CLOSER DRAWS unto men their reckoning: and yet they remain stubbornly heedless [of its approach].
Whenever there comes unto them any new reminder from their Sustainer, they but listen to it with playful amusement,
their hearts set on passing delights; yet they who are [thus] bent on wrongdoing conceal their innermost thoughts [when they say to one another], “Is this [Muhammad] anything but a mortal like yourselves? Will you, then, yield to [his] spellbinding eloquence with your eyes open?”
Say: “My Sustainer knows whatever is spoken in heaven and on earth; and He alone is all-hearing, all-knowing.”
“Nay,” they say, “[Muhammad propounds] the most involved and confusing of dreams!” “Nay, but he has invented [all] this!” - “Nay, but he is [only] a poet!” - [and,] “Let him, then, come unto us with a miracle, just as those [prophets] of old were sent [with miracles]?”
Not one of the communities that We destroyed in bygone times would ever believe [their prophets]: will these, then, [be more willing to] believe?
For [even] before thy time, [O Muhammad,] We never sent [as Our apostles] any but [mortal] men, whom We inspired - hence, [tell the deniers of the truth,] “If you do not know this, ask the followers of earlier revelation”
and neither did We endow them with bodies that could dispense with food nor were they immortal.
In the end, We made good unto them Our promise, and We saved them and all whom We willed [to save], and We destroyed those who had wasted their own selves.
[O MEN!] We have now bestowed upon you from on high a divine writ containing all that you ought to bear in mind will you not, then, use your reason?
For, how many a community that persisted in evildoing have We dashed into fragments, and raised another people in its stead!
And [every time,] as soon as they began to feel Our punishing might, lo! they tried to flee from it
[and at the same time they seemed to hear a scornful voice]: “Do not try to flee, but return to all that [once] gave you pleasure and corrupted your whole being. and [return] to your homes, so that you might be called to account [for what you have done]!”
And they could only cry: “Oh, woe unto us! Verily, we were wrongdoers!”
And that cry of theirs did not cease until We caused them to become [like] a field mown down, still and silent as ashes.
AND [know that] We have not created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in mere idle play:
[for,] had We willed to indulge in a pastime, We would indeed have produced it from within Ourselves - if such had been Our will at all!
Nay, but [by the very act of creation] We hurl the truth against falsehood, and it crushes the latter: and lo! it withers away. But woe unto you for all your [attempts at] defining [God] –
for, unto Him belong all [beings] that are in the heavens and on earth; and those that are with Him are never too proud to worship Him and never grow weary [thereof]:
they extol His limitless glory by night and by day, never flagging [therein].
And yet some people choose to worship certain earthly things or beings as deities that [are supposed to] resurrect [the dead; and they fail to realize that],
had there been in heaven or on earth any deities other than God, both [those realms would surely have fallen into ruin! But limitless in His glory is God, enthroned in His awesome almightiness far] above anything that men may devise by way of definition!
He cannot be called to account for whatever He does, whereas they will be called to account:
and yet, they choose to worship [imaginary] deities instead of Him! Say [O Prophet]: “Produce an evidence for what you are claiming: this is a reminder [unceasingly voiced] by those who are with me, just as it was a reminder [voiced] by those who came before me.” But nay, most of them do not know the truth, and so they stubbornly turn away [from it]
and [this despite the fact that even] before thy time We never sent any apostle without having revealed to him that there is no deity save Me, - [and that,] therefore, you shall worship Me [alone]!
And [yet,] some say, “The Most Gracious has taken unto Himself a son”! Limitless is He in His glory! Nay, [those whom they regard as God’s “offspring” are but His] honoured servants:
they speak not until He has spoken unto them, and [whenever they act,] they act at His behest.
He knows all that lies open before them and all that is hidden from them: hence, they cannot intercede for any but those whom He has [already] graced with His goodly acceptance, since they themselves stand in reverent awe of Him.
And if any of them were to say, “Behold, I am deity beside Him” - that one We should requite with hell: thus do We requite all [such] evildoers.
ARE, THEN, they who are bent on denying the truth not aware that the heavens and the earth were [once] one single entity, which We then parted asunder? – and [that] We made out of water every living thing? Will they not, then, [begin to] believe?
And [are they not aware that] We have set up firm mountains on earth, lest it sway with them, and [that] We have appointed thereon broad paths, so that they might find their way,
and [that] We have set up the sky as a canopy well-secured? And yet, they stubbornly turn away from [all] the signs of this [creation],
and [fail to see that] it is He who has created the night and the day and the sun and the moon - all of them floating through space!
AND [remind those who deny thee, O Prophet, that] never have We granted life everlasting to any mortal before thee: but do they, perchance, hope that although thou must die, they will live forever?”
Every human being is bound to taste death; and We test you [all] through the bad and the good [things of life] by way of trial: and unto Us you all must return.
But [thus it is:] whenever they who are bent on denying the truth consider thee, they make thee but a target of their mockery, [saying to one another,] “Is this the one who speaks [so contemptuously] of your gods?” and yet, it is they themselves who, at [every] mention of the Most Gracious, are wont to deny the truth!
