The two most important teachings of the Quran are pure Monotheism and the fundamental belief in accountability or the Afterlife.
According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr, in the introduction to this surah:
The focus of this surah is upon worship, obedience, and gratitude. Luqman enjoins his son to recognize the Greatness of God, His Oneness, and the need to worship only Him. As in several other passages, this injunction is linked to obedience and gratitude toward parents, so long as they do not challenge one’s allegiance to God. In this teaching one can see an important component of the Quranic social message: people should support the community and maintain familial allegiances, but not to the detriment of their relationship with God. The surah closes with a warning that neither parent nor child can help one another on the Day of Judgment (V. 33).
In other words, this surah nicely outlines the best priorities in our lives.
The verse 27 talks about the vastness of the knowledge contained in the holy Quran: “And if all the trees on earth were pens, and if the sea and seven more added to it [were ink], the Words of God would not be exhausted. Truly God is Mighty, Wise.” In Surah Kahf (the Cave), we read a similar verse: “Say, ‘If every ocean becomes ink for the words of my Lord, surely, the ocean would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even though We brought the like thereof as further help;’” (18:109)
For, some details on these two verses of the Quran please see:
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
Section I: Believers will be successful
|31:1. Alif. Lam. Mim. I am Allah, the All-Knowing.||
|31:2. These are the signs of the decisive scripture,||
تِلْكَ آيَاتُ الْكِتَابِ الْحَكِيمِ
|31:3. with guidance and mercy for the virtuous,||
هُدًى وَرَحْمَةً لِّلْمُحْسِنِينَ
|31:4. who perform the prayer and give alms and who are certain of the Hereafter.||
الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُم بِالْآخِرَةِ هُمْ يُوقِنُونَ
|31:5. It is they who are upon guidance from their Lord, and it is they who shall prosper.||
أُولَـٰئِكَ عَلَىٰ هُدًى مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ ۖ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
|31:6. And among mankind are those who purchase idle discourse to lead astray from the way of God without knowledge, and to hold it up to ridicule; for them there shall be a humiliating punishment.||
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ
|31:7. And when Our signs are recited unto him, he turns away arrogantly as if he did not hear them, as if there were deafness in his ears. So give him glad tidings of a painful punishment.||
وَإِذَا تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِ آيَاتُنَا وَلَّىٰ مُسْتَكْبِرًا كَأَن لَّمْ يَسْمَعْهَا كَأَنَّ فِي أُذُنَيْهِ وَقْرًا ۖ فَبَشِّرْهُ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ
|31:8. Truly those who believe and perform righteous deeds, theirs shall be Gardens of bliss,||
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتُ النَّعِيمِ
|31:9. therein to abide – that is God’s true promise. And He indeed has the power to deliver his promises.||
خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۖ وَعْدَ اللَّـهِ حَقًّا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
|31:10. He created the heavens without pillars that you see, and cast into the earth ﬁrm mountains, lest it shake beneath you, and spread about all kinds of animals therein. And We sent down water from the sky and caused every kind of good plant to grow therein.||
خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ بِغَيْرِ عَمَدٍ تَرَوْنَهَا ۖ وَأَلْقَىٰ فِي الْأَرْضِ رَوَاسِيَ أَن تَمِيدَ بِكُمْ وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ ۚ وَأَنزَلْنَا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَنبَتْنَا فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ زَوْجٍ كَرِيمٍ
|31:11. This is the creation of God; so show me that which those apart from Him have created. Nay, the wrongdoers are in manifest error.||
هَـٰذَا خَلْقُ اللَّـهِ فَأَرُونِي مَاذَا خَلَقَ الَّذِينَ مِن دُونِهِ ۚ بَلِ الظَّالِمُونَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ
“And when Our signs are recited unto him, he turns away arrogantly as if he did not hear them, as if there were deafness in his ears. So give him glad tidings of a painful punishment.”
