Chapter Scripts

Surah Ar-Rahman 55:11-20

55:11 With fruit thereon, and palm trees with sheathed clusters [of dates].


Lit., “face”, or “countenance”, a term used metonymically in classical Arabic to denote the “self” or “whole being” of a person – in this case, the essential Being, or Reality, of God. Cf. also 28:88, “Everything is bound to perish, save His [eternal] Self”.

55:12 And grain growing tall on its stalks, and sweet-smelling plants.


Lit., “Him does ask [or “of Him does beg”] whoever is …”, etc.: i.e.; all depend on Him for their safety and sustenance.

55:13 Which, then, of your Sustainer’s powers can you disavow?


Lit., “We shall apply Ourselves to you”

55:14 He has created man out of sounding clay, like pottery.


i.e., “you sin-laden men and women” (see note 4 above). According to an interpretation quoted by Razi, the designation thaqalan (the dual form of thaqal, “a thing of weight”) signifies that both these categories of human beings are liable to, and therefore burdened. with, sinning.

55:15 Whereas the invisible beings He has created out of a confusing flame of fire.


For an explanation of this rendering of ma’shar al-jinn wa-‘l-ins, see note 112 on the first
paragraph of 6:128.

55:16 Which, then, of your Sustainer’s powers can you disavow?


I.e., in order to escape God’s judgment and chastisement.

55:17 [He is] the Sustainer of the two farthest points of sunrise, and the Sustainer of the two farthest points of sunset.


i.e., “unless He wills to reprieve you”: cf. the last paragraph of 6:128 and the corresponding note 114.

55:18 Which, then, of your Sustainer’s powers can you disavow?


This is one of several legitimate interpretations of the term dihan (see Tabari); another is “freshly tanned [or “red”] leather”, synonymous with adim (Zamakhshari); and yet another, “dregs of olive oil” (Raghib). All these interpretations have one idea in common – namely, the sudden and surprising change (or changes) of color to which the sky will be subject at the Last Hour.

55:19 He has given the freedom to the two great bodies of water so that they might meet. 


i.e., the sinners “will find all that they ever wrought [nowl facing them” (18:49), and “their own tongues and hands and feet will bear witness against them by [recalling] all that they did” (24:24).

55:20 [Yet] between them is a barrier which they may not transgress.


This is an allusion to their utter humiliation and disgrace. When the ancient Arabs wanted to stress someone’s subjection to another person, they would say, “His forelock is in the hand of so-and-so.” (See also 96:15-16 and the corresponding note 8).


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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