قَالَ فَأْتِ بِهِ إِنْ كُنْتَ مِنْ الصَّادِقِينَ (الشعراء: 31).
فَأَلْقَى عَصَاهُ فَإِذَا هِيَ ثُعْبَانٌ مُبِينٌ (الشعراء: 32).
وَنَزَعَ يَدَهُ فَإِذَا هِيَ بَيْضَاءُ لِلنَّاظِرِينَ (الشعراء: 33).
قَالَ لِلْمَلَإِ حَوْلَهُ إِنَّ هَذَا لَسَاحِرٌ عَلِيمٌ (الشعراء: 34).
يُرِيدُ أَنْ يُخْرِجَكُمْ مِنْ أَرْضِكُمْ بِسِحْرِهِ فَمَاذَا تَأْمُرُونَ (الشعراء: 35).
قَالُوا أَرْجِهِ وَأَخَاهُ وَابْعَثْ فِي الْمَدَائِنِ حَاشِرِينَ (الشعراء: 36).
يَأْتُوكَ بِكُلِّ سَحَّارٍ عَلِيمٍ (الشعراء: 37).
فَجُمِعَ السَّحَرَةُ لِمِيقَاتِ يَوْمٍ مَعْلُومٍ (الشعراء: 38).
وَقِيلَ لِلنَّاسِ هَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُجْتَمِعُونَ (الشعراء: 39).
لَعَلَّنَا نَتَّبِعُ السَّحَرَةَ إِنْ كَانُوا هُمْ الْغَالِبِينَ (الشعراء: 40).
فَلَمَّا جَاءَ السَّحَرَةُ قَالُوا لِفِرْعَوْنَ أَئِنَّ لَنَا لَأَجْرًا إِنْ كُنَّا نَحْنُ الْغَالِبِينَ (الشعراء: 41).
قَالَ نَعَمْ وَإِنَّكُمْ إِذًا لَمِنْ الْمُقَرَّبِينَ (الشعراء: 42).
قَالَ لَهُمْ مُوسَى أَلْقُوا مَا أَنْتُمْ مُلْقُونَ (الشعراء: 43).
فَأَلْقَوْا حِبَالَهُمْ وَعِصِيَّهُمْ وَقَالُوا بِعِزَّةِ فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّا لَنَحْنُ الْغَالِبُونَ (الشعراء: 44).
فَأَلْقَى مُوسَى عَصَاهُ فَإِذَا هِيَ تَلْقَفُ مَا يَأْفِكُونَ (الشعراء: 45).
فَأُلْقِيَ السَّحَرَةُ سَاجِدِينَ (الشعراء: 46).
قَالُوا آمَنَّا بِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (الشعراء: 47).
رَبِّ مُوسَى وَهَارُونَ (الشعراء: 48).
قَالَ آمَنْتُمْ لَهُ قَبْلَ أَنْ آذَنَ لَكُمْ إِنَّهُ لَكَبِيرُكُمْ الَّذِي عَلَّمَكُمْ السِّحْرَ فَلَسَوْفَ تَعْلَمُونَ لَأُقَطِّعَنَّ أَيْدِيَكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ مِنْ خِلاَفٍ وَلَأُصَلِّبَنَّكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ (الشعراء: 49).
قَالُوا لاَ ضَيْرَ إِنَّا إِلَى رَبِّنَا مُنْقَلِبُونَ (الشعراء: 50).
إِنَّا نَطْمَعُ أَنْ يَغْفِرَ لَنَا رَبُّنَا خَطَايَانَا أَنْ كُنَّا أَوَّلَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (الشعراء: 51).
وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى مُوسَى أَنْ أَسْرِ بِعِبَادِي إِنَّكُمْ مُتَّبَعُونَ (الشعراء: 52).
فَأَرْسَلَ فِرْعَوْنُ فِي الْمَدَائِنِ حَاشِرِينَ (الشعراء: 53).
إِنَّ هَؤُلاَءِ لَشِرْذِمَةٌ قَلِيلُونَ (الشعراء: 54).
وَإِنَّهُمْ لَنَا لَغَائِظُونَ (الشعراء: 55).
وَإِنَّا لَجَمِيعٌ حَاذِرُونَ (الشعراء: 56).
فَأَخْرَجْنَاهُمْ مِنْ جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ (الشعراء: 57).
وَكُنُوزٍ وَمَقَامٍ كَرِيمٍ (الشعراء: 58).
كَذَلِكَ وَأَوْرَثْنَاهَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ (الشعراء: 59).
فَأَتْبَعُوهُمْ مُشْرِقِينَ (الشعراء: 60).
