prophets to do whatever they may; rather, it means, “You carry on your work, and we will always be endeavouring to frustrate them.” 

The reply taught to the Holy Prophetsa was to say to them that though he was only a mortal like them, because of the divine revelation on him, a difference of poles apart had been created between him and them.  

Some people criticise some of the verses in this surah due to misunderstanding them. For instance, about verses 11-13, they believe that this is a reference to the very beginning when the entire universe had scattered like fog in space; whereas the earth was created much later. 

In fact, the subject discussed here is that the system of provision of food in the earth was completed in four periods. And the creation of mountains played a pivotal role in it. Next, it says that the sky above it was in the form of smoke. This smoke was in the form of vapour far above the nearest seven skies above the earth. That vapour would rain on earth regularly and as a result of intense heat, it would ascend back to the heights of the sky in the form of smoke. This state of the earth continued for a long period of time, and finally, the water rained on earth and spread on it in the form of seas from where it would ascend in vapour and bouncing against mountains, rain back on the earth. 

Thereafter, in two periods, the nearest seven heavens were completed and every layer of heaven was as if commanded to perform an appointed task. Modern-day scientists talk about a sky divided into seven layers around the earth and an appointed task for each layer, without which human existence on earth was impossible. And all these layers of heavens are commissioned to protect the earth and its inhabitants. 

The detail of exhortation of steadfastness given to the Holy Prophetsa and its great reward is discussed in two parts. In the first part, the believers have been given the glad tidings that if they exhibit steadfastness in reply to the persecution from the enemies, the angels of Allah the Almighty shall descend onto them who will afford comfort to their hearts and will comfort them by revelation that they are with them in the present world and in the hereafter as well.

Next, in the verses that start with:

وَ‭ ‬مَنۡ‭ ‬اَحۡسَنُ‭ ‬قَوۡلًا‭ ‬مِّمَّنۡ‭ ‬دَعَاۤ‭ ‬اِلَي‭ ‬اللّٰهِ

[“And who is better in speech than he who invites (men) to Allah”], advancing the subject further ahead, it says that “through steadfastness, and trusting Allah in addition to your security, if you are not negligent in delivering them the message with patience and wisdom, then those who are your blood-thirsty enemies will turn into your loyal friends.” But this miracle, in all its glory, was fulfilled in the person of the Holy Prophetsa, who was the best of forbearers, and he was granted a greater part of patience. And in reality, in his very lifetime, his blood-thirsty enemies became his faithful friends.  

Towards the end of the surah, it states that Allah shall show a number of signs to those who deny meeting with Him. These signs will include heavenly signs as well as relating to the wonderful system of life which Allah has created within their bodies. Thus, those who are enabled to ponder over firmament as well as their bodies will only proclaim:

رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقۡتَ هٰذَا بَاطِلًا ۚ سُبۡحٰنَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ

[“Our Lord, Thou hast not created this in vain; Nay, Holy art Thou; save us, then, from the punishment of the Fire.”] 

Chapter 42: Surah al-Shura

This is a Meccan surah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 54 verses.

One warning given in the final verses of the preceding surah is that people avoid accepting the bounty of prophethood when it comes to them. But as a result thereof, once they are afflicted with depravity, they engage in prolonged prayers for the removal of this depravity. Thus, they have been warned that Allah the Almighty will show them those signs as well that manifest in the firmament and which are a great manifestation of the law of nature. Allah will also show the signs that are present within every soul to testify to the existence of Allah the Almighty. 

After the abbreviated letters in the current surah, Allah says that as revelation was sent earlier and the earlier peoples rejected it, “similarly revelation is being sent to you now which is a great bounty, but the worldly people will not accept this heavenly favour because they crave only for temporal bounties.” 

