English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 21: Al-Anbiya — The Prophets (Revealed at Makkah: 7 sections, 112 verses)

Section 2 (Verses 21:11–21:29): Truth has Always Triumphed


وَ کَمۡ قَصَمۡنَا مِنۡ قَرۡیَۃٍ کَانَتۡ ظَالِمَۃً وَّ اَنۡشَاۡنَا بَعۡدَہَا قَوۡمًا اٰخَرِیۡنَ ﴿۱۱﴾

21:11 And how many a town which was unjust did We demolish, and We raised up after it another people!

فَلَمَّاۤ اَحَسُّوۡا بَاۡسَنَاۤ اِذَا ہُمۡ مِّنۡہَا یَرۡکُضُوۡنَ ﴿ؕ۱۲﴾

21:12 So when they felt Our might, lo! they began to flee from it.

لَا تَرۡکُضُوۡا وَ ارۡجِعُوۡۤا اِلٰی مَاۤ اُتۡرِفۡتُمۡ فِیۡہِ وَ مَسٰکِنِکُمۡ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تُسۡـَٔلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳﴾

21:13 Do not flee and return to the easy lives which you led, and to your dwellings, that you may be questioned.

قَالُوۡا یٰوَیۡلَنَاۤ اِنَّا کُنَّا ظٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۴﴾

21:14 They said: O woe to us! Surely we were unjust.

فَمَا زَالَتۡ تِّلۡکَ دَعۡوٰىہُمۡ حَتّٰی جَعَلۡنٰہُمۡ حَصِیۡدًا خٰمِدِیۡنَ ﴿۱۵﴾

21:15 And this cry of theirs did not cease till We made them cut off, extinct.

وَ مَا خَلَقۡنَا السَّمَآءَ وَ الۡاَرۡضَ وَ مَا بَیۡنَہُمَا لٰعِبِیۡنَ ﴿۱۶﴾

21:16 And We did not create the heaven and the earth and all that is between them for sport.1

لَوۡ اَرَدۡنَاۤ اَنۡ نَّتَّخِذَ لَہۡوًا لَّاتَّخَذۡنٰہُ مِنۡ لَّدُنَّاۤ ٭ۖ اِنۡ کُنَّا فٰعِلِیۡنَ ﴿۱۷﴾

21:17 If We had wished to take a pastime, We would have taken it from before Ourselves; by no means would We do (so).

بَلۡ نَقۡذِفُ بِالۡحَقِّ عَلَی الۡبَاطِلِ فَیَدۡمَغُہٗ فَاِذَا ہُوَ زَاہِقٌ ؕ وَ لَکُمُ الۡوَیۡلُ مِمَّا تَصِفُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸﴾

21:18 Indeed, We hurl the Truth against falsehood, so it knocks out its brains, and lo! it vanishes.2 And woe to you for what you describe!

وَ لَہٗ مَنۡ فِی السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ ؕ وَ مَنۡ عِنۡدَہٗ لَا یَسۡتَکۡبِرُوۡنَ عَنۡ عِبَادَتِہٖ وَ لَا یَسۡتَحۡسِرُوۡنَ ﴿ۚ۱۹﴾

21:19 And to Him belongs whoever is in the heavens and the earth. And those who are with Him are not too proud to serve Him, nor are they weary.

یُسَبِّحُوۡنَ الَّیۡلَ وَ النَّہَارَ لَا یَفۡتُرُوۡنَ ﴿۲۰﴾

21:20 They glorify (Him) night and day — they do not tire.

اَمِ اتَّخَذُوۡۤا اٰلِہَۃً مِّنَ الۡاَرۡضِ ہُمۡ یُنۡشِرُوۡنَ ﴿۲۱﴾

21:21 Or have they taken gods from the earth who give life?

لَوۡ کَانَ فِیۡہِمَاۤ اٰلِہَۃٌ اِلَّا اللّٰہُ لَفَسَدَتَا ۚ فَسُبۡحٰنَ اللّٰہِ رَبِّ الۡعَرۡشِ عَمَّا یَصِفُوۡنَ ﴿۲۲﴾

21:22 If there were in them gods besides Allah, they would both have been in disorder. So glory be to Allah, the Lord of the Throne, being above what they describe!3

لَا یُسۡـَٔلُ عَمَّا یَفۡعَلُ وَ ہُمۡ یُسۡـَٔلُوۡنَ ﴿۲۳﴾

21:23 He cannot be questioned as to what He does, and they will be questioned.

