95: At-Teen

Tafseer Surah At-Teen

The prophet (saw) was given the difficult task of calling people to Islam but in the previous surah he (saw) was given a promise in which he (saw) was told that he (saw) would encounter ease through divine intervention. The beginning oaths of this surah allude to the prophets of the past including Muhammad (saw) and we learn that all messengers were on this task. Not only will Allah (swt) make the task easy but we also learn that man was created qualified to perform his task of obedience to Allah (swt). The central message of this surah is that Allah (swt) made man in the best possible fashion and with intricate design, capable of the task for which he was created. The previous four surahs talk about spirituality and cleansing of the self, beginning with surah Ash-Shams which spoke of purification. Surah Al-Layl is considered the surah of Abu Bakr (ra), who reached the highest level of iman that a non-prophet can reach and both surah Ad-Duha and Al-Inshirah are dedicated to the elevated status of the prophet (saw). It is therefore apparent that there was a progression in these surahs from the high to the higher to the highest and we learnt that man has the potential to reach the highest heights. However, he can also plunge to the lowest depths despite being designed to excel and we are now going to discuss the lowest of the low. This is a surah which gives one of the most insightful looks at the human being in the Quran.

 

95:1

1) By the fig and the olive

We begin with the first of a series of three oaths. Whenever Allah (swt) takes an oath, He (swt) gives a response to that oath and the response is always connected to the oath. Furthermore, the response to the oath is often the central theme of the surah. At-Teen, which is a fig, appears in the Quran a number of times and its blessings have also been discussed in the Sunnah a number of times. The prophet (saw) said make a habit of eating them because if there was a fruit that belonged to Jannah it would be figs because, like the fruits of Jannah, they do not have pips in them. It is therefore considered a blessed tree. The mufassiroon debated whether the verse is talking about the actual fig or rather a location that is known for figs because in classical Arabic times a place was often named after the thing it was famous for. It is the case that in ancient Arabic poetry teen was used to refer to a location but others said that Allah (swt) was simply talking about the fig because it is blessed. Those who advocate that it is a place say that the place could be Damascus in Syria or southern Iraq where Ibrahim (as) used to be. The stronger opinion is that it is referring to the region where Mount Judi is where Nuh’s (as) Ark landed. This is a region which has a lot of mountains where figs grow.

Zaytoon which is the word for olive is spoken about in blessed ways in the Quran and is a symbol of purity, ‘…from the oil of a blessed olive tree…’ (An-Nur 24:35). Some said that this is not just referring to the olive but the Mount of Olives whilst Ibn Abbas (ra) argued that it is actually referring to Masjid al Aqsa in Palestine. So teen could be referring to Nuh (as) and zaytoon to Esa (as) and this is further corroborated in the Bible where Esa (as) prayed on the Mount of Olives. It is important to appreciate that we do not go to the bible for confirmation of the Quran but there is no harm in going to the people of the book to confirm what has already been confirmed in the Quran. So we are allowed to quote the Books of the People of the Book when something agrees with our Qur’an and Sunnah but we cannot quote their books to find ‘a truth’ which is not in ours. The idea that it is referring to both the fruit and its location was also a view from the early generation of Muslims. One opinion is that teen refers to the valley of Nuh (as) and another is that combined they both refer to Esa (as).

 

95:2
 2) By Mount Sinai

Toor is not considered to be an Arabic word and was thought to be a lush green mountainous land. In one place in the Quran Allah (swt) says sineen and in another sinaa’a. In Hebrew both variations existed and were known to Jewish scholars and this refers to the place where Musa (as) spoke to Allah (swt). This mountain and its name was not known to the Arabs and so when Muhammad (saw), the unlettered Arab messenger, told the Jews of this location, which was only known to their scholars, it caused them to wonder how he could have possibly known this classified information. The Messenger of Allah (saw) who had no Jewish companions when this surah was revealed knew this through the favour of Allah (swt), ‘…Allah has revealed to you the Book and wisdom and has taught you that which you did not know. The grace of Allah on you has always been great.’ (An-Nisa’ 4:113) Some scholars say that when Allah (swt) takes an oath by something He is honouring it whilst another group said that this is not the reason. The people who say it is not honoured say that when someone swears by something they always swear by something that is higher than themselves in order to make themselves more believable. Therefore, why would Allah (swt) the Highest of the high take an oath by anything? Rather, He (swt) takes an oath so that whatever he takes an oath by is used as an evidence for what is coming. The opposing opinion is that just because Allah (swt) is the most honourable it does not mean He (swt) did not give honour to other things; for example, Allah (swt) honoured the son of Adam (as) and this is probably the safer opinion.