QURQNs SURAH AL SHUARA AYAH 31 TO 65
(27:31) (It says): “Do not act towards me with defiance, but come to me in submission.”37
37. That is, “The letter is important for several reasons: (1) It has reached me in an unusual way. Instead of an envoy it has been brought and dropped at me by a bird. (2) It is from Solomon, the great ruler of Palestine and Syria. (3) It begins with the name of Allah, the
Compassionate, and Merciful, which is an unusual way of correspondence and is not followed by any kingdom in the world. (4) Then, it is also unusual that a letter should be written only in the name of Allah, the Exalted, spare from all other gods and goddesses. (5)
The most important thing in it is that it quite clearly and plainly invites us to give up rebellion and adopt obedience and present ourselves before Solomon in submission (or as Muslims).” “Come to me in submission” can have two meanings: (1) “Present yourselves in submission”; and (2) “present yourselves as Muslims (after embracing Islam).” The first meaning is in accordance with the Prophet Solomon’s (peace be upon him) position as a ruler, and the second with his position as a prophet. Probably this comprehensive word was used in order to convey both meanings through the letter. The same sort of invitation has always been extended by Islam to independent nations and governments that they should either accept Islam and become equal partners in the Islamic system of life, or surrender political independence and submit to the system of Islam and pay Jizyah.
(27:32) (After reading the letter) the Queen said: “Nobles, let me have your counsel in this matter for I make no firm decision without you.”38
38. The words used in the text are hatta tash-hu-dun (until you are present, or unless you bear witness). That is: “I regard your presence necessary when I take a decision in important matters, and also that whatever decision I take you should be there to testify that it is right
and correct.” This shows that though the system of government among Saba was kingship, it was not tyrannical; but the ruler of the time decided matters in consultation with the important people in the government.
(27:33) They said: “We are strong and are given to vehement fighting. But the decision is yours. Therefore, consider what you would like to command.”
(27:34) The Queen said: “When the kings enter a country they cause corruption in it and abase those of its people who are held in honor. 39 This is what they are wont to do.40
39. In this one sentence a thorough criticism has been made of imperialism. The kings’ invasion of the other countries and the victorious nations’ violence against the oppressed nations has never been for the sake of reform and goodwill. The object has been to control and exploit the means and resources of sustenance granted to the other nation by God and make it so helpless that it should never be able to rise in resistance and demand its share.
For this purpose, they block up all its means of prosperity, power, and honor, crush down all self respecting elements, instill in its members’ attitudes of slavery, flattery, treachery and spying against one another, imitation of the conqueror, and respect for his civilization, contempt of their own civilization and other such mean qualities of character. Thus,
gradually they bring them down to such a low level of character that they may not hesitate even to sell off any of their most sacred objects of heritage and be ready to perform any wretched service on payment.
40. This sentence has two meanings and both are equally probable: (1) It may be a part of the queen of Sheba’s speech, which she might have added in order to emphasize her foregoing words; and (2) it may be Allah’s words that have been added as a parenthesis in support
of the queen’s speech.
(27:35) I will send them a gift and then see with what answer my envoys return.”
(27:36) Now, when (the envoy of the Queen) came to Solomon, he said: “Do you want to aid me with wealth? Whatever Allah has granted me is much more than what He has given you.“41 (Keep for yourselves) your gift in which you are exulting.
41. This sentence is not meant to express pride and vanity. What it means to say is this: “I have no desire for your wealth; I only desire that you should believe, or at least submit to a righteous system. If you agree to neither of these alternatives, it is not possible for me to
accept the bribes of wealth and leave you free in the matter of a polytheistic and wicked system of life. What my Lord has given me is enough for me to cherish any desire for your wealth.
(27:37) Envoy, go back to those who sent you and we shall certainly come upon them with hosts 42 whom they will be unable to resist. We shall drive them out from there, and they will suffer humiliation and disgrace.”
42. There is a subtle gap between this and the previous sentence, which one can easily fill up by a careful study of the discourse. It means this: “O messengers, take these gifts back to the people who have sent you. They will either have to yield to our first proposal, i.e. they should come before us as Muslims, or we shall bring forces against them.”
(27:38) Solomon said:43 “My nobles, which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?”44
43. The details of the story that have been omitted are to the effect. The envoys returned to the queen with the gift and made a report of what they had seen and heard. The queen decided on the basis of what she heard about the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) to
make a visit to Jerusalem to see him personally. She left Saba for Palestine accompanied by her royal entourage and sent a message to Solomon’s court that she was coming to personally hear the invitation from the king and to have a direct talk with him. Here, the story is resumed from the time when the queen had reached near Jerusalem and was going to appear before Solomon (peace be upon him) in a day or two.
