The Quran

Online Translation and Commentary


  • Line breaks from the printed edition is not included in the running text
  • Original names of chapters may vary with the ones used at the project page

The Holy Qur’an - Text, Translation and Commentary

Translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali

Third Edition, 1938


(1) The English text is based on the 1938 book, The Holy Qur’an - Text, Translation and Commentary, published in Lahore, Cairo and Riyadh, without any type of modifications. The Surah titles used here are not those which were used in the book (see section [original Surah names] below).

(2) In a few passages Yusuf Ali number the ayahs slightly differently from the standard Egyotian edition. To find an ayah in Yusuf Ali’s translation, add: 5.1a-15a + 1, 5.15b + 2, 5.17-23a + 2, 5.23b-120 + 3. The numbering in all surahs other than Surah 5 is identical with that in the standard Eqyptian edition. [Source, Dicovering the Qur’an - A Contemporary Approach to a Veiled Text, Second Edition by Neal Robioson. Georgetown University Press, Washington, D.C., 2003].

(3) Note references have been updated to corporate with an online version.

(4) So far: chapters 1, 33, 74 and 80-114 have been proofread, corrected and updated to its original version (in addition to some selective reversions in different part of the text).


I have two objects in view in writing this Introduction to the study of the Qur’an.

First, I want to acquaint the reader with those things which will help him to understand the meaning of the Qur’an. If he does not become conversant with them in the very beginning, they keep coming back into his mind over and over again, and often become a hindrance to his going deep into its meaning and spirit.

Second, I want to answer beforehand some of the questions which usually arise during the study of the Qur’an. I have confined myself to those questions which arose in my own mind when I began my critical study of it or the ones which I came across afterwards. If there be any other questions besides these, God willing, I will answer them in the next edition.

Unique Book

Before the reader begins the study of the Qurān, he must bear in mind the fact that it is a unique Book, quite different from the books one usually reads. Unlike conventional books, the Qurān does not contain information, ideas and arguments about specific themes arranged in a literary order. That is why a stranger of the Qurān, on his first approach to it, is baffled when he does not find the enunciation of its theme or its division into chapters and sections of separate treatment of different topics and separate instructions for different aspects of life arrange in a serial order. On the contrary, there is something with which he has not been familiar before and which does not conform to his conception of a book. He finds that it deals with creeds, gives moral instructions, lays down laws, invites people to Islam, admonishes the dis-believers, draws lessons from historical events, administers warnings, gives good tidings, all blended together in a beautiful manner. The same subject is repeated in different ways and one topic follows the other without any apparent connection. Sometimes a new topic crops up in the middle of another without any apparent reason. The speaker and the addressees, and the direction of the address change without any notice. There is no sign of chapters and divisions anywhere. Historical events are presented but not as in history books. The problems of Philosophy and Metaphysics are treated in a manner different from that of the text books on the subjects. Man and the Universe are mentioned in a language different from that of the natural sciences. Likewise it follows is own method of solving cultural, political, social and economic problems and deals with the principles and injunctions of law in a manner quite different from that of the sociologists, lawyers and jurists. Morality is taught in a way that has no parallel in the whole literature on the subject.

That is why the unwary reader is baffled and puzzled when he finds all these things contrary to his pre-conceived conception of a book. He begins to feel that the Qurān is a book without any order or inter-connection between its verses or continuity of its subject, or that it deals with miscellaneous topics in an incoherent manner, of that it had been given the form of a continuous book though it was not a book in the commonly accepted sense of the word. As a result of this, its opponents raise strange objections against the Qurān, and its modern followers adopt strange devices to ward off doubts and objections. They either resort to escapism or put forward strange interpretations to ease their minds. Sometimes they try to create artificial connections between the verses to explain away the apparent incoherencies, and, as a last resort, they even accept the theory that the Qurān deals with miscellaneous topics without any order of coherence. Consequently, verses are isolated from their context and confusion is produced in the meanings.

This happens when the reader does not take into consideration the fact that the Qurān is a unique book. It does not, like other books, enunciate at the very beginning the subject it deals with and the object it intends to achieve. Its style and method of explaining things are also quite different from those of other books one commonly reads and it does not follow any bookish order. Above all, it is not a book on “religion” in the sense this word is generally understood. That is why when a reader approaches the Qurān with the common motions of a book, he is rather puzzled by its style and manner of presentation. He finds that at many places the back-ground has not been mentioned and the circumstances under which a particular passage was revealed have not been stated. As a result of these things, the ordinary reader us unable to benefit fully from the most precious treasures contained in the Qurān, though occasionally he may succeed in discovering a few gems here and there. Only those people become victims of such doubts as are not acquainted with these distinctive features of the Qurān. They seem to find miscellaneous topics scattered all over its pages and feel difficulties about its meanings. Nay, even those verses, which are absolutely clear, appear to them to be quite irrelevant in the contexts they occur.

The reader may be saved from all these difficulties, if he is warned before-hand that the Book he is going to study is the only book of its kind in the whole world : that its literary style is quite different from that of all other books : that its theme is unique and that his pre-conceived notions of a book cannot help him understand the Qurān. Nay, these may even become a hindrance. He should, therefore, first of all free his mind from preconceived notions and get acquainted with the distinctive features of this Book. Then and then alone can he understand it.

In order to understand the Qurān thoroughly, it is essential to know the nature of this Book, its central idea and its aim and object. The reader should also be well acquainted with its style, the terms it uses and the method it adopts to explain things. He should also keep in view the back-ground and circumstances under which a certain passage was revealed.

Divine Guidance

First of all, the reader should understand the real nature of the Qurān. Whether one believes it to be a revealed book or not, one will have to consider, as a starting point, the claim that is put forward by itself and its bearer, Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him), that this is the Divine Guidance.

The Lord of the Universe, its Creator, Master and Sovereign created Man and bestowed upon him the faculties of learning, speaking, understanding and discerning right from wrong and good from evil. He granted him freedom of choice, freedom of will, freedom of action and gave him authority to acquire and make use of the things around him. In short, He granted him a kind of autonomy and appointed him as His Vicegerent on the Earth and instructed him to live in accordance with His Guidance.

At the time, when the Lord of the Universe appointed Man as His vicegerent, He warned him very clearly and precisely, leaving no doubts in his mind as to the kind of relations he should have with Him, as if to say, “I am your Master and Sovereign and that of the whole universe; therefor you should worship Me and none else. You are neither independent in My Kingdom nor the subject of anyone else, to whom you might own obedience or worship. You are being sent to the Earth with certain powers for a fixed term of time for your test. After that you will have to return to Me. Then I will judge the deeds you did in the world and decide whether you have come out successful or failed in the test. Therefore the right course for you is to accept Me voluntarily as Sovereign and worship Me alone and act in the world according to the Guidance I shall send you, and live in the Earth with the conviction and understanding that it is merely the place of your trial. Your real object in earthly life should be to come out successful in the final judgement. Therefore any other course different from and opposed to the Divine Guidance, will be wrong. If you adopt the first course, (and you have full liberty and freedom to adopt it), you will achieve peace and tranquillity in this world and win the home of eternal bliss and joy (Paradise) in the next world, to which you shall have to return. And if you follow any other course (and you are quite free to do this also, of you so choose) you shall incur My disfavor in this world and eternal sorrow and affliction in the Hereafter, where you shall be thrown into the abyss of Hell”.

