45:11 [To pay heed to God’s signs and messages] this is [the meaning of] guidance, on the other hand, for those who are bent on denying the truth of their Sustainer’s messages there is grievous suffering in store as an outcome of [their] vileness.
i.e., by endowing man, alone among all living beings, with a creative mind and, thus, with the ability to make conscious use of the nature that surrounds him and is within him.
45:12 It is God who has made the sea subservient [to His laws so that it be of use] to you – so that ships might sail through it at His behest, and that you might seek to obtain [what you need] of His bounty, and that you might have cause to be grateful.
Lit., “who do not hope for [i.e., expect] the Days of God”, implying that they do not believe in them. As regards the meaning of “the Days of God”, see surah 14, note 5.
45:13 And He has made subservient to you, [as a gift] from Himself, all that is in the heavens and on earth, in this, behold, there are messages indeed for people who think!
Sc., “in the same way and for the same purpose as We now bestow this revelation of the Qur’an” thus stressing the fact of continuity in all divine revelation.
45:14 Tell all who have attained to faith that they should forgive those who do not believe in the coming of the Days of God, [since it is] for Him [alone] to requite people for whatever they may have earned.
i.e., inasmuch as at that time they were the only truly monotheistic community (cf. 2:47).
45:15 Whoever does what is just and right, does so for his own good, and whoever does evil, does so to his own hurt, and in the end unto your Sustainer, you all will be brought back.
This, I believe, is the meaning of the phrase min al-amr in the above context, although most of the classical commentators are of the opinion that amr signifies here “religion” (din), and interpret the whole phrase, accordingly, as “of what pertains to religion”. Since, however, the common denominator in all the possible meanings of the term amr – e.g., “command”, “injunction”, “ordinance, matter [of concern]”, “event”, “action”, etc. – is the element of purpose, whether implied or explicit, we may safely assume that this is the meaning of the term in the above elliptic phrase, which obviously alludes to the purpose underlying all divine revelation and, consequently, man’s faith in it. Now from the totality of the Qur’anic teachings, becomes apparent that the innermost purpose of all true faith is, firstly, a realization of the existence of God and of every human being’s responsibility to Him; secondly, man’s attaining to a consciousness of his own dignity as a positive element – a logically necessary element – in God’s plan of creation and, thus, achieving freedom from all manner of superstitions and irrational fears; and, lastly, making man aware that whatever good or evil he does is but done for the benefit, or to the detriment, of his own self (as expressed in verse 15 above).
45:16 And, Indeed, [already] unto the children of Israel did We vouchsafe revelation, and wisdom, and prophethood, and We provided for them sustenance out of the good things of life and favored them above all other people [of their time].
See 23:53 and the corresponding note 30.
45:17 And We gave them clear indications of the purpose [of faith], and it was only after all this knowledge had been vouchsafed to them that they began, out of mutual jealousy, to hold divergent views [but] Verily, thy Sustainer will judge between them on Resurrection Day regarding all whereon they were wont to differ.
Lit., “thereafter” or “in the end” (thumma) – i.e., after the failure of the earlier communities to realize the ideal purpose of faith in their actual mode of life.
45:18 And, finally, [O Muhammad] We have set thee on a way by which the purpose [of faith] may be fulfilled, so follow thou this [way], and follow not the likes and dislikes of those who do not know [the truth].
Lit., “on a way of the purpose [of faith]”: see note 15 above. It is to be borne in mind that the literal meaning of the term shari’ah is “the way to a watering-place”, and since water is indispensable for all organic life, this term has in time come to denote a “system of laws”, both moral and practical, which shows man the way towards spiritual fulfillment and social welfare: hence, “religious law” in the widest sense of the term. (See in this connection note 66 on the second part of 5:48.)
45:19 Behold, they could never be of any avail to thee if thou wert to defy the will of God – for, verily, such evildoers are but friends and protectors of one another, whereas God is the Protector of all who are conscious of Him.
i.e., who are not – or not primarily – motivated by God-consciousness and, hence, are swayed only by what they themselves regard as “right” in accordance with worldly, changing circumstances.
45:20 This [revelation, then] is a means of insight for mankind, and a guidance and grace unto people who are endowed with inner certainty.
Lit., “against [i.e., “in defiance of”] God”.