This sūrah of 37 verses was revealed toward the end of the Makkan period. It takes its name from the word al-jāthiyah in verse 28. In its initial verses, the sūrah draws attention to God’s signs in the universe for the believers, for those who seek certainty, and for those who use their reason. Then it cites many of God’s favors to humankind so that we may reflect and accept the guidance of the Qur’ān. It continues to recount some events from the history of the Children of Israel. Finally, it presents the end that awaits both believers and unbelievers.
- Ha. Mim.
- (This is) the Book being sent down in parts from God, the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Wise.
- In the heavens and on the earth there are indeed (clear) signs for the believers (pointing to God’s existence, Oneness, and Lordship);
- And in your creation and His scattering (innumerable kinds of ) living crea- tures (through the earth) there are (clear) signs for a people who seek certainty of faith (in His existence, Oneness, and Lordship).
- And in the alternation of night and day (with their periods shortening and lengthening), and in the provision (rain) God sends down from the sky and reviving thereby the earth after its death, and in His turning about of the winds
— (in all this) there are (clear) signs for a people who are able to reason and understand.1
- verse 3 states that what is manifest to the eye through the universe is enough to enable faith, for believers see the heavens and the earth replete with manifest signs of God’s exis- tence, Oneness, and Lordship. However, verse 4 calls us to study the parts of creation or the universe. When we study our existence and the existence and life of animals on the earth, our faith is strengthened and develops into certainty. Bediüzzaman Said Nursi reminds us that to strengthen our faith, we should reflect generally on the outer world (the heavens and the earth), but be more detailed and penetrating when we study our own creation and structure.
The third verse uses the word believers; this is different from the usage of the phrase, those who believe. This form denotes those who have attained faith and in whose hearts faith has been established. The phrase, those who believe, refers to those who have acknowledged
faith. When the Qur’ān uses the verb believe in the simple present tense, which in Arabic denotes actions expressed in english by both the present continuous and simple present tenses, it signifies that one is journeying in faith. This journeying continues until it has been established in the heart. In time, this faith continues to be strengthened and becomes certainty (yaqīn). certainty also has degrees: these are certainty arising from knowledge, certainty coming from observation, and certainty arising from direct experience. According to many, certainty of the truths of faith arising from direct experience can be attained in the Hereafter. Since journeying or developing in certainty continues throughout life, the Qur’ān usually uses it in the verbal form and in the (Arabic) simple present tense. The fourth verse here also uses the verbal form in this tense. So, the more we study ourselves and other creatures on the earth, the more we become certain of the truths of faith.
As for verse 5, it calls people to approach some important phenomena in the life of the universe with their reason or intellect, and it urges them to reflect on them, reason them out, and try to understand them, with their full meaning and functions in the complex web of creation and life. Such an approach to, and study of, these phenomena leads people who can use their reason in the proper way to be able to distinguish between truth and false- hood, and between what is good and to their benefit and what is evil and to their harm. This is a more advanced rank that one can attain through certainty of faith. Without faith and certainty, reason alone cannot raise one to the rank where this distinction can be made. The person who has risen to the rank where reason or intellect, enlightened by faith and certainty, can be used in the proper way can easily perceive that whatever the Qur’ān says is absolutely true; and they do not see any conflict between the Revelation or the reported knowledge (the Qur’ān and the Sunnah) and reason, or between the Religion and science (not scientism). If there should sometimes seem to be a conflict, this kind of reason or intellect can correctly reconcile it. Said Nursi refers to this fact when he says, “If reported knowledge and reason conflict, reason is preferred, provided the reason is the kind of reason (fully enlightened by the Revelation)” (Muhakemat, 13).
By referring to the believers (believing individuals), the third verse implies that an indi- vidual can have a general view of the universe that enables him or her to attain faith. By contrast, the fourth and fifth verses mention people who seek certainty and people who use their reason, respectively, thus suggesting that a detailed study of existence and existential phenomena is important in reaching certainty and using reason properly.
We should point out here that acknowledgment and profession are essential to faith, unless there is an absolute, religiously accepted obstacle. Although certainty is a deeper degree in faith, it cannot be faith (īmān) unless acknowledgment and profession accompany it. For there have been many people whose consciences have been convinced of the truths of faith, yet they have knowingly and obstinately refused to believe. The verse, They rejected them out of mere iniquity and self-exaltation, although their consciences were convinced of their being true (27: 14), refers to this.
