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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

24. Light (10 – 40)

10If it were not for God's bounty and mercy towards you, if it were not that God accepts repentance and is wise . . .! a The statement ‘If it were not for God's bounty and mercy’ is repeated four times in this context, but the concluding clauses are suspended in verses 10 and 20. This rhetorical suspense works in English and in Arabic. (See verses 14, 20, 21). 11It was a group from among you that concocted the lieb This alludes to the accusation made against ‘A’isha, the Prophet's wife. —do not consider it a bad thing for you [people]; it was a good thing— and every one of them will be charged with the sin he has earned. He who took the greatest part in it will have a painful punishment. 12When you heard the lie, why did believing men and women not think well of their own people and declare, ‘This is obviously a lie’? 13And why did the accusers not bring four witnesses to it? If they cannot produce such witnesses, they are the liars in God's eyes. 14If it were not for God's bounty and mercy towards you in this world and the next, you would already have been afflicted by terrible suffering for indulging in such talk. 15When you took it up with your tongues, and spoke with your mouths things you did not know [to be true], you thought it was trivial but to God it was very serious. 16When you heard the lie, why did you not say, ‘We should not repeat this— God forbid!— It is a monstrous slander’? 17God warns you never to do anything like this again, if you are true believers. 18God makes His messages clear to you: God is all knowing, all wise. 19A painful punishment waits in this world and the next for those who like indecency to spread among the believers: God knows and you do not.20If it were not for God's bounty and mercy and the fact that He is compassionate and merciful . . .! 21Believers, do not follow in Satan's footsteps— if you do so, he will urge you to indecency and evil. If it were not for God's bounty and mercy towards you, not one of you would ever have attained purity. God purifies whoever He will: God is all hearing, all seeing.

22Those who have been graced with bounty and plenty should not swear that they will [no longer] give to kinsmen, the poor, those who emigrated in God's way:c Abu Bakr, father of ‘A’isha, who used to support a relative called Mistah, swore, when Mistah participated in spreading the rumour, that he would never support Mistah again. let them pardon and forgive. Do you not wish that God should forgive you? God is most forgiving and merciful.

23Those who accuse honourable but unwary believing women are rejected by God, in this life and the next. A painful punishment awaits them 24on the Day when their own tongues, hands, and feet will testify against them about what they have done— 25on that Day, God will pay them their just due in full— and they will realize that God is the Truth that makes everything clear.26Corrupt women are for corrupt men, and corrupt men are for corrupt women; good women are for good men and good men are for good women. The good are innocent of what has been said against them; they will have forgiveness and a generous provision.

27Believers, do not enter other people's houses until you have asked permission to do so and greeted those inside— that is best for you: perhaps you will bear this in mind.28If you find no one in, do not enter unless you have been given permission to do so. If you are told, ‘Go away’, then do so —that is more proper for you. God knows well what you do.29You will not be blamed for entering houses where no one lives, and which could provide you with some useful service. God knows everything you do openly and everything you conceal. 30[Prophet], tell believing men to lower their glances and guard their private parts: that is purer for them. God is well aware of everything they do. 31And tell believing women that they should lower their glances, guard their private parts, and not display their charms beyond what [it is acceptable] to reveal;a Literally ‘beyond what [ordinarily] shows’. This phrase is ambiguous in Arabic. Recourse is commonly made to the hadith (prophetic tradition), which uses the same verb dhahara in the sense of its being permissible for a woman to show only her face and her hands in front of strangers. they should let their head-scarves fall to cover their necklines and not reveal their charms except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their womenfolk, their slaves, such men as attend them who have no sexual desire, or children who are not yet aware of women's nakedness; they should not stamp their feet so as to draw attention to any hidden charms. Believers, all of you, turn to God so that you may prosper.

32Marry offb There is another reading that translates as ‘marry’. the single among you and those of your male and female slaves who are fit [for marriage].c Or ‘righteous’. If they are poor, God will provide for them from His bounty: God's bounty is infinite and He is all knowing. 33Those who are unable to marry should keep chaste until God gives them enough out of His bounty. If any of your slaves wish to pay for their freedom, make a contract with them accordingly, if you know they have good in them, and give them some of the wealth God has given you. Do not force your slave-girls into prostitution, when they themselves wish to remain honourable, in your quest for the short-term gains of this world, although, if they are forced, God will be forgiving and merciful to them.

34We have sent verses down to you [people] clarifying the rightpath, examples of those who passed away before you, and advice for those who are mindful of God.

35God is the Light of the heavens and earth. His Light is like this: there is a niche, and in it a lamp, the lamp inside a glass, a glass like a glittering star, fuelled from a blessed olive tree from neither east nor west, whose oil almost gives light even when no fire touches it— light upon light —God guides whoever He will to his Light; God draws such comparisons for people; God has full knowledge of everything —36shining out in houses of worship. God has ordained that they be raised high and that His name be remembered in them, with men in them celebrating His glory morning and evening: 37men who are not distracted,a Cf. 62: 11, which makes reference to worshippers who are distracted by trade. either by commerce or profit, from remembering God, keeping up the prayer, and paying the prescribed alms, fearing a day when hearts and eyes will turn over. 38God will reward such people according to the best of their actions, and He will give them more of His bounty: God provides limitlessly for anyone He will.

39But the deeds of those who disbelieve are like a mirage in a desert: the thirsty person thinks there will be water but, when he gets there, he finds only God, who pays him his account in full— God is swift in reckoning.40Or like shadows in a deep sea covered by wave upon wave, with clouds above— layer upon layer of darkness— if he holds out his hand, he is scarcely able to see it. The one to whom God gives no light has no light at all.

Notes:

a The statement ‘If it were not for God's bounty and mercy’ is repeated four times in this context, but the concluding clauses are suspended in verses 10 and 20. This rhetorical suspense works in English and in Arabic. (See verses 14, 20, 21).

b This alludes to the accusation made against ‘A’isha, the Prophet's wife.

c Abu Bakr, father of ‘A’isha, who used to support a relative called Mistah, swore, when Mistah participated in spreading the rumour, that he would never support Mistah again.

a Literally ‘beyond what [ordinarily] shows’. This phrase is ambiguous in Arabic. Recourse is commonly made to the hadith (prophetic tradition), which uses the same verb dhahara in the sense of its being permissible for a woman to show only her face and her hands in front of strangers.

b There is another reading that translates as ‘marry’.

c Or ‘righteous’.

a Cf. 62: 11, which makes reference to worshippers who are distracted by trade.

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