In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace.
32:1 Alif Lam Mim.
See Appendix II.
32:2 The bestowal from on high of this divine writ issues, beyond any doubt, from the Sustainer of all the worlds.
Cf. note 61 on 10:38.
32:3 and yet, they [who are bent on denying the truth] assert, “[Muhammad] has invented it!” Nay, but it is the truth from thy Sustainer, enabling thee to warn [this] people to whom no warner has come before thee, so that they might follow the right path.
See note 43 on 7:54.
32:4 It is God, who has created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six aeons, and is established on the throne of His Almightiness. You have none to protect you from God, and none to intercede for you [on Judgment Day], will you not, then, bethink yourselves?
i.e., the Day of Judgment will seem to be endless to those who are judged. In the ancient Arabic idiom, a day that is trying or painful is described as “long”, just as a happy day is spoken of as “short” (Maraghi XXI, 105).
32:5 He governs all that exists, from the celestial space to the earth, and in the end, all shall ascend unto Him [for judgment] on a Day the length whereof will be [like] a thousand years of your reckoning.
See surah 6, note 65.
32:6 Such is He who knows all that is beyond the reach of a created being’s perception, as well as all that can be witnessed by a creature’s senses or mind, the Almighty, the Dispenser of Grace.
i.e., He fashions every detail of His creation in accordance with the functions intended for it, irrespective of whether those functions can be understood by us or are beyond the reach of our perception. In the text, the passage comprising verses 7-9 is in the past tense; but since it relates to a continuous act of creation, it signifies the present and the future as well as the past, and may, therefore, be suitably rendered in the present tense.
32:7 Who makes most excellent everything that He creates Thus, He begins the creation of man out of clay.
Cf. note 4 on 23:12. In view of the next verse, this “beginning” of man’s creation seems to allude to the basic composition of the human body as such, as well as to each individual’s pre-natal existence in the separate bodies of his parents.
32:8 Then He causes him to be begotten out of the essence of a humble fluid.
Lit., “He caused [i.e., as pointed out in note 6 above, “He causes”] his procreation [or “his begetting”] to be out of …, etc.
32:9 And then He forms him in accordance with what he is meant to be, and breathes into him of His spirit, and [thus, O men] He endows you with hearing, and sight, and feelings as well as minds, [yet] how seldom are you grateful!
As in 15:29 and 38:72, God’s “breathing of His spirit into man” is a metaphor for the divine gift of life and consciousness, or of a “soul” (which, as pointed out in surah 4, note 181, is one of the meanings of the term ruh). Consequently, “the soul of every human being is of the spirit of God” (Razi). Regarding the verb sawwahu – rendered by me as “He forms him in accordance with what he is meant to be” – see note 1 on 87:2 and note 5 on 91:7.
32:10 For, [many are] they [who] say, “What! After we have been [dead and] lost in the earth, shall we indeed be [restored to life] in a new act of creation?” Nay, but [by saying this] they deny the truth that they are destined to meet their Sustainer!
Lit., “hearts” (af’idah), which in classical Arabic is a metonym for both “feelings” and “minds”; hence my composite rendering of this term.