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Quran Chapter 47 - Muhammad - Those Without a Protector, Disbelievers Good Deeds are Worthless

A Medinan sura that deals with issues of war, those who try to prevent conversion to Islam and the carrying out of God’s commands (a common theme in the Medinan suras), and the fate of the hypocrites. It describes the futility of the disbelievers’ attempts to oppose God and His Prophet, and it urges the Muslims to obey God in all matters. The good deeds of the disbelievers and hypocrites come to nothing on the Day of Judgement.

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

Those Without a Protector

1 God will bring to nothing the deeds of those who disbelieve and bar others from the way of God, 2 but He will overlook the bad deeds of those who have faith, do good deeds, and believe in what has been sent down to Muhammad––the truth from their Lord––and He will put them into a good state. 3 This is because the disbelievers follow falsehood, while the believers follow the truth from their Lord. In this way God shows people their true type.

4 When you meet the disbelievers in battle, strike them in the neck, and once they are defeated, bind any captives firmly––later you can release them by grace a or by ransom––until the toils of war have ended. That [is the way]. God could have defeated them Himself if He had willed, but His purpose is to test some of you by means of others. He will not let the deeds of those who are killed for His cause come to nothing; 5 He will guide them and put them into a good state; 6 He will admit them into the Garden He has already made known to them. 7 You who believe! If you help God, He will help you and make you stand firm.

8 As for the disbelievers, how wretched will be their state! God has brought their deeds to nothing. 9 It is because they hate what God has sent down that He has caused their deeds to go to waste. 10 Have they not travelled the earth and seen how those before them met their end? God destroyed them utterly: a similar fate awaits the disbelievers. 11 That is because God protects the believers while the disbelievers have no one to protect them:

Disbelievers and Hypocrites

12 God will admit those who believe and do good deeds to Gardens graced with flowing streams; the disbelievers may take their fill of pleasure in this world, and eat as cattle do, but the Fire will be their home. 13 We have destroyed many a town stronger than your own [Prophet]– the town which [chose to] expel you– and they had no one to help them.

14 Can those who follow clear proof from their Lord be compared to those whose foul deeds are made to seem alluring to them, those who follow their own desires? 15 Here is a picture of the Garden promised to the pious: rivers of water forever pure, rivers of milk forever fresh, rivers of wine, a delight for those who drink, rivers of honey clarified and pure, [all] flow in it; there they will find fruit of every kind; and they will find forgiveness from their Lord. How can this be compared to the fate of those stuck in the Fire, given boiling water to drink that tears their bowels?

16 Some of these people listen to you [Prophet], but, once they leave your presence, they sneer at those who have been given knowledge, saying, ‘What was that he just said?’ These are the ones whose hearts God has sealed, those who follow their own desires. 17 God has increased the guidance of those who follow the right path, and given them their awareness [of Him]. 18 What are the disbelievers waiting for, other than the Hour which will come upon them unawares? Its signs are already here, but once the Hour has actually arrived, what use will it be then to take heed? 19 So [Prophet], bear in mind [b] that there is no god but God, and ask forgiveness for your sins and for the sins of believing men and women. God knows whenever any of you move, and whenever any of you stay still.

Their Deeds are Worthless

20 Those who believe ask why no sura [about fighting] has been sent down. Yet when a decisive sura [that mentions fighting] is sent down, you can see the sick at heart looking at you [Prophet] and visibly fainting at the prospect of death– better for them 21 would be obedience and fitting words; it would also be better for them to be true to God when the decision to fight has been made. 22 ‘If you turn away now, could it be that you will go on to spread corruption all over the land and break your ties of kinship?’ [c] 23 These are the ones God has rejected, making their ears deaf and their eyes blind. 24 Will they not contemplate the Quran? Do they have locks on their hearts? 25 Those who turn on their heels after being shown guidance are duped and tempted by Satan; 26 they say to those who hate what God has sent down, ‘We will obey you in some matters’ [d] ––God knows their secret schemes.

27 How will they feel when the angels take them in death and beat their faces and their backs 28 because they practiced things that incurred God’s wrath, and disdained to please Him? He makes their deeds go to waste.

God is Free of All Needs

29 Do the corrupt at heart assume that God will not expose their malice? 30 We could even point them out to you [Prophet] if We wished, and then you could identify them by their marks, but you will know them anyway by the tone of their speech. God knows everything you [people] do. 31 We shall test you to see which of you strive your hardest and are steadfast; We shall test the sincerity of your assertions. 32 Those who disbelieve, bar others from God’s path, and oppose the Messenger when they have been shown guidance, do not harm God in any way. He will make their deeds go to waste– 33 believers, obey God and the Messenger: do not let your deeds go to waste– 34 God will not forgive those who disbelieve, bar others from God’s path, and die as disbelievers.

35 So [believers] do not lose heart and cry out for peace. It is you who have the upper hand: God is with you. He will not begrudge you the reward for your [good] deeds: 36 the life of this world is only a game, a pastime, but if you believe and are mindful of God, He will recompense you. He does not ask you to give up [all] your possessions– 37 you would be grudging if He were to ask you and press you for them, and He would bring your ill-will to light– 38 though now you are called upon to give [a little] for the sake of God, some of you are grudging. Whoever is grudging is so only towards himself: God is the source of wealth and you are the needy ones. He will substitute other people for you if you turn away, and they will not be like you.


a. Commentators highlight the fact that ‘by grace’ is the first of the two options given here, concluding that this is the preferred or recommended course of action.

b. Literally ‘know’.

c. A reference to the pretext given, by some who refused to fight, that fighting breaks ties of kinship.

d. For instance, they will agree that Muhammad is not a prophet but will not agree to idol worship or denial of the Resurrection (Razi).

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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