English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 37: Al-Saffat — Those Ranging in Ranks (Revealed at Makkah: 5 sections, 182 verses)

Section 1 (Verses 37:1–37:21): Unity will Prevail


بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

وَ الصّٰٓفّٰتِ صَفًّا ۙ﴿۱﴾

37:1 By those ranging in ranks,1

فَالزّٰجِرٰتِ زَجۡرًا ۙ﴿۲﴾

37:2 and those who restrain holding in restraint,

فَالتّٰلِیٰتِ ذِکۡرًا ۙ﴿۳﴾

37:3 and those who recite the Reminder,

اِنَّ اِلٰـہَکُمۡ لَوَاحِدٌ ﴿ؕ۴﴾

37:4 surely your God is One.

رَبُّ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ وَ مَا بَیۡنَہُمَا وَ رَبُّ الۡمَشَارِقِ ؕ﴿۵﴾

37:5 The Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, and the Lord of the eastern lands.2

اِنَّا زَیَّنَّا السَّمَآءَ الدُّنۡیَا بِزِیۡنَۃِۣ الۡکَوَاکِبِ ۙ﴿۶﴾

37:6 Surely We have adorned the lower heaven with an adornment, the stars,

وَ حِفۡظًا مِّنۡ کُلِّ شَیۡطٰنٍ مَّارِدٍ ۚ﴿۷﴾

37:7 and (there is) a safeguard against every rebellious devil.3

لَا یَسَّمَّعُوۡنَ اِلَی الۡمَلَاِ الۡاَعۡلٰی وَ یُقۡذَفُوۡنَ مِنۡ کُلِّ جَانِبٍ ٭ۖ﴿۸﴾

37:8 They cannot listen to the exalted assembly and they are reproached from every side,4

دُحُوۡرًا وَّ لَہُمۡ عَذَابٌ وَّاصِبٌ ۙ﴿۹﴾

37:9 driven off;5 and for them is a perpetual punishment,

اِلَّا مَنۡ خَطِفَ الۡخَطۡفَۃَ فَاَتۡبَعَہٗ شِہَابٌ ثَاقِبٌ ﴿۱۰﴾

37:10 except him who snatches away but once, then there follows him a brightly shining flame.6

فَاسۡتَفۡتِہِمۡ اَہُمۡ اَشَدُّ خَلۡقًا اَمۡ مَّنۡ خَلَقۡنَا ؕ اِنَّا خَلَقۡنٰہُمۡ مِّنۡ طِیۡنٍ لَّازِبٍ ﴿۱۱﴾

37:11 So ask them whether they are stronger in creation or those (others) whom We have created. Surely We created them of firm clay.7

بَلۡ عَجِبۡتَ وَ یَسۡخَرُوۡنَ ﴿۪۱۲﴾

37:12 But you wonder, while they mock,

وَ اِذَا ذُکِّرُوۡا لَا یَذۡکُرُوۡنَ ﴿۪۱۳﴾

37:13 and when they are reminded, they are not mindful,

وَ اِذَا رَاَوۡا اٰیَۃً یَّسۡتَسۡخِرُوۡنَ ﴿۪۱۴﴾

37:14 and when they see a sign, they seek to scoff,

وَ قَالُوۡۤا اِنۡ ہٰذَاۤ اِلَّا سِحۡرٌ مُّبِیۡنٌ ﴿ۚۖ۱۵﴾

37:15 and say: This is nothing but clear enchantment.

ءَ اِذَا مِتۡنَا وَ کُنَّا تُرَابًا وَّ عِظَامًا ءَاِنَّا لَمَبۡعُوۡثُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۱۶﴾

37:16 When we are dead and have become dust and bones, shall we then be raised,

اَوَ اٰبَآؤُنَا الۡاَوَّلُوۡنَ ﴿ؕ۱۷﴾

37:17 or our forefathers?

قُلۡ نَعَمۡ وَ اَنۡتُمۡ دَاخِرُوۡنَ ﴿ۚ۱۸﴾

37:18 Say: Yes indeed, and you will be humiliated.8

فَاِنَّمَا ہِیَ زَجۡرَۃٌ وَّاحِدَۃٌ فَاِذَا ہُمۡ یَنۡظُرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۹﴾

37:19 So it will be but one cry, when lo! they will see.