According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr:
Because some prefer idle discourse to the Quran, they turn away arrogantly. When such people do hear the Quran, however, they do not understand it, because they are spiritually deaf, as in 6:25: Among them are those who listen to thee, but We have placed coverings over their hearts, such that they understand it not, and in their ears a deafness (cf. 2:171; 5:71; 6:39; 8:22; 10:42; 17:46; 18:57; 21:46; 41:5, 44; 47:23); see 6225c. This is one of many verses to speak of the various ways in which the disbelievers react to the recitation of God’s signs, that is, verses of the Quran; cf. 8:31; 19:73; 22:72; 34:43; 42:25; 46:7; 68:15; 83:13. Glad tidings usually indicates the good news of salvation that prophets bring, but here, as elsewhere, it is used with a sense of irony (cf. 3:21; 4:138; 9:3, 34; 45:8; 84:24; see also 5:60), indicating that hypocrites and disbelievers will receive the painful punishment that actions such as purchasing idle discourse and turning away from God’s signs merit.
The sealing of hearts is not something unique for the non-believers or the hypocrites. It is a psychological phenomenon that to some degree happens with every one and leads to biases and prejudices.
This leads to polarized and dogmatic thinking in politics or religion, as a result for example, those belonging to the Republican party in USA are unable to comprehend the reasoning or arguments of the Democratic party and vice versa. Read a post: Kripkean Dogmatism: The Best Metaphor to Understand Religious and Political Debates.
“He created the heavens without pillars that you see, and cast into the earth ﬁrm mountains, lest it shake beneath you, and spread about all kinds of animals therein. And We sent down water from the sky and caused every kind of good plant to grow therein.”
“This is the creation of God; so show me that which those apart from Him have created. Nay, the wrongdoers are in manifest error.”
The 10th verse here should be read along side: “Allah is He Who raised up the heavens without any pillars that you can see. Then He settled Himself on the Throne. And He pressed the sun and the moon into service: each pursues its course until an appointed term. He regulates it all. He clearly explains the Signs, that you may have a firm belief in the meeting with your Lord.” (13:2)
There are at least 800 verses in the holy Quran that talk about the study of nature and inspire the mankind especially the believers to study the different phenomena of nature and to draw scientific, moral and even spiritual inferences from those. See a collection: Cataloging 750 verses of the Holy Quran inspiring believers to study nature.
In these verses, Allah declares the unity of His creation as a proof of there being one God only.
The three-letter words of the genetic code are the same in every creature. CGA means arginine and GCG means alanine – in bats, in beetles, in beech trees, in bacteria. They even mean the same in the misleadingly named archaebacteria living at boiling temperatures in sulphurous springs thousands of feet beneath the surface of the Atlantic ocean or in those microscopic capsules of deviousness called viruses. Wherever you go in the world, whatever animal, plant, bug or blob you look at, if it is alive, it will use the same dictionary and know the same code. All life is one. The genetic code, but a few tiny local aberrations, mostly for unexplained reasons in the ciliate protozoa, is the same in every creature. We all use exactly the same language.
This means – and religious people might find this a useful argument – that there was only one creation, one single event when life was born. Of course, that life might have been born on a different planet and seeded here by spacecraft, or there might even have been thousands of kinds of life at first, but only Luca survived in the ruthless free-for-all of the primeval soup. But until the genetic code was cracked in the 1960s, we did not know what we now know: that all life is one; seaweed is your distant cousin and anthrax one of your advanced relatives. The unity of life is an empirical fact. Erasmus Darwin was outrageously close to the mark: ‘One and the same kind of living filaments has been the cause of all organic life.’
Just like there are numerous computer programs in multiple languages and multiple programmers for those programs, we could have found different kinds of life forms on our planet earth, with some created by for example, God the Father, some by the holy Ghost and some by Jesus. But unity of the biological code speaks of one Creator and that is the argument of these verses, if you will read it again: “He spread about all kinds of animals therein. … This is the creation of God; so show me that which those apart from Him have created. Nay, the wrongdoers are in manifest error.”
Heredity is all-or-none. That’s digital. But what neither Mendel nor anyone else before 1953 knew was that genes themselves are digital, within themselves. A gene is a sequence of code letters, drawn from an alphabet of precisely four letters, and the genetic code is universal throughout all known living things. Life is the execution of programs written using a small digital alphabet in a single, universal machine language. This realization was the hammer blow that knocked the last nail into the coffin of vitalism and, by extension, of dualism. The hammer was wielded, with undisguised youthful relish, by James Watson and Francis Crick.
