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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

27 THE ANT (1 – 45)

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

27. The Ants (1 – 28)

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Ta Sin

Those are the signs of the Koran and a Manifest Book, a guidance, and good tidings unto the believers who perform the prayer, and pay the alms, and have sure faith in the Hereafter.

Those who believe not in the Hereafter, We have decked out fair for them their works, and they wander blindly; 5those are they whom an evil chastisement awaits, and they will be the greatest losers in the Hereafter.

Thou receivest the Koran from One All-wise, All-knowing.

When Moses said to his people ‘I observe a fire, and will bring you news of it, or I will bring you a flaming brand, that haply you shall warm yourselves.’ So, when he came to it, he was called: ‘Blessed is He who is in the fire, and He who is about it. Glory be to God, the Lord of all Being! Moses, behold, it is I, God, the All-mighty, the All-wise. 10Cast down thy staff.’ And when he saw it quivering like a serpent he turned about, retreating, and turned not back. ‘Moses, fear not; surely the Envoys do not fear in My presence, save him who has done evil, then, after evil, has changed into good; All-forgiving am I, All-compassionate. Thrust thy hand in thy bosom and it will come forth white without evil—among nine signs to Pharaoh and his people; they are an ungodly people.’ But when Our signs came to them visibly, they said, ‘This is a manifest sorcery’; and they denied them, though their souls acknowledged them, wrongfully and out of pride. Behold, how was the end of the workers of corruption!

15And We gave David and Solomon knowledge and they said, ‘Praise belongs to God who has preferred us over many of His believing servants.’

And Solomon was David's heir, and he said, ‘Men, we have been taught the speech of the birds, and we have been given of everything; surely this is indeed the manifest bounty.’ And his hosts were mustered to Solomon, jinn, men and birds, duly disposed; till, when they came on the Valley of Ants, an ant said, ‘Ants, enter your dwelling-places, lest Solomon and his hosts crush you, being unaware!’ But he smiled, laughing at its words, and he said, ‘My Lord, dispose me that I may be thankful for Thy blessing wherewith Thou hast blessed me and my father and mother, and that I may do righteousness well-pleasing to Thee; and do Thou admit me, by Thy mercy, amongst Thy righteous servants.’ 20And he reviewed the birds; then he said, ‘How is it with me, that I do not see the hoopoe? Or is he among the absent? Assuredly I will chastise him with a terrible chastisement, or I will slaughter him, or he bring me a clear authority.’ But he tarried not long, and said, ‘I have comprehended that which thou hast not comprehended, and I have come from Sheba to thee with a sure tiding. I found a woman ruling over them, and she has been given of everything, and she possesses a mighty throne. I found her and her people prostrating to the sun, apart from God; Satan has decked out fair their deeds to them and he has barred them from the way, and therefore they are not guided, 25so that they prostrate not themselves to God, who brings forth what is hidden in the heavens and earth; and He knows what you conceal and what you publish. God: there is no god but He, the Lord of the Mighty Throne.’ Said he, ‘Now we will see whether thou hast spoken truly, or whether thou art amongst those that lie. Take this letter of mine, and cast it unto them, then turn back from them and see what they shall return.’ She said, ‘O Council, see, a letter honourable has been cast unto me. 30It is from Solomon, and it is “In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Rise not up against me, but come to me in surrender.”’ She said, ‘O Council, pronounce to me concerning my affair; I am not used to decide an affair until you bear me witness.’ They said, ‘We possess force and we possess great might. The affair rests with thee; so consider what thou wilt command.’ She said, ‘Kings, when they enter a city, disorder it and make the mighty ones of its inhabitants abased. Even so they too will do. 35Now I will send them a present, and see what the envoys bring back.’ But when he came to Solomon he said, ‘What, would you succour me with wealth, and what God gave me is better than what He has given you? Nay, but instead you rejoice in your gift! Return thou to them; we shall assuredly come against them with hosts they have not power to resist, and we shall expel them from there, abased and utterly humbled.’ He said, ‘O Council, which one of you will bring me her throne, before they come to me in surrender?’ An efreet of the jinns said, ‘I will bring it to thee, before thou risest from thy place; I have strength for it 40and I am trusty.’ Said he who possessed knowledge of the Book, ‘I will bring it to thee, before ever thy glance returns to thee. Then, when he saw it settled before him, he said, ‘This is of my Lord's bounty that He may try me, whether I am thankful or ungrateful. Whosoever gives thanks gives thanks only for his own soul's good, and whosoever is ungrateful—my Lord is surely All-sufficient, All-generous.’ He said, ‘Disguise her throne for her, and we shall behold whether she is guided or if she is of those that are not guided.’ So, when she came, it was said, ‘Is thy throne like this?’ She said, ‘It seems the same.’ ‘And we were given the knowledge before her, and we were in surrender, but that she served, apart from God, barred her, for she was of a people of unbelievers.’ It was said to her, ‘Enter the pavilion.’ But when she saw it, she supposed it was a spreading water, and she bared her legs. He said, ‘It is a pavilion smoothed of 45crystal.’ She said, ‘My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, and I surrender with Solomon to God, the Lord of all Being.’

