Central Theme and Relationship with the Previous Sūrah
This sūrah is the counterpart of Sūrah Hāqqah, the previous
sūrah. There is no basic difference in the central themes of the two: warning
people of the Day of Judgement and the punishment that they will face on that
day. The apparent style of the two sūrahs also has great resemblance. Just as in
the previous sūrah, an oath is sworn in the middle of the sūrah to substantiate
reward and punishment, in this sūrah too a similar oath is sworn. A special
aspect of this oath is that in it the arrogant and haughty people who were
making fun of the punishment of Hereafter and want to hasten its arrival are
warned. The Prophet (sws) is asked to show patience on their attitude: they are
very mean and malicious. The respite given to them by God has made them very
arrogant. If He even catches them slightly, they will forget their pomposity.
The Prophet (sws) is asked to ignore them awhile; their judgement day is about
to arrive; when it arrives, they will come to know how horrible was the thing
they were hastening!
Analysis of the Discourse
People who had been irritating the Prophet (sws) by asking
him to hasten the torment and punishment he was threatening them with are
reprimanded for their behaviour. They are informed that this torment shall
certainly come upon the disbelievers and no one will be able to avert it. They
must not measure the time-frame of Allah with their own. Exalted is His abode;
the angels and the archangel Gabriel need a day which is equal to fifty thousand
years of this world in duration to reach His presence. The Prophet (sws) is
urged to be patient and is assured that what these narrow-minded people are
regarding as far-fetched is very near in the eyes of God.
A portrayal of the Day of Judgement wherein the sky will be
like molten oil and the mountains will be like carded wool. Powerful factions
and groups shall no longer be. No person will be able inquire after another of
his state and condition. On that Day, every person would like to redeem himself
from punishment by offering his near ones, relatives, family and tribe as ransom
if this could deliver him. The flames of Hell shall tear and burn his skin. It
shall pull into itself all those who evaded the Divine Call and spent their time
in amassing riches and counting them.
A reference to the fact that people generally become
frustrated and start complaining if the Almighty punishes them a little for
their deeds. If they are given respite, they become proud instead of being
grateful and greedily guard the riches they have gathered. Only those people are
an exception to this rule who are blessed with the urge of worshipping Allah. In
their wealth, the deprived and the needy have a share. They fear the Day of
Judgement and know that the punishment of the Almighty cannot be ignored. They
are those who guard their chastity, protect their trusts and fulfill their
covenants. They stand firm in their testimonies and are also vigilant in their
prayers. It is these people who will be honoured in the gardens of bliss in the
Wonder is expressed at the attitude of the people who madly
rush at the Prophet (sws) to quieten him when they hear from him about the
punishment of this world and of the next. A reference is made to their false
claim that they would receive more favours and blessings in the next world than
they have in this – if at all the new world comes. On the basis of this claim,
whenever the promised doom is mentioned to them, they get irritated. They should
remember their creation and not consider their being created a second time a
far-off thing; neither should they start praising themselves through their own
tongues. Allah, the Lord of the East and the West, can more easily create them a
second time. At the end, the Prophet (sws) is urged to let these people indulge
in vain talk; not far is the promised Day when they will emerge from their
graves – when their eyes will be lowered in dejection and ignominy will be
Text and Translation
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
سَأَلَ سَائِلٌ بِعَذَابٍ وَاقِعٍ (١) لِّلْكَافِرينَ لَيْسَ
لَهُ دَافِعٌ (٢) مِّنَ اللَّهِ ذِي الْمَعَارِجِ (٣)
تَعْرُجُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ إِلَيْهِ فِي يَوْمٍ كَانَ مِقْدَارُهُ
خَمْسِينَ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ (٤)
فَاصْبِرْ صَبْرًا جَمِيلًا (٥) إِنَّهُمْ يَرَوْنَهُ بَعِيدًا (٦) وَنَرَاهُ
قَرِيبًا (٧) يَوْمَ تَكُونُ السَّمَاء كَالْمُهْلِ (٨) وَتَكُونُ الْجِبَالُ
كَالْعِهْنِ (٩) وَلَا يَسْأَلُ حَمِيمٌ حَمِيمًا (١٠) يُبَصَّرُونَهُمْ يَوَدُّ
الْمُجْرِمُ لَوْ يَفْتَدِي مِنْ عَذَابِ يَوْمِئِذٍ بِبَنِيهِ (١١) وَصَاحِبَتِهِ
وَأَخِيهِ (١٢) وَفَصِيلَتِهِ الَّتِي تُؤْويهِ (١٣) وَمَن فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا
ثُمَّ يُنجِيهِ (١٤) كَلَّا إِنَّهَا لَظَى (١٥) نَزَّاعَةً لِّلشَّوَى (١٦)
تَدْعُو مَنْ أَدْبَرَ وَتَوَلَّى (١٧) وَجَمَعَ فَأَوْعَى (١٨) إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ
خُلِقَ هَلُوعًا (١٩) إِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ جَزُوعًا (٢٠) وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ
الْخَيْرُ مَنُوعًا (٢١) إِلَّا الْمُصَلِّينَ (٢٢) الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَى
صَلَاتِهِمْ دَائِمُونَ (٢٣) وَالَّذِينَ فِي أَمْوَالِهِمْ حَقٌّ مَّعْلُومٌ (٢٤)
لِّلسَّائِلِ وَالْمَحْرُومِ (٢٥) وَالَّذِينَ يُصَدِّقُونَ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ (٢٦)
وَالَّذِينَ هُم مِّنْ عَذَابِ رَبِّهِم مُّشْفِقُونَ (٢٧) إِنَّ عَذَابَ رَبِّهِمْ
غَيْرُ مَأْمُونٍ (٢٨) وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُوجِهِمْ حَافِظُونَ (٢٩) إِلَّا
عَلَى أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ
مَلُومِينَ (٣٠) فَمَنِ ابْتَغَى وَرَاء ذَلِكَ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْعَادُونَ (٣١)
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِأَمَانَاتِهِمْ وَعَهْدِهِمْ رَاعُونَ (٣٢) وَالَّذِينَ هُم
بِشَهَادَاتِهِمْ قَائِمُونَ (٣٣) وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَى صَلَاتِهِمْ يُحَافِظُونَ
(٣٤) أُوْلَئِكَ فِي جَنَّاتٍ مُّكْرَمُونَ (٣٥) فَمَالِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا
قِبَلَكَ مُهْطِعِينَ (٣٦) عَنِ الْيَمِينِ وَعَنِ الشِّمَالِ عِزِينَ (٣٧)
أَيَطْمَعُ كُلُّ امْرِئٍ مِّنْهُمْ أَن يُدْخَلَ جَنَّةَ نَعِيمٍ (٣٨) كَلَّا
إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاهُم مِّمَّا يَعْلَمُونَ (٣٩) فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِرَبِّ الْمَشَارِقِ
وَالْمَغَارِبِ إِنَّا لَقَادِرُونَ (٤٠) عَلَى أَن نُّبَدِّلَ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ
وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمَسْبُوقِينَ (٤١) فَذَرْهُمْ يَخُوضُوا وَيَلْعَبُوا حَتَّى
يُلَاقُوا يَوْمَهُمُ الَّذِي يُوعَدُونَ (٤٢) يَوْمَ يَخْرُجُونَ مِنَ
الْأَجْدَاثِ سِرَاعًا كَأَنَّهُمْ إِلَى نُصُبٍ يُوفِضُونَ (٤٣) خَاشِعَةً
أَبْصَارُهُمْ تَرْهَقُهُمْ ذِلَّةٌ ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمُ الَّذِي كَانُوا يُوعَدُونَ
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Ever-Merciful.