After such a warning, the Owner of the Universe sent Adam and Eve (Allah’s peace be upon them) the first human beings, to the Earth and gave them the guidance according to which they and their descendants were to live in this world. Thus the first two human beings were not created in ignorance and darkness but were given very clear and bright Light and the Law they were to follow. This was Islam, (submission to Allah)- Before they left this world, they themselves practiced and taught the same way to their children and children’s children and exhorted them to live as Muslims (obedient servants of Allah). But in the succeeding centuries, by and by, people swerved from this straight way of life (Islam) and adopted different crooked ways. They not only lost the Guidance owing to their negligence but also tampered with it because of their wickedness. They attributed to others the qualities and powers of Allah and associated others to rank with Him as gods and ascribed His rights to others. They invented different kinds of religions (ways of life) by mixing up all sorts of superstitions, wrong theories and false philosophies with the Guidance that was given by Allah. They discarded the right, just and moral principles taught by Allah or corrupted them and made such laws of life as suited their prejudices and lusts, and filled Allah’s Earth with chaos and iniquity.

Though this was a sad state of affairs, Allah did not will to force these corrupt people to follow the Right Way because this would have been against the limited freedom of action which had been granted to man by Him; nor did He will to destroy them forthwith as soon as rebellion broke out against Him, because this would not have been in keeping with the rules of life laid down for trial in this world. Instead of this, Allah took upon Himself, from the very beginning of man’s life leaving him free to follow or not to follow it. Accordingly, He made arrangements for the Guidance of mankind and appointed His Messengers from among the people them-selves and bestowed upon them the knowledge of the Truth and the Right Way of life. They were charged with the mission to invite people to the Right Way from which they had swerved. The Messengers themselves believed in Allah and acted in accordance with the Guidance they received from Him. They were raised from different nations in different countries and thousands of them were sent during thousands of years. They all had one and the same religion which was based in the Unity of God and accountability in the Hereafter. They all taught the same way of life that was taught to the first Man at the very start of his life in this world. They all followed the same Guidance, that is, those fundamental and eternal principles of morality and culture which were prescribed of morality and culture which were prescribed for the first Man from the very first day of his life. They all had the one and the same mission, that is, to invite all human beings to the same Guidance, and to organise them into one community. All those people who accepted their invitation became one community, which was in duty bound to follow the Divine Guidance and to do its best and utmost to establish it and to guard against any transgressions.

During their respective terms, these Messengers fulfilled their mission admirably. Well. Bit is is a pity that the majority of the people were not inclined to accept their invitation and even those who joined their community gradually became corrupt. So much so that some of these communities totally lost that Guidance and others tampered with the Commandments of Allah and mixed them up with false things.

Then the Lord of the Universe sent Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him) as His last Messenger to fulfill the same mission for which Messengers had been sent before him. He extended his invitation to all human beings, including the corrupt followers of the previous Messengers and asked them to follow the Right Way. He organized all those who accepted the Divine Guidance into one community, which in its trun, was required to re-establish its collective way of life based on the Guidance and to exert it utmost to reform the world, which had gone astray. The Qurān was revealed to Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him) is the Book which contains that Invitation and that Divine Guidance.

Central Theme

Now that we have come to know the nature of the Qurān, it has become easier to determine the subject it deals with, its central theme and its aim and object.

The SUBJECT it deals with is MAN: it discusses those aspect of his life that lead either to hos real success of failure.

The CENTRAL THEME that runs throughout the Qurān is the exposition of the Reality and the invitation to the Right Way based on it. It declares that Reality is the same that was revealed by Allah Himself to Adam at the time of this appointment as vice-gerent, and to all the Messengers after him, and the Right Way is the same that was taught by all the Messengers. It also points out that all theories contradictory to this Reality, invented by people about God, the universe, Man and his relations with God and the rest of His creation, are all wrong and that all the ways of life based on them are erroneous and lead to ruinous consequences.

The AIM and OBJECT of the revelations is to invite Man to that Right Way and to present clearly the Guidance which he has lost because of his negligence of has perverted by his wickedness.

If the reader keeps these three basic things in mind, he will find that in this Book there is no incongruity in the style, no hap in the continuity of the subject and no lack of interconnection between its various topics. As a matter of fact, this Book is not irrelevant anywhere with regard to its Subject, its Central Theme and its Aim. From its very beginning to its end, the different topics it dealt with are so intimately connected with its Central Theme that they may be likened to the beautiful gems of the same necklace, despite their different colours and sizes. The Qurān keeps the same object in view, whether it is relating the story of the creation of the Earth or of the Heavens or of Man or is referring to the manifestations in the Universe or stating events from human history. As the aim of the Qurān is to guide Man and not to teach Nature Study or History or Philosophy or any other science or art, it does not concern itself with these latter subjects. The only thing with which it is concerned is to expound the Reality, to remove misunderstandings and mis-conceptions about it, to impress the Truth upon the minds, to warn them of the consequences of wrong attitudes and to invite humanity to the Right Way. The same is true of the criticism of the creeds, of the moral systems, of the deeds of men and communities and of its discussions of the problems of Metaphysics etc. That is why it states or discusses or cites a thing only to the extent relevant to its aims and objects and leaves out unnecessary and irrelevant details and turns over and over again to its Central Theme and to its invitation round which every other topic revolves. When the Qurān is studied in this light, no doubt is left that the whole of it is a closely reasoned argument and there is continuity of subject throughout the Book.


One cannot understand fully many of the topics discussed in the Qur’an unless one is acquainted with the background of their revelation. One should know the social, historical or other antecedents or conditions which help explain any particular topics. For, the Qur’an was not revealed as a complete book at one and the same time; nor did God hand over a written copy of it to Muhammad (God’s peace be upon him) at the very beginning of his mission and command him to publish it and invite people to adopt a particular way of life. Moreover, it is not a literary work of the common conventional type that develops its central theme in a logical order; nor does it conform to the style of such a work. The Qur’an adopts its own style to suit the guidance of the Islamic Movement that was started by God’s Messenger under His direct command. Accordingly, God revealed the Qur’an piece-meal to meet the requirements of the Movement, in its different stages.

