In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace.
42:1 Ha. Mim.
See Appendix II.
42:2 ‘Ayn Sin Qaf.
i.e., the basic truths propounded in the Qur’anic revelation – some of which are summarized in the sequence – are the same as those revealed to all the earlier prophets.
42:3 Thus has God, the Almighty, the Wise, revealed [the truth] unto thee, [O Muhammad] and unto those who preceded thee.
i.e., all human beings (as indicated by the relative pronoun man, which always refers to beings endowed with conscious intelligence). The implication is that whereas all humans – whether believers or unbelievers – are liable to err and to sin, God “is full of forgiveness unto men despite all their evildoing” (13:6). See also the first sentence of 10:11 and the corresponding note 17.
42:4 His is all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth; and most exalted, tremendous is He.
Cf; 14:4 – “never have We sent forth any apostle otherwise than [with a message] in his own people’s tongue”: see also note 72 on the first sentence of 13:37.
42:5 The uppermost heavens are well-nigh rent asunder [for awe of Him], and the angels extol their Sustainer’s limitless glory and praise and ask forgiveness for all who are on earth. Oh, Verily, God alone is Truly-Forgiving, a Dispenser of Grace!
i.e., all mankind (Tabari, Baghawi, Razi). As regards the designation of Mecca as “the foremost of all cities”, see note 75 on the identical phrase in 6:92.
42:6 Now as for those who take aught beside Him for their protectors – God watches them, and thou art not responsible for their conduct.
The implication being, “but He has not willed it”: see the second paragraph of 5:48 and the corresponding notes 66 and 67; 16:93 and note 116; also note 29 on 10:19.
42:7 [Thou art but entrusted with Our message] and so We have revealed unto thee a discourse in the Arabic tongue in order that thou mayest warn the foremost of all cities and all who dwell around it – to wit, warn [them) of the Day of the Gathering, [the coming of) which is beyond all doubt, [the Day when] some shall find themselves in paradise, and some in the blazing flame.
Or: “He admits whomever He wills unto His grace” – similar to the double meaning inherent in the oft-recurring phrase, Allahu yahdi man yasha’u wa-yudillu man yasha’u, which can be understood either as “God guides whomever He wills and lets go astray whomever He wills”, or, alternatively, as “God guides him that wills [to be guided] and let go astray him that wills [to go astray]”. See, in particular, Zamakhshari’s elaborate comment on this problem quoted in note 4 on the second half of 14:4.
42:8 Now had God so willed, He could surely have made them all one single community: nonetheless, He admits unto His grace him that wills [to be admitted] whereas the evildoers shall have none to protect them and none to succour them [on Judgment Day].
This, connecting with the first sentence of verse 8 above, evidently relates to problems of faith and religious law (Baghawi, Zamakhshari). The above verse has provided some of the great exponents of Islamic Law – Ibn Hazm among them – with one of the main arguments against the acceptance of deductions by analogy (qiyas) as a means to “establish” points of religious law not formulated as such in the nass – i.e., the self-evident (zahir) wording of the Qur’an and, by obvious implication, of the Prophet’s commandments. This, as Razi points out, is the meaning of the phrase “on whatever you may differ, the verdict (hukm) thereon rests with God”. (See in this connection note 120 on 5:101; also the section on “The Scope of Islamic Law” in my State and Government, pp.11-15.)
42:9 Did they, perchance, [think that they could] choose protectors other than Him? But God alone is the Protector [of all that exists] since it is He alone who brings the dead to life, and He alone who has the power to will anything.
See note 81 on 16:72.
42:10 And on whatever you may differ, [O believers] the verdict thereon rests with God. [Say, therefore] “Such is God, my Sustainer, in Him have I placed my trust, and unto Him do I always turn!”
The preceding allusion to the God-willed function of sex and, hence, to the polarity and multiplicity evident in all animated nature – man and animal alike – is meant to stress the above statement of the oneness and absolute uniqueness of God. The phrase “there is nothing like unto Him” implies that He is fundamental – and not merely in His attributes – “different” from anything that exists or could exist, or anything that man can conceive or imagine or define (see note 88 on 6:100); and since “there is nothing that could be compared with Him” (112:4), even the “how” of His being “different” from everything else is beyond the categories of human thought.