Chapter Scripts

Surah Hud: 11:1-10

In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace.

11:1 Alif. Lam. Ra. A DIVINE WRIT [is this], with messages that have been made clear in and by themselves, and have been distinctly spelled out as well- [bestowed upon you] out of the grace of One who is wise, all-aware.

Explanation

See Appendix II. In the somewhat strange opinion of Sibawayh (cf. Manar XII, 3) and of Razi in his commentary on this verse, the letters Alif-Lam-Ra represent the title of this surah, and ought, therefore, to be read in conjunction with the following sentence, thus: “Alif-Lam-Ra is a divine writ…”, etc. However, this opinion conflicts sharply with that of several earlier authorities of great standing, e.g., Az-Zajjaj (quoted by Razi), and is, moreover, unacceptable in view of the fact that a number of other surahs are preceded by such letter-symbols without any syntactic possibility of their being regarded as “titles”.

11:2 So that you may worship none but God. [Say, O Prophet:] “Behold, I come unto you from Him [as] a warner and a bearer of glad tidings.

Explanation

According to Zamakhshari and Razi, the conjunction thumma at the beginning of the clause thumma fussilat (lit., “and then have been distinctly spelled out”) does not denote a sequence in time but, rather, co-ordination of qualities or conditions; therefore my rendering. As regards my translation of the phrase uhkimat ayatuhu as “messages that have been made clear in and by themselves”, see the first sentence of 3:7 as well as the corresponding note 5, which explains the expression ayat muhkamat. Rashid Rida’ interprets this phrase in the same sense.

11:3 Ask your Sustainer to forgive you your sins, and then turn towards Him in repentance – [whereupon] He will grant you a goodly enjoyment of life [in this world] until a term set [by Him is fulfilled]; and [in the life to come] He will bestow upon everyone possessed of merit [a full reward for] his merit. But if you turn away, then, verily, I dread for you the suffering [which is bound to befall you] on that awesome Day!

Explanation

The conjunction an (“that”) preceding the next sentence (“that you shall…”, etc.) is in this rendering expressed by means of a colon. The interpolation. between brackets, of the words “Say, O Prophet” is necessitated by the first-person construction of this sentence. The subsequent passage – up to the end of verse 4 – outlines both the “warning” and the “glad tidings” referred to above, and thus circumscribes elliptically the whole of the message entrusted to the Prophet.

(11:4 Unto God you all must return: and He has the power to will anything.”

Explanation

i.e., “till the end of your lives” (for an explanation of the term ajal musamma, see note 2 on 6:2). Since God, in His unfathomable wisdom, does not always grant worldly happiness and material benefits to everyone who believes in Him and lives righteously, it is only reasonable to assume – as Rashid Rida’ does in Manar XII, 7 ff. – that the “goodly enjoyment of life” (i.e., in this world) promised in the above sentence relates to the community of the believers as a whole, and not necessarily to individuals. (Cf. 3:139 – “you are bound to rise high if you are [truly] believers”).

11:5 Oh, Verily, they [who are bent on denying the truth of this divine writ] are enshrouding their hearts in order to hide from Him. Oh, verily, [even] when they cover themselves with their garments [in order not to see or hear], He knows all that they keep secret as well as all that they bring into the open – for, behold, He has full knowledge of what is in the hearts [of men].

Explanation

The noun fadl, when used with reference to God, invariably denotes “bounty” or “favor”; in its reference to man, it usually signifies “merit” or, occasionally, “eminence”. The above verse makes it clear that, in contrast to the partial and often only moral rewards and punishments in the life of this world, God will, in the life to come, bestow the full measure of His favors upon everyone who has acquired merit by virtue of his faith and his actions. (Cf. 3:185 – “only on the Day of Resurrection will you be requited in full for whatever you have done”).

11:6 And there is no living creature on earth but depends for its sustenance on God, and He knows its time-limit [on earth] and its resting-place [after death]: all [this] is laid down in [His] clear decree.

Explanation

Lit., “the suffering of a great Day”. See in this connection 9:128.

11:7 And He it is Who has created the heavens and the earth in six eons; and [ever since He has willed to create life,] the throne of His almightiness has rested upon the water. [God reminds you of your dependence on Him] in order to test you [and thus to make manifest] which of you is best in conduct. For thus it is: if thou sayest [unto men], “Behold, you shall be raised again after death!” – they who are bent on denying the truth are sure to answer, “This is clearly nothing but an enchanting delusion.

Explanation

Since the people referred to in this verse obviously do not believe in the divine origin of Muhammad’s message, their “hiding from God” can have, in this context, only one meaning namely, that of a metaphor for their unwillingness to listen to the truth which emanates from Him: and this also explains the statement that they are “enshrouding their hearts” (lit., “bosoms”, as at the end of this verse), i.e., are allowing their hearts and minds to remain wrapped-up in prejudices, thus making them impervious to spiritual perception.

11:8 And thus it is: if We defer their suffering until a time-limit set [by Us], they are sure to say, “What is preventing it [from coming now]?” Oh, verily, on the Day when it befalls them there will be nothing to avert it from them; and they shall be overwhelmed by the very thing which they were wont to deride.

Explanation

The above interpolation corresponds to the meaning given to the preceding phrase by most of the lexicographers.

11:9 And thus it is: if We let man taste some of Our grace, and then take it away from him – behold, he abandons all hope, forgetting all gratitude [for Our past favors].

Explanation

For this rendering of mustaqarr and mustawda’, see note 83 on 6:98. The above reference to God’s all-embracing knowledge connects with the end of the preceding verse (“He has full knowledge of all that is in the hearts of men”).

11:10 And thus it is: if We let him taste ease and plenty after hardship has visited him, he is sure to say, “Gone is all affliction from me!”- for, behold, he is given to vain exultation, and glories only in himself.

Explanation

As regards my rendering of ayyam (lit., “days”) as “aeons” and ‘arsh as the “throne of [God’s] Almightiness”, see Sarah 7, note 43. The symbolic reference to “the throne of His almightiness resting upon water” would seem to point to the God-willed evolution of all life out of water – a fact clearly brought out by the Qur’an (see 21:30 and the corresponding note 39) and in modern times confirmed by biological research. This tentative interpretation is strengthened by the mention, in the preceding verse, of “living creatures”. My interpolation, between brackets, of the phrase “ever since He has willed to create life” is in accordance with the views advanced by Rashid Rida’ in his lengthy commentary on this verse.

President

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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