Chapter Scripts

Surah Muhammad 47:11-20

47:11 This, because God is the Protector of all who have attained faith, whereas they who deny the truth have no protector.


See note 116 on 6:131. It is said that this verse was revealed on the first night of the Prophet’s hijrah from Mecca to Medina (Tabari, on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas).

47:12 Verily, God will admit all who attain to faith and do righteous deeds into gardens through which running waters flow, whereas they who are bent on denying the truth shall have – even though they may enjoy their life [in this world] and eat as cattle eat – the fire [of the hereafter] for their abode.


Lit., “Is, then, one who takes his stand… like one…, etc.

47:13 And how many a community of greater power than this thy community which has driven thee out, [O Muhammad] have We destroyed, with none to succor them!


My rendering of this verse is based in its entirety on the grammatical construction given to it by Zamakhshari and supported by Razi. In this construction, the parabolic description of paradise – beginning with the phrase “wherein there are rivers, etc., and ending with the words “and forgiveness from their Sustainer” – is a parenthetic passage (jumlah mu’taridah). As for the term “parable” (mathal) itself, it is undoubtedly meant to impress upon those who read or listen to the Qur’an that its descriptions of life in the hereafter are purely allegorical: see in this connection Zamakhshari’s explicit remarks cited in note 65 on 13:35.

47:14 Can, then, he who takes his stand on clear evidence from his Sustainer be likened unto one to whom the evil of his own doings [always] seems goodly, and unto such as would follow but their own lusts?


Cf. 37 : 4S~7, especially verse 47: “no headiness will there be in it, and they will not get drunk thereon”.

47:15 [And can] the parable of the paradise which the God-conscious are promised – [a paradise] wherein there are rivers of water which time does not corrupt, and rivers of milk the taste whereof never alters, and rivers of wine delightful to those who drink it, and rivers of honey of all impurity cleansed, and the enjoyment of all the fruits [of their good deeds] and of forgiveness from their Sustainer, can this [parable of paradise] be likened unto [the parable of the recompense of] such as are to abide in the fire and be given waters of burning despair to drink so that it will tear their bowels asunder?


Lit., “and wherein they [i.e., the God-conscious] will have …, etc.

47:16 Now among those [hapless sinners] are such as [pretend to] listen to thee, [O Muhammad] and then, as soon as they leave thy presence, speak [with scorn] unto those who have understood [thy message] “What is it that he has said just now?” It is such as these whose hearts God has sealed because they [always] followed but their own lusts.


This interpolation reproduces literally Zamakhshari’s explanation of the above ellipticism.

47:17 Just as for those who are [willing to be] guided, He increases their [ability to follow His] guidance and causes them to grow in God-consciousness.


Lit., “exceedingly hot [or “boiling”] water”. For an explanation of this metaphor, see note 62 on 6:70.

47:18 Are, then, they [whose hearts are sealed] waiting for the Last Hour [waiting] that it comes upon them of a sudden? But it has already been foretold! And what will their remembrance [of their past sins] avail them, once it has come upon them?


Cf. 6:25 and 10:42-43.

47:19 Know, then, [O man] that there is no deity save God, and [while there is yet time] ask forgiveness for thy sins and for [the sins of] all other believing men and women, for God knows all your comings and goings as well as your abiding [at rest].


Lit., “unto those who have been given knowledge”, Sc., “of the truth” or “of thy message”: i.e., the believers. The people spoken of in the above are the hypocrites among the contemporaries of the Prophet as well as all people, at all times, who pretend to approach the Qur’anic message with a show of “reverence” but are in their innermost unwilling to admit that there is any sense in it.

47:20 Now those who have attained to faith say, “Would that a revelation [allowing us to fight] was bestowed from on high!” But now that a revelation clear in and by itself, mentioning the war, has been bestowed from on high, thou canst see those in whose hearts is a disease looking at thee, [O Muhammad,] with the look of one who is about to faint for fear of death! And yet, far better for them would be.


i.e., the “sealing” of their hearts (for an explanation of which see note 7 on 2:7) is a consequence of their “following but their own lusts”.


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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