Man is a creature of haste; [but in time] I shall make obvious to you [the truth of] My messages: do not, then, ask Me to hasten [it]!
But they [who reject My messages are wont to] ask, “When is that promise [of God’s judgment] to be fulfilled? [Answer this, O you who believe in it,] if you are men of truth!”
If they but knew - they who are bent on denying the truth - [that there will come] a time when they will not be able to ward off the fire from their faces, nor from their backs, and will not find any succour!
Nay, but [the Last Hour] will come upon them of a sudden, and will stupefy them: and they will be unable to avert it, and neither wilt they be allowed any respite.
And, indeed, [O Muhammad, even] before thy time have [God’s] apostles been derided - but those who scoffed at them were [in the end] overwhelmed by the very thing which they had been wont to deride.
Say: “Who could protect you, by night or by day, from the Most Gracious?” And yet, from a remembrance of their Sustainer do they stubbornly turn away!
Do they [really think that they] have deities that could shield them from Us? Those [alleged deities] are not [even] able to succour themselves: hence, neither can they [who worship them hope to] be aided [by them] against Us.
Nay, We have allowed these [sinners] – as [We allowed] their forebears – to enjoy the good things of life for a great length of time: but then – have they never yet seen how We visit the earth [with Our punishment], gradually depriving it of all that is best thereon? Can they, then, [hope to] be the winners?
SAY [unto all men]: “I but warn you on the strength of divine revelation!” But the deaf [of heart] will not hearken to this call, however often they are warned.
And yet, if but a breath of thy Sustainer’s chastisement touches them, they are sure to cry, “Oh, woe unto us! Verily, we were evildoers!”
But We shall set up just balance-scales on Resurrection Day, and no human being shall be wronged in the least: for though there be [in him but] the weight of a mustard-seed [of good or evil], We shall bring it forth; and none can take count as We do!
AND, INDEED, We vouchsafed unto Moses and Aaron [Our revelation as] the standard by which to discern the true from the false, and as a [guiding] light and a reminder for the God-conscious
who stand in awe of their Sustainer although He is beyond the reach of human perception, and who tremble at the thought of the Last Hour.
And [like those earlier revelations,] this one, too, is a blessed reminder which We have bestowed from on high: will you, then, disavow it?
AND, INDEED, long before [the time of Moses] We vouchsafed unto Abraham his consciousness of what is right; and We were aware of [what moved] him
when he said unto his father and his people, “What are these images to which you are so intensely devoted?”
They answered: “We found our forefathers worshipping them.”
Said he: “Indeed, you and your forefathers have obviously gone astray!”
They asked: “Hast thou come unto us [with this claim] in all earnest - or art thou one of those jesters?”
He answered: “Nay, but your [true] Sustainer is the Sustainer of the heavens and the earth - He who has brought them into being: and I am one of those who bear witness to this [truth]!”
And [he added to himself.] “By God, I shall most certainly bring about the downfall of your idols as soon as you have turned your backs and gone away!”
And then he broke those [idols] to pieces, [all] save the biggest of them, so that they might [be able to] turn to it.
[When they saw what had happened,] they said: “Who has done this to our gods? Verily, one of the worst wrongdoers is he!”
Said some [of them]: “We heard a youth speak of these [gods with scorn]: he is called Abraham.”
[The others] said: “Then bring him before the peoples eyes, so that they might bear witness [against him]!”
[And when he came.] they asked: “Hast thou done this to our gods, O Abraham?”
He answered: “Nay, it was this one, the biggest of them, that did it: but ask them [yourselves] - provided they can speak!”
And so they turned upon one another, saying, “Behold, it is you who are doing wrong.”
But then they relapsed into their former way of thinking and said: “Thou knowest very well that these [idols] cannot speak!”
Said [Abraham]: “Do you then worship, instead of God, something that cannot benefit you in any way, nor harm you?
Fie upon you and upon all that you worship instead of God! Will you not, then, use your reason?”
They exclaimed: “Burn him, and [thereby] succour your gods, if you are going to do [anything]!”
[But] We said: O fire! Be thou cool, and [a source of] inner peace for Abraham!”
and whereas they sought to do evil unto him, We caused them to suffer the greatest loss:
for We saved him and Lot, [his brother’s son, by guiding them] to the land which We have blessed for all times to come.
And We bestowed upon him Isaac and [Isaacs son] Jacob as an additional gift and caused all of them to be righteous men,
and made them leaders who would guide [others] in accordance with Our behest: for We inspired them [with a will] to do good works, and to be constant in prayer, and to dispense charity: and Us [alone] did they worship.
AND UNTO Lot, too, We vouchsafed sound judgment and knowledge [of right and wrong], and saved him from that community which was given to deeds of abomination. [We destroyed those people - forr,] verily, they were people lost in evil, depraved –
whereas him We admitted unto Our grace: for, behold, he was among the righteous.
AND [remember] Noah - [how,] when He called out [unto Us], long before [the time of Abraham and Lot], We responded to him and saved him and his household from that awesome calamity;
and [how] We succoured him against the people who had given the lie to Our messages: verily, they were people lost in evil - and [so] We caused them all to drown.
