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Sūrahs ‘Asr-Humazah
Qur'anic Exegesis
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)



These two sūrahs form a pair as far as the subject discussed in them is concerned. The first sūrah verifies The law of retribution of the Almighty, while the second sūrah, with reference to this very law, warns the leadership of the Quraysh of dire consequences.

Both sūrahs are directed at the leadership of the Quraysh.

A look at the contents of the sūrahs shows that, like the previous sūrahs, they were revealed in Mecca just before the Prophet's migration to Medina in the phase of Itmaam-i-Hujjat. In this phase of his mission, the Prophet (sws) was revealing the truth to them in its ultimate form after which they could have no excuse to deny it.

Central Themes

The central theme of Sūrah Asr is to prove through historical evidence the law of retribution which the Quraysh would now encounter in accordance with the verdict delivered by the divine court of justice.

The central theme of Sūrah Humazah is to warn, with reference to this law, the opulent and pride-stricken leadership of the Quraysh of their fate. They had adopted a slanderous and contemptuous attitude towards the Prophet (sws).

Explanation of the Sūrahs

Sūrah `Asr1

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

Time2 bears witness that these people3 shall definitely be in a state of loss. Yes! except those who accepted faith and did righteous deeds and exhorted one another to the truth and exhorted one another to remain steadfast on it4.

Sūrah Humazah5

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

Woe to every person [among them] who gestures [at you O Prophet!] and slanders [you]. He who amassed wealth and counted it over. He thinks that his wealth has rendered him immortal6.

By no means7! he shall be flung into that which crushes into pieces. And what do you imagine what that which crushes is? A fire kindled by Allah8 which will rise up to the hearts. Verily, these [rebellious people] will be enshrouded in it, fastened to columns very high9.






1. The various oaths mentioned in the Qur’ān are meant to present an evidence which substantiates a claim. The muqsim bihi (object of oath) serves as an evidence for the point made in the muqsim alaih (complement of oath), which sometimes is stated just after the muqsim bihi and at other times is suppressed when it is too obvious to be expressed. In this particular sūrah, the object of oath is the first verse. The remaining verses of the sūrah form the complement of oath.

2. At other places (eg 20:31, 50:36) the Qur’ān has used the word `qarn' to show how `time' actually bears witness to the claim stated in the succeeding verses of this sūrah. A study of these verses shows the word `asr' signifies the phase of history starting from the Prophet Adam (sws) and ending on the Prophet Muhammad (sws) in which a series of Prophets were sent by the Almighty to reveal the truth in its ultimate form. The most distinct feature of this phase of history was that whenever nations rejected the Prophets sent to them, they were destroyed.

3. ie the Quraysh. They have been warned in this verse that if they too persist in their attitude of denial, they shall be destroyed like the Aad, and the Thamud and the nations of Lot and Shoaib.

4. These verses describe to the Quraysh the path which can save them from this ignominy. They must fulfil two requirements: accept faith and do righteous deeds. The third requirement, ie `to exhort one another to the truth and exhort one another to remain steadfast on it' is actually one particular shade of the second requirement. It has been specially stated here with reference to the addressees of the sūrah -- the Quraysh, for it was their primary obligation to become the torch bearers of the truth.

5. This sūrah describes the actual character of the leadership of the Quraysh.

6. This is the real cause of this unseemly attitude: wealth and riches. Wealth and opulence make a person indifferent to death and the Hereafter. It is a person's attitude towards his life and not what he says that gives an indication of his innerself. The life of a person who considers this world as his final destination is totally different from that of a person for whom the next world is the ultimate destination. A person who believes in the Hereafter never greedily hoards his wealth. Such a person, as the Prophet Christ (sws) had said, keeps his account with Allah: `Keep your wealth with Allah, because your heart is wherever your wealth is.' (Matthew, 6:21-22)

7. The word kallaa (By no means) is meant to negate the false notion stated in the previous verse: `He thinks that his wealth has rendered him immortal'.

8. The question and the subsequent answer are meant to express the dreadfulness of the fire: a fire kindled by the Almighty should not be considered something ordinary.

9. This verse depicts the helplessness of these criminals. Even within the fire they shall be fastened to high columns with heavy chains.

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