Makki Surahs

[Not Included Yet]

Madani Surahs

[Not Included Yet]


[Not Included Yet]


A little thinking in the light of the difference between the Makki and the Madani surahs will also answer the question why the surahs of the Qur’an were not arranged in the sequence in which they were revealed. This question is also important because it has been used by the enemies of Islam to create misunderstandings about the Qur’an and make ridiculous conjectures about the present arrangement of the surahs. They are of the opinion that “Muhammad’s (God’s peace be upon him) followers published it, without any discernable order as to chronology or otherwise; merely, trying as would seem, to put the longest chapters first…………”

Such conjectures as this are based on ignorance of the wisdom underlying the order of the Qur’an. Though it was to be the Book for all times, it had to be revealed piece-meal in twenty-three years according to the needs and requirements of the different stages though which the Islamic Movement was passing. It is obvious that the sequence of the revelations that suited the gradual evolution of the Movement could not in any way be suitable after the completion of the Qur’an. Then another order suited of the changed conditions, was needed. In the early stages of the movement the Qur’an addressed those people who were totally ignorant of Islam and, therefore, naturally it had first of all to teach them the basis articles of Faith. But after its completion the Qur’an was primarily concerned with those who had accepted Islam and formed a community for carrying on the work entrusted to it by the Holy Prophet. Obviously, the order of the complete Book had to be different from its chronological order to suit the requirements of the Muslim Community for all times. Then the Qur’an had, first of all, to acquaint the Muslims thoroughly with their duties concerning the regulation of their lives. It had also to prepare them for carrying its message to the outer world which was ignorant of Islam. It had also to warn them of the mischief’s and evils that appeared among the followers of the former Prophets so that they should be on their guard against them. Hence Al-Baqarah and similar Madani surahs, and not Al-‘Alaq and similar Makki surahs, had to be placed in the beginning of the Qur’an.

In this connection, another thing should also be kept in view. It does not suit the purpose of the Qur’an that all the surahs dealing with similar topics should be grouped together. In order to avoid one-sidedness at any stage of its study, it is essential that the Makki surahs should intervene between the Madani surahs and that the Madani surahs should follow the Makki surahs, and that the surahs revealed at the earliest stages of the Movement should come between those revealed in the later stages so that the entire picture of the complete Islam should always remain before the reader. That is the wisdom of the present order.

It should also be noted that the surahs of the Qur’an were not arranged in the present order by his successors but by the Holy Prophet himself under the guidance of God. Whenever a surah was revealed, he would send for one of his amanuenses and dictate it word for word and direct him to place it after such and such and before such and such a surah. Like-wise in the case of a discourse or passage or verse that was not meant to be an independent surah by itself, he would direct him to the exact place where it was to be put in the surah of which it was to form a part. Then the used to recite the Qur’an during the Salat (prescribed prayer) and on other occasions in the same order and direct his Companions to remember and recite it in the same order. Thus it is an established fact that the surahs of the Qur’an were arranged in the present order on the same day that the Qur’an was completed by the one to whom it was revealed under the guidance of the One who revealed it.


[Not Included Yet]

Difference of Dialects

[Not Included Yet]


[Not Included Yet]

Complete Code

[Not Included Yet]

Suggestions for Study

[Not Included Yet]

* * * * *

As I do not intend to discuss in the Introduction all the problems which might arise during the study of the Qurān, I have purposely left untouched those questions that might arise during the study of some verses or sūrahs, for I want to deal with them in “THE MEANING OF THE QURAN” at their proper places. I have taken up only those questions and problems which pertain to the general study of the Qurān as a whole. The reader is, therefore, requested to defer giving his final judgment on such questions till he has read the whole of “The Meaning.” Then, if he finds that some questions have not been answered at all or have not been dealt with fully, he should let, me know about it for future consideration.

Abdul A‘alā Maudūdi


I DO not wish to write a long Preface. I wish merely to explain the history of my Project, the scope and plan of this work, and the objects I have held in view.

In separate introductory Notes I have mentioned the useful books to which I have referred, under the headings: Commentaries on the Qur’an; Translations of the Qur’an; and Useful Works of Reference. I have similarly explained the system which I have followed in the transliteration of Arabic words and names; the Abbreviations I have used; and the principal divisions of the Qur’an.

It may be asked: Is there any need for a fresh English Translation? To those who ask this question I commend a careful consideration of the facts which I have set out in my Note on Translations. After they have read it, I would invite them to take any particular passage in Part I, say 2:74 or 2:102, or 2:164 in the second Part and compare it with any previous version they choose. If they find that I have helped them even the least bit further und understanding its meaning, or appreciating its beauty, or catching something of the grandeur of the original, O would claim that my humble attempt is justified.

It is the duty of every Muslim, man, woman, or child, to read the Qur’an and understand it according to his own capacity. If any one of us attains to some knowledge or understanding of it by study, contemplation, and the test of life, both outward and inward, it is his duty, according to his capacity, to instruct others, and share with them the joy and peace which result from contact with the spiritual world. The Qur’an – indeed every religious book – has to be read, not only with the tongue and voice and eyes, but with the best light that out intellect can supply, and even more, with the truest and purest light which our heart and conscience can give us. It is on this spirit that I would have my readers approach the Qur’an.

It was between the ages of four and five that I first learned to read its Arabic words, to revel in its rhythm and music, and wonder at its meaning. I have a dim recollection of the Khatm ceremony which closed the stage. It was called “completion”: it really just began a spiritual awakening that has gone on ever since. My revered father taught me Arabic, but I must have imbibed from him into my innermost being something more, — something which told me that all the world’s thoughts, all the world’s most beautiful languages and literatures, are but vehicles for that ineffable message which comes to the heart in rare moments of ecstasy. The soul of mysticism and ecstasy is in the Qur’an, as well as that plain guidance for the plain man which a world in a hurry affects to consider as sufficient. It is good to make this personal confession, to an age in which it is in the highest degree unfashionable to speak of religion or spiritual peace or consolation, an age in which words like these draw forth only derision, pity or contempt.

I have explored Western land, Western manners, and the depths of Western thought and Western learning, to an extent which has rarely fallen to the lot of an Eastern mortal. But I have never lost touch with my Eastern heritage. Through all my successes and failures I have learned to rely more and more upon the one true thing in all life—the voice that speaks in a tongue above that of mortal man. For me the embodiment of that voice has been in the noble words of the Arabic Qur’an, which I have tried to translate for myself and apply to my experience again and again. The service of the Qur’an has been the pride and privilege of many Muslims. I felt that with such life-experience as has fallen to my lot, my service to the Qur’an should be to present it in fitting garb in English. That ambition I have cherished in my mind for more than forty years. I have collected books and materials for it. I have visited places, undertaken journeys, taken notes, sought the society of men, and tried to explore their thoughts and hearts, in order to equip myself for the task. Sometimes I have considered it too stupendous for me, — the double task of understanding the original, and reproducing its nobility, its beauty, its poetry, its grandeur, and its sweet practical reasonable application to everyday experience. Then I have blamed myself for lack of courage, — the spiritual courage of men who dared all in the Cause which was so dear to them.

