Chapter Scripts

Surah Al-Mu’minun: 23:11-20

23:11 That will inherit the paradise; [and) therein shall they abide.


Lit., “in connection with (fi) our early forebears” – a Qur’anic allusion to the fact that people often reject a new ethical proposition on no better grounds than that it conflicts with their “inherited” habits of thought and ways of life. [ndirectly, this allusion implies a condemnation of all blind taqlid, i.e., an unthinking acceptance of religious doctrines or assertions which are not unequivocally supported by divine revelation, the explicit teachings of a prophet, or the evidence of unprejudiced reason.

23:12 Now, Indeed, We create man out of the essence of clay.


i.e., “under Our protection”.

23:13 And then We cause him to remain as a drop of sperm in [the wombs) firm keeping. 


Regarding this interpolation, see surah 11, note 60. For an explanation of the passage that follows, see 11:40 and the corresponding notes 62-64. The reason for the (abbreviated) repetition of Noah’s story – given in much greater detail in 11:25-48 – becomes evident from verse 29.

23:14 And then We create out of the drop of sperm a germ-cell, and then We create out of the germ-cell an embryonic lump, and then We create within the embryonic lump bones, and then We clothe the bones with flesh – and then We bring [all) this into being as a new creation:5 hallowed, therefore, is God, the best of artisans!


Lit., “Cause me to alight with a blessed alighting” – i.e., in a blessed condition of alighting, or at a blessed place of alighting (Tabari); both these meanings are implied in the word “destination”.

23:15 And then, behold! after all this, you are destined to die. 


Lit., “the best of all who cause [man] to alight”, i.e., at his true destination. In this prayer enjoined upon Noah – and, by implication, on every believer – the story of the ark is raised to symbolic significance: it reveals itself as a parable of the human soul’s longing for divine illumination, which alone can show man how to save himself and reach his true destination in the realm of the spirit as well as in worldly life.

23:16 And then, behold! you shall be raised from the dead on Resurrection Day.


Lit., “a generation (qarn) of others”. For a wider meaning of the term qarn. see surah 6, note 5.

23:17 And, indeed, We have created above you seven [celestial] orbits; and never are We unmindful of [any aspect of Our) creation.


Most of the classical commentators assume that the apostle referred to in verses 32-4l is Hud, the prophet of the tribe of Ad (see surah 7, note 48). Since, however, this passage contains elements appearing in the stories of many prophets – including that of the Prophet Muhammad – I am of the opinion that it has a general import: namely, an allusion to all of God’s apostles and to the ever-recurring similarity of their experiences.

23:18 And We send down water from the skies in accordance with a measure [set by Us], and then We cause it to lodge in the earth: but, behold, We are most certainly able to withdraw this [blessing)!


Thus Tabari interprets the concise but meaningful phrase atrafnahum fi ‘l-hayati ‘d-dunya. For a fuller explanation of the verb tarifa, see note 147 on 11:116.

23:19 And by means of this [water] We bring forth for you gardens of date-palms and vines, wherein you have fruit abundant and whereof you eat. 


Lit., “they will surely become of those who feel remorse”.

23:20 As well as a tree that issues from [the lands adjoining] Mount Sinai,8 yielding oil and relish for all to eat.


The expression bi’l-haqq (lit., “in accordance with the truth” or “with justice”) combines in this instance the concepts of justice, wisdom, reality, inescapability, and consonance with the exigencies of the case under consideration (Righib), and can be only approximately rendered in translation.


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.
Back to top button