AND [remember] David and Solomon - [how it was] when both of them gave judgment concerning the field into which some people’s sheep had strayed by night and pastured therein, and [how] We bore witness to their judgment:
for, [though] We made Solomon understand the case [more profoundly] yet We vouchsafed unto both of them sound judgment and knowledge [of right and wrong]. And We caused the mountains to join David in extolling Our limitless glory, and likewise the birds: for We are able to do [all things].
And We taught him how to make garments [of God- consciousness] for you, [O men,] so that they might fortify you against all that may cause you fear: but are you grateful [for this boon]?
And unto Solomon [We made subservient] the stormy wind, so that it sped at his behest towards the land which We had blessed: for it is We who have knowledge of everything.
And among the rebellious forces [which We made subservient to him] there were some that dived for him [into the sea] and performed other works, besides: but it was We who kept watch over them.
AND [remember] Job, when he cried out to his Sustainer, “Affliction has befallen me: but Thou art the most merciful of the merciful!”
whereupon We responded unto him and removed all the affliction from which he suffered; and We gave him new offspring, doubling their number as an act of grace from Us, and as a reminder unto all who worship Us.
AND [remember] Ishmael and Idris and every one who [like them] has pledged himself [unto God]: they all were among those who are patient in adversity,
and so We admitted them unto Our grace: behold, they were among the righteous!
AND [remember] him of the great fish when he went off in wrath, thinking that We had no power over him! But then heeded out in the deep darkness [of his distress]: “There is no deity save Thee! Limitless art Thou in Thy glory! Verily, I have done wrong!”
And so We responded unto him and delivered him from [his] distress: for thus do We deliver all who have faith.
AND [thus did We deliver] Zachariah when he cried out unto his Sustainer: “O my Sustainer! Leave me not childless! But [even if Thou grant me no bodily heir, I know that] Thou wilt remain when all else has ceased to be!”
And so We responded unto him, and bestowed upon him the gift of John, having made his wife fit to bear him a child: [and,] verily, these [three] would vie with one another in doing good works, and would call unto Us in yearning and awe; and they were always humble before Us.
AND [remember] her who guarded her chastity, whereupon We breathed into her of Our spirit and caused her, together with her son, to become a symbol [of Our grace] unto all people.
VERILY, [O you who believe in Me,] this community of yours is one single community, since I am the Sustainer of you all: worship, then, Me [alone]!
But men have torn their unity wide asunder, [forgetting that] unto Us they all are bound to return.
And yet, whoever does [the least] of righteous deeds and is a believer withal, his endeavour shall not be disowned: for, behold, We shall record it in his favour.
Hence, it has been unfailingly true of any community whom We have ever destroyed that they [were people who] would never turn back [from their sinful ways]
until such a time as Gog and Magog are let loose [upon the world] and swarm down from every corner [of the earth],
the while the true promise [of resurrection] draws close [to its fulfillment]. But then, lo! the eyes of those who [in their lifetime] were bent on denying the truth will stare in horror, [and they will exclaim:] “Oh, woe unto us! We were indeed heedless of this [promise of resurrection]! - nay, we were [bent on] doing evil!”
[Then they will be told:] “Verily, you and all that you [were wont to] worship instead of God are but the fuel of hell: that is what you are destined for.
If those [false objects of your worship] had truly been divine, they would not have been destined for it: but [as it is, you] all shall abide therein!”
Moaning will be their lot therein, and nothing [else] will they hear therein.
[But,] behold, as for those for whom [the decree of] ultimate good has already gone forth from Us these will be kept far away from that [hell]:
no sound thereof will they hear; and they will abide in all that their souls have ever desired.
The supreme awesomeness [of the Day of Resurrection] will cause them no grief, since the angels will receive them with the greeting. “This is your Day [of triumph - the Day] which you were promised!”
On that Day We shall roll up the skies as written scrolls are rolled up; [and] as We brought into being the first creation, so We shall bring it forth anew a promise which We have willed upon Ourselves: for, behold, We are able to do [all things]!
AND, INDEED, after having exhorted [man], We laid it down in all the books of divine wisdom that My righteous servants shall inherit the earth:
herein, behold, there is a message for people who [truly] worship God.
And [thus, O Prophet,] We have sent thee as [an evidence of Our] grace towards all the worlds.
Say: “It has but been revealed unto me that your God is the One and Only God: will you, then, surrender yourselves unto Him?”
But if they turn away, say: “I have proclaimed this in equity unto all of you alike; but I do not know whether that [judgment] which you are promised [by God] is near or far [in time].
“Verily, He knows all that is said openly, just as He [alone] knows all that you would conceal.
But [as for me,] I do not know whether, perchance, this [delay in God’s judgment] is but a trial for you, and a [merciful] respite for a while.”
Say: “O my Sustainer! Judge Thou in truth!” - and [say]: “Our Sustainer is the Most Gracious, the One whose aid is ever to be sought against all your [attempts at] defining [Him]!”