Chapter Scripts

Surah Zukhruf 43:41-50

43:41 But whether We do [or do not] take thee away [ere thy message prevails] – Verily, We shall inflict Our retribution on them. 

Explanation

The concept of “returning” to God implies that the instinctive ability to perceive His existence is inherent in human nature as such, and that man’s “turning away” from God is only a consequence of spiritual degeneration, and not an original tendency or predisposition: cf. 7:172-173.- The “suffering” (‘adhab) mentioned above relates to the plagues with which the recalcitrant Egyptians were struck (see 7:130 ff).

43:42 And whether We show thee [or do not show thee in this world] the fulfillment of what We have promised them – Verily, We have full power over them!

Explanation

Lit., “beneath me”, i.e., “at my command”: a reference to the imposing irrigation system originating in the Nile and controlled by royal power.

43:43 So hold fast to all that has been revealed to thee: for, Behold, thou art on a straightway. 

Explanation

An allusion to the impediment in speech from which Moses suffered (cf. 20:27-28 and the corresponding note 17), or perhaps to the contents of his message, which to Pharaoh appeared unconvincing.

43:44 And, Verily, this [revelation] shall indeed become [a source of] eminence for thee and thy people, but in time you all will be called to account [for what you have done with it].

Explanation

In ancient Egypt, golden armlets and necklaces were regarded as princely insignia (cf. Genesis xli, 42), or at least as evidence of high social dignity. This is apparently an echo of the pagan objection to Muhammad, mentioned in verse 31 above: “Why was not this Qur’an bestowed from on high on some great man of the two cities?” The same is the case with the subsequent reference to the “absence of angels”.

43:45 Yet [above all else] ask any of Our apostles whom We sent forth before thy time whether We have ever allowed that deities other than the Most Gracious be worshipped!

Explanation

Objecting to the Qur’anic condemnation of their idolatrous worship of angels – whom they describe here as “our deities” – the pagan Quraysh pointed to the parallel Christian worship of Jesus as “the son of God”, and even as “God incarnate”, and argued more or less thus: “The Qur’an states that Jesus was purely human – and yet the Christians, whom the same Qur’an describes as ‘followers of earlier revelation’ (ahl al-kitab), consider him divine. Hence; are we not rather justified in our worshipping angels, who are certainly superior to a mere human being?” The fallacy inherent in this “argument” is disposed of in the sequence.

43:46 Thus, Indeed, have We sent Moses with Our messages unto Pharaoh and his great ones, and he said: “Behold, I am an apostle of the Sustainer of all the worlds!”

Explanation

Since the Qur’an condemns explicitly, and in many places, the deification of Jesus by the Christians, this unwarranted deification cannot be used as an argument in favor of the pagan worship of angels and, thus, against the Qur’an: in the words of Zamakhshari, such an argument amounts to “applying a false analogy to a false proposition” (qiyas batil bi-batil).

43:47 But as soon as he came before them with Our [miraculous] signs,”‘ lo! they derided them. 

Explanation

Implying not only that Jesus was not a supernatural being, but that the angels, too, are mere created beings finite in their existence – as indicated by the phrase “succeeding one another” – and, therefore, utterly removed from the status of divinity (Baydawi).

43:48 Although each sign that We showed them was weightier than the preceding one, and [each time] We took them to task through suffering, so that they might return [to Us].

Explanation

43:49 And [every time] they exclaimed “O thou sorcerer! Pray for Us to thy Sustainer on the strength of the covenant [of prophethood] which He has made with thee: for, Verily, we shall now follow the right way!”

Explanation

Whereas most of the commentators regard the pronoun hu in innahu as relating to Jesus and, consequently, interpret the above phrase as “he is indeed a means to know [i.e., an indication of the coming of] the Last Hour”, some authorities – e.g., Qatadah, Al-Hasan al-Basri and Sa’id ibn Jubayr (all of them quoted by Tabari, Baghawi and Ibn Kathir) – relate the pronoun to the Qur’an, and understand the phrase in the sense adopted in my rendering. The specific mention of the Last Hour in the above context is meant to stress man’s ultimate responsibility before the Creator and, therefore, the fact that worship is due to Him alone: and so this parenthetic passage follows logically upon the mention of the false deification of Jesus.

43:50 But whenever We removed the suffering from them, lo! they would break their word.

Explanation

i.e., with divine revelation.

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