Surah 26. Ash-Shu`araa(123-227)
 
 

 Surah 26. Ash-Shu`araa(123-227)

كَذَّبَتْ عَادٌ الْمُرْسَلِينَ﴿26:123﴾ 
(26:123) `Ad rejected the Messengers. *88
*88 For comparison, see Al-A'raf: 65-72, Hud: 50-60; and for further details of this story, see Ha Mim Sajdah: 13-16, AI-Ahqaf: 21-26, Az-Zariyat: 4145, AI-Qamar :18-22, Al-Haqqah: 4-8, and AI-Fajr: 6-8.
 
إِذْ قَالَ لَهُمْ أَخُوهُمْ هُودٌ أَلَا تَتَّقُونَ﴿26:124﴾ 
(26:124) Remember the time when their brother Hud said to them, *89 "Do you not fear?
*89 In order to understand this discourse of Prophet Hud fully, we should keep in mind the various details about the people of `Ad which the Qur'an has given at different places: For instance, it says:
(1) After the destruction of the people of Noah, the `Ad were given power and prominence in the world: "Do not forget that after Noah's people your Lord made you the successors." (Al-A`raf: 69).
(2) Physically they were very robust and powerful people: " .... and made you very robust." (Al-A`raf: 69).
(3)They had no parallel as a nation in the world: "The like of which was not created in the lands." (A1-Fajr: 8).
(4) They were civilized and were well-known in the world for their great skill and art in erecting lofty buildings with tall columns: "Have you not seen what your Lord did with `Ad lram, of lofty columns?" (Al-Fajr: 6, 7).
(5) This material progress and physical power had made them arrogant and vain: "As for `Ad, they deviated from the right path and adopted an arrogant attitude in the land and said, `who is mightier than we in power'?" (Ha Mim Sajdah: 15) .
(6) Their political power was in the hands of a few tyrants before whom none could dare raise his voice: "....and they followed and obeyed every tyrannous enemy of the Truth." (Hud: 59) .
(7) They were not disbelievers in the existence of Allah, but were involved in shirk; they only denied that Allah alone should be worshipped and none else: "They said (to Hud), `Have you come to us (with the demand) that we should worship Allah alone and discard those whom our elders have been worshipping?" (Al-A`raf: 70).
 
إِنِّي لَكُمْ رَسُولٌ أَمِينٌ﴿26:125﴾ 
(26:125) I am a Messenger to you worthy of full trust:

 
فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ﴿26:126﴾ 
(26:126) so fear AIlah and obey me.

 
وَمَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ أَجْرٍ إِنْ أَجْرِيَ إِلَّا عَلَى رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ﴿26:127﴾ 
(26:127) I do not ask of you any reward for this duty, for my reward is with the Lord of the worlds.

 
أَتَبْنُونَ بِكُلِّ رِيعٍ آيَةً تَعْبَثُونَ﴿26:128﴾ 
(26:128) What! you erect for mere pleasure, a monument on every high spot, *90
*90 That is, "You build grand buildings merely to show off your wealth and power, whereas they have no use and purpose except that they stand as monuments to your grandeur and glory. "
 
وَتَتَّخِذُونَ مَصَانِعَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَخْلُدُونَ﴿26:129﴾ 
(26:129) and build huge castles as if you were immortal; *91
*91 That is, ,"Though you have built other buildings also for dwelling purposes, in order to make them grand, beautiful and strong, you expend your wealth and mental and physical abilities in a manner as if you were going to live for ever, and there was no purpose of life except seeking of comfort and pleasure and nothing beyond this worldly life which might deserve your attention."
In this connection, one should bear in mind the fact that extravagance in architecture is not a solitary vice in a people. This happens as a result of a people's becoming affluent and then crazy for selfish gains and materialistic pursuits. When a people reach such a stage, their whole social system becomes corrupted and polluted. Prophet Hud's criticism of his people's extravagant and luxurious architecture was not simply aimed at the high castles and monuments, but he was actually criticising their corrupt civilization and social system, whose glaring symptoms could be seen everywhere in the land in the shape of castles and monuments.
 
وَإِذَا بَطَشْتُم بَطَشْتُمْ جَبَّارِينَ﴿26:130﴾ 
(26:130) and when you seize somebody, you seize him like a tyrant. *92
*92 That is,"In order to meet the demands of your ever rising standards of life, you do not rest content with small living quarters but you build castles and fortresses, and yet being unsatisfied you erect lofty edifices unnecessarily just for ostentation. But as human beings you have become so depraved that there is no mercy in your hearts for the weak, no justice for the poor, and alI people of lower social strata, living inside or around your land, are being oppressed tyrannically and none is safe from your barbarities."
 
فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ﴿26:131﴾ 
(26:131) So fear Allah and obey me. Fear .

 
وَاتَّقُوا الَّذِي أَمَدَّكُم بِمَا تَعْلَمُونَ﴿26:132﴾ 
(26:132) Him Who has bestowed on you all that you know:

 
أَمَدَّكُم بِأَنْعَامٍ وَبَنِينَ﴿26:133﴾ 
(26:133) He gave you cattle and children

 
وَجَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ﴿26:134﴾ 
(26:134) and gardens and water-springs.

 
إِنِّي أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ﴿26:135﴾ 
(26:135) I fear the torment of a dreadful Day for you."

 
قَالُوا سَوَاء عَلَيْنَا أَوَعَظْتَ أَمْ لَمْ تَكُن مِّنَ الْوَاعِظِينَ﴿26:136﴾ 
(26:136) They replied, "Whether you admonish us or not, it is the same for us:

 
إِنْ هَذَا إِلَّا خُلُقُ الْأَوَّلِينَ﴿26:137﴾ 
(26:137) such things have been said in the past as well, *93
*93 This can have two meanings: (1) "Whatever we are doing is not new but has been happening from the tune of our elders since centuries: they had the same creed, the same way of life, the same morality and the same kind of dealings and yet they remained unharmed and safe from every calamity. If there was any evil in this way of life, we should have met the doom with which you are threatening us." (2) "The things you are preaching have been preached and said before also by religious maniacs and so-called moralists, but they could not change the ways of the world. It has never happened that the world suffered a disaster only because people refused to listen to preachers like you."
 
وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمُعَذَّبِينَ﴿26:138﴾ 
(26:138) and we are certainly not going to be chastised."

 
فَكَذَّبُوهُ فَأَهْلَكْنَاهُمْ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَةً وَمَا كَانَ أَكْثَرُهُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ﴿26:139﴾ 
(26:139) At last, they rejected him, and We destroyed them. *94 . Indeed there is a Sign in this, but most of these people would not believe.
*94 According to the Qur'an, the people of 'Ad were destroyed by a violent windstorm. When they saw it advancing towards their valleys, they rejoiced with the hope that those were dense clouds which would bring much rain for them, but in reality it was Allah's scourge. The windstorm continued to rage for eight days and seven nights and destroyed everything. The people were swept away like straw and everything on which the hot, dry wind blew was left rotting. The storm did not abate until the last man of the wicked tribe had met his doom. Only ruins of their habitations remained to tell the tale of their terrible fate, and today even the ruins have become extinct. The whole territory of Ahqaf has turned into dreadful desert dunes. For details, see E.N. 25 of AI-Ahqaf.
 
وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ﴿26:140﴾ 
(26:140) The fact is that your Lord is Mighty as well as Merciful.

 
كَذَّبَتْ ثَمُودُ الْمُرْسَلِينَ﴿26:141﴾ 
(26:141) Thamud rejected the Messengers. *95
*95 For comparison, see Al-A'raf: 73-79, Hud: 61-68, AI-Hijr: 80-84, Bani Isra'il 59; and for further details, see An-Naml . 45-53, Az-Zariyat: 43-45, AI-Qamar: 23-31, AI-Haqqah: 4-5, Al-Fajr: 9, and Ash-Shams: 11. _Thamud achieved power and glory after the destruction of 'Ad and as far as progress in civilization is concerned, they followed in the footsteps of their predecessors. In their case, too, the standards of living went on rising higher and higher and the standards of humanity continued to fall lower and lower, suffering one deterioration after the other. On the one hand, they erected large edifices on the plains and hewed beautiful houses out of the hills like those in the caves of Ellora and Ajanta in India, and on the other, they became addicted to idol-worship and the land was filled with tyranny and oppression. The worst men became leaders and rulers in the land. As such, Prophet Salih's message of Truth only appealed to the weak people belonging to the lower social strata and the people of the upper classes refused to believe in him.
 
إِذْ قَالَ لَهُمْ أَخُوهُمْ صَالِحٌ أَلَا تَتَّقُونَ﴿26:142﴾ 
(26:142) Remember the time when their brother Salih said to them, "Do you not fear?

