Chapter Scripts

Surah Ash-Shura 42:11-20

42:11 The Originator [is He] of the heavens and the earth. He has given you mates of your own kind – just as [He has willed that] among the beasts [there be] mates – to multiply you thereby, [but) there is nothing like unto Him, and He alone is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.


i.e., He knows not only what every human being “deserves”, but also what is intrinsically – though not always perceptibly – good and necessary in the context of His plan of creation. Moreover, all that exists belongs to Him alone, and man is allowed no more than the usufruct of what is commonly regarded as “property”.

42:12 His are the keys of the heavens and the earth, He grants abundant sustenance, or gives it in scant measure, unto whomever He wills, for, Behold, He has full knowledge of everything.


See the first paragraph of note 249 on 2:256. Since, as the sequence shows, the term din cannot apply in this context to “religion” in its widest connotation, including religious laws – which, by their very nature, have been different in each successive dispensation (cf. note 66 on 5:48) – it obviously denotes here only the ethical and spiritual contents of religion, i.e., “faith” in its most general sense. With this verse, the discourse returns to the theme sounded at the beginning of this surah, namely, the unchanging sameness of the spiritual and moral principles underlying all revealed religions.

42:13 In matters of faith, He has ordained for you that which He had enjoined upon Noah – and into which We gave thee [O Muhammad] insight through revelation – as well as that which We had enjoined upon Abraham, and Moses, and Jesus, Steadfastly uphold the [true] faith and do not break up your unity therein. [And even though] that [unity of faith] to which thou callest them appears oppressive to those who are wont to ascribe to other beings or forces a share in His divinity, God draws unto Himself everyone who is willing, and guides unto Himself everyone who turns unto Him.


Lit., “which We have revealed unto thee”, implying that it was only through revelation that the Prophet Muhammad came to know “that which God had enjoined upon Noah”.

42:14 And [as for the followers of earlier revelation] they broke up their unity, out of mutual jealousy,  only after they had come to know [the truth]. And had it not been for a decree that had already gone forth from thy Sustainer, [postponing all decision] until a term set [by Him], all would indeed have been decided between them [from the outset]. As it is, Behold, they who have inherited their divine writ from those who preceded them are [now] in grave doubt, amounting to suspicion, about what it portends.


Cf. 3:19 – “the only [true) religion in the sight of God is [man’s) self-surrender unto Him”; and 3:85 – “if one goes in search of a religion other than self-surrender unto God, it will never be accepted from him”. Parallel with this principle, enunciated by all of God’s apostles, is the categorical statement in 21:92 and 23:52 – “Verily, [O you who believe in Me,] this community of yours is one single community since I am the Sustainer of you all”. Most of the great commentators (e.g., Zamakhshari, Razi, Ibn Kathir) understand this as an unequivocal reference to the ecumenical unity of all religions based on belief in the One God, notwithstanding all the differences with regard to “the [specific] statutes and practices enjoined for the benefit of the various communities in accordance with their [time-bound] conditions (‘ala hasab ahwaliha)”, as expressed by Zamakhshari in his comments on the verse under discussion.

42:15 Because of this, then, summon [all mankind], and pursue the right course, as thou hast been bidden [by God], and do not follow their likes and dislikes, but say “I believe in whatever revelation God has bestowed from on high, and I am bidden to bring about equity in your mutual views. God is our Sustainer as well as your Sustainer. To us shall be accounted our deeds, and to you, your deeds. Let there be no contention between us and you: God will bring us all together – for with Him is all journeys’ end.”


Lit., “they did not break up their unity until after knowledge had come to them” – i.e., the knowledge that God is one, and that the teachings of all of His prophets were essentially the same. Cf. 2:213 and, more explicitly, 23:53, which comes immediately after the statement that “this community of yours is one single community” (see also note 30 on 23:53).

42:16 And as for those who would [still] argue about God after He has been acknowledged [by them] – all their arguments are null and void in their Sustainer’s sight, and upon them will fall [His]  condemnation, and for them is suffering severely in store.


For an explanation of this passage, see note 29 on 10:19

42:17 [For] it is God [Himself] who has bestowed revelation from on high, setting forth the truth, and [thus given man] a balance [wherewith to weigh right and wrong].  And for all, thou knowest, the Last Hour may well be near!


Lit., “who have become heirs to the divine writ after them”: obviously referring to the Bible and its followers in later times.

42:18 Those who do not believe in it [mockingly] ask for its speedy advent – whereas those who have attained to faith stand in awe of it, and know it to be the truth. Oh, verily, they who call the Last Hour in question have indeed gone far astray!


Lit., “about it” – i.e., in doubt as to whether the relevant scripture has really been revealed by God, and, ultimately, as to whether there is any truth in the concept of “divine revelation” as such.

42:19 God is most kind unto His creatures, He provides sustenance for whomever He wills – for He alone is Powerful, Almighty!


i.e., because of this breach of the original unity of men’s faith in the One God.

42:20 To him who desires a harvest in the life to come, We shall grant an increase in his harvest; whereas to him who desires [but] a harvest in this world, We [may] give something thereof – but he will have no share in [the blessings of] the life to come.


Lit., “between you” – i.e., “to induce you to be more tolerant of one another”: evidently an allusion to the bitterness which stands in the way of an understanding between the various sects and schools of thought in all revealed religions.


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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