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Sūrah Muddaththir
Qur'anic Exegesis
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)



Sūrah Muddaththir forms a pair with Sūrah Muzzammil, the preceding sūrah with regard to the subject discussed in them. Sūrah Muzzammil directs the Prophet (sws) to prepare himself for bearing the burden of a heavy responsibility, while Sūrah Muddaththir explains this very responsibility: the Prophet (sws) after completing the first phase of his mission: indhar, should embark upon the second phase: indhar-i-‘am.

The sūrah is addressed to the Prophet (sws) and also to his addressees: the leadership of the Quraysh.

It is evident that with the revelation of these two sūrahs in Makkah began the phase of Indhar-i-‘am of the Prophet's mission (sws).

Central Theme

The central theme of Sūrah Muddaththtir is to explain the responsibility of indhar-i-‘am to the Prophet (sws) and to disclose to him its requirements and its limits and to make it clear to his addressees that the Day of Judgement about which the Prophet (sws) has now been directed to openly warn them of, must not be regarded by them as something trivial. It is a day which will not be easy upon those who reject it and it is a reality which cannot be denied; no intercession will be of any use to save one's self from its torment.


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

يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُدَّثِّرُ  قُمْ فَأَنذِرْ  وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرْ  وَثِيَابَكَ فَطَهِّرْ  وَالرُّجْزَ فَاهْجُرْ  وَلَا تَمْنُن تَسْتَكْثِرُ  وَلِرَبِّكَ فَاصْبِرْ (١-٧)

فَإِذَا نُقِرَ فِي النَّاقُورِ  فَذَلِكَ يَوْمَئِذٍ يَوْمٌ عَسِيرٌ  عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ غَيْرُ يَسِيرٍ  ذَرْنِي وَمَنْ خَلَقْتُ وَحِيدًا  وَجَعَلْتُ لَهُ مَالًا مَّمْدُودًا  وَبَنِينَ شُهُودًا  وَمَهَّدتُّ لَهُ تَمْهِيدًا  ثُمَّ يَطْمَعُ أَنْ أَزِيدَ  كَلَّا إِنَّهُ كَانَ لِآيَاتِنَا عَنِيدًا  سَأُرْهِقُهُ صَعُودًا (٨-١٧)

إِنَّهُ فَكَّرَ وَقَدَّرَ  فَقُتِلَ كَيْفَ قَدَّرَ  ثُمَّ قُتِلَ كَيْفَ قَدَّرَ  ثُمَّ نَظَرَ  ثُمَّ عَبَسَ وَبَسَرَ  ثُمَّ أَدْبَرَ وَاسْتَكْبَرَ  فَقَالَ إِنْ هَذَا إِلَّا سِحْرٌ يُؤْثَرُ  إِنْ هَذَا إِلَّا قَوْلُ الْبَشَرِ (١٨-٢٥)

سَأُصْلِيهِ سَقَرَ  وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا سَقَرُ  لَا تُبْقِي وَلَا تَذَرُ  لَوَّاحَةٌ لِّلْبَشَرِ  عَلَيْهَا تِسْعَةَ عَشَرَ (26-٣٠)

وَمَا جَعَلْنَا أَصْحَابَ النَّارِ إِلَّا مَلَائِكَةً وَمَا جَعَلْنَا عِدَّتَهُمْ إِلَّا فِتْنَةً لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِيَسْتَيْقِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ وَيَزْدَادَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِيمَانًا وَلَا يَرْتَابَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَلِيَقُولَ الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ وَالْكَافِرُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِهَذَا مَثَلًا كَذَلِكَ يُضِلُّ اللَّهُ مَن يَشَاء وَيَهْدِي مَن يَشَاء وَمَا يَعْلَمُ جُنُودَ رَبِّكَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَمَا هِيَ إِلَّا ذِكْرَى لِلْبَشَرِ (٣١)

كَلَّا وَالْقَمَرِ  وَاللَّيْلِ إِذْ أَدْبَرَ  وَالصُّبْحِ إِذَا أَسْفَرَ  إِنَّهَا لَإِحْدَى الْكُبَرِ  نَذِيرًا لِّلْبَشَرِ  لِمَن شَاء مِنكُمْ أَن يَتَقَدَّمَ أَوْ يَتَأَخَّرَ  كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ رَهِينَةٌ  إِلَّا أَصْحَابَ الْيَمِينِ  فِي جَنَّاتٍ يَتَسَاءلُونَ  عَنِ الْمُجْرِمِينَ  مَا سَلَكَكُمْ فِي سَقَرَ  قَالُوا لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ الْمُصَلِّينَ  وَلَمْ نَكُ نُطْعِمُ الْمِسْكِينَ  وَكُنَّا نَخُوضُ مَعَ الْخَائِضِينَ  وَكُنَّا نُكَذِّبُ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ  حَتَّى أَتَانَا الْيَقِينُ (٣٢-٤٧)

