In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace.
67:1 Hallowed be He in whose hand all dominion rests since He has the power to will anything.
Since what is termed “death” is stated here to have been created, it cannot be identical with “non-existence”, but obviously must have a positive reality of its own. To my mind, it connotes, firstly, the inanimate state of existence preceding the emergence of life in plants or animated beings; and, secondly, the state of transition from life as we know it in this world to the – as yet to us unimaginable – condition off existence referred to in the Qur’an as “the hereafter” or “the life to come” (al-akhirah)
67:2 He who has created death as well as life, so that He might put you to a test [and thus show] which of you is best in conduct, and [make you realize that] He alone is Almighty, Truly Forgiving.
Or: “conforming [with one another]”, this being the primary significance of tibaq (sing. tabaq). For the meaning of the “seven heavens”, see surah 2, note 20.
67:3 [Hallowed be] He who has created seven heavens in full harmony with one another, no-fault will thou see in the creation of the Most Gracious. And turn thy vision [upon it] once more: canst thou see any flaw?
Sc., in its endeavor to encompass the mysteries of the universe.
67:4 Yeah, turn thy vision [upon it] again and yet again, [and every time] thy vision will fall back upon thee, dazzled and truly defeated.
Lit., “lamps” – i.e., stars: cf. 37:6, “We have adorned the skies nearest to the earth with the beauty of stars”.
67:5 And, indeed, We have adorned the skies nearest to the earth with lights, and have made them the object of futile guesses for the evil ones [from among men], and for them have We readied suffering through a blazing flame.
For the wider meaning of shayatin – a term which in this context points specifically to “the satans from among mankind, that is, the astrologers” (Baydawi) – see surah 15, note 16. As regards the term rajm (pl. rujum), which literally denotes the “throwing [of something] like a stone” – i.e., at random – it is often used metaphorically in the sense of “speaking conjecturally” or “making [something] the object of guesswork” (Jawhari, Raghib – the latter connecting this metaphor explicitly with the above verse -, Lisan al-‘Arab, Qamus, Taj al-‘Arus, etc.). Cf. also 37:6-10.
67:6 For, suffering in hell awaits all who are [thus] bent on blaspheming against their Sustainer, and how vile a journey’s end!
i.e., by presuming to know what will happen in the future – a knowledge which rests with God alone. This connects with the statement in verse 4 that man can never truly unravel the mysteries of cosmic space (“the heavens”), which in its turn implies that he should not presume to foretell terrestrial events from the position and the aspects of the stars. Since only God knows “that which is beyond the reach of a created being’s perception” (al-ghayb), any such attempt is blasphemy (kufr).
67:7 When they are cast into that [hell], they will hear its breath in–drawing as it boils up.
Lit., “You are in nothing but a great error (dalal)” – thus denying the reality of divine revelation as such.
67:8 Well nigh bursting with fury, [and] every time a host [of such sinners] is flung into it, its keepers will ask them, “Has no warner ever come to you?”
The reason, properly used, must lead man to a cognition of God’s existence and, thus, of the fact that a definite plan underlies all His creation. A logical concomitant of that cognition is the realization that certain aspects of the divine plan touching upon human life – in particular, the distinction between right and wrong – are being continuously disclosed to man through the medium of the revelation which God bestows on His chosen message-bearers, the prophets. This innate “bond with God” (referred to in 2:27 and explained in the corresponding note 19) may be broken only at the expense of man’s spiritual future, with suffering in the life to come as the inevitable alternative.
67:9 They will reply “Yea, a warner did indeed come unto us, but we gave him the lie and said, ‘Never has God sent down anything [by way of revelation]! You [self-styled warners] are but lost in a great delusion!”
For this rendering of the expression bi’l-ghayb, see surah 2, note 3.
67:10 And they will add “Had we but listened [to those warnings], or [at least] used our own reason, we would not [now] be among those who are destined for the blazing flame!”
While the primary significance of the noun qawl is “a saying” or “an utterance”, it is often used topically in the sense of “a statement”‘. i.e., of a belief, an opinion, teaching, a doctrine, etc. In the present context, it evidently relates to man’s beliefs in general, be they affirmative or negative: hence the plural form in my rendering of this term.