44. That is, the same throne about which the hoopoe (hudhud) had reported, “She has a splendid throne.” Some commentators have given a strange interpretation here. They say that the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) wanted to have the throne before him before
the queen’s arrival because he wanted to take possession of it. For, he feared that if the queen became a Muslim. It would be unlawful to take possession of her property without her approval: therefore, he made haste to have the queen’s throne with him even before her arrival in Jerusalem, because at that time it was lawful to take it into his possession. May Allah pardon us! This is a strange concept about the intention of a prophet. Why should one not understand the verse in the light that Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) wanted to show a miracle also to the queen and her courtiers besides preaching his message so that she might know what extraordinary powers Allah, Lord of the worlds, had granted His prophet so that she might be convinced that Solomon (peace be upon him) was surely a prophet of
Allah? Some modern commentators have put an even more strange meaning on this verse.
They translate the verse thus: “Which of you can bring me a throne for the queen:” whereas the Quran has used the word bi-arshi-ha which means “her throne”, and not biarshil- laha, “a throne for her”. They mistranslate the verse in order to get rid of what the Quran has
stated that the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) wanted the queen’s own throne to be brought froth Yaman to Jerusalem and that too before the queen’s arrival.
(27:39) A stalwart of the jinn said: “I will bring it to you before you rise from your council.45 Surely I have the power to do so and I am trustworthy.”46
45. From this it becomes obvious whether the jinns under the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) were, according to the interpretation of some rationalist commentators of the modern times, from among mankind or from among the hidden creation commonly known
as jinns. Obviously, the sitting of the Prophet Solomon’s court would at the most be of three to four hours, and the distance of Marib, capital of Saba, from Jerusalem was, even as the crow flies, not less than 1500 miles. To fetch a splendid throne of a queen from such a distant
place in such a short time could not be possible for a man, even if he be a very strong and robust person. This task cannot be performed even by a jet plane of today. The throne was not lying in a jungle from where it had just to be fetched. It lay in a queen’s palace, which
must have been well-guarded, and in the absence of the queen it must have been kept in a secure place. If a man had gone to fetch it, he should have been accompanied by a commando force so that he could overwhelm the guards and snatch away the throne. How could all this be accomplished before the rising of the court? This thing can be conceived only in connection with a real jinn!
46. That is, “You can trust me in that I will not carry it away, nor steal any valuable thing from it.”
(27:40) And he who had some knowledge of the Book said: “I will bring it before the twinkling of your eye.”47 When Solomon saw the throne placed firmly beside him, he cried out: “This is by the grace of my Lord so that He may test me whether I give thanks for (His Bounty) or act with ingratitude.48 Whoever is grateful is so to his own good; and whoever is ungrateful, let him know that my Lord is Immensely Resourceful, Most Bountiful.”49
47. Nothing is known with certainty as to who this person was, what special knowledge he had and what book is referred to here, the knowledge of which he had. No explanation of these things has been given either in the Quran or in any authentic Hadith. Some of the
commentators say that it was an angel, others say that it was a man. Then they differ as to the identity of the man. Someone mentions the name of Asaf bin Barchiah, who, according to the rabbinical traditions, was the Prince of Men. Someone says that he was Khidr, someone mentions some other name, and Imam Razi insists that it was the Prophet Solomon himself. But none of these has any reliable source for this information, and Imam Razi’s opinion does not even fit in with the Quranic context. Likewise, about the book also the commentators differ. Someone says that it refers to Lauh-i-Mahfuz (the Preserved Tablet) and some other takes it for the Book of Law. But all this is mere guess work. Similar guesses have been made about the knowledge the man had from the book. We only know and believe what has been said in the Quran, or what becomes evident from its words. In any
case the person was not from among the jinns, and possibly he was a man. He possessed some extraordinary knowledge, which had been derived from some Divine Book (al-Kitab).
The jinn had claimed to fetch the throne within a few hours by means of his physical strength; this man fetched it ina moment by the power of his knowledge.
48. The words of the Quran are very clear in this regard. This person’s claim did not remain a claim like the jinn’s, but, in fact, as soon as he made the claim the throne was seen placed before the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) the next moment. Just consider these
“T will bring it to you before that your gaze returns to you. Then when he saw it placed before him.”
