Chapter Scripts

Surah Ghafir 40:1-10

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

40:1 Ha Mim.

Explanation

See Appendix II.

40:2 The Bestowal from on high of this divine writ issues from God, the Almighty, the AllKnowing. 

Explanation

Cf. 38:12-14, where some of those who were “leagued together” (al ahzab) are enumerated; also verses 30 ff, of this surah.

40:3 Forgiving sins and accepting repentance, severe in retribution, limitless in His bounty. There is no deity save Him, with Him is all journeys’ end.

Explanation

Lit., “each community schemed against their apostle”.

40:4 None but those who are bent on denying the truth would call God’s messages in question. But let it not deceive thee that they seem to be able to do as they please on earth. 

Explanation

Lit, “around it”: cf. Zamakhshari’s explanation of the expression hawlaha occurring in 27:8 in the sense of “near it”. In his commentary on the verse which we are now considering, Baydawi states explicitly that the “bearing” of God’s throne of almightiness (al-‘arsh – see note 43 on 7:54) must be understood in a metaphorical sense: “Their carrying it and surrounding it [or “being near it] is a metaphor of their being mindful of it and acting in accordance therewith (majaz ‘an hifzihim wa tadbirihim lahu), or a metonym (kinayah) for their closeness to the Lord of the Throne, their dignity in His sight, and their being instrumental in the realization of His will.” My rendering of the above verse reflects Baydawi’s interpretation. – As regards the beings which are said to be close to the throne of God’s almightiness, most of the classical commentators – obviously basing their view on the symbolic image of “the angels surrounding the throne of [God’s] almightiness” on the Day of Judgment (39: 75) – think in this instance, too, exclusively of angels. But whereas it cannot be denied that the present verse refers also to angels, it does not follow that it refers exclusively to them. In its abstract connotation, the verb hamala frequently signifies “he bore [or “took upon himself”] the responsibility [for something]”: and so it is evident that it applies here not only to angels but also to all human beings who are conscious of the tremendous implications of the concept of God’s almightiness, and hence feel morally responsible for translating this consciousness into the reality of their own and their fellow~beings’ lives.

40:5 To the truth gave the lie, before their time, the people of Noah and, after them, all those [others] who were leagued together [against God’s message-bearers], and each of those communities schemed against the apostle sent unto them, aiming to lay hands on him, and they contended [against his message] with fallacious arguments, so as to render void the truth thereby, but then I took them to the task – and how awesome was My retribution!

Explanation

See note 45 on 38:50.

40:6 And thus shall thy Sustainer’s word come true against all who are bent on denying the truth: they shall find themselves in the fire [of hell].

Explanation

Lit., “they will be called” or “summoned”.

40:7 They who bear [within themselves the knowledge of] the throne of [God’s] almightiness, as well as all who are near it, extol their Sustainer’s limitless glory and praise, and have faith in Him, and ask forgiveness for all [others] who have attained to faith, “O our Sustainer! Thou embracest all things within [Thy] grace and knowledge, forgive, then, their sins unto those who repent and follow Thy path, and preserve them from suffering through the blazing fire!

Explanation

i.e., “on realizing, belatedly, your past sinfulness”.

40:8 And, O our Sustainer, bring them into the gardens of perpetual bliss which Thou hast promised them, together with the righteous from among their forebears, and their spouses, and their offspring – For, Verily, Thou alone art Almighty, Truly Wise.

Explanation

Since it is impossible to attribute to God a purely human emotion, “God’s loathing” of those sinners is obviously a metonym for His rejection of them (Razi), similar to the metonymic use of the expression “God’s wrath (ghadab)” in the sense of His condemnation (see first sentence of note 4 on 1:7).

40:9 And preserve them from [doing] evil deeds, for anyone whom on that Day [of Judgment] Thou wilt have preserved from [the taint of] evil deeds, him wilt Thou have graced with Thy mercy, and that, that will be the
triumph supreme!”

Explanation

i.e., “Thou hast brought us to life on earth, and then hast caused us to die; thereupon Thou hast resurrected us, and now hast condemned us to spiritual death in consequence of our willful spiritual blindness on earth.”

40:10 [But] Behold, as for those who are bent on denying the truth – [on that same Day] a voice will call out unto them, “Indeed, greater than your [present] loathing of yourselves was God’s loathing of you [at the time] when you were called unto faith but went on denying the truth!”

Explanation

An answer to the sinners’ question at the end of the preceding verse may be found in the following extremely well-authenticated, parabolic saying of the Prophet: “[On the Day of Judgment,] those who deserve paradise will enter paradise, and those who deserve the fire, the fire. Thereupon God, the Sublimely Exalted, will say, ‘Take out [of the fire] everyone in whose heart there was as much of faith [or, in some versions, “as much of good”] as a grain of mustard seed!’ And so they will be taken out of it, already blackened, and will be thrown into the River of Life; and then they will come to life [lit., ‘sprout’] as a herb sprouts by the side of a stream: and didst thou not see how it comes out, yellow and budding?” (Bukhari, on the authority of Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, in Kitab alIman and Kitab Bad’ al-Khalq; also Muslim, Nasa’i and Ibn Hanbal.) The characterization as “yellow and budding” – i.e., tender and of light color – indicates the freshness of new life in the pardoned sinner. This, of course, has nothing to do with the sinners’ futile – because meaningless – request on Judgment Day to be given a “second chance” on earth (Cf. 6:27-28 or 32:12). See also last but one sentence of 6:128 and the corresponding note 114.

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