Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
Yusuf Ali’s Translation of this Chapter.
Muhammad Asad’s Translation of this Chapter.
Their commentaries can only be read in verse by verse view.
PAGE 430 Arabic Qur’an.
1. Verses 15- 21 tell us of the community of Saba’/Sheba (this town is named twice in the Qur’an, see HQ 27:22).
Verse 15 begins by telling us that there was a Sign for them in their ‘homes’ (plural of ‘sakan:’ comfortable and peaceful dwellings) and in the two kinds of gardens on either side. Then we hear God’s proclamation that they should make use of His Bounty and be appreciative to Him: a wholesome country and a Forgiving Lord!
Although I prefer Asad’s explanation here, Readers must know that there is no mention of the ‘dam’ in the Arabic, and that I consider most of the historical and geographical references (in footnotes) to be ‘speculation.’ Furthermore, I do not subscribe to the view that the Qur’an’s description of such incidents is ‘allegorical;’ I see God’s word as ‘Reality/ Truth’ (Haqqحق- )- while it our understanding of it that differs and is indeed relative.
2. Verses 18- 19 recount how the people of Sheba failed to appreciate God’s Bounties, and neither their fruitful harvests nor their safe passage across the earth prodded them to productivity (they were even guaranteed safety by night). On the contrary, it seems that they refused to make any effort to travel, stating that God had made their distances too far (as Asad indicates -in an approved alternative Reading of diacritic marks (tanween) ‘ربُّنا باعَدَ- Rabbuna Baa’da’ instead of ‘-ربَّنا باعِدْ- Rabbana Baa’id’).
Dear Reader: When we put this verse, together with HQ 17:70 (which states that we were ‘honored’ by God, and that transportation through land and sea was a bounty He granted to us specifically, among the countless bounties we were given above all creatures), and also remember four other verses which command traveling through the Earth and observing… as well as many other similar indications… we realize that:
TRAVEL IS SOMETHING WE MUST ALL DO!
Think about that!
Verses 20- 21 mention how humans –those of us who are NOT Faithful to God- would follow the Deviant (put ‘Iblees’ in ‘Search this Site), despite the fact that Iblees never had any power over them.
To better understand the ‘relationship’ between Cognizant Humans and the Deviant, see Posting of April 6th.
لِنعلَمَ is well-explained by Asad. We are given choices and allowed to make them NOT so that God would ‘know’ where we stand, but so that He ‘marks out’ our stance – allowing us to provide evidence (put ‘mark out’ in Search this Site). Misunderstanding this word as ‘to know’ is unfortunately a common mistake!
Also notice the importance of believing in the Hereafter (which the idol-worshippers denied).
3. In Verse 22 the Messenger, peace upon him, is commanded to speak directly to the idol-worshippers, challenging them to call upon whomever they allege to have any power, and assures them that they have none.
PAGE 431 Arabic Qur’an.
From Verse 23 to Verse 30 we listen to the arguments of Qureish, and also to the Messenger’s response (as commanded by God):
4. Verse 23 refers to those who devise ‘mediators’ in their relationship with God- a favorite subject with a ‘Mushrik’ (one ‘Who Associates Partners’ to God).
Indeed, there is no Intermediary between us and Our Creator.
Then Verse 24 asks and answers a basic question, presenting a challenging argument, while Verse 25 shows us that each party shall be questioned regarding its own affairs and conduct. Here we note the manner in which we/ the Messenger should speak to others; saying THAT WHICH IS BEST, as mentioned in HQ 16:125, discussed on June 30th (shown in following excerpt):
“So Verse 125 sets the ‘standards of argument/ dispute’ for the Messenger specifically, and us all in general:
We should argue in the manner which IS BEST: بالتي هي أحسن- not merely good, but THAT WHICH IS BEST ‘ahsan’.
Actually, the Messenger is asked to tell God’s Worshippers to ALWAYS convey to others ‘that which is best’ (HQ 17:53), and HQ 29:46 is specific, regarding the same generosity of manner in which we can argue with People of (earlier) Compilation.”
So, even though the previous verse skillfully alludes to who is ‘guided’ and who is ‘in manifest loss/error’- without accusation- when the Messenger is told to say that neither (Believers nor Deniers) shall be questioned as to the ‘deeds’ of the other, we note that the verb which denotes ‘committing misdeeds/ jarama’ is NOT attributed to the people he is trying to convince!
Attacking people’s beliefs only closes them to logic.
Note that ‘arguing’ with People of Earlier Compilation has even higher standards; see Sept 13th , where we said:
“The Qur’an is telling us plainly that we can only argue freely with those who have wronged us so as to regain our rights, and we CANNOT argue freely with the entire community of the ‘People of the Book!’
There are no sweeping statements; there are no generalizations in the Qur’an.”
5. Verses 26- 27 seem to show the futility of certain discussions, as the Messenger is told to state the fact that it is God Who shall gather everyone together and lay open the Truth/ Reality, and to announce that he refuses all ‘partners’ to Him.
6. Verse 28 is very important, as it is states –with the announcement coming directly from God- that this Messenger, Muhammad, is a Bearer of Glad Tidings and a Warner to ALL Cognizant Humans, but that most of them do not 'mark/ distinguish' that fact! See HQ 7:158 where the Messenger himself is told to state who he is.
7. Verses 29- 30 ask and answer a recurrent question, posited by those who do not believe in the Hereafter.
On this page we encountered SIX recurrences of the word: ‘Say!’
Our next Reading is from HQ 34:31-54
Peace unto all!