Anyone who reads these words, regardless of the extraordinary nature of the event, will surely understand that no sooner did the person utter these words than the event as claimed by him took place forthwith. There is, therefore, no need to make far-fetched interpretations of this plain matter. Then, on seeing the throne, the Prophet Solomon’s exclaiming, “This is from the favor of my Lord, that He may test me whether I give thanks or I am ungrateful” can be relevant only if the event be extraordinary; otherwise if only a skillful craftsman of the king had hurriedly made or arranged a throne for the queen, it could not be so novel an event at which the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) should have spontaneously exclaimed: “This is from the favor of my Lord” and feared that the prompt arrangement of a throne for the honorable guest might cause him to become ungrateful to Allah instead of being grateful. After all, there could be no question of a believing ruler’s becoming involved in vanity and self-conceit on this small achievement, especially when he was not merely an ordinary believer but a Prophet of Allah.
As for the question as to how a royal throne was fetched over a distance of 1,500 miles in the twinkling of an eye, it can be briefly answered thus: “The concepts of time and space, and matter and movement, that we have formed on the basis of our experiments and
observations, are only applicable to us. These concepts are not correct in respect to God, nor is He bound by these. Not to speak of an ordinary throne, His power can make the sun; and even much larger stars, travel millions of millions of miles in the matter of moments. The
God who by His one command brought this huge universe into being, has the power to have moved the throne of the queen of Sheba at a speed greater than the speed of light. In this very Quran it has been stated that Allah, by His powers, took his servant Muhammad (peace be upon him) from Makkah to Jerusalem and also brought him back in the same night.
49. That is, He does not stand in need of somebody’s gratefulness. His Godhead is neither enhanced by an iota by somebody’s gratefulness, nor diminished by that amount by somebody’s ingratitude or thanklessness. He is Sovereign in His own right. His Sovereignty
is not dependent on His creation’s acknowledgment or rejection. The same thing has been expressed in the Quran through the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him): “If you prove thankless, you and all the dwellers of the earth, (you should know that) Allah is All- Sufficient and worthy of all praise by Himself.” (Surah Ibrahim: Ayat 8). The same theme is contained in a Hadith Qudsi related in Sahih-Muslim saying:
“Allah says: O My servants, if you all men and jinns, from the beginning to the end, together become like the heart of the most righteous person among you, it will not cause any increase in My Kingdom; and O My servants, if you all men and jinns, from the beginning to the end,
together become like the heart of the most sinful person among you, it will not cause any decrease in My Kingdom. O My servants, it is your own deeds which I credit to your account, and then fully recompense you for them. So, whoever receives something good, let him be grateful to Allah, and whoever receives something else, let him curse his own self
(27:41) Solomon said:50″ Set the throne before her casually, and let us see whether shegets to the Truth or is one of those who are not guided to what is right.”51
50. As to how the queen reached Jerusalem and how she was received, has been omitted.The story is resumed from the time when she had arrived at the palace to see Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him).
51. This is a meaningful sentence, which means: (1) “Whether she understands or not that it is her own throne which has been fetched in no time from her capital to distant place like Jerusalem,” and also (2) “whether she is guided aright after seeing this wonderful miracle,or persists in her error.” This refutes the wrong idea of the people who say that the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) intended to take possession of the throne. Here he himself clearly says that he had done this in order to help the queen see guidance.
(27:42) When the Queen arrived, she was asked: “Is your throne like this one?” She said: “It seems as if it is the same.52We had already come to know this and we had submitted ourselves.”53
52. This also refutes the speculations of those people who depict the event in a manner as though the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) wanted to have a throne made for the queen and for this purpose he invited tenders and a strong robust artisan offered to make him a throne in the matter of a few hours, but an expert craftsman submitted that he could make and produce it in no time. This whole guess-work is destroyed by the tact that Solomon (peace be upon him) himself ordered the throne to be fetched before him (Ayat 38), and when it had been fetched, ordered his servants to set it before the queen casually (Ayat41), and then when she arrived, she was asked whether her throne was like that (Ayat 42),and she answered, “(It is) as though it were the very one.” Obviously, there could he no room for the absurd interpretations in the face of such a clear statement of facts. If there is
still any doubt left, it can be satisfied by the next sentence.
53. That is, “Even before we saw this miracle, we had been convinced by what we had heard of Solomon (peace be upon him) that he was a Prophet of Allah, and not merely a ruler of a kingdom.” After seeing the throne and saying, “(It is) as though it were the very one”, what
could be the relevance of adding this sentence if it is supposed that the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) had gotten a throne manufactured and set the same before her? Even if it is assumed that no effort was spared to have a throne manufactured closely resembling that of queen’s throne, what could have made a sun-worshiping queen exclaim “We had already known this and we had become Muslims”
(27:43) They said: “We augur ill of you and those who are with you.”60 Salih replied:”Your augury is with Allah. The truth is that you are a people who are being tried.”61
60. One meaning of what they said is: “Your movement has proved to be an evil omen for us.
54. This sentence has been added by Allah to clarity the queen’s position, saying that shewas not obdurate and stubborn. She had been an unbeliever till then mainly because she came of an unbelieving people. As she had become accustomed to bowing down before a
false deity since her childhood, it had become a hindrance for her to the right way. As soon as she came in contact with the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him), she discerned theright way and the hindrance was removed forthwith.
