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 5 (Verses 17:41–17:52): Disbelievers Grow Harder


وَ لَقَدۡ صَرَّفۡنَا فِیۡ ہٰذَا الۡقُرۡاٰنِ لِیَذَّکَّرُوۡا ؕ وَ مَا یَزِیۡدُہُمۡ اِلَّا نُفُوۡرًا ﴿۴۱﴾

17:41 And certainly We have repeated (warnings) in this Quran that they may be mindful. And it only adds to their aversion.1

قُلۡ لَّوۡ کَانَ مَعَہٗۤ اٰلِـہَۃٌ کَمَا یَقُوۡلُوۡنَ اِذًا لَّابۡتَغَوۡا اِلٰی ذِی الۡعَرۡشِ سَبِیۡلًا ﴿۴۲﴾

17:42 Say: If there were with Him gods, as they say, then certainly they would have been able to seek a way to the Lord of the Throne.2

سُبۡحٰنَہٗ وَ تَعٰلٰی عَمَّا یَقُوۡلُوۡنَ عُلُوًّا کَبِیۡرًا ﴿۴۳﴾

17:43 Glory be to Him, and He is supremely exalted above what they say!

تُسَبِّحُ لَہُ السَّمٰوٰتُ السَّبۡعُ وَ الۡاَرۡضُ وَ مَنۡ فِیۡہِنَّ ؕ وَ اِنۡ مِّنۡ شَیۡءٍ اِلَّا یُسَبِّحُ بِحَمۡدِہٖ وَ لٰکِنۡ لَّا تَفۡقَہُوۡنَ تَسۡبِیۡحَہُمۡ ؕ اِنَّہٗ کَانَ حَلِیۡمًا غَفُوۡرًا ﴿۴۴﴾

17:44 The seven heavens and the earth and those in them declare His glory. And there is not a single thing but glorifies Him with His praise, but you do not understand their glorification. Surely He is Forbearing, Forgiving.3

وَ اِذَا قَرَاۡتَ الۡقُرۡاٰنَ جَعَلۡنَا بَیۡنَکَ وَ بَیۡنَ الَّذِیۡنَ لَا یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِالۡاٰخِرَۃِ حِجَابًا مَّسۡتُوۡرًا ﴿ۙ۴۵﴾

17:45 And when you recite the Quran, We place between you and those who do not believe in the Hereafter a hidden barrier;4

وَّ جَعَلۡنَا عَلٰی قُلُوۡبِہِمۡ اَکِنَّۃً اَنۡ یَّفۡقَہُوۡہُ وَ فِیۡۤ اٰذَانِہِمۡ وَقۡرًا ؕ وَ اِذَا ذَکَرۡتَ رَبَّکَ فِی الۡقُرۡاٰنِ وَحۡدَہٗ وَلَّوۡا عَلٰۤی اَدۡبَارِہِمۡ نُفُوۡرًا ﴿۴۶﴾

17:46 and We put coverings on their hearts and a deafness in their ears that they may not understand it; and when you mention your Lord alone in the Quran, they turn their backs in aversion.5

نَحۡنُ اَعۡلَمُ بِمَا یَسۡتَمِعُوۡنَ بِہٖۤ اِذۡ یَسۡتَمِعُوۡنَ اِلَیۡکَ وَ اِذۡ ہُمۡ نَجۡوٰۤی اِذۡ یَقُوۡلُ الظّٰلِمُوۡنَ اِنۡ تَتَّبِعُوۡنَ اِلَّا رَجُلًا مَّسۡحُوۡرًا ﴿۴۷﴾

17:47 We know best what they listen to when they listen to you, and when they take counsel secretly, when the wrongdoers say: You follow only a man deprived of reason.

اُنۡظُرۡ کَیۡفَ ضَرَبُوۡا لَکَ الۡاَمۡثَالَ فَضَلُّوۡا فَلَا یَسۡتَطِیۡعُوۡنَ سَبِیۡلًا ﴿۴۸﴾

17:48 See, what they liken you to! So they have gone astray, and cannot find the way.

وَ قَالُوۡۤاءَ اِذَا کُنَّا عِظَامًا وَّ رُفَاتًاءَ اِنَّا لَمَبۡعُوۡثُوۡنَ خَلۡقًا جَدِیۡدًا ﴿۴۹﴾

17:49 And they say: When we are bones and decayed particles, shall we then be raised up as a new creation?

قُلۡ کُوۡنُوۡا حِجَارَۃً اَوۡ حَدِیۡدًا ﴿ۙ۵۰﴾

17:50 Say: Be stones or iron,

اَوۡ خَلۡقًا مِّمَّا یَکۡبُرُ فِیۡ صُدُوۡرِکُمۡ ۚ فَسَیَقُوۡلُوۡنَ مَنۡ یُّعِیۡدُنَا ؕ قُلِ الَّذِیۡ فَطَرَکُمۡ اَوَّلَ مَرَّۃٍ ۚ فَسَیُنۡغِضُوۡنَ اِلَیۡکَ رُءُوۡسَہُمۡ وَ یَقُوۡلُوۡنَ مَتٰی ہُوَ ؕ قُلۡ عَسٰۤی اَنۡ یَّکُوۡنَ قَرِیۡبًا ﴿۵۱﴾

17:51 or some other creature of those which are too hard (to receive life) in your minds!6 But they will say: Who will return us? Say: He Who created you at first. Still they will shake their heads at you and say: When will it be? Say: Maybe it has drawn near.7

یَوۡمَ یَدۡعُوۡکُمۡ فَتَسۡتَجِیۡبُوۡنَ بِحَمۡدِہٖ وَ تَظُنُّوۡنَ اِنۡ لَّبِثۡتُمۡ اِلَّا قَلِیۡلًا ﴿٪۵۲﴾

17:52 On the day when He will call you forth, then will you obey Him, giving Him praise, and you will think that you remained only a little (while).


  1. Allah’s purpose in repeating arguments and signs in the Quran is to make people mindful, but the more they are reminded, the greater is their aversion to it.
  2. The idol-worshippers were sunk deep in vices and immorality, while access to the Divine Being — a way to the Lord of the Throne — which they claimed they got through their idols, should have purified their lives. Or, the meaning is that, if they had access to God, Who holds all power in His hands, they should have received Divine help and been successful in uprooting Islam.
  3. The whole universe is here mentioned as declaring the glory of Allah, which means declaring God to be free from every imperfection and impurity, or from everything derogatory to His dignity. This declaration need not be with the tongue and in words: in fact, the very dependence of the whole creation on the Creator and its consequent imperfection is a glorification of the Creator.
  4. This hidden barrier is nothing but that erected by their own aversion, as plainly indicated in v. 41.
  5. The placing of coverings on the hearts and deafness in the ears of the disbelievers is no doubt attributed to Allah as the prime cause of all things, but this covering and deafness is directly brought about because they do not even listen to the mention of Allah, and flee in aversion from His word. Allah brings it about on account of the condition of their very hearts and ears. See also 7:179.
  6. They are told that a life after death must follow even if they could change themselves into stones. And the spiritual life with which they were quick­ened by the Holy Prophet, despite their hard-heartedness — “they were like rocks, rather worse in hardness” (2:74) — was a clear proof of this.
  7. The answer, maybe it has drawn near, refers to the spiritual resusci­tation of Arabia, which was now to be accomplished through the Holy Prophet, as an indication of the greater Resurrection. The next verse makes it clear: Then will you obey Him, giving Him praise. Fifteen years after this the whole of Arabia re­sounded with Divine praises.