Chapter Scripts

Surah Al-Anbiya: 21:21-30

21:21 And yet, some people choose to worship certain earthly things or beings as deities, that [are supposed to) resurrect [the dead; and they fail to realize that). 


The obvious fact that everything in the created universe is finite and perishable effectively refutes the claim that it could be a “projection” of the Creator, who is infinite and eternal.

21:22 Had there been in heaven or on earth any deities other than God, both [those realms) would surely have fallen into ruin! But limitless in His glory is God, enthroned in His awesome almightiness [far) above anything that men may devise by way of definition!


Lit., “for all that you attribute [to God] by way of description” or “of the definition” (cf: the last sentence of 6:100 and the corresponding note 88) – implying that the idea of God’s “immanence” in His creation is equivalent to an attempt to define His Being.

21:23 He cannot be called to account for whatever He does, whereas they will be called to account.


According to the classical commentators, this refers to the angels; but it is possible to understand the expression “those who are with Him” in a wider sense, comprising not only the angels but also all human beings who are truly God-conscious and wholly dedicated to Him. In either case, their “being with Him” is a metaphorical indication of their spiritual eminence and place of honor in God’s sight, and does not bear any spatial connotation of “nearness” (Zamakhshari and Razi): obviously so, because God is limitless in space as well as in time. (See also 40:7 and the corresponding note 4).

21:24 And yet, they choose to worship [imaginary) deities instead of Him! Say [O Prophet): “Produce evidence for what you are claiming: this is a reminder [unceasingly voiced) by those who are with me, just as it was a reminder [voiced] by those who came before me.” But nay, most of them do not know the truth, and so they stubbornly turn away [from it].  


As stressed by Zamakhshari, the particle am which introduces this sentence has not, as is so often the case, an interrogative sense (“is it that…”), but is used here in the sense of bal, which in this instance may be rendered as “and yet”.

21:25 And [this despite the fact that even] before thy time We never sent any apostle without having revealed to him that there is no deity save Me, [and that] therefore, you shall worship Me [alone]!


Lit., “they have taken unto themselves deities from the earth”, i.e., from among the things or beings found on earth: an expression which alludes to all manner of false objects of worship – idols of every description, forces of nature, deified human beings, and, finally, abstract concepts such as wealth, power, etc.

21:26 And [yet] some say, “The Most Gracious has taken unto Himself a son”! Limitless is He in His glory! Nay, [those whom they regard as God’s “offspring” are but His] honored servants.


Lit., “in those two [realms]”, alluding to the first clause of verse 19 above.

21:27 They speak not until He has spoken unto them, and [whenever they act] they act at His behest.


Lit., “the Sustainer (rabb) of the awesome throne of almightiness”. (For this rendering of al-‘arsh, see note 43 on 7:54.

21:28 He knows all that lies open before them and all that is hidden from them: hence, they cannot intercede for any but those whom He has [already) graced with His goodly acceptance, since they themselves stand in reverent awe of Him.


Cf. last sentence of verse 18 and the corresponding note 22, as well as note 88 on 6:100.

21:29 And if any of them were to say, “Behold, I am a deity beside Him” – that one We should requite with hell: thus do We requite all [such] evildoers.


See note 24 above

21:30 Are, then, they who are bent on denying the truth not aware that the heavens and the earth were [once] one single entity, which We then parted asunder? – and [that] We made out of the water every living thing? Will they not, then, [begin to] believe?


Lit., “produce your evidence”, i.e., for the existence of deities other than God, as well as for the intellectual and moral justification of worshipping anything but Him.


The divine scriptures are God’s beacons to the world. Surely God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth, and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man undertook it.
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