Two sets of apparently accidental circumstances at last decided me. A man’s life is subject to inner storms for more devastating than those in the physical world around him. In such a storm, in the bitter anguish of a personal sorrow which nearly unseated my reason and made life seem meaningless, a new hope was born out of a systematic pursuit of my long-cherished project. Watered by tears, my manuscript began to grow in depth and earnestness if not in bulk. I guarded it like a secret treasure. Wanderer that I am, I carried it about, thousands of miles, to all sorts of countries and among all sorts of people. At length, in the city of Lahore, I happened to mention the matter to some young people who held me in respect and affection. They showed an enthusiasm and an eagerness which surprised me. They almost took the matter out of my hands. They asked for immediate publication. I had various bits ready, but not even one complete Sīpāra. They made me promise to complete at least one Sīpāra before I left Lahore. As if by magic, a publisher, a kātib (calligraphist to write the Arabic Text), an engraver of blocks for such text, and a painter were found, all equally anxious to push forward the scheme. Blessed by youth, for its energy and determination. “Where others flinch, rash youth will dare!”

Gentle and discerning reader! What I wish to present to you is an English Interpretation, side by side with the Arabic Text. The English shall be, not a mere substitution of one word for another, but the best expression I can give to the fullest meaning which I can understand from the Arabic Text. The rhythm, music, and exalted tone of the original should be reflected in the English Interpretation. It may be but a faint reflection, but such beauty and power as my pen can command shall be brought to its service. I want to make English itself an Islamic language, if such a person as I can do it. And I must give you all the accessory aid which I can. In rhythmic prose, or free verse (whichever you like to call it), I prepare the atmosphere for you in a running Commentary. Introducing the subject generally, I come to the actual Sūras. Where they are short, I give you one or two paragraphs of my rhythmic Commentary to prepare you for the Text. Where the Sūra is long, I introduce the subject-matter in short appropriate paragraphs of the Commentary from time to time, each indicating the particular verses to which it refers. The paragraphs of the running Commentary are numbered consecutively, with some regard to the connection with the preceding and the following paragraphs. It is possible to read this running rhythmic Commentary by itself to get a general bird’s-eye view of the contents of the Holy Book before you proceed to the study of the Book itself.

The text in English is printed larger type than the running commentary, in order to distinguish, at a glance, the substance from the shadow. It is also displayed differently, in parallel columns with the Arabic Text. Each Sūra and the verse of each Sura is separately numbered, and the numbers are shown page by page. The system of numbering the verses has not been uniform in previous translations. European editors and translators have allowed their numbering to diverge considerably from that accepted in the East. This causes confusion in giving and verifying references. The different Qirā’ats sometimes differ as to the punctuation stops and the numbering of the verses. This is not a vital matter, but it causes confusion in references. It is important that at least in Islamic countries one system of numbering should be adopted. I have adopted mainly that of the Egyptian edition published under the authority of the King of Egypt. This will probably be accepted in Egypt and in the Arabic-speaking countries, as those countries generally look up to Egypt in matters of literature. I am glad to see that the text shortly to be published by the Anjuman-i-Himayat-i-Islam of Lahore is following the same system of numbering. I recommend to other publishers in India the same good example. If once this done we shall have a uniform system of numbering. I have retained the numbering of Sections, as it is universally used in the Arabic copies, and marks a logical divisions of the Sūras. I have supplied a further aid to the reader n indicating sub-divisions of the Sections into paragraphs. They are not numbered, but are distinguished by the use of a flowery initial letter.

In translating the Text I have aired no views of my own, but followed the received Commentators. Where they differ among themselves, I have had to choose what appeared to me to be the most reasonable opinion from all points of view. Where it is a question merely of words, I have not considered the question important enough to discuss in the Notes, but where it is a question of substance, I hope adequate explanations will be found in the Notes. Where I have departed from the literal translation in order to express the spirit of the original better in English, I have explained the literal meaning in the Notes. For example, see 2:104 n. and 2:26 n. In choosing an English word for an Arabic word a translator necessarily exercises his own judgment and may be unconsciously expressing a point of view, but that is inevitable.

Let me explain the scope of the Notes. I have made them as short as possible consistently with the object I have in view, viz., to give to the English reader, scholar as well as general reader, a fairly complete but concise view of what I understand to the meaning of the Text. To discuss theological controversies or enter into polemical arguments I have considered outside my scope. Such discussions and arguments may be necessary and valuable, but they should find a place in separate treatises, if only out of respect of the Holy Book. Besides, such discussions leave no room for more important matters on which present-day readers desire information. In this respect our Commentators have not always been discreet. On questions of law, the Qur’an lays down general principles, these I have explained. I have avoided technical details: these will be found discussed in their proper place in my book on “Anglo-Muhammadan Law.” Nor have I devoted much space to grammatical or philosophical Notes. On these points I consider that the labours of the vast body of our learned men in the past have left little new to say now. There is usually not much controversy, and I have accepted their conclusions without setting out the reasons for them. Where it has been necessary for the understanding of the Text to refer to the particular occasion for the revelation of a particular verse, I have done so briefly, but have not allowed it to absorb a disproportionate amount of space. It will be found that every verse revealed for a particular occasion has also a general meaning. The particular occasion and the particular people concerned have passed away, but the general meaning and its application remain true for all time. What we are concerned about now, in the fourteenth century of Hijra, is: what guidance can we draw for ourselves from the message of God?

I spoke of the general meaning of the verses. Every earnest and reverent student of the Qur’an, as he proceeds with his study, will find, with an inward joy difficult to describe, how this general meaning also enlarges as his own capacity for understanding increases. It is like a traveller climbing a mountain: the higher he goes, the father he sees. From a literary point of view the poet Keats has described his feeling when he discovered Chapman’s Homer :—

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken,
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific, — and wall his men
Looked at each other with a wild surmise, —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

How much greater is the joy and the sense of wonder and miracle when the Qur’an opens our spiritual eyes! The meaning which we thought we had grasped expands. New worlds are opened out. As we progress, still newer, and again newer worlds “swim into our Ken.” The miracle deepens and deepens, and almost completely absorbs us. And yet we know that the “face of God” — our final goal — has not yet been reached. We are in the mulk of Sulaiman (Q. 2:102), which the evil ones denied, belied, and even turned into blasphemy. But we can ignore blasphemy, ridicule and contempt, for we are on the threshold of Realities, and a little perfume from the garden of the Holy One has already gladdened our nostrils.

Such meaning it is most difficult to express. But where I can, I have indicated in the Notes, in the Commentary, and with the help of the rhythm and the elevated language of the Text.

The Arabic Text I have had printed from photographic block made for me by Master Muhammad Sharīf. The calligraphy is form the pen of Pir’Abdul Hamīd, with whom I have been touch and who has compiled with my desire for a bold round hand, with the words clearly separated, the vowel points accurately placed over or under the letters to which they relate, and the verses duly numbered and placed in juxtaposition with their English equivalents. Calligraphy occupies an important place in Muslim Art, and it is my desire that my version should not in any way be deficient in this respect.

I have been fortunate in securing the co-operation of Professor Zafar Iqbal in looking over the proofs of the Arabic Text. In connection with the Anjuman’s edition of the Arabic Qur’an he has devoted much time and thought to the correct punctuation of the Text, and he has also investigated its history and problems. I hope he will some day publish these valuable notes. I consider it the most carefully prepared Text of any produced in India, and I have generally followed it in punctuation and numbering of verses, — the only points on which any difficulties are likely to arise on the Qur’anic Text.