- Those are the Revelations of God that We recite to you (through Gabriel) with truth. In what other statement, if not in God and His Revelations, will they, then, believe?2
2. The original (Qur’ānic) word translated as sign, Revelation, and verse is āyah. This means
that both the heavens and the earth and all the phenomena they contain are manifest signs for the truths of faith. The Qur’ānic verses or Revelations are verbal expressions of the signs of the universe. In other words, every Qur’ānic word (sūrah, verse, sentence, phrase, word, and letter) has a counterpart in the universe. If the universe is a palace, the Qur’ān is, in addition to its many other aspects, the book that describes it. It is because of this that Muslim scholars say that the universe is the Book created, or the Book of creation, and the Qur’ān is the Book Revealed, or the Book of Revelation. So, the study of the universe or creation, which has given rise to many sciences, cannot be separated from the study of the Qur’ān. This is why there is no conflict between the Qur’ān and established scientific facts. One who can accurately understand the universe or the principles of sciences can understand the main essentials of the Religion. The same is true for history and historical events and for understanding them correctly. In the future, sciences will make greater and greater advances. So as Muslims, we should be ahead of others in the study of creation, history, and historical events, and thus we can discover the correlation between the Qur’ān and the universe and history, and present the Qur’ān and Islam in the tongue of sciences or the Book of creation, and history or events.
- Woe to everyone addicted to inventing falsehoods, addicted to sinning:
- He hears God’s Revelations recited to him, and yet he persists in unbelief haughtily, as if he had not heard them. So give him the glad tidings of a painful punishment.3
3. Despite every thing and every phenomenon in the universe being a clear sign of God’s existence, Oneness, creativity, Lordship, and of His other Attributes, such as Power, Knowledge, Wisdom, and Will, despite the Qur’ān translating them to us in the most con- vincing way, and despite God’s Messenger and all other previous Prophets having clearly established this fact through their character and miracles, there are those who claim oth- erwise and insist on unbelief. This is the greatest of slanders and sins. Moreover, such a person easily falls into sin and, therefore, such a person earns a painful punishment.
- When he has come to some knowledge of Our signs (whether in the universe or in the Qur’ān), he takes them in mockery.4 For such there is a humiliating punishment.
4. This verse refers both to those who have some knowledge of the creational phenomena in the universe or of some scientific facts, and to those who have some knowledge of the Qur’ān and Islam. Since they are defeated by their arrogance and sinfulness, they tend to resort to the weapon of mocking the Qur’ān and Islam, or some of their principles or tenets, as a despicable means and, therefore, prepare for themselves a humiliating punishment.
- In front of them there is Hell; and all that they have earned (of this world) will be of no avail whatever to them, and nor will those whom (apart from God and in defiance of Him) they have taken as guardians (to entrust their affairs to). For them there is a mighty punishment.
- This (Qur’an) is the guidance, and for those who disbelieve in the signs
and Revelations of their Lord there is a painful punishment of loathsome kind (brought on by their loathsome deeds).
- God it is Who has made the sea to be of service to you by making it subser- vient (to His command) so that the ships may run through it by His command, and that you may seek of His bounty, and that (in return) you may give thanks.
- He has also made of service to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth, all is from Him (a gift of His Grace). Surely in this there are (clear) signs for a people who reflect.
- Tell those who believe that they should pardon those who do not hope for the coming of the Days of God (when He will make them understand what their unbelief means),5 seeing that He will recompense people for what they have earned.
5. The believers should not act in the manner of their opponents, lowering themselves to their ranks to respond to their attacks in like manner. Rather, they should preserve their dignity.
- Whoever does a good, righteous deed, it is for (the good of ) his own soul; and whoever does an evil, it is against it. Thereafter (in all events) it is to your Lord that you will be brought back.
- We did for sure grant to the children of Israel the Book, and the authority to judge (by the Book), and Prophethood; and We provided them with pure, wholesome things, and exalted them above all other peoples (of their time).
- And We granted them clear proofs concerning the affairs and commands of the Religion.; and it was only after all this knowledge came to them that they differed through envious rivalry and insolence among themselves. Surely your Lord will judge among them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that on which they used to differ.
- Thereafter (in this conclusive Revelation), We have set you on a way of life (Sharī‘ah) based on the Religion,6 so follow it and do not follow the lusts and fancies of those who do not know (the Divine Guidance).