 
إِنِّي لَكُمْ رَسُولٌ أَمِينٌ﴿26:143﴾ 
(26:143) I am a Messenger to you worthy of full trust *96 :
*96 According to the Qur'an, the people of Prophet Salih themselves admitted that he was a man of great integrity and extraordinary calibre: "They said, 'O Salih, till now you were such a person among us of whom we had great expectations." (Hud: 62)
 
فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ﴿26:144﴾ 
(26:144) so fear Allah and obey me.

 
وَمَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ أَجْرٍ إِنْ أَجْرِيَ إِلَّا عَلَى رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ﴿26:145﴾ 
(26:145) I do not ask of you any reward for this duty, for my reward is with the Lord of the worlds.

 
أَتُتْرَكُونَ فِي مَا هَاهُنَا آمِنِينَ﴿26:146﴾ 
(26:146) Will you be left in security amidst all that is around you here? *97 -
*97 hat is, "Do you consider that your life of indulgence and pleasure is everlasting, and you will never be asked to account for Allah's favours to you and for your own misdeeds?"
 
فِي جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ﴿26:147﴾ 
(26:147) in the gardens and the water-springs?

 
وَزُرُوعٍ وَنَخْلٍ طَلْعُهَا هَضِيمٌ﴿26:148﴾ 
(26:148) in the corn-fields and the date-groves laden with juicy fruit? *98
*98 Hadim. heavy bunches of ripe, juicy and soft date-palm fruit hanging from trees -
 
وَتَنْحِتُونَ مِنَ الْجِبَالِ بُيُوتًا فَارِهِينَ﴿26:149﴾ 
(26:149) You proudly carve out dwellings in the hills. *99
*99 Just as the most prominent feature of the 'Ad civilization was that they built large edifices with high pillars, so the most prominent feature of the _Thamud civilization for which they were known among the ancient peoples was that they carved out dwellings in the hills. That is why in Surah Fajr, the `Ad have been referred to as "(people) of the illars", and the _Thamud as "those who hewed rocks in the valley". These people also built castles on the plains, the purpose and object of which was nothing but display of wealth and power and architectural skill as there was no real necessity for them. These are, in fact, the ways of the perverted people: the poor among them do not have proper shelters, and the wealthy members not only have sufficient fine dwellings but over and above those they raise monuments for ostentation and display.
Some of these Thamudic works exist even today, which I have seen in December, 1959. (See pictures. This place is situated between AI-Madinah and Tabuk, a few miles to the north of Al-'Ula (Wad-il-Qura of the Holy Prophet's time) in Hejaz. The local inhabitants call it AI-Hijr and Mada'in Salih even today. AI-'Ula is still a green and fertile valley abounding in water springs and gardens, but AI-Hijr appears to be an abandoned place. It has thin population, little greenery and a few wells one of which is said to be the one at which Prophet Salih's shecamel used to drink water. This well is now dry and located within a deserted military post of the time of the Turks. When we entered this territory and approached AI-'Ula, we found hills which seemed to have been shattered to pieces from top to bottom as if by a violent earthquake. (See pictures on the opposite pages). We saw the same kind of hills while travelling to the east, from AI-`Ula to Khaibar, for about 50 miles, and towards the north inside Jordan, for about 30 to 40 miles. This indicated that an area, stretching well over 300 to 400 miles in length and 100 miles in width, had been devastated by the terrible earthquake.
A few of the _Thamudic type monuments that we saw at AI-Hijr were also found at Madyan along the Gulf of 'Aqabah and at Petra in Jordan. At Petra specially the Thamudic and Nabataean works stand side by side, and their styles and architectural designs are so different that anyone who examines them will find that they were neither built in the same age nor by the same nation. (See pictures for contrast). Doughty, the British orientalist, in his attempt to prove the Qur'an as false, has claimed that the works found at Al-HIijr were not carved out by Thamud but by the Nabataeans.I am of the view that the art of carving houses out of the rocks started with the _Thamud, and thousands of years later, in the second and first centuries B.C., it was considerably developed by the Nabataeans and it reached perfection in the works of the caves of Ellora, which were carved out about 700 years after Petra.
 
فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ﴿26:150﴾ 
(26:150) Fear Allah and obey me,

 
وَلَا تُطِيعُوا أَمْرَ الْمُسْرِفِينَ﴿26:151﴾ 
(26:151) and do not follow the transgressors

 
الَّذِينَ يُفْسِدُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا يُصْلِحُونَ﴿26:152﴾ 
(26:152) who spread mischief in the land and reform nothing." *100
*100 That is, "You should give up obedience to your chiefs, guides and rulers under whose leadership you are following an evil way of life. These people have transgressed all bounds of morality: they cannot bring about any reforms and they will corrupt every system of life that they adopt: The only way for you towards success and well-being is that you should inculcate fear of God, give up obedience to the misguides and obey me, because I am God's Messenger: you are fully aware of my honesty and integrity: I have no personal interest and motive for undertaking the work of reform. " This was in short the manifesto which Prophet Salih presented before his people: it not only contained the religious message but invitation to cultural, moral and political revolution as well.
 
قَالُوا إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مِنَ الْمُسَحَّرِينَ﴿26:153﴾ 
(26:153) They replied, "You are , only an enchanted person : *101
*101 "Enchanted person": Mad and insane person who has lost reasoning power. According to the ancient conceptions, madness was either due to the influence of a jinn or magic. That is why a mad person was either called majnun (one under the influence of a jinn) or one enchanted by magic.
 
مَا أَنتَ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُنَا فَأْتِ بِآيَةٍ إِن كُنتَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ﴿26:154﴾ 
(26:154) "you are no more than a man like us: bring forth a sign if you are truthful." *102
*102 That is, "We cannot believe you to be a Messenger from God because you are just like us and we see no distinction in you. However, if you are true in your claim that God has appointed you as His Messenger, you should present such a clear miracle as should make us believe that you have really been sent by the Creator and Master of the universe.
 
قَالَ هَذِهِ نَاقَةٌ لَّهَا شِرْبٌ وَلَكُمْ شِرْبُ يَوْمٍ مَّعْلُومٍ﴿26:155﴾ 
(26:155) Salih. said, "Here is a she-camel. *103 One day will be for her to drink, and one day for you all to take water. *104
*103 From the context it appears that it was not a common she-camel, but it was brought about in a supernatural manner because it was presented in response to the demand for a miracle. Prophet Salih. could not have produced before the people an ordinary she-camel as a proof of his Prophethood because that would not have satisfied them. Ai other places in the Qur'an it has been clearly referred to as a miracle. In Surah Al-A`raf and Hud it has been said: "....here is Allah's she camel, a Sign for you." (VII: 73) In Surah Bani Isra'il the same thing has been stated more emphatically: "And nothing has hindered Us from sending Signs except that the former people refused to acknowledge them as such. (For example) We sent the she-camel as an open Sign to Thamud but they treated her with cruelty; whereas We send Signs only by way of warning." (v. 59) Moreover, the challenge given to the wicked people of Thamud, after presenting the she-camel before them, was such that it could only be given after presenting a miracle.
*104 That is, "One day the she-camel will drink water all alone at your wells and springs, and one day you and your animals will take water, and this arrangement will not be violated in any way." There could hardly be a greater challenge for the people of Arabia, for taking of water had been the foremost cause of feuds and fights among them, which mostly resulted in bloodshed, even loss of life. As such, the challenge given by Prophet Salih was indeed a challenge to the whole nation, which could not be acceptable unless the people were sure that the challenger had a great power at his back. But Prophet Salih threw this challenge all by himself without any worldly power behind him, and the whole nation not only received it quietly, but also abided by it submissively for quite some days. In Surahs Al-A`raf and Hud there is an addition to this: "Here is Allah's she-camel, a Sign for you. So let her graze at will in Allah's land, and do not touch her with an evil intention." (XI: 64) That is, the challenge was not only this that the she-camel would drink water all alone every alternate day, but, in addition, she would freely move about and graze at will in their fields and gardens and palm groves and pastures and was not to be touched with an evil intention.
 
وَلَا تَمَسُّوهَا بِسُوءٍ فَيَأْخُذَكُمْ عَذَابُ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ﴿26:156﴾ 
(26:156) Do not at all molest her; otherwise you will be overtaken by the torment of a dreadful day".