A person in haste asked to hasten the punishment which is
to befall the disbelievers. No one will be able to avert it. It will be from the
Lord of many levels. The angels and the Spirit ascend towards Him in a Day the
measure of which is fifty thousand years. So show patience with grace and
dignity. They regard it to be far off, and We see it very near at hand. (1-7)
The Day when the sky becomes like sediment of oil and the
mountains become like tufts of carded wool, and no friend shall inquire after
his friend. They shall be shown to one another. The sinner will long to redeem
himself from the torment of that Day by offering his sons, his wife, his
brother, his family who remained his shelter and all the people of the earth as
ransom and then save himself from it. (8-14)
By no means! It will be a fire that strips open the skin,
and calls to itself every person who turned his back and drew away and amassed
riches and hoarded them. (15-18)
Man has been created impatient. Whenever some affliction
befalls him he becomes depressed and when good fortune befalls him he becomes
stingy. Not so those who pray, who are always steadfast in the prayer; who set
aside a fixed portion in their wealth for those who ask and for the deprived and
who testify to the Day of Reckoning and dread the punishment of their Lord;
indeed, the punishment of their Lord is a thing to fear. And those who preserve
their chastity except from their wives and slave-girls, for in their cases they
are not blameworthy. But they who seek to go beyond this, then it is they who
are transgressors. And those who keep their trusts and promises and those who
stand firm in their testimonies and those who keep guard over their prayers. It
is they who will live in Paradise with respect. (19-35)
Then what is the matter with these disbelievers that they
rush madly at you in multitudes from right and left? Does each man among them
covet to enter the garden of bliss? By no means! We have created them out of
what they know. (36-39)
So No! I swear by the Lord who is the Master of all the
vastness of the East and the West that We can create them in a better form and
We are not powerless in this regard. So leave them to chat and play about until
they encounter that day of theirs about which they are being threatened. The Day
on which they will emerge from their graves as if racing towards targets marked.
Their eyes will be downcast; ignominy will cover them. This is the Day about
which they had been warned. (40-44)
سَأَلَ سَائِلٌ بِعَذَابٍ وَاقِعٍ (١)
I have already discussed the various connotations of the
word سَأَلَ earlier in this tafsīr. When it comes with
the preposition ب it encompasses the meaning of “to
make fun and to ask to hasten something”. In other words, the verse should be
translated as: a person asked to hasten or made fun of the punishment which is
destined to be meted out to the disbelievers. When the arrogant leaders of the
Quraysh were threatened with punishment, they would ask such questions: Where is
the punishment? If it is supposed to come, what is the delay? We are being
threatened with it since ages; if it was sent by the Almighty where has it
stopped on the way? Obviously, such questions were not meant for investigation
but to tease and harass the Prophet (sws) and to make fun of the promised doom.
They are meant to hasten the arrival of the punishment as well as to make fun of
it. In fact, the very reason for hastiness is to make fun. The preposition
ب has indicated both these elements in the question
because it is used both with إسْتِعْجَالٌ (to ask to
hasten something) and إِسْتِهْزاءٌ (to make fun of
something). Thus for example, it is said: يَسْتَعْجِلُونَكَ
بِالْعَذَابِ (٥٤:٢٩). Similarly, ب is also used
as a preposition for إِسْتِهْزاءٌ .
لِّلْكَافِرينَ لَيْسَ لَهُ دَافِعٌ (2)
The word لِّلْكَافِرينَ (for the
disbelievers) can be related to وَاقِعٍ (destined to
happen) of the previous verse. In this case, the meaning would be: they make fun
of the punishment which is destined for the disbelievers. Similarly, this word
can also be regarded to be the beginning of an independent sentence, as has been
translated above; in this case, the stress would be that it is their misfortune
which is driving them to obdurately show such haste; once the great calamity
comes, where will it go except to their own houses; have they prepared
themselves to encounter it that they are challenging it. No one will have the
courage to avert it. Neither they nor their deities; so on what basis are they
مِّنَ اللَّهِ ذِي الْمَعَارِجِ (3)
The implication of this verse is that the punishment is
bound to come because the threats and promises of God are certain to
materialize; however, exalted is His majesty and He is the Lord of many levels
and stairways. The commands that originate from His court have their own program
and time-frame. His Day is equivalent to a thousand “human” days; for this
reason, man should not judge the length of God’s Day on the basis of his limited
measurements. It is this narrow-mindedness of man that makes him hasty and
impatient about the judgements of God. He shows hastiness in every matter and
forgets that the Almighty has created separate worlds and each has a separate
system and laws. Neither can we know all secrets of this universe nor can we
measure God’s days by our own days and watches. In Sūrah Hajj, this subject is
discussed in the following words:
وَيَسْتَعْجِلُونَكَ بِالْعَذَابِ وَلَن يُخْلِفَ اللَّهُ
وَعْدَهُ وَإِنَّ يَوْمًا عِندَ رَبِّكَ كَأَلْفِ سَنَةٍ مِّمَّا تَعُدُّونَ (٤٧:٢٢)
And they bid you hasten the scourge whereas God does not
break His promise. And it should remain clear that each day of your Lord’s is
like a thousand years in your reckoning. (22:47)
What is implied is that man’s measuring units are very
small. He gauges every promise and threat on the basis of these units and for
this reason he thinks that a long period has passed over a particular promise
and is yet to be fulfilled. The truth of the matter is that as per the measures
of God only a few seconds or minutes have elapsed on the promise.
الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ إِلَيْهِ فِي يَوْمٍ كَانَ مِقْدَارُهُ خَمْسِينَ أَلْفَ
This is an explanation of how the Almighty is
regarded to be One of many levels: to reach His presence, even angels and
Gabriel need a day which is equivalent to fifty thousand earth years. The word
مَعَارِجْ means “stairways”. In other words, what is
meant is that the Almighty is beyond the beyond. Even angels and Gabriel require
fifty thousand years to reach His presence what to speak of other creatures.
What is said above is of the category of mutashābihāt. It
is impossible to grasp its true form. The purpose is to inform man that he
should not regard God’s affairs as analogous to his own. His one day equals one
thousand earth years and for certain tasks he has prescribed a day which is
equivalent to fifty thousand earth years. The verse under discussion refers to
this special day.
The word الرُّوحُ refers to
Gabriel. This mention of the specific after the general is to describe his
majesty and grandeur because he is the Archangel. This word is used in the
Qur’ān for Gabriel.
Some people have regarded this day to be the Day of
Judgement, and they think that its length actually describes its horror and
dreadfulness. In my opinion, this view is not only against the context and
occasion of the discourse but also against linguistic principles of Arabic. Here
the occasion is to express the exaltedness of the Almighty’s court and not the
horrors of the Day of Judgement. The dreadfulness and horror of the Day of
Judgement is expressed further in the sūrah.
Here it should be kept in mind that even though the court
of God is very exalted and He is beyond the beyond yet he is nearer to man than
his life-vein. He watches over everyone, hears everyone’s calls and guards
everyone. Though we are not able to see Him, He is able see all of us. Our eyes
cannot grasp Him but He is able to see us. It is said in Sūrah An‘ām:
لاَّ تُدْرِكُهُ الأَبْصَارُ وَهُوَ يُدْرِكُ الأَبْصَارَ
(103:6) (no eyes can comprehend Him, though He comprehends all eyes. He
is subtle and all-knowing, (6:103)). Therefore no one should stop fearing Him
nor should anyone lose hope in Him.
Similar is the case with the angels. Though they need a day
equivalent to fifty thousand earth years to reach God’s presence, they still
remain before His eyes. The Almighty can give His commands to them whenever He
wants to, and whenever He wants He can seize them.
فَاصْبِرْ صَبْرًا جَمِيلًا إِنَّهُمْ يَرَوْنَهُ بَعِيدًا
وَنَرَاهُ قَرِيبًا (٥-٧)
This is a mention of the attitude the Prophet (sws) should
adopt in contrast to those who want to hasten the punishment of God. Showing
patience with grace and dignity means that the Prophet (sws) should neither
become sad and lose hope because of their attitude nor should take any hasty
step in their response nor should he show any compromise in his stance. In
various sūrahs, besides the directive of exercising patience, it has also been
delineated that which makes patience as graceful and dignified.
The verse إِنَّهُمْ يَرَوْنَهُ بَعِيدًا
وَنَرَاهُ قَرِيبًا refers to the fact that these people are very
shortsighted and for this reason they regard the threatened punishment to be far
off; on the other hand, God sees it to be very near, and in reality it is God’s
sight in this matter which is decisive. If they had any vision, they too would
have regarded it to be near; however, their eyes have been blindfolded and, for
this reason, even a thing so near appears to them to be far off. When that day
arrives, their blindfolded eyes will see the light and everyone will see what
they had regarded as far-off was actually very near. The following verse of
Sūrah Qāf refers to this very aspect: فَبَصَرُكَ الْيَوْمَ
حَدِيدٌ (٢٢:٥٠) (today your sight is very sharp, (50:22)). It should be
kept in mind that those whose eyes have vision and whose mind is visionary as
well never get trapped in this misconception. A visionary person sees with the
light of God. Thus a true believer too, like the Almighty, sees such a Day to be
يَوْمَ تَكُونُ السَّمَاء كَالْمُهْلِ وَتَكُونُ الْجِبَالُ
This is a portrayal of the horror and of the cataclysm that
will take place on the Day of Judgement. This portrayal is meant to stir and
awaken people who lack the vision to grasp a reality beforehand: this
description might force them to pay heed.
The word مُهْلٌ has different
meanings. In Sūrah Kahf it has been used as well. I have explained the
connotation in which it is used there. It also means the sediment of oil and the
oil itself. If this meaning is adopted, then the purpose would be to liken the
colour of the sky to the redish-blackness of the sediment of oil. This redish
colour of the sky is also mentioned in Sūrah Rahmān:
فَكَانَتْ وَرْدَةً كَالدِّهَانِ (٣٧:٥٥) (it will be red like stained
The word ْعِهْنِ means “wool”;
here it refers to carded wool as is mentioned in Sūrah Qāri‘ah thus:
وَتَكُونُ الْجِبَالُ كَالْعِهْنِ الْمَنفُوشِ (٥:١٠١)
(and the mountains like tufts of carded wool, (101:5)).
This description of the events of the Day of Judgement
belongs to the category of mutashābihāt. Their true form cannot be grasped in
this world; however, it does come to mind that this redness will be caused by
the inflamed fire of Hell; mountains will be reduced to pieces and appear as
carded wool so that those who regard them to be eternal can observe their
transient nature. Obviously, if such will be the fate of the mountains one can
imagine what will happen to other objects. This description of the Day of
Judgement is recounted to warn the foolish and naïve who are very proud of their
large following and communal support and of their castles and palatial
buildings. Thus on this day, everything will be destroyed and a new world with
new laws will come into being.
وَلَا يَسْأَلُ حَمِيمٌ حَمِيمًا (١٠)
Such will be the extent of selfishness on that Day that
people who remained bosom friends throughout their lives, and those who
sacrificed their lives and wealth for one another will turn away from each other
in such a manner that no one will even have the courtesy to inquire after the
well-being of his friend.
