English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 17: Bani Israil — The Israelites (Revealed at Makkah: 12 sections, 111 verses)

Section 2 (Verses 17:11–17:22): Every Deed has a Consequence


وَ یَدۡعُ الۡاِنۡسَانُ بِالشَّرِّ دُعَآءَہٗ بِالۡخَیۡرِ ؕ وَ کَانَ الۡاِنۡسَانُ عَجُوۡلًا ﴿۱۱﴾

17:11 And man prays for evil as he ought to pray for good; and man is ever hasty.

وَ جَعَلۡنَا الَّیۡلَ وَ النَّہَارَ اٰیَتَیۡنِ فَمَحَوۡنَاۤ اٰیَۃَ الَّیۡلِ وَ جَعَلۡنَاۤ اٰیَۃَ النَّہَارِ مُبۡصِرَۃً لِّتَبۡتَغُوۡا فَضۡلًا مِّنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ وَ لِتَعۡلَمُوۡا عَدَدَ السِّنِیۡنَ وَ الۡحِسَابَ ؕ وَ کُلَّ شَیۡءٍ فَصَّلۡنٰہُ تَفۡصِیۡلًا ﴿۱۲﴾

17:12 And We made the night and the day two signs, then We have made the sign of the night to pass away and We have made the sign of the day manifest,1 so that you may seek grace from your Lord, and that you may know the numbering of years and the reckoning. And We have explained everything distinctly.

وَ کُلَّ اِنۡسَانٍ اَلۡزَمۡنٰہُ طٰٓئِرَہٗ فِیۡ عُنُقِہٖ ؕ وَ نُخۡرِجُ لَہٗ یَوۡمَ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ کِتٰبًا یَّلۡقٰىہُ مَنۡشُوۡرًا ﴿۱۳﴾

17:13 And We have made every human being’s actions to cling to his neck, and We shall bring forth to him on the day of Resurrection a book which he will find wide open.2

اِقۡرَاۡ کِتٰبَکَ ؕ کَفٰی بِنَفۡسِکَ الۡیَوۡمَ عَلَیۡکَ حَسِیۡبًا ﴿ؕ۱۴﴾

17:14 Read your book. Your own soul is sufficient as a reckoner against you this day.3

مَنِ اہۡتَدٰی فَاِنَّمَا یَہۡتَدِیۡ لِنَفۡسِہٖ ۚ وَ مَنۡ ضَلَّ فَاِنَّمَا یَضِلُّ عَلَیۡہَا ؕ وَ لَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَۃٌ وِّزۡرَ اُخۡرٰی ؕ وَ مَا کُنَّا مُعَذِّبِیۡنَ حَتّٰی نَبۡعَثَ رَسُوۡلًا ﴿۱۵﴾

17:15 Whoever goes aright, goes aright only for the good of his own soul; and whoever goes astray, goes astray only to its detriment. And no bearer of a burden can bear the burden of another.4 Nor do We punish until We raise a messenger.5

وَ اِذَاۤ اَرَدۡنَاۤ اَنۡ نُّہۡلِکَ قَرۡیَۃً اَمَرۡنَا مُتۡرَفِیۡہَا فَفَسَقُوۡا فِیۡہَا فَحَقَّ عَلَیۡہَا الۡقَوۡلُ فَدَمَّرۡنٰہَا تَدۡمِیۡرًا ﴿۱۶﴾

17:16 And when We wish to destroy a town, We send commandments to its people who lead easy lives, but they transgress therein; thus the word proves true against it, so We destroy it with utter destruction.6

وَ کَمۡ اَہۡلَکۡنَا مِنَ الۡقُرُوۡنِ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ نُوۡحٍ ؕ وَ کَفٰی بِرَبِّکَ بِذُنُوۡبِ عِبَادِہٖ خَبِیۡرًۢا بَصِیۡرًا ﴿۱۷﴾

17:17 And how many generations did We destroy after Noah! And your Lord is sufficient as being Aware and Seer of His servants’ sins.

