Sura XXXVII — The Ranks

by Rev. G. Margoliouth, M.A.

Mecca — 182 Verses

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

By the angels ranged in order for Songs of Praise,

And by those who repel demons,[171]

And by those who recite the Koran for warning,

Truly your God is but one,

Lord of the Heavens and of the Earth, and of all that is between them, and Lord of the East.[172]

We have adorned the lower heaven with the adornment of the stars.

They serve also as a guard against every rebellious Satan,

That they overhear not what passeth in the assembly on high, for they are darted at from every side,[173]

Driven off and consigned to a lasting torment;

While, if one steal a word by stealth, a glistening flame pursueth him.

Ask the Meccans then, Are they, or the angels whom we have made, the stronger creation? Aye, of coarse clay have we created them.

But while thou marvellest they mock;

When they are warned, no warning do they take;

And when they see a sign, they fall to mocking,

And say, "This is no other than clear sorcery:

What! when dead, and turned to dust and bones, shall we indeed be raised?

Our sires also of olden times?"

Say, Yes; and ye shall be covered with disgrace.

For, one blast only, and lo! they shall gaze around them, And shall say, "Oh! woe to us! this is the day of reckoning; This is the day of decision which ye gainsaid as an untruth."

Gather together those who have acted unjustly, and their consorts,[174] and the gods whom they adored

Beside God; and guide them to the road for Hell.

Set them forth: they shall be questioned.

"How now, that ye help not one another?"

But on this day they shall submit themselves to God,

And shall address one another with mutual reproaches.

They shall say, "In sooth, ye came to us in well-omened sort:"[175]

But they will answer, "Nay, it was ye who would not believe; and we had no power whatever over you. Nay, ye were people given to transgress;

Just, therefore, is the doom which our Lord hath passed upon us.[176] We shall surely taste it:

We made you err, for we had erred ourselves."

Partners therefore shall they be in punishment on that day.

Truly, thus will we deal with the wicked,

Because when it was said to them, There is no God but God, they swelled with pride,

And said, "Shall we then abandon our gods for a crazed poet?"

Nay, he cometh with truth and confirmeth the Sent Ones of old.

Ye shall surely taste the painful punishment,

And ye shall not be rewarded but as ye have wrought,

Save the sincere servants of God!

A stated banquet shall they have

Of fruits; and honoured shall they be

In the gardens of delight,

Upon couches face to face.

A cup shall be borne round among them from a fountain,

Limpid, delicious to those who drink;

It shall not oppress the sense, nor shall they therewith be drunken.

And with them are the large-eyed ones with modest refraining glances, fair like the sheltered egg.[177]

And they shall address one another with mutual questions.

Saith one of them, "I truly had a bosom friend,

Who said, 'Art thou of those who credit it?

What! when we shall have died, and become dust and bones, shall we indeed be judged?"'

He shall say to those around him, "Will ye look?"

And he shall look and see him in the midst of Hell.

And he shall say to him, "By God, thou hadst almost caused me to perish;

And, but for the favour of my Lord, I had surely been of those who have been brought with thee into torment."

"But do we not die," say the blessed,

"Any other than our first death? and have we escaped the torment?"[178]

This truly is the great felicity!

For the like of this should the travailers travail!

Is this the better repast or the tree Ez-zakkoum?

Verily, we have made it for a subject of discord to the wicked.

It is a tree which cometh up from the bottom of hell;

Its fruits is as it were the heads of Satans;

And, lo! the damned shall surely eat of it and fill their bellies with it:

Then shall they have, thereon, a mixture of boiling water:

Then shall they return to hell.

They found their fathers erring,

And they hastened on in their footsteps.

Also before them the greater number of the ancients had erred.

Though we had sent warners among them.

But see what was the end of these warned ones,

Except of God's true servants.

Noah called on us of old, and right prompt were we to hear him,[179]

And we saved him and his family out of the great distress,

And we made his offspring the survivors;

And we left for him with posterity,

"Peace be on Noah throughout the worlds!"

Thus do we reward the well-doers,

For he was one of our believing servants;—

And the rest we drowned.

And truly, of his faith was Abraham,

When he brought to his Lord a perfect heart,

When he said to his father and to his people, "What is this ye worship?

Prefer ye with falsehood gods to God?

And what deem ye of the Lord of the worlds?"

So gazing he gazed towards the stars,

And said, "In sooth I am ill:[180]

And they turned their back on him and departed.

He went aside to their gods and said, "Do ye not eat?

What aileth you that ye do not speak?"

He broke out upon them, with the right hand striking:

When his tribesmen came back to him with hasty steps

He said, "Worship ye what ye carve,

When God hath created you, and that ye make?"

They said, "Build up a pyre for him and cast him into the glowing flame."

Fain would they plot against him, but we brought them low.

And he said, "Verily, I repair to my Lord who will guide me:

O Lord give me a son, of the righteous."

We announced to him a youth of meekness.

And when he became a full-grown youth,[181]

His father said to him, "My son, I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice thee; therefore, consider what thou seest right."

He said, "My father, do what thou art bidden; of the patient, if

God please, shalt thou find me."

And when they had surrendered them to the will of God, he laid him down upon his forehead:

We cried unto him, "O Abraham!