James Watson and Francis Crick’s famous one-page paper, describing the structure of DNA, appeared in Nature in 1953. In addition to being a biological epiphany, it also turned out to be an amazing religious epiphany, in as much as there is only One Creator of all life forms and not two or three. Trinity is no longer, logically sustainable! There is only one Creator of all life forms on our planet earth.
Additionally, Allah says that if there had been more than one god there would have been chaos, rather than order in the universe, as they competed with each other for dominance: “God has never had a child. Nor is there any god beside Him — if there were, each god would have taken his creation aside and tried to overcome the others. May God be exalted above what they describe! He knows what is not seen and what is seen; He is far above any partner they subscribe to Him.” (23:91-92)
Please also see 13:16, 21:22 and 112:1-4.
According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr, as he and his colleagues describe the verse 11:
This verse challenges the idolaters to substantiate their claim that their idols have some part in the creative process, as in 52:35-36: Were they created from naught? Or are they the creators? Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Nay, but they have no certainty (cf. 7:191; 16:20). For manifest error, see 36:24c.
The same could be said about Jesus to the Trinitarian Christians. According to their official view he is perfect man and fully divine. The human part of Jesus was not born until around 1 AD, therefore Jesus had no role in the creation of the universe some 13 billion years ago.
Section II: Luqman’s Advice to his Son
|31:12. And indeed We endowed Luqman with wisdom: “Give thanks to God: whosoever gives thanks, he gives thanks for his own sake. And whosoever is ungrateful, truly God is Self-Sufﬁcient, worthy of all praise.”||
وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا لُقْمَانَ الْحِكْمَةَ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِلَّـهِ ۚ وَمَن يَشْكُرْ فَإِنَّمَا يَشْكُرُ لِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ غَنِيٌّ حَمِيدٌ
|31:13. Luqman counseled his son, “O my son! Do not ascribe partners unto God. Truly ascribing partners is a terrible wrong.”||
وَإِذْ قَالَ لُقْمَانُ لِابْنِهِ وَهُوَ يَعِظُهُ يَا بُنَيَّ لَا تُشْرِكْ بِاللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّ الشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ
|31:14. We have commanded people to be good to their parents: their mothers carried them, with strain upon strain, and weaning took two years. Give thanks to Me and to your parents. Unto Me is the journey’s end.||
وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَىٰ وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ
|31:15. But if they strive to make you ascribe as a partner unto Me that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not. Consort with them in the world in a kindly manner, and follow the way of those who turn in repentance unto Me. Then unto Me is your return, and I shall inform you of that which you used to do.||
وَإِن جَاهَدَاكَ عَلَىٰ أَن تُشْرِكَ بِي مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ فَلَا تُطِعْهُمَا ۖ وَصَاحِبْهُمَا فِي الدُّنْيَا مَعْرُوفًا ۖ وَاتَّبِعْ سَبِيلَ مَنْ أَنَابَ إِلَيَّ ۚ ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
|31:16. “O my son! If it be but the weight of a mustard seed, be it in a rock, in the heavens, or on the earth, God will bring it forth. Truly God is Subtle, All-Aware.||
يَا بُنَيَّ إِنَّهَا إِن تَكُ مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍ مِّنْ خَرْدَلٍ فَتَكُن فِي صَخْرَةٍ أَوْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ أَوْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَأْتِ بِهَا اللَّـهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَطِيفٌ خَبِيرٌ
|31:17. O my son! Perform the prayer, enjoin right and forbid wrong, and bear patiently whatever may befall you. That is indeed a course worthy of resolve.||
يَا بُنَيَّ أَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَانْهَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا أَصَابَكَ ۖ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ
|31:18. Do not puff up your cheeks with pride before people, nor walk exultantly upon the earth. Surely God loves not any arrogant boaster.||
وَلَا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا ۖ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ
|31:19. And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice. Truly the most disagreeable sound is the bray of a donkey.||
وَاقْصِدْ فِي مَشْيِكَ وَاغْضُضْ مِن صَوْتِكَ ۚ إِنَّ أَنكَرَ الْأَصْوَاتِ لَصَوْتُ الْحَمِيرِ
“And indeed We endowed Luqman with wisdom: ‘Give thanks to God: whosoever gives thanks, he gives thanks for his own sake. And whosoever is ungrateful, truly God is Self-Sufﬁcient, worthy of all praise.’”