Next, in verse 8, the Holy Prophetsa has been presented as a Warner for the entire world. Warning the mother of all towns, Mecca, which has been designated by Allah the Almighty as a centre for the whole world, would be tantamount to warning the entire world. The words:

وَ‭ ‬مَنۡ‭ ‬حَوۡلَهَا

[“and all around it”] include the settlements of all the worlds. 

Here:

يَوۡمَ‭ ‬الۡجَمۡعِ

[“Day of Gathering”] is also mentioned. As Mecca is declared a gathering point for all of mankind, similarly one gathering will be done in the Hereafter when all mankind will be gathered together. 

Thus, despite the fact that through the advent of the Holy Prophetsa, an effort has been made to unite the whole of mankind, Allah the Almighty knows that the people of the world will remain disintegrated on account of rejecting this favour, since Allah does not force anyone to become united in guidance, otherwise He would have made the whole of mankind as one people.

Next, the same objective of uniting people is stated of sending revelation to earlier Prophets. But whenever they came, unfortunately, people were further divided by rejecting this bounty. The main reason for their division stated is that, in fact, they harboured malice against each other. Thus, the question is as to why, despite their consecutive disbelief, their matter is not settled once and for all. 

The answer furnished is that as long as mankind is destined to be tried on earth, their matter will not be settled here on earth. Though temporarily the matter of every people is settled within their:

اَجَلٍ‭ ‬مُّسَمًّی

[“appointed term”], but after that, another people come and then another one appears after them. On the whole, every individual’s matter will be settled in the final appointed time. 

After this, the Holy Prophetsa has been urged that he should not at all be perturbed at the disbelief and differences with the disbelievers. Once Allah decides to gather them, then He will certainly gather them. One grand prophecy of this gathering is found in Surah al-Jumu‘ah as well. 

The Shia commentators translate verse 24 of this surah absolutely incorrectly and out of context. According to them, the Holy Prophetsa is being directed to say, “O people! I ask of you no reward for myself, but do give reward to my kindred for it.” This verse never signifies as such. To ask for reward for one’s kindred in fact is to demand reward for oneself. The true meaning of the verse is, “I do not ask for any reward for myself or for my kindred”, as the Holy Prophetsa clearly said that alms should never be given to his kindred or their coming generations. “But do not neglect your own kindred. You are dutybound to spend for their needs.” 

About the subject of spending for the needs of the needy and deprived and especially on kindred, a question arises here as to why Allah the Almighty does not provide them directly on His own. The reply given to this question is that the subject of the abundance or scarcity of provision is related to some other philosophy. In some cases, people are tried through an abundance of provision, whereas in some others, through scarcity of provision. Such people have just been mentioned who are tried through abundance that despite abundance of means they do not take care of the deprived or even the kindred.

After this, verse 30 reveals a wonderful secret that could not have passed through the mind of any earthly man in the time of the Holy Prophetsa. In that age, the heavens were considered to be in seven layers like that of plastic, where the moon and stars are fixed just as gems are studded on clothing. Who could have said that they too are inhabited like earth by creatures that walk? Not only was definite knowledge of such creatures’ presence in the heavens given, but the subject of gathering was extended to the heavens by stating that these earthly creatures and the heavenly creatures would surely be gathered one day. Allah knows better whether this “gathering” will be physical or through satellite signals, but the scientists today are trying their best to establish a contact with the creatures inhabiting the heavens. In other words, they have been forced to think of the possibility of the presence of walking creatures on other celestial bodies besides earth. 

In this very surah, which is also titled al-Shura, another gathering is mentioned as well. That is to say, a custom has been set for the Muslims to gather together and deliberate on the important issues whenever they are faced with some. 

Another brief verse, number 41, in the current surah proves the excellence of the Quranic teaching over all the past teachings. It states that if someone faces persecution, they deserve recompense only in proportion to the persecution afflicted to them and not that in a rage of revenge, they themselves should become the persecutor. It is much better to employ such a way of forgiveness whereby it may result in improvement. In some cases, as a result of forgiveness, people become all the more brave to commit evil; so, such forgiveness is not allowed. Only that forgiveness is exhorted which may result in change for the better.

