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Sūrahs Mutaffifīn - Inshiqāq
Qur'anic Exegesis
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)



Both these sūrahs form a pair with regard to their subject matter.

The central themes of both sūrahs is to warn the Quraysh of the consequences of any misconception they may have about the Day of Judgement. Most surely, they are going to be raised up on that day to appear before their Lord and shall definitely meet different fates according to their deeds.

In the first sūrah, the basis of the argument is the awareness of good and evil in human nature and in the second, the manifest signs in the world around man form this basis.

The sūrahs are directed at the leadership of the Quraysh, and it is evident from their contents that like the previous sūrahs they were revealed in Makkah in the phase of Indhār-i-`ām of the Prophet’s mission.

Sūrah Mutaffifīn

وَيْلٌ لِّلْمُطَفِّفِينَ  الَّذِينَ إِذَا اكْتَالُواْ عَلَى النَّاسِ يَسْتَوْفُونَ  وَإِذَا كَالُوهُمْ أَو وَّزَنُوهُمْ يُخْسِرُونَ  أَلَا يَظُنُّ أُولَئِكَ أَنَّهُم مَّبْعُوثُونَ  لِيَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ  يَوْمَ يَقُومُ النَّاسُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (١-٦)

كَلَّا إِنَّ كِتَابَ الفُجَّارِ لَفِي سِجِّينٍ  وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا سِجِّينٌ  كِتَابٌ مَّرْقُومٌ  وَيْلٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِّلْمُكَذِّبِينَ  الَّذِينَ يُكَذِّبُونَ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ  وَمَا يُكَذِّبُ بِهِ إِلَّا كُلُّ مُعْتَدٍ أَثِيمٍ  إِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِ آيَاتُنَا قَالَ أَسَاطِيرُ الْأَوَّلِينَ  كَلَّا بَلْ رَانَ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِم مَّا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ  كَلَّا إِنَّهُمْ عَن رَّبِّهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ لَّمَحْجُوبُونَ  ثُمَّ إِنَّهُمْ لَصَالُوا الْجَحِيمِ  ثُمَّ يُقَالُ هَذَا الَّذِي كُنتُم بِهِ تُكَذِّبُونَ (٧-١٧)

كَلَّا إِنَّ كِتَابَ الْأَبْرَارِ لَفِي عِلِّيِّينَ  وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا عِلِّيُّونَ  كِتَابٌ مَّرْقُومٌ  يَشْهَدُهُ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ  إِنَّ الْأَبْرَارَ لَفِي نَعِيمٍ  عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ يَنظُرُونَ  تَعْرِفُ فِي وُجُوهِهِمْ نَضْرَةَ النَّعِيمِ  يُسْقَوْنَ مِن رَّحِيقٍ مَّخْتُومٍ  خِتَامُهُ مِسْكٌ وَفِي ذَلِكَ فَلْيَتَنَافَسِ الْمُتَنَافِسُونَ  وَمِزَاجُهُ مِن تَسْنِيمٍ  عَيْنًا يَشْرَبُ بِهَا الْمُقَرَّبُونَ (١٨-٢٨)

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ أَجْرَمُوا كَانُواْ مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يَضْحَكُونَ  وَإِذَا مَرُّواْ بِهِمْ يَتَغَامَزُونَ  وَإِذَا انقَلَبُواْ إِلَى أَهْلِهِمُ انقَلَبُواْ فَكِهِينَ  وَإِذَا رَأَوْهُمْ قَالُوا إِنَّ هَؤُلَاء لَضَالُّونَ  وَمَا أُرْسِلُوا عَلَيْهِمْ حَافِظِينَ  فَالْيَوْمَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مِنَ الْكُفَّارِ يَضْحَكُونَ  عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ يَنظُرُونَ  هَلْ ثُوِّبَ الْكُفَّارُ مَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ (٢٩-٣٦)

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful

Woe shall be on those1 who exact full measure when they take from others, but when they measure or weigh for others give less than what is due.2 Do they not believe that they will be raised up one day?3 for presence on a great day. The day when men will stand up before the Lord of the worlds4.  (1-6)

[Look at them: this attitude in weighing and measuring bears witness that they differentiate between good and evil, but still contend that each person will meet the same fate]. Certainly not! Indeed, the record of these disobedient shall be in Sijjīn5. And what do you know what Sijjīn is?6 A written register. Devastation shall be on that Day upon those who deny. These who are denying the Day of reward and punishment. And, no one denies it except the usurper of rights, the evil-doer7. When Our verses are recited to him, he says: Tales of the ancients8. Certainly not! In fact, the rust of their deeds has settled on their hearts9. [They think that if ever the Day of Judgement will come, they will be blessed with the same opulence as in this world]. Certainly not! On that Day, they shall certainly  be  held away from their Lord10. Then they shall enter Hell. Then it shall be said to them: This is what you used to deny11.  (7-17)