It has been my desire to have the printing done in the best style possible, with new type, on good glazed paper, and with the best ink procurable. I hope the result will please those who are good enough to approve of the more essential features of the work. The proprietors of the Ripon Press and all their staff, but especially Mr. Badruddīn Badr, their Proof Examiner, have taken a keen interest in their work. The somewhat unusual demands made on their time and attention they have met cheerfully, and I am obliged to them. The publisher, Shaikh Muhammad Ashraf, has thrown himself heart and soul into his work, and I hope the public will appreciated his efforts.

My plan is to issue each Sīpāra as it is ready, at intervals of not more than three months. As the work proceeds, I hope it will be possible to accelerate the pace. The paging will be continuous in the subsequent volumes. The final binding will be in either three or two volumes. It is my intention to provide a complete analytical Index to the whole. I hope all interested will sign the publisher’s subscription order in advance.

One final word to my readers. Read, study, and digest the Holy Book. Read slowly, and let it sink into your heart and soul. Such study will, like virtue, be its own reward. If you find anything in this volume to criticise, please let it not spoil your enjoyment of the rest. If you write to me, quoting chapter and verse, I shall be glad to consider your criticism, but let it not vex you if I exercise my own judgment in deciding for myself. Any corrections accepted will be gratefully acknowledged. On the other hand, if there is something that specially pleases you or helps you, please do not hesitate to write to me. I have given up other interests to help you. It will be a pleasure to know that my labour has not been in vain. If you address me care of my Publisher at his Lahore address, he will always forward the letters to me.

4th April, 1934
= 18th of the month of Pilgrimage, 1352 H.


BESIDES the names which I mentioned in my Preface of 1934, of those who have assisted me in various ways, I have much pleasure in adding a few more at this stage. Khān Ṣāḥib Khwāja Laṭīf Aḥmad, of the Central Provinces Educational Service, has been a diligent and critical reader of the Parts as issued, and his friendly correspondence has enavled me to correct misprints and elucudate some points. Mr. Fadhl Muḥammad Khān, I.F.S., of Lahore, as well as Mian Muhammad ‘Abdullah, B.A, LL.B, of Lahore, have also been helpful in pointing out misprints. Maulvi Muhammad Shafi, Principal of the Oriental College, Lahore, has been good enough to answer most readily my queries on questions of scholarship referred to him. To these and other gentlemen, who have favored me with correspondence, I have much pleasure in expressing mu obligation.

The zeal and energy which my publisher, Shaikh Muḥammad Ashraf, has thrown into the work, require renewed acknowledgement. For four years he and I have co-operated in a great undertaking, and all processes connected with it have been carried out by loving Muslim hands.

Since I last greeted my readers collectively I have been able to perform the Pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca and the sacred territory around it and seen with my own eyes the city and territory of Medina, with all the country around and between the holy Cities. I have realised for myself the scenes in which the revelations came which I have humbly sought to interpret. I hope that some glimpses of this experience will have been conveyed to my dear readers. Will they pray that God may give me strength to complete this work and to serve Islam in other ways?



[Not Included Yet]


[Not Included Yet]


THE wide compass of the Qur’an makes it necessary to consult works of reference on almost every conceivable subject, to enable us to elucidate the various points that arise. To deal adequately with such a Book, the widest reading is necessary as well as the most varied experience in life. But the interests of readers require that a handy Commentary should not roam too far afield. Bearing this in view the three essential kinds of books would be: (a) Previous Commentaries; (b) previous Translations; (c) Dictionaries and General Works of Reference, easily accessible. I have set out (a) and (b) in the previous two Notes. I note a few under (c): -

  1. Imam Abdul-Qasim Husain Ragib’s Mufradat: a concise Arabic dictionary of words and phrases in the Qur’an. Already mentioned under Commentaries.
  2. The well-known Arabic Dictionary, Qamus.
  3. The well-known Arabic Dictionary, Lisan-ul-Arab.
  4. The concise Arabic-Persion Dictionary, Surah.
  5. J. Penrice’s Dictionary & Glossary of the Koran.
  6. E. W. Lane: English-Arabic Lexicon.
  7. Imam Jalal-ud-din Suyuti’s Itwan fi ’ulum-il-Qur’an: a veritable encyclopædia of Quranic sciences.
  8. Nöldeke under Schwally: Geschichte des Qorans. A German Essay on the Chronology of the Qur’an. Its criticism and conclusions are from a non-Muslim point of view and to us not always acceptable, though it is practically the last word of European scholarship on the subject.
  9. Encyclopædia of Islam. Nearly completed. Very unequal in its various parts.
  10. Encyclopædia Britannica, 14th edition. A great advance on previous editions, as regards the attention it devotes to Arabic learning.
  11. Hughes’s Dictionary of Islam. Out of date, bul still useful.
  12. Ibn Hisham: Sirat-ur-Rasul. A fairly detailed Life of the Messenger.
  13. Maulvi Shibli Nu’mani (d. 1914 = 1334 H.): Sirat-un-Nabi (an Urdu Life of the Messenger).
  14. Fath-ur-Rahman, an Arabic Concordance to the Qur’an, by Faidh-ullah Bik Hasani, printed in Cairo in 1346 H. Full and well arranged, and easy to use.


[Not Included Yet]


I have not used many abbreviations. Those I have used are shown below:-

A.D. = Anno Domini = year of the Christian Calender.
A.H. = Anno Hegiræ = year of the Hijra.
Bk. = Book
C. = The running Commentary, in rhythmic prose.
Cf. = compare.
d. = date of death of an author (to show the age in which he lived).
Deut. = The Book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament.
E.B. = Encyclopædia Britannica, 14th edition.
e.g. = exempli gratia for example.
Exod. = The Book of Exodus, Old Testament.
Gen. = The Book of Genesis, Old Testament.
H. = years of the Hijra.
H.G.S. = Hafiz Gulam Sarwar’s Translation of the Qur’an.
i.e = id est = that is.
Josh. = Book of Hoshua, Old Testament.
Matt. = Gospel of St. Matthew, New Testament.
M.M.A. = Maulvi Muhammad ’Ali’s Translation of the Qur’an.
M.P. = Mr. M. Pickthall’s The Meaninf of the Glorious Koran.
n. = note.
nn. = notes
Num = The Book of Numbers, Old Testament.
p. = page
pp. = pages.
Q. = Qur’an
2:25 = Qur’an, Surah 20, verse 25.
Rev. = Revelation of St John, New Testament.
S. = Surah.
v. = verse.
vv. = verses.
vis. = videlicet = namely.
1/30, 2/30, etc. = the end of one Sipara, two Siparas, etc. A Sipara is arithmetically the 30th part of the Qur’an.


THE punctuation marks in the Arabic Text have been worked out by our ‘Ulama with great care and minute attention to details. The earliest manuscripts had few or no punctuation marks. Their growth and development furnish an interesting history, on which I hope Professor Zafar Iqbal, who gone into the question, will public his notes. In classical Europe, Greek had practically no punctuation marks. Later Latin had one or two rudimentary ones. In modern Europe they developed with printing. Aldus Manutius (16th century) was the first to work out a regular system. The Muslims were much earlier in the field for Quranic purposes, although in current Urdu, Persian, or Arabic, punctuation is not a strong point.

