English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 29: Al-Ankabut — The Spider (Revealed at Makkah: 7 sections, 69 verses)

Section 5 (Verses 29:45–29:51): The Quran is a Purifier

Translation:

Part 2129:45 Recite what has been revealed to you of the Book and keep up prayer. Surely prayer keeps (one) away from indecency and evil; and certainly the remembrance of Allah is the greatest (force). And Allah knows what you do.1
29:46 And do not argue with the People of the Book except by what is best,2 save such of them as act unjustly.3 But say: We believe in what has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our God and your God is One, and to Him we submit.
29:47 And thus have We revealed the Book to you.4 So those whom We have given the Book believe in it, and some of these5 (also) believe in it; and none deny Our messages except the disbelievers.
29:48 And you did not recite before it any book, nor did you transcribe one with your right hand, for then could the liars have doubted.6
29:49 Rather, it is clear messages in the hearts of those who are granted knowledge.7 And none deny Our messages except the wrongdoers.
29:50 And they say: Why are not signs sent down upon him from his Lord? Say: Signs are with Allah only, and I am only a plain warner.8
29:51 Is it not enough for them that We have revealed to you the Book which is recited to them? Surely there is mercy in this and a reminder for a people who believe.9

Commentary:

  1. This verse invites the followers of all religions to accept the Quran on account of its purifying effect upon life, as the previous scriptures had ceased to effect deliverance from the bondage of sin. The verse also lays down the right principle for getting rid of the bondage of sin in the words the remembrance of Allah is the greatest, i.e., the most powerful and effective restraint upon sin. It is a living belief in the Divine power, knowledge, and goodness that restrains people from walking in the ways of His displeasure. The recitation of the Book, the keeping up of prayer, and the remembrance of Allah are really identical; for the Quran is recited in prayers, and the Quran is the best means of the remembrance of Allah. The Quran is pre-eminently a Book that manifests the glory, greatness, grandeur, goodness, love, purity, power, and knowledge of the Supreme Being. While, as generally understood, by the remem­b­­rance of Allah is meant His glorification and praise in prayer, it is also here meant Allah’s remembrance of man or His raising him to a place of eminence. Thus the significance would be that through prayer to God, not only is man freed from the bondage of sin, but (which is greater than this) he is raised to a place of higher eminence.
  2. The Quran here explains that it is the broad principles of religion that should demand paramount consideration. The fundamental principle of reli­gion is that God exists and that He reveals Himself to man, and it is common to all revealed religions. The only difference is that a Muslim’s is a purer mono­theism, a conception of the Divine Being which gives the most perfect attributes to Him while declaring Him to be free from all imperfections and weak­nesses, a concep­tion which cannot reasonably be criticized by anyone who admits a belief in a Supreme Being. A Muslim’s conception of Divine revelation is wider than that of the follower of any other religion, recognizing, as it does, that Divine reve­lation is granted in all ages and to all nations. A Muslim, therefore, admits the truth of all the prophets and revelations, and the follower of any other religion has nothing to lose but everything to gain by accepting Islam.
  3. The words “save such of them as act unjustly” do not mean that contro­versy is to be carried on with these in a different manner, but that the unjust would not accept this reasonable interpretation of the principles of religion. This is made clear in the verse that follows.
  4. And thus have We revealed the Book; that is, by confirming the truth of all previous revelation.
  5. The word these refers to Arabs, who possessed no sacred scriptures.
  6. The broad principles of religion and the beautiful moral and spiritual truths which find expression in the Quran could not have been collected, if such a collection by human exertion were possible, except by one who had knowledge of all the previous scriptures; but the Holy Prophet had not read even a single book. He could neither read nor write, and his inability to do either is thus a confir­mation of his truth. Leaving aside all the principles and truths, if we consider the broad principles that Islam taught with regard to the truth of Divine revelation in all ages and to all nations, a truth never taught or recognized before the Holy Prophet, it is remarkable that such a broad truth should have been preached by one who had never read the scriptures of any religion and who lived in a country which was almost cut off from all communication with other countries. See also 7:157 footnote 1.
  7. The Quran contains not only truths which are met with in previous scriptures, but also others which are not to be found in any scripture, and which are only in the hearts of the learned ones, or those that may ever be conceived by the learned ones.
  8. The Prophet is a warner, and gives warning in due time that the signs are with Allah, Whose power to send these signs they deny. Read also in this connection verses 53–55, which uphold the coming of the punishment, leaving no doubt as to the meaning of signs being with Allah.
  9. This is another reply to those who demanded signs. The Quran is a mercy, if they would only accept it. They could see how the believers had bene­fited by it; how a wonderful transformation had been wrought in their lives. Indeed, this was direct evidence of the truth of the Holy Word, for to effect a pure transformation in the lives of those who would follow it was its avowed object, while the overthrow of its enemies was only an indirect testimony.

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