 
فَعَقَرُوهَا فَأَصْبَحُوا نَادِمِينَ﴿26:157﴾ 
(26:157) Yet they hamstrung her, *105 and then became regretful,
*105 This dces not mean that as soon as they heard the challenge, they attacked the she-camel at once and hamstrung her. Actually, when the she-camel became a problem for the whole nation, the hearts of the people were filled with rage, and they began to hold lengthy consultations as to how to get rid of her. At last, a haughty chief undertook the task of putting an end to her, as mentioned in SurahAsh-Shams thus: "When arose the most villainous of the people.. ." (v. 12) and in Surah Al-Qamarthus: "They appealed to their companion; so he took up the responsibility and hamstrung (her)." (v. 29).
 
فَأَخَذَهُمُ الْعَذَابُ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَةً وَمَا كَانَ أَكْثَرُهُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ﴿26:158﴾ 
(26:158) for the torment overtook them. *106 . Indeed there is a Sign in this, but most of these people would not believe;
*106 As stated at other places in the Qur'an, when the she-camel was killed, Prophet Salih declared: "You have only three more days to enjoy yourselves in your houses." (Hud: 65) When this time limit came to an end, a shocking explosion took place in the night at about dawn, followed by a violent earthquake, which destroyed the whole nation completely. In the morning their dead bodies lay scattered here and there like dry pieces of bush trampled down by animals around an enclosure. Neither their stony castles nor their rock-hewn caves could protect them against the calamity. "We sent against them a single blast and they became as the trampled twigs of the fence of a fold-builder." (AI-Qamar: 31). "Consequently a shocking catastrophe overtook them and they lay lifeless in their dwellings" (Al-A'raf: 78). "At last a violent blast overtook them with the approach of the morning, and all that they had achieved proved of no avail to them." (AIHijr: 83, 84).
 
وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ﴿26:159﴾ 
(26:159) and the fact is that your Lord is Mighty as well as Merciful

 
كَذَّبَتْ قَوْمُ لُوطٍ الْمُرْسَلِينَ﴿26:160﴾ 
(26:160) The people of Lot rejected the Messengers. *107
*107 For comparison, see Al-A'raf: 80-84, Hud: 7483. AI-Hijr: 57-77, AI-Anbiya': 71-75, An-Naml; 54-58, Al-'Ankabut: 28-35, As-Saffat: 133-138 and A I-Qamar: 33-39.
 
إِذْ قَالَ لَهُمْ أَخُوهُمْ لُوطٌ أَلَا تَتَّقُونَ﴿26:161﴾ 
(26:161) Remember the time when their brother Lot said to them, "Do you not fear?

 
إِنِّي لَكُمْ رَسُولٌ أَمِينٌ﴿26:162﴾ 
(26:162) I am a Messenger to you worthy of full trust:

 
فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ﴿26:163﴾ 
(26:163) so fear Allah and obey me.

 
وَمَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ أَجْرٍ إِنْ أَجْرِيَ إِلَّا عَلَى رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ﴿26:164﴾ 
(26:164) I do not ask of you any reward for this duty, for my reward is with the Lord of the worlds.

 
أَتَأْتُونَ الذُّكْرَانَ مِنَ الْعَالَمِينَ﴿26:165﴾ 
(26:165) Do you go to the males from the creatures of the world, *108
*108 This can have two meanings: (1) Of all the creatures you have chosen males only for the purpose of gratifying your sex desires, whereas there are plenty of women in the world; and (2) You alone are the people in the whole world, who go to men to satisfy the sex desires; even the animals do not resort to this. This second meaning has been explained in Surahs Al-A'raf and Al- 'Ankabut thus: "Have you become so shameless that you commit such indecent acts as no one committed before you in the world?" (Al-A'raf: 80).
 
وَتَذَرُونَ مَا خَلَقَ لَكُمْ رَبُّكُمْ مِنْ أَزْوَاجِكُم بَلْ أَنتُمْ قَوْمٌ عَادُونَ﴿26:166﴾ 
(26:166) and leave that which your Lord has created for you in your wives ? *109 You have indeed transgressed all limits." *110
*109 This can also have two meanings: (1 ) "You leave your wives whom God has created for you to satisfy your sex desire and adopt unnatural ways with the males for the purpose." (2) "Even with respect to your wives you do not follow the natural way but adopt unnatural ways for the gratification of your lust?" This they might have been doing with the intention of family planning.
*110 That is, "This is not the only vice in-you; your whole lives have become corrupted and perverted, as stated in An-Naml: 54 thus : "Do you commit indecent acts openly and publicly?" And 'in AI-'Ankabut: 29 thus: "Have you become so perverted that you gratify your lust with the males, you rob travellers, and you commit wicked deeds publicly in your assemblies?" For further details, see E.N. 39 of AI-Hijr.
 
قَالُوا لَئِن لَّمْ تَنتَهِ يَا لُوطُ لَتَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْمُخْرَجِينَ﴿26:167﴾ 
(26:167) They said, "O Lot, if you do not desist from this, you will surely be included among those who have been expelled from our towns." *111
*111 That is, "You know that whosoever has spoken against us, or protested against our doings, or opposed us in any way, he has been turned out of our habitations. If you also behave like that, you too will be treated likewise." It has been stated in Surahs AI-A`raf and An-Naml that before giving this warning to Prophet Lot, the wicked people had decided to "turn out these people of your habitations for they pose to be very pious." (VII: 82)
 
قَالَ إِنِّي لِعَمَلِكُم مِّنَ الْقَالِينَ﴿26:168﴾ 
(26:168) He said, "I am certainly one of those who abhor your wickedness.

 
رَبِّ نَجِّنِي وَأَهْلِي مِمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ﴿26:169﴾ 
(26:169) My Lord, deliver me and my people from their wicked deeds." *112
*112 This may also mean: "My Lord, deliver us from the evil consequences of their misdeeds," and also this: "Protect the children of the believers from the evil effects of the immoral acts of the wicked people."
 
فَنَجَّيْنَاهُ وَأَهْلَهُ أَجْمَعِينَ﴿26:170﴾ 
(26:170) At last, We delivered him and all his people

 
إِلَّا عَجُوزًا فِي الْغَابِرِينَ﴿26:171﴾ 
(26:171) except an old woman who was of those who were left behind. *113
*113 This refers to the Prophet Lot`s wife as stated in verse 10 of Surah Tahrim about the wives of Prophets Noah and Lot: "These' two women were in the houses of Our two pious servants but they acted treacherously towards them. " That is, they did not believe, and sided with the unbelievers instead of their righteous husbands. Therefore, when Allah decreed to send a torment on the people of Lot, He commanded Lot to leave the place along with his people but to leave his wife behind: "So depart from here with the people of your household in the last hours of the night. And look here: none of you should turn round to look behind; but your wife (who will not accompany you) shall meet the same doom as they." I Hud: 81).
 
ثُمَّ دَمَّرْنَا الْآخَرِينَ﴿26:172﴾ 
(26:172) Then We destroyed all the rest of them,

 
وَأَمْطَرْنَا عَلَيْهِم مَّطَرًا فَسَاء مَطَرُ الْمُنذَرِينَ﴿26:173﴾ 
(26:173) and rained on them a horrible rain, which fell on those who had been warned. *114
*114 This was not a rain of water but a rain of stones. According to the details given at other places in the Qur'an, when Prophet Lot had left the place along with the people of his household in the last hours of the night, there occurred a terrible explosion at dawn and a violent earthquake, which turned all their habitations upside down and rained on them stones of baked clay as a result of a volcanic eruption and a strong blast of wind.
Below we give a resume of the Biblical account and of ancient Greek and Latin writings and modern geological researches and archaeological observations about the torment and the place where it occurred:
The, hundreds of ruins found in the waste and uninhabited land lying to the south and east of the Dead Sea indicate that this must have been a prosperous and thickly populated area in the past. The archaeologists have estimated that the age of prosperity of this land lasted between 2300 and 1900 B.C. According to historians, Prophet Abraham lived about 2000 B C. Thus the archaeological evidence confirms that this land was destroyed in the time of Prophet Abraham and his nephew Prophet Lot.
The most populous and fertile part .of the area was "the vale of Siddim" as mentioned in the Bible: "And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt" (Gen. 13 :10) The presentday scholars are of the opinion that that valley is now under the Dead Sea and this opinion is supported by firm archaeological evidence. In the ancient times .the Dead Sea did not so much extend to the south as it does today. Opposite and to the west of the present Jordanian city of AI-Karak, there is a small peninsula called AI-Lisan. This was the end of the sea in ancient days. The area to the south of it, which is now under sea water (the shaded portion in the map) was a fertile valley, "the vale of Siddim", in which were situated Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, Zoar, the famous cities of the people of Lot. In about 2000 B.C. this valley sank as a result of a violent earthquake and was submerged in sea water. Even today this is the most shallow part of the Sea. In the Roman period it was more so and was fordable from AI-Lisan to the western coast. One can still see submerged jungles along the southern coast and there might as well be submerged buildings.
According to the Bible and the ancient Greek and Latin writings, the region abounded in pits of petroleum and asphalt and at places inflammable gas also existed. It appears from the geological observations that with the violent earthquake shocks, petroleum, gases and asphalt were thrown up and ignited, and the whole region exploded like a bomb. The Bible says that when Prophet Abraham got the news and went from Hebron to see the affected valley, he saw that "the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace." (Gen. 19: 28).
 
إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَةً وَمَا كَانَ أَكْثَرُهُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ﴿26:174﴾ 
(26:174) Indeed there is a Sign in this, but most of these people would not believe.

 
وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ﴿26:175﴾ 
(26:175) The fact is that your Lord is Mighty as well as Merciful.

 
كَذَّبَ أَصْحَابُ الْأَيْكَةِ الْمُرْسَلِينَ﴿26:176﴾ 
(26:176) The people of Aiykah rejected the Messengers. *115
*115 The people of Aiykah have been briefly mentioned in vv. 78-84 of Surah AI-Hijr. More about them here. There is a difference of opinion among the commentators as to whether the Midianites and the people of Aiykah were two different tribes or one and the same people. One group holds that they were different tribes and gives the argument that in Surah Al-A'raf Prophet Shu'aib has heen "brother elf the MIdIanIteS" (v. RS), whereas here, with regard to the people of. Aiykah, he has not been called so. The other group holds that they were one and the same people on the ground that the moral discases and characteristics mentioned of the Midianites in SurahS AI-A'raf-and Hud arc the same as of the people of Aiykah mentioned here. Then the message and admonition of Prophet Shu'aib to both the tribes was the same, and the two tribes also met the same end.
Research in this regard has shown that both the views are correct. The Midianites and the people' of Aiykah were doubtless two different tribes but branches of the same stock. The progeny of Prophet Abraham from his wife (or slave girl) Keturah, is well known in Arabia and in the history of the Israelites as the children of Keturah. Their most prominent branch was the one which became famous as the Midianites, after their ancestor, Midian, son of Abraham. They had settled in the territory between northern Arabia and southern Palestine, and along the coasts of the Red Sea and the Gulf of 'Aqabah. Their capital city was Madyan, which was situated, according to Abul Fida, on the western coast of the Gulf of 'Aqabah at five days' journey from Aiykah (present-day 'Aqabah). The rest of the children of Keturah, among whom the Dedanites are comparatively better known, settled in the territory between Taima and Tabuk and AI-'Ula in northern Arabia, their main city being Tabuk, the Aiykah of the ancient tithes. (Yaqut in his Mu'jam al-Buldan, under Aiykah, writes that this is the old name of Tabuk, and the natives of Tabuk confirm this). The reason why one and the same Prophet was sent to the Midianites and the people of Aiykah was probably that both the tribes were descendants of the same ancestors, spoke the same language and had settled in the adjoining areas. It is just possible that they lived side by side in the same areas and had marriage and other social relations between them. Then, these two branches were traders by profession and had developed similar evil practices and social and moral weaknesses. According to the early books of the Bible, these people worshipped Baal-peor. When the Children of Israel came out of Egypt and entered their territory, they also became infected with the evils of idolatry and adultery. (Numbers, 25: 1-5, 31: 16-17). Then those people had settled on the two main international trade routes, the one joining Yaman with Syria and the other the Persian Gulf with Egypt. Due to their advantageous position they had started big scale highway robbery and would not let any caravan pass till it had paid heavy taxes. They had thus rendered these trade routes highly unsafe. Their characteristic of highway robbery has been mentioned in the Qur'an, for which they were admonished through Prophet Shu'aib, thus: "And do not lie in ambush by every path (of life) as robbers in order to frighten the people" (AI-A'raf: 86). These were the reasons why Allah sent to both the tribes the same Prophet, who conveyed to them the same teachings and message. For the details of the story of Prophet Shu'aib and the Midianites, see A1-A'raf: 85-93, Hud: 8495, Al'Ankabut 36-37.
 
إِذْ قَالَ لَهُمْ شُعَيْبٌ أَلَا تَتَّقُونَ﴿26:177﴾ 
(26:177) Remember the time when Shu`aib said to them, "Do you not fear?

 
إِنِّي لَكُمْ رَسُولٌ أَمِينٌ﴿26:178﴾ 
(26:178) I am a Messenger to you worthy of full trust:

 
فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ﴿26:179﴾ 
(26:179) so fear Allah and obey me.

 
وَمَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ أَجْرٍ إِنْ أَجْرِيَ إِلَّا عَلَى رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ﴿26:180﴾ 
(26:180) I do not ask of you any reward for this duty, for my reward is with the Lord of the worlds.

 
أَوْفُوا الْكَيْلَ وَلَا تَكُونُوا مِنَ الْمُخْسِرِينَ﴿26:181﴾ 
(26:181) Give full measure and do not give people less than what is due to them;

 
وَزِنُوا بِالْقِسْطَاسِ الْمُسْتَقِيمِ﴿26:182﴾ 
(26:182) weigh with even balance

 
وَلَا تَبْخَسُوا النَّاسَ أَشْيَاءهُمْ وَلَا تَعْثَوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ﴿26:183﴾ 
(26:183) and do not cheat people of their goods; and do not spread evil in the land,

 
وَاتَّقُوا الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالْجِبِلَّةَ الْأَوَّلِينَ﴿26:184﴾ 
(26:184) and fear Him Who has created you and those who have gone before you."

 
قَالُوا إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مِنَ الْمُسَحَّرِينَ﴿26:185﴾ 
(26:185) They said, "You are only an enchanted person

 
وَمَا أَنتَ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُنَا وَإِن نَّظُنُّكَ لَمِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ﴿26:186﴾ 
(26:186) and are no more than a man like us: we consider you to be an utter liar. However, if you are truthful,

 
فَأَسْقِطْ عَلَيْنَا كِسَفًا مِّنَ السَّمَاء إِن كُنتَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ﴿26:187﴾ 
(26:187) cause a fragment of the sky to fall down upon us."

 
قَالَ رَبِّي أَعْلَمُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ﴿26:188﴾ 
(26:188) Shu'aib said, "My Lord knows whatever you are doing." *116
*116 That is, "It is not in my power to bring down the torment; it is in Allah's power, and He is fully aware of your misdeeds. He will send down the torment as and when He wills." In this demand of the people of Aiykah and the answer of Prophet Shu'aib to them there was an admonition for the Quraish as well. They also demanded from the Holy Prophet to bring down the torment on them: "Or.... you cause the sky to fall down on us in fragments, as you threaten us." (Bani Isra'il: 92). As such the Quraish are being told that the people of Aiykah had also demanded a similar thing from their Prophet, and the answer that they got from their Prophet is the answer of Muhammad (Allah's peace be on him) to you.
 
فَكَذَّبُوهُ فَأَخَذَهُمْ عَذَابُ يَوْمِ الظُّلَّةِ إِنَّهُ كَانَ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ﴿26:189﴾ 
(26:189) They treated him as a liar. At last, the torment of the Day of Canopy overtook them, *117 and it was the torment of an extremely dreadful day.
*117 The details of this torment are neither found in the Qur'an nor in any authentic Tradition. What one can learn from the Text is this: As these people had demanded a torment from the sky. Allah sent upon them a cloud which hung over them like a canopy and kept hanging until they were completely destroyed by the torment of continuous rain. The Qur'an clearly points out that the nature of the torment sent upon the Midianites was different from that sent upon the people of Aiykah The people of Aiykah, as mentioned here, were destroyed by the torment of the Canopy, while the torment visiting the Midianites was in the form of a terrible earthquake: "It so happened that a shocking catastrophe overtook them and they remained lying prostrate in their dwellings." (Al-A'raf: 91). And: "A dreadful shuck overtook them and they lay lifeless and prostrate in their homes." (Hud: 94). Therefore, it is wrong to regard the two torments as identical. Some commentators have given a few explanations of "the torment of the Day of Canopy", but we do not know the source of their information. Ibn Jarir has quoted Hadrat 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas as saying: "If somebody from among the scholars gives you an explanation of the torment of the Day of Canopy, do not consider it as correct.
 
إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَةً وَمَا كَانَ أَكْثَرُهُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ﴿26:190﴾ 
(26:190) Indeed there is a Sign in this, but most of these people would not believe.

 
وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ﴿26:191﴾ 
(26:191) The fact is that your Lord is Mighty as well as Merciful.

