Surah Shura: Consultation

Introduction

A Meccan surah that takes its name from verse 38, where the practice of consultation (shura) is listed as one of the most important characteristic of the Muslim communities.

The holy Quran does not give us a detailed political system but describes some guiding principles.  The most important of these is that the system of governance, whether for a country, corporation, a religious sect or any other social entity should be based on consultation and not on monarchy, dictatorship or priesthood.  This not only ensures that the wisdom of humanity at large comes to service of the group, but also that the group serves the larger interest, rather than of one person or one royal family.  In other words, “Government of the people, by the people for the people.” In this spirit we have to also learn from history and experimentation of governance that has happened in numerous countries and corporations over the centuries, as that is another means of ‘consultation.’

The surah discusses man’s habit of creating division and disharmony in matters of religion, and God’s all-prevailing power, wisdom, and final decision. The unity of religion is stressed (verse 13) as is the continuity of the prophets (verse 13). The Prophet Muhammad is reminded that he cannot compel people to believe, that they will be judged according to their deeds, and that he is only there to deliver the message.

The verse 29 of this surah describes extraterrestrial life and predicts that humans will one day meet them.  The verses 36-43 outline the philosophy of punishment and forgiveness.

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

42:1. The Praiseworthy, the Lord of Honor

حم

42:2. The All Knowing, the All Hearing, the All Powerful

عسق

42:3. This is how God, the Mighty, the Wise, sends revelation to you Muhammad as He did to those before you.

كَذَٰلِكَ يُوحِي إِلَيْكَ وَإِلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكَ اللَّـهُ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

42:4. All that is in the heavens and earth belongs to Him: He is the Exalted, the All Powerful.

لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ

42:5. The heavens may well rend asunder from above, while the angels proclaim the praises of their Lord and ask forgiveness for those on earth. God is indeed the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.

تَكَادُ السَّمَاوَاتُ يَتَفَطَّرْنَ مِن فَوْقِهِنَّ ۚوَالْمَلَائِكَةُ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَ لِمَن فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗأَلَا إِنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ

42:6. As for those who take protectors other than Him, God is watching them; you are not responsible for them.

وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِن دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ اللَّـهُ حَفِيظٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَمَا أَنتَ عَلَيْهِم بِوَكِيلٍ

42:7. So We have revealed an Arabic Quran to you, in order that you may warn the capital city and all who live nearby. And warn especially about the Day of Gathering, of which there is no doubt, when some shall be in the Garden and some in the blazing Fire.

وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لِّتُنذِرَ أُمَّ الْقُرَىٰ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا وَتُنذِرَ يَوْمَ الْجَمْعِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ ۚ فَرِيقٌ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَفَرِيقٌ فِي السَّعِيرِ

42:8. If God had so pleased, He could have made them a single community, but He admits to His mercy whoever He pleases; the evildoers will have no one to protect or help them.

وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّـهُ لَجَعَلَهُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَـٰكِن يُدْخِلُ مَن يَشَاءُ فِي رَحْمَتِهِ ۚوَالظَّالِمُونَ مَا لَهُم مِّن وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ

42:9. How can they take protectors other than Him? God alone is the Protector; He gives life to the dead; He has power over all things.

أَمِ اتَّخَذُوا مِن دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ ۖ فَاللَّـهُ هُوَ الْوَلِيُّ وَهُوَ يُحْيِي الْمَوْتَىٰ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

42:10. Whatever you may differ about is for God to judge. Say, ‘Such is God, my Lord. In Him I trust and to Him I turn,

وَمَا اخْتَلَفْتُمْ فِيهِ مِن شَيْءٍ فَحُكْمُهُ إِلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمُ اللَّـهُ رَبِّي عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ وَإِلَيْهِ أُنِيبُ

42:11. the Creator of the heavens and earth.’ He made mates for you from among yourselves – and for the animals too – so that you may multiply. There is nothing whatever like unto Him: He is the All Hearing, the All Seeing.

فَاطِرُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ جَعَلَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا وَمِنَ الْأَنْعَامِ أَزْوَاجًا ۖ يَذْرَؤُكُمْ فِيهِ ۚ لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ ۖ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ

42:12. The keys of the heavens and the earth are His; He provides abundantly or sparingly for whoever He will; He has full knowledge of all things.