Verse 52 mentions different kinds of revelations, which include that it is not for a man that Allah should speak to him except by direct revelation; sometimes this revelation is from behind a veil, i.e. the speaker remains invisible; but the recipient’s heart receives it clearly; and sometimes, Allah’s messenger descends onto him in the form of an angel. And the revelation that is revealed to him is exactly the same which Allah had commanded him to deliver. Next, addressing the Holy Prophetsa, Allah says, “And thus have We revealed to you the Word and by Our command We granted you a life-giving Word.”

In the last verse of the current surah, once again, the subject is repeated that the heavens and the earth and whatever is in between them all belong to Allah and it is only to Allah that all things return. 

Mecca

Chapter 43: Surah al-Zukhruf

This is a Meccan surah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 90 verses. 

The word اُمّ [umm] has been repeated in the very beginning of the current surah. The preceding surah talked about “Umm-ul-Qura”, i.e. Mecca is the mother of all towns. And here, it is a reference to Surah al-Fatihah, which is like a mother to this greatest divine word. In other words, the subject matters of the entire Quran have been encompassed into it like the womb of a mother encompasses to procure all the destined qualities to be endowed to a person before their birth. 

Then, Allah says, “When you travel in sea or land, remember that it is none else save Allah Who subjects for you the ships that sail in the sea, and the animals that traverse on land for you to ride. And many of you, on account of accidents, may not be able to reach the destinations for which they set out. But remember, the final destination is that in which you are going to return to Allah.” 

The initial verses of the current surah talk about the People of the Book, whereas the latter ones talk of polytheists. Thereafter are mentioned those past prophets who were sent to polytheistic peoples and the result of their disbelief through which the disbelievers went. 

Prior to this, Allah the Almighty mentions the gathering of all mankind at one hand and states, “If We were to do this, We could have united those who are greedy after the world in one way”, that is, to fill their houses with gold, silver and other bounties. “But they would have been just superficial means of amenities, with no value at all. And they would have enjoyed the temporal and short-lived riches of the world, but [the blessing of] the Hereafter is granted only to the righteous. 

One reason of people’s not uniting on guidance discussed at this point is that their comrades are faithless, and under their influence, they too fall victim to atheism. But on the Day of Judgment, every such person who had been evilly influenced by his wicked companion would express his wish saying to him, if there were the distance of the East and the West between me and you I would not have ended up in this evil end.  

Another very important verse in this surah discloses the state of coming of Hazrat Jesusas, which states that Hazrat Jesusas was only an example. And when Hazrat Jesusas was mentioned before the polytheists, they would say to the Holy Prophetsa, “If you have to believe in a god, then instead of believing a deity of other people, why not believe in the deities of your own people.” They did not believe that Jesusas was not a deity. But he was a favoured servant of Allah, and was only an example for them from whom many a lesson could have been learned. 

Then a prophecy has been made in the very surah that in future as well, the Messiah will be sent as an example who will be a sign of great revolution. 

A profound standing of the Holy Prophetsa mentioned in this surah is that he was the foremost in worshipping Allah the Almighty. If, in truth, Allah the Almighty had a son, he would have never turned away from worshipping him. Thus, his refusal to worship a hypothetical son of Allah the Almighty proves conclusively that the Holy Prophetsa had full conviction that Allah the Almighty did not have a son. 

Chapter 44: Surah al-Dukhan

This is a Meccan surah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 60 verses. 

The initial subject of Surah al-Dukhan refers to the subject of Surah al-Qadar – a brief surah of the Holy Quran – which is evident from the initial noble verses: “We revealed this book in a dark and very blessed night because a never-ending light was going to emerge after this darkness. In that night, all matters of wisdom will be decided.”

