with its light, blinding their eyes. Then hearing that the universe is united in its hostility towards them, the listener’s mind calls out: “What will happen to them? What can they do? What are they trying to do?” So [the Qur’an] says: “whenever it gives them light, they advance therein, and whenever darkness falls around them, they stand still (kullamā aḍā’a la-hum mashaw fīhi wa idhā aẓlama ‘alayhim qāmū),” indicating that they are confused, hesitant, and bewildered, watching for the slightest opportunity and the smallest glimpse of the road. Whenever it appears to them they move forward, but with their anguished spirits, jerkily like decapitated hens, and then become frozen to the spot.
So by way of enquiry the listener’s mind asks: “Why don’t they die, or become completely blind and deaf, and be saved from their anguish?” And [the Qur’an] says: “And if Allah so willed, He could indeed take away their hearing and sight (wa-law shā’a Allāh la-dhahaba bi-sam‘ihim wa abṣārihim);” that is, they do not deserve to be delivered from their plight. For this reason, [divine] will does not cause them to die. If it were to act, it would take away their hearing and sight. It is more fitting for those who are recalcitrant and deviate from the laws of the Most High that they retain their ears to hear their punishment and their sight to see it.
Containing all these points, from beneath its exterior the story hints at divine sublimity and power, and the disposals of the Most High in the universe, especially the marvels of the thunder, lightning, and clouds. On recalling this, with his conscience aroused the listener declares: “Glory be to Him! How great the power of the One whose awesomeness the universe manifests, and whose wrath these calamities display!” So [the Qur’an] said: “Verily Allah is powerful over all things (innā Allāhu ‘alā kulli shay’in qadīr.)”
Now for the relationships between the constituents of the phrases:
Know that the “or” of “or [the parable] of a violent rainstorm” (the “aw” of “aw ka-ṣayyibin,”) indicates that [the dissemblers] represented in the comparison are divided into two sorts, and is a sign that there is a true correspondence both between the two parables, and between them and [the condition of] the dissemblers, and that there is an indisputable similarity between them. Moreover, the “or” comprises the [intensifying conjunction] “bal al-tarqiyya” [meaning, but rather, no on the contrary, but, indeed], for the second parable is more terrifying. The lack of correspondence between “or [the parable] of a violent rainstorm (aw ka-ṣayyibin)” and the dissemblers [that is, the dissimilarity between them, because the dissemblers are