CONSIDER these [messages] ranged in serried ranks,
and restraining [from evil] by a call to restraint,
and conveying [to all the world] a reminder:
Verily, most surely, your God is One –
the Sustainer of the heavens and the earth and of all that is between them, and the Sustainer of all the points of sunrise!
Behold, We have adorned the skies nearest to the earth with the beauty of stars,
and have made them secure against every rebellious, satanic force,
[so that] they [who seek to learn the unknowable] should not be able to overhear the host on high, but shall be repelled from all sides,
cast out [from all grace], with lasting suffering in store for them [in the life to come];
but if anyone does succeed in snatching a glimpse [of such knowledge], he is [henceforth] pursued by a piercing flame.
AND NOW ask those [who deny the truth] to enlighten thee: Were they more difficult to create than all those [untold marvels] that We have created? - for, behold, them have We created out of [mere] clay commingled with water!
Nay, but whereas thou dost marvel, they [only] scoff;
and when they are reminded [of the truth], they refuse to take it to heart;
and when they become aware of a [divine] message, they turn it to ridicule
and say: “This is clearly nothing but [a mortal’s] spellbinding eloquence!
Why - after we have died and become mere dust and bones, shall we, forsooth, be raised from the dead? –
and perhaps also our forebears of old?”
Say: “Yea, indeed - and most abject will you then be!” –
for that [resurrection which they deride] will be [upon them of a sudden, as if it were] but a single accusing cry - and then, lo! they will begin to see [the truth]
and will say: “Oh, woe unto us! This is the Day of Judgment!”
[And they will be told:] “This is the Day of Distinction [between the true and the false - the Day] which you were wont to call a lie!”
[And God will thus command:] “Assemble all those who were bent on evildoing, together with others of their ilk and [with] all that they were wont to worship
instead of God, and lead them all onto the way to the blazing fire,
and halt them [there]!” [And then,] behold, they shall be asked,
“How is it that [now] you cannot succour one another?”
Nay, but on that Day they would willingly surrender [to God];
but [since it will be too late,] they will turn upon one another, demanding of each other [to relieve them of the burden of their past sins].
Some [of them] will say: “Behold, you were wont to approach us [deceptively] from the right!”
[To which] the others will reply: “Nay, you yourselves were bereft of all faith!
Moreover, we had no power at all over you: nay, you were people filled with overweening arrogance!
But now our Sustainer’s word has come true against us [as well]: verily, we are bound to taste [the fruit of our sins].
So then, [if it be true that] we have caused you to err grievously - behold, we ourselves had been lost in grievous error!”
And, verily, on that Day they all will share in their common suffering.
Verily, thus shall We deal with all who were lost in sin:
for, behold, whenever they were told, “There is no deity save God,” they would glory in their arrogance
and would say, “Shall we, then, give up our deities at the bidding of a mad poet?”
Nay, but he [whom you call a mad poet] has brought the truth; and he confirms the truth of [what the earlier of God’s] message-bearers [have taught].
Behold, you will indeed taste grievous suffering [in the life to come],
although you shall not be requited for aught but what you were wont to do.
Not so, however, God’s true servants:
[in the hereafter,] theirs shall be a sustenance which they will recognize
as the fruits [of their life on earth]; and honoured shall they be
in gardens of bliss,
facing one another [in love] upon thrones of happiness.
A cup will be passed round among them [with a drink] from unsullied springs,
clear, delightful to those who drink it:
no headiness will be in it, and they will not get drunk thereon.
And with them will be mates of modest gaze, most beautiful of eye,
[as free of faults] as if they were hidden [ostrich] eggs.
And they will all turn to one another, asking each other [about their past lives].
One of them speaks thus: “Behold, I had [on earth] a close companion
who was wont to ask [me], ‘Why - art thou really one of those who believe it to be true
[that] after we have died and become mere dust and bones we shall, forsooth, be brought to judgment?”’
[And] he adds: “Would you like to look [and see him]?” –
and then he looks and sees that [companion of his] in the midst of the blazing fire,
and says: “By God! Verily, thou hast almost destroyed me [too, O my erstwhile companion]
for had it not been for my Sustainer’s favour, I would surely be [now] among those who are given over [to suffering]!