لَهُ مَقَالِيدُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيَقْدِرُ ۚ إِنَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

42:13. He has prescribed for you the religion which We enjoined on Noah, which We have revealed to you Muhammad and which We enjoined on Abraham and Moses and Jesus: ‘Uphold the faith and do not divide into factions within it.’  What you Prophet call upon the idolaters to do is hard for them; God chooses whoever He pleases for Himself and guides towards Himself those who turn to Him.

شَرَعَ لَكُم مِّنَ الدِّينِ مَا وَصَّىٰ بِهِ نُوحًا وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ وَمَا وَصَّيْنَا بِهِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ ۖ أَنْ أَقِيمُوا الدِّينَ وَلَا تَتَفَرَّقُوا فِيهِ ۚ كَبُرَ عَلَى الْمُشْرِكِينَ مَا تَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَيْهِ ۚ اللَّـهُ يَجْتَبِي إِلَيْهِ مَن يَشَاءُ وَيَهْدِي إِلَيْهِ مَن يُنِيبُ

42:14. They divided, out of jealousy, only after knowledge had come to them, and, if it had not been for a decree already passed by your Lord to reprieve them until an appointed time, they would already have been judged. Those after them, who inherited the Scripture, are in disquieting doubt about it.

وَمَا تَفَرَّقُوا إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْعِلْمُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ ۚ وَلَوْلَا كَلِمَةٌ سَبَقَتْ مِن رَّبِّكَ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى لَّقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُمْ ۚ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُورِثُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ لَفِي شَكٍّ مِّنْهُ مُرِيبٍ

42:15. So call people to that faith and follow the straight path as you have been commanded. Do not go by what they desire, but say, ‘I believe in whatever Book God has sent down. I am commanded to bring justice between you. God is our Lord and your Lord – to us our deeds and to you yours, so let there be no contention between us and you – God will gather us together, and to Him we shall return.’

فَلِذَٰلِكَ فَادْعُ ۖ وَاسْتَقِمْ كَمَا أُمِرْتَ ۖ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ ۖ وَقُلْ آمَنتُ بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ مِن كِتَابٍ ۖ وَأُمِرْتُ لِأَعْدِلَ بَيْنَكُمُ ۖ اللَّـهُ رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّكُمْ ۖ لَنَا أَعْمَالُنَا وَلَكُمْ أَعْمَالُكُمْ ۖ لَا حُجَّةَ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمُ ۖ اللَّـهُ يَجْمَعُ بَيْنَنَا ۖ وَإِلَيْهِ الْمَصِيرُ

42:16. As for those who argue about God after He has been manifested to humanity, their argument has no weight with their Lord. On them is Allah’s wrath anger and agonizing torment awaits them.

وَالَّذِينَ يُحَاجُّونَ فِي اللَّـهِ مِن بَعْدِ مَا اسْتُجِيبَ لَهُ حُجَّتُهُمْ دَاحِضَةٌ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَعَلَيْهِمْ غَضَبٌ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ

42:17. It is God who has sent down this book, the Quran with Truth and the Balance. The Last Hour may well be near:

اللَّـهُ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ وَالْمِيزَانَ ۗ وَمَا يُدْرِيكَ لَعَلَّ السَّاعَةَ قَرِيبٌ

42:18. those who do not believe in it seek to hasten it, but the believers stand in awe of it. They know that it is bound to come; those who argue about the Hour are far, far astray.

يَسْتَعْجِلُ بِهَا الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِهَا

 ۖ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مُشْفِقُونَ مِنْهَا وَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهَا الْحَقُّ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُمَارُونَ فِي السَّاعَةِ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ بَعِيدٍ

42:19. Allah is aware of the most secret thoughts and doings of His creatures; He provides bountifully for whoever He will; He is the Powerful, the Almighty.

اللَّـهُ لَطِيفٌ بِعِبَادِهِ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاءُ ۖ وَهُوَ الْقَوِيُّ الْعَزِيزُ

42:20. Whoso desires the harvest of the Hereafter, We give him increase in his harvest; and whoso desires the harvest of this world only, We give him thereof, but in the Hereafter he will have no share.

مَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ حَرْثَ الْآخِرَةِ نَزِدْ لَهُ فِي حَرْثِهِ

 ۖوَمَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ حَرْثَ الدُّنْيَا نُؤْتِهِ مِنْهَا وَمَا لَهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِن نَّصِيبٍ

42:21. How can they believe in others who ordain for them things which God has not
sanctioned in the practice of their faith? If it were not for God’s decree concerning the final Decision, judgement would already have been made against them. The evildoers will have a grievous punishment,

أَمْ لَهُمْ شُرَكَاءُ شَرَعُوا لَهُم مِّنَ الدِّينِ مَا لَمْ يَأْذَن بِهِ اللَّـهُ ۚ وَلَوْلَا كَلِمَةُ الْفَصْلِ لَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُمْ ۗ وَإِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

42:22. you will see them fearful because of what they have done: punishment is bound to fall on them – but those who believe and do good deeds will be in the flowering meadows of the Gardens. They will have whatever they wish from their Lord: this is the great bounty.

تَرَى الظَّالِمِينَ مُشْفِقِينَ مِمَّا كَسَبُوا وَهُوَ وَاقِعٌ بِهِمْ ۗوَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فِي رَوْضَاتِ الْجَنَّاتِ ۖ لَهُم مَّا يَشَاءُونَ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَضْلُ الْكَبِيرُ

42:23. It is of this that God gives good news to His servants who believe and do good deeds. Say Prophet, ‘I ask no reward from you for this, only the affection due to kins.’ If anyone does good, We shall multiply it for him; God is most forgiving and most appreciative.

ذَٰلِكَ الَّذِي يُبَشِّرُ اللَّـهُ عِبَادَهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ ۗ قُل لَّا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا إِلَّا الْمَوَدَّةَ فِي الْقُرْبَىٰ ۗ وَمَن يَقْتَرِفْ حَسَنَةً نَّزِدْ لَهُ فِيهَا حُسْنًا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ غَفُورٌ شَكُورٌ

42:24. How can they say, ‘He has invented a lie about God?’ If God so willed, He could seal your heart and blot out lies: God confirms the Truth with His words. He has full knowledge of every secret thought.

أَمْ يَقُولُونَ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّـهِ كَذِبًا ۖ فَإِن يَشَإِ اللَّـهُ يَخْتِمْ عَلَىٰ قَلْبِكَ ۗ وَيَمْحُ اللَّـهُ الْبَاطِلَ وَيُحِقُّ الْحَقَّ بِكَلِمَاتِهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ

42:25. It is He who accepts repentance from His servants and pardons bad deeds – He knows everything you do.

وَهُوَ الَّذِي يَقْبَلُ التَّوْبَةَ عَنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَعْفُو عَنِ السَّيِّئَاتِ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ

42:26. He responds to those who believe and do good deeds, and gives them more of His bounty; agonizing torment awaits the disbelievers.

وَيَسْتَجِيبُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَيَزِيدُهُم مِّن فَضْلِهِ ۚ وَالْكَافِرُونَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ

42:27. Were Allah to enlarge greatly the provisions of many of His servants, they would act arrogantly in the earth, but He sends down in due measure whatever He wills, for He is well aware of His servants and All Seeing!

وَلَوْ بَسَطَ اللَّـهُ الرِّزْقَ لِعِبَادِهِ لَبَغَوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَـٰكِن يُنَزِّلُ بِقَدَرٍ مَّا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِنَّهُ بِعِبَادِهِ خَبِيرٌ بَصِيرٌ

42:28. It is He who sends relief through rain after they have lost hope, and spreads His mercy far and wide. He is the Protector, Worthy of All Praise.

وَهُوَ الَّذِي يُنَزِّلُ الْغَيْثَ مِن بَعْدِ مَا قَنَطُوا وَيَنشُرُ رَحْمَتَهُ ۚ وَهُوَ الْوَلِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ

42:29. Of His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and of whatever living creatures He has spread out in both. He has the power to gather them together when He pleases.

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَثَّ فِيهِمَا مِن دَابَّةٍ ۚ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ جَمْعِهِمْ إِذَا يَشَاءُ قَدِيرٌ

42:30. Whatever misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your own hands have done; God forgives much.