[They shall never meet the same fate]. By no means! Indeed, the record of the obedient shall be in the ‘Illiyyīn. And what do you know what the ‘Illiyyīn is?12 A written register. In custody of the exalted angels. These obedient13 shall be in bliss, reclining on thrones gazing around. You will see the glow of this bliss on their faces. Their thirst will be quenched with pure wine, sealed; the seal will be of musk. And to this [end] let those who wish to strive, strive with fervour14 – the wine will be tempered with15 Tasnīm, a special spring on whose banks these favoured ones of Allah shall sit and drink16.  (18-28)

[And there were days when] these sinners used to laugh at these believers and used to wink at one another when they passed them by. And when they would return to their people, they would return jesting17. And when they would see them, they would say: Certainly, they are the strayed ones.18 [They claim to be reformers]. Whereas, they were not sent to be their guardians19. But look today these believers are laughing at these unbelievers, reclining on thrones witnessing [their fate] -- Why! Have not the unbelievers been duly rewarded for what they did? (29-36)

Sūrah Inshiqāq

إِذَا السَّمَاء انشَقَّتْ  وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا وَحُقَّتْ  وَإِذَا الْأَرْضُ مُدَّتْ  وَأَلْقَتْ مَا فِيهَا وَتَخَلَّتْ  وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا وَحُقَّتْ (١-٥)

يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنسَانُ إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَى رَبِّكَ كَدْحًا فَمُلَاقِيهِ  فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ  فَسَوْفَ يُحَاسَبُ حِسَابًا يَسِيرًا  وَيَنقَلِبُ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُورًا  وَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ وَرَاء ظَهْرِهِ  فَسَوْفَ يَدْعُو ثُبُورًا  وَيَصْلَى سَعِيرًا  إِنَّهُ كَانَ فِي أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُورًا  إِنَّهُ ظَنَّ أَن لَّن يَحُورَ  بَلَى إِنَّ رَبَّهُ كَانَ بِهِ بَصِيرًا (٦-١٥)

فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالشَّفَقِ  وَاللَّيْلِ وَمَا وَسَقَ  وَالْقَمَرِ إِذَا اتَّسَقَ  لَتَرْكَبُنَّ طَبَقًا عَن طَبَقٍ (١٦-١٩)

فَمَا لَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ  وَإِذَا قُرِئَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقُرْآنُ لَا يَسْجُدُونَ  بَلِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ يُكَذِّبُونَ  وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يُوعُونَ  فَبَشِّرْهُم بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ  إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ لَهُمْ أَجْرٌ غَيْرُ مَمْنُونٍ (٢٠-٢٥)

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful

That day [O People!] when the sky is rent asunder, and obeys its Lord’s command as is befitting for it20. And when the earth is stretched out and casts out all that is within her and becomes empty and obeys its Lord as is it should do. [That will be the day when you shall meet your Lord]. (1-5)

[For that very day] O man!21 You also are toiling on towards your Lord and are going to meet Him22. Then he whose record is given to him [there] in his right hand will receive an easy reckoning23, and he will go back rejoicing to his people24. And he whose record is handed out to him from behind his back [into his tied up hands]25 will call for death26 and shall enter the blazing fire of Hell. He remained engrossed among his kinfolk. He thought that he would never have to return anywhere. Why not [why should he be left with his misdeeds and not called to account]? His Lord was ever watching over him.  (6-15)

Therefore, this is not so [O people! that you if you have been given some latitude, you would stay here for ever]. I present as witness the glow of the sunset, and the gathering night, and the moon when it grows full that you also shall [in a similar way] ascend gradually [to appear before your Lord].27(16-19)

[If this is a reality and surely it is] what has come over them that they are not believing, and when the Qur’ān is recited before them they do not bow down [acknowledging its greatness]!28 In fact [strangely enough] these unbelievers, on the contrary, are denying; yet Allah [their Lord] knows full well what they are accumulating [in this world for the world to come].29 So [ Prophet!] Give them glad tidings of a painful doom. For those, however, there is eternal reward [there] who accepted faith and did righteous deeds.  (20-25)




1. This is not merely a statement of fact. Hidden beneath it is a severe curse for the addressees.

2. The words `who exact full measure when they take from others’ point to the fact that these verses actually depict an unworthy character; warning people against measuring wrongly is not what is under discussion here. This depiction is meant to substantiate that not only is every person aware of good and evil but that his own behaviour also shows that he likes good and dislikes evil. The distinction between justice and injustice and the liking for justice and the disliking for injustice are found in his very nature. A person might weigh less for others but he would never like others to weigh less for him. Similarly, a person might steal from someone’s house but would never like his house to be broken into. This behaviour shows that he positively likes justice and dislikes injustice and wants that the just and the unjust be dealt with differently, and that he is never happy if the two are treated equally.

