Chapter Scripts

Surah Al-Anbiya: 21:51-60

21:51 And, Indeed, long before [the time of Moses] We vouchsafed unto Abraham his consciousness of what is right; and We were aware of [what moved] him. 


The Qur’anic answer to this question is given in 7:187.

21:52 When he said unto his father and his people, “What are these images to which you are so intensely devoted?”


See 6:10 (which has exactly the same wording) and the corresponding note 9

21:53 They answered: “We found our forefathers worshipping them.”


The reference to God, in this context, as “the Most Gracious” (ar-rahman) is meant to bring out the fact that He – and He alone – is the protector of all creation.

21:54 Said he: “Indeed, you and your forefathers have obviously gone astray!”


Lit., “until their lives (‘umur) grew long” – i.e., until they grew accustomed to the thought that their prosperity would last forever (Zamakhshari).

21:55} They asked: “Hast thou come unto us with this claim] in all earnest – or art thou one of those jesters?”


For an explanation, see the identical phrase in 13:41 and the corresponding notes 79 and 80.

21:56 He answered: “Nay, but your [true] Sustainer is the Sustainer of the heavens and the earth – He who has brought them into being: and I am one of those who bear witness to this [truth]!”


Lit., “whenever they are warned”.

21:57 And [he added to himself,] “By God, I shall most certainly bring about the downfall of your idols as soon as you have turned your backs and gone away!”


See note 38 on 2:53. The reference to the revelation bestowed on the earlier prophets as “the standard by which to discern the true from the false” (al-furqan) has here a twofold implication: firstly, it alludes to the Qur’anic doctrine – explained in note 5 on 2:4 – of the historical continuity in all divine revelation, and, secondly, it stresses the fact that revelation – and revelation alone – provides an absolute criterion of all moral valuation. Since the Mosaic dispensation as such was binding on the children of Israel alone and remained valid only within a particular historical and cultural context, the term al-furqan relates here not to the Mosaic Law as such, but to the fundamental ethical truths contained in the Torah and common to all divine revelations.

21:58 And then he broke those [idols] to pieces, [all save the biggest of them so that they might [be able to] turn to it.”


For an explanation of the above rendering of the expression bi’l-ghayb, see note 3 on 2:3.

21:59 [When they saw what had happened,] they said: “Who has done this to our gods? Verily, one of the worst wrongdoers is he!”


The possessive pronoun “his” affixed to the noun rushd (which, in this context, has the meaning of “consciousness of what is right”) emphasizes the highly personal, intellectual quality of Abraham’s progressive realization of God’s almightiness and uniqueness (cf. 6:7~79 as well as note 69 on 6:83); while the expression min qabl – rendered by me as “long before [the time of Moses]” – stresses, once again, the element of continuity in man’s religious insight and experience.

21:60 Said some [of them]: “We heard a youth speak of these [gods with scorn]: he is called Abraham.”


Sc., “for an explanation of what had happened”.


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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