وَ قَالُوۡا یٰوَیۡلَنَا ہٰذَا یَوۡمُ الدِّیۡنِ ﴿۲۰﴾

37:20 And they will say: O woe to us! This is the day of Recompense.

ہٰذَا یَوۡمُ الۡفَصۡلِ الَّذِیۡ کُنۡتُمۡ بِہٖ تُکَذِّبُوۡنَ ﴿٪۲۱﴾

37:21 This is the day of Judgment, which you called a lie.


  1. The wāw, which means and, is in such places rendered as by, and signi­fies an oath. In such cases the oath simply draws attention to a certain testimony. The real object in taking an oath is to make an assertion more convin­cing, but in the Quran, when such a form is adopted, the conviction is produced not by mere allegation, but by some clear argument. Sometimes attention is called in these oaths to obvious laws of nature to infer spiritual laws from them, and on other occasions the oath reveals a kind of prophecy, whose fulfilment makes the truth of the preaching of the Prophet to be obvious. The latter is the case here. The description given in verses 1–3 applies to the believers. V.1 shows them as ranging themselves in ranks, or praying to God standing in ranks, which Mus­lims do five times daily in their prayers in congregation, and may pro­pheti­cally refer to their subsequent ranging themselves in ranks in the field of battle against their enemies. V. 2 describes them as holding in restraint their passions, so that a people who were ruled by their passions or their sensual desires were so entirely changed that they became complete masters of their passions. The words may also contain a prophecy to their holding in restraint a powerful enemy bent upon their extirpation. V. 3 makes it clear that only Muslims are described here: those who recite the Reminder. It is a special characteristic of the Muslims that they recite the Quran in their prayers, so much so that even their armies in the field of battle are regular in their prayers, in which they recite the Quran. And the great Truth that is thus established is Divine Unity — surely your God is One.
  2. The reference to the eastern lands is a prophecy of the early spread of Islam in the East, while Islam’s conquests in the West seem to have been reserved for a later age.
  3. The Prophet’s preaching was confronted by a twofold opposition among the Arabsthe secular classes and the priestly class, i.e., the diviners and the soothsayers, the class known as Kāhin. It is these soothsayers who are called the rebellious devils, because they thought that they could invoke spirits and answer questions put to them relating to the future. This phase of opposition was equally swept away by the forceful tide of Islamic truth, and the profession of the Kāhin disappeared from Arabia as Islam advanced. The mention of heaven and stars in the previous verse refers to the popular superstition that the diviners and soothsayers obtained their knowledge of the future from the stars. The safeguard against every rebellious devil indicates that they have no access to Divine secrets; see further 52:38 and 72:8.
  4. The reference here is to the conjectures of the soothsayers regarding the future, by which they maintained their ascendancy over the masses. It is pointed out that they have no access whatever to the source of prophecy. The exalted assembly signifies those angels to whom Divine revelation is first made known. Or, the reference may be to the secular opponents of the Prophet, who, it is here foretold, would be thrown at from every side, so that success could not attend any of their efforts.
  5. This verse and those preceding it describe the state of the soothsayers at the advent of the Prophet. Before the advent of the Holy Prophet, the sooth­sayers may have been able to mislead the people to a certain extent by their guesses regarding future events, but after his advent they were reproached on every side, and ultimately the profession of the kahin disappeared from Arabia, as shown in the footnote to v. 7. Or, the reference may be to the overthrow of ordinary opposition.
  6. The meaning is that, if a soothsayer gets but one opportunity, there soon follows a flame that pierces through the darkness; in other words, dispels the darkness to which the soothsayer leads people.
  7. Those created of firm clay are the spiritually perfect men, the Prophet and his followers. The verse points to the opposition of the soothsayers to the Prophet, and warns the former that the Prophet will be triumphant, because he is made perfect by Allah’s hand.
  8. That is, you will not only be raised after death to taste of your evil deeds, but even here you will be brought low. This is again a prophecy of the defeat of the enemy in this very life.