At the end of the previous surah, it was stated to let the opponents wander about in fun and amusement, and that he should turn away from them. Time is fast approaching when a clear distinction will be made between truth and falsehood. Thus, this has been stated in the initial verses of the current surah

One major reason behind the name of the surah “Dukhan” [smoke] is that the darkness they are engulfed in, after that no new day of mercy will dawn on them. On the contrary, that darkness will become a means of increasing their torment like that of dukhan [smoke]. Dukhan here may also be a reference to nuclear smoke, where nothing can be secure under its shade; rather, they become victim of diverse kinds of destructions. Thus, modern scientists have issued warnings that all forms of life will be destroyed in the shade of nuclear smoke, so much so that the bacteria buried in the ground will also die.  

Allah the Almighty says, “They will pay heed to Allah only after undergoing it, saying, ‘O Allah! Remove this terrible torment from us.’” 

Another prophecy made here is that such torment would visit them at intervals – that is, after the destructions of one world war, they would be given respite for some time. Thereafter, the next world war would bring new destructions. 

With regard to Surah al-Dukhan, the Holy Prophetsa was informed that the fulfilment of its prophecies was related to the coming of the Dajjal (Antichrist). 

Chapter 45: Surah al-Jathiyah

This is a Meccan surah and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 38 verses.   

Verse 114 in this surah discloses the secrets of the heavens and the earth in such a way that a similar verse was not revealed in any of the past divine books. It states that whatsoever is in the heavens and earth has been subjected for mankind. Thus, the people who reflect will come to know that all the celestial bodies do affect human beings. In other words, man is a micro-universe and is a compendium of the vast universe.

After mentioning that the Judgment Day would definitely come, Allah said, “To see the terrible sign of the Judgment Day, and to find their evil end to be before them, they will fall down on their knees.” That is, falling in prostration before the majesty of Allah the Almighty they will desire to be saved from that terrible torment. After that, Allah said, “Every people will be judged according to their own book”, i.e. Shariah. 

The concluding verse of this surah draws man’s attention to the point that the entire universe is praising Allah self-evidently. And that only His is the Majesty, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. 

Chapter 46: Surah al-Ahqaf

This surah was revealed at Mecca and including “Bismillah …”, it consists of 36 verses. 

The fact related towards the end of the preceding surah has been reiterated in the very beginning of the current surah; that is, the heavens and the earth and whatsoever exists in them praises Allah. Allah says in the beginning of this surah that the heavens and the earth and whatsoever exists in them upholds the truth which has already been related. In other words, the entire universe testifies only for Allah, the Truthful. 

Immediately thereafter, addressing the polytheists, it states that the heavens and the earth and whatsoever that exists in them is the creation of Allah. They should present the creation of their hypothetical deities, if there is in fact any. In fact, the implied argument here is that every creation bears the stamp of the same Creator.  

Though this surah mentions the destruction of a past people, Ad, who were warned by ahqaf (people of sand dunes), a style of the Holy Quran must not be overlooked that the mention of the past peoples also has a reference to similar future circumstances.  

In this surah, once again, reference has been made to the subject of dukhan [smoke] that whenever clouds overshadow them, they believe that bounties are going to descend onto them from the heavens. But once that cloud reaches them, then they will come to know that it brings along radioactive winds that destroy everything. Thus, they will not be able to even come out of their dwellings. And they will not leave behind any sign of their existence except their ruined abodes. This comes true for Nagasaki and Hiroshima both.  

Verse 34 relates the theme that “do they not realise that Allah is not wearied by the creation of the heavens and the earth.” How could a man of that age have realised it? But the man of the current age, who is trying to find out the secrets of the heavens and the earth, knows that the heavens and the earth regularly go into non-existence and then emerge in a new existence. This continuous phenomenon of existence and non-existence of the heavens and the earth is such an act of Allah the Almighty which reveals that Allah has never been wearied by creating. Thus, how did man presume that after he is dead, Allah the Almighty will not be able to revive them again?

(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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