Chapter Scripts

Surah Fussilat 41:1-10

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

41:1 Ha. Min.

Explanation

See Appendix II.

42:2 He Bestowal from on high [of this revelation) issues from the Most Gracious, the Dispenser of Grace. 

Explanation

See 12:2 and the corresponding note 3.

41:3 A divine writ, the messages whereof have been clearly spelled out as a discourse in the Arabic tongue for people of [innate] knowledge. 

Explanation

The “people of [innate] knowledge” mentioned in the preceding verse are obviously those who understand the spiritual purport of this divine writ and, therefore, submit to its guidance: hence, it cannot be “most of them” who are referred to in the above phrase and in the next verse, but, on the contrary, people who are devoid of such knowledge and to whom, in consequence, the Qur’an is meaningless. This elliptically implied differentiation – overlooked by almost all of the commentators (with perhaps the sole exception of Ibn Kathir) – can only be brought out by means of interpolation at the beginning of the sentence.

41:4 To be a herald of glad tidings as well as a warning. And yet, [whenever this divine writ is offered to men] most of them turn away so that they cannot hear fits message).

Explanation

For this rendering of the term hijab, see note 36 on the first sentence of 7:46. See also 6:25. The “saying” of those who turn away from the message of the Qur’an is, of course, figurative, describing only their attitude.

41:5 And so they say, [as it were] “Our hearts are veiled from whatever thou callest us to, [O Muhammad] and in our ears is deafness, and between us and thee is a barrier. Do, then, [whatever thou wilt, whereas,] behold, we shall do [as we have always done]!”

Explanation

Cf. 6:50 and the corresponding note 38.

41:6 Say thou, [O Prophet] “I am but a mortal like you. It has been revealed to me that your God is the One God, go, then, straight towards Him and seek His forgiveness!” And woe unto those who ascribe divinity to aught beside Him.

Explanation

Belief in God’s oneness and charitableness towards one’s fellow men are two cardinal demands of Islam. Conversely, a deliberate offense against either of these two demands amounts to a denial of man’s responsibility before God and hence, by implication, of a continuation of life in the hereafter. (For my rendering of zakah, in this context, as “charity”, see surah 2, note 34. It is to be borne in mind that the application of this term to the obligatory tax incumbent on Muslims dates from the Medina period, whereas the present surah is a Meccan revelation).

41:7 [And] those who do not spend in charity, for it is they, they who [thus] deny the truth of the life to come!

Explanation

For the above rendering of the term yawm (lit., “day”), as “aeon”, see last third of note 43 on 7:54. As in so many verses of the Qur’an which relate to cosmic events, the repeated mention of the “six aeons” during which the universe was created “two” of which, according to the above verse, were taken by the evolution of the inorganic universe, including the earth has a purely allegorical import: in this case, I believe, an indication that the universe did not exist “eternally” but had a definite beginning in time, and that it required a definite time-lapse to evolve to its present condition.

41:8 [But] Verily, they who have attained to faith and do good works shall have a reward unending!

Explanation

Lit., “do you give Him compeers (andad)?” For an explanation, see note 13 on 2:22.

41:9 Say “Would you indeed deny Him who has created the earth in two aeons? And do you claim that there is any power that could rival Him, the Sustainer of all the worlds?”

Explanation

i.e., in accordance with divine justice, and not with human concepts of “equity” or “need”.

41:10 For He [it is who, after creating the earth] placed firm mountains on it, [towering] above its surface, and bestowed [so many] blessings on it, and equitably apportioned its means of subsistence to all who would seek it, [and all this He created] in four aeons.

Explanation

Almost all the classical commentators agree in that these “four aeons” include the “two” mentioned in the preceding verse: hence my interpolation of the words “and all this He created”. Together with the “two aeons” of verse 12, the entire allegorical number comes to six.

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