42 - Ash Shura (The council)

4 Tafsir(s) related to verse 42.1


Hā mīm

Ibn Al Kathir

The Revelation and Allah's Might

We have previously discussed the individual letters.

كَذَلِكَ يُوحِى إِلَيْكَ وَإِلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكَ اللَّهُ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

(Likewise Allah, the Almighty, the All-Wise sends revelation to you as to those before you.) means, `just as this Qur'an has been revealed to you, so too the Books and Scriptures were revealed to the Prophets who came before you.'

اللَّهِ الْعَزِيزِ

(Allah, the Almighty) means, in His vengeance


(the All-Wise) means, in all that He says and does. Imam Malik, may Allah have mercy on him, narrated that `A'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, "Al-Harith bin Hisham asked the Messenger of Allah, `O Messenger of Allah, how does the revelation come to you' The Messenger of Allah said:

«أَحْيَانًا يَأْتِينِي مِثْلَ صَلْصَلَةِ الْجَرَسِ، وَهُوَ أَشَدُّهُ عَلَيَّ فَيَفْصِمُ عَنِّي وَقَدْ وَعَيْتُ مَا قَالَ، وَأَحْيَانًا يَأْتِينِي الْمَلَكُ رَجُلًا فَيُكَلِّمُنِي فَأَعِي مَا يَقُول»

(Sometimes it comes to me like the ringing of a bell, which is the most difficult for me; then it goes away, and I understand what was said. And sometimes the angel comes to me in the image of a man, and he speaks to me and I understand what he says.)'' `A'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, "I saw him receiving the revelation on a very cold day, and when it departed from him, there were beads of sweat on his forehead.'' It was also reported in the Two Sahihs, and the version quoted here is that recorded by Al-Bukhari.

لَهُ مَا فِى السَّمَـوَت وَمَا فِى الاٌّرْضِ

(To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth,) means, everything is subject to His dominion and control.

وَهُوَ الْعَلِىُّ الْعَظِيمُ

(and He is the Most High, the Most Great.) This is like the Ayat:

الْكَبِيرُ الْمُتَعَالِ

(the Most Great, the Most High) (13:9), and

وَهُوَ الْعَلِىُّ الْكَبِيرُ

(He is the Most High, the Most Great) (22:62). And there are many similar Ayat.

تَكَادُ السَّمَـوَتُ يَتَفَطَّرْنَ مِن فَوْقِهِنَّ

(Nearly the heavens might be rent asunder from above them,) Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Ka`b Al-Ahbar said, "Out of fear of His might.''

وَالْمَلَـئِكَةُ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَ لِمَن فِى الاٌّرْضِ

(and the angels glorify the praises of their Lord, and ask for forgiveness for those on the earth.) This is like the Ayah:

الَّذِينَ يَحْمِلُونَ الْعَرْشَ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهُ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَيُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَ لِلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ رَبَّنَا وَسِعْتَ كُـلَّ شَىْءٍ رَّحْمَةً وَعِلْماً

(Those who bear the Throne and those around it glorify the praises of their Lord, and believe in Him, and ask forgiveness for those who believe (saying): "Our Lord! You comprehend all things in mercy and knowledge,'') (40:7)

أَلاَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ

(Lo! Verily, Allah is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.) This is a reminder, to take heed of this fact.

وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُواْ مِن دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَآءَ

(And as for those who take as protecting friends others besides Him) This refers to the idolators,

اللَّهُ حَفِيظٌ عَلَيْهِمْ

(Allah is Hafiz over them.) meaning, He is Witness to their deeds, recording and enumerating them precisely, and He will requite them for them in full.

وَمَآ أَنتَ عَلَيْهِم بِوَكِيلٍ

(and you are not a trustee over them.) meaning, `you are just a warner, and Allah is the Trustee of all affairs.'