(27:44) She was told: “Enter the palace.” But when she saw it, she thought it was a pool of water and she bared both her calves (to enter into it). Solomon said: “This is a slippery floor of crystal.”55 Thereupon she cried out: “My Lord, I have been inflicting much wrong on myself. Now I submit myself with Solomon to Allah, the Lord of the whole Universe.”56
55. This was the last thing that opened queen’s eyes. The first thing was Solomon’s (peace be upon him) letter that began with the name of the All-Compassionate, the All- Merciful Allah, a way different front the common custom prevalent among the kings. The second was his
rejection of her gifts, which made the queen understand that he was a different kind of king. The third was the report made by the queen’s envoys from which she came to know about Solomon’s pious life, his wisdom and his message of the truth. This very thing had induced
her to travel to Jerusalem to personally meet the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him), and to this she had referred when she said: “and we had surrendered (to Allah)”. The fourth thing was the removal of her throne from Marib to Jerusalem in no time, from which the
queen realized that he had Allah’s power with him. Now this was the last thing that removed every doubt from her mind regarding the unique and great personality of the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him). When she saw that in spite of possessing every means of comfort and ease and a grand palace for a dwelling, he was so free from every
conceit, so God-fearing and righteous and so grateful to God that he bowed before Him for every small favor and his life was so different from the life of those who were enamored of the world, she exclaimed the words that follow.
56. This story of the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) and the queen of Sheba has been related in the Old and the New Testaments and the Israelite traditions in different ways, but the Quranic narration differs from all others. A resume of the story as given in the Old
Testament is as follows:
“And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to prove Solomon with hard questions at Jerusalem, with a very great company. When she came to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions.
And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel; his cup bearers also, and their apparel; and his ascent by which
he went up into the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, It was a true report which I heard in my own land of thine acts, and of thine wisdom:
Howbeit I believed not their words, until I came, and thine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceedest the fame that 1 heard. Happy are thy men and happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before
thee, and hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne. And she gave the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices great abundance and precious stones: neither was there any such spice as the queen of
Sheba gave king Solomon. And king Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatever she asked. So she turned, and went away to her own land, she and her servants.” (2 Chronicles, 9: 1-12. A similar account is also found in 1 Kings, 10: 1-13).
In the New Testament, the following sentence only has been reported from a discourse of the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) about the queen of Sheba.
“The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” (Matthew, 12: 42; Luke, 11: 31).
The story of the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) and the queen of Sheba as given in the rabbinical traditions resembles in most parts with the Quranic version. The hoopoe’s absence, then its arrival and reporting about Sheba and its queen, the Prophet Solomon’s sending her a letter through it, the hoopoe’s dropping the letter in front of the queen at the time when she was going for sunworship, the queen’s calling for her ministers’ council, then her sending of valuable gifts to Solomon, her traveling to Jerusalem and meeting him personally, her arrival in the palace and thinking that Prophet Solomon was sitting in the midst of a pool of water, tucking up her skirt in order to enter it. All this has been mentioned in these traditions as in the Quran. But there is no mention whatsoever in these traditions of the Prophet Solomon’s reply on receipt of the gift, having the queen’s throne fetched from Marib, his bowing down before God in thankfulness for every favor of His, and the queen’s embracing the faith ultimately, at his hand, his belief in the oneness of God, etc. And worst of all, these wicked people have accused Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) of having committed adultery, God forbid, with the queen of Sheba, giving rise to an illegitimate race, which gave birth to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, who destroyed Jerusalem. (Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. XI, p. 443). The fact of the matter is that a section of the Jewish learned men have been highly critical of the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon
him). They have accused him of heinous crimes like violating the commandments of the Torah, of pride of government, pride of wisdom , of being a hen-pecked husband, and of luxurious living, polytheism and idol-worship. (Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. XI, pp. 439- 441).
It is due to this propaganda that the Bible presents him only as a king instead of a Prophet.
A king who was lost in the love of polytheistic women against the divine commandments, whose heart was turned away from God, and was turned to other gods and goddesses. (I Kings, 11: 1-11). As against this, it can be seen what great favor has the Quran done to the Israelites by cleansing the personalities of their elders of the filth thrown at them by themselves, and yet the Israelites, ungrateful as they are, look upon the Quran and him who brought it as their enemies.
