Sūrah Takāthur forms a pair with Sūrah Qāri`ah, the preceding
sūrah. There is no essential difference between the topics discussed in the two.
In Sūrah Qāri`ah, it is pointed out that only the good deeds done in this world
will be of any use to a person in the Hereafter; they only will have weight in
the Balance of Justice. A person whose good deeds abound will attain salvation,
while a person whose evil deeds outnumber the good ones, however much a treasure
he might have amassed, will be doomed forever. Grief and regret will be his only
In this sūrah, people who have confined all their efforts to
achieve worldly gains, and whose aim in life has remained nothing but to outdo
one another in the acquisition of wealth, are warned of the dreadful fate which
awaits them. They are the ones who spent their lives in the lust and greed for
money, and always remained possessed with an insatiable desire to accumulate the
luxuries and riches of this world. Throughout their lives, they remained so
occupied with this dash for wealth that they forgot the Day when they would be
held accountable for all their deeds. A day wherein they would be flung into the
raging fire of hell, if they would fail to justify their deeds. They would be
inquired about everything they had acquired, the manner in which it was
acquired, and the way it was expended and consumed. They would be questioned
about how they used their abilities, skills and other blessings given to them by
the Almighty; whether they used them to please Him or employed them to satisfy
their own lusts and gratify Satan.
Meaning of the
The desire to
surpass one another in the acquisition of wealth has allured you until you
reached the graves. By no means! you will soon come to know! Yes, By no means!
you will soon come to know! (1-4)
By no means!
if you knew with certainty that you would surely come across Hell, and you would
observe it by your very eyes, and you would be questioned about these favours,
(The desire to
surpass one other in the acquisition of wealth has allured you.) (1)
Alhā means `to
allure' and `to deceive'.
`abundance in wealth and children'.
the custom in the pre-Islamic Arab society, a family was responsible for the
defence and security of a tribe. Due to this reason, the family which had the
largest number of individuals was entrusted with this task. This naturally
resulted in a race to outdo one other not only in the accretion of wealth, but
also in the size of a family. Anyone who has studied their customs and
traditions knows that they used to take a lot of pride in not only outdoione
another in wealth but also in having a large family. In present times, with the
change in the social set up, this situation has also changed. Specially, due to
the widely acclaimed concept of family-planning, the general trend is to raise
the standard of living by having as small a family as possible. Almost all
people seem to be afflicted with this malady, and one seldom comes across anyone
who has not been a prey to this contagious disease. Also, since no upper limit
has been fixed in the standard of living, their thirst for wealth never
quenches, and in fact every bit gathered makes them yearn for more. They have
been caught in a vicious circle, and there seems no end to this race for
material gains. As no limit has been set for the standard of living, the rate at
which their greed is continuing to increase, is much more than the rate at which
the standard of living itself is increasing. It is this which the Qur’ān terms
as takāthur, and asserts that it effectively allures a person to the extent that
he becomes unmindful to the other important realities of life. He is so overcome
by the desire to acquire worldly riches that he becomes totally indifferent to
the life that awaits him in the Hereafter.
reached the graves.) (2)
that their whole life is spent in the acquisition of wealth and material
benefits, till the final resting place is encountered. In Arabic, the verbal
noun, ziyārat, from which the word zurtum is derived, simply means `to see',
contrary to its connotation in Urdu, where a certain amount of holiness and
sanctity is also attached to this meaning. Hence, zurtum means: `you saw the
graves’ that is `you were consigned to the graves’. To
quote a Hamāsī poet:
Idhā zurtu ardan ba`da tūl ijtinābiha
Faqadtu sadīqī wa’l bilādu kamā hiya.
(When I see my
place years after remaining away from it, it seems as if I have lost all my
friends, but the place is the same as it was before.)
was an Arabic tradition, according to which the Arabs used to keep an account of
the graves of their people and proudly mentioned them in their gatherings, but
this is not implied here. But, indeed one wonders why the expression zurtumu’l
maqābir has been used by the Qur’ān, instead of simply saying `until death
overtook you'. In my opinion, the reason behind adopting this particular style
is firstly, to maintain the rhyme of the verses and secondly, to express regret
and pity over the unfortunate people, who have deprived themselves of the reward
in the Hereafter by indulging in a relentless race for wealth.
(By no means!
you will soon come to know. Yes, By no means! you will soon come to know.) (3-4)
This serves as
a forceful intimation to those who consider material success in life all that
one must strive for. It sounds a warning to those who after being explained
everything, are not willing to open their eyes to the actual reality. It
cautions them that this life whose charms have allured them so much is not the
end. In fact, the life in the Hereafter which at the moment is invisible to them
is the life for which they must really strive for, which very soon they will
behold from their very eyes.
stress in these verses is to make this warning more efficacious, as well as to
express the fact that a nation which rejects and denies the message of a Prophet
directly assigned towards them, faces severe punishment not only in this world,
but also in the next. In other words, it admonishes them to either mend their
ways or get ready to face this double humiliation -- for a decision about their
fate is about to be made.
hidden beneath the word ta`lamūn (you will come to know) is too evident to be
described in words.
