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The Qurʾan What is This? A current English-language version of the Qur'an, published in 2004
Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

21. The Prophets (1 – 20)

A Meccan sura which takes its name from the list of prophets mentioned from verse 48 to verse 91. It stresses that fact that Muhammad is a man like earlier prophets, and has been given the same message to declare the unity of God. It warns the disbelievers of the approaching Judgement from which there is no escape.

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

1Ever closer to people draws their reckoning, while they turn away, heedless. 2Whenever any fresh revelation comes to them from their Lord, they listen to it playfully 3with frivolous hearts. The evildoers conferred in secret: ‘Is this man anything but a mortal like your selves? Are you going to fall under his spell with your eyes wide open?’ 4He said,a Here and in verse 112 an alternative reading is the imperative, qul (‘say’). ‘My Lord knows everything that is said in the heavens and the earth: He is the All Hearing, the All Knowing.’ 5Some say, ‘Muddled dreams’; others, ‘He made it up’; yet others, ‘He is just a poet, let him show us a sign as previous messengers did.’ 6But of the communities We destroyed before them not a single one believed. Will these now believe? 7And even before your time [Prophet], all the messengers We sent were only men We inspired— if you [disbelievers] do not know, ask people who know the Scripture—8We did not give them bodies that ate no food, nor were they immortal. 9We fulfilled Our promise to them in the end: We saved them and those We wished to save, and We destroyed those who exceeded all bounds.

10And now We have sent down to you [people] a Scripture to remind you. Will you not use your reason? 11How many communities of evildoers We have destroyed! How many others We have raised up in their places! 12When they felt Our might coming upon them, see how they tried to escape it! 13’Do not try to escape. Go back to your homes and the pleasure you revelled in: you may be questioned.’ 14They said, ‘Woe to us! We were wrong!’ 15and that cry of theirs did not cease until We made them burnt-off stubble.

16We did not create the heavens and the earth and everything between them playfully. 17If We had wished for a pastime, We could have found it within Us—if We had wished for any such thing. 18No! We hurl the truth against falsehood, and truth obliterates it—see how falsehood vanishes away! Woe to you [people] for the way you describe God! 19Everyone in the heavens and earth belongs to Him, and those that are with Him are never too proud to worship Him, nor do they grow weary;20they glorify Him tirelessly night and day.

Notes:

a Here and in verse 112 an alternative reading is the imperative, qul (‘say’).

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