Quranic punctuation is a elaborate system, in which three kinds of marks are used. First, there are marks to show the variations in the system of Qiraat. The most important of these is that is known as the Mu’anaqa معانقة. This literally means the action of two persons embracing each other shoulder to shoulder, as in the ceremonious salute at the celebration of ‘Id. The technical meaning in connection with the Quranic text is that a certain word or expression so marked can construed as going either with the words or expressions preceding it or with those following it. The word or expression in question is indicated by three dots ∴ placed before and after it, above other punctuation marks if any. An example will be found in 2:2, where the word fi-hi may be construed either as referring to the word rabb in the preceding clause, or to the word hudan in the succeeding clause. Either or both constructions are admissible. Passages where such constructions occur are indicated in the margin of the Arabic Text: by the abbreviation مع, where this was worked out by earlier Commentators (Mutaqaddimin), or by the word معانقة in full, where it was worked out by the later Commentators (Mutaakh-khirin). The numeral above it shows the serial number of the Mu’anaqa of each series.

Secondly, there are marginal marks showing division into sections op paraghs. These are denoted by the letter ‘ain (ﻉ) in the margin, and are explained under the heading “Divisions of the Qur’an”.

Thirdly, there are ordinary punctuation marks in the Text. A knowledge of the most important of these is necessary for an intelligent reading of the Text. Most important of all is a big circle ◌ to denote the end of one Ayat and the beginning of another. If the end of the Ayat is not also the end off a sentence, the mark of a smaller stop is put above it. Where one mark is put on the top of another, the former governs the latter. A warning not to stop is denoted by لا. The letter مـ (lazim) shows that a stop is absolutely necessary; otherwise the sense is spoilt. This is so important that it is also shown prominently in the margin as ج .وقف لازم (jaiz) show that a stop is optional, but if you do not stop, the sense is not spoiled. There are other marks to show the extent to which a stop is permissible, e.g., for taking breatk, etc., or where option is allowed, whether it is better to stop or not to stop. The letter ﻃ (mutlaq) denotes a full stop, i.e., the end of a sentence, but not the end of an argument, as in the case of a paragraph or section (ﻉ).


The reading of the Qur’an is considered a pious duty by every Muslim and is actually performed in practice by every literate person, man woman, and child. For the convenience of those who wish to complete the whole reading in a given time, the whole Text is divided into thirty equal parts, or seven equal parts. The thirtieth Part is called Sipaha or simply Para in Persian and Urdu. If you read a Sipaha every day, you complete the whole reading in a month of thirty days. The seventh part is called a Manzil. If one is read every day, the whole is completed in a week. Usually the arithmetical quarters of a Sipaha (one-fourth, one-half, three quarters) are also marked in the Arabic copies as Ar-rub’, An-nisf, and Ath-thalatha.

According to subject-matter, the division is different. The whole of the Qur’an is arranged in 114 Surahs of very unequal size. The Surahs are numbered and the consecutive number is shown just before the title of the Surah, both in Arabic and English. In Arabic, the figure just after the title shows the chronological order as usually accepted by Muslims writers. Each Surah consists of a number of Ayats. Surah 1 contains 7 Ayats and Surah 2 contains 286. For the meaning of Surah and Ayat see C. 42 nn. 15-17. The most convenient form of quotation is to name the Surah and the Ayat: thus 2:120 means the 120th Ayat of the second Surah. A Surah is usually spoken of as a Chapter in English, but that translation is hardly satisfactory. If you examine the order you will find that each Surah is a step in a gradation. I have left the word untranslated, as a technical term in our religious literature. The Ayat or verse division is usually determined by the rhythm and cadence in the Arabic Text. Sometimes an Ayat contains many sentences. Sometimes a sentence is divided by a break in an Ayat. But usually there is a pause in meaning at the end of an Ayat.

A division of the Surah into Sections is shown in all Arabic Text. These are logical divisions according to meaning. The word translated “Section” is in Arabic Ruku’ a “bowing of the head.” The end of a Ruku’ is shown in Arabic by [character not included]. Usually three figures are written with ﻉ. The top figure shows the numner of Ruku’s completed in that Surah. The middle figure shows the number of Ayats in the Ruku just completed. The bottom figure shows the number of Ruku’s completed in that Sipara, irrespective of Surahs. For example, the first ﻉ in Sipara 2 which continues Surah 2 from Sipara 1 is usually marked [character not included]. It means that at that point 17 Ruku’s of Surah 2 have been completed, that the Ruku’ of which it marks the close contains 6 Ayats, and that it is the first Ruku’ that falls in Sipara 2. I have further marked the sub-division of Ruku’s into shorter paragraphs where necessary, by using in the English text a bold flowery Initial; e.g. see the initial [Initial not included] in 2:6 or the initial [Initial not included] in 2:35.

[Original Surah names]

