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Quran Chapter 38 [part 1] - Sad - God Swears an Oath, David, Solomon and Job

This Meccan sura mentions previous prophets in support and encouragement for Muhammad, and makes a clear link between the arrogance displayed by the disbelievers of Mecca, previous generations, and Iblis, the original rebel. The first and last verses assert the truth and nobility of the Quran.

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

God Swears an Oath

1 Sad

By the Quran with its reminding . . .! [a] 2 Yet the disbelievers are steeped in arrogance and hostility. 3 How many generations We have destroyed before them! They all cried out, once it was too late, for escape. 4 The disbelievers think it strange that a prophet of their own people has come to warn them: they say, ‘He is just a lying sorcerer. 5 How can he claim that all the gods are but one God? What an astonishing thing [to claim]!’ 6 Their leaders depart, saying, ‘Walk away! Stay faithful to your gods! That is what you must do. 7 We did not hear any such claim in the last religion: [b] it is all an invention. 8 Was the message sent only to him out of all of us?’

In fact they doubt My warning; in fact they have not tasted My punishment yet. 9 Do they possess the treasures of your Lord’s bounty, the Mighty, the All Giving? 10 Do they control the heavens and earth and everything between? Let them climb their ropes:[c] 11 their armed alliance is weak and will be crushed. 12 The people of Noah, Ad, and firmly-supported [d] Pharaoh rejected their prophets before them. 13 Thamud, the people of Lot, and the Forest-Dwellers each formed opposition [against theirs]. 14 They all rejected the messengers and they were deservedly struck by My punishment: 15 all the disbelievers here are waiting for is a single blast that cannot be postponed. 16 They say, ‘Our Lord! Advance us our share of punishment before the Day of Reckoning!’ 17 Bear their words patiently [Prophet].


Remember Our servant David, a man of strength who always turned to Us:

18 We made the mountains join him in glorifying Us at sunset and sunrise; 19 and the birds, too, in flocks, all echoed his praise. 20 We strengthened his kingdom; We gave him wisdom and a decisive way of speaking. 21 Have you heard the story of the two litigants who climbed into his private quarters? 22 When they reached David, he took fright, but they said, ‘Do not be afraid. We are two litigants, one of whom has wronged the other: judge between us fairly– do not be unjust– and guide us to the right path. 23 This is my brother. He had ninety-nine ewes and I just the one, and he said, “Let me take charge of her,” and overpowered me with his words.’ 24 David said, ‘He has done you wrong by demanding to add your ewe to his flock. Many partners treat each other unfairly. Those who sincerely believe and do good deeds do not do this, but these are very few.’

[Then] David realized that We had been testing him, [e] so he asked his Lord for forgiveness, fell down on his knees, and repented: 25 We forgave him [his misdeed]. His reward will be nearness to Us, a good place to return to. 26 ‘David, We have given you mastery over the land. Judge fairly between people. Do not follow your desires, lest they divert you from God’s path: those who wander from His path will have a painful torment because they ignore the Day of Reckoning.’

27 It was not without purpose that We created the heavens and the earth and everything in between. That may be what the disbelievers assume– how they will suffer from the Fire!– 28 but would We treat those who believe and do good deeds and those who spread corruption on earth as equal? Would We treat those who are aware of God and those who recklessly break all bounds in the same way? 29 This is a blessed Scripture which We sent down to you [Muhammad], for people to think about its messages, and for those with understanding to take heed.

Solomon and Job

30 We gave David Solomon. He was an excellent servant who always turned to God. 31 When well-bred light-footed horses were paraded before him near the close of day, 32 he kept saying, ‘My love of fine things is part of my remembering my Lord!’ until [the horses] disappeared from sight– 33 ‘Bring them back!’ [he said] and started to stroke their legs and necks. [f] 34 We certainly tested Solomon, reducing him to a mere skeleton on his throne. [g] 35 He turned to Us and prayed: ‘Lord forgive me! Grant me such power as no one after me will have– You are the Most Generous Provider.’ 36 So We gave him power over the wind, which at his request ran gently wherever he willed, 37 and the jinn [h] ––every kind of builder and diver 38 and others chained in fetters. 39 ‘This is Our gift, so give or withhold as you wish without account.’ 40 His reward will be nearness to Us, and a good place to return to.

41 Bring to mind Our servant Job who cried to his Lord, ‘Satan has afflicted me with weariness and suffering.’ 42 ‘Stamp your foot! Here is cool water for you to wash in and drink,’ 43 and We restored his family to him, with many more like them: a sign of Our mercy and a lesson to all who understand. 44 ‘Take a small bunch of grass in your hand, and strike [her] with that so as not to break your oath.’ [i] We found him patient in adversity; an excellent servant! He, too, always turned to God.

45 Remember Our servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, all men of strength and vision. 46 We caused them to be devoted to Us [j] through their sincere remembrance of the Final Home: 47 with Us they will be among the elect, the truly good. 48 And remember Our servants Ishmael, Elisha, and Dhu ’l-Kifl, [k] each of them truly good.


a. The complement of this oath is understood to be ‘There is only one God’ (see 50: 1–2).

b. An allusion to the Christian Trinity.

c. Cf. note to 22: 15.

d. Dhu’l-awtad literally means ‘with his pegs’, but is understood here metaphorically, to indicate something firmly fixed; cf. its use with reference to mountains in 78: 7.

e. This is allegedly an allusion to David’s acquisition of another man’s wife to add to his own numerous wives.

f. Some say that the horses distracted Solomon from remembering his Lord and that he slaughtered the horses in anger at his having forgotten the afternoon prayer.

g. According to Razi, quoting linguistic usage in Arabic, this is interpreted to mean that Solomon became so ill that he was like a walking skeleton.

h. See 34: 12–13.

i. Quranic commentators explain that, when his wife blasphemed, Job swore that if he recovered from his illness, he would beat her with one hundred lashes. When he recovered, however, he regretted his hasty oath, so God gave him this instruction.

j. Alternatively, ‘We made them pure’.

k. See note to 21: 85.

The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)

The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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