وَمَا أَصَابَكُم مِّن مُّصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَيَعْفُو عَن كَثِيرٍ

42:31. You cannot escape Him anywhere
on earth: you have no protector or helper other than God.

وَمَا أَنتُم بِمُعْجِزِينَ فِي الْأَرْضِ

 ۖ وَمَا لَكُم مِّن دُونِ اللَّـهِ مِن وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ

42: 32. Among His signs are the ships, sailing like floating mountains:

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ الْجَوَارِ فِي الْبَحْرِ كَالْأَعْلَامِ

42:33. if He willed, He could bring the wind to a standstill and they would lie motionless on the surface of the sea– there truly are signs in this for anyone who is steadfast and thankful,

إِن يَشَأْ يُسْكِنِ الرِّيحَ فَيَظْلَلْنَ رَوَاكِدَ عَلَىٰ ظَهْرِهِ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّكُلِّ صَبَّارٍ شَكُورٍ

42:34. or He could cause them to be wrecked on account of what their passengers have done – God pardons much.

أَوْ يُوبِقْهُنَّ بِمَا كَسَبُوا وَيَعْفُ عَن كَثِيرٍ

42:35. To let those who argue about Our messages know that there is no escape for them.

وَيَعْلَمَ الَّذِينَ يُجَادِلُونَ فِي آيَاتِنَا مَا لَهُم مِّن مَّحِيصٍ

42:36. Whatever you have been given is only a temporary provision of this life, but that which is with Allah is better and more lasting for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord;

فَمَا أُوتِيتُم مِّن شَيْءٍ

فَمَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا

 ۖ وَمَا عِندَ اللَّـهِ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ

42:37. those who eschew the graver sins and indecencies, and when they are wroth they forgive;

وَالَّذِينَ يَجْتَنِبُونَ كَبَائِرَ الْإِثْمِ وَالْفَوَاحِشَ وَإِذَا مَا غَضِبُوا هُمْ يَغْفِرُونَ

42:38. those who hearken to their Lord, and observe Prayer and whose affairs are administered by mutual consultation, and who spend out of whatever We have provided for them;

وَالَّذِينَ اسْتَجَابُوا لِرَبِّهِمْ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَمْرُهُمْ شُورَىٰ بَيْنَهُمْ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ

42:39. and those who, when a wrong is done them, defend themselves.

وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَهُمُ الْبَغْيُ هُمْ يَنتَصِرُونَ

42:40. The recompense of an injury is a penalty in proportion thereto; but whoso forgives and effects a reform thereby has his reward with Allah. Surely He loves not the wrongdoers.

وَجَزَاءُ سَيِّئَةٍ سَيِّئَةٌ مِّثْلُهَا ۖ فَمَنْ عَفَا وَأَصْلَحَ فَأَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الظَّالِمِينَ

42:41. No blame attaches to those who exact due retribution when they are wronged.

وَلَمَنِ انتَصَرَ بَعْدَ ظُلْمِهِ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ مَا عَلَيْهِم مِّن سَبِيلٍ

42:42. Blame attaches only to those who wrong others and transgress in the earth without justification. They will have a painful chastisement.

إِنَّمَا السَّبِيلُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ يَظْلِمُونَ النَّاسَ وَيَبْغُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

42:43. But the wronged one who endures with fortitude and forgives, achieves a matter of high resolve.

وَلَمَن صَبَرَ وَغَفَرَ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ لَمِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ

42:44. Anyone God allows to stray will have no one else to protect him: you [Prophet] will see the wrongdoers, when they face the punishment, exclaiming, ‘Is there any way of going back?’

وَمَن يُضْلِلِ اللَّـهُ فَمَا

لَهُ مِن وَلِيٍّ مِّن بَعْدِهِ

 ۗ وَتَرَى الظَّالِمِينَ لَمَّا رَأَوُا الْعَذَابَ يَقُولُونَ هَلْ إِلَىٰ مَرَدٍّ مِّن سَبِيلٍ

42:45. You will see them exposed to the Fire, abject in humiliation, glancing furtively, while those who believed exclaim, ‘The losers are the ones who have lost themselves and their people on the Day of Resurrection.’ Truly the evildoers will remain in a long torment;

وَتَرَاهُمْ يُعْرَضُونَ عَلَيْهَا خَاشِعِينَ مِنَ الذُّلِّ يَنظُرُونَ مِن طَرْفٍ خَفِيٍّ ۗ وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ الْخَاسِرِينَ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ وَأَهْلِيهِمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ فِي عَذَابٍ مُّقِيمٍ

42:46. they will have no allies to help them against God. There is no way forward for those God allows to stray.