 
وَإِنَّهُ لَتَنزِيلُ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ﴿26:192﴾ 
(26:192) This *118 (Book) has been revealed by the Lord of the worlds. *119
*118 At the end of the historical account, the same theme, with which the Surah began, is resumed. For reference, see vv. 1-9.
*119 That is, "This lucid Book whose verses are being recited to you, and this 'Admonition' from which the people are turning away, is not the product of the whims of a man; it has not been written and compiled by Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) himself, but it consists of the Revelations of the Lord of this universe."
 
نَزَلَ بِهِ الرُّوحُ الْأَمِينُ﴿26:193﴾ 
(26:193) The trustworthy Spirit *120 has come down with it
*120 That is, Angel Gabriel, as mentioned in Al-Baqarah: 97: "Say to them, `Whoever is the enemy to Gabriel, he should understand that he has, by Allah's Command, revealed to your heart the Qur'an'." Here the object of using the title of "the trustworthy Spirit" for Gabriel implies that the Qur`an is not being sent down by Allah through some material agency, which is subject to change and vacillation; but through a pure Spirit, having no tinge of materialism, and. who is perfectly trustworthy. This Spirit conveys the Messages of Allah precisely in the same form and with the same content as they are entrusted to him: it is not possible for him to tamper with the Messages, or to make his own additions to them in any way.
 
عَلَى قَلْبِكَ لِتَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُنذِرِينَ﴿26:194﴾ 
(26:194) upon your heart so that you may become one of those who are (appointed by God) to warn (the people)

 
بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِيٍّ مُّبِينٍ﴿26:195﴾ 
(26:195) in plain Arabic language; *121
*121 This sentence may be related to: "... the trustworthy Spirit has come down" and also to: ".... who are (appointed by God) to warn. " In the first case, it will mean that the trustworthy Spirit has brought it down in plain Arabic language, and in the second case, it will mean that the Holy Prophet is included among those Prophets who were appointed to warn the people in the Arabic language, i.e., Hud, Salih, Ishmael and Shu'aib (Allah's peace be upon them). In both cases the object is the same: the Divine Message has not been sent down in a dead or mysterious language, or in a language of riddles and enigmas, but in such clear and lucid Arabic, which can be understood easily by every Arab and every nonArab who has learnt Arabic. As such, the people who are turning away from it, cannot have the excuse that they could not understand the message of the Qur'an. The only reason of their denial and aversion is that they are afflicted with the same disease with which Pharaoh, the people of Abraham the people of Noah, the people of Lot, the 'Ad and the Thamud, and the people of Aiykah were afflicted.
 
وَإِنَّهُ لَفِي زُبُرِ الْأَوَّلِينَ﴿26:196﴾ 
(26:196) and this is also contained in the Scriptures of the former people. *122
*122 That is, this very Admonition and Divine Message and teachings are contained in the former Scriptures also. The same message of submission to One God, the same belief in the Hereafter and the same invitation to follow the Prophets has been given in all those Books. AII the Books sent down by God condemn shirk and the materialistic philosophy of life and invite people to accept the true and sound philosophy of life, which is based on the concept of man's accountability before God, and demands that man should give up his independence in deference to Divine Commands brought and preached by the Prophets. None of these things is new, which the Qur'an may be presenting for the first time, and none can blame the Holy Prophet of saying something which had never been said before by the former Prophets.
Among other arguments this verse also is quoted in support of Imam Abu Hanifah's early opinion that if a person recites the translation of the Qur'an in the prayer, his prayer will be in order and valid, whether he is able to recite the Qur'an in Arabic or not. According to `Allama Abu Bakr al-Jassas, the basis of this argument is: "Allah says that the Qur'an was contained in the former Scriptures also; obviously this could not be in Arabic words, As such, if translated and presented in another language, it will still be the Qur'an." (Ahkam-ul-Qur'an, Vol. III, p. 429). But the weakness of this argument is obvious. The Qur'an, or any other Divine Book, was never revealed in a manner that Allah inspired the Prophet with its meaning and then he presented it before the people in his own words. The fact is that every Book, in whatever language it came, was revealed in Divine words and meanings together. As such, the teachings of the Qur'an were contained in the former Scriptures in Divine words and not in human, and none of their translations could be considered as the Divine Book or its representation. As regards the Qur'an, it has been stated over and over again that it was literally revealed in the Arabic language: "We have sent it down as Qur'an in Arabic". (Yusuf: 2). "We have sent this Command in Arabic to you." (Ar-Ra'd: 37). "An Arabic Qur'an without any crookedness." (Az-Zumar: 28). Then just before this verse, it has been said that the trustworthy Spirit has brought it down in Arabic. Now how can it be said that the translation of the Qur'an made into another language will also be the Qur'an and its words will represent the words of Allah? It appears that later the Imam himself felt this weakness in the argument and, according to authentic traditions, gave up his earlier opinion, and adopted the opinion of Imams Abu Yusuf and Muhammad, who held that a person who could not recite Arabic words, could recite the translation of the Qur'an in his prayer till he was able to pronounce Arabic words. However, the prayer of a person, who was able to recite the Qur'an in Arabic, would not be valid if he recited its translation. The fact is that the two Imams had proposed, this concession only for those non-Arab converts who were not able to offer their prayer in Arabic immediately after embracing Islam. In this the basis of their argument was not that the translation of the Qur'an was the Qur'an itself, but that just as a person unable to perform Ruku' and Sajdah was allowed to offer his prayer by making signs, so a person unable to pronounce Arabic words could recite the translation. Then just as the prayer of a person who offered it by making signs could not be valid as soon as the cause of inability was removed, so the prayer of a person who recited the translation would not be valid as soon as he became able to pronounce Arabic words. (For a detailed discussion, see Al-Mabsut by Sarkhasi,Vol. I, p. 37; Fath ul-Qadir and Sharh Inaya 'alal-Hedaya, Vol. I. pp. 190-201).
 
أَوَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُمْ آيَةً أَن يَعْلَمَهُ عُلَمَاء بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ﴿26:197﴾ 
(26:197) Is it not a Sign for the people (of Makkah) that the learned men of the Children of Israel know it ? *123
*123 That is, "The learned men of the Israelites know that the teachings of the Qur'an are the same as of the former Scriptures. Though the people of Makkah themselves are un-initiated in the knowledge of the Book, there are many scholars among the Israelites living in the surrounding areas, who fully understand that the Qur'an did not bring a novel "message", which was being presented by Muhammad bin `Abdullah for the first time, but it was the same message which had been brought and preached by Prophets of Allah one after the other since thousands of years. Is it not then a convincing proof of the fact that the Qur'an has been sent down by the same Lord of the universe, Who sent down the former Books ?" '
According to Ibn Hisham's Life of the Holy Prophet, a little before the revelation of these verses a deputation of 20 men, who had been influenced by the preaching of Hadrat Ja'far, came to Makkah from Habash. They met the Holy Prophet in Masjid al-Haram and asked him in the presence of the unbelieving Quraish what his teachings were. In response, the Holy Prophet recited a few verses of the Qur'an, whereupon tears came down from their eyes and they believed in him there and then to be a true Messenger of Allah. When they took leave of the Holy Prophet, Abu Jahl met them along with a few other men of the Quraish and rebuked them, saying, "Never has a more stupid company come here before: O foolish men, you were sent here by your people with a view to inquiring about this man, but no sooner did you meet him than you gave up your own faith!" "those gentle people did not like to have a dispute with Abu Jahl, so they left him, saying, "We have no wish to enter an argument with you: you are responsible for your faith and we are for ours: we adopted something in which we saw some good for ourselves." (Vol II, p. 32). This same incident has been mentioned in Surah Qasas, thus:"Those to whom We had given the Book before this, believe in the Qur'an and when it is recited to them, they say, 'We have believed in it: this is the very Truth from our Lord: we were even before this followers of Islam'. And when they heard vain and meaningless talk, they refrained from entering an argument, saying, `For us are our deeds and for you yours: peace be to you: we do not like the ways of the ignorant!"' (vv. 52-55).
 
وَلَوْ نَزَّلْنَاهُ عَلَى بَعْضِ الْأَعْجَمِينَ﴿26:198﴾ 
(26:198) (But they are obdurate to the extent) that even if We had sent it down to some non Arab,

 
فَقَرَأَهُ عَلَيْهِم مَّا كَانُوا بِهِ مُؤْمِنِينَ﴿26:199﴾ 
(26:199) and he had recited this (discourse in lucid Arabic) before them, they would still not have believed in it. *124
*124 That is, "Now when a man from among themselves is reciting to them this Divine Revelation in lucid Arabic, they say that he himself has composed it, and therefore it cannot be from Allah. But if the same Revelation in eloquent Arabic had been sent down by Allah to a non-Arab as a miracle, and he had recited it before them in perfect Arabic accent, they would have invented some other excuse for not believing in him. They would have said that he is under the power and influence of a jinn, who speaks Arabic through a non-Arab." As a matter of fact, a lover of the truth considers the thing presented before him coolly and forms an opinion about it after due thought. But an obdurate person who is unwilling to believe, pays no attention to it at all, but instead seeks all sorts of excuses to reject it, and will, in any case, invent an excuse for his denial. This obduracy of the unbelieving Quraish has been exposed over and over again in the Qur'an, and they have been clearly told that even if a miracle were shown to them, they would certainly have found an excuse to deny it because they are not inclined to believe: "O Messenger, even if We had sent down to you a Book written on paper, and even if they had touched it with their own hands, the disbelievers would have said, `This is nothing but manifest sorcery'." (Al-An`am: 7). "Even if We had opened a gate for them in heaven, and they had begun to ascend through it, they would have said, `Our eyes have been dazzled; nay, we have been bewitched'" (Al-Hijr: 1415).
 
كَذَلِكَ سَلَكْنَاهُ فِي قُلُوبِ الْمُجْرِمِينَ﴿26:200﴾ 
(26:200) Likewise, We have caused this (Qur'an) to pass through the hearts of the criminals: *125
*125 That is, unlike the truth-loving people to whom the Qur'an brings peace of the mind and heart, it passes like a hot iron rod through the hearts of the disbelievers, which sets them ill at ease, and they, instead of pondering over its themes, start looking for subterfuges to deny it.
 
لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ حَتَّى يَرَوُا الْعَذَابَ الْأَلِيمَ﴿26:201﴾ 
(26:201) they do not believe in it until they see the painful torment. *126
*126 The kind of torment with which the tribes and communities mentioned above were punished.
 
فَيَأْتِيَهُم بَغْتَةً وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ﴿26:202﴾ 
(26:202) Then, when it overtakes them unawares,

 
فَيَقُولُوا هَلْ نَحْنُ مُنظَرُونَ﴿26:203﴾ 
(26:203) they say, "May we be given some respite ?" *127
*127 That is, "Until the criminals are actually overtaken by the torment, they do not believe in the Prophet. Then they feel remorse and desire to be given some respite when it is too late. "
 
أَفَبِعَذَابِنَا يَسْتَعْجِلُونَ﴿26:204﴾ 
(26:204) Are these people clamouring for Our torment to be hastened ?

 
أَفَرَأَيْتَ إِن مَّتَّعْنَاهُمْ سِنِينَ﴿26:205﴾ 
(26:205) Have you considered that even if We grant them the respite to enjoy life for years,

 
ثُمَّ جَاءهُم مَّا كَانُوا يُوعَدُونَ﴿26:206﴾ 
(26:206) and then there comes down on them that with which they are being threatened,

 
مَا أَغْنَى عَنْهُم مَّا كَانُوا يُمَتَّعُونَ﴿26:207﴾ 
(26:207) the provisions of life that they have got, will not avail them anything ? *128
*128 There is a subtle gap between this and the preceding sentence, which the reader himself can fill with a little thinking. They were asking for the torment to be hastened because they were not sure that it would ever come. They were confident that they would continue living a life of ease and indulgence as they had been living till then. On account of the same confidence they challenged the Holy Prophet, as if to say, "If you are a Messenger of Allah, and we deserve to be chastised by Allah because we have treated you as a liar, then you should hasten that torment on us, with which you threaten us." At this it is being said, "Well, even if they be right in their confidence, and the torment is not sent upon them immediately, and they are allowed a long respite to enjoy life as they expect, the question is: What will these few years of worldly pleasure and comfort avail them when the inevitable scourge from Allah overtakes them suddenly as it overtook the 'Ad and the Thamud, or the people of Lot and of Aiykah, or if they are visited by death which nobody can escape ?"
 
وَمَا أَهْلَكْنَا مِن قَرْيَةٍ إِلَّا لَهَا مُنذِرُونَ﴿26:208﴾ 
(26:208) (Note it that) We have never destroyed a habitation unless it had its warners

 
ذِكْرَى وَمَا كُنَّا ظَالِمِينَ﴿26:209﴾ 
(26:209) to administer admonition; and We have never been unjust. *129
*129 That is, "We could not be blamed for any injustice when they did not heed the warning and admonition of the warners and were destroyed. It would have been injustice if no effort had been made to admonish them and guide them aright prior to their destruction."
 
وَمَا تَنَزَّلَتْ بِهِ الشَّيَاطِينُ﴿26:210﴾ 
(26:210) This (lucid Book) has not been brought down by satans, *130
*130 After the positive aspect as stated in vv. 192-193, the negative aspect is being stated that the Qur'an has not been brought down by satans as the enemies of the Truth allege. The unbelieving Quraish in their campaign to spread lies and slander against the Holy Prophet were facing a real difficulty. They did not know how to account for the wonderful discourses which were being presented before the people in the form of the Qur'an and which were moving their hearts deeply. They could not stop the Qur'an from reaching the people. The only thing they could do to counteract its effect and influence was to create doubts and suspicions about it in their minds and hearts. Therefore, in their desperation they charged that Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) was a sorcerer, who was being inspired by the satans, and they considered this charge of theirs to be the most effective because it could neither be easily verified nor refuted.
 
وَمَا يَنبَغِي لَهُمْ وَمَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ﴿26:211﴾ 
(26:211) nor does this work behove them, *131 nor are they able to do it. *132
*131 That is, these revelations and themes do not at all suit the satans. Any person who has a little common sense can well understand that the sublime discourses being presented in the Qur'an cannot be inspired by the satans. Never has it happened that the satans might have taught the people through the sorcerers to worship God and fear Him, or forbidden them from shirk and idol-worship, or warned them of the accountability of the Hereafter, or prohibited them from tyranny and sexual and moral evils, and exhorted them instead to act righteously and do good to others. Such works cannot behove the satans. Their only pastime can be to sow the seeds of discord among the people and to arouse them to mischief and vice. The common observation is that people visit the sorcerers to find out whether they will succeed in their love affairs or not, what move would suit them in gambling, what trick and stratagem would be helpful against the enemy, or who had stolen the camel of so and so. Apart from such affairs and problems, the sorcerers and their patron-saints cannot be expected to worry themselves about matters like reforming the people, teaching them morals and cleansing their lives of vice and evil.
*132 That is, even if the satans wanted they could not impart Truth and Goodness to the people like a true teacher and reformer as the Qur'an does. Even if to deceive the people, they came out under the guise of a benefactor, their work would not be tree from blemishes, which would betray their ignorance and their hidden satanic nature. Similarly the life and the teachings of a person who poses to be a religious guide, under the influence and inspiration of satans, would inevitably reflect the wickedness of intention and design. Thus the satans can neither inspire others with piety and goodness, nor can those, who have any relation with the satans, become pious and righteous themselves. Then in addition to its high and noble teachings, the Qur'an is a lucid and eloquent Book, which contains the knowledge of Reality. That is why it has over and over again put forward the challenge that human beings and jinns would never be able to produce a book like the Qur'an even if they collaborated with all their energies and capacities. "Declare this: Even if human beings and jinns should cooperate with one another to bring forth a book like the Qur'an, they will never be able to bring anything like it, even though all of them help one another" (Bani Isra'il: 88).
"Tell them: if what you say be true, then produce one Surah like this, and you may call to your assistance anyone you can other than Allah." (Yunus: 38).
 
إِنَّهُمْ عَنِ السَّمْعِ لَمَعْزُولُونَ﴿26:212﴾ 
(26:212) They have indeed been kept out of its hearing. *133
*133 That is, "Not to speak of interfering with the revelation of the Qur'an, the satans are not even given a chance to hear the Qur'an any moment from the time Angel Gabriel receives it from Allah till he reveals it to the heart of the Holy Prophet. They are so kept out of its hearing that they cannot get any hint as to its words and contents so as to tell their friends that the Holy Prophet was going to give such and such a message to his followers, or that his address would contain such and such a thing that day. For further details see E. N.'s 8 to 12 of Al-Hijr, E.N.'s 5 to 7 of As -Saffat and Surah Jinn: 8-9-27.
 
