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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 Koran Interpreted Translation by A.J. Arberry

24 LIGHT (32 – 53)

The Qurʾan Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

24. Light (32 – 54)

Marry the spouseless among you, and your slaves and handmaidens that are righteous; if they are poor, God will enrich them of His bounty; God is All-embracing, All-knowing. And let those who find not the means to marry be abstinent till God enriches them of His bounty. Those your right hands own who seek emancipation, contract with them accordingly, if you know some good in them; and give them of the wealth of God that He has given you. And constrain not your slavegirls to prostitution, if they desire to live in chastity, that you may seek the chance goods of the present life. Whosoever constrains them, surely God, after their being constrained, is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.

Now We have sent down to you signs making all clear, and an example of those who passed away before you, and an admonition for the godfearing.

35God is the Light of the heavens and the earth; the likeness of His Light is as a niche wherein is a lamp (the lamp in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star) kindled from a Blessed Tree, an olive that is neither of the East nor of the West whose oil wellnigh would shine, even if no fire touched it; Light upon Light; (God guides to His Light whom He will.) (And God strikes similitudes for men, and God has knowledge of everything.) in temples God has allowed to be raised up, and His Name to be commemorated therein; therein glorifying Him, in the mornings and the evenings, are men whom neither commerce nor trafficking diverts from the remembrance of God and to perform the prayer, and to pay the alms, fearing a day when hearts and eyes shall be turned about, that God may recompense them for their fairest works and give them increase of His bounty; and God provides whomsoever He will, without reckoning.

And as for the unbelievers, their works are as a mirage in a spacious plain which the man athirst supposes to be water, till, when he comes to it, he finds it is nothing; there indeed he finds God, and He pays him his account in full; (and God is swift at the reckoning.) 40or they are as shadows upon a sea obscure covered by a billow above which is a billow above which are clouds, shadows piled one upon another; when he puts forth his hand, wellnigh he cannot see it. And to whomsoever God assigns no light, no light has he.

Hast thou not seen how that whatsoever is in the heavens and in the earth extols God, and the birds spreading their wings? Each—He knows its prayer and its extolling; and God knows the things they do. To God belongs the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and to Him is the homecoming. Hast thou not seen how God drives the clouds, then composes them, then converts them into a mass, then thou seest the rain issuing out of the midst of them? And He sends down out of heaven mountains, wherein is hail, so that He smites whom He will with it, and turns it aside from whom He will; wellnigh the gleam of His lightning snatches away the sight. God turns about the day and the night; surely in that is a lesson for those who have eyes. God has created every beast of water, and some of them go upon their bellies, and some of them go upon two feet, and some of them go upon four; God creates whatever He will; God is powerful over everything.

45Now We have sent down signs making all clear; God guides whomsoever He will to a straight path. They say, ‘We believe in God and the Messenger, and we obey.’ Then after that a party of them turn away; those— they are not believers. When they are called to God and His Messenger that he may judge between them, lo, a party of them are swerving aside; but if they are in the right, they will come to him submissively. What, is there sickness in their hearts, or are they in doubt, or do they fear that God may be unjust towards them and His Messenger? Nay, but those— they are the evildoers. 50All that the believers say, when they are called to God and His Messenger, that he may judge between them, is that they say, ‘We hear, and we obey’; those— they are the prosperers. Whoso obeys God and His Messenger, and fears God and has awe of Him, those— they are the triumphant. They have sworn by God the most earnest oaths, if thou commandest them they will go forth. Say: ‘Do not swear; honourable obedience is sufficient. Surely God is aware of the things you do.’ Say: ‘Obey God, and obey the Messenger; then, if you turn away, only upon him rests what is laid on him, and upon you rests what is laid on you. If you obey him, you will be guided. It is only for the Messenger to deliver the manifest Message.’

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.

41[Prophet], do you not see that all those who are in the heavens and earth praise God, as do the birds with wings outstretched? Each knows its [own way] of prayer and glorification: God has full knowledge of what they do. 42Control of the heavens and earth belongs to God: and to God is the final return. 43Do you not see that God drives the clouds, then gathers them together and piles them up until you see rain pour from their midst? He sends hail down from [such] mountains in the sky, pouring it on whoever He wishes and diverting it from whoever He wishes— the flash of its lightning almost snatches sight away. 44God alternates night and day —there truly is a lesson in [all] this for those who have eyes to see— 45and God created each animal out of [its own] fluid:a This ma is not ‘water’, which would have the generic al- (cf. 21: 30), but is for each animal a special, essential fluid, and so each creature is different, as is clear from what follows. some of them crawl on their bellies, some walk on two legs, and some on four. God creates whatever He will; God has power over everything.

46We have sent verses that clarify the right path: God guides whoever He will to a straight path. 47They say, ‘We believe in God and the Messenger; we obey,’ but then some of them turn away: these people are not true believers 48and when they are summoned to God and His Messenger in order for him to judge between them, some of them turn away. 49If they were claiming their right, they would come willingly [to the Prophet]. 50Do they have sickness in their hearts? Are they full of doubts? Do they fear that God and His Messenger might deal with them unjustly? No, it is they who are the unjust ones. 51When the true believers are summoned to God and His Messenger in order for him to judge between them, they say, ‘We hear and we obey.’ These are the ones who will prosper: 52whoever obeys God and His Messenger, stands in awe of God, and keeps his duty to Him will be triumphant. 53[The others] solemnly swear by God that if you [Prophet] commanded them, they would march out. Tell them, ‘Do not swear: it is reasonable obedience that is required, and God is aware of everything you do.’ 54Say, ‘Obey God; obey the Messenger. If you turn away, [know that] he is responsible for the duty placed upon him, and you are responsible for the duty placed upon you. If you obey him, you will be rightly guided, but the Messenger's duty is only to deliver the message clearly.’

Notes:

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.

a This ma is not ‘water’, which would have the generic al- (cf. 21: 30), but is for each animal a special, essential fluid, and so each creature is different, as is clear from what follows.

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