In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace.
26:1 Ta Sin Mim.
The letters ta, sin and mim are among the mysterious, disjointed letter-symbols (al muqatta’at) preceding some of the chapters of the Qur’an (see Appendix II).
26:2 These are messages of the divine writ, clear in itself and clearly showing the truth.
See surah 12, note 2.
26:3 Wouldst thou, perhaps, torment thyself to death [with grief] because they [who live around thee] refuse to believe (in it)?
See notes 3 and 4 on 18:6.
26:4 Had We so willed, We could have sent down unto them a message from the skies, so that their necks would [be forced to] bow down before it in humility.
Inasmuch as the spiritual value of man’s faith depends on its being an outcome of free choice and not of compulsion, the visible or audible appearance of a “message from the skies” would, by its very obviousness, nullify the element of free choice and, therefore, deprive man’s faith in that message of all its moral significance.
26:5 [But We have not willed it] and so, whenever there comes unto them any fresh reminder from the Most Gracious, they [who are blind of heart] always turn their backs upon it.
See 6:4-5 and the corresponding note 4.
26:6 Thus, indeed, have they given the lie [to this message as well]. But [in time] they will come to understand what it was that they were wont to deride!
The above two verses appear eight times in this surah. Apart from the present instance, they conclude, like a refrain, each of the subsequent seven stories of earlier prophets, which – by means of their, in places, almost identical phrasing – are meant to stress the essential identity of the ethical teachings of all the prophets, as well as to illustrate the statement, in verse 5, that a rejection of God’s messages is a recurrent phenomenon in the history of mankind despite the fact that His existence is clearly manifested in all living creatures.
26:7 Have they, then, never considered the earth – how much of every noble kind [of life] We have caused to grow thereon?
Lit., “Will they not be [or “become”] conscious [of me]?” Zamakhshari and Razi understand this rhetorical question in the sense apparent in my rendering, namely, as a statement of fact.
26:8 In this, behold, there is a message [unto men], even though most of them will not believe (in it).
Cf. 20:25-34 and the corresponding notes. In the present context, stress is laid on the deep humility of Moses, who considered himself incapable of fulfilling the task for which he had been chosen and asked God to entrust it to Aaron instead.
26:9 But, Verily, thy Sustainer – He alone – is almighty, a dispenser of Grace!
Sc., “and thus frustrate my mission”. This is a reference to Moses’ killing of the Egyptian, which was the cause of his subsequent flight from his native land (cf. 28:15 ff.).
26:10 Hence, [remember how it was] when thy Sustainer summoned Moses, “Go unto those evildoing people”.
Lit., “thou didst commit thy deed which thou hast committed” – a construction meant to express the speaker’s utter condemnation of the deed referred to: hence, my interpolation of the word “heinous”. As regards the above allusions to Moses’ childhood and youth at Pharaoh’s court, the manslaughter committed by him, and his flight from Egypt, see 28:4-22.