(27:45) And57 We sent to Thamud their brother Salih (with the Message): “Serve Allah,” but all of a sudden they became split into two quarrelling factions.58
57. For comparison, see (Surah Al-Aaraf: Ayats 73-79), (Surah Hud: Ayats 61-68), (Surah Ash-Shuara: Ayats 141- 159), (Surah Al-Oamar: Ayats 23-32), (Surah Ash-Shams: Ayats 11- 15).
58. That is, as soon as the Prophet Salih (peace be upon him) embarked on his mission, his people were divined into two groups, the believers and the disbelievers, and a conflict started between them as stated elsewhere in the Quran. The chiefs of his tribe, who were full
of pride, said to those who had believed from among the oppressed people, “Do you know it for certain that Salih is a Messenger from his Lord?” They replied, “Indeed, we believe in the message with which he has been sent.” But those who had arrogant assumption of superiority, said, “We deny that which you believe”. (Surah Al-Aaraf: Ayats 75-76). One should note that precisely the same situation arose in Makkah at the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The nation was divided into two factions and a conflict started between them. Therefore, this story fully applies to the conditions in which these verses were revealed.
(27:46) Salih said: “My people, why do you wish to hasten that evil rather than good59 should come upon you? Why should you not seek pardon from Allah so that mercy be shown to you?”
59. That is, “Why do you hasten in asking for a torment instead of some good from Allah?” The following saying of the chiefs of the Prophet Salih’s people has been related at another place: “O Salih, bring that scourge with which you threaten us, if you really are one of the Messengers.” (Surah Al-Aaraf: Ayat 77).
(27:47) TThey said: “We augur ill of you and those who are with you.”60 Salih replied: “Your augury is with Allah. The truth is that you are a people who are being tried.”61
60. One meaning of what they said is: “Your movement has proved to be an evil omen for us. Since you and your companions have revolted against the ancestral religion, one or the other calamity is befalling us almost daily, because our deities have become angry with us.” In this sense, this saying is similar to the sayings of most of those polytheistic nations who regarded their Prophets as ominous. In Surah YaSin, for instance, a nation has been mentioned, which said to its Prophet “We regard you as an evil omen for ourselves.” (Ayat 18). The same thing was said by the Pharaoh’s people about the Prophet Moses (peace be
upon him). Whenever a good time came, they would say, “This is but our due”, and when there was a bad time, they would ascribe their calamities to Moses and his companions. (Surah Al-Aaraf Ayat 130). Almost similar things were said in Makkah about the Prophet
(peace be upon him).
The other meaning of their saying is this: “Your advent has stirred up divisions in our nation. Before this we were a united people, who followed one religion. Your ominous coming has turned brother against brother, and separated son from father.” This very accusation was being brought against the Prophet (peace be upon him) by his opponents over and over again. Soon after he started his mission of inviting the people to the faith, the delegation of the chiefs of the Quraish, who went to Abu Talib, had said, “Give up to us this nephew of yours: he has opposed your religion and your forefathers’ religion and has sown discord among your people, and has held the whole nation as foolish.”
On the occasion of Hajj, when the disbelievers of Makkah feared that the visitors from outside might be influenced by the Prophet (peace be upon him), they held consultations and decided to approach the Arab tribes and tell them: “This man is a sorcerer, who by his sorcery separates son from his father, brother from his brother, wife from her husband, and man from his family.”
61. That is, “The truth is not that which you understand it to be. The fact which you have not yet realized is that my advent has put you to the test. Until my arrival you were following a beaten track in your ignorance. You could not recognize the truth from the falsehood; you
had no criterion for judging the genuine from the counterfeit; your worst people were lording over your best people, who were rolling in the dust. But now a criterion has come against which you will all be judged and assessed. Now a balance has been set up publicly, which will weigh everybody according to his true worth. Now both the truth and the falsehood have been made manifest. Whoever accepts the truth will weigh heavy whether he was not being held even worth a farthing so far; and whoever persists in falsehood will not weigh a gram even though he was being esteemed as the chief of the chiefs before this.
Now the judgment will not be based on the nobility or otherwise of the family one came of, or the abundance of the means and resources that one possessed, or one’s physical strength, but on this whether one accepted the truth gracefully or preferred to remain attached to
(27:48) Now there were nine ring-leaders62 in the city who created corruption in the land and never worked to set things right.
62. That is, nine chiefs of the tribes each of whom had a band of followers with him.
(27:49) They said: “Swear to one another in the name of Allah that we shall make a sudden night swoop on Salih and his family and will then tell their heirs63 that we did not witness the destruction of his family. We are indeed truthful.”64
63. “The guardian”: the chief of the Prophet Salih’s (peace be upon him) tribe, who, according to the ancient tribal tradition and custom, could make a claim to blood vengeance. The same was the position in Makkah of the Prophet’s uncle (peace be upon him), Abu Talib.
