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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

23. The Believers (1 – 118)

A Meccan sura which stresses that the believers are the ones who will succeed, whereas the disbelievers will be punished for their arrogance and derision. Several proofs are given of God's Oneness and His power, and the inevitability of the Resurrection is emphasized.

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

1[How] prosperous are the believers! 2Those who pray humbly, 3who shun idle talk, 4who pay the prescribed alms,5who guard their chastity 6except with their spouses or their slavesa Cf. 4: 25.— with these they are not to blame, 7but anyone who seeks more than this is exceeding the limits —8who are faithful to their trusts and pledges 9and who keep up their prayers, 10will rightly be given 11Paradise as their own,b Literally ‘will be the heirs to “inherit” Paradise’, but they do not inherit from anyone who dies. there to remain.

12We created man from an essence of clay, 13then We placed him as a drop of fluid in a safe place, 14then We made that drop into a clinging form, and We made that form into a lump of flesh, and We made that lump into bones, and We clothed those bones with flesh, and later We made him into other formsc Razi quotes Ibn ‘Abbas to explain ‘other forms’ as referring to all the various stages of infancy, childhood, and maturity —cf. 22: 5; 40: 67.— glory be to God, the best of creators! —15then you will die 16and then, on the Day of Resurrection, you will be raised up again.

17We created seven levelsd Tara’iq: ‘levels (of heaven)’ or ‘highways’ (Razi). above you: We are never unmindful of Our creation. 18We sent water down from the sky in due measure and lodged it in the earth —We have the power to take it all away if We so wish —19with it We produced for you gardens of date palms and vines, with many fruits there for you to eat, 20and a tree, growing out of Mount Sinai, that produces oil and seasoning for your food. 21There is a lesson for you in livestock: We produce milk for you to drink from their bellies. And they have many other benefits: you eat them 22and you ride on them, as you do in ships.

23We sent Noah to his people. He said, ‘My people, serve God, for He is your only god. Will you not heed Him?’ 24But the leading disbelievers among his people said, ‘He is merely a mortal like you, trying to gain some superiority over you. God would have sent down angels if He had wished; besides, we never heard of anything like this from our forefathers. 25He is just a madman, so let's wait and see what happens to him.’ 26Noah said, ‘My Lord, help me! They call me a liar,’ 27and so We revealed to him: ‘Build the Ark under Our watchful eye and according to Our revelation. When Our command comes and water gushes up out of the earth,a Literally ‘the furnace boils over’. take pairs of every species on board, and your family, except for those on whom the sentence has already been passed— do not plead with me for the evildoers: they will be drowned— 28and when you and your companions are settled on the Ark, say, “Praise be to God, who delivered us from the wicked people,” 29and say, “My Lord, let me land with Your blessing: it is You who provide the best landings”.’30There are signs in all this: We have always put [people] to the test.

31Then We raised another generation after them, 32and sent one of their own as a messenger: ‘Serve God, for He is your only god. Will you not heed Him?’ 33But the leading disbelievers among his people, who denied the Meeting in the Hereafter, to whom We had granted ease and plenty in this life, said, ‘He is just a mortal like you —he eats what you eat and drinks what you drink— 34and you will really be losers if you obey a mortal like yourselves. 35How can he promise you that after you die and become dust and bones you will be brought out alive? 36What you are promised is very farfetched. 37There is only the life of this world: we die, we live,b Razi interprets this order to mean successive generations. but we will never be resurrected. 38He is just a man making lies up about God. We will never believe in him.’ 39The prophet said, ‘My Lord, help me! They call me a liar,’ 40and so God said, ‘Soon they will be filled with regret.’41The blast justly struck them and We swept them away like scum. Away with the evildoers! 42We raised other generations after them —43no community can advance or delay its time— 44and We sent Our messengers in succession: whenever a messenger came to a community they invariably called him a liar, so We destroyed them one after the other and made them into cautionary tales. Away with the disbelievers!

45Then We sent Moses and his brother Aaron, with Our signs and clear authority, 46to Pharaoh and his prominent leaders, but they responded with arrogance: they were a haughty people.47They said, ‘Are we to believe in two mortals like us? And their people are our servants?’ 48and so they called them both liars: they became another ruined people. 49We gave Moses the Scripture, so that theya ‘His people’ —Moses was given the Scripture later, so ‘they’ only refers to the children of Israel. might be rightly guided.50We made the son of Mary and his mother a sign; We gave them shelter on a peaceful hillside with flowing water. b Where Mary gave birth; see 19: 22–6.

51Messengers, eat good things and do good deeds: I am well aware of what you do. 52This community of yours is one— and I am your Lord: be mindful of Me— 53but they have split their community into sects, each rejoicing in their own. 54So [Muhammad] leave them for a while steeped [in their ignorance]. 55Do they reckon that, by giving them wealth and sons, 56We race to give them good things? They really have no idea! 57Those who stand in awe of their Lord, 58who believe in His messages,59who do not ascribe partners to Him,60who always give with hearts that tremble at the thought that they must return to Him,61are the ones who race toward good things, and they will be the first to get them.62We do not burden any soul with more than it can bear —We have a Record that tells the truth— they will not be wronged. 63But the disbelievers’ hearts are steeped [in ignorance of] all this; and there are other things besides this that they do. 64When We bring Our punishment on those corrupted with wealth, they will cry for help: 65’Do not cry out today: you will get no help from Us. 66Time and time again My messages were recited to you, but you turned arrogantly on your heels, 67and spent the evening making fun of [the Qurʾan].’

