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Sūrah Qāriah
Qur'anic Exegesis
Amin Ahsan Islahi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

Central Theme

The basic teaching of this sūrah is that the Day of Judgement about which man is being prewarned is destined to come. No one has any prior knowledge about its arrival which will be as sudden as an unexpected rap at the door. One should always remain apprehensive about it and be wise enough to be always in a position to anticipate its arrival. On that day people would emerge from their graves as scattered moths appear in the rainy season. Everyone would be too busy in contemplating about the fate which awaits him than to think about his kins. No one would be in a position to help anyone else. The tremendous convulsion would render the mountains into tufts of carded wool let alone small fortifications or entrenchments. On that day man would only benefit from his good deeds. God would establish the Balance of Justice in which all of man’s deeds would be weighted. If the good deeds outweigh the evil ones he would dwell in eternal bliss and if the evil deeds tilt the scales, the scorching pit of hell shall be his eternal abode.

Meaning of the Sūrah

The Pounding one! What is the Pounding one!? And what do you imagine what the Pounding one is? A day wherein people would be like scattered moths and mountains like tufts of carded wool. Then whose scales are heavy shall dwell in bliss and whose scales are light, the abyss shall be their abode. And what do you imagine what that is!? Blazing fire!!

Explanation of the Sūrah

(The Pounding one!)...(1)

Among other names, this is one name of Day of Judgement. It means ‘the pounding one’ or the ‘the rapping one’. The Arabic phrase (kara-al-bāb), means ‘he pounded or rapped at the door.’ This name indicates a special feature of the Day of Judgement, that it would come as abruptly and as suddenly as an unexpected bang at the front door at night which strikes panic among the dwellers inside. Like a bolt from the blue it would alight and catch everyone unaware. It would create a tremendous cataclysm in this universe and everything would be annihilated. Hidden in this name is also a warning that since no one has any foreknowledge about the time of its arrival and that since it would be the biggest upheaval in the universe, it is in the well being of everyone to always remain fearful about it. The particular style adopted here has a ring of an alarm about it in order to caution everyone to be on their vigil and anticipate the arrival of this disaster. It can be said that the immense turbulence which be created by the advent of the Day is somewhat being created before its arrival by the very clamour of its name.

(What is the Pounding one!?).... (2)

This question serves to magnify the severity of the alarm, warning those who regard it as an ordinary affair and  have become indifferent to its implications. IT cautions and urges them to seriously think about something which is bound to happen and to prepare themselves to negotiate its aftermath.

(What do you imagine what the pounding one is!)   .... (3)

This special Qur’ānic style, often used elsewhere, is meant to lament and deplore the foolishness and indifference of the people abut such a significant even. It is in the form of an inquiry that what is their estimation about the severity of a calamity which would suddenly waylay them and what would happen to those who ridicule it after being warned about it time and again.

(A Day wherein people would be like scattered moths.) ... (4)

This is graphic description of the situation which would arise on that day, when people would emerge from their graves like scattered moths. Everyone would stand alone to reckon with the results of the deeds. No one would have his family or clan about him nor any of his tribesmen or comrades to defend him. Even other deities he associated with God and other intercessors on whom he was depending upon would not be present to lessen his burdens. We quote from the Qur’ān:

On that day men would emerge from their graves alone, so that their deeds can be shown to them. (99:6)

So when the trumpet is sounded the blood relations between them shall be no more on that day, nor will they be able to ask for eachother’s help. And only those whose scales of good deeds are heavy shall attain salvation and whose scales are light shall be the ones who have incurred a loss and shall forever abide in hell. (23:101-103)

On that day no friend will inquire about his friend thought they would be shown to eachother. The sinner would wish to give away his children, his wife, his brother and his kinsfolk who gave him shelter, and all the people of the earth, as ransom if the n this could deliver him. (70:10-14)

(And the mountains would be like tufts of carded wool.)... (5)

This verse means that on that day just as tribal and family support and backing, the refuge and shelter provided by buildings, forts, citadels and other similar structures shall be no more. On that day mountains would be rendered into tufts of carded wool. This simile vividly portrays the fact that just as in the case of carded wool each fibre is completely set asunder, so shall be each particle of a mountain. The Arabic wood (ehn) is used for that wool which after having being carded and given colour has become ready for weaving.

Mountains have been specially mentioned here because at that time those who were denying the Day of Reckoning regarded the mountains as eternally indestructible. They used to mockingly pose this question to the Prophet (sws) that would these moutntains be destroyed on that day. This question has been quoted elsewhere in the Qur’ān and has been answered here in this verse.

(Then whose scales are heavy shall dwell in bliss.)... (6-7)

The only things which would be considered worthwhile on that day would be a man’s good deeds. A special Balance of Justice meant only to weight the deeds of men, would be erected on that day, as mentioned in the Qur’ān:

And for the Day of Judgement We would set up a special Balance of Justice (21:47)

Only those whose good deeds out number their evil ones shall attain salvation and all others would be doomed forever.

A Special characteristic of this Balance as mentioned in Sūrah Aarāf would be that only truth (good deeds) would be able to tilt it. Evil (bad deeds) will have no weight in its scales:

On that day the truth only will have weight. So, those whose scales are heavy shall attain salvation, and those whose scales are light will be the ones who have incurred a loss because hey wronged their souls by denying our revelations. (7:8-9)

The relative singular pronoun (mun) as used in the verse above is used here to denote plurality.

By saying that these people shall dwell in bliss is meant that no only would they be granted whatever they wish for but also what they cannot even imagine.

(And those whose scales are light the abyss shall be their abode. And what do you imagine what that is!? Blazing fire!!).... (8-11)

This is a description of the fate of those whose evil deeds have no weight in the Balance of Justice. Whatever good deeds they might have brought with them would be rendered useless due to their ill-intentions and heretical beliefs. The scorching pit of hell shall be their eternal abode.

The word (um) means ‘mother’ but here it very aptly denotes a resort or a dwelling.

The (hey) in the word (māhiyah) is to maintain the rhyme of the verses by taking into consideration the conventional pause at the end of a verse.

(Translated from Islahi’s “Tadabur-ul-Qūran”)


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