فَمَا تَنفَعُهُمْ شَفَاعَةُ الشَّافِعِينَ  فَمَا لَهُمْ عَنِ التَّذْكِرَةِ مُعْرِضِينَ  كَأَنَّهُمْ حُمُرٌ مُّسْتَنفِرَةٌ  فَرَّتْ مِن قَسْوَرَةٍ  بَلْ يُرِيدُ كُلُّ امْرِئٍ مِّنْهُمْ أَن يُؤْتَى صُحُفًا مُّنَشَّرَةً  كَلَّا بَل لَا يَخَافُونَ الْآخِرَةَ  كَلَّا إِنَّهُ تَذْكِرَةٌ  فَمَن شَاء ذَكَرَهُ  وَمَا يَذْكُرُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَشَاء اللَّهُ هُوَ أَهْلُ التَّقْوَى وَأَهْلُ الْمَغْفِرَةِ (٤٨-٥٦)

O ye enfolded in your shawl!1 Arise and give open warning2 and proclaim the greatness of your Lord only3, and cleanse the apparel of your soul4 and keep away from [this] dirt [of polytheism] and [listen!] Do not discontinue your endeavour regarding it to be enough5 , and with perseverance wait for the decision of your Lord.  (1-7)

Because when the trumpet is sounded, that Day will be very severe. It will not be easy for these disbelievers.6 Leave to Me7 whom8 I have created alone and bestowed abundant wealth spread about and sons abiding in his presence and well smoothed out for him [the path of success and achievement in this world]. Still he expects that [when he has received so much in this world] I shall give him more [in the next]. Certainly not! He has turned out to be an enemy of Our revelations.9 [Therefore], soon I will make him climb a mounting slope.10 (8-17)

[This wrongdoer]11, he pondered and he schemed. Cursed be he; what he schemed!12 Then cursed be he, what he schemed. Then he looked [around him]. Then he frowned and scowled. Then  he  turned  away  in  scornful  pride.  Then   said  `This  is nothing but a magic13 [of eloquent words; the same] which is being handed down from the past. [This is no divine inspiration]; it is nothing but the word of man.  (18-25)

[This wrongdoer], I will soon cast him into Hell. And what do you know what this Hell is? It will not show mercy nor spare anyone. It scorches the skin. Over it are nineteen14.  (26-30)

--15 And We have appointed none but angels16 as the keepers of Hell and have mentioned their number only to make it a test17 for those who do not believe. So that the People of the Scriptures receive assurance from this18  and  the  believers  may  increase in their faith19 and that the People of the Scriptures and the believers have no doubt about it. And so that [contrary to them], these disbelievers and those [among the People of the Scriptures] who have the ailment [of jealousy] in their hearts [make fun of this and] say ‘What can Allāh mean by this mention?’ In this way Allāh [according to His law] leads astray whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases. And [they should never have any misconception about their knowledge20 ; the fact is that] no one knows the armies of your Lord save He. And this [narrative] is just a reminder for man.  (31)

[They think that since the Day of Judgement has not come yet, therefore the news of its arrival is just a fallacy]. Certainly not! the moon bears witness and the night also when it turned its back and the morning when it shines forth that [similarly in this world everything gradually reaches its end21; so O People!] This22 is from among the great matters narrated to warn man. For every person who wants to advance forward [to accept it] or wants to turn away [from it after denying it]23. [Remember! On that Day] every soul shall be [held] in pledge for its deeds except the people of the right hand24. They will be in gardens inquiring after these wrongdoers. They will ask them ‘What has brought you into Hell?’ They will reply `Indeed, we were not among those who prayed25 nor did we feed the poor26. And we used to quibble27 with these quibblers and used to deny this Day of Reckoning till there came to us this moment of certainty28 . (32-47)

At that time, no intercession of [their] interceders will be of any use to them.29 What then is the matter with them that they are turning away from this Reminder, as though they are frightened asses fleeing from a lion? [What lesson could they have learnt from the Qur’ān]? Each one of them, in fact, desires that [instead of a Prophet sent forth], he be handed open scrolls [of revelation]30. Certainly not! [This shall never be nor this should ever be; and this is not the reason O Prophet! that they have drawn away from the truth. The fact is that] they do not expect that the Day of Judgement will come31. [Do not go after them], never! This [Qur’ān] verily is a Reminder. So let him, who wills, take heed -- and they do not take heed unless Allāh [according to His law32] so wills -- [so let him, who wills, take heed]. He alone33 is pious and worthy of being forgiven by his Allāh.  (48-56)





1. The affection expressed for the Prophet (sws) in this address is fully apparent. These words portray the same state of the Prophet (sws) as has been described in the previous sūrah. They vividly depict the state of mind in which he was after he received a cold response from his people. They reflect his pensive mood which was bordering on distress and grief. In such a situation a person quite naturally relishes seclusion and in this state of solitude, his shawl is his greatest refuge to which he retreats to detach himself from the rest of the world.

