Chapter Scripts

Surah Al-Mu’minun: 23:51-60

23:51 O You Apostles! Partake of the good things of life, and do righteous deeds: verily, I have full knowledge of all that you do.


Lit., “they are indeed liars” – i.e., they deceive themselves by asserting that they believe in God and, at the same time, rejecting the idea of a life after death, which – in view of the fact that many wrongdoers prosper in this world while much righteous lead a life of suffering – is insolubly bound up with the concept of divine justice. Apart from this, a denial of the possibility of resurrection implies a doubt as to God’s unlimited power and, thus, of His Godhead in the true sense of this concept. This latter doubt often finds its expression in the mystic belief in a multiplicity of divine powers: and it is to this erroneous belief that the next verse alludes.

23:52 And, verily, this community of yours is one single community since I am the Sustainer of you all: remain, then, conscious of Me!


This allusion to the pre-Islamic Arabian belief in angels as “God’s daughters” and the Christian dogma of Jesus’ “sonship of God” connects with the statement “they are intent on lying [to themselves]”, which has been explained in the preceding note.

23:53 But they [who claim to follow you] have torn their unity wide asunder, piece by piece, each group delighting in [but] what they themselves possess [by way of tenets].


This is how almost all the classical commentators explain the phrase la-dhahaba bi-ma khalaqa (lit., “would surely have taken away whatever he had created”), implying that in such a hypothetical case each of the gods would have been concerned only with his own sector of creation, thus causing complete confusion in the universe.

23:54 But leave them alone, lost in their ignorance, until a [future] time.


See note 88 on 6:100.

23:55 Do they think that by all the wealth and offspring with which We provide them. 


See surah 6, note 65.

23:56 We [but want to] make them vie with one another in doing [what they consider] good works? Nay, but they do not perceive [their error]!


Lit., “to show me” [Sc., “in my lifetime”]. According to Zamakhshari, the combination of the conditional particle in (“if”) with ma (“that which” or “whatever”) – spelt and pronounced imma – endows the verb turini (lit., “Thow wilt show me”) with the quality of in tnnsic necessity – thus: “If it is inevitable (la budd) that Thou show me [or “let me witness”]…”, etc. In translation, this particular phrasing is best rendered as above, since anything that is God’s will becomes eo ipso inevitable.

23:57 Verily, [only] they who stand in reverent awe of their Sustainer. 


See surah 13, note 44. In the present context, the evil referred to consists – as the next clause shows – in blasphemous attempts at “defining” God (cf. verse 91); but the ethical principle implied in the above injunction is the same as that expressed in the last clause of 13:22 as well as in 41:34 – namely, that evil must not be countered with another evil but, rather, repelled by an act of goodness.

23:58 And who believe in their Sustainer’s messages. 


Lit., “of the satans” or “satanic forces”: see note 10 on 2:14.

23:58 And who do not ascribe divinity to aught but their Sustainer. 


Cf. verses 74 and 90 above, with which the present passage connects.

23:60 And who give whatever they [have to] give with their hearts trembling at the thought that unto their Sustainer they must return.

Most of the commentators regard the plural form of address in the verb irji’uni (“let me return”) as an expression of reverence. Since, however, the Qur’an offers no other instance of God’s being addressed in the plural (in contrast with the frequent use of the plural in His speaking of Himself), Baydawi suggests – on the strength of examples from pre-Islamic poetry – that this plural form of address is equivalent to an emphatic repetition of the singular form irji’ni hence the repetition of this phrase in my rendering.


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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