Chapter Scripts

Surah Al-Nahl: 16:121-128

16:121 [For he was always] grateful for the blessings granted by Him who had elected him and guided him onto a straightway.


This may relate either to life in this world – inasmuch as a true believer invariably finds happiness in his God-consciousness – or to the happiness which awaits him in the hereafter, or to both.

16:122 And so We vouchsafed him good in this world; and, verily, in the life to come [too] he shall find himself among the righteous.


The present passage (verses 98-105) evidently connects with the broad ethical exhortation given in verse 90 above and, thus, with the statement (in verse 89) that the Qur’an is meant “to make everything clear and to provide guidance and grace and a glad tiding unto all who have surrendered themselves to God” – which, in its turn, implies that the Qur’an is the ultimate source of all God-willed ethical and moral values, and thus an unchanging criterion of good and evil. But since man is always, by virtue of his nature, prone to question the very validity of the moral standards established through revelation, the believer is now called upon to seek, whenever he reads or meditates on this divine writ, God’s spiritual aid against the whisperings of what the Qur’an describes as “Satan, the accursed” – that is, all the evil forces, both within man’s own soul and within his social environment, which tend to undermine his moral convictions and to lead him away from God.

16:123 And lastly, We have inspired thee, [O Muhammad, with this message:] “Follow the creed of Abraham, who turned away from all that is false, and was not of those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God.


Or: “who make him their master”. Cf. in this connection 14:22 and the corresponding note 31.

16:124 [And know that the observance of] the Sabbath was ordained only for those who came to hold divergent views about him; but, verily, God will judge between them on Resurrection Day with regard to all on which they were wont to differ.


i.e., inasmuch as they pay an almost worshipful reverence to such blandishments as wealth, power, social position, etc.

16:125 Call Thou (all mankind] unto thy Sustainer’s path with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them in the most kindly manner – for, behold, thy Sustainer knows best as to who strays from His path, and best knows He as to who are the right-guided.


i.e., by substituting the message of the Qur’an for the earlier dispensations – and not, as some Muslim scholars maintain, “abrogating” one Qur’anic verse and replacing it by another. (Regarding the untenable “doctrine of abrogation”, in the latter sense, see 2:106 and the corresponding note 87; see also note 35 on 41:42.)

16:126 Hence, if you have to respond to an attack (in argument], respond only to the extent of the attack leveled against you; but to bear yourselves with patience is indeed far better for (you, since God is with] those who are patient in adversity.


i.e., the gradualness of revelation (implied in the verbal form yunazzil) corresponds to God’s plan, according to which He has gradually unfolded His will to man, substituting one dispensation for another in the measure of mankind’s intellectual and social development, bringing it to its culmination in the message of the Qur’an.

16:127 Endure, then, with patience (all that they who deny the truth may say] – always remembering that it is none but God who gives thee the strength to endure adversity – and does not grieve over them, and neither be distressed by the false arguments which they devise. 


i.e., they do not understand the necessity of a new dispensation and, therefore, do not really understand the Qur’an.

16:128 For, verily, God is with those who are conscious of Him and are doers of good withal!


As in the three other places in which the expression ruh al-qudus occurs (2:87 and 253, and 5:110),1 am rendering it here, too, as “holy inspiration” (see surah 2, note 71), a term which, to my mind, is a Qur’anic synonym for “divine revelation”. However, a literal rendering-“spirit of holiness” – is also possible if one applies this term to the angel who communicates God’s revelations to the prophets.


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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