وَمَا كَانَ لَهُم مِّنْ أَوْلِيَاءَ يَنصُرُونَهُم مِّن دُونِ اللَّـهِ ۗ وَمَن يُضْلِلِ اللَّـهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِن سَبِيلٍ

42:47. So respond to your Lord before there comes a Day that cannot, against God’s will, be averted– you will have no refuge on that Day, and no possibility of denying your sins.

اسْتَجِيبُوا لِرَبِّكُم مِّن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِيَ يَوْمٌ لَّا مَرَدَّ لَهُ مِنَ اللَّـهِ ۚ مَا لَكُم مِّن مَّلْجَإٍ يَوْمَئِذٍ وَمَا لَكُم مِّن نَّكِيرٍ

42:48.  Then, if they turn away, We have not sent you as a guardian over them. Your duty is only to convey the Message. When We bestow mercy upon man, he rejoices therein; but if, in consequence of his faults, he is afflicted with evil, he is ungrateful.

فَإِنْ أَعْرَضُوا فَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ عَلَيْهِمْ حَفِيظًا

 ۖ إِنْ عَلَيْكَ إِلَّا الْبَلَاغُ ۗ وَإِنَّا إِذَا أَذَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِنَّا رَحْمَةً فَرِحَ بِهَا ۖ وَإِن تُصِبْهُمْ سَيِّئَةٌ بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ فَإِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ كَفُورٌ

42:49. God has control of the heavens and the earth; He creates whatever He wills – He grants female offspring to whoever He will.

لِّلَّـهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ

 ۚ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ ۚ يَهَبُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ إِنَاثًا وَيَهَبُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ الذُّكُورَ

42:50.  Male to whoever He wills, or both male and female, and He makes whoever He will barren: He is all knowing and all powerful.

أَوْ يُزَوِّجُهُمْ ذُكْرَانًا وَإِنَاثًا ۖ وَيَجْعَلُ مَن يَشَاءُ عَقِيمًا ۚ إِنَّهُ عَلِيمٌ قَدِيرٌ

42:51. It is not given to a man that Allah should speak to him except by revelation or from behind a veil or by sending a messenger to reveal by His command that which He pleases. Surely, He is High, Wise.

وَمَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَن يُكَلِّمَهُ اللَّـهُ إِلَّا وَحْيًا أَوْ مِن وَرَاءِ حِجَابٍ أَوْ يُرْسِلَ رَسُولًا فَيُوحِيَ بِإِذْنِهِ مَا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِنَّهُ عَلِيٌّ حَكِيمٌ

42:52. Thus have We revealed to you Muhammad the Word by Our command. You did not know what the Book was, nor what was the Faith. But We have made your revelation a light, whereby We guide such of Our servants as We please. Truly, you do guide mankind to the right path.

وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ رُوحًا مِّنْ أَمْرِنَا ۚ مَا كُنتَ تَدْرِي مَا الْكِتَابُ وَلَا الْإِيمَانُ وَلَـٰكِن جَعَلْنَاهُ نُورًا نَّهْدِي بِهِ مَن نَّشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا ۚوَإِنَّكَ لَتَهْدِي إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

42:53. The path of Allah, to Whom belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Behold! to Allah do all affairs return.

صِرَاطِ اللَّـهِ الَّذِي لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ أَلَا إِلَى اللَّـهِ تَصِيرُ الْأُمُورُ

Commentary

42:7

So We have revealed an Arabic Quran to you, in order that you may warn the capital city and all who live nearby. And warn especially about the Day of Gathering, of which there is no doubt, when some shall be in the Garden and some in the blazing Fire.

The concept of afterlife is not only stressed in this verse but in several other verses of this and almost every other surah.

