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Selections from Surah 25: Al-Furqan (The Criterion) [32 – 46]

50. Asad explains the change in pronoun: “As in so many other instances in the Qur’an, the abrupt change from the third-person pronoun ‘He’ to ‘We’ is meant to illustrate the fact that God is undefinable, and that it is only the inadequacy of human speech – and, hence, of the human mind – that makes it necessary to refer to the Supreme Being by pronouns which in reality are applicable only to finite, created ‘persons.’”

51. That is, every time a part of it is withdrawn, some amount of darkness is placed in its wake, so that it does not disappear altogether, at once (Qurtubi).

The pronoun in “qabadnaahu” (the “it” of “We draw it”) has been explained by the ancient scholars as referring to the shadow. In other words, “Then We draw in the shadow toward Us…” And the meaning is, “We make the shadow disappear unnoticed and quickly,” where “quickly” is the explanation of “khafiyyah” offered by Ibn `Abbas (Ibn Jarir).

Yusuf Ali stretches the verse to cover the whole day: “As the sun rises higher and higher, the shadows contract. In regions where the sun gets actually to the zenith at noon, there is no shadow left at that time. Where does it go to? It was but a shadow cast by a substance and it gets absorbed by the substance which produced it.” Further, “The shadows are constantly in a state of flux; so are all things in Creation, all things we see or covet in this life. Allah, if He wills, can give some of them greater fixity or comparative stability.”

Mawdudi thinks on the same lines. He explains the in-drawing toward Allah in the following words, “…for, whatever vanishes or becomes extinct returns to God. From Him everything issues and to Him everything ultimately returns.”

It might be interesting to note that modern science tells us that everything has a shadow of itself, even under a shade. A man for example, has a shadow of himself falling on the earth even when he is standing under a shade. Thermal photography can photograph it even 72 hours after he has left the place. Could this be another implication of the words “stretches the shadow?” – Au.

Imam Razi and Qurtubi add that the allusion by “in-drawing” could as well be to the darkening of the sun at the approach of the Hour when it will be gradually indrawn, (meaning, shrunk in size), to ultimately go out of existence.

With the above meaning before us, it might be useful to know that the scientific position is very near to this. Our sun, a medium sized star among the billions of stars in our galaxy, is calculated to be about five billion years old. At present it is burning its hydrogen. When its hydrogen is burnt out, it will begin to burn its helium. At that point in time, about five billion years from now, it will become a red giant of such size as to enclose the earth in its radius. Obviously, everything on earth will be reduced to ashes. After it has burnt out its helium, the sun will begin to contract, get reduced to a very small size, a white dwarf in scientific jargon, and fade into oblivion. But of course, the Final Day scenario drawn by the Qur’an is quite different from the death of the sun as predicted by modern science (Au.).

(To be continued)

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