The Quraish were hesitant that if they attacked and killed the Prophet (peace be upon him), Abu Talib, the chief of Bani Hashim, would come out with a claim to blood vengeance on behalf of his clan.
64. This precisely was the kind of plot which the Makkan chiefs of the clans were devising against the Prophet (peace be upon him), and they devised the same ultimately on the occasion of migration (Hijrah) to kill him. They decided that men from all the clans would attack him in a body so that the Bani Hashim could not hold any one of the clans as
responsible for the murder, and, therefore, would find it impossible to fight all of them at one and the same time.
65. That is, “Before they could make the night attack on the Prophet Salih (peace be upon im) at the appointed time, Allah sent down His scourge which destroyed their wholenation completely. It appears that they made this plot after hamstringing the she-camel.
According to (Surah Hud: Ayat 65), when they had killed the she-camel, Prophet Salih (peace be upon him) gave them a notice to enjoy life in their houses for three more days, for then they would be seized by the torment. At this they might have thought that the torment with which Salih (peace be upon him) threatened them might come or might not, but they must take the vengeance on Salih himself. Therefore, most probably they chose the same night for the attack which Allah had appointed for sending down the torment, and thus were struck down by Allah even before they could touch the Prophet Salih (peace be upon him).”
(27:51) So see what was the outcome of the plan they made: We utterly destroyed them and their people, all of them.
(27:52) Now behold their houses that lie in utter ruins because of their wrong-doing. Verily there is a Sign in this for the people who know.
66. That is, the ignorant people will say, “There is no link between the Prophet Salih (peace be upon him) and his shecamel and the earthquake which struck the people of Thamud. These things have their natural causes. Their occurrence or otherwise has nothing to do with the piety and wickedness of the people of a place, with their highhandedness or their show of mercy. It is meaningless merely to say that such and such a city or land was filled with sin and wickedness, and therefore, it was overwhelmed by flood, or its habitation turned
upside down by an earthquake, or it was ruined by a sudden disaster.” But the people who possess knowledge know that this universe is being ruled by an All-Wise, All-Knowing One Who is deciding the destinies. His decisions are not subject to physical causes, but the
physical causes are subject to His will. His decisions to debase or exalt nations are not taken blindly but with wisdom and justice. In His Book of Law there is also included the principle of retribution, according to which the wicked are made to suffer for their evil deeds even in
this world, on moral grounds. The people who are aware of these realities, cannot explain away the occurrence of an earthquake by citing physical and natural causes; they will rather look upon them as the scourge of warning for themselves, and they will learn lessons from it.
They will try to understand those moral causes because of which the Creator annihilated a flourishing nation, which He Himself had created. They will divert their conduct andattitude from the track that brings Allah’s wrath to the way that joins them to His mercy.
(27:53) And We delivered those who believed and were wont to avoid disobeying (Allah).
(27:54) We also sent Lot, 67and recall when he told his people: “Do you commit shameless acts with your eyes open?68
67. For comparison, see (Surah Al-Aaraf: Ayats 80-84); (Surah Hud: Ayats 74-83); (Surah Al- Hijr: Ayats_ 57-77); (Surah Al-Anbiya: Ayats_ 71-75); (Surah Ash-Shuara: Ayats_160-174); (Surah Al-Ankabut: Ayats 28-75); (Surah As-Saffat: Ayats 133-138); (Surah Al-Qamar: Ayats
68. This can have several meanings and probably all are implied: (1) “That you are not unaware of this act’s being wicked, but you commit it knowing it to be so”. (2) “You are also not unaware that the man has not been created for the man’s sexual desire, but the intimate relationship is between man and woman, and the distinction between them (man and woman) is not such as you cannot perceive, yet with open eyes you commit this abominable ct.” (3) “You indulge in this indecency publicly when there are people watching you”, as stated in (Surah Al-Ankabut: Ayat 29), thus: “And you indulge in indecencies in your assemblies.”
(27:55) Do you lustfully approach men instead of women? Nay, you engage in acts of sheer ignorance.”69
69. The word jahalat here has been used in the sense of folly and stupidity. But even if it is taken in the sense of ignorance and lack of knowledge, it will mean: “You do not know the evil consequences of your acts. You only know that you are deriving sensual pleasure, but
you do not know what severe punishment awaits you for this criminal and heinous pleasure-seeking. The scourge of Allah is ready to strike you but you are engaged in a senseless, filthy game with impunity.
