Chapter Scripts

Surah Sajdah: 32:11-20

32:11 Say “[One day] the angel of death who has been given charge of you will gather you, and then unto your Sustainer, you will be brought back.”


Sc., “and thus, by implication, they deny His existence”. (Cf. notes 11 and 12 on 13:5).

32:12 If thou couldst but see [how it will be on Judgment Day) when those who are lost in sin will hang their heads before their Sustainer, [saying] “O our Sustainer! [Now] we have seen, and we have heard! Return us, then, [to our earthly life] that we may do good deeds: for [now], behold, we are certain [of the truth]!”


Lit., “We could indeed have given unto every human being (nafs) his guidance”, i.e., forcibly: but since this would have deprived man of his ability to choose between right and wrong – and, thus, of all moral responsibility – God does not “impose” His guidance upon anyone (cf. 26:4 and the corresponding note).

32:13 Yet had We so willed, We could indeed have imposed Our guidance upon every human being: but [We have not willed it thus – and so] that word of Mine has come true “Most certainly will I fill hell with invisible beings as well as with humans, all together!”


See 7 :18 as well as the last paragraph of 11: 119. As regards the “invisible beings” (jinn), see Appendix III.

32:14 [And He will say unto the sinners] “Taste, then, [the recompense] for your having been oblivious of the coming of this your Day [of Judgment] – For, Verily, We are [now] oblivious of you, taste, then, [this] abiding suffering for all [the evil] that you were wont to do!”


Lit., “whose sides [i.e.. bodies] restlessly rise”.

32;15 Only they [truly] believe in Our messages who, whenever they are conveyed to them, fall down, prostrating themselves in adoration, and extol their Sustainer’s limitless glory and praise; and who are never filled with false pride. 


Lit., “what is kept hidden for them [by way] of a joy of the eyes”, i.e., of blissful delights, irrespective of whether seen, heard, or felt. The expression “what is kept hidden for them” clearly alludes to the unknowable – and, therefore, only allegorically describable – the quality of life in the hereafter. The impossibility of man’s really “imagining” paradise has been summed up by the Prophet in the well-authenticated hadith; “God says: ‘I have readied for My righteous servants what no eye has ever seen, and no ear has ever heard, and no heart of man has ever conceived”‘ (Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Abu Hurayrah; also Tirmidhi). This hadith has always been regarded by the Companions as the Prophet’s own comment on the above verse'(cf. Fath al-Bari VIII, 418 f.).

32:16 [And] who are impelled to rise from their beds [at night] to call out to their Sustainer in fear and hope, and who spend on others out of what We provide for them as sustenance.


Lit., “nearer”, i:e., in this world: for an explanation, see note 27 on 52:47.

32:17 And [as for all such believers] no human being can imagine what blissful delights, as yet hidden, await them [in the life to come] as a reward for all that they did.


Lit., “so that they might return [to righteousness]”.

32:18 Is, then, he who [in his earthly life] was a believer to be compared with one who was iniquitous? [Nay] these two are not equal!


With this passage, the discourse returns to the theme enunciated at the beginning of this surah – namely, the divine origin of the revelation granted to Muhammad, which, as the present passage points out, proceeds from the same source as that granted to Moses (the last of the great apostles of God accepted as such by all the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). Furthermore, the identity of the fundamental truths in all divine revelations, stressed in the above verse, implies an identity of the moral demands made of the followers of those revelations irrespective of period, race, or social environment.

32:19 As for those who attain to faith and do righteous deeds – gardens of rest await them, as a welcome [from God], in a result of what they did. 


i.e., in accordance with the divine ordinances enunciated in and for their time in the Torah: an allusion to the decline of faith, frequently mentioned in the Qur’an, among the children of Israel of later times, and the tendency among many of their leaders and learned men to corrupt the text of the Torah and, thus, to “overlay the truth with falsehood” (see, e.g., 2:42, 75, 79, and the corresponding notes). 

32:20 But as for those who are lost in iniquity – their goal is the fire: as oft as they will try to come out of it, they will be thrown back into it, and they will be told, “Taste [now] this suffering through fire which you were wont to call a lie!”


This interpolation reflects Zamakhshari’s commentary on the above passage, to the effect that the Qur’an is destined to provide guidance and light so long as the community’s religious leaders are patient in adversity and steadfast in their faith: an interpretation which implies that the Qur’an will cease to be of benefit to people who have lost their moral virtues and their faith.


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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