Now hast thou satisfied the vision." See how we recompense the righteous.

This was indeed a decisive test.

And we ransomed his son with a costly[182] victim,

And we left this[183] for him among posterity,

"PEACE BE ON ABRAHAM!"

Thus do we reward the well-doers,

For he was of our believing servants.

And we announced Isaac to him—a righteous Prophet—

And on him and on Isaac we bestowed our blessing. And among their offspring were well-doers, and others, to their own hurt undoubted sinners.

And of old,[184] to Moses and to Aaron shewed we favours:

And both of them, and their people, we rescued from the great distress:

And we succoured them, and they became the conquerors:

And we gave them (Moses and Aaron) each the lucid book:

And we guided them each into the right way:

And we left this for each among posterity,

"PEACE BE ON MOSES AND AARON."

Thus do we reward the well-doers,

For they were two of our believing servants.

And Elias truly was of our Sent Ones,

When he said to his people, "Fear ye not God?

Invoke ye Baal and forsake ye the most skilful Creator?

God is your Lord, and the Lord of your sires of old?"

But they treated him as a liar, and shall therefore be consigned to punishment,

Except God's faithful servants.

And we left this for him among posterity,

"PEACE BE ON ELIASIN!"[185]

Thus do we reward the well-doers,

For he was one of our believing servants.

And Lot truly was of our Sent Ones,

When we rescued him and all his family,

Save an aged woman among those who tarried.

Afterward we destroyed the others.

And ye indeed pass by their ruined dwellings at morn

And night: will ye not then reflect?

Jonas, too, was one of the Apostles,

When he fled unto the laden ship,

And lots were cast,[186] and he was doomed,

And the fish swallowed him, for he was blameworthy.

But had he not been of those who praise Us,

In its belly had he surely remained, till the day of resurrection.

And we cast him on the bare shore—and he was sick;—

And we caused a gourd-plant to grow up over him,

And we sent him to a hundred thousand persons, or even more,

And because they believed, we continued their enjoyments for a season.

Inquire then of the Meccans whether thy Lord hath daughters, and they, sons?

Have we created the angels females? and did they witness it?

Is it not a falsehood of their own devising, when they say,

"God hath begotten"? They are indeed liars.

Would he have preferred daughters to sons?

What reason have ye for thus judging?

Will ye not then receive this warning?

Have ye a clear proof for them?

Produce your Book if ye speak truth.

And they make him to be of kin with the Djinn: but the Djinn have long known that these idolaters shall be brought up before God.

Far be the glory of God from what they impute to him.

"His faithful servants do not thus.

Moreover, ye and what ye worship

Shall not stir up any against God,[187]

Save him who shall burn in Hell.

And verily each one of us hath his appointed place,

And we range ourselves in order,

And we celebrate His praises."[188]

And if those infidels say,

"Had we a revelation transmitted to us from those of old,[189]

We had surely been God's faithful servants."

Yet they believe not the Koran. But they shall know its truth at last.

Our word came of old to our servants the apostles,

That they should surely be the succoured,

And that our armies should procure the victory for them.

Turn aside therefore from them for a time,

And behold them, for they too shall in the end behold their doom.

Would they then hasten our vengeance?

But when it shall come down into their courts, an evil morning shall it be to those who have had their warning.

Turn aside from them therefore for a time.

And behold; for they too shall in the end behold their doom.

Far be the glory of thy Lord, the Lord of all greatness, from what they impute to him,

And peace be on his Apostles!

And praise be to God the Lord of the worlds.



[171] I have given in the text the sense of these first two verses according to the Muhammadan commentators. The original, literally translated, viz. By the ranks which rank themselves, and by the repellers who repel, would not convey an intelligible idea to the English reader. Mar. renders, Per ordinantes ordinando et agitantes agitando.

[172] Ar. Easts. Errat in pluralitate mundorum. Mar. But the allusion probably is to the different points of the horizon at which the sun rises and sets in the course of the year.

[173] See Sura [lvii.] xv. 18.

[174] Or, comrades, i.e. the demons.

[175] Lit. on the right hand, the side of good omen i.e. with semblance of truth.

[176] See Sura [lx.] xxxvi. 6.

[177] The ostrich egg carefully protected from dust.

[178] Lit. and are we not among the punished?

[179] Lit. et sane euge auditores. Mar.

[180] And therefore unable to assist at your sacrifices.

[181] Lit. cum igitur pervenisset cum eo ad ‘tatem cui competit operandi studium. Mar. Beidh. When he had attained to the age when he could work with him. Lane.

[182] Brought, says Rabbi Jehoshua, from Paradise by an angel. Midr. fol.

[183] This salutation.

[184] The Arabic particle which is here and elsewhere rendered of old (also, already, certainly) serves to mark the position of a past act or event as prior to the time present, and in all such passages merely gives a fulness and intensity to our perfect, or pluperfect tense.

[185] The form of this word is altered in the original for the sake of the rhyme.

[186] Lit. he cast lots (with the sailors).

[187] Nequequam vos ad illud colendum estis Seducturi. Mar.

[188] This verse and the six preceding are the words of the Angel.

[189] Compare verse 69.