But then, [O my friends in paradise,] is it [really] so that we are not to die
[again,] beyond our previous death, and that we shall never [again] be made to suffer?
Verily, this - this indeed - is the triumph supreme!”
For the like of this, then, let them labour, those who labour [in God’s way]!
Is such [a paradise] the better welcome - or the [hellish] tree of deadly fruit?
Verily, We have caused it to be a trial for evildoers:
for, behold, it is a tree that grows in the very heart of the blazing fire [of hell],
its fruit [as repulsive] as satans’ heads;
and they [who are lost in evil] are indeed bound to eat thereof, and to fill their bellies therewith.
And, behold, above all this they will be confounded with burning despair!
And once again: Verily, the blazing fire is their ultimate goal –
for, behold, they found their forebears on a wrong way,
and [now] they make haste to follow in their footsteps!
Thus, indeed, most of the people of old went astray before them,
although, verily, We had sent warners unto them:
and behold what happened in the end to those that had been warned [to no avail]!
EXCEPT for God’s true servants, [most people are apt to go astray.]
And, indeed, [it was for this reason that] Noah cried unto Us - and how excellent was Our response:
for We saved him and his household from that awesome calamity,
and caused his offspring to endure [on earth];
and We left him thus to be remembered among later generations:
“Peace be upon Noah throughout all the worlds!”
Verily, thus do We reward the doers of good –
for he was truly one of our believing servants:
[and so We saved him and those who followed him] and then We caused the others to drown.
AND, BEHOLD, of his persuasion was Abraham, too,
when he turned to his Sustainer with a heart free of evil,
and [thus] spoke to his father and his people: “What is it that you worship?
Do you want [to bow down before] a lie - [before] deities other than God?
What, then, do you think of the Sustainer of all the worlds?”
Then he cast a glance at the stars,
and said, “Verily, I am sick [at heart]!”
and at that they turned their backs on him and went away.
Thereupon he approached their gods stealthily and said, “What! You do not eat [of the offerings placed before you]?
What is amiss with you that you do not speak?”
And then he fell upon them, smiting them with his right hand.
[But] then the others came towards him hurriedly [and accused him of his deed].
He answered: “Do you worship something that you [yourselves] have carved,
the while it is God who has created you and all your handiwork?”
They exclaimed: “Build a pyre for him, and cast him into the blazing fire!”
But whereas they sought to do evil unto him, We [frustrated their designs, and thus] brought them low?
And [Abraham] said: “Verily, I shall [leave this land and] go wherever my Sustainer will guide me!”
[And he prayed:] “O my Sustainer! Bestow upon me the gift of [a son who shall be] one of the righteous!” –
whereupon We gave him the glad tiding of a boy-child gentle [like himself]?
And [one day,] when [the child] had become old enough to share in his [father’s] endeavours, the latter said: “O my dear son! I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice thee: consider, then, what would be thy view!” [Ishmael] answered: “O my father! Do as thou art bidden: thou wilt find me, if God so wills, among those who are patient in adversity!”
But as soon as the two had surrendered themselves to [what they thought to be] the will of God, and [Abraham] had laid him down on his face,
We called out to him: “O Abraham,
thou hast already fulfilled [the purpose of] that dream- vision!” Thus, verily, do We reward the doers of good:
for, behold, all this was indeed a trial, clear in itself.
And We ransomed him with a tremendous sacrifice,
and left him thus to be remembered among later generations:
“Peace be upon Abraham!”
Thus do We reward the doers of good –
for he was truly one of our believing servants.
And [in time] We gave him the glad tiding of Isaac, [who, too, would be] a prophet, one of the righteous;
and We blessed him and Isaac: but among the offspring of these two there were [destined] to be both doers of good and such as would glaringly sin against themselves.
THUS, INDEED, did We bestow Our favour upon Moses and Aaron;
and We saved them and their people from the awesome calamity [of bondage],
and succoured them, so that [in the end] it was they who achieved victory.
And We gave them the divine writ that made [right and wrong] distinct,
and guided them the straight way,
and left them thus to be remembered among later generations:
“Peace be upon Moses and Aaron!”