مَنۡ کَانَ یُرِیۡدُ الۡعَاجِلَۃَ عَجَّلۡنَا لَہٗ فِیۡہَا مَا نَشَآءُ لِمَنۡ نُّرِیۡدُ ثُمَّ جَعَلۡنَا لَہٗ جَہَنَّمَ ۚ یَصۡلٰىہَا مَذۡمُوۡمًا مَّدۡحُوۡرًا ﴿۱۸﴾

17:18 Whoever desires this transitory life, We hasten to him in it what We please for whom-soever We desire, then We assign to him hell; he will enter it despised, driven away.

وَ مَنۡ اَرَادَ الۡاٰخِرَۃَ وَ سَعٰی لَہَا سَعۡیَہَا وَ ہُوَ مُؤۡمِنٌ فَاُولٰٓئِکَ کَانَ سَعۡیُہُمۡ مَّشۡکُوۡرًا ﴿۱۹﴾

17:19 And whoever desires the Hereafter and strives for it with due striving and is a believer — those are they whose striving is amply rewarded.

کُلًّا نُّمِدُّ ہٰۤؤُلَآءِ وَ ہٰۤؤُلَآءِ مِنۡ عَطَآءِ رَبِّکَ ؕ وَ مَا کَانَ عَطَـآءُ رَبِّکَ مَحۡظُوۡرًا ﴿۲۰﴾

17:20 All do We aid — these as well as those — out of the bounty of your Lord, and the bounty of your Lord is not limited.

اُنۡظُرۡ کَیۡفَ فَضَّلۡنَا بَعۡضَہُمۡ عَلٰی بَعۡضٍ ؕ وَ لَلۡاٰخِرَۃُ اَکۡبَرُ دَرَجٰتٍ وَّ اَکۡبَرُ تَفۡضِیۡلًا ﴿۲۱﴾

17:21 See how We have made some of them to excel others. And certainly the Hereafter is greater in degrees and greater in excellence.

لَا تَجۡعَلۡ مَعَ اللّٰہِ اِلٰـہًا اٰخَرَ فَتَقۡعُدَ مَذۡمُوۡمًا مَّخۡذُوۡلًا ﴿٪۲۲﴾

17:22 Do not set up any other god with Allah, or you will sit down despised, forsaken.


  1. The night stands for the darkness of ignorance and unbelief (see 2:257), and the passing away of the night indicates that ignorance will vanish and the light of Islam will take its place. Arabia witnessed this sign in the seventh cen­tury C.E., and Islam has since then been gradually advancing in the world.
  2. This verse reveals the principle that every action produces an effect which is made to cling to a person, and that this very effect will be met with on the day of Resurrection in the form of a wide open book. It is thus by leaving its effect behind that every action is recorded, and this very effect constitutes the book of a person’s actions. Clinging to the neck indicates the inseparability of one thing from another, thus establishing the law of cause and effect.
  3. This verse throws a flood of light on the nature of the reckoning on the day of Resurrection, showing clearly that it is nothing but a complete manifes­tation of the effects of the deeds done in this life.
  4. This verse strikes at the root of the doctrine of atonement. The burden of the sins of one person cannot be taken away by another, for, as already stated, the effect of each man’s actions clings to himself.
  5. Here it is stated that guidance is offered to man through a messen­ger of God, but if he still persists in error and strays from the path, it is to his own detriment. And then it is added that the punishment of the Hereafter is only after man has been warned through a Divine messenger. The law as to punishment in this world is stated in v. 16, which speaks of the destruction of towns, for such punishment is sent when tyranny and transgression assume extraordinary propor­tions, and punishment is then inflicted on large numbers.
  6. Allah does not command people to transgress. The meaning is clear: Allah sends them commandments to do good, pointing out the right way through His prophets, but as they are accustomed to lead easy lives, they transgress those commandments, and are therefore punished.