Sūra 1. Fātiḥa, or the Opening Chapter | Sūra 2: Baqara, or the Heifer | Sūra 3: Āl-i-’Imrān, or the Family of ’Imrān | Sūra 4: Nisāa, or The Women | Sūra 5: Māïda, or The Table Spread | Sūra 6: An’ām, or Cattle | Sūra 7: A’rāf, or The Heights | Sūra 8: Anfāl, or the Spoils of War | Sūra 9: Tauba (Repentance) or Barāat (Immunity) | Sūra 10: Yūnus, or Jonah | Sūra 11: Hūd (The Prophet Hūd) | Sūra 12: Yūsuf, or Joseph | Sūra 13: Ra’d, or Thunder | Sūra 14: Ibrāhim, or Abraham | Sūra 15: Al-Ḥijr, or The Rocky Tract | Sūra 16: Naḥl, or The Bee | Sūra 17: Banī Isrā-īl, or the Children of Israel | Sūra 18: Kahf, or the Cave | Sūra 19: Maryam, or Mary | Sūra 20: Ṭā Hā | Sūra 21: Anbiyāa, or the Prophets | Sūra 22: Hajj, or the Pilgrimage | Sūra 23: Mū-minūn, or The Believers | Sūra 24: Nūr, or Light | Sūra 25: Furqān, or The Criterion | Sūra 26: Shu‘arāa, or The Poets | Sūra 27: Naml, or The Ants | Sūra 28: Qaṣaṣ, or The Narration | Sūra 29: ‘Ankabūt, or The Spider | Sūra 30: Rūm, or The Roman Empire | Sūra 31: Luqmān (the Wise) | Sūra 32: Sajda, or Adoration | Sūra 33: Aḥzāb, or The Confederates | Sūra 34: Sabā, or the City of Sabā | Sūra 35: Fāṭir, or The Originator or Creation; or Malāïka, the Angels | Sūra 36: Yā-Sīn | Sūra 37: Ṣāffāt, or those Ranged in Ranks | Sūra 38: Ṣād | Sūra 39: Zumar, or the Crowds | Sūra 40: Mū-min, or The Believer | Sūra 41: Hā-Mīm | Sūra 42: Shūrā, or Consultation | Sūra 43: Zukhruf, or Gold Adornments | Sūra 44: Dukhān, or Smoke (or Mist) | Sūra 45: Jāthiya, or Bowing the Knee | Sūra 46: Aḥqāf, or Winding Sand-tracts | Sūra 47: Muḥammad (the Prophet) | Sūra 48: Fat-ḥ or Victory | Sūra 49: Ḥujurāt, or the Inner Apartments | Sūra 50: Qāf | Sūra 51: Ḯāriyāt, or the Winds That Scatter | Sūra 52: Ṭūr, or the Mount | Sūra 53: Najm, or the Star | Sūra 54: Qamar, or the Moon | Sūra 55: Raḥmān, or (God) Most Gracious | Sūra 56: Wāqi‘a, or the Inevitable Event | Sūra 57: Ḥadid, or Iron | Sūra 58: Mujādila, or The Woman who Pleads | Sūra 59: Ḥashr, or The Gathering (or Banishment) | Sūra 60: Mumtaḥana, or the Woman to be Examined | Sūra 61: Ṣaff, or Battle Array | Sūra 62: Jumu‘a, or the Assembly (Friday) Prayer | Sūra 63: Munāfiqūn, or the Hypocrites | Sūra 64: Tagābun, or Mutual Loss and Gain | Sūra 65: Ṭalāq, or Divorce | Sūra 66: Taḥrīm, or Holding (something) to be Forbidden | Sūra 67: Mulk, or Dominion | Sūra 68: Qalam, or the Pen, or Nūn | Sūra 69: Ḥāqqa, or the Sure Reality | Sūra 70: Ma‘ārij, or the Ways of Ascent | Sūra 71: Nūḥ, or Noah | Sūra 72: Jinn, or the Spirits | Sūra 73: Muzzammil, or Folded in Garments | Sūra 74: Muddaththir, or One Wrapped Up | Sūra 75: Qiyāmat, or the Ressurection | Sūra 76: Dahr, or Time; or Insān, or Man | Sūra 77: Mursalāt, or Those Sent Forth | Sūra 78: Nabaa, or the Great News | Sūra 79: Nāzi’āt, or Those Who Tear Out | Sūra 80: ’Abasa, or He Frowned | Sūra 81: Takwīr, or the Folding Up | Sūra 82: Infiṭār, or The Cleaving Asunder | Sūra 83: Taṭfīt, or Dealing in Fraud | Sūra 84: Inshiqāq, or The Rending Asunder | Sūra 85: Burūj, or the Zodiacal Signs | Sūra 86: Ṭāriq, or The Night-Visitant | Sūra 87: A‘la, or The Most High | Sūra 88: Gāshiya, or the Overwhelming Event | Sūra 89: Fajr, or Dawn | Sūra 90: Balad, or the City | Sūra 91: Shams, or The Sun | Sūra 92: Lail, or The Night | Sūra 93: Dhuḥā, or The Glorious Morning Light | Sūra 94: Inshirāḥ, or the Expansion | Sūra 95: Tīn, or the Fig | Sūra 96: Iqraa, or Read!, or Proclaim! | Sūra 97: Qadr, or The Night of Power (or Honor) | Sūra 98: Baiyina, or The Clear Evidence | Sūra 99: Zilzāl, or The Convulsion | Sūra 100: ’Ādiyāt, or Those Who Run | Sūra 101: Al-Qāri’a, or The Day of Noise and Clamor | Sūra 102: Takathur, or Piling Up | Sūra 103: ‘Aṣr, or Time through the Ages | Sūra 104: Humaza, or the Scandal-monger | Sūra 105: Fīl, or The Elephant | Sūra 106: Quraish, or The Quraish, (Custodians of the Ka’ba) | Sūra 107: Mā’ūn, or Neighborly Needs | Sūra 108: Kauthar, or Abundance | Sūra 109: Kāfirūn, or Those who reject Faith | Sūra 110: Naṣr, or Help | Sūra 111: Lahab, or The Flame | Sūra 112: Ikhlāṣ, or Purity (of Faith) | Sūra 113: Falaq, or The Dawn | Sūra 114: Nās, or Mankind.

Appendix 1-13

[Not Yet Included]

