Chapter Scripts

Surah Zukhruf 43:11-20

43:11 And He it is Who sends down, again and again, waters from the sky in due measure, and [as] We raise therewith dead land to life, even thus will you be brought forth [from the dead].

Explanation

Lit., “over its backs” i.e., according to all classical commentators, the “backs” of the abovementioned animals and ships alike, the singular form of the pronoun (“its”) relating to the collective entity comprised in the concept of “all whereon you ride” (ma tarkabun): in other words, “all that you use or may use by way of transport”. As regards my rendering of li-tasta’u as so that you might gain mastery”, I should like to point out that the verb istawa (lit., “he established himself”) has often the connotation adopted by me: see Jawhari, Raghib, and Lisan al-‘Arab, art. sawa; also Lane IV, 1478.

43:12 And He it is who has created all opposites. And He [it is who] has provided for you all those ships and animals whereon you ride. 

Explanation

i.e., despite the fact that most people readily admit that God has created all that exists (verse 9 above), some of them tend to forget His uniqueness.

43:13 In order that you might gain mastery over them,” and that, whenever you have mastered them, you might remember your Sustainer’s blessings and say “Limitless in His glory is He who has made [all] this subservient to our use – since [but for Him] we would not have been able to attain to it.

Explanation

Lit., “attribute to Him a part out of fsome of] His creatures (‘ibad)”: cf. 6:100 and the corresponding notes. The noun juz (lit., “part”) evidently denotes here “a part of Himself”, as implied in the concept of “offspring”; hence my rendering. If, on the other hand, juz is understood in its literal sense, the above sentence could have (as Razi assumes) a more general meaning, namely, “they attribute a part of His divinity to some of the beings created by Him”. However, in view of the sequence, which clearly refers to the blasphemous attribution of “offspring” to God, my rendering seems to be preferable.

43:14 Hence, verily, it is unto Him that we must always turn.”

Explanation

It should be remembered that the people thus addressed were the pagan Arabs, who believed that some of their goddesses, as well as the angels, were “God’s daughters”. In view of the fact that those pre-Islamic Arabs regarded daughters as a mere liability and their birth as a disgrace, this verse is obviously ironic. (Cf. in this connection 16:57-59.) It should be remembered that the people thus addressed were the pagan Arabs, who believed that some of their goddesses, as well as the angels, were “God’s daughters”. In view of the fact that those pre-Islamic Arabs regarded daughters as a mere liability and their birth as a disgrace, this verse is obviously ironic. (Cf. in this connection 16:57-59).

43:15 And Yet, they attribute to Him offspring from among some of the beings created by Him! Verily, most obviously bereft of all gratitude is a man!

Explanation

Lit., “what he postulates as a likeness of [or “as likely for”] the Most Gracious”: i.e., female
offspring, which implies a natural “likeness” to its progenitor.

43:16 Or [do you think], perchance, that out of all His creation He has chosen for Himself daughters and favored you with sons?

Explanation

i.e., one who, from the viewpoint of the pre-Islamic Arabs, would have no function other than “embellishing” a man’s life.

43:17 For [thus it is] if any of them is given the glad tiding of [the birth of] what he so readily attributes to the Most Gracious, his face darkens, and he is filled with suppressed anger. 

Explanation

Lit., “he finds himself in an invisible (ghayr mubin) conflict” – i.e., an inner conflict which he does not quite admit to his consciousness: Cf. 16:59 – “[he debates within himself:] Shall he keep this child despite the contempt [which he feels for it] – or shall he bury it in the dust?” (See also, in particular, the corresponding note 66).

43:18 “What! [Am I to have a daughter] one who is to be reared [only] for the sake of ornament?” – and thereupon he finds himself torn by a vague inner conflict.

Explanation

Or: “who are but worshippers [or “creatures”] (‘ibad) of the Most Gracious” – in either case stressing their having been created and, hence, not being divine.

43:19 And [yet] they claim that the angels – who in themselves are but beings created by the Most Gracious – are females [but] did they witness their creation? This false claim of theirs will be recorded, and they will be called to account [for it on Judgment Day]!

Explanation

Lit., “their testimony”, i.e., regarding the “sex” of the angels, who are spiritual in nature (Razi) and, therefore, sexless.

43:20 Yet they say “Had [not] the Most Gracious so willed, we would never have worshipped them!” [But] they cannot have any knowledge of [His having willed] such a thing, they do nothing but guess.

Explanation

i.e., they cannot have any “knowledge” of something that is devoid of all reality – because, far from having “willed” their sin, God had left it to their free will to make a moral choice between right and wrong. (See in this connection surah 6, note 143).

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