فَلَا تَدْعُ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهًا آخَرَ فَتَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُعَذَّبِينَ﴿26:213﴾ 
(26:213) So,. O Muhammad, do not invoke any other deity besides Allah lest you should also be included among those who will be chastised. *134
*134 This dces not mean that the Holy Prophet was going to be involved in shirk from which he was to be admonished to desist. The object was to warn the disbelievers and polytheists to the effect: "As the message of the Qur'an is based on pure Truth revealed by the Almighty Ruler of the universe, and there is no tinge of any satanic impurity in it, there could be no question of showing a favour to somebody in regard to the Truth. Even if the Holy Messenger himself, who is nearest to Allah and His most beloved servant, deviated a little from the path of His obedience and invoked any other deity than Allah, he could not escape the punishment." When it was so in the case of the Holy Prophet, who else could have the hope that after committing shirk with regard to AIIah, he would be able to escape the punishment or help others to escape it.
 
وَأَنذِرْ عَشِيرَتَكَ الْأَقْرَبِينَ﴿26:214﴾ 
(26:214) Warn your nearest kinsfolk *135
*135 Just as there could be no concession or favour for the person of the Prophet in a matter concerning Allah's religion, so there could be no question of a favour being shown to the Prophet's family or his nearest kinsfolk. Here the case of everybody will be judged on merit, and nobody will be shown any favour on account of his ancestry or relation with somebody else. The accountability of the Hereafter and punishment for deviation and misdeeds are the same for everybody and even the Prophet's nearest kinsfolk are no exception. Therefore, the Holy Prophet was commanded to warn his relatives and kindred to attain the right belief and to act righteously because they would not escape punishment only by virtue of being his relations.
There are authentic Traditions to show that after the revelation of this verse, the Holy Prophet first of aII addressed the sons and daughters of his grandfather. Calling each one of them by name, he said: "O children of 'Abdul Muttalib, O 'Abbas, O Safiah, paternal aunt of Allah's Messenger, O Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad! You are warned to beware and save yourselves from the torment of the Hell-Fire: I cannot protect you from Allah's punishment; you may, however, demand whatever you like from my worldly property." Then as was the custom in Arabia, to warn the people of an impending calamity, he stood on top of Mount Safa one morning and called out: "O people of Quraish, O children of Ka`b bin Luayy, O children of Murrah, O children of Qasayy, O children of 'Abd Manaf, O children of 'Abd Shams, O children of Hashim, O children of `Abdul Muttalib....", and in this way he called out each branch and clan of the Quraish by name. When all the people had got together, he said, "O People, if 1 tell you that on the other side of this hill, there is a huge army ready to attack you, will you believe my word?" With one voice they replied in the affirmative, saying that they had never heard a lie from him in the past. Thereupon the Holy Prophet said, "Well, I warn you of the impending scourge of AIlah: save yourselves from His punishment: I cannot be of any help to you against Him. On the Day of Resurrection, the righteous only will be nearest to me. Let it not happen that others should corm forth with good deeds and you should appear with the burden of sins on your heads. Then you will call me for help, but I shall be constrained to turn my face away from you. Of course, here in this world, I am bound to you by blood relations, and I shall treat you with all possible politeness as a good relation should." (Several Traditions on this subject have been reported in Bukhari, Muslim, Musnad Ahmad, Tirmizi, Ibn Jarir on the authority of Hadrat 'A'ishah, Hadrat Abu Hurairah, Hadrat 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas, Hadrat Zubair bin 'Amr and Hadrat Qabisah bin Makhariq).
The matter was not simply this that on receipt of the Command to "warn your nearest kinsfolk", the Holy Prophet called together aII his relatives and complied with it. In fact, the principle it meant to stress was that in the matter of religion the Prophet and his relations enjoyed no special privilege of which the other people might be deprived. What was harmful for one man, was harmful for everybody. The Prophet was supposed to first protect himself from this and then warn his nearest kinsfolk and the common people of its fatal consequences. On the other hand, what was good and beneficial for one man, 'was good and beneficial for aII. As. such, the Prophet should first adopt it himself and then exhort his relatives also to adopt it, so that everybody may see that the Prophet dces not only preach his message to others but practises it himself also sincerely. The Holy Prophet followed this principle throughout his life. On the conquest of Makkah, when he entered the city, he declared: "Every kind of interest payable from the people during the age of ignorance, is trampled under my feet, and first of all, I remit the interest payable to my uncle `Abbas." (It should be noted that before the prohibition of interest, Hadrat 'Abbas traded money on interest, and a substantial amount of interest payable to him at that time was outstanding against the people). Once the Holy Prophet ordered cutting off of the hand of a Quraishite woman, named Fatimah, on the charge of theft. Hadrat Usamah bin Zaid came to intercede for her, whereupon the Holy Prophet said: "By God, even if Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad, had committed the theft, I would have ordered amputation of her hand, too."
 
وَاخْفِضْ جَنَاحَكَ لِمَنِ اتَّبَعَكَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ﴿26:215﴾ 
(26:215) and treat with kindness those of the believers who follow you,

 
فَإِنْ عَصَوْكَ فَقُلْ إِنِّي بَرِيءٌ مِّمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ﴿26:216﴾ 
(26:216) but if they disobey, tell them: "I am not responsible for what you do." *136
*136 This can have two meanings: (1) "Treat those of your relatives with kindness, who have believed in you and followed your teachings practically; as for those who have not accepted your message, you may declare that you are not responsible for what they do." (2) "You should treat with kindness every such person, who believes in and obeys you, and you should warn every unbeliever that you take no responsibility for his actions." This verse shows that at that tune there were some people among the Quraish and the neighbouring Arabs, who had believed in the truth of the Holy Prophet's message; but they had not as yet started obeying his teachings practically. They were still, as usual, living the same life of unbelief among their people as were the other unbelievers. Allah set apart such believers from those true believers who after belief had adopted total obedience of the Holy Prophet. The Command "to treat with kindness" was meant only for the latter group. As for those who had turned away from his obedience, and who included both those who believed in the truth of his message and those who rejected it, the Holy Prophet was instructed to disown them, and tell them plainly that they themselves were responsible for their deeds, and that after giving them the warning he was not at all responsible for what they did.
 
وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى الْعَزِيزِ الرَّحِيمِ﴿26:217﴾ 
(26:217) And put your trust in the Mighty and Merciful One, *137
*137 That is, "You should not care at all for any worldly power, howsoever big and strong, but should continue to perform your mission with complete trust in that Being Who is Mighty as well as Merciful. He is Mighty and, therefore, anybody enjoying His support, cannot be overcome by any other power; He is Merciful and, therefore, He will not let go waste the sacrifices and efforts of the one who struggles for the sake of raising His Word in the world. "
 
الَّذِي يَرَاكَ حِينَ تَقُومُ﴿26:218﴾ 
(26:218) Who watches you when you get up, *138
*138 "Getting up" may mean getting up for the Prayers during the night, or coming out for the purpose of performing the Prophetic Mission.
 
وَتَقَلُّبَكَ فِي السَّاجِدِينَ﴿26:219﴾ 
(26:219) and when you move about among those who prostrate themselves in worship. *139
*139 This can have several meanings: (1) Allah watches you when in the congregational Prayers you stand and sit and perform Ruku' and Sajdah with your followers behind you. (2) He watches you when you get up in the night to see what your Companions (whose mark of distinction is that "they prostrate themselves in worship") are doing for their own well-being in the Hereafter. (3) He is fully aware of how you and your Companions are endeavouring to reform the people. (4) He is fully aware of all your efforts to revolutionise the lives of the people who "prostrate themselves in worship"; He knows what sort of training you are giving them to reform them; how you have purified their lives and transformed them into the best people.
These characteristics of the Holy Prophet and his Companions have a special significance in the context here. In the first place, the Holy Prophet deserves Allah's Mercy and His Support for Allah, being AlI-Hearing and All-Knowing, is fully aware of the struggle he is waging for His cause and of the efforts he is making to reform his Companions. Secondly, when a person is living such a noble life as Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) is actually living, and the characteristics of his followers are those which Muhammad's Companions have, only an idiot can have the boldness to say that he is inspired by the satans, or that he is a poet. People are fully aware of the lives of the sorcerers who are inspired by the satans and also of the poets and their admirers living among them. Can anybody honestly say that there is no difference whatever between the noble life being led by Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) and his Companions and the sort of life being led by the poets and the sorcerers? Then, what is it if not sheer impudence that the former are openly being branded as poets and sorcerers without any shame?
 
إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ﴿26:220﴾ 
(26:220) He is indeed All-Hearing, All-Knowing.

 
هَلْ أُنَبِّئُكُمْ عَلَى مَن تَنَزَّلُ الشَّيَاطِينُ﴿26:221﴾ 
(26:221) O people, shall I tell you upon whom the satans come down?

