Originally Posted by Thinker
one reason why the commentary is necessary is that the Quraan was revealed in speech form so when it was written down as a book, explanation was necessary to understand it. You also need to know the background as well as islamic meanings to terms such as salah, etc. for example, in the verse you quoted before, a person who doesn't know much about islam would not understand the verse without the words in brackets.
And who believe in (the Qur'an and the Sunnah) which has been sent down (revealed) to you (Muhammad Peace be upon him) and in [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel), etc.] which were sent down before you and they believe with certainty in the Hereafter. (Resurrection, recompense of their good and bad deeds, Paradise and Hell, etc.).
A person reading the Quraan for the first time might ask the following questions: what has been sent down? How was it sent down? to whom was it sent down? what was sent down before it which we have to believe in also? what is the Hereafter? What will happen in the Hereafter? So the words in brackets help clarify those questions.
Here is an example of commentary:
Note: it is a miracle of the Quraan that if you have a question in your mind or need some particular statement, when reading the Quraan, you will find what you are looking for right away even without searching! I wanted to post an example of tafseer but also wanted something for atheists although didn’t know where in the Quraan I could find such material. So, praying that Allah would help me find it, I randomly opened a volume of tafseer to the middle, and after turning a few pages, came to this Surah. Since it has statements of the signs of Allah, I decided to post from this Surah. As I typed, I was surprised at the statement in the commentary to verse 2, which has material for atheists.
By Saeed Abu Al A’la Maududi
بســـم الله الـرحـمـن الـرحـيــم
This Surah takes its name from the word الرعد (Al-Ra’ad) (thunder) that occurs in verse 13. It is merely the symbolic name of the Surah and does not in any way mean that the Surah deals with the scientific problems connected with thunder.
Period of Revelation:
The internal evidence (verses 27 – 31 and verses 34 – 48) shows that this Surah was revealed in the last stage of the Mission of the Holy Prophet at Makkah and during the same period in which Surahs Yunus, Hud, and Al-A’raf were sent down. The manner of speech indicates that a long time had passed since the Holy Prophet had been conveying the Message. On the one hand, his opponents had been contriving different devices to defeat him and his Mission, and, on the other, his followers had been expressing a desire that by showing a miracle the disbelievers might be brought to the Right Way. In answer, Allah impressed upon the Believers that it is not His way to convert people by this method and that they should not lose heart, if He is giving the enemies of the Truth a rope long enough to hand themselves. Otherwise, He is able to show such signs as may bring the dead out of their graves and make them speak (verse 31), but even then these obdurate people will invent an excuse to explain this away. All this decisive evidence clearly proves that this Surah was revealed during the last stage of the Prophet’s Mission at Makkah.
The first verse enunciates the main theme of this Surah, that is, “the Message of Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him) is the very Truth, but it is the fault of the people that they are rejecting it.” This is the pivot on which the whole Surah turns. This is why it has been shown over and over again in different ways that the basic components of the Message – Tauhid, Ressurrection, and Prophethood – are a reality: therefore they should believe sincerely in these for their own moral and spiritual good. They have been warned that they shall incur their own ruin if they reject them, for kufr by itself is sheer folly and ignorance. Moreover, the aim of the Surah is not merely to satisfy the minds but also to appeal to the hearts to accept the Faith. Therefore it des not merely put forward logical arguments in support of the truth of the Message and against the peoples wrong nothions, but at appropriate intervals it makes frequent use of sympathetic and earnest appeals to win over their hearts by warning them of the consequences of kufr and by holding out the happy rewards of Faith so that the foolish people should give up their obduracy.
Besides this, the objections of the opponents have been answered without any mention of them, and those doubts which are proving a hindrance in the way of the Message or were being created by the opponents have been removed. At the same time, the Believers, who had been passing through a long and hard ordeal and were feeling tired, and writing anxiously for Allah’s succor, have been comforted and filled with hope and courage.
(Verses 1 to 5 with commentary)
1. Alif. Lam. Mim. Ra. These are the verses of the Divine Book; and that which has been sent down to you from your Lord is the very truth, but most (of your) people do not believe in this.
This is the introduction to this Surah, in which its aim and object has been enunciated in a few words. Allah has addressed the Holy Prophet to this effect: “O Prophet! Most of your people are rejecting the teachings of the Quraan for one reason or another, but the fact is that what We are sending down to you is the Truth whether people believe it or not.”
After this brief introduction, the discourse deals with the main subject of the Surah, which consists of three basic things. First, “the whole of the universe belongs to Allah alone, and none besides Him has any right to service and worship.” Second, “there is another life after this life, in which you shall have to render an account of all your actions.” Third, “I am a Messenger of Allah. Whatever I am presenting before you is not from myself but from Allah.” As the people were rejecting these three things, these have been reiterated over and over again in various forms to remove doubts and objections from the minds of the disbelievers.