A Meccan sura which takes its title from the ants mentioned in the Solomon story (verses 18–19). It both opens and closes by describing the Qurʾan as joyful news for the believers and a warning for others. It gives stories of past prophets and the destruction of the communities that disbelieved in them. Illustrations are given of the nature of God's power, contrasted with the total lack of power of the ‘partners’ they worship beside Him, and descriptions are given of the Day of Judgement for those who deny it.

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

1Ta Sin

These are the verses of the Qurʾan—a scripture that makes things clear; 2a guide and joyful news for the believers 3who keep up the prayer, pay the prescribed alms, and believe firmly in the life to come. 4As for those who do not believe in the life to come, We have made their deeds seem alluring to them, so they wander blindly: 5it is they who will have the worst suffering, and will be the ones to lose most in the life to come.6You [Prophet] receive the Qurʾan from One who is all wise, all knowing.

7Moses said to his family, ‘I have seen a fire. I will bring you news from there, or a burning stick for you to warm yourselves.’8When he reached the fire, a voice called: ‘Blessed is the person near this firea Moses or God. Literally ‘in this fire’ (fi al-nari). Zamakhshari interpretsfi as ‘near’, while Qatada and Zajjaj understand nar ‘fire’ to mean nur ‘light’ (Razi). and those around it;b The angels. ’ may God be exalted, the Lord of the Worlds. 9Moses, I am God, the Mighty, the Wise. 10Throw down your staff,’ but when he saw it moving like a snake, he turned and fled. ‘Moses, do not be afraid! The messengers need have no fear in My presence, 11I am truly most forgiving and merciful to those who do wrong,c Cf. 28: 15. This is an allusion to a man Moses killed in Egypt. and then replace their evil with good. 12Put your hand inside your cloak and it will come out white, but unharmed. These are among the nine signs that you will show Pharaoh and his people; they have really gone too far.’

13But when Our enlightening signs came to them, they said, ‘This is clearly [just] sorcery!’ 14They denied them, in their wickedness and their pride, even though their souls acknowledged them as true. See how those who spread corruption met their end!

15We gave knowledge to David and Solomon, and they both said, ‘Praise be to God, who has favoured us over many of His believing servants.’ 16Solomon succeeded David. He said, ‘People, we have been taught the speech of birds, and we have been given a share of everything: this is a clearly a great favour.’ 17Solomon's hosts of jinn, men, and birds were marshalled in ordered ranks before him, 18and when they came to the Valley of the Ants, one ant said, ‘Ants! Go into your homes, in case Solomon and his hosts unwittingly crush you.’19Solomon smiled broadly at her words and said, ‘Lord, inspire me to be thankful for the blessings You have granted me and my parents, and to do good deeds that please You; admit me by Your grace into the ranks of Your righteous servants.’

20Solomon inspected the birds and said, ‘Why do I not see the hoopoe? Is he absent? 21I will punish him severely, or kill him, unless he brings me a convincing excuse for his absence.’ 22But the hoopoe did not stay away long: he came and said, ‘I have learned something you did not know: I come to you from Sheba with firm news. 23I found a woman ruling over the people, who has been given a share of everything—she has a magnificent throne—24[but] I found that she and her people worshipped the sun instead of God. Satan has made their deeds seem alluring to them, and diverted them from the right path: they cannot find the right path. 25Should they not worship God, who brings forth what is hidden in the heavens and earth and knows both what you people conceal and what you declare?26He is God, there is no god but Him, the Lord of the mighty throne.’ 27Solomon said, ‘We shall see whether you are telling the truth or lying. 28Take this letter of mine and deliver it to them, then with draw and see what answer they send back.’

Notes:

a Moses or God. Literally ‘in this fire’ (fi al-nari). Zamakhshari interpretsfi as ‘near’, while Qatada and Zajjaj understand nar ‘fire’ to mean nur ‘light’ (Razi).

b The angels. ’

c Cf. 28: 15. This is an allusion to a man Moses killed in Egypt.

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