Surat Yunus, or Jonah – 10- Meccan – Ayats 109: Section Three – Verses from 18-30

Wahba Mahmoud Diyab

And they worship and serve beside God, things that do not harm them, nor profit them, and they say: “These are our intercessors with God”. Say:”do you indeed inform God of something He does not know in the heavens, or on earth?- Glory to Him! Glorified and Exalted, He is above the partners they ascribe and associate (to Him)! (18) وَيَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلَا يَنْفَعُهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ هَؤُلَاءِ شُفَعَاؤُنَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ قُلْ أَتُنَبِّئُونَ اللَّهَ بِمَا لَا يَعْلَمُ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ (18)
Mankind were not but one nation (community), but they differed (later). Had it not been for a Word that preceded/went forth before from your Lord; their differences would have been settled (immediately) between them. (19) وَمَا كَانَ النَّاسُ إِلَّا أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَاخْتَلَفُوا وَلَوْلَا كَلِمَةٌ سَبَقَتْ مِنْ رَبِّكَ لَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُمْ فِيمَا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ (19)
And they say: “Why is it not a Sign is sent down to him from his Lord?”. Say:”The Unseen is only for God (to know) Alone! Then you wait! Verily, I am too with you among those who wait (for God’s Judgment). (20) وَيَقُولُونَ لَوْلَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْهِ آَيَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِ فَقُلْ إِنَّمَا الْغَيْبُ لِلَّهِ فَانْتَظِرُوا إِنِّي مَعَكُمْ مِنَ الْمُنْتَظِرِينَ (20)
And when We make mankind taste some of mercy after adversity has afflicted/touched them, behold! They take to plotting against Our Signs! Say:”God is swifter in planning!” Verily, Our Messengers (angels) record all the plots that you make! (21) وَإِذَا أَذَقْنَا النَّاسَ رَحْمَةً مِنْ بَعْدِ ضَرَّاءَ مَسَّتْهُمْ إِذَا لَهُمْ مَكْرٌ فِي آَيَاتِنَا قُلِ اللَّهُ أَسْرَعُ مَكْرًا إِنَّ رُسُلَنَا يَكْتُبُونَ مَا تَمْكُرُونَ (21)
He it is Who establishes/enables you to traverse through the land and sea; so that till you board the ships, and they sail with them with a favorable wind, and they rejoice thereat; then comes stormy and tempestuous wind and waves come to them from all sides, and they think that they are encircled and overwhelmed therein; then they cry and invoke to God –sincerely- offering (their) duty to Him/making their Faith pure for Him Alone: saying:”If You (God) deliver us from this, we shall truly show our gratitude /be grateful”. (22) هُوَ الَّذِي يُسَيِّرُكُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ حَتَّى إِذَا كُنْتُمْ فِي الْفُلْكِ وَجَرَيْنَ بِهِمْ بِرِيحٍ طَيِّبَةٍ وَفَرِحُوا بِهَا جَاءَتْهَا رِيحٌ عَاصِفٌ وَجَاءَهُمُ الْمَوْجُ مِنْ كُلِّ مَكَانٍ وَظَنُّوا أَنَّهُمْ أُحِيطَ بِهِمْ دَعَوُا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ لَئِنْ أَنْجَيْتَنَا مِنْ هَذِهِ لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الشَّاكِرِينَ (22)
But when He delivers them: behold! They transgress insolently through the earth in defiance of right! O’ mankind! Your insolence is against your own souls; a brief enjoyment of the life of the Present; but (in the end) to Us is your return, and We shall show you the Truth of all that you did. (23) فَلَمَّا أَنْجَاهُمْ إِذَا هُمْ يَبْغُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّمَا بَغْيُكُمْ عَلَى أَنْفُسِكُمْ مَتَاعَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ثُمَّ إِلَيْنَا مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَنُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ (23)
Verily, the likeness of the life of the Present is as a Water (rain) which We have sent down from the sky; so by its mingling arises the produce of the earth, which provides food for men and animals/cattle: (it grows) till the earth is clad with its ornaments/ adornments and is decked out (in beauty), and its people –to whom it belong- think that they have all powers of disposal over it; there reaches it Our Command –by night or by day- and We make it like a harvest clean-down, as if it had not flourished only the day before/yesterday! Thus do We explain the Signs –in detail- for the people who reflect. (24) إِنَّمَا مَثَلُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَاءٍ أَنْزَلْنَاهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَاخْتَلَطَ بِهِ نَبَاتُ الْأَرْضِ مِمَّا يَأْكُلُ النَّاسُ وَالْأَنْعَامُ حَتَّى إِذَا أَخَذَتِ الْأَرْضُ زُخْرُفَهَا وَازَّيَّنَتْ وَظَنَّ أَهْلُهَا أَنَّهُمْ قَادِرُونَ عَلَيْهَا أَتَاهَا أَمْرُنَا لَيْلًا أَوْ نَهَارًا فَجَعَلْنَاهَا حَصِيدًا كَأَنْ لَمْ تَغْنَ بِالْأَمْسِ كَذَلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الْآَيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ (24)