2. It is Allah Who raised up the heavens without such pillars as you could see.
In other words, “Allah keeps the myriads of heavenly bodies in space without any visible and perceptible support.” Though there is nothing apparent and visible that is supporting these bodies, yet there is an invariable and imperceptible Power which is not only holding and keeping each and everyone of these huge bodies, including the earth we inhabit, in their proper places and orbits but also does not let any collision take place between them.
Then He sat Himself upon the Throne of His Kingdom.
For fuller details of “He sat Himself on the Throne of His Kingdom,” please refer to explanatory note 41 of Surah Al-A’raf. Here the purpose will be served if it is understood that this thing has been mentioned in the Quraan at many places in order to bring out clearly the fact that Allah has not only created the earth, but also rules over His Kingdom, and that His universe is a factory that is not working automatically as some ignorant people seem to thing nor is it being ruled by many gods as other ignorant people seem to believe. But it is a regular system that is being run and ruled over by its Creator.
He subjected the sun and the moon to a law.
It should be noted here that the addressees themselves accepted the truth of all the claims that have been made in this verse. Therefore, no proofs were required of the facts that it is Allah Who raised up the heavens without any visible support and subjected the sun and the moon to a fixed order. These things have been mentioned here only as arguments to prove that Allah is the sole Sovereign and ruler of the whole universe.
Now let us consider the question: How can such an argument as this convince those who do not believe at all in the existence of God nor acknowledge that He is the Creator of the universe and the Director of all its affairs? The answer is that the arguments in support of the Doctrine of Tauhid advanced in the Quran to convince the mushriks equally apply against the atheists to prove the existence of God. It is like this: The whole of the universe – the earth, the moon, the sun, and the countless heavenly bodies – constitute a perfect system which is working under the same all-powerful law. This is a proof that such a system must have been designed by some All-Powerful Sovereign, Who possesses wisdom and unerring knowledge. This proves conclusively the existence of that Allah who has no other equal nor associate nor partner. For there can be no system without an administrator, no law without a ruler, no wisdom without a sage, and no knowledge without the possessor of that knowledge. Above all, no one can ever conceive that there can be any creation without a Creator except the one who is obdurate (obstinate, stubborn) or has no sense left in him at all.
Everything in the universe is running its course to its fixed term.
This system is not only a standing proof of the fact that an All-Powerful Sovereign is ruling over it, but is also an evidence of the great wisdom underlying it; it also bears witness that there is nothing everlasting in it. Everything in it remains for a fixed term after which it comes to an end. This is equally true for each and every component part of it as well as for the whole system. It is quite evident from its physical structure that there is nothing everlasting and immortal. There must be some fixed term for the system as a whole, after the expiry of which it shall come to an end. Then there shall be another world. Therefore it is most likely that there shall be Resurrection as predicted in the Quran. Nay, its inevitability is beyond any doubt.
And Allah alone is directing the whole affair. He makes His Signs plain;
Allah makes plain those Signs which help prove the truth of what the Holy Prophet was informing them. These Signs are spread all over the universe and everyone who observes these with open eyes can perceive that the realities towards which the Quraan invites the people are testified by these Signs.
perhaps you may be convinced of meeting your Lord.
The preceding Signs have been cited to prove two things: First, the universe has only one Creator and Administrator. Second, there shall be life in the Hereafter in which everyone shall be judged in the Divine Court and awarded rewards and punishments on merit. As the first thing was quite obvious, it has not been mentioned in the conclusion drawn from the Signs. But the second thing, life in the Hereafter, has been mentioned because that was rather hidden from perception. Therefore, it has specifically been stated that these Signs have been made plain in order “to convince you that you shall meet your Lord in the Hereafter and render an account of all your actions in this world.”
Now let us consider how these Signs help prove life in the Hereafter. These make it evident in two ways:
1) When we consider how the big heavenly bodies as the sun and the moon are completely subject to the will of Allah, our hearts feel convinced that Allah, Who has created these things and regulated their movements so orderly around their orbits, has undoubtedly the power to bring to life the whole human race after its death.
2) The terrestrial system also proves that its Creator is All-Wise. Therefore it can never be imagined that the All-Wise Creator could have created man and endowed him with wisdom and intelligence and invested him with power and authority, and then left him free to do what he liked with these, without being responsible and accountable for their use or abuse. For His Wisdom demands that He should take full account of all the acts and deeds of man in this world. It requires that He should take to task those who committed aggressions and compensate their victims and He should give rewards to those who practiced virtue, and punishments to those who did wicked deeds. In short, His Wisdom requires that He should call to account every human being and demand: “How did you carry out the trust that was placed in your hands in the shape of your wonderful body with its wonderful faculties and the numerous resources of the earth?” It may be that a foolish and unjust ruler of this world might entrust the affairs of his kingdom in the hands of his agents and them forget to call them to account, but such a thing can never be expected from the All-Wise and All-Knowing Allah.
