Chapter Scripts

Surah Muhammad 47:1-10

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

47:1 As for those who are bent on denying the truth and on barring [others] from the path of God – all their [good] deeds will He let go to waste. 

Explanation

i.e. whatever good deeds they may do will be so completely outweighed by the above-mentioned sin that they will amount to nothing on the Day of Judgment. (But see also note 9 below) The above verse connects with the last sentence of the preceding surah, “Will, then, any be [really] destroyed save iniquitous folk?”

47:2 Whereas those who have attained to faith and do righteous deeds, and have come to believe in what has been bestowed from on high on Muhammad – for it is the truth from their Sustainer – [shall attain to God’s grace] He will efface their [past] bad deeds and will set their hearts at rest. 

Explanation

Lit will set aright their hearts” or “their minds”, inasmuch as bne of the several meanings of the term bal is the “heart” or “mind” of man (Jawhari).

47:3 This, because they who are bent on denying the truth pursue falsehood, whereas they who have attained to faith pursue [but] the truth [that flows] from their Sustainer. In this way does God set forth unto man the parables of their true state.

Explanation

Lit their parables” (amthdlahum). This, according to some of the most outstanding commentators, relates to the parabolic expressions in the above three verses: the “going to waste” – in consequence of their deliberate “pursuance of falsehood” – of the good deeds of those who deny the truth, as well as the “effacement of the bad deeds” of the true believers in consequence of their “pursuance of the truth” (Baghawi, Zamakhshari, Razi, Baydawi). In a broader perspective, this interpretation takes into account the parabolic nature not only of the above sentence but also of many other Qur’anic statements relating to men’s spiritual conditions and destinies in this world as well as in life to come.

47:4 Now When you meet [in war] those who are bent on denying the truth, smite their necks until you overcome them fully, and then tighten their bonds, but thereafter [set them free] either by an act of grace or against ransom, so that the burden of war may be lifted, thus [shall it be], And [know that] had God so willed, He could indeed punish them [Himself], but [He wills you to struggle] so as to test you [all] by means of one another, And as for those who are slain in God’s cause, never will He let their deeds go to waste. 

Explanation

Sc., “and on barring [others] from the path of God” – thus connecting with verse 1 and laying down the fundamental condition which alone justifies physical warfare: namely, a defense of the Faith and of freedom (cf. in this connection note 167 on 2:190). In other words, when “those who are bent on denying the truth” try to deprive the Muslims of their social and political liberty and thus to. To make it impossible for them to live in accordance with the principles of their faith, a just war (jihad) becomes allowable and, more than that, a duty. The whole of the above verse relates to war actually in progress (cf. note 168 on the first part of 2:191); and there is no doubt that it was revealed after 22:39-40, the earliest Qur’anic reference to physical warfare.

47:5 He will guide them [in the hereafter as well] and will set their hearts at rest. 

Explanation

Lit., “tighten the bond”. According to almost all the commentators, this expression denotes the taking of prisoners of war. In addition, it may also refer to any sanctions or safeguards which would make it unlikely that the aggression could be resumed in the foreseeable future.

47:6 And will admit them to the paradise which He has promised them.

Explanation

Lit., “so that (hatta) the war may lay down its burdens”. The term “ransom” comprises also, in this context, a mutual exchange of prisoners of war (Zamakhshari, quoting an opinion of Imam AshShafi’i).

47:7 O you who have attained to faith! If you help [the cause of] God, He will help You, and will make firm your steps. 

Explanation

i.e., so as to enable the believers to prove by actual deeds the depth of their faith and their readiness for self-sacrifice, and to enable the aggressors to realize how wrong they have been,
and thus to bring them closer to the truth.

47:8 But as for those who are bent on denying the truth, ill-fortune awaits them, since He will let all their [good] deeds go to waste. 

Explanation

Namely, the revelation relating to man’s moral responsibility to a Supreme Being.

47:9 This, because they hate [the very thought of] what God has bestowed from on high – and thus He causes all their deeds to come to nought!

Explanation

The particle fa (“and thus”) at the beginning of this clause connotes a consequence: in other words, it is their rejection of the idea of moral responsibility, inherent in all divine revelation, that deprives the deeds of “those who are bent on denying the truth” even such deeds as might be termed “good” – of all moral value. This law of inner causality explains fully the phrase “He will let all their [good] deeds go to waste” occurring in verses 1 and 8.

47:10 Have they, then, never journeyed about the earth and beheld what happened in the end to those [wilful sinners] who lived before their time? God destroyed them utterly: and the like thereof awaits all who deny the truth.

Explanation

Cf. 6:10 and the corresponding note 9.

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