Who was Luqman? According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr:
There is extensive debate regarding his identity. A minority of commentators propose that he was a pre-Islamic Arabian prophet (T, Z), but most commentators maintain that he was simply a righteous man (IK, T) or a sage (Hakim). Some identify him as a Nubian, an Ethiopian, or an Egyptian slave (IK, T, Z). Others claim that he was the nephew of the Prophet Job who lived a thousand years and acquired knowledge from the prophet David (Z), or that he was a judge among the people of Israel (Z). In the modern period, some scholars have attempted to identify him with such ancient ﬁgures as Prometheus, Alcmacon, or the Biblical Balaam. It is most likely that he was a pre-Islamic Arabian sage revered during the time of Muhammad. That he was given wisdom is thus interpreted to mean comprehension and understanding rather than revelation (T).
Luqman’s name in secular literature may well be Aesop. According to Encyclopedia Britannica:
Aesop, the supposed author of a collection of Greek fables, almost certainly a legendary figure. Various attempts were made in ancient times to establish him as an actual personage. Herodotus in the 5th century bc said that he had lived in the 6th century and that he was a slave, and Plutarch in the 1st century ad made him adviser to Croesus, the 6th-century-bc king of Lydia. One tradition holds that he came from Thrace, while a later one styles him a Phrygian. An Egyptian biography of the 1st century adplaces him on the island of Samos as a slave who gained his freedom from his master, thence going to Babylon as riddle solver to King Lycurgus, and, finally, meeting his death at Delphi. The probability is that Aesop was no more than a name invented to provide an author for fables centring on beasts, so that “a story of Aesop” became synonymous with ‘fable.’ The importance of fables lay not so much in the story told as in the moral derived from it.
According to an English 5 volume commentary that is available online, under the commentary of this verse:
Luqman seems to be a non-Arab, very probably an Ethiopian. He is said to belong to Egypt or Nubia. By some he has also been identified with the Greek ‘Aesop’. From the beautiful moral precepts he gave to his son that are embodied in the present and the next few verses, Luqman appears to be a prophet of God. To know who Luqman was is not of importance so much as the principle that God sent His Messengers among all people and that all those Messengers deserve our respect and reverence, and that Luqman was one of them. Islam was the first and the only religion to proclaim this principle which alone can form a sound and solid basis for peace among the followers of various faiths.
“Luqman counseled his son, ‘O my son! Do not ascribe partners unto God. Truly ascribing partners is a terrible wrong.’”
The Quran quoting the advice of Luqman has a great significance that Islam is not a new religion, rather a reaffirmation of the best that has gone before, through some 124,000 prophets, mentioned in Hadith. If Luqman was not a prophet and only a sage then his mention in such glowing colors in these verses even more powerfully scores the above point.
Once again the two fundamental beliefs in Islam, which it shares with Judaism and Christianity are belief in the Transcendent God and accountability in the life after death. These beliefs come up in almost every surah of the Quran in one form or the other. The former is discussed at some length in the commentary of Surah Fatihah and the latter in the commentary of Surah Waqi’ah.
This verse lays emphasis on the Unity of God and not associating any partners with Him.
“We have commanded people to be good to their parents: their mothers carried them, with strain upon strain, and weaning took two years. Give thanks to Me and to your parents. Unto Me is the journey’s end.”
According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues:
Goodness, gratitude, and virtue toward parents are enjoined in several verses (4:36; 29:8; 46:15) and often combined with the command to worship none but God (see 17:23); see 29:8c. In 2:83, Be virtuous toward parents is listed as the ﬁrst injunction of the covenant (mithaq).
