43:31 And they say, too, “Why was not this Qur’an bestowed from on high on some great man of the two cities?”
Lit., “to him We assign a satan, and he becomes his other self (qarin)”: see note 24 on 41:25. For the psychological connotation of the term shaytan as “evil impulse”, see the first half of note 16 on 15:17 as well as note 31 on 14:22.
43:32 But is it they who distribute thy Sustainer’s grace? [Nay, as] it is We who distribute their means of livelihood among them in the life of this world, and raise some of them by degrees above others, to the end that they might avail themselves of one another’s help – [so, too, it is We who bestow gifts of the spirit upon whomever We will]: and this thy Sustainer’s grace is better than all [the worldly wealth] that they may amass.
43:33 And were it not that [with the prospect of boundless riches before them] all people would become one [evil] community, We might indeed have provided for those who [now] deny the Most Gracious roofs of silver for their houses, and [silver] stairways whereon to ascend.
Thus do most of the commentators interpret the above phrase which, literally, reads “the two easts” (al-mashriqayn). This interpretation is based on the idiomatic usage, not infrequent in classical Arabic, of referring to two opposites – or two conceptually connected entities – by giving them the designation of one of them in the dual form: e.g., “the two moons”, denoting “sun and moon”; “the two Basrahs”, i.e., Kufah and Basrah; and so forth.
43:34 And [silver] doors for their houses, and [silver] couches whereon to recline.
i.e., “you will not be consoled, as would have been the case in earthly suffering, by the knowledge that you are not to suffer alone” (Zamakhshari, Razi, Baydawi). Since this address is formulated in the plural and not in the dual, it evidently relates to all sinners who, in their lifetime, were impelled by their own evil impulses – their “other selves”, as it were – to “remain blind to the remembrance of God”. In its wider meaning, the above verse implies that all evil deeds, whenever and wherever committed, are but links of one chain, one evil ineluctably leading to another: cf. 14:49 – “on that Day thou wilt see those who were lost in sin linked together (muqarranin) in fetters” – a phrase which has been explained in my corresponding note 64. It is noteworthy that the participle muqarran is derived from the same verbal root (qarana) as the term qarin (rendered by me in verses 36 and 38 of this surah and in 41:25 as “other self”): and this, I believe, is a further indication, alluded to in the present verse, to the “togetherness” of all evil deeds.
43:35 And gold [beyond count]… Yet all this would have been nothing but an [brief] enjoyment of life in this world – whereas [happiness in] the life to come awaits the God-conscious with thy Sustainer.
This rhetorical question implies a negative answer: cf. 35:22 – “thou canst not make hear such as are [deaf of heart like the dead] in the graves”.
43:36 But as for anyone who chooses to remain blind to the remembrance of the Most Gracious, to him We assign an [enduring] evil impulse, to become his other-self.
For the above rendering of dhikr as “[a source of] eminence”, see the first half of note 13 on 21:10.
43:37 Whereupon, behold, these [evil impulses] bar all such from the path [of truth], making them think that they are guided aright!
The meaning is that on the Day of Judgment all prophets will be asked, metaphorically, as to what response they received from their people (cf. 5:109), and those who professed to follow them will be called to account for the spiritual and social use they made – or did not make – of the revelation conveyed to them: and thus, the “eminence” promised to the followers of Muhammad will depend on their actual behavior and not on their mere profession of faith.
43:38 But in the end, when he [who has thus sinned] appears before us [on Judgment Day], he will say [to his other self], “Would that between me and thee there had been the distance of east and west!” – for, evil indeed [has proved] that other self!
i.e., “look into the earlier revelations and ask thyself.
43:39 On that Day it will not profit you in the least [to know] that, since you have sinned [together], you are now to share your suffering [as well].
i.e., in pursuance of the principle, referred to above, that it is not permissible to worship anyone or anything but God.
43:40 Canst thou, perchance, [O Muhammad] make the deaf hear, or show the right way to the blind or to such as are obviously lost in error?
See note 94 on the last sentence of 6:109.