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Select Translation What is This? Selections include: The Koran Interpreted, a translation by A.J. Arberry, first published 1955; The Qur'an, translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published 2004; or side-by-side comparison view
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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

2. The Cow (21 – 46)

21People, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, so that you may be mindful [of Him] 22who spread out the earth for you and built the sky; who sent water down from it and with that water produced things for your sustenance. Do not, knowing this, set up rivals to God. 23If you have doubts about the revelation We have sent down to Our servant, then produce a single sura like it—enlist whatever supportersa Literally ‘whatever witnesses’. Razi interprets this as referring either to their idols or to their leaders. you have other than God—if you truly [think you can]. 24If you cannot do this—and you never will—then beware of the Fire prepared for the disbelievers, whose fuel is men and stones.

25[Prophet], give those who believe and do good the news that they will have Gardens graced with flowing streams. Whenever they are given sustenance from the fruits of these Gardens, they will say, ‘We have been given this before,’ because they were provided with something like it.b One interpretation is that they enjoy each meal so much that they are delighted to see favourite dishes again; another interpretation is that the food of Paradise resembles the delicacies of this world in appearance. They will have pure spouses and there they will stay.

26God does not shy from drawing comparisons even with something as small as a gnat, or larger:c Comparisons such as those given here were seen by some as inappropriate for God, and this is an answer to these critics. the believers know it is the truth from their Lord, but the disbelievers say, ‘What does God mean by such a comparison?’ Through it He makes many go astray and leads many to the right path. But it is only the rebels He makes go astray: 27those who break their covenant with God after it has been confirmed, who sever the bonds that God has commanded to be joined, who spread corruption on the earth—these are the losers. 28How can you ignore God when you were lifeless and He gave you life, when He will cause you to die, then resurrect you to be returned to Him? 29It was He who created all that is on the earth for you, then turned to the sky and made the seven heavens; it is He who has knowledge of all things.

30[Prophet], when your Lord told the angels, ‘I am putting a successora The term khalifa is normally translated as ‘vicegerent’ or ‘deputy’. While this is one meaning of the term, its basic meaning is ‘successor’—the Qurʾan often talks about generations and individuals who are successors to each other, cf. 6: 165, 7: 129, etc.—or a ‘trustee’ to whom a responsibility is temporarily given, cf. Moses and Aaron, 7: 142. on earth,’ they said, ‘How canb This is istifham inkari in Arabic, i.e. not an interrogative but an exclamatory statement normally expressing disapproval, best rendered in English by ‘How can you’. There are numerous examples of this in the Qurʾan. You put someone there who will cause damage and bloodshed, when we celebrate Your praise and proclaim Your holiness?’ but He said, ‘I know things you do not.’ 31He taught Adam all the names [of things], then He showed them to the angels and said, ‘Tell me the names of these if you truly [think you can].’ 32They said, ‘May You be glorified! We have knowledge only of what You have taught us. You are the All Knowing and All Wise.’ 33Then He said, ‘Adam, tell them the names of these.’ When he told them their names, God said, ‘Did I not tell you that I know what is hidden in the heavens and the earth, and that I know what you reveal and what you conceal?’

34When We told the angels, ‘Bow down before Adam,’ they all bowed. But not Iblis, who refused and was arrogant: he was one of the disobedient. 35We said, ‘Adam, live with your wife in this garden. Both of you eat freely there as you will, but do not go near this tree, or you will both become wrongdoers.’ 36But Satan made them slip, and removed them from the state they were in. We said, ‘Get out, all of you! You are each other's enemy.c Iblis is the enemy of mankind and vice versa. Iblis is also known as Shaytan/Satan. On earth you will have a place to stay and livelihood for a time.’ 37Then Adam received some wordsd Words teaching Adam how to repent, see 7: 23. from his Lord and He accepted his repentance: He is the Ever Relenting, the Most Merciful. 38We said, ‘Get out, all of you! But when guidance comes from Me, as it certainly will, there will be no fear for those who follow My guidance nor will they grieve—39those who disbelieve and deny Our messages shall be the inhabitants of the Fire, and there they will remain.’

40Children of Israel, remember how I blessed you. Honour your pledge to Me and I will honour My pledge to you: I am the One you should fear. 41Believe in the message I have sent down confirming what you already possess. Do not be the first to disbelieve in it, and do not sell My messages for a small price: I am the One of whom you should be mindful. 42Do not mix truth with falsehood, or hide the truth when you know it. 43Keep up the prayer, pay the prescribed alms, and bow your heads [in worship] with those who bow theirs. 44How can you tell people to do what is right and forget to do it yourselves, even though you recite the Scripture? Have you no sense? 45Seek help with steadfastness and prayer—though this is hard indeed for anyone but the humble, 46who knowa One of the classical meanings of zanna is ‘to know’ rather than the predominant modern sense of ‘to think’. This term is used in the sense of knowledge several times in the Qurʾan. that they will meet their Lord and that it is to Him they will return.

Notes:

a Literally ‘whatever witnesses’. Razi interprets this as referring either to their idols or to their leaders.

b One interpretation is that they enjoy each meal so much that they are delighted to see favourite dishes again; another interpretation is that the food of Paradise resembles the delicacies of this world in appearance.

c Comparisons such as those given here were seen by some as inappropriate for God, and this is an answer to these critics.

a The term khalifa is normally translated as ‘vicegerent’ or ‘deputy’. While this is one meaning of the term, its basic meaning is ‘successor’—the Qurʾan often talks about generations and individuals who are successors to each other, cf. 6: 165, 7: 129, etc.—or a ‘trustee’ to whom a responsibility is temporarily given, cf. Moses and Aaron, 7: 142.

b This is istifham inkari in Arabic, i.e. not an interrogative but an exclamatory statement normally expressing disapproval, best rendered in English by ‘How can you’. There are numerous examples of this in the Qurʾan.

c Iblis is the enemy of mankind and vice versa. Iblis is also known as Shaytan/Satan.

d Words teaching Adam how to repent, see 7: 23.

a One of the classical meanings of zanna is ‘to know’ rather than the predominant modern sense of ‘to think’. This term is used in the sense of knowledge several times in the Qurʾan.

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