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

The style of the opening verses by itself shows that in the background there are the misgivings, wonder and amazement which were being expressed at that time in every assembly, every meeting place, every street and every house and shop of Makkah at the message of the Holy Prophet and the themes of the Qur'an. The people said, "Where from is this man bringing us new revelations everyday? The like of these we had never heard nor seen before. How strange that he rejects as false the religion that our forefathers have been following in the past, the religion that is still being followed by all of us, and the traditions and ways that have been prevalent in the country for so many centuries; and he says that the religion that he presents only is right and true." They said: `Had he presented even this new religion in a way as to substitute some of the falsehood he found in the ancestral paganism and prevalent customs with certain others which might be the result of his own thought, there could be a dialogue with him. But he says that what he recites is Divine Word. How can we accept this? Does God visit him, or does he visit God? Or does some dialogue take place between him and God?" It is in the background of such expression of wonder and doubt that although the address is apparently directed to the Holy Prophet, the disbelievers have in fact been told: "Yes: these very things are being revealed by the Almighty, All-Wise Allah, and with the same themes has its Revelation been coming down to all the former Prophets."

Lexically, wahi means "swift and secret instruction", i.e. an inspiration which is made with such haste and speed that none may know it except the inspirer and the one being inspired. As a term this word has been used for the guidance and instruction that is put in the mind of a man by Allah like a flash of lightning. What is meant to be said here is this: `There is no question of Allah's visiting somebody or somebody's visiting Allah and speaking face to face with Him. He is All-Mighty and All-Wise. Whenever He pleases to have a contact with a servant for the guidance and instruction of mankind, nothing can obstruct His will and intention, for He adopts the method of revelation for the purpose by His wisdom. " This very theme has been repeated in the last verses of the Surah with greater clarity and detail.

As to the people's objection that the Holy Prophet was presenting strange and novel things, it has been said: There is nothing strange and novel in what Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) presents; Allah has been giving the same guidance and instruction to the Prophets who came before him in the world. "

These introductory sentences are not meant to be said merely in praise of Allah Almighty, but their each word has a deep link with the background in which these verses were sent down. The foremost basis of the objections of the people who were expressing wonder and doubts against the Holy Prophet and the Qur'an was that he was inviting them to Tauhid and they were being alarmed at this and saying that if Allah alone is the Creator, Sustainer and Ruler, what would be the position of their saints and holy men? At this it has been said: "This whole Universe belongs to Allah. How can therefore the godhead of another work and operate in the kingdom of the real Sovereign, particularly when those others whose godhead is acknowledged, are themselves also His subjects?" Then, it has been said: `He is the High, the Great!" That is, He is far above that somebody else should be equal to Him in rank and should became His associate in His Being, attributes, powers or rights."

That is, "It is not a trivial matter that a creature should be joined in lineage with Allah and regarded as His son or daughter; another regarded as fulfiller of the needs and the answerer of the petitions so that the people should start invoking him for help; another taken as the maintainer of the entire world, and his devotees should start proclaiming that their holy saint heard the prayer of everyone at all places at all times and Games to his help and answers his petition; another invested with the authority to enjoin and prohibit things and declare them as lawful and unlawful, and the people should start obeying his commands, instead of the Commands of God, as if he alone was their God. These boldnesses against God arc such that they may well cause the heavens to break asunder. " (This same theme has also been presented in Surah Maryam: 88-91 above).

It means: `The angels shudder with disgust when they hear such nonsense being uttered by the people in respect of their Lord, and they regard it as a rebellion against Him." They say: `Glorified be Allah! No one can have the position that he should become an associate with Allah, Lord of the worlds, in Divinity and Command; there is none beside Him who may be our and all other servants' benefactor so that hymns be sung in his praise and he be thanked. " So, they feel that it is a grave crime being committed in the world, and it may provoke Allah Almighty's wrath any moment. Therefore, they implore Allah for mercy again and again for the dwellers of the earth, who have forgotten themselves and their God, and pray that they may yet be spared from the torment and given more respite to mend their ways.