يُبَصَّرُونَهُمْ يَوَدُّ الْمُجْرِمُ لَوْ يَفْتَدِي مِنْ
عَذَابِ يَوْمِئِذٍ بِبَنِيهِ وَصَاحِبَتِهِ وَأَخِيهِ وَفَصِيلَتِهِ الَّتِي
تُؤْويهِ وَمَن فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا ثُمَّ يُنجِيهِ (١١-١٤)
On that Day, people will not be out of sight of each other
that emotions of communal support and sense of honour do not arise in them. They
shall in fact be shown to one another and all these inflictions will befall them
in front of each other. However, such will be the extent of selfishness at that
time that near ones will not even inquire after one another. In the thirty
fourth verse of Sūrah ‘Abas, this subject is also discussed. A complete
elaboration inshallāh will be undertaken then.
So horrific will be the nature of that day’s torment that,
as mentioned in these verses, people would like to ransom themselves through the
closest of their relatives; however, this desire will never materialize. Neither
will anyone have anything to give as ransom nor will the ransom be accepted;
each person will have to face the punishment he had become worthy of.
A little deliberation shows that mentioned in this verse
are all relationships for which a person has a natural affiliation and a deep
sense of honour for their support and defence. The word family is qualified by
the word تُؤْويهِ. In other words, he would desire to
save himself even by giving in ransom the family which remained a refuge and
sanctuary for him throughout his life, which protected him from his enemies and
in whose defence he himself fought like a fearless warrior.
It should remain in consideration that in tribal life the
protection and support offered by a family and tribe has great significance. A
person who fearlessly fights for the defence of his family and tribe is regarded
to be a hero and he who sacrifices the interests of a tribe for the sake of his
own interests or in times of danger shows indifference to its protection is
humiliated not only before his own generation but before later ones too.
كَلَّا إِنَّهَا لَظَى نَزَّاعَةً لِّلشَّوَى (١٥-١٦)
The implication of this verse is that his desire to protect
himself from the fire of Hell will never be fulfilled. Its flames will rip open
his skin even from a distance.
The word كَلَّا (by no means) is
meant to refute the desire of the sinners mentioned earlier: their desire to be
shielded from fire will never be materialized.
In the sentence إِنَّهَا لَظَى
the pronoun in إِنَّهَا refers to the punishment
mentioned earlier on. The word لَظَى means “flames”.
The word شَوَى refers to the skin of the head and the
sides of the body. In other words, such shall be the range of the flames of this
fire that it will burn the skin of the sinners even from a great distance.
The word نَزَّاعَةً can be be
regarded as a second enunciative and can also be regarded as an accusative of
state. In both cases, there is no significant difference in the implied meaning.
تَدْعُو مَنْ أَدْبَرَ وَتَوَلَّى (١٧)
What is implied by this verse is that when today in this
world people are called to worship God and to shield themselves from His
punishment and to spend in His way, they turn away and evade this call; however,
on that day, it would be impossible to turn away from and evade the punishment
of Hell. It will call towards itself all those who evaded and refuted. The word
تَدْعُو is very meaningful and expressive here: those
on whom the calls of the Prophet (sws) are having no effect should remember that
one day these callous people will be called by Hell. It will call them in a
manner that they will not be able to escape from it.
وَجَمَعَ فَأَوْعَى (١٨)
The stingy are specifically referred to here because the
call to believe in the Hereafter and to spend in the way of God would be the
most burdensome for them. A requirement to succeed in the Hereafter is that
instead of amassing riches in the lockers of this world a person should deposit
his wealth in the bank of God. A stingy person would regard this to be a
non-lucrative deal. He neither has faith and conviction in the Hereafter nor has
the courage to sacrifice his wealth to reap the deferred rewards of the
Hereafter. It is for this very reason that the stingy have remained in the
forefront in opposing the calls of the prophets of God. Stinginess and disbelief
in the Hereafter are inseparable. It is mentioned in Sūrah Mā‘ūn:
الَّذِي أَرَأَيْتَ الَّذِي يُكَذِّبُ بِالدِّينِ وَلَا يَحُضُّ عَلَى طَعَامِ
الْمِسْكِينِ يَدُعُّ الْيَتِيمَ (١٠٧:
Have you seen the one who belies reward and punishment?!
He it is who drives away the orphan, and urges not the feeding of the poor.
The addition of the word فَأَوْعَى
to جَمَعَ is meant to convey the fact that they
blindly amassed wealth by hook or by crook and then painstakingly protected it
after counting it over and over again. At another place, the stingy are
described thus: الَّذِي جَمَعَ مَالًا وَعَدَّدَهُ (١٠٤:
(who greedily amassed wealth and counted it, (104:2)).
The message of the verse is that such stingy people who
evaded the calls of the Prophet (sws) to spend in the way of God because they
did not believe in the Hereafter will also be beckoned by Hell to come to it.
إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ خُلِقَ هَلُوعًا إِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ
جَزُوعًا وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ الْخَيْرُ مَنُوعًا (١٩-٢١)
The word هَلُوع refers to a
person who is impetuous, impatient, and mean.
Although a general word “man” is used in this verse, yet it
points to the people who are under discussion: instead of valuing the respite
granted to them by the Almighty they are impatiently demanding punishment; if
they are seized they will start complaining and screaming. Instead of spending
their wealth to reap great rewards in the Hereafter, they became greedy misers
and regarded their riches to be a consequence of their own hard work and a
result of they being worthy of it. They vainly reckoned that whatever they have
is a clear evidence of the fact that they are favourites of God and that they
will continue to be its beneficiaries and if ever the Hereafter will come they
will be given even more. However, if some calamity comes their way they will
lose hope and start lamenting. The implication of the verse is that the Prophet
(sws) should ignore the pompous and boastful mannerisms of such people; they are
very mean and worthless.
Whenever a particular group is mentioned in a general way,
the purpose is to express evasion and disgust; in fact, it is meant to disgrace
them. It is as if the speaker does not consider them worthy of talking to or
even referring to. This style is also found in other languages.
The style of the verse is similar to
خُلِقَ الْإِنسَانُ مِنْ عَجَلٍ (٣٧:٢١) (impatience is the very stuff man
is made of, (21:37)) and وَكَانَ الإِنسَانُ عَجُولاً (١١:١٧)
(and man is ever impatient, (17:11)). Just as sexual leaning, anger,
greed, and other similar traits exist in human nature, similarly, impatience
also has its place in it. Impatience in itself is not something condemnable.
What is condemnable is its expression in an unbalanced way or at inappropriate
instances. By creating man with conflicting traits and stimuli, the Almighty has
desired of him to strike a balance between them by following His directives
taught to him by His prophets and to make them subservient to the will of God
and to His laws. It is upon success in this trial that success in the Hereafter
is based. He has been blessed with the liberty of exercising his will and
authority for this very purpose. Were it not for this trial, there was no sense
in giving him the will to exercise his authority. Neither would there have been
any reason to grant him superiority over creatures of the world.