اَمِ اتَّخَذُوۡا مِنۡ دُوۡنِہٖۤ اٰلِہَۃً ؕ قُلۡ ہَاتُوۡا بُرۡہَانَکُمۡ ۚ ہٰذَا ذِکۡرُ مَنۡ مَّعِیَ وَ ذِکۡرُ مَنۡ قَبۡلِیۡ ؕ بَلۡ اَکۡثَرُہُمۡ لَا یَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ۙ الۡحَقَّ فَہُمۡ مُّعۡرِضُوۡنَ ﴿۲۴﴾

21:24 Or, have they taken gods besides Him? Say: Bring your proof. This is the reminder of those with me and the reminder of those before me.4 But most of them do not know the Truth, so they turn away.

وَ مَاۤ اَرۡسَلۡنَا مِنۡ قَبۡلِکَ مِنۡ رَّسُوۡلٍ اِلَّا نُوۡحِیۡۤ اِلَیۡہِ اَنَّہٗ لَاۤ اِلٰہَ اِلَّاۤ اَنَا فَاعۡبُدُوۡنِ ﴿۲۵﴾

21:25 And We sent no messenger before you but We revealed to him that there is no God but Me, so serve Me.

وَ قَالُوا اتَّخَذَ الرَّحۡمٰنُ وَلَدًا سُبۡحٰنَہٗ ؕ بَلۡ عِبَادٌ مُّکۡرَمُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۲۶﴾

21:26 And they say: The Beneficent has taken to Himself a son. Glory be to Him! No, they are honoured servants5

لَا یَسۡبِقُوۡنَہٗ بِالۡقَوۡلِ وَ ہُمۡ بِاَمۡرِہٖ یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۲۷﴾

21:27 They do not speak before He speaks, and according to His command they act.6

یَعۡلَمُ مَا بَیۡنَ اَیۡدِیۡہِمۡ وَ مَا خَلۡفَہُمۡ وَ لَا یَشۡفَعُوۡنَ ۙ اِلَّا لِمَنِ ارۡتَضٰی وَ ہُمۡ مِّنۡ خَشۡیَتِہٖ مُشۡفِقُوۡنَ ﴿۲۸﴾

21:28 He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they do not intercede except for him whom He approves, and for fear of Him they tremble.

وَ مَنۡ یَّقُلۡ مِنۡہُمۡ اِنِّیۡۤ اِلٰہٌ مِّنۡ دُوۡنِہٖ فَذٰلِکَ نَجۡزِیۡہِ جَہَنَّمَ ؕ کَذٰلِکَ نَجۡزِی الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿٪۲۹﴾

21:29 And whoever of them should say, I am a god besides Him, such a one We recompense with hell. Thus We reward the unjust.


  1. They were made to witness signs of the truth of the Prophet and they are now told to bear in mind that these signs were not in vain. In nature every cause has an effect and every end is achieved by means. Life must be taken seriously, not as a jest.
  2. Mark the deep conviction of the Prophet as to the ultimate triumph of Truth in the world. Truth had dawned on his mind in full resplendence. The forces of darkness and falsehood, which were uppermost in Arabia when these words were uttered, were brought to naught in his lifetime and, however powerful they may appear to be, they cannot even today make a stand before the onward march of Truth.
  3. There is order in the universe because one law pervades the whole of it, and one law clearly points to one Author and Maintainer of that law. Note that here Allah is spoken of as Rabb al-‘Arsh, the nourisher to perfection or Lord of the Throne, so that the Throne itself is sustained by God, and it is not God Who is sustained by the Throne.
  4. The great and fundamental truth of the Unity of Allah is common to all religions; no prophet ever taught polytheism.
  5. Refuting the doctrine that Jesus is the son of God, it is added that they are honoured servants. The words draw attention to the fact that others besides Jesus were spoken of as the sons of God, but that the title signified nothing more than that they were honoured servants, and that therefore Jesus was the son of God exactly in the same sense.
  6. This verse affords a conclusive testimony for the sinlessness of pro­phets. In the first place they do not speak till Allah has spoken, i.e., they speak according to what He has taught them, not speaking of their own accord. And secondly, when they act, they act according to His commandment. Thus both their words and deeds are in accordance with Divine will, and therefore sin or dis­obedience of God cannot be attributed to them. The context shows clearly that the verse speaks of prophets, and not of angels.