68Have they not contemplated the Word of God? Has something come to them that did not come to their forefathers? 69Do they not recognize their Messenger? So why do they reject him? 70Why do they say he is possessed? He has brought them the truth and most of them hate it,71but if the truth were in accordance with their desires, the heavens, the earth, and everyone in them would disintegrate. We have brought them their Reminder and they turn away from it. 72Do you [Prophet] ask them for any payment? Your Lord's is the best payment: He is the Best of Providers. 73You call them to a straight path 74and those who do not believe in the Hereafter turn away from that path.75Even if We were to show them mercy and relieve them of distress, they would blindly persist in their transgression.76We have already afflicted them, yet they did not submit to their Lord: they will not humble themselves 77until We open a gate to severe torment for them —then they will be plunged into utter despair.

78It is God who endowed you with hearing, sight, and hearts— how seldom you are grateful! 79It is He who made you multiply on earth. It is to Him that you will be gathered: 80it is He who gives life and death; the alternation of night and day depends on Him; will you not use your minds? 81But, like others before them, 82they say, ‘What? When we die and turn to dust and bones, shall we really be resurrected? 83We have heard such promises before, and so did our forefathers. These are just ancient fables.’ 84Say [Prophet], ‘Who owns the earth and all who live in it, if you know [so much]?’ 85and they will reply, ‘God.’ Say, ‘Will you not take heed?’ 86Say, ‘Who is the Lord of the seven heavens? Who is the Lord of the Mighty Throne?’ 87and they will reply, ‘God.’ Say, ‘Will you not be mindful?’ 88Say, ‘Who holds control of everything in His hand? Who protects, while there is no protection against Him, if you know [so much]?’ 89and they will reply, ‘God.’ Say, ‘Then how can you be so deluded?’ 90The fact is, We brought them the truth and they are lying. 91God has never had a child. Nor is there any god beside Him— if there were, each god would have taken his creation aside and tried to overcome the others. May God be exalted above what they describe! 92He knows what is not seen as well as what is seen; He is far above any partner they claim for Him.93Say, ‘Lord, if You are going to show me the punishment You have promised them, 94then Lord, do not include me among the evildoers!’95We certainly are able to show you the punishment We have promised them. 96Repel evil with good— We are well aware of what they attribute to Us— 97and say, ‘Lord, I take refuge with You from the goadings of the evil ones; 98I seek refuge with you, Lord, so that they may not come near me.’

99When death comes to one of them, he cries, ‘My Lord, let me return 100so as to make amends for the things I neglected.’ Never! This will not go beyond his words: a barrier stands behind such people until the very Day they are resurrected. 101On that Day when the Trumpet is blown, the ties between them will be as nothing and they will not ask about each other: 102those whose good deeds weigh heavy will be successful,103but those whose balance is light will have lost their souls for ever and will stay in Hell— 104the Fire will scorch their faces and their lips will be twisted in pain. 105’Were My messages not recited over and over to you and still you rejected them?’ 106They will say, ‘Lord, our waywardness overcame us and we went astray. 107Lord, take us away from this and if we go back to our old ways, then we shall really be evildoers.’ 108He will say, ‘Away with you! In you go! Do not speak to Me! 109Among My servants there were those who said, “Lord, We believe. Forgive us and have mercy on us: You are the most merciful of all.” 110But you kept on laughing at them: so intent were you on laughing at them that it made you forget My warning. 111Today I have rewarded them for their patience: it is they who will succeed.’ 112He will say, ‘How many years were you on earth?’113and they will reply, ‘We stayed a day or a part of a day, but ask those who keep count.’ 114He will say, ‘You stayed but a little, if you had only known. 115Did you think We had created you in vain, and that you would not be brought back to Us?

116Exalted be God, the true King, there is no god but Him, the Lord of the Glorious Throne! 117Whoever prays to another god alongside Him —a god for whose existence he has no evidence— will face his reckoning with his Lord. Those who reject the truth will not prosper. 118Say [Prophet], ‘Lord, forgive and have mercy: You are the most merciful of all.’

Notes:

a Cf. 4: 25.

b Literally ‘will be the heirs to “inherit” Paradise’, but they do not inherit from anyone who dies.

c Razi quotes Ibn ‘Abbas to explain ‘other forms’ as referring to all the various stages of infancy, childhood, and maturity —cf. 22: 5; 40: 67.

d Tara’iq: ‘levels (of heaven)’ or ‘highways’ (Razi).

a Literally ‘the furnace boils over’.

b Razi interprets this order to mean successive generations.

a ‘His people’ —Moses was given the Scripture later, so ‘they’ only refers to the children of Israel.

b Where Mary gave birth; see 19: 22–6.

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