What is regarded as هلع in the
verse is also a form of impatience and impetuousness. If this trait dominates
his nature so much that other traits and features of his personality become
subservient to it, then it is very appropriate to say that man is created from
the substance of impatience. When a dish is prepared in a manner that it has a
great quantity of salt in it and this actually makes it unbearable to eat, then
it would not be wrong to say that this dish has been prepared from salt only.
إِلَّا الْمُصَلِّينَ الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَى صَلَاتِهِمْ
This is a mention of people who are free of impatience and
deviations and are the ones who have been mentioned earlier.
It is evident from the verse that the primary tool that can
create poise and balance in the conflicting traits of human nature is the
prayer. A person who wants to train and discipline himself in a manner that
Satan is not able to lure him should try foremost to be vigilant in the prayer.
Without this, no person can achieve success in this objective.
As far as the question is concerned that what makes the
prayer the foremost means to achieve this end, this is not the place to give a
detailed answer. I have dealt with it in a separate booklet called Haqīqat-i
Namāz (The Essence of the Prayer). Those who are interested should study it.
Here I will mention only those aspects which the Qur’ān has alluded to at this
It is said that the prayers of only those people are of use
who pray regularly. This is a very important admonition. The Qur’ān has also
mentioned in various styles people who in normal circumstances never pray or
prostrate before the Almighty; however, when some affliction befalls them they
become very regular in their prayers and spend hours in supplicating before the
Almighty. But as soon as this phase is over, they forget all their prayers and
behave as if they had never encountered the Almighty in the past nor will they
ever do in the future. Since such a prayer is only a manifestation of the
imbalance whose remedy is being suggested here, such a prayer is of no benefit
in their training and instruction. Only that prayer is of use which is offered
regularly and in all circumstances whether good or bad. A deed which may be
small in magnitude but is done regularly is more blessed from the one which may
be large in magnitude but is done erratically and irregularly. If after a sudden
burst of rain there is drought for a long period, crops are destroyed due to
lack of water. On the other hand, little but regular rain keeps the crops alive
and results in a good harvest. Same is the case with the prayer. If a person
vigilantly and diligently prays as per the general requirement of religion from
him in this regard it will earn him much more blessings than the long prayers
offered so erratically that a person even forgets that he had once visited a
mosque. ‘Ā’ishah (rta) has compared the practices of the Prophet with steady
whatever practice he would undertake would be undertaken regularly even though
it might be small in magnitude. It is this regularity which injects power,
spirit and life in a practice.
وَالَّذِينَ فِي أَمْوَالِهِمْ حَقٌّ مَّعْلُومٌ لِّلسَّائِلِ
Mentioned in this verse is the second pillar of religion:
spending in the way of God. I have explained at several places in this tafsīr
that in the practices of religion the prayer and spending in the way of God
occupies basic importance. The prayer links a person to God while this spending
links him to his fellow human beings on the right footings.
The words حَقٌّ مَّعْلُومٌ do not
necessarily refer to zakāh. The system of zakāh with a specific percentage was
implemented in Madīnah and the present sūrah is Makkan. These words actually
mean that these people do not spend merely to ritually and uninterestedly
discharge their responsibility but they spend a specific amount in the way of
God as if this spending was mandatory upon them.
It should be kept in mind that in the age of jāhilliyah
too, people were not unaware of zakāh and in spending in charity. It is evident
from Sūrah An‘ām that the Idolaters would take out a share for the cause of God
from their wealth; however, because of their polytheistic notions they also gave
a share to the deities whom they associated with God. The followers of the
Abrahamic religion were pure monotheists and whatever they would take out from
their wealth was reserved only for the cause of God. The tradition of Ishmael (sws)
mentioned in the following verse was well-known among them:
وَكَانَ يَأْمُرُ أَهْلَهُ بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ (55:19) (he enjoined
prayer and almsgiving on his people, (19:55)). For this reason, it is incorrect
to believe that before the advent of Islam the people of Arabia were absolutely
unaware of spending a specific amount for the cause of God. The rate of zakāh
imposed in the Madīnan period could have been different from the one which was
prevalent in the age of jāhilliyah; however, it must be conceded that in the age
of jāhilliyah a specific zakāh rate was also prevalent. For this reason, even in
the Makkan sūrahs, zakāh is mentioned many times. Like the other teachings of
the religion of Abraham (sws), zakāh too was concealed in the blanket of
innovation; however, it existed by name. Islam revived it in its true form and
imposed it in the society.
In the expression:لِّلسَّائِلِ
وَالْمَحْرُومِ , the word سَائلٌ refers to a
person who begs others for his needs. This act of his shows that he is needy and
thus needs help. Not much investigation is needed of such people. A person
should give them whatever he can, and if he is unable to do so, then he should
refuse politely. Scolding or rebuking them is not allowed. The Qur’ān and Hadīth
have forbidden this attitude. An attribute of people who sincerely pray is that
in their wealth such needy people have a specified share.
The word مَحْرُومِ obviously
refers to a person who is deprived of the means and resources of life; however,
since here it is used with the word سَائلٌ therefore
one can conclude that such people in spite of being deprived in this manner are
not willing to bear the shame of begging others. There are needy who have a deep
sense of honour and who may have to skip meals because of poverty, but do not
want to humiliate themselves by begging others. In particular, those who were
affluent earlier on and then because of the vicissitudes of life became indigent
can be truly regarded as مَحْرُومِ. In order to help
them, one needs to find them and in fact beg them to accept help, as is evident
from certain verses of the Qur’ān. This is because the self-esteem of such
people does not allow them to stoop before others.
وَالَّذِينَ يُصَدِّقُونَ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ وَالَّذِينَ هُم
مِّنْ عَذَابِ رَبِّهِم مُّشْفِقُونَ (٢٦-٢٧)
Mentioned in this verse is the motive of their spending in
the way of God: since they believe in the Day of Judgement, the poor and the
needy have a specific share in their wealth. I have already referred to above
that those who do not have faith in the Hereafter find it very difficult to
recognize the share of the poor and needy in their wealth. Thus it is said in
Sūrah Mā‘ūn: فَذَلِكَ الَّذِي يَدُعُّ الْيَتِيمَ أَرَأَيْتَ
الَّذِي يُكَذِّبُ بِالدِّينِ (have you seen the one who denies reward and
punishment; he it is who shoves the orphan, (107:1-2)).
The words وَالَّذِينَ هُم مِّنْ عَذَابِ
رَبِّهِم مُّشْفِقُونَ are actually an explanation of their testifying to
the Day of Judgement: since they believe in the Day of Judgement they have fear
of their Lord’s punishment. The following verses of Sūrah Dahr reflect their
يُوفُونَ بِالنَّذْرِ وَيَخَافُونَ يَوْمًا كَانَ شَرُّهُ
مُسْتَطِيرًا وَيُطْعِمُونَ الطَّعَامَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ مِسْكِينًا وَيَتِيمًا
وَأَسِيرًا إِنَّمَا نُطْعِمُكُمْ لِوَجْهِ اللَّهِ لَا نُرِيدُ مِنْكُمْ جَزَاءً
وَلَا شُكُورًا إِنَّا نَخَافُ مِنْ رَبِّنَا يَوْمًا عَبُوسًا قَمْطَرِيرًا (٧٦:
They used to keep their vows and remained fearful of the
Day whose horror will spread far and wide, and used to give food to the poor,
the orphan and the captive in spite of being in need of it; [their motivation
being:] “We are feeding you for Allah only. No reward do we desire from you nor
gratitude. We dread from our Lord a Day, harsh and cruel.” (76:6-10)
It is this very motive of spending in the way of God which
is selfless, natural, noble and free of any pomp and show. It is for this reason
that the Qur’ān has highlighted it here. Other motives than this or motives
which are created artificially have a spirit of business in them; from such
motives neither is the soul reformed nor the spending done because of them is
acceptable to God. I have explained this point earlier, and further down also I
will also inshallāh explain some of its important aspects.
إِنَّ عَذَابَ رَبِّهِمْ غَيْرُ مَأْمُونٍ (٢٨)
This is a very subtle comment on the contents of the
previous verse: those who fear the punishment of the Almighty in this manner are
indeed very wise for such is this punishment that a person should not stop
dreading it even for a moment; no one knows when it will arrive and whenever it
will no one will be able to avert it or to divert its course even for a small
period of time. It is thus evident that the greatest thing to ward off the
punishment of the Almighty is to feed and clothe the poor and needy.
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُوجِهِمْ حَافِظُونَ إِلَّا عَلَى
أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ مَلُومِينَ
فَمَنِ ابْتَغَى وَرَاء ذَلِكَ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْعَادُونَ (٢٩-٣١)
After referring to the prayer, spending in charity and fear
of God, these verses allude to the purity of their moral conduct: they preserve
their chastity; they are not like sex-maniacs who break all limits; they confine
the fulfillment of their sexual desires to their wives and slave-girls
and do not dare cross these bounds. Those who do should remember that they are
crossing the bounds set by God. This, in other words, means that they will have
to face punishment for this attitude because the Almighty necessarily takes
revenge from such people.
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِأَمَانَاتِهِمْ وَعَهْدِهِمْ رَاعُونَ (٣٢)
Keeping trusts and promises is a comprehensive act of
morality and encompasses many other virtues.
The word “trusts” is not used here in a limited sense, as
has been generally understood by people. All of man’s abilities and capabilities
and the means and resources endowed to him by the Almighty are trusts given in
his custody. One day, the Almighty will inquire from him how he used or misused
each and every thing entrusted to him. The Qur’ān has specified that one day he
will be asked about his faculties of sight, hearing and intellect and those who
would have misused them will be punished. Similarly, it is also mentioned in the
Qur’ān that man will be questioned on the Day of Judgement on each and every
favour he received from God.
Similarly, the word “promise” is used here in a broad
sense. Included in it is the promise which comes into existence by expressing
words and also the promise which is not expressed in words but is acknowledged
by the society; similarly, the promise taken by the Almighty from human nature
is included here. The most important aspect of this promise is the promise and
covenant which the Almighty has bound us in through his prophets and messengers;
its statutes are expressly enshrined in the sharī‘ah.
وَالَّذِينَ هُم بِشَهَادَاتِهِمْ قَائِمُونَ (٣٣)
Just as the word “trust” and “promise” was used in a broad
sense in the previous verse, similar is the case with the word “testimonies”
used in this verse. Every person is responsible to bear testimony in the
smallest of affairs he has taken upon himself and also responsible to bear that
great testimony mentioned in the following verse of Sūrah Baqarah:
وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِتَكُونُوا
شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا (١٤٣:٢)
(and similarly, We have made you an intermediate community so
that you bear testimony to the religion of God before the people, and the rasūl
bear such testimony before you, (2:143))
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَى صَلَاتِهِمْ يُحَافِظُونَ (٣٤)
Here, at the end, the prayer is mentioned once again. This
section of verses began with the mention of prayer (verse twenty two) and now
ends on its mention as well. It is evident from this that the prayer is the
fountainhead of all these virtues and also a guardian over them. It is as if the
prayer is like a boundary wall which encircles and protects everything within
it. He who guards this wall, guards his religion and he who destroys this wall
will end up destroying his religion. ‘Umar (rta), while referring to this
paramount importance occupied by the prayer, is reported to have said that he
who wastes his prayer will be even more susceptible to wasting the rest of his
Here it should remain in consideration that in the earlier
verse, punctuality in praying is mentioned and here in this verse protection of
the prayer is referred to. By protection here is meant protection from various
afflictions and dangers which can ruin its benefits. For example, the prayer is
offered but irregularly or not at the mosque or by indulging in such acts during
it which are contrary to its objective. I have alluded in details to these
afflictions and dangers in my booklet Haqīqat-i Namāz (The Essence of the
Prayer) and also in my book Tazkiyah-i Nafs (Purification of the Soul). Those
interested can look up these books.
أُوْلَئِكَ فِي جَنَّاتٍ مُّكْرَمُونَ (٣٥)
Together with glad tidings for the people who have the
traits mentioned in the earlier verses, this verse is a slant on the arrogant
people of the Quraysh. Inebriated with their inherited leadership, they regarded
themselves to be favourites of God. They thought that if the Hereafter does
come, then like this world there too they would be considered worthy of favours
and high status, and those who are poor and underprivileged in this world would
remain so in the Hereafter too. These people are informed that Paradise is not
transferred as a legacy; its attainment relates to one’s character and deeds.