(By no means!
if you knew definitely that you would surely come across Hell, and you would
observe it by your very eyes, and you would be questioned about these blessings,
unveil the real reason behind the carefree attitude of such people. It is
attributed to their lack of belief in the Day of Judgement, a day in which they
will observe the abyss of Hell from their very eyes. A day when they will be
held answerable for all the favours and blessings the Almighty had showered upon
them, and which they had squandered against His liking. If they had a true
belief in the Day of Judgement, they would never have indulged in these material
pursuits, and would have spent all their time and energies in preparing
themselves for it.
It would be
appropriate here to analyze the grammatical structure and construction of these
verses. The apodosis of the hypothetical particle law (jawāb-i-law) is omitted
here. Though almost all the commentators agree to this, but they do not consider
the subsequent verses as subordinate to this conditional clause of the foremost
verse. However, in my opinion the subsequent verses are also subordinate to the
hypothetical particle law of the first verse, and they are not separate or
independent sentences. The over all apodosis of law is omitted because the
context readily suggests it. We can unfold the whole sentence as thus: `If you
knew all these aspects, you would never have adopted this attitude’. In
grammatical terminology, the verse latarawunnal jahīm is in place of the object
of the verse law ta'alamūna `ilama’l yaqīn (If you knew with certainty that you
would see the blazing fire of hell). The asseverative particle lām, appended to
the energetic verb tarawunna is meant to emphasize this certainty.
from this that the ‘ilmu’l Yaqīn or certain knowledge needed to have faith in
the Day of Judgement is already present in the manifest verses of the Qur’ān, in
our own intuition, as well as in every phenomenon of nature. As such, every
person must accept and acclaim this reality. Anyone who evades it by paying no
heed to these strong testimonies present inside and outside him, can have no
excuse for this attitude, and strictly deserves to be punished.
evident conclusion is that though certain knowledge about realities which in
this world have been concealed from our eyes can be obtained from the Qur’ān,
and from the testimonies of the human instinct and the cosmic order, yet ‘ainu’l
yaqīn or the certainty obtained by actually beholding a reality can only be
possible in the Hereafter because this type of knowledge solely relates to the
observation of the concealed realities. On these grounds, I consider as
baseless, the claim of some people that `ainu’l yaqīn can be obtained in this
world as well. Only `ilmu’l yaqīn about a reality on the basis of external
evidences can be obtained in this world, and which, of course, one day will be
The last verse
thummah latusalunna yawmaizin `anin naīm also has a subordinate relation with
the verse law ta'almūna `ilmal yaqīn (The correct translation reads thus: `If
you knew that on that day you would be questioned about every favour and
blessing’). By this `questioning', is actually meant that they would be punished
for misusing these blessings, and for being ungrateful to the Almighty.
The word na`īm
encompasses all the skills and capabilities, as well as all means and resources
God has blessed us with. All these privileges and favours necessitate that we
should be grateful to God, and expend them in the way He has prescribed for us
and within the limits set by Him. If these blessings are wasted or misused, then
this negligence must necessarily be punished by the wrath of God. A person's
eyes, ears, heart, brain, and indeed all his organs and limbs are a blessing of
God. Similarly, all the latent and apparent skills and abilities that he has
been blessed with, as well as all his means and resources are a gift of God. It
is the natural right of these blessings that God should be thanked for this
bestowal, and that they should be used within the limits prescribed by Him. At
the same time, one must not become so possessed with them that he actually
starts worshipping them, forgetting the real Creator. Those who commit such
excesses will be severely dealt with on the Day of Judgement.
Since in this
sūrah, the evils of the acquisition of wealth are highlighted, wealth, which is
one of the connotations of the word na‘īm is specially discussed here. Every
person will be held accountable for the manner in which he had acquired his
wealth, and the ways in which he had spent it. Those who had spent it against
the liking of the Almighty, and did not care to acquire it by legitimate means,
worshipping it by spending all their lives accumulating it will be confronted by
the fate mentioned in Sūrah Humaza:
every (evil) gesticulator, faultfinder who amassed wealth, and greedily hoarded
it thinking that his wealth will render him immortal. By no means! he will be
flung into that which smashes to pieces. And what do you imagine what that which
smashes to pieces is? A fire kindled by God, which will rise up to their hearts.
They will be enshrouded in it, fastened to columns very high.
At the end,
the overall apodosis of the particle law is omitted, as has been indicated
before. There are many places in the Qur’ān where this style is adopted because
the omission is so obvious that it needs no words for its expression. This style
very effectively conveys the intended meaning, which is in fact very
comprehensive and whose expression might otherwise be against the norms of
brevity, a distinctive feature of the Qur’ān.
In this case,
the omitted part which is left to the imagination of the reader, is actually a
final warning for these people. It is a means of urging them to calmly review
all their hitherto policies. It cautions them to seriously analyze their
attitude about some undeniable and inescapable realities of life. It exhorts
them to deeply contemplate over the pattern of their lives and assess how far
from reality they had always remained; how incorrect and unrealistic was their
attitude about it. If they had earnestly thought about them, they would not have
wasted their lives in oblivion. But then, all is not lost. They are being
offered a final chance to mend their ways, and change their life styles. They
should now confine all their efforts and undertakings to earn the eternal
happiness of the Hereafter, instead of wasting them in material pursuits.
meaning is being suggested by this omission -- a perfect example of how
effectively the Qur’ān uses brevity to conceal profound meanings in a minimum
number of words.
from “Tadabbur-i- Qur’ān” by Shehzad Saleem)