But God do call to the Home of Peace; He do guides whom He pleases to a Way that is straight. (25) وَاللَّهُ يَدْعُو إِلَى دَارِ السَّلَامِ وَيَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ (25)
To those who do right is a goodly (reward)_ Yea, more and (more than in measure)! Neither darkness, nor dust/shame nor any humiliating disgrace shall cover their faces. They are the Companions and dwellers of the Garden/Paradise; they will abide therein forever/for aye. (26) لِلَّذِينَ أَحْسَنُوا الْحُسْنَى وَزِيَادَةٌ وَلَا يَرْهَقُ وُجُوهَهُمْ قَتَرٌ وَلَا ذِلَّةٌ أُولَئِكَ أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ (26)
But those who have earned evil deeds, will have their reward of like evil/reprisal: ignominy will cover (their faces); no defender will they have from (the wrath of) God; their faces will be as it were covered with pieces from the depth of the darkness of Night; they are the Companions and dwellers of the Fire; they will abide therein forever/for aye. (27) وَالَّذِينَ كَسَبُوا السَّيِّئَاتِ جَزَاءُ سَيِّئَةٍ بِمِثْلِهَا وَتَرْهَقُهُمْ ذِلَّةٌ مَا لَهُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ مِنْ عَاصِمٍ كَأَنَّمَا أُغْشِيَتْ وُجُوهُهُمْ قِطَعًا مِنَ اللَّيْلِ مُظْلِمًا أُولَئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ (27)
And (mention O’ Muhammad PPBUH) the One Day We shall gather them all together. Then We shall say to those who associated and joined gods (with Us): “Stop at your place! You and those you joined as partners”. Then We shall separate them: and their ‘partners’ shall say:” It was not us that you used to worship/worshiped”. (28) وَيَوْمَ نَحْشُرُهُمْ جَمِيعًا ثُمَّ نَقُولُ لِلَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا مَكَانَكُمْ أَنْتُمْ وَشُرَكَاؤُكُمْ فَزَيَّلْنَا بَيْنَهُمْ وَقَالَ شُرَكَاؤُهُمْ مَا كُنْتُمْ إِيَّانَا تَعْبُدُونَ (28)
So “sufficient enough is God for a witness between us and you: we certainly knew nothing of your worship of us/it was not us that you used to worship!” (29) فَكَفَى بِاللَّهِ شَهِيدًا بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ إِنْ كُنَّا عَنْ عِبَادَتِكُمْ لَغَافِلِينَ (29)
There! Every soul/person will know (exactly by prove the fruits of) the deeds it sent before; and they will be brought back to God –their rightful Lord-, and their invented falsehoods will leave them in the lurch. (30) هُنَالِكَ تَبْلُو كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَا أَسْلَفَتْ وَرُدُّوا إِلَى اللَّهِ مَوْلَاهُمُ الْحَقِّ وَضَلَّ عَنْهُمْ مَا كَانُوا يَفْتَرُونَ (30)
(Verse 18)- When we shut our eyes to God’s glory and goodness, and go after false gods, we give some plausible excuse to ourselves, such as that they will intercede for us. But how can stocks and stones intercedes for us? And how can men intercede for us, when they themselves have need of God’s Mercy? Even the best and noblest cannot intercede as of right, but only with His permission (verse 3). To pretend that there are other powers than God is to invent lies and to teach God. There is nothing in heaven or earth that He does not know, and there is no other like to Him.
(Verse 19)- A/ See Surat Al-Bagara 2 verse 213. All mankind was created one, and God’s Message to mankind is in essence one, the Message of Unity and Truth. But as selfishness and egotism got hold of man, certain differences sprang up between individuals, races, and nations. And in His infinite Mercy He sent them messengers and messages to suit their varying mentality, to test them by His gifts, and stir them up to emulation in virtue and piety (verse 51). B/ Here we have again the mystic doctrine of “the Word”- see Surat al-an’am 6 verse 115, Surat Al-Tawba 9 verse 40, and Surat Al-Nisa’ 4 verse 171. ‘WORD’ is the Decree of God, the expression of His Universal Will, or Wisdom in a particular case. When men began to diverge from one another. God made their very differences sub-serve the higher ends by increasing their emulation in virtue and piety, and thus pointing back to the ultimate Unity and Reality.