 
تَنَزَّلُ عَلَى كُلِّ أَفَّاكٍ أَثِيمٍ﴿26:222﴾ 
(26:222) They come down upon every sinning forgerer: *140
*140 This implies the sorcerers, astrologers, fortune-tellers and conjurers who pose as knowers of the unseen and tell the people their future, or as wise men who have control over jinns and spirits and can make the destinies of the people through them.
 
يُلْقُونَ السَّمْعَ وَأَكْثَرُهُمْ كَاذِبُونَ﴿26:223﴾ 
(26:223) they whisper hearsay into ears, and most of them are liars. *141
*141 This may have two meanings: (1) The satans somehow get a little hint of the truth and inspire their agents with it, mixing it with all kinds of falsehood; and (2) the deceitful, unscrupulous sorcerers hear something from the satans and then mixing it with falsehood, whisper it into the people's ears. This has been explained in a Tradition which Bukhari has quoted on the authority of Hadrat 'A'ishah. She says that when some people asked the Holy Prophet about sorcerers, he replied that they were nothing. They said, "O Messenger of Allah, they, sometimes, tell the right thing" The Holy Prophet answered, "That right thing is overheard by the jinns who whisper it into their friend's ear, who concocts a story by mixing a lot of falsehood in it."
 
وَالشُّعَرَاء يَتَّبِعُهُمُ الْغَاوُونَ﴿26:224﴾ 
(26:224) As for the poets, they have.the erring people to follow them. *142
*142 That is, the people who follow and accompany the poets, are wholly different in, their characteristics, habits and temper from those who follow and accompany Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace). The difference between the two groups is so obvious that one group can be easily distinguished from the other. On the one side, there are the people who are characterised by the high seriousness, civilized and gentle behaviour, righteousness and fear of God, sense of responsibility and a high regard for the rights of others; people who are fair and just in their dealings, . who do not utter a word except in the cause of goodness, who have a high and pure ideal before them, which they pursue with single-minded devotion and for whose attainment they expend all their energies and capabilities. On other side, there are the people whose only pastime is to portray erotic scenes of love and wine-drinking, mocking and jesting, satirizing and eulogizing, or to arouse feelings of hatred and enmity and vengeance against others, or to describe charms of unchaste women to the brothel or of chaste ladies in the houses, only for the sake of pleasing the people and winning their applause. From the crowds who throng the poetic sessions and follow the "famous" poets, one cannot help forming the impression that those people are free from every moral restriction, who have no object in life except to gratify the lusts of the flesh like animals, and who have no idea whatever of the higher and nobler ideals and ends of life. The person who cannot see the obvious difference between the two types is indeed blind. But if in spite of seeing and knowing the difference, only for the purpose of suppressing the Truth, he says that Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) and his Companions are no different from the poets and their followers, he is not only a liar but has also transgressed all bounds of modesty and decency.
 
أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّهُمْ فِي كُلِّ وَادٍ يَهِيمُونَ﴿26:225﴾ 
(26:225) Do you not see that they stray aimlessly in every valley? *143
*143 That is, they follow no fixed pattern for their thought and speech. but wander aimlessly in every valley. Every new impulse makes them take up a new theme regardless as to whether it has any truth in it or not. Under one momentary impulse they would start uttering wise things; under another they would give expression to filthy and base feelings. If they felt pleased with somebody, they would exaggerate his praises, and if they felt offended by him, they would condemn him and run him down to hell. If they had a selfish motive, attached with somebody, they would feel no hesitation in giving preference to a miserly person over a generous person and to a cowardly person over a gallant person. On the contrary, if they felt displeased with somebody, they would not feel any shame in blotting his character and ridiculing him and his ancestors. That is why, one can tied God-worship and atheism, materialism and spiritualism, morality and immorality, piety and filthiness, seriousness and jesting, eulogy and satire expressed side by side in the poetry of one and the same poet. A person who is aware of these well known characteristics of the poets cannot reconcile himself to charging the recipient of the Qur'an with poetry, whose every discourse and word is clear and precise, whose objective is clearly defined, and who has never in his life uttered a word deviating in any way from the path of truth, righteousness and virtue.
At another place in the Qur'an, it has been stated that poetry is not suited to the temperament of the Holy Prophet: "We have not taught him poetry, nor dces it suit him." (Ya Sin: 69). And this fact was fully known to the people wao had any personal acquaintance with the Holy Prophet. Authentic Traditions show that he could not recite a complete verse from memory. If ever during conversation he remembered of a good verse of some poet, he would recite it without much care and regard for its metre and order of words.
Once Hadrat `A'ishah was asked whether the Holy Prophet ever made use of poetic verses in his discourses. She replied that he hated poetic verses the most, though sometimes he would recite a verse of a poet of Bani Quais, but in so doing he would unconsciously change the order of its words. When Hadrat Abu Bakr corrected him, he would say, "Brother, I am not a poet, nor composing poetry is my object. " Arabic poetry abounded in themes of sex and love romances, winedrinking, tribal hatreds and feuds, ancestry pride and vanity and made little or no mention of pure and noble themes. It was so saturated with falsehood, exaggeration, false accusations, undue praise , vanity, satiric invectives, jesting and polytheistic obscenities that the Holy Prophet once remarked: "It is better that the interior of one of you be filled with pus than with poetic verses" However, if there was something good in a verse, he would appreciate it, and say, "Some verses are based on wisdom." When he heard the verses of Umayyah bin Abi-Salt, he said, "His verse is a believer but his heart a disbeliever." Once a Companion recited a hundred or so good verses before him, and he went on urging him to recite more.
 
وَأَنَّهُمْ يَقُولُونَ مَا لَا يَفْعَلُونَ﴿26:226﴾ 
(26:226) and say that which they do not practise: themselves. *144
*144 This characteristic of the poets was just the antithesis of the Holy Prophet's conduct and practice. Everybody knew that the Holy Prophet said what he practised and practised what he said. The fact that there was complete conformity between his word and deed, could not be denied by anybody. On the contrary, everyone was well aware that the poets said one thing and practised just the opposite of it. For instance, they would express noble themes of generosity, indifference to worldly wealth, contentment and self-respect in their poetry, but, in practical life, they would turn out to be extremely stingy and cowardly, avaricious and selfish. They would find fault with others on trifles, but would themselves be involved in grave moral weaknesses.
 
إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَذَكَرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا وَانتَصَرُوا مِن بَعْدِ مَا ظُلِمُوا وَسَيَعْلَمُ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا أَيَّ مُنقَلَبٍ يَنقَلِبُونَ﴿26:227﴾ 
(26:227) save those who believed and did good works and remembered Allah much, and when they were treated unjustly, they only defended themselves (and did not show vindictiveness) *145 .And the iniquitous people will soon come to know what punishment awaits them. *146
*145 Here those poets have made an exception from the general reproach, who possess the following four characteristics:
(1) They should be believers in Allah, His Prophets, His Books and the Hereafter.
(2) They should be pious in practical life and not sinners, nor free from moral restrictions to say whatever they like.
(3) They should be remembering Allah much in their day to day lives as well as in their literary work. It should not be so that their personal lives reflect God-consciousness and piety, but their poetry is replete with themes of debauchery and lusts of the flesh, or that their poetry is full of serious themes of wisdom and God-consciousness, but their personal lives are devoid of any trace of the remembrance of Allah. As a matter of fact, both these states are equally despicable. A good poet is he who is Godconscious in his personal life and whose poetic talent and skills also are devoted to the advancement of the way of life followed by the God-conscious, God-fearing and God-worshipping people.
(4) They should not satirize others for personal reasons, nor take vengeance on others on account of personal, racial and national prejudices, but when they are required to support the truth, they should use their literary powers like weapons of war against the unjust and treacherous people. It does not behove the believers to adopt a humble, supplicating attitude against injustice and oppression. Traditions show that when the unbelieving and mushrik poets raised a storm of false accusations against Islam and the Holy Prophet and spread the poison of hatred against the Muslims, the Holy Prophet urged and encouraged the poets of Islam to counter attack them. Once he said to Ka`b bin Malik, "Satirize them, for, I swear by God in Whose hand is my soul, your verse will be more effective and damaging for them than the arrow. " Likewise he said to Hassan bin Thabit, "Deal with them and Gabriel is with you". And, "Say and the Holy Spirit is with you." Once he said, "The believer fights with the sword as well as with the tongue. "
*146 "The iniquitous people": The people who out of sheer obduracy calumniated the Holy Prophet of being a sorcerer, poet and a mad and enchanted man, in order to defeat lslam, and to confuse the other people and distract them from his message and invitation.