3. This is an expression of wonder as well as admonition. What the people are denying is an obvious reality. Their own nature, to which the previous verses refer, calls them towards it. With such a strong evidence within them, how do they contend that the just and the unjust will become dust once they die and that they will not be raised by the Almighty to be rewarded or punished according to their deeds.

4. The expression `Lord of the Worlds’ brings out the great importance of the Day wherein people will face their Lord. It is in their own well-being to remain prepared for this Day.

5. The word sijjīn here has not been used literally. It is actually a proper noun as the subsequent words indicate.

6. This style is meant to bring out the dreadful nature of sijjīn.

7. That is no one can deny the Day of Judgement on the basis of reason and rationality. Only those who are arrogant and unjust and have thereby distorted their nature can dare to deny it. The Arabic word mu`tad means someone who usurps the rights of others while the word athīm means someone who does not fulfil his obligations to others.

8. This is a description of their way of denial. Since they do not have any arguments to refute the Day of Judgement, their arrogance manifests itself in this fashion.

9. They have become slaves of their base desires. The rust of their evil deeds has sullied their hearts. In other words, it is their behaviour which has alienated them from the truth – the truth which is found all round them. It is the Almighty’s law to take away a person’s ability to grasp the truth if he does not take heed from the signs within him and outside him that point to this truth.

10. That is they shall be withheld from the presence of their Almighty, not being able to behold Him in the refulgent splendour which surrounds Him nor being able to benefit from His favours.

11. The repetition of the particle thumma (then) shows that these words will be said to them emphatically to humiliate them further.

12. 12. While this style expresses the dreadful nature of Sijjīn in verse seven, as pointed out earlier, it expresses here the exalted nature of `Illiyyīn.

13. The next few verses describe the fate of the obedient (abrār) in contrast with that of the disobedient (fujjār) described earlier on.

14. This should be the real driving force behind a believers actions and deeds: All of his striving should be to attain the eternal life of bliss.

15. The Arabic word mizāj is used for all those things that are used to enhance or moderate the flavour and crispness of wine.

16. Tasnīm is the name of the heavenly fountain on whose banks they will sit to drink its pure wine. Drinking on the banks of a spring, it must be kept in consideration, has always been a something highly relished by man.

17. Such was their arrogance that instead of feeling ashamed of making fun of people, they would recount their achievements to their families with pride and vanity.

18. That is they tried to mislead people by calling the Muslims a lot gone astray.

19. That is these believers have not been sent as guardians over the disbelievers. The words of the disbelievers are stated here in reported speech.

20. These words, which are again repeated for the `attitude’ of the earth, are meant to admonish man for his own arrogant attitude. He also, like these two great creations of Allah, should adopt a submissive attitude to the Almighty.

21. The address is directed at the proud people of Quraysh.

22. That is a person chained in the fetters of time from his birth to death and passing through various phases is ever moving closer to meet his Lord.

23. That is all their trivial mistakes shall be forgiven and giving an account will be an easy going for them.

24. The family for whom he always remained worried about in the previous world and which themselves, as the words hint, have been salvaged here.

25. It is obvious from this that the hands of the criminals will be tied behind their backs. Other verses (for example 69:25) add that they will be given their account in the left hand.

26. Death will be the only way out for him to escape from the terrible punishment of Hell. He will want to die but this time there will be no death. Though these words should have apparently come after the next verse since they will be uttered after the sinner enters Hell, yet literary eloquence demands that these words should be placed earlier to bring them exactly parallel to the details of the fate of the righteous.

27. Just as the glow of sunset gradually fades and disappears in the night which slowly spreads to engulf everything and just as the moon after gradually passing through various phases each month culminates into its full splendour, this world shall also gradually culminate into the next world. In other words, the law of gradual progression evident in the world around man reminds him that like these phenomena, the Day of Judgement also has an appointed time. He should not deny a reality merely because it has been withheld from him till a particular time.

28. One must bear in mind the ancient Arab and Egyptian tradition of bowing down before things that overawed them.

29. That is their wealth, their deeds and the results of these deeds.

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