Appendix 14

Oaths and Adjurations in the Qur’ān

  1. An oath is an invocation of the name of God or of some person or object held sacred by the person using the invocation, to witness the truth of a solemn affirmation and to emphasize that affirmation.
  2. An adjuration is a solemn appeal to a person or persons to do some act or to believe some important statement by the evidence of something great or sublime or remarkable or out of ordinary.
  3. On these subjects as thus defined, let us review the teaching of the holy Qur’ān.
  4. Among the Pagan Arabs the use of oaths became so common that it almost ceased to have any solemn meaning. On the other hand, when they wanted to suppress the rights of women or do some unjust acts, they would resort to an oath to do so, and then plead that they were bound by their oath when pressure was brought to bear on them to desist from their injustice. Thus, they doubly dishonoured oaths: they took the name of God lightly, and on the other hand, they made an oath an excuse for not doing what was right and just. It is much to be feared that our own contemporaries are not free from suck forms of disrespect to God.
  5. Such practices are condemned in the strongest terms in the Qur’ān. “Make not God’s name an excuse in your oaths against doing good, or acting rightly, or making peace between persons” (2:224). Perjury is condemned as deception which hurts both the deceiver and the deceived. “Take not your oaths to practice deception between yourselves, with the result that someone’s foot may slip after it was firmly planted, and you may have to taste the evil consequences of having hindered men from the Path of God, and a mighty Wrath descend on you” (16:94). See also 3:77. You must not only fulfil your oaths, but you must fulfil all covenants, express or implied, and all your obligations of every kind, without reference to an oath: 5:1 and belonging note.
  6. Considering the harm caused by thoughtless oaths, in which there was no intention to deceive or to do wrong. It is provided that they may be expiated for. “God will not call you to account for what is futile in your oaths, but He will call you to account for your deliberate oaths: for expiation feed ten indigent persons…or clothe them, or give a slave his freedom. If that is beyond your means, fast for three days. That is the expiation for the oaths ye have sworn. But keep to your oaths” (5:92). See also 2:225 and 66:2).
  7. Some examples may be cited of the false oaths which were used for deception. The Hypocrites, “in whose hearts is a disease”, “swore their strongest oaths by God” that they would be with the Muslims, but treachery was in their hearts (5:55-56). See also 24:53. On the other hand, the oath of Joseph’s wicked brethren, “By God!”, in speaking to their father, (12:85), seems to be a mere expletive, used lightly, and therefore worthy of condemnation.
  8. In passages like the following, the oath seems to be emphatic and solemn as in a court of law:—
      12:66 By Joseph’s brethren, at Jacob’s request.
      12:73 By Joseph’s brethren, to the Egyptians.
      21:57 By Abraham, to the Polytheists.
      26:97 By the denizens of Hell, when they realize their wrong.
      37:56 By the righteous one in heaven, when he realizes the great danger he escaped in life.
      38:82 By the Power of Evil, who solemnly swears by the power of God.
      46:34 By the denizens of Hell, when ther realize the Truth.
  9. In the following passages addressed by God to men, an appeal is made to man’s realization of God’s own greatness, goodness, and glory, or God’s special relationship to man as Creator, Cherisher, and Protector, to teach him the lesson of truth and right conduct. In English phrase it might be rendered: “As I am thy Lord God, believe in Me and follow My Word.”
      4:65 “By thy Lord” (they can have no real faith until…).
      15:92 “By thy Lord” (We will call them to account).
      16:56 “By God” (ye shall be called to account).
      16:63 “By God” (We sent messengers).
      19:68 “By thy Lord” (We shall gather them together).
      34:3 “By my Lord” (said by the Prophet to assure men of the coming of the Hour of Judgement.
      64:7 Do. Do.
      51:23 “By the Lord of heaven and earth” (this is the very Truth). See also 70:40 (paragraph 12 below).
  10. Another way in which an appeal is made to men is by the evidence of the life of the holy Prophet, whose truth and purity were known to them, or by the holy Qur’ān, whose wonderful power over men’s hearts was a miracle which they witnessed before their eyes:—
      15:72 “By thy life” (to enforce the lesson of the unspeakable crime of Lot’s people).
      36:2 “By the Qur’ān. Full of wisdom” (to show the Prophet’s inspiration).
      38:1 “By the Qur’ān, full of admonition” (to show the error of the Unbeilievers).
      43:2 “By the Book that Makes things clear” (to show that Revelation and conformable to truth).
      44:2 Do. Do.
      50:1 “By the Glorious Qur’ān” (to quell the wonder of the ignorant).
  11. Now we come to the great mystic passages in the Meccan Sūras, in which men are adjured to turn to the wonders of the spiritual world by striking phrases full of sublimity, full of mystery, full of symbolism, and using the wonders of the heavens and the earth by way of illustration. They are the despair of the translator, because the words used are widely comprehensive, with little that is precise in them. There are layers upon layers of meaning, and only the profoundest spiritual experience can probe their depths. An attempt has been made in the notes to analyze and explain some of their meanings. All that we can do here is to bring them together into juxtaposition, to help the earnest student. They may be divided into three categories: (1) those introduced by the words “Lā uqsimu” (I do swear or I do call to witness), (2) those introduced by the particle wa, which is the general form of adjuration, and (3) those, mainly concerned with the Judgement to come, which are introduced by the adverb “idhā” (when).
  12. Lā Uqsimu (with the first person singular) implies that special attention is drawn to something by a personal and beneficent God, and an appeal is made to His creature:—
      56:75 “The setting of the stars.” Other glories may set, but not the glory of Revelation.
      69:38 “What ye see and what ye see not.” Revelation is good for both outer and inner life.
      70:40 “The Lord of all points in the East and the West.” God’s Kindom extends everywhere.
      75:1-2 “The Resurrection Day and the self-reproaching spirit.” Evil should be eschewed.
      81:15-18 “Planets, Night, and Dawn.” Nature may vary, but God’s Light is ever the same.
      84:16-18 “The ruddy glow of sunset, the Night, the Moon.” Man must travel from stage to stage.
      90:1-3 “This City (of Mecca) and mystic ties.” Man is created for toil and struggle, but God had given him guidance.
  13. The great mystic Symbols or Signs, introduced by the particle wa, by which man is adjured to turn to the higher life, are rich in suggestive imagery, which loses part of its charm by any attempt at precise definition:—
      37:1 “By those who range themselves in ranks”
      51:1-4 “By the (Winds) that scatter broadcast” etc.
      51:7 “By the heaven with its numerous Paths” etc.
      52:1-6 “By the Mount (of Revelation)” etc.
      53:1 “By the Star when it goes down.”
      68:1 “By the Pen and by the Record which men write”.
      74:32-34 “By the Moon, the Night, the Dawn”.
      77;1-5 “By the (Winds) sent forth (to man’s profit)” etc.
      79:1-5 “By the (angels) who tear out” etc.
      85:1-3 “By the Sky (displaying) the Zodiacal Signs” etc.
      86:1 “By the Sky and the Night-Visitant (therein)”.
      86:11-12 “By the Firmament which returns (in its round), and by the Earth” etc.
      89:1-5 “By the Break of Day”, etc.
      91:1-8 “By the Sun and its (glorious) splendour. By the Soul…” etc.
      92:1-3 “By the Night as it conceals (light); By the Day as it appears in glory” etc.
      93:1-2 “By the Glorious morning Light” etc.
      95:1-3 “By the Fig and the Olive” etc.
      100:1-5 “By the (Steeds) that run with panting breath” etc.
      103:1 “By (the Token of) Time (through the Ages)”.
  14. The great mystic Symbols introduced by the adverb “when” (idhā) do not in form belong to the category of Adjurations, but their mystic meaning and imagery bring them within this category. They refer to the end of the present order of things, and the inauguration of the new world of perfect spiritual values, but they need not necessarily be understood in a definite sequence of time such as we know it, for the spiritual world overlaps the material:—
      77:8-11 “When the Stars become dim” etc.
      81:1-13 “When the Sun is folded up” etc.
      82:1-4 “When the Sky is cleft asunder” etc.
      84:1-3 “When the Sky is rent asunder” etc.
      99:1-3 “When the Earth is shaken” etc.
  15. Every Symbol is connected with the argument of the passage concerned, by way of metaphor or illustration. See note to 74:32. the appropriate meaning suggested is explained in the notes to each passage as it occurs.


Cowper wrote: “Oars alone can ne’er prevail To reach the distant coast: The breath of heaven must swell the sail, Or all the toil is lost.” I praise and glorify the name of God that He has enabled His humble servant to complete in manuscript the work of Interpretation at which he has systematically and unceasingly laboured for the last three years. My manuscript was completed in Lahore on the fourth of April 1937, my sixty-fifth birthday according to the solar calendar. My inner history during these three years has been one of joyful and concentrated exploration, undisturbed by the storms that vexed my outer life. I had not imagined that so much human jealousy, misunderstanding, and painful misrepresentation should pursue one who seeks no worldly gain and pretends to no dogmatic authority. But I have been much consoled by numerous appreciative letters from distant readers. I thank them and wish them to feel that they and I are fellow-riders (Arabice, Zamīl) on a steed of research in a field that us unlimited in scope and subline compared to ordinary knowledge. Suck relationship is closer in spirit than ties of blood, or country, or any other joint enterprise whatsoever.

The printer and publisher hope now to bring out the whole completed volumes within two months. I have appended a short Index, which yet is fuller than is to be found in most Quranic Translations. A complete analytical Index, covering the text, notes, and commentary, such as I contemplated in my Preface, will take time to prepare, and will, if there is a demand, be issued as a separate volume at some future time.

And so I take leave of thee, Gentle Reader, and pray for thy spiritual advancement, as I wish thee to pray for mine.

November 14, 1937