42:13

In matters of faith, He has laid down for you people the same commandment that He gave Noah, which We have revealed to you Muhammad and which We enjoined on Abraham and Moses and Jesus: ‘Uphold the faith and do not divide into factions within it’ – what you Prophet call upon the idolaters to do is hard for them; God chooses whoever He pleases for Himself and guides towards Himself those who turn to Him.

This verse highlights the basis of interfaith tolerance once again. The unity of religion is stressed as is the continuity of the prophets.

42:17-18.

It is God who has sent down this book, the Quran with Truth and the Balance. The Last Hour may well be near: those who do not believe in it seek to hasten it, but the believers stand in awe of it. They know that it is bound to come; those who argue about the Hour are far, far astray.

The concept of afterlife is not only stressed in this verse but in several other verses of this and almost every other surah.

42:20

Whoso desires the harvest of the Hereafter, We give him increase in his harvest; and whoso desires the harvest of this world only, We give him thereof, but in the Hereafter he will have no share.

This verse describes the fate of the staunch atheists, who have no desire and hope for the Hereafter, as a result they deprive themselves of the blessings there.  Elsewhere the Quran says: “Those who disbelieve in the Signs of Allah and the meeting with Him – it is they who have despaired of My mercy. And they will have a grievous punishment.” (29:23) However, these are not the only verses or the Quranic principles pertaining to atheists and the Hereafter.  The holy Quran also says: “Allah burdens not any soul beyond its capacity.” (2:286) It also says that the prophet Luqman said, “O my dear son! even though it be the weight of a grain of mustard seed, and even though it be in a rock, or in the heavens, or in the earth, Allah will surely bring it out; Indeed, Allah is the Knower of all subtleties, All-Aware.” (31:16) It also stresses, “Then whoso does an atom’s weight of good will see it.” (99:7) So, the believers should not have the audacity to shout judgments about others and have humility to yield that only the All Knowing God can be the Master of the Day of Judgment. (1:3)

42:29

Of His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and of whatever living creatures He has spread out in both. He has the power to gather them together when He pleases.

This verse describes extraterrestrial life and predicts that humans will one day meet them. For a detailed commentary of this verse please read the chapter Extraterrestrial Life, in this book: Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth.

42:32-33

Among His signs are the ships, sailing like floating mountains: if He willed, He could bring the wind to a standstill and they would lie motionless on the surface of the sea– there truly are signs in this for anyone who is steadfast and thankful.

The prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, had never traveled by sea.  These verses not only express a beautiful theology of gratitude, but also a subtle reminder that the Quran is the literal word of All-Knowing God and not of Muhammad.

42:36-43

Whatever you have been given is only a temporary provision of this life, but that which is with Allah is better and more lasting for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord; those who eschew the graver sins and indecencies, and when they are wroth they forgive; those who hearken to their Lord, and observe Prayer and whose affairs are administered by mutual consultation, and who spend out of whatever We have provided for them; and those who, when a wrong is done them, defend themselves.

The recompense of an injury is a penalty in proportion thereto; but whoso forgives and effects a reform thereby has his reward with Allah. Surely He loves not the wrongdoers. No blame attaches to those who exact due retribution when they are wronged; blame attaches only to those who wrong others and transgress in the earth without justification. They will have a painful chastisement. But the wronged one who endures with fortitude and forgives, achieves a matter of high resolve.

The philosophy of forgiveness and punishment is described in these verses.  Reading the translation of these verses a few times, may help the subtleties of this philosophy sink in deeper.

The concept of proportionate punishment has not always been there in human history.  The verse above, “The recompense of an injury is a penalty in proportion thereto; but whoso forgives and effects a reform thereby has his reward with Allah.,” is pivotal in this regards.

42:51-52

It is not given to a man that Allah should speak to him except by revelation or from behind a veil or by sending a messenger to reveal by His command that which He pleases. Surely, He is High, Wise.  Thus have We revealed to you Muhammad the Word by Our command. You did not know what the Book was, nor what was the Faith. But We have made your revelation a light, whereby We guide such of Our servants as We please. Truly, you do guide mankind to the right path.

Scientific understanding of dreams and revelation as in the following articles by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times can help us better understand these verses.

True Nature of Divine Revelations

Neurobiology of Dreams and Revelation

42:53

The path of Allah, to Whom belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Behold! to Allah do all things return.

The surah ends with a reminder of Afterlife.

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