Chapter Scripts

Surah Muhammad 47:21-30

47:21 Obedience [to God’s call] and a word that could win (His) approval, for, since the matter has been resolved [by His revelation], it would be but for their own good to remain true to God.

Explanation

Lit., “and gives them their God-consciousness (taqwahum)”.

47:22 [Ask them] “Would you, perchance, after having turned away [from God’s commandment, prefer to revert to your old ways, and] spread corruption on earth, and [once again] cut asunder your ties of kinship?

Explanation

Lit., “its indications have already come”: a reference to the many Qur’anic predictions of its inevitability, as well as to the evidence, accessible to every unprejudiced mind, of the temporal finality of all creation.

47:23 It is such as these whom God rejects, and whom He makes deaf [to the voice of truth], and whose eyes He blinds [to its sight]!

Explanation

i.e., “of what benefit will be to them, when the Last Hour comes, their dawning awareness of having sinned, and their belated repentance?”

47:24 Will they not, then, ponder over this Qur’an? – or are there locks upon their hearts?

Explanation

i.e., “He knows all that you do and all that you fail to do”.

47:25 Verily, those who turn their backs [on this message] after guidance has been vouchsafed to them, [do it because] Satan has embellished their fancies and filled them with false hopes.

Explanation

I am rendering the term surah here and in the next sentence as “a revelation”, for whereas there is no surah as such which deals exclusively with questions of war, there are numerous references to it in various surahs; and this is evidently the meaning of this term in the present context as well as in 9::86. There is no doubt that this verse precedes the revelation, in the year 1 H., of 22:39, which states categorically – and for the first time – that the believers are allowed to wage war whenever “war is wrongfully waged” against them (see in this connection note 57 on 22:39).

47:26 [They do turn their backs on it] inasmuch as they are wont to say unto those who abhor  all that God has revealed, “We will comply with your views on some points.” But God knows their secret thoughts. 

Explanation

This is a reference to 22:39-40. For an explanation of the expression muhkamah (“clear in and by itself”), see note 5 on 3:7. (As in the preceding sentence, the term surah has been rendered here, exceptionally, as “revelation”).

47:27 Hence, how [will they fare] when the angels gather them in death, striking their faces and their backs? 

Explanation

i.e., an expression of readiness to fight in His cause: which is obviously the meaning of qawl ma’ruf in this context.

47:28 This, because they were wont to pursue what God condemns and to hate [whatever would meet with] His goodly acceptance, and so He has caused all their [good] deeds to come to nought.

Explanation

The above interpolations are in tune with the explanation of this passage advanced by almost all of the classical commentators, who regard this rhetorical “question” as an allusion to the chaotic conditions of pre-Islamic Arabia, its senseless internecine wars, and the moral darkness from which Islam had freed its followers. Nevertheless, this verse has, like the whole of the passage of which it forms a part, a timeless import as well.

47:29 Or do they in whose hearts is disease think, perchance, that God would never bring their moral failings to light?

Explanation

Cf. the reference to God’s “sealing” the hearts of stubborn wrongdoers in 2:7.

47:30 Now had We so willed, we could have shown them clearly to thee, so that thou wouldst know them for sure as by a visible mark: but [even so] thou wilt most certainly recognize them by the tone of their voice, And God knows all that you do, [O men].

Explanation

Lit., “this, because …, etc.

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