top of page

Quran Chapter 39 [part 1] - The Groups - Refuting Polytheism, Actions Have Consequences

The main focus of this Meccan sura is the contrast between those who follow the true faith, and those who ascribe partners to God. The sura emphasizes that people are free to choose whether to believe or disbelieve (verse 41), but urges them in the strongest possible terms to turn to the right path while there is still time to repent (verses 53–61).

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

Refuting Polytheism

1 This Scripture is sent down from God the Mighty, the Wise. 2 It is We who sent down the Scripture to you [Prophet] with the Truth, so worship God with your total devotion: 3 true devotion is due to God alone. [As for] those who choose other protectors beside Him, saying, ‘We only worship them because they bring us nearer to God,’ God Himself will judge between them regarding their differences. God does not guide any ungrateful liar. 4 God could have chosen any of His creation He willed for offspring, but He is far above this! He is the One, the Almighty. 5 He created the heavens and earth for a true purpose; He wraps the night around the day and the day around the night; He has subjected the sun and moon to run their courses for an appointed time; He is truly the Mighty, the Forgiving.

6 He created you all from a single being, from which He made its mate; He gave you [a] four kinds of livestock in pairs; [b] He creates you in your mothers’ wombs, in one stage after another, in threefold depths of darkness. Such is God, your Lord; He holds control, there is no god but Him. How can you turn away? 7 If you are ungrateful, remember God has no need of you, yet He is not pleased by ingratitude in His servants; if you are grateful, He is pleased [to see] it in you. No soul will bear another’s burden. You will return to your Lord in the end and He will inform you of what you have done: He knows well what is in the depths of [your] hearts.

8 When man suffers some affliction, he prays to his Lord and turns to Him, but once he has been granted a favor from God, he forgets the One he had been praying to and sets up rivals to God, to make others stray from His path. Say, ‘Enjoy your ingratitude for a little while: you will be one of the inhabitants of the Fire.’ 9 What about someone who worships devoutly during the night, bowing down, standing in prayer, ever mindful of the life to come, hoping for his Lord’s mercy? Say, ‘How can those who know be equal to those who do not know?’ Only those who have understanding will take heed.

10 Say, ‘[God says], believing servants, be mindful of your Lord! Those who do good in this world will have a good reward– God’s earth is wide [c] ––and those who persevere patiently will be given a full and unstinting reward.’ 11 Say, ‘I have been commanded to serve God, dedicating my worship entirely to Him. 12 I have been commanded to be the first to submit.’ 13 Say, ‘I fear the torment of a terrible Day if I disobey my Lord.’ 14 Say, ‘It is God I serve, dedicating my worship entirely to Him– 15 you may serve whatever you please beside Him.’ Say, ‘The true losers are the ones who will lose themselves and their people on the Day of Resurrection: that is the most obvious loss. 16 They will have layers of Fire above them and below.’ This is how God puts fear into His servants: My servants, beware of Me.

17 There is good news for those who shun the worship of false gods and turn to God, so [Prophet] give good news to My servants 18 who listen to what is said and follow what is best. These are the ones God has guided; these are the people of understanding. 19 What about the one who has been sentenced to punishment? Can you [Prophet] rescue those already in the Fire? 20 But those who are mindful of their Lord will have lofty dwellings built for them, one above the other, graced with flowing streams. This is a promise from God: God does not break His promise.

Actions Have Consequences

21 Have you not considered that God sends water down from the sky, guides it along to form springs in the earth, and then, with it, brings forth vegetation of various colors, which later withers, turns yellow before your eyes, and is crumbled to dust at His command? There is truly a reminder in this for those who have understanding.

22 What about the one whose heart God has opened in devotion to Him, so that he walks in light from his Lord? Alas for those whose hearts harden at the mention of God! They have clearly lost their way. 23 God has sent down the most beautiful of all teachings: a Scripture that is consistent and draws comparisons; that causes the skins of those in awe of their Lord to shiver. Then their skins and their hearts soften at the mention of God: such is God’s guidance. He guides with it whoever He will; no one can guide those God leaves to stray.

24 What about the one who will only have his bare face to protect him from his terrible suffering on the Day of Resurrection? It will be said to the evildoers, ‘Taste what you have earned.’ 25 Others before them also disbelieved, and the punishment fell on them unawares: 26 God gave them the punishment of disgrace in this world to taste; the punishment will be even harder in the Hereafter, if only they knew.

27 In this Quran, We have put forward all kinds of illustration for people, so that they may take heed– 28 an Arabic Quran, free from any distortion– so that people may be mindful. 29 God puts forward this illustration: can a man who has for his masters several partners at odds with each other be considered equal to a man devoted wholly to one master? All praise belongs to God, though most of them do not know.

30 You [Prophet] will certainly die, and so will they, 31 and, on the Day of Resurrection, you will dispute with one another in the presence of your Lord. 32 So who could be more wrong than the person who invents a lie about God and rejects the truth when it comes to him? Is there not ample punishment for the disbelievers in Hell? 33 It is the one who brings the truth and the one who accepts it as true who are mindful of God: 34 they will have everything they wish for with their Lord. Such is the reward of those who do good: 35 God will absolve them even of their worst deeds and will reward them according to their best.


a. Literally ‘sent down’, i.e. in the Scripture, cf. 6: 142–4.

b. There has been some confusion over numbering here, leading some translators to render this passage ‘eight pairs’. In fact, the correct translation is either ‘eight head’ or ‘four pairs’. Cf. 6: 143–4.

c. See 29: 56–60.

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.

1 view


bottom of page