People who have the character which pleases God will go to Paradise whether they
are rich or poor. On the contrary, those who are bereft of this character will
be kept away from Paradise whether they belong to the leaders of Arabia or those
of other countries.
فَمَالِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا قِبَلَكَ مُهْطِعِينَ عَنِ
الْيَمِينِ وَعَنِ الشِّمَالِ عِزِينَ أَيَطْمَعُ كُلُّ امْرِئٍ مِّنْهُمْ أَن
يُدْخَلَ جَنَّةَ نَعِيمٍ (٣٦-٣٨)
After hearing the verdict of the Qur’ān, the arrogant
Quraysh would burn and writhe with anger. How could they hear that Muhammad (sws)
and his destitute companions would reside in Paradise and be the beneficiaries
of all favours and blessings while these leaders would become the firewood of
Hell. Filled with anger, they would madly rush at the Prophet (sws) from left
and right to refute and to humiliate him. The word عِزِينَ
is the plural of عِزَةٌ and means “group” or “ally”.
The verb اهطاع means to “run and move forward in a
In these verses, wonder is expressed at the situation and
at the foolishness of these people. If they vainly think that each one of them
will be rewarded with Paradise, then this hope is never going to materialize.
This vain desire of these megalomaniacs is mentioned at
several places in the Qur’ān. Thus, for example, it is said in Sūrah Hāmīm al-Sajdah:
وَقَالُوا قُلُوبُنَا فِي أَكِنَّةٍ مِّمَّا تَدْعُونَا
إِلَيْهِ وَفِي آذَانِنَا وَقْرٌ وَمِن بَيْنِنَا وَبَيْنِكَ حِجَابٌ فَاعْمَلْ
إِنَّنَا عَامِلُونَ (٥:٤١)
And they say: “Our hearts are immune to the faith to
which you call us. Our ears are plugged, and a thick veil stands between us. Do
as you think fit, and so will we.” (41:5)
In Sūrah Qalam, these arrogant people are refuted in the
أَفَنَجْعَلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ كَالْمُجْرِمِينَ مَا لَكُمْ
كَيْفَ تَحْكُمُوْنَ أَمْ لَكُمْ كِتَابٌ فِيهِ تَدْرُسُوْنَ إِنَّ لَكُمْ فِيهِ
لَمَا يَتَخَيَّرُوْنَ (٦٨:
So are We to deal with those who submit to Us as We deal
with those who transgress? What is the matter with you? What is this judgement
you have made? Have you a scripture in which you read that you will have there
whatever you desire? (68:35-38)
كَلَّا إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاهُم مِّمَّا يَعْلَمُونَ (٣٩)
The false notion of the arrogant people among the Quraysh
mentioned in the previous verse is refuted here: they should not think too much
and too highly of themselves; this dream of theirs will never materialize; they
very well know from what the Almighty has created them; they should not forget
it. In other words, it is not befitting for a creature made from water, mud, and
sperm to think of being a natural inheritor of Paradise in its conceit on its
noble lineage. No one has this right merely on the basis of this. A person can
only have a right to Paradise only because of good deeds. If a person does not
have this priceless asset with him, then as far as his physical substance is
concerned, all human beings are equal to the impurest of animals. In Sūrah Najm,
the words are:
هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِكُمْ إِذْ أَنشَأَكُم مِّنَ الْأَرْضِ وَإِذْ
أَنتُمْ أَجِنَّةٌ فِي بُطُونِ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ فَلَا تُزَكُّوا أَنفُسَكُمْ هُوَ
أَعْلَمُ بِمَنِ اتَّقَى (٣٢:٥٣)
He knew you well when He created you from earth and when
you were still in your mothers’ wombs. Do not pretend to purity; He knows best
those who guard themselves against evil. (53:32)
I have explained in the exegesis of Sūrah Najm that this
verse is a strong rebuttal of the concept of wahdat al-wujūd of the mystics.
فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِرَبِّ الْمَشَارِقِ وَالْمَغَارِبِ إِنَّا
لَقَادِرُونَ عَلَى أَن نُّبَدِّلَ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمَسْبُوقِينَ
The oath sworn here is similar to the one sworn in verses
38-39 of the previous sūrah.
I have already explained the meaning of the particle of
negation at the beginning of the verse.
The words مَشرِق and
مَغرِب occur in all three formats in the Qur’ān:
singular, dual and plural, and in all the three there is not much difference in
meaning. In Arabic, the dual of a word at times refers to both edges or
boundaries of a thing just as it has come in Sūrah Kahf in (١٨:
٩٦) بَيْنَ الصَّدْفَيْن. Similarly, the plural at times comes to refer
to the vastness and boundaries of a thing. I have already explained this in the
tafsīr of Sūrah A‘rāf.
Here the Almighty by swearing upon His own self in His
capacity of being the Lord of all the East and the West has substantiated His
infinite power: whenever He wants, He will be able to re-create mankind even if
their remains decay into the earth; nothing will cause any hindrance in this.
The aspect of evidence which is the primary objective of every oath is very
obvious in this oath. In this world, we observe everyday the sun, the moon and
billions of stars rise and set at the behest of the Almighty. So is the
re-creation of man once his remains decay more difficult for the Mighty God Who
is able to make them disappear everyday and then reappear again? Is the first
task more difficult or the second? If He was powerful enough to create the first
time, why will He be powerless to create again?
In Sūrah Nāzi‘āt, this argument is presented in a more
comprehensive style thus:
أَأَنْتُمْ أَشَدُّ خَلْقًا أَمْ السَّمَاءُ بَنَاهَا رَفَعَ
سَمْكَهَا فَسَوَّاهَا وَأَغْطَشَ لَيْلَهَا وَأَخْرَجَ ضُحَاهَا وَالْأَرْضَ
بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ دَحَاهَا أَخْرَجَ مِنْهَا مَاءَهَا وَمَرْعَاهَا وَالْجِبَالَ
Is it more difficult to create you or the heavens? He
made it and raised high its roof; then perfected it, covered its night and
uncovered its day, and after that spread out the earth, and He brought forth
from it, its water and its fodder, and set firm mountains over it. (79:27-32
The part عَلَى أَن نُّبَدِّلَ خَيْرًا
مِّنْهُمْ وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمَسْبُوقِينَ means that the Almighty is capable
of replacing man with a better creature who will believe in the religion of God.
