This Meccan sura gives an account of what a group of jinn said when they overheard a recitation of the Quran and realized its truth (verses 1–15). This is a lesson to the Meccan Arabs, who are also told that the Prophet can help them only by delivering the Message––God is the All Powerful One (verses 16–28). The disbelievers are threatened with what they will meet on the Day of Judgement (verses 23–7).
In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy
Some Jinn Accept Islam
1 Say [Prophet], ‘It has been revealed to me that a group of jinn [a] once listened in and said, “We have heard a wondrous Quran, 2 that gives guidance to the right path, and we have come to believe it––We shall never set up partners with our Lord–– 3 and that He––exalted be the glory of our Lord!––has neither spouse nor child. 4 Outrageous things have been said about God by the foolish among us, 5 although we had thought that no man or jinn would [dare to] tell a lie about Him. 6 Men have sought refuge with the jinn in the past, but they only misguided them further. 7 They thought, as you did, that God would never raise anyone from the dead.
The Jinn Cannot see the Unseen
8 We tried to reach heaven, but discovered it to be full of stern guards and shooting stars–– 9 we used to sit in places there, listening, [b] but anyone trying to listen now will find a shooting star lying in wait for him–– 10 [so now] we do not know whether those who live on earth are due for misfortune, or whether their Lord intends to guide them. 11 Some of us are righteous and others less so: we follow different paths. 12 We know we can never frustrate God on earth; we can never escape Him. 13 When we heard the guidance we came to believe: whoever believes in his Lord need fear no loss nor injustice. 14 Some of us submit to Him and others go the wrong way: those who submit to God have found wise guidance, 15 but those who go wrong will be fuel for Hellfire.” ’
16 If they [c] had taken to the right way, We would have given them abundant water to drink– 17 a test for them [d] ––but anyone who turns away from his Lord’s Revelation will be sent by Him to spiraling torment. 18 Places of worship are for God alone– so do not pray to anyone other than God– 19 yet when God’s Servant [e] stood up to pray to Him, they pressed in on him.
The Message is Protected
20 Say, ‘I pray to my Lord alone; I set up no partner with Him.’ 21 Say, ‘I have no control over any harm or good that may befall you.’ 22 Say, ‘No one can protect me from God: I have no refuge except in Him. 23 I only deliver [what I receive] from God– only His messages.’
Whoever disobeys God and His Messenger will have Hell’s Fire as his permanent home: 24 when they are confronted by what they have been warned about, they will realize who has the weaker protector and the smaller number. 25 Say, ‘I do not know whether what you have been warned about is near, or whether a distant time has been appointed for it by my Lord.’ 26 He is the One who knows what is hidden. 27 He does not disclose it except to a messenger of His choosing. He sends watchers to go in front and behind 28 to ensure that each of His messengers delivers his Lord’s message: He knows all about them, and He takes account of everything.
a. Unseen beings.
b. They were listening for hints of what might come next, but in verse 10 they say they are no longer able to know the future (cf. verse 26 below).
c. The Meccan Arabs.
d. In the Quran, plenty is as great a test as privation (see 21: 35), if not greater (see 10: 21–2). e. Muhammad.
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.