“But if they strive to make you ascribe as a partner unto Me that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not. Consort with them in the world in a kindly manner, and follow the way of those who turn in repentance unto Me. Then unto Me is your return, and I shall inform you of that which you used to do.”
This is a very important verse in as much as it sets the order of importance of things. Obeying your parents is encouraged, but, if the advice is against God’s commandments or against His Oneness and Unity then we should not follow the advice, yet consort with the parents kindly in other matter. In this verse the Quran beautifully describes how in all matters, wise people can have a set of priorities and follow a middle course without the extremes of all or none.
According to Muhammad Ali, under the commentary of this verse:
Notwithstanding the great stress that the Holy Qur’an lays here and elsewhere on the duty of obedience to parents, it also warns against attaching undue importance to that duty when the same clashes with a still higher duty, viz., one’s duty to one’s Maker. In fact any duty, however great, must be sacriﬁced before a higher duty, and one’s duty to one’s Maker is the highest of all duties.
According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues:
This is one of several verses where it is said that at the Final Judgment, God will inform people about their actions in this life; see also 5:14., 105; 6:60, 108, 159; 9:94., 105; 10:23; 24:64.; 29:8; 31:23; 39:7; 41:50; 58:6-7; 62:8; 64:7; 75:13. In this context, God’s ‘informing’ human beings stands as a reminder that among the things for which they will be called to account are their attitude and actions toward parents.
Section III: Greatness of the Divine Power
|31:20. Have you not considered that God has made whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth subservient to you and has poured His Blessings upon you, both outwardly and inwardly? Among mankind are those who dispute concerning God without knowledge, without guidance, and without an illuminating Book.||
أَلَمْ تَرَوْا أَنَّ اللَّـهَ سَخَّرَ لَكُم مَّا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَأَسْبَغَ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعَمَهُ ظَاهِرَةً وَبَاطِنَةً ۗ وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يُجَادِلُ فِي اللَّـهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَلَا هُدًى وَلَا كِتَابٍ مُّنِيرٍ
|31:21. When it is said to them, “Follow that which God has sent down,” they respond, “Nay, but we follow that which we found our fathers following.” What! Even though Satan is calling them to the punishment of a blazing fire?||
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ اتَّبِعُوا مَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ قَالُوا بَلْ نَتَّبِعُ مَا وَجَدْنَا عَلَيْهِ آبَاءَنَا ۚ أَوَلَوْ كَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ يَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَىٰ عَذَابِ السَّعِيرِ
|31:22. Whosoever submits his face to God and is virtuous and compassionate has indeed grasped the most unfailing handhold, for the outcome of every thing is with God.||
وَمَن يُسْلِمْ وَجْهَهُ إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىٰ ۗ وَإِلَى اللَّـهِ عَاقِبَةُ الْأُمُورِ
|31:23. As for those who refuse to do this, do not let their refusal sadden you (Muhammad) — they will return to us; then We shall inform them of that which they did. Truly God knows fully what is in every heart.||
وَمَن كَفَرَ فَلَا يَحْزُنكَ كُفْرُهُ ۚ إِلَيْنَا مَرْجِعُهُمْ فَنُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا عَمِلُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ
|31:24. We let them enjoy themselves a little while, but We shall drive them to a harsh torment.||
نُمَتِّعُهُمْ قَلِيلًا ثُمَّ نَضْطَرُّهُمْ إِلَىٰ عَذَابٍ غَلِيظٍ
|31:25. If you ask them, “Who created the heavens and the earth?” they would surely say, “God.” Say, “Praise be to God.” But most of them do not understand.||
وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُم مَّنْ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّـهُ ۚ قُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ ۚ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
|31:26. Everything in the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah. Truly God is the Self-Sufﬁcient, the Praised.||
مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ
|31:27. And if all the trees on earth were pens, and if the sea and seven more added to it [were ink], the Words of God would not be exhausted. Indeed, God is Mighty, Wise.||
وَلَوْ أَنَّمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مِن شَجَرَةٍ أَقْلَامٌ وَالْبَحْرُ يَمُدُّهُ مِن بَعْدِهِ سَبْعَةُ أَبْحُرٍ مَّا نَفِدَتْ كَلِمَاتُ اللَّـهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
|31:28. Your creation and your resurrection are as naught but a single soul. Truly God is Hearing, Seeing.||
مَّا خَلْقُكُمْ وَلَا بَعْثُكُمْ إِلَّا كَنَفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ سَمِيعٌ بَصِيرٌ
|31:29. Have you not considered that God makes the night pass into the day and makes the day pass into the night, and that He made the sun and the moon subservient, each running for an appointed term, and that God is Aware of whatsoever you do?||
أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّـهَ يُولِجُ اللَّيْلَ فِي النَّهَارِ وَيُولِجُ النَّهَارَ فِي اللَّيْلِ وَسَخَّرَ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ كُلٌّ يَجْرِي إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ
|31:30. This is because God is the Truth, and what they invoke besides Him is false. He is the Most High, Most Great.||
ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنَّ مَا يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِهِ الْبَاطِلُ وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْكَبِيرُ
“And if all the trees on earth were pens, and if the sea and seven more added to it [were ink], the Words of God would not be exhausted. Indeed, God is Mighty, Wise.”
