In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace.
31:1 Alif Lam Mim.
See Appendix II.
31:2 These are messages of the Divine Writ, Full of Wisdom.
See note 2 on l0:l.
31:3 Providing Guidance and Grace unto the doers of Good.
The term az-zakah seems to have here its more general meaning of “charity” rather than the legal connotation of “purifying dues” (see note 34 on 2:43), the more so as the above passage has a close inner resemblance to 2:2-4, where “spending on others out of what We provide as sustenance” is described as one of the characteristics of the God-conscious.
31:4 Who are constant in prayer and dispense charity, for it is they, they who in their innermost are certain of the life to come!
Lit., “among the people there is he who [or “such as”] takes playful [or “idle”] talk in exchange”, i.e., for divine guidance: apparently an allusion to a pseudo-philosophical play with words and metaphysical speculations without any real meaning behind them (cf. note 38 on 23:67). Contrary to what some of the commentators assume, the above statement does not refer to anyone person (allegedly a contemporary of the Prophet) but describes a type of mentality and has, therefore, a general import.
31:5 It is they who follow the guidance [that comes to them) from their Sustainer; and it is they, they who shall attain to a happy state!
Cf. 23: 66-7.
31:6 But among men there is many a one that prefers a mere play with words [to divine guidance], so as to lead [those) without knowledge astray from the path of God, and to turn it to ridicule: for such, there is shameful suffering in store.
Commenting on the above three verses, Razi points out, firstly, that the deliberate contrast between the plural in the promise of “gardens (Jannat) of bliss” and the singular in that of “suffering” (‘adhab) is meant to show that God’s grace surpasses His wrath (cf. note 10 on 6:12); and, secondly, that the use of the expression “to abide therein” in connection with the mention of paradise only, and not with that of otherworldly suffering (or hell), is an indication that whereas the enjoyment of the former will be unlimited in duration, suffering in what is described as “hell” will be limited.
31:7 For, whenever Our messages are conveyed to such a one, he turns away in his arrogance as though he had not heard them – as though there were deafness in his ears: give him, then, the tiding of grievous suffering [in the life to come].
See note 4 on 13:2.
31:8 [As against this] Verily, those who attain to faith and do righteous deeds shall have gardens of bliss.
See note 11 on 16:15.
31:9 To abide therein in accordance with God’s true promise: for He Alone is Almighty, Truly Wise.
This is another of the many Qur’anic instances where the personal pronoun relating to God is suddenly changed – in this instance, from “He” to “We” – in order to indicate that God, being infinite, cannot be circumscribed by any pronoun applicable to created, finite beings and that the use of such pronouns with reference to Him is no more than a concession to the limited nature of every human language.
31:10 He [it is who] has created the skies without any supports that you could see, and has placed firm mountains upon the earth, lest it sways with you, and has caused all manner of living creatures to multiply thereon. And We send down water from the skies, and thus We cause every noble kind [of life] to grow on earth.
Lit., “thereon”. As in 26:7, the term zawi has here the significance of “a kind”.