That is, "It is only Allah's clemency, mercifulness and forgiveness that the people who have touched the extreme limits in disbelief, polytheism, atheism, sinfulness and tyranny, have been receiving respite after respite for years and years, even for centuries; yet they not only go on receiving their sustenance but arc also acclaimed as the great people of the world and they are provided with such adornments of the worldly life as cause the ignorant people the misunderstanding that this world perhaps has no God. "

The word auliya (sing. wall) as used in the Text is very comprehensive in meaning. The different beliefs and all sorts of diverse practices with regard to the false deities held and worshiped by the polytheistic people, have been described as "taking others as auliya' (guardians) instead of Allah" in the Qur'an. According to the Qur'an, a person takes such a one his wali:

(1) whom he obeys in all matters, whose instructions he carries out and Whose ways and customs and rules he follows in all affairs of life (An-Nisa: 118-120; Al A'raf: 3, 27-30);

(2) in whose guidance he has full faith, and who he thinks will lead him aright and save him from error and deviation (Al-Baqarah: 257, Bani Isra'il: 97, Al-Kahf: 17-50, AI-Jathiah: 19);

(3) about whom he trusts he will protect him from the torment of God in the Hereafter if it really existed (An Nisa: 123, 173; Al-An'am: 51, Ar-Ra'd: 37, AI-'Ankabut: 22, AI-Ahzab: 65, Az-Zumar: 3);

(4) about whom he has the belief that he helps him in the world in supernatural ways, protects him from disaster and afflictions, gets him jobs, blesses him with children, and fulfills his desires and all other needs. (Hud: 20, Ar-Ra'd: 16, Al-`Ankabut: 4l).

At some places in the Qur'an the word wali has been used in one of these senses and at others in all its meanings. The verse being commented upon is one of such verses. In it, taking others as guardians instead of Allah implies regarding them as one's patron and supporter and helper in all the four about-mentioned meanings.

"Allah is watching them": Allah sees whatever they arc doing and is recording their conduct. It is His responsibility to call them to account and punish them. As for the words "You are not responsible for their conduct", these have been addressed to the Holy Prophet. They mean: "Their destiny has not been placed under yow control so that you may burn to ashes anyone who does not listen to you, or depose him from power, or annihilate him." This, however, does not mean that, God forbid, the Holy Prophet regarded himself as such, and this was said in order to remove his misunderstanding or self-conceit, but this was meant for the disbelievers. Although apparently the Holy Prophet himself is the addressee, the real object is to tell the disbelievers that the Prophet of Allah has made no such claims as were usually made by their so-called saints who posed to possess great spiritual powers. Among the ignorant people it is generally thought that the so-called "holy men" have the power to ruin the destiny of anyone who behaves insolently towards them in any way; so much so that even after their death if somebody happened to dishonor their grave, or if nothing else, only nursed an evil thought about them in his mind, they destroyed him completely. Such a thought is in most casts spread by the "holy men" themselves. As for the good men who do not themselves say any such thing, their names are exploited by some other clever people, who spread such thoughts about them in order to promote their business. In any case this is regarded as a necessary corollary of spirituality and piety among the common people that one should possess the powers of making and marring destinies. To destroy the spell of this same fraud, Allah is addressing His Holy Messenger, as if to tell the disbelievers: "You are no doubt Our Messenger and We have blessed you with Our Revelations, but yow duty is only to guide the people to the Right Path. Their destinies have not boon placed under yow control; they arc in Our hand; therefore, to watch over the deeds and acts of the servants and to punish or not to punish them is Our own responsibility."

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said regarding the interpretation of Allah's saying: (Ha. Mim. 'Ayn. Sin. Qaf.): '(Ha. Mim. 'Ayn. Sin. Qaf.) this is an expression of praise by which Allah is praising Himself. He says: the (Ha) stands for His clemency (hilmuhu), the (Mim) stand for His sovereignty (mulkuhu), the ('Ayn) stands for His knowledge ('ilmuhu), the (Sin) stands for His majesty (sana'uhu), and the (Qaf) stands for his power (quwwatuhu) over His created beings; it is also said that the (Ha) stands for war (harb) that will ever be, the (Mim) stand for the transformation of every sovereignty (mulk) that will ever be, the ('Ayn) stands for every promise (wa'd) that will ever be made, the (Sin) stands for years (sinun) like the hard years of Joseph, and the (Qaf) stands for his slander (qadhf) that will ever be made; and it is also said that it is an oath sworn by Allah that He will not punish eternally in the Fire anyone who sincerely says: "there is no deity but Allah", and meets Allah believing in it.