This verse talks about the vastness of the knowledge contained in the holy Quran: “And if all the trees on earth were pens, and if the sea and seven more added to it [were ink], the Words of God would not be exhausted. Truly God is Mighty, Wise.” In Surah Kahf (the Cave), we read a similar verse: “Say, ‘If every ocean becomes ink for the words of my Lord, surely, the ocean would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even though We brought the like thereof as further help;’” (18:109)
For, some details on these two verses of the Quran please see:
“Your creation and your resurrection are as naught but a single soul. Truly God is Hearing, Seeing.”
As regards the creation, ‘a single soul,’ could imply the very first unicellular organism from which all life forms evolved over the billions of years.
“Have you not considered that God makes the night pass into the day and makes the day pass into the night, and that He made the sun and the moon subservient, each running for an appointed term, and that God is Aware of whatsoever you do?”
According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues:
Cf. 35:13. The passing of the night into the day and the day into the night (cf. 3:27; 22:61; 57:6) can refer to the daily exchange of light and darkness (Aj), to seasonal variations in the length of days and nights (IK, JJ), or to both. That God has made the sun and the moon subservient (cf. 7:54; 13:2; 14:33; 16:12; 29:61; 39:5) refers to God’s control over all celestial bodies (IK), as in 16:12: The sun, and the moon, and the stars are subservient by His Command. It can also be understood as a reference to the manner in which they are made to serve human beings, as in 14:33: He has made the sun and the moon subservient unto you, constant, and He made the night and the day subservient unto you (of. 22:65; 31:20; 45:13). That each runs for a term appointed (cf. 13:2; 35:13; 39:5) refers to their termination at the end of the world (IK, JJ) or to their cyclical rotation.
Section IV: Human Psychology In and Out of Trials
|31:31. Have you not considered that the ships sail upon the sea by God’s Blessing, that He may show you His wonders? Truly there are signs in this for every steadfast, thankful person.||
أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ الْفُلْكَ تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِنِعْمَتِ اللَّـهِ لِيُرِيَكُم مِّنْ آيَاتِهِ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّكُلِّ صَبَّارٍ شَكُورٍ
|31:32. When the waves enshroud them like so many coverings, they call upon God, devoting their religion entirely to Him. Then when He has delivered them safely to land, some of them waver — only a treacherous, thankless person refuses to acknowledge Our signs.||
وَإِذَا غَشِيَهُم مَّوْجٌ كَالظُّلَلِ دَعَوُا اللَّـهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ فَلَمَّا نَجَّاهُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ فَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ ۚ وَمَا يَجْحَدُ بِآيَاتِنَا إِلَّا كُلُّ خَتَّارٍ كَفُورٍ
|31:33. O mankind be mindful of your duty to your Lord and fear a day on which no parent will avail his child aught and no child will avail his parent aught. Surely God’s Promise is true. So let not the life of this world delude you, nor let the Deceiver delude you concerning God.||
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ وَاخْشَوْا يَوْمًا لَّا يَجْزِي وَالِدٌ عَن وَلَدِهِ وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ هُوَ جَازٍ عَن وَالِدِهِ شَيْئًا ۚ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّـهِ حَقٌّ ۖ فَلَا تَغُرَّنَّكُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا وَلَا يَغُرَّنَّكُم بِاللَّـهِ الْغَرُورُ
|31:34. Truly with God lies knowledge of the Hour, and He sends down the rain and knows what lies in wombs. And no soul knows what it will reap tomorrow, and no soul knows in what land it will die. Truly God is All-Knowing, All-Aware.||
إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عِندَهُ عِلْمُ السَّاعَةِ وَيُنَزِّلُ الْغَيْثَ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْأَرْحَامِ ۖ وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ مَّاذَا تَكْسِبُ غَدًا ۖ وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ بِأَيِّ أَرْضٍ تَمُوتُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
“Have you not considered that the ships sail upon the sea by God’s Blessing, that He may show you His wonders? Truly there are signs in this for every steadfast, thankful person.”