6. Some think and claim that the Sharī’ah consists in the assembly of the Islamic (social, economic, and political) laws. However, these laws were laid down in Madīnah, and this sūrah was revealed in Makkah. Sūrah Shūrā (no. 42), which mentions the Sharī’ah in its thirteenth verse, was also revealed in Makkah. So the Sharī’ah is the practical aspect of the Religion of Islam, and also includes the rules of worship.
- They surely cannot be of any avail to you as against God. And surely the
wrongdoers (who, out of their caprices, follow ways other than that on which God has set you) are guardians of one another. Whereas God is the Guardian of the God-revering, pious.
- This (Qur’an which teaches the way of life God has prescribed) is perception and insight (into the truth) for humankind, and guidance and mercy for people who seek certainty of faith.
- What? Do those who commit evil deeds think that We hold them equal with those who believe and do good, righteous deeds – equal in respect of their life and their death? How evil is their judgment!
- God has created the heavens and the earth in truth (for meaningful purpose, on solid foundations of truth and embodying it), and so that every soul may be recompensed for what it has earned (in this world), and they will not be wronged.
- Do you ever consider him who has taken his lusts and fancies for his deity,7 and whom God has (consequently) led astray though he has knowledge (of guidance and straying), and sealed his hearing and his heart, and put a cover on his sight? Who, then, can guide him after God (has led him astray)? Will you not then reflect and be mindful?
7. For an explanation, see 25: 43, note 9.
- And they say: “There is nothing but only our life in this world. Some of us die while others continue to live; and nothing causes us to perish but Time (the processes of decline and decay).” But they have no (sure and true) knowledge about this (the real nature and meaning of life and death, and the life after it). They merely follow their conjectures.
- When Our Revelations, clear as evidence and in meaning are recited (and conveyed) to them, they have no argument except to say: “Bring back our fore- fathers, if you are truthful in your claim.”
- Say: “God gives you life, then causes you to die, then He will gather you together for the Day of Resurrection, about (the coming of ) which there is no doubt. But most people do not know (being content with narrow conjectures and ignorant suppositions).
- To God belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth.8 On the Day when the Last Hour stands forth (and the Judgment is established), on that Day, those who invented and followed falsehood will be ruined in loss;
8. These verses clearly state that belief in God requires believing in the other pillars of
faith. Aware of this fact, the materialists, to whom the verses refer, deny God’s existence. However, although denial is a conclusion and, therefore, has to be based on evidence, their denial is based on no evidence at all; therefore, it is a mere assertion with no true knowl- edge. However, the whole universe, with whatever is in it, clearly proves the existence of God. Anyone whose heart, eyes, and ears have not been sealed because of prejudices, desires, conceit, wrongdoing, or any other causes of unbelief cannot help but admit this truth. However, as stated in verse 23 above, no one can do anything for one whose senses have been sealed.
- And you will see every community gathered together and kneeling down (in fear). every community will be called to its record of deeds (to account for whatever it did in the world). “This Day you will be recompensed for what you used to do.
- “This is Our Book (the record of your deeds that We prepared), speaking the truth against you. Assuredly We have had transcribed what you used to do (in the world).”
- Then: as for those who believed and did good, righteous deeds, their Lord will admit them into (Paradise, which is the embodiment of ) His mercy. That is the obvious triumph.
- As for those who disbelieved (there will be this reproach): “Were My Revela- tions not recited to you (indeed, recited repeatedly) but you in arrogance scorned them, and proved yourselves a guilty people committed to accumulating sin?
- “When it was proclaimed that God’s promise is true and that there is no doubt about the coming of the Last Hour, you said: ‘We can make no sense of the Last Hour; we think it is only a supposition. We are by no means convinced (of it)’.”
- The evil deeds they committed have (now) become obvious to them, and what they used to mock (God’s promised punishment) has overwhelmed them.
- And it will be said: “We are oblivious of you today (so do not hope for for- giveness and favor), as you were oblivious of the encounter of this day of yours, and your (lasting) refuge will be the Fire, and you have no helpers.
- “That is because you used to take all the signs and Revelations of God in mockery, and the life of the world deluded you.” And so this Day they will not be taken out of it (the Fire), and (no plea will be accepted from them to return to the world and so) they can no longer make amends.
- And all praise and gratitude are for God, the Lord of the heavens and the Lord of the earth, the Lord of the worlds.
- And to Him belongs grandeur and sovereignty in the heavens and the earth, and He is the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Wise.