2. The words ‘open warning’ explain the responsibility alluded to by the words qaulan thaqilah of the preceding sūrah.

3. That is proclaim the singularity and oneness of Allāh; all others whose greatness is proclaimed are unfounded. This declaration of Tawhid, it must be kept in consideration, has always remained the basis of the message of all the Prophets of Allāh (sws).

4. That is cleanse your soul from anything which may stain the Tawhid of Allāh. This directive, it is clear, was not given because there was a chance that the Prophet (sws) might succumb to the stance of the Quraysh; it actually indirectly addresses the leadership of the Quraysh and categorically seals the fate of any compromise they may have expected in this regard.

5. The Prophets of Allāh (sws) on their own cannot decide the time to call off their mission of propagation in their people if they are evading their calls. It is only the Almighty Who can decide this. The next verse directs the Prophet (sws) to wait for this decision.

6. It is about the dreadful consequences of this Day about which the Prophet (sws) must openly warn his people.

7. This and the subsequent verses severely upbraid the leaders of the Quraysh who regarded their state of opulence as evidence of their righteousness and of their being near to Allāh.

8. That is everyone of the leaders of the Quraysh.

9. That is instead of being grateful for these favours, he became arrogant.

10. This refers to the punishment of the Hereafter the Quraysh will encounter if they persist in their attitude.

11. This is the picture of animosity mentioned earlier by the words: ‘He turned out to be an enemy of Our revelations’. In other words this and the subsequent verses portray the reply and arrogant attitude of a typical leader of the Quraysh when his followers ask his opinion about the Qur’ān.

12. That is what a foolish opinion he has formed about the Qur’ān.

13. The Quraysh used to disparage the Qur’ān by trying to lead their followers to believe that it was not divine: it was just a magic of words which was something quite human.

14. That is nineteen angels.

15. This verse sounds an apt warning to the addressees of the sūrah on their expected reaction. It has come between the text of the sūrah like a parenthetical sentence.

16. In other words, neither Satan nor jinn with whom they can contrive to get themselves free but dutiful and faithful angels guard the gates of hell.

17. The actual reason for this mention is to bring out the malice and spite the disbelievers have for the Qur’ān. Such tests distinguish to the utmost the believers from the disbelievers.

18. Since the previous scriptures contain similar details about the Hereafter, this mention will affirm to them the divinity of the Qur’ān. Here those among the People of the Book have been referred to who were true seekers of the truth and who subsequently accepted Islam when its message reached them.

19. Increase in faith of the believers is due to the worthless objections raised by the disbelievers. If a sound stance is ridiculed and not countered by sound objections the truth becomes even more apparent.

20. Since He alone is running the affairs of the worlds, He is the best judge of the number of personnel required to fulfill a particular assignment; so no one should make fun of the number of angels mentioned for the task of guarding Hell.

21. A deliberation on other verses in which oaths of similar meaning have been stated (e.g. 89:1-4 and 81:17-18) shows that a particular argument has been used by the Qur’ān to remind man of the Day of Judgement: there exists a pattern of gradual progression for each event and each of the Almighty’s decrees has an appointed time. The gradual rising of dawn from the departing night reminds us that the night of this world will one day manifest into dawn of the next one. Similarly, the phases of the moon remind us that this world also, like the moon, will gradually complete its cycle and finally disappear.

22. That is the Day of Judgement.

23. The purpose of this reminder is that no one should be left with any excuse for denying the greatest reality: the Day of Judgement.

24. This exception actually refers to the fact that the good deeds of the people of the right hand will be able to redeem them.

25. It is evident from this that just as Tawhid is the foremost belief of Islam, salat is the foremost deed. It relates a person to his Creator.

26. Spending in the way of Allāh is the second most important deed of Islam. It links a person to his fellow beings.

27. That is quibbled about the Day of Judgement. The previous verses mention one such example of this.

28. That is death overtook them.

29. This is a special linguistic style in which the consequence of a thing is negated to negate the thing itself. In other words, there will be no intercession since there will be no interceders.

30. This is one of the excuses the disbelievers had put forward to reject faith. (see: 6:124)

31. This is an allusion to the real reason of their denial for which they were presenting such a lame excuse.

32. This law which is mentioned in many places in the Qur’ān says that unless a person possesses a sincere yearning for the truth and uses his faculties of reasoning to ponder on the realities around him, he will not be able to benefit from the reminders sounded by the Qur’ān.

33. That is he who will take heed.

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