“When the waves enshroud them like so many coverings, they call upon God, devoting their religion entirely to Him. Then when He has delivered them safely to land, some of them waver — only a treacherous, thankless person refuses to acknowledge Our signs.”
There is a popular saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” Armand M. Nicholi, M.D., Jr. is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital. He writes, “Some of my students dogmatically deny the existence of God — but at the same time acknowledge that whenever their plane hits turbulence, they find themselves praying.”
In times of extreme need we call upon Allah in extreme anguish but many among us forget our prayers when the trial is over. We could do well to remember that trials can return and ultimately we are all mortals and will be returning to God. Also see 30:33-34.
According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in the commentary of verse number 31:
That seafaring is a blessing bestowed by God (cf. 14:32; 17:66; 22:65; 30:46; 43:12) reiterates the manner in which God makes creation subservient to human beings, as in 45:12: God it is Who made the sea subservient unto you, that the ships may sail upon it by His Command, that you may seek His Bounty, and that haply you may give thanks; see 31:20c. Patient and thankful describe those who are steadfast in the face of afﬂiction and thankful when in a state of ease (IK).
According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in the commentary of verse number 32:
Cf. 10:22-23; 17:67; 29:65. A storm at sea can be seen as a parable for every afﬂiction that besets human beings in life. Devoting religion entirely to Him (cf. 7:29; 10:22; 29:65; 40:14., 65; 98:5) refers to the singularity of their devotion in the face of severe afﬂictions (T). Yet when they are delivered to safety, some take a middling course, wavering away from the sincerity they had declared when they feared for their lives (Z), or turn away and are ungrateful (17:67), returning to their polytheism or their forgetfulness of God and behaving tyrannically upon the earth without right (10:23). Perﬁdious translates khattar, which means one who betrays or stabs in the back or who breaks every promise made (IK). Such people deny that their good fortune is a blessing from God and do not give thanks for it (IK).
What we have to realize is that when we get out of a trial successfully, it is not ultimate victory as there would be still further trials and eventually Afterlife. Allah says in Surah Rome:
When something bad happens to people, they cry to their Lord and turn to Him for help, but no sooner does He let them taste His blessing than—lo and behold!—some of them ascribe partners to their Lord, showing no gratitude for what We have given them. ‘Take your pleasure! You will come to know.’ (30:33-34)
In other words humans have little choice but to be grateful to their Creator God, Who helps and saves them in their various trials and tribulations.
“Truly with God lies knowledge of the Hour, and He sends down the rain and knows what lies in wombs. And no soul knows what it will reap tomorrow, and no soul knows in what land it will die. Truly God is All-Knowing, All-Aware.”
This verse talks about Afterlife in indirect terms.
We believe the two fundamental beliefs in Islam, which it shares with Judaism and Christianity are belief in the Transcendent God and accountability in the life after death. These beliefs come up in almost every surah of the Quran in one form or the other. The former is discussed at some length in the commentary of Surah Fatihah and the latter in the commentary of Surah Waqi’ah.
Armand M Nicholi Jr. CS Lewis and Freud: debate God, love, sex and meaning of life. Free Press 2002, page 51.