Chapter Scripts

Surah As-Saffat 37:31-40

37:31 But now our Sustainer’s word has come true against us [as well]: verily, we are bound to taste [the fruit of our sins].

Explanation

Abraham’s argument goes thus: “Do you believe in the existence of a Creator and Lord of the universe?” – a question which his people were bound to answer in the affirmative since belief in a Supreme Deity was an integral part of their religion. The next stage of the argument would be: “How, then, can you worship idols – the work of your own hands – side by side with the idea of a Creator of the universe?”

37:32 So then, [if it be true that] we have caused you to err grievously – behold, we ourselves had been lost in grievous error!”

Explanation

Obviously, an allusion to his early, futile attempts at identifying God with the stars, the sun or the moon (see 6:76-78).

37:33 And, verily, on that Day they all will share in their common suffering.

Explanation

Sc., “at your worshipping idols instead of God” (Ibn Kathir; cf. also Lane IV, 1384).

37:34 Verily, thus shall We deal with all who were lost in sin:

Explanation

A metonym for “with all his strength”. For what happened afterwards, see 21:58 ff.

37:35 for, behold, whenever they were told, “There is no deity save God,” they would glory in their arrogance

Explanation

Lit., “a building” or “a structure”.

37:36 and would say, “Shall we, then, give up our deities at the bidding of a mad poet?”

Explanation

See surah 21, note 64.

37:37 Nay, but he [whom you call a mad poet] has brought the truth, and he confirms the truth of [what the earlier of God’s] message-bearers [have taught].

Explanation

Lit., “I shall go to my Sustainer: He will guide me.”

37:38 Behold, you will indeed taste grievous suffering [in the life to come].

Explanation

I.e., Abraham’s first-born son, Ishmael (Isma’il)

37:39 although you shall not be required for aught but what you were wont to do.

Explanation

Lit., “attained to [the age of] walking [or “striving”] with him”: evidently a metonym for the child’s attaining to an age when he could understand, and share in, his father’s faith and aims.

37:40 Not so, however, God’s true servants.

Explanation

The above interpolation is, I believe, absolutely necessary for a proper understanding of this passage. As pointed out repeatedly in these notes, the verb aslama signifies, in Qur’anic usage, “he surrendered himself to God”, or “to God’s will”, even if there is no express mention of God; hence, the dual form aslama occurring in the above verse might, on the face of it, have this meaning as well. Since, however, the sequence clearly shows that it was not God’s will that Ishmael should be sacrificed, his and his father’s “self-surrender to God’s will” can have in this context only a purely subjective meaning- namely “to what they thought to be the will of God”.

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