(27:56) But this had only one answer from his people. They said: “Expel Lot’s folk from your city. They pretend to be absolutely clean.”
(27:57) Eventually We saved (Lot) and his family, except his wife. We had decreed that she should be among those who would remain behind.70
70. That is, “The Prophet Lot (peace be upon him) had already been instructed not to take the woman along because she had to be destroyed along with her people.”
(27:58) And We rained down upon them a rain. It was an evil rain for those who had already been warned
(27:59) Say, (OQ Muhammad):71 “All praise be to Allah, and peace be on those of His servants whom He has chosen.” (Ask them): “Who is better: Allah or the false gods that they associate with Him as His partners?72
71. From here starts the second discourse, and this is its introductory sentence. This introduction teaches how the Muslims should begin a speech. That is why the truly Islamic- minded people have always been starting their speeches and discourses with the praise of Allah and salutation on His righteous servants. But now this is looked upon as characteristic of bigotry, and the present-day Muslim speakers have no idea of starting their speech with these words, or feel shy of doing so.
72. Superficially the question whether Allah is better or the false deities appears to be odd. As a matter of fact, there can be no question of goodness in the false gods and, therefore, they cannot be compared to Allah. As for the polytheists, even they had no misconception that Allah could be compared to their gods. But they were asked this question in order to be warned against their error. For obviously none in the world would do anything unless he saw some good in it. Now if the polytheists served their deities and implored them for their
needs instead of Allah, and presented their offerings before them, this would be meaningless unless they perceived some good in them. That is why they have been explicitly asked to consider whether Allah is better or their deities, for they could not face and answer this forth-right question. Even the most hardened polytheist among them could not venture to say that their deities were better. But if they acknowledged that Allah is better it would demolish their whole creed, for then it would be unreasonable to adopt the inferior against the superior creed. The Quran at the very outset made the opponents
helpless. After this, pointed questions have been asked, one after the other, about the manifestations of the power and creation of Allah to the effect: “Whose works are these? Is there besides Allah any other god also associated with these works? If not, why have you then set up these others as your deities?”
According to traditions, whenever the Prophet (peace be upon him) recited this verse, he would immediately respond to it, saying: “Nay, but Allah is better, and He alone is the Everlasting and Exalted and High.”
(27:60) Who is it that has created the heavens and the earth and sent down for you water from the sky and then We caused to grow therewith orchards full of beauty whose trees you could never grow. Is there any god associated with Allah (in these tasks)? “73 Nay, they are a people who are veering away from the Right Path.
73. No one from among the mushriks could answer that someone other than Allah had done these works, or someone else was Allah’s associate in doing these. The Quran at other places says with respect to the pagans of Makkah and the Arab mushrikin: “If you ask them, who has created the heavens and the earth?” they will surely say: “The All-Mighty, the All- Knowing One has created them.” (Surah Az-Zukhruf: Ayat 9). “And if you ask them, who has created them?” they will surely say, ‘Allah’. (Surah Az-Zukhruf: Ayat 87), “If you ask
them, who sent down rain water from the sky and thereby raised the dead earth back to life?” they will surely say, ‘Allah’. (Surah Al- Ankabut: Ayat 63). “Ask them, who provides for you from the heavens and the earth? who has power over these faculties of hearing and
sight? who brings forth the living from the dead and the dead from the living? who controls and directs the system of the universe?” they will surely say, “Allah’.” (Surah Yunus: Ayat 31). Not only the polytheists of Arabia but of the whole world generally acknowledged, and acknowledge even today, that Allah is the Creator of the universe and He alone controls and directs its system. Therefore, none of them could answer this question even obstinately for the sake of the argument that their deities were Allah’s associates in those works, for if he had done so, thousands of his own people would have belied him saying that, that was not their belief.
This and the other questions that follow not only contain a refutation of the creed of shirk (polytheism) but of atheism as well. For example, in this first very question, it has been asked, “Who has sent down rainwater and caused to spring up by it beautiful gardens?”
Just consider whether the presence of the substances essential for the growth of countless kinds of plant life, in the soil or near the soil, and the existence in the water of those very qualities which are in accordance with the requirements of animal and vegetable life, and the evaporation of this water again and again from the seas, and its condensation and raining regularly in different parts of the earth from time to time, and the coordination between the soil and the air, the water, the temperature; etc, conducive to the proper growth of plant life and fulfillment of the countless requirements of every sort of animal life, could be just accidental, or the result of the wise scheming and planning the supreme power and will of an All-Wise Designer. And is it possible that this accident should continue to recur constantly for millions and millions of years? Only an obstinate person who has been
blinded by prejudice will regard it as accidental, for no truth-loving, a sensible person can make such a senseless claim or accept it.