Chapter Scripts

Surah Fussilat 41:11-20

41:11 And He [it is who] applied His design to the skies, which were [yet but] smoke, and He [it is who] said to them and to the earth, “Come [into being], both of you, willingly or unwillingly!” – to which both responded, “We do come in obedience.”


Whenever the particle thumma is used, as in the above instance, to link parallel statements -i.e., statements not necessarily indicating a sequence in time it has the function of simple conjunction and may be rendered as “and”.

41:12 And He [it is who] decreed that they become seven heavens in two aeons, and imparted unto each heaven its function. And We adorned the skies nearest to the earth with lights and made them secure: such is the ordaining of the Almighty, the All-Knowing.


i.e., a gas – evidently hydrogen gas, which physicists regard as the primal element from which all material particles of the universe have evolved and still evolving. For the meaning of the term sama (“sky” or “skies” or “heaven”) in its cosmic connotation, see note 20 on 2:29.

41:13 But if they turn away, say, “I warn you of [the coming of] a thunderbolt of punishment like the thunderbolt [that fell upon the tribes] of ‘Ad and Thamud!”


Explaining this passage, Zamakhshari observes: “The meaning of God’s command to the skies and the earth to ‘come’, and their submission [to His command] is this: He willed their coming into being, and so they came to be as He willed them to be…: and this is the kind of metaphor (majaz) which is called ‘allegory’ (tamthil)… Thus, the purport [of this passage] is but an illustration (taswir) of the effect of His almighty power on all that is willed [by Him], and nothing else….” (It is obvious that Zamakhshari’s reasoning is based on the oft-repeated Qur’anic statement, “When God wills a thing to be, He but says unto it, ‘Be’ – and it is.”) Concluding his interpretation of the above passage, Zamakshari adds: “If I am asked about the meaning of [the words] ‘willingly or unwillingly, I say that it is a figurative expression (mathal) indicating that His almighty will must inevitably take effect.”

41:14 Lo! There came unto them [God’s] apostles, speaking of what lay open before them and what was [still) beyond their ken, [and calling unto them,] “Worship none but God!” They answered: “If our Sustainer had willed [us to believe in what you say], He would have sent down angels [as His message-bearers], As it is, Behold, we deny that there is any truth in what you [claim to] have been sent with!”


i.e., a multiplicity of cosmic systems (cf. note 20 on 2:29).

41:15 Now as for [the tribe of) ‘Ad, they walked arrogantly on the earth, [offending] against all right, and saying, “Who could have a power greater than ours?” Why – were they, then, not aware that God, who created them, had a power greater than theirs? But they went on rejecting Our messages. 


Cf. 15:l6-l8 and the corresponding notes 16 and 17; also 37:6 ff

41:16 And thereupon We let loose upon them a storm wind raging through days of misfortune, so as to give them, in the life of this world, a foretaste of suffering through humiliation: but [their] suffering in the life to come will be far more humiliating, and they will have none to succor them.


This connects with the opening sentence of verse 9 above: “Would you indeed deny Him who
has created…”, etc.

41:17 And as for [the tribe of] Thamud, We offered them guidance, but they chose blindness in preference to guidance: and so the thunderbolt of shameful suffering fell upon them as an outcome of all [the evil] that they had wrought. 


See note 40 on 2:55.

41:18 And We saved [only] those who had attained to faith and were conscious of Us.


For the story of these two ancient tribes, see 7:65-79 and the corresponding notes, in particular, 48 and 56; also 26:123-158.

41:19 Hence, [warn all men of] the Day when the enemies of God shall be gathered together before the fire, and they shall be driven onward. 


Lit., “from between their hands and from behind them”: i.e., reminding them of something that was known to them – namely, what happened to sinners like themselves who lived before their time – and warning them of what was bound to happen in the future to them, too, if they persisted in their denial of the truth (Al-Hasan al-Basri, as quoted by Zamakhshari). However, it is possible to understand the above phrase (which has been explained in note 247 on 2:255) in yet another, more direct way: God’s message-bearers pointed out to those sinning communities something that should have been obvious to them (lit.,” between their hands”) – namely, their patently wrong attitude in their worldly, social concerns and moral concepts – as well as the unreasonableness of their denying something that was still beyond their ken (lit., “behind them”): namely, life after death and God’s ultimate judgment.

41:20 Till, when they come close to it, their hearing and their sight and their [very] skins will bear witness against them, speaking of what they were doing [on earth].


Cf. 6:8-9 and 15:7


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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