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 3 (Verses 21:30–21:41): Truth of Revelation


اَوَ لَمۡ یَرَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡۤا اَنَّ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضَ کَانَتَا رَتۡقًا فَفَتَقۡنٰہُمَا ؕ وَ جَعَلۡنَا مِنَ الۡمَآءِ کُلَّ شَیۡءٍ حَیٍّ ؕ اَفَلَا یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ ﴿۳۰﴾

21:30 Do not those who disbelieve see that the heavens and the earth were closed up, so We split them apart.1 And We made from water everything living.2 Will they not then believe?

وَ جَعَلۡنَا فِی الۡاَرۡضِ رَوَاسِیَ اَنۡ تَمِیۡدَ بِہِمۡ ۪ وَ جَعَلۡنَا فِیۡہَا فِجَاجًا سُبُلًا لَّعَلَّہُمۡ یَہۡتَدُوۡنَ ﴿۳۱﴾

21:31 And We made firm mountains in the earth in case it should quake with them, and We made in it wide ways that they might follow a right direction.3

وَ جَعَلۡنَا السَّمَآءَ سَقۡفًا مَّحۡفُوۡظًا ۚۖ وَّ ہُمۡ عَنۡ اٰیٰتِہَا مُعۡرِضُوۡنَ ﴿۳۲﴾

21:32 And We have made the heaven a guarded canopy; yet they turn away from its signs.4

وَ ہُوَ الَّذِیۡ خَلَقَ الَّیۡلَ وَ النَّہَارَ وَ الشَّمۡسَ وَ الۡقَمَرَ ؕ کُلٌّ فِیۡ فَلَکٍ یَّسۡبَحُوۡنَ ﴿۳۳﴾

21:33 And He it is Who created the night and the day and the sun and the moon. All float in orbits.

وَ مَا جَعَلۡنَا لِبَشَرٍ مِّنۡ قَبۡلِکَ الۡخُلۡدَ ؕ اَفَا۠ئِنۡ مِّتَّ فَہُمُ الۡخٰلِدُوۡنَ ﴿۳۴﴾

21:34 And We did not grant living forever to any mortal before you. If you die, will they live forever?

کُلُّ نَفۡسٍ ذَآئِقَۃُ الۡمَوۡتِ ؕ وَ نَبۡلُوۡکُمۡ بِالشَّرِّ وَ الۡخَیۡرِ فِتۡنَۃً ؕ وَ اِلَیۡنَا تُرۡجَعُوۡنَ ﴿۳۵﴾

21:35 Every soul must taste of death. And We test you by evil and good by way of trial. And to Us you are returned.5

وَ اِذَا رَاٰکَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡۤا اِنۡ یَّتَّخِذُوۡنَکَ اِلَّا ہُزُوًا ؕ اَہٰذَا الَّذِیۡ یَذۡکُرُ اٰلِہَتَکُمۡ ۚ وَ ہُمۡ بِذِکۡرِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ ہُمۡ کٰفِرُوۡنَ ﴿۳۶﴾

21:36 And when those who disbelieve see you, they treat you only with mockery: Is this he who speaks of your gods? And they deny when the Beneficent God is mentioned.6

خُلِقَ الۡاِنۡسَانُ مِنۡ عَجَلٍ ؕ سَاُورِیۡکُمۡ اٰیٰتِیۡ فَلَا تَسۡتَعۡجِلُوۡنِ ﴿۳۷﴾

21:37 Man is created of haste.7 Soon will I show you My signs, so ask Me not to hasten them.

وَ یَقُوۡلُوۡنَ مَتٰی ہٰذَا الۡوَعۡدُ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ صٰدِقِیۡنَ ﴿۳۸﴾

21:38 And they say: When will this promise come to pass, if you are truthful?8

لَوۡ یَعۡلَمُ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا حِیۡنَ لَا یَکُفُّوۡنَ عَنۡ وُّجُوۡہِہِمُ النَّارَ وَ لَا عَنۡ ظُہُوۡرِہِمۡ وَ لَا ہُمۡ یُنۡصَرُوۡنَ ﴿۳۹﴾

21:39 If those who disbelieve only knew the time when they will not be able to ward off the fire from their faces, nor from their backs, and they will not be helped!

بَلۡ تَاۡتِیۡہِمۡ بَغۡتَۃً فَتَبۡہَتُہُمۡ فَلَا یَسۡتَطِیۡعُوۡنَ رَدَّہَا وَ لَا ہُمۡ یُنۡظَرُوۡنَ ﴿۴۰﴾

21:40 Indeed, it will come to them all of a sudden and stun them, so they will not have the power to avert it, nor will they be given respite.

وَ لَقَدِ اسۡتُہۡزِئَ بِرُسُلٍ مِّنۡ قَبۡلِکَ فَحَاقَ بِالَّذِیۡنَ سَخِرُوۡا مِنۡہُمۡ مَّا کَانُوۡا بِہٖ یَسۡتَہۡزِءُوۡنَ ﴿٪۴۱﴾

21:41 And messengers before you were indeed mocked, but that which they mocked at befell those of them who scoffed.9


  1. The heavens and the earth may stand here for the whole universe, or for the solar system in particular, which has developed out of a nebular mass, and the separation may refer to the starry creation or to the throwing off of the planets of the solar system, and the great symmetry of its arrangement and the motions of the various bodies. There is a reference to the orbits of the various planets further on in v. 33. But there may also be a deeper allusion in the closing up of the heavens and the earth to the cessation of Divine revelation for a time before the advent of the Holy Prophet, which was marked by the absence of a prophet in the world for six hundred years and the prevalence of corruption all over the world. The opening up of the heavens and the earth would in this case signify the coming of revelation, which brought life to the world. In physical nature too, rain opens up the earth.
  2. While this statement reveals a remarkable truth in the physical world, a truth which science has established only recently, that water is the source of all life, it draws attention to the equally remarkable spiritual truth that it is only by Divine revelation, which is again and again compared with water in the Quran, that life is given to a world otherwise dead in sin and corruption.
  3. See 16:15 and footnote. The first part of the verse may also be trans­la­ted as We made firm mountains in the earth that they might be a source of benefit to you. Compare 79:32–33. In the latter part there may be a deeper reference to the ways pointed out by prophets among every nation.
  4. Arabia had its spiritualists, astrologers and diviners who pretended to have access to the secrets of heaven; see 67:5. They are told that they cannot have any such access. Or, the meaning is that revelation from God (called here heaven) is guarded against all attacks.
  5. They were afflicted with small evils, and the removal of these again brought to them a turn of good events. All this was by way of trial; the greater punishment, which was to bring about the final overthrow of their power, was yet in store for them.
  6. The Arabs would not call Allah by the name al-Raḥmān (see also 17:110 and 25:60); hence the Beneficent God is here spoken of in contrast with the idols.
  7. So prominent is the characteristic of haste in man that he may be said to have been created, as it were, of haste.
  8. The particular sign which they again and again demanded was that a destructive punishment like that which overtook former people should overtake them.
  9. The rejectors of truth have always scoffed at the idea of being punish­ed. This and the two preceding verses assert in the most forcible words that Truth will finally triumph.