 

95:3
 3) And by this peaceful city

The word balad is a city that has defined borders and this ayah refers to the city of Makkah. This fulfils the dua of Ibrahim (as) who wanted Makkah to become a secure city, ‘Remember when Ibrahim said, ‘Lord, make this town safe! Preserve me and my offspring from idolatry’ (Ibrahim 14:35). The word ameen could be sourced from the word amanah which means trust or from aman which means peace. If you take it from amanah then there are two possible meanings. Firstly, it means that this city is a trust to whosoever lives in it and they have to abide by certain principles. Secondly, it means that this is a city that is known for trusts and to this city Allah (swt) entrusted the house of Allah, the final messenger and the final message. If it is from aman then it means that this city is exceptionally peaceful which is part of the blessing and miracle of Makkah because no matter how violent the Arabs were, they never misbehaved in Makkah. Similarly, other tribes who liked looting never looted when in Makkah. A few surahs ago in surah Al Balad, Allah (swt) used the same word balad but did not add the adjective ameen. It is clear why the adjective ameen was not used in that surah as the messenger (saw) was being attacked and so the word was not appropriate as there was no peace for him there at that time. This shows how precise the wording of the Quran is.

In the first ayah teen comes before zaytoon and the benefit of this sequence is that the former is one of the fruits of Jannah but the latter is more blessed as Allah (swt) gives it more elevation in the Quran. Beyond zaytoon is Mount Sinai in verse two where Allah (swt) spoke to Musa and so we have a further elevation and in the third ayah is the house of Allah (swt) that Ibrahim (as) built, where the final revelation came and where the final messenger was born. Thus, we see in the sequencing a transition from the blessed to the most blessed.

 

95:4

4) We have created man in the finest state

The Quran offers solutions to problems and confusions that afflict people but if you don’t understand the issues that afflict people today then you won’t understand how to derive benefit from the Quran. One psychological view on man is that he is a wretched creature with no goodness inside and that everything he does is to satisfy his own needs and desires. Laws and regulations are in place so that he can function in society on the outside but on the inside he is actually a wild animal with no good in him, controlled only by law and order. Any good this person does is not due to any inherent good but rather due to external influences. In the absence of any external force man is capable of nothing but evil and human history and indeed the news shows that humans are capable of disgusting acts and oppression. Some psychologists deny that man has free will and argue that man is a product of genetics and of society – pre-programmed to behave in certain ways. For example, if you are brought up in a tough neighbourhood then you have no choice but to follow suit.

Before modern times there were three things that were most important to people – God, the afterlife and the human soul. In modern times there has been a war against religion. Some people still believe in God but He is not as important anymore. Some people think that God may or may not be there but the universe definitely is so people should concentrate on that which is tangible and visible. So, there has been a shift from the study of the divine to the study of the material universe. People have also shifted from worrying about the next life to trying to make this life better. A third shift in human behaviour is a switch in emphasis from the invisible soul to the visible body and this is what this surah is about. We can see the body but not the soul. Yet, it is the soul that made us the best creation and the soul that gave man honour. That which gave man this honour, however, is no longer studied. Rather, the focus is on the body and that which makes us no different to animals. Darwinism and the idea that we are no more than evolved animals and sophisticated versions of monkeys developed as popular ideas and the understanding that just like an animal wants to feed its stomach, protect itself and satisfy its lust, so too does man. However, animals do not have morals or a sense of right or wrong. The idea that religion is the truth has gone and the values and beliefs that gave us honour and morality is also gone. The way we study humans today is more sophisticated than ever before. Scientific development and research has enabled us to understand the way our body works better than ever before yet sadly we are also more ignorant of what we are than ever before. Allah (swt) warns people in the Quran to not become like those who forgot him, ‘And be not like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient’ (Hashr 59:19). These people forgot Allah (swt) and the next life and so Allah (swt) made them forget their own self and soul leaving them unable to determine their true purpose and look beyond the body.

La is used for emphasis and emphasis is used when you don’t believe something. Together with qad the emphasis is on the fact that man was honoured before he was even born. Allah (swt) says we created meaning he created in the best possible fashion. Ahsan comes from the word husn which means beauty and ahsan is used to describe something that is beautiful on the inside and the outside. The word qaama means to make something stand upright and qawwama is used to straighten a spear which has become bent in battle. Taqweem, which comes from qaama, means to bring multiple components together and balance them so that they are perfectly straight and perfectly designed for the purpose intended. Allah (swt) says in this ayah that He (swt) made man in the best fashion and balance. Humans are the only creatures who walk upright both morally and physically. We have been made in a perfect balance of body and soul with a soul that desires a balance between worldly and spiritual sustenance. Allah (swt) refutes those who say that humans have no self-honour. Forgetting Allah (swt) brings about man’s disgrace and remembering Him brings about honour and morality. When people forget Allah (swt), they think they are living a life of intellectualism and freedom and that religion corrupts people’s minