Chapter Scripts

Surah Sad 38:11-20

38:11 [But] there it is, any and all human beings, however [strongly] leagued together, are bound to suffer defeat [whenever they refuse to accept the truth].

Explanation

Lit., “that they are in doubt of: i.e., it is not the personality of the Prophet that fills them with distrust, but, rather, the substance of the message proclaimed by him – and, in particular, his insistence on God’s absolute oneness and uniqueness, which runs counter to their habits of thought and social traditions.

38:12 To the truth gave the lie aforetime Noah’s people, and (the tribe of] ‘Ad, and Pharaoh of the [many] tent-poles.

Explanation

Sc., “on people who refuse to accept the truth”.

38:13 And [the tribe of] Thamud, and the people of Lot, and the dwellers of the wooded dales [of Madyan], they all were leagued together, [as it were, in their unbelief].

Explanation

i.e., “Do they think that it is for them to decide as to who should and who should not be graced with divine revelation?”

38:14 Not one [was there] but gave the lie to the apostles – and thereupon My retribution fell due.

Explanation

i.e,, “Do they think that human beings are so highly endowed that they are bound to attain, someday, to mastery over the universe and all nature, and thus to God-like power?” Cf. in this connection 96:6-8 and the corresponding note 4. – As regards my rendering of al-asbab as “all [conceivable] means”, see note 82 on 18:84.

38:15 And they [who now deny the truth – they, too] have but to wait for one single blast [of punishment to overtake them], it shall not be delayed a whit.

Explanation

The collective noun jund, which primarily denotes “a host” or “an army”, has also the meaning of “created beings”, in this context obviously human beings; in combination with the particle ma, “any number of human beings”. The term hizb (of which ahzab is the plural), on the other hand, denotes “a party” or “a group of people of the same mind” or “people leagued together”, i.e., for a definite purpose.

38:16 As it is, they say [mockingly], “O our Sustainer! Hasten on to us our share [of punishment even] before the Day of Reckornng!”

Explanation

Lit., “before them”, i.e., before the people who opposed or oppose Muhammad’s message.

38:17 [But] bear thou with patience whatever they may say, and remember Our servant David, him who was endowed with [so much] inner strength! He, verily, would always turn unto Us.

Explanation

In classical Arabic, this ancient bedouin term is used idiomatically as a metonym for “mighty dominion” or “firmness of power” (Zamakhshari). The number of poles supporting a bedouin tent is determined by its size, and the latter has always depended on the status and power of its owner: thus, a mighty chieftain is often alluded to as “he of many tent-poles”.

38:18 [And for this], Behold, We caused the mountains to join him in extolling Our limitless glory at eventide and at sunrise. 

Explanation

Sc., “beyond the term set for it by God”.

38:19 And [likewise] the birds in their assemblies: [together] they all would turn again and again unto Him [who had created them].

Explanation

Cf. 8:32. This mocking “demand” of the unbelievers is mentioned in several other places in the Qur’an.

38:20 And We strengthened his dominion and bestowed upon him wisdom and sagacity in judgment.

Explanation

Lit., “We compelled” or “constrained”.

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