(Verse 20)- Their demand for a Sign is disingenuous. All nature and revelation furnishes them with incontestable Signs. What they want is the Book of the Unseen opened out to them like the physical leaves of a book. But they forget that a physical Book on a wholly different plane from God’s Mysteries, and that their physical natures cannot apprehend the mysteries. They must wait. Truth will also wait. But the waiting in the two cases in quite different senses. (see Surat Al-An’am 6 verse 158, and Surat Al-Tawba 9 verse 52).
(Summary verses 21-40:- The good, the beautiful, and the useful in man’s life are derived from God; yet man is ungrateful. He runs after the ephemeral things of this life; yet they are no better than the green of the fields, that lasts for a season ere it perish! God’s call is to an eternal Home of Peace; will you not answer it? Do you not know that it is He Who sustains and cherishes? No partner has He. And He speaks to His creatures and guides them through His wonderful Book unmatched.)
(Verse 21)- Man turns his thoughts in adversity to the spiritual forces outside his ken. But as soon as the trouble is past –he not only forgets them- but actually plots against them, as if they –and not he himself- had caused his trouble. But such people are poor ignorant creatures, not realizing that the Universal Plan of God is swifter to stop their petty plans, and that though they fail, the record of them remains eternally against them.
(Verse 22)- All the great inventions and discoveries on which man prides are the fruit of that genius and talent which God has freely given of His grace. But the spirit of man remains petty, as is illustrated by the parable from the sea. How the heart of man rejoices when the ship goes smoothly with favorable winds! How in adversity it turns –in terror and helplessness- to God, and makes vows for deliverance! And how those vows are disregarded as soon as the danger is past. 9See Surat Al-An’am 6 verse 63).
(Verse 23)- In our insolence and pride we do not see how small and ephemeral is that part of us which is mortal. We shall see it at last when we appear before our Judge. In the meantime our ridiculous pretensions only hurts ourselves.
(Verse 24)- Another beautiful Parable, explaining the nature of our present life. The rain comes down in drops and mingles with the earth. Through it –by God’s matchless artistry- the womb of the earth is made fruitful. All kinds of good, useful, and beautiful grains, vegetables, and fruits are produced for men and animals. The earth is covered in its bravery of green and gold, and all kinds of colors. Perhaps the “owner” takes all the credit to himself, and thinks that this will last eternally. A hailstorm or a blast, a frost or a volcanic eruption comes and destroys it, or it may be –or even normally that the time of harvest comes- and the fields and orchards are stripped bare by some blight or disease. Where is the beauty and bravery of yesterday? All that is left is dust and ashes! What more can we get from this physical material life?
(Verse 25)- In contrast with the ephemeral and uncertain pleasures of this material life, there is a higher life to which God is always calling. It is called the Home of Peace. For there is no fear, nor disappointment, nor sorrow there. And all called, and those will be chosen who have sought –not material advantages- but the Good Pleasures of God. Salam=Peace, is from the same root as Islam; the Religion of Unity and Harmony.
(Verse 26)- A/ The reward of the righteous will be far more than in proportion to their merits. For they will have the supreme bliss of being near to God, and (in Sufi language) “Seeing His Face”. B/ The face is the symbol of the Personality, the inner and real Self, which is the antithesis of the outer and ephemeral Self. It will be illuminated with God’s Light, behind which is no shadow or darkness. All its old shortcomings will be blotted out, with their sense of shames, for there will be Perfection: as in God’s Sight.
(Verse 27)- A/ Note that the evil reward is for those who have {earned} evil, i.e. brought it on themselves by the deliberate choice of evil. Further, in the justice of God, they will be requited with evil similar to –and not greater in quantity or intensive- than the evil they had done, – unlike the good, who –in God’s generosity- get a reward far greater than anything they have earned or could possibly earn. B/ Night is the negation of Light, and metaphorically of joy and felicity. The intensive is indicated by “the depth of the Darkness of Night”.
(Verse 28)- The false gods are not real: they are only the figments of the imaginations of those who indulged in the false worship. But the prophets, or great, or good men whose names were vainly taken in competition with the name of God, and the personified ideas of Idols treated in the same way, would themselves protest against their names being used in that way, and show that the worship was paid not to them, but to the ignorance of superstition, or selfish lusts of the false worshippers.
(Verse 29)- See the previous note. They did not even know that they were being falsely worshipped in that way.
(Verse 30)- A/ See Surat Al-Bagara 2 verse 95; where the verb used is qaddama=قدم : the verb aslafa= أسلف : used here, is nearly synonymous. B/ Instead of their false ideas helping them, they will desert them and leave them in the lurch. See Surat Al-An’am 6 verse 24.

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