It is this way of observing and considering the heavenly bodies that can convince us that life in the Hereafter is both possible and inevitable.
3. And it is He Who has spread out the earth, and fixed the immovable mountains in it, and made the rivers flow on it. He has created in pairs every kind of fruit, and He covers the day with the veil of night.
After citing some heavenly Signs in support of the doctrines of Tauhid and the Hereafter, a few Signs are being cited from the earth for the same purpose. Briefly, the following are the arguments for Tauhid, Resurrection, and accountability:
1) Tauhid: The fact that the earth is closely connected with the heavenly bodies (which help create life on it), and the fact that the mountains and the rivers are so inter-related with that life are clear proofs that all these things have not been created by separate and different gods nor are being governed by gods with independent powers and authorities. Had it been so, there could not have been so much harmony, congruity, accord, and unity of purpose among them; nor could these relationships have continued for such a long time. For it is quite obvious that if there had not been One All-Powerful and All-Wise Allah, it could not have been possible and practicable for different gods to sit together and evolve out such a harmonious system of the universe without any discord or conflict between its myriads of bodies.
2) Resurrection: This wonderful planet, the earth, is itself a great proof that its Creator is All-Powerful and can, therefore, raise the dead whenever He wills. For it is floating in space around the sun and it has high mountains fixed in it and has large rivers flowing on its surface; it produces countless fruit-bearing trees and it brings about the cycles of the day and the night with precise regularity.
All these things bear witness to the boundless power of its Creator. It would, therefore, be sheer folly to doubt that such All-powerful Creator is incapable of raising mankind to life after death.
3) Accountability: The earth, with all its wonderful and purposeful signs, is a clear evidence of the fact that its Creator is All-Wise. Therefore it cannot even be imagined that He has created man, His noblest creation, without any purpose. Just as His wisdom is apparent from the structure of the earth, its mountains, its rivers, the pairs of its trees and fruits, its night and day, so it is quite obvious that it has not been made the habitation of man without any purpose, nor will it be brought to naught without the fulfillment of that purpose. Clearly mankind shall be accountable to its Creator for the fulfillment of that Divine purpose.
Surely there are great Signs in these for those who reflect.
4. And behold! There are different regions on the earth close to one another;
That is, “If you observe carefully, you will find Divine wisdom, design, and purpose in the diversity of the structure of the earth. Though it has countless regions adjoining one another, they are different from one another in their shapes, colors, component parts, characteristics, potentialities, productive capacity, and source of minerals. This diversity has countless points of wisdom and advantage. Let alone other creatures, if we consider the diversity of regions from the point of the good it has done to mankind, we shall have to acknowledge that this is the result of the well-thought and well-planned design of the all-Wise Creator. For this diversity has helped the growth of human civilization so much that only an unreasonable person can assign this to mere accident.
there are vineyards, corn fields and groves of date-palm with single or double trunk.
Some of the date-palm trees have only a single trunk from the root while others have two or more stems from the same root.
All are irrigated with the same water, but We make some more tasteful than others. Most surely, there are many signs in all these things for those who use their common sense.
The things mentioned in this verse contain many other Signs besides the proofs of Tauhid and the boundless powers and All-Comprehensive Wisdom of Allah. Let us consider one of these, that is the diversity in the universe, including mankind. There is the one and the same earth but all its regions are quite different from one another. Then there is the one and the same water but it helps to produce different kinds of corn and fruits. Then one and the same tree bears fruit which, in spite of likeness, differs from one another in shapes, sizes, and other features. Then there is one and the same root from which sometimes one and at other times two trunks sprout up, with their own different characteristics. If one considers these aspects of diversity, one shall come to the conclusion that the Divine wisdom demands the same kind of diversity in the natures, temperaments, and inclinations of human beings and, therefore, in their conducts. So, one need not worry about the existence of this diversity. As has been stated in verse 31, if Allah had willed, He could have created all human beings alike and virtuous by birth. But the wisdom that underlies the creation of the universe, including mankind, requires diversity and not uniformity. Otherwise, all this creation would have become meaningless.
5. Now if there is anything for you to marvel at, you should marvel at their saying: “What! When we have become dust, shall we then be raised to a new life again?” These are the people who have denied their Lord;
They “have denied their Lord:” their denial of the Hereafter is, in fact, the denial of the Power and Wisdom of Allah. As they say that it is impossible to bring them again to life after their death, it implies that, God forbid, their Allah, who has created them, lacks not only power but wisdom too.
they are those who shall have collars around their necks;
As a collar around the neck is a symbol of imprisonment, the words “collars around their necks” have been used here idiomatically to show that they are slaves of ignorance, obduracy, lust, and are blind followers of their forefathers. As their thinking is influenced by their prejudices, they cannot believe in the Hereafter and would deny this, though there is every reason to believe that it is inevitable.
they shall be the dwellers of Hell and therein they shall dwell forever.