Chapter Scripts

Surah Az-Zumar 39:1-10

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

39:1 The Bestowal from on high of this divine writ issues from God, the Almighty, the Wise.

Explanation

This relates not only to the worship of saints, angels, and “deified” persons as such, but also to that of their symbolic representations (statues, pictures, relics, etc.) and, in the case of defunct human personalities, of their real or reputed tombs. Since all such practices are based on the worshipper’s hope of “mediation” between himself and God, they obviously conflict with the concept of His omniscience and justice, and are, therefore – notwithstanding their widespread occurrence – utterly rejected by the Qur’an.

39:2 For, Behold, it is We who have bestowed this revelation upon thee from on high, setting forth the truth, so worship Him, sincere in thy faith in Him alone!

Explanation

i.e., between those worshippers and the spiritual leaders who have led them astray (cf. 34:31-33).

39:3 Is it not to God alone that all sincere faith is due? And yet, they who take for their protectors aught beside Him [are wont to say], “We worship them for no other reason than that they bring us nearer to God.” Behold, God will judge between them [on Resurrection Day] with regard to all wherein they differ [from the truth], For, Verily, God does not grace with His guidance anyone who is bent on lying [to himself and is] stubbornly ingrate!

Explanation

Cf. 6:22-24 and the corresponding notes.

39:4 Had God willed to take unto Himself a son, He could have chosen anyone that He wanted out of whatever He has created – [but] limitless is He in His glory! He is the One God, the One who holds absolute sway over all that exists!

Explanation

The implication is this: Since God is almighty, He can have or do anything that He wills; and so,  if He wanted, He could “take unto Himself a son” (which is an allusion to the Christian doctrine of Jesus as ‘the son of God”). Since, however, He is “limitless in His glory” – i.e., complete in His excellence and utterly remote from all imperfection – He is ipso facto remote from the incompleteness inherent in the need of, or desire for, progeny, which logically precludes the possibility of His having a “son”. (Cf. the last sentence of 6:100 and the corresponding note 88).

39:5 He it is Who has created the heavens and the earth in accordance with [an inner] truth. He causes the night to flow into the day, and causes the day to flow into the night, and He has made the sun and the moon subservient [to His laws], each running its course for a term set [by Him]. Is not He the Almighty, the All-Forgiving?

Explanation

See note 11 on the last but one sentence of 10:5.

39:6 He has created you [all] out of one living entity, and out of it fashioned its mate, and he has bestowed upon you four kinds of cattle of either sex, [and] He creates you in your mothers’ wombs, one act of creation after another, in threefold depths of darkness. Thus is God, your Sustainer, unto Him belongs all dominion, there is no deity save Him, how, then, can you lose sight of the truth?

Explanation

See note 5 on 13:2.

39:7 If you are ingrate – Behold, God has no need of you, nonetheless, He does not approve of ingratitude in His servants: whereas, if you show gratitude, He approves it in you.  And no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another’s a burden. In time, unto your Sustainer, you all must return, and then He will make you [truly] understand all that you were doing [in life]: for, verily, He has full knowledge of what is in the hearts [of men].

Explanation

See 4:1 and the corresponding note 1.

39:8 Now [thus it is] when an affliction befalls man, he is likely to cry out to his Sustainer, turning unto Him [for help], but as soon as He has bestowed upon him a boon by His grace, he forgets Him whom he invoked before and claims that there are other powers that could rival God – and thus leads [others] astray from His path. Say [unto him who sins in this way], “Enjoy thyself for a while in this thy denial of the truth, [yet] Verily, thou art of those who are destined for the fire!

Explanation

Lit., “eight [in] pairs”, i.e., the male and the female of four kinds of cattle (sheep, goats, camels, and bovine cattle). For an explanation of my rendering, see note 130 on 6:143-144, where the same kinds of domesticated cattle are spoken of in connection with certain meaningless, superstitious taboos of pre-Islamic times, whereas here they are mentioned as “bestowed upon you” by God, and therefore lawful. Beyond this, the mention of cattle in this context is meant to remind man that it is God who provides his sustenance and that, therefore, man is utterly dependent on Him.

39:9 Or [dost thou deem thyself equal to] one who devoutly worships [God] throughout the night, prostrating himself or standing [in prayer], ever-mindful of the life to come, and hoping for his Sustainer’s grace?” Say, “Can they who know and they who do not know be deemed equal?” [But] only they who are endowed with insight keep this in mind!

Explanation

Lit., “by creation after creation, in three darknesses”: an allusion to the successive stages of
embryonic development, repeatedly spoken of in the Qur’an (cf. 22:5 and 23:12-14), and to the darkness of the womb, the membrane enveloping the embryo, and its pre-natal blindness.

39:10 Say “[Thus speaks God] “O you servants of Mine who have attained to faith! Be conscious of your Sustainer! Ultimate good awaits those who persevere in doing good in this world. And [remember] wide is God’s earth, [and,] Verily, they who are patient in adversity will be given their reward in full, beyond all reckoning!”‘

Explanation

Lit., “how, then, are you turned away?” – i.e., from the truth.

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