Thus do We reward the doers of good –
for those two were truly among Our believing servants.
AND, BEHOLD, Elijah [too] was indeed one of Our message-bearers
when he spoke [thus] to his people: “Will you not remain conscious of God?
Will you invoke Baal and forsake [God,] the best of artisans -
God, your Sustainer and the Sustainer of your forebears of old?”
But they gave him the lie: and therefore they will most surely be arraigned [on Judgment Day],
excepting only [those who were] God’s true servants;
and him We left thus to be remembered among later generations:
“Peace be upon Elijah and his followers!”
Verily, thus do We reward the doers of good –
for he was truly one of Our believing servants!
AND, BEHOLD, Lot was indeed one of Our message-bearers;
[and so,] when [We decreed the doom of his sinful town,] We saved him and his household,
except an old woman who was among those that stayed behind;
and then We utterly destroyed the others:
and, verily, [to this day] you pass by the remnants of their dwellings at morning-time
and by night. Will you not, then, use your reason?
AND, BEHOLD, Jonah was indeed one of Our message-bearers
when he fled like a runaway slave onto a laden ship.
And then they cast lots, and he was the one who lost;
[and they cast him into the sea,] whereupon the great fish swallowed him, for he had been blameworthy.
And had he not been of those who [even in the deep darkness of their distress are able to] extol God’s limitless glory,
he would indeed have remained in its belly till the Day when all shall be raised from the dead:
but We caused him to be cast forth on a desert shore, sick [at heart] as he was,
and caused a creeping plant to grow over him [out of the barren soil].
And [then] We sent him [once again] to [his people,] a hundred thousand [souls] or more:
and [this time] they believed [in him] and so We allowed them to enjoy their life during the time allotted to them?
AND NOW ask them to enlighten thee: Has thy Sustainer daughters, whereas they would have [only] sons?
- or is it that We have created the angels female, and they [who believe them to be divine] have witnessed [that act of creation]?
Oh, verily, it is out of their own [inclination to] falsehood that some people assert,
“God has begotten [a son]”; and, verily, they are lying [too, when they say],
“He has chosen daughters in preference to sons”!
What is amiss with you and your judgment?
Will you not, then, bethink yourselves?
Or have you, perchance, a clear evidence [for your assertions]?
Produce, then, that divine writ of yours, if you are speaking the truth!
And some people have invented a kinship between Him and all manner of invisible forces although [even] these invisible forces know well that, verily, they [who thus blaspheme against God] shall indeed be arraigned [before Him on Judgment Day: for]
limitless is God in His glory, above anything that men may devise by way of definition!
Not thus, however, [behave] God’s true servants:
for, verily, neither you [blasphemers] nor the objects of your worship
can cause anyone to fall prey to your temptation
unless it be such as rushes towards the blazing fire [of his own accord]!
[All forces of nature praise God and say:] “Among us, too, there is none but has a place assigned to it [by Him];
and, verily, we too are ranged [before Him in worship];
and, verily, we too extol His limitless glory!”
AND, INDEED, they [who deny the truth] have always been wont to say,
“If only we had a tradition [to this effect] from our forebears,
we would certainly be true servants of God.”
And yet, [now that this divine writ has been placed before them,] they refuse to acknowledge it as true! In time, however, they will come to know [what it was that they had rejected]:
for, long ago has Our word gone forth unto Our servants, the message- bearers,
that, verily, they - they indeed - would be succoured,
and that, verily, Our hosts - they indeed - would [in the end] be victorious!
Hence, turn thou aside for a while from those [who deny the truth],
and see them [for what they are]; and in time they [too] will come to see [what they do not see now].
Do they, then, [really] wish that Our chastisement be hastened on?
But then, once it alights upon them, hapless will be the awakening of those who were warned [to no avail]!
Hence, turn thou aside for a while from them,
and see [them for what they are]; and n time they [too] will come to see [what they do not see now].
LIMITLESS in His glory is thy Sustainer, the Lord of almightiness, [exalted] above anything that men may devise by way of definition!
And peace be upon all His message-bearers!
And all praise is due to God alone, the Sustainer of all the worlds!