Another interpretation could be that the Almighty is capable of creating man in
a better form. The implication in this case would be that if the Almighty is
able to create man in a better form, then it is all the more easy for the
Almighty to create him in his original form. People have generally interpreted
the verse in the first of these meanings, and there is nothing wrong in this
interpretation linguistically as well. I however prefer the second of these
interpretations. The reason for my preference is that the real topic of this
sūrah is that the Hereafter is a probable incident. A big reason because of
which the disbelievers regarded the Hereafter to be unlikely was that they
regarded re-creation of man once his bones decayed and decomposed into the earth
to be very unlikely. The subsequent verses also corroborate this view.
فَذَرْهُمْ يَخُوضُوا وَيَلْعَبُوا حَتَّى يُلَاقُوا يَوْمَهُمُ
الَّذِي يُوعَدُونَ (٤٢)
At the end of the sūrah, the Prophet (sws) is assured and
the disbelievers are warned. If these people do not listen to the Prophet (sws),
then he should leave them alone. They should let them indulge in their vain talk
and engagements until they are face to face with the day they are being warned
of. In spite of this warning, they have no fear of it.
يَوْمَ يَخْرُجُونَ مِنَ الْأَجْدَاثِ سِرَاعًا كَأَنَّهُمْ
إِلَى نُصُبٍ يُوفِضُونَ (٤٣)
The word نُصُب is the plural of
نَصِيْبٌ and means a stone set firmly in the earth.
They can refer to the stones which were set firm by the Idolaters to present
their vows and sacrifices, and can also refer to the stones which are set firm
in the earth to act as targets in races and other similar events.
In the opinion of Ibn ‘Abbās (rta), Mujāhid and al-Dahhāk,
it refers to flags which are set firm in the earth to be used as marks during
Abū al-‘Āliyah and Yahyā ibn Abī Kathīr are of the view
that it refers to signs which are marked as a target for runners to race to.
In my opinion also, it refers to a flag or a target. The
implication of the verse is that today these arrogant people are showing their
tantrums before the Prophet of God and evading his guidance and following
others; however, a day is to come when the beckoner of the Day of Judgement will
blow the trumpet and these people will rush towards him as if running to their
targets in a race. Thus their arrogance will be shattered on that day and their
deviant behaviour will come to an end. The way these people will run to this
beckoner is portrayed at another place in the Qur’ān thus:
يَوْمئِذٍ يَّتَّبِعُوْن الدَّاعِىَ لاَ عِوَجَ لَهُ (20: 108) (the day
they will follow the call of the caller without any crookedness, (20:108)).
In other words, just as an arrow goes straight to its
prescribed target, similarly these people will run towards the beckoner. People
have generally interpreted the word نُصُب to refer to
altars and temples of deities. This does not seem correct. Firstly, this is just
a secondary meaning of the word and secondly, what is the purpose of running
towards these objects. I also am not aware of any such tradition of the
خَاشِعَةً أَبْصَارُهُمْ تَرْهَقُهُمْ ذِلَّةٌ ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمُ
الَّذِي كَانُوا يُوعَدُونَ (٤٤)
The implied meaning is that today when the messenger of God
warns these people of the Day of Judgement, they rush madly at him; however,
when the caller of the Day of Judgement will call them they will rush to him
with eyes downcast because of fear and ignominy will cover their faces. It is
this day that they are being warned of. Readers should refresh in their memories
the question which is mentioned at the beginning of the sūrah: “A person in
haste asked to hasten the punishment….” After the question is discussed from
various aspects and the Day of Judgement is portrayed, here at the very end, an
answer is finally given to the question: this is the day which they had been
threatened with, but they kept on making fun of it. In this manner, the whole
discourse is a harmonious whole.
By the grace of God, I come to the end of this sūrah’s
tafsīr. فَالْحَمْدُ لِلهِ عَلَى إِحْسَانِهِ (gratitude
be to God for His favour).
4th September, 1978 AD
27th Ramadān al-Mubārak, 1398 AH
A person in haste asked to hasten the punishment which is to befall the disbelievers.
No one will be able to avert it.
It will be from the Lord of many levels.
The angels and the Spirit ascend towards Him in a Day the measure of which
is fifty thousand years.
So show patience with grace and dignity. They regard it to be far off, and
We see it very near at hand.
The Day when the sky becomes like sediment of oil and the mountains become
like tufts of carded wool
And no friend shall inquire after his friend
They shall be shown to one another. The sinner will long to redeem himself
from the torment of that Day by offering his sons, his wife, his brother,
his family who remained his shelter and all the people of the earth as
ransom and then save himself from it.
By no means! It will be a fire that strips open the skin
And calls to itself every person who turned his back and drew away.
And amassed riches and hoarded them.
Man has been created impatient. Whenever some affliction befalls him he
becomes depressed and when good fortune befalls him he becomes stingy.
Not so those who pray, who are always steadfast in the prayer.
Abū ‘Abdullāh Muhammad ibn Ismā‘īl al-Bukhārī, Al Jāmi‘ al-sahīh, 3rd ed.,
vol. 5 (Beirut: Dār Ibn Kathīr, 1987), 2373, (no. 6101).
… who set aside a fixed portion in their wealth for those who ask and for
… and who testify to the Day of Reckoning and who dread the punishment of
Indeed, the punishment of their Lord is a thing to fear.
And those who preserve their chastity except from their wives and
slave-girls, for in their cases they are not blameworthy. But they who seek
to go beyond this, then it is they who are transgressors.
I have already written in detail on the issue of slaves and slave women
earlier on in Surah Nūr.
And those who keep their trusts and promises
… and those who stand firm in their testimonies
… and those who keep guard over their prayers.
This section of verses with slight variation is also found at the
beginning of Sūrah Mu’minūn. I have dealt in detail on each and every verse
It is they who will live in Paradise with respect.
Then what is the matter with these disbelievers that they rush madly at you
in multitudes from right and left? Does each man among them covet to enter
the garden of bliss?
So No! We have created them out of what they know.
Nay! I swear by the Lord who is the Master of all the vastness of the East
and the West that We can create them in a better form and We are not
powerless in this regard.
So leave them to chat and play about until they encounter that day of theirs
about which they are being threatened.
The Day on which they will emerge from their graves as if racing towards
Abū Ja‘far Muhammad ibn Jarīr al-Tabarī, Jāmi‘ al-bayān ‘an tā’wīl Āy al-Qur’ān,
1st ed., vol. 29, (Beirut Dār ihyā’ al-turāth al-‘arabī, 2001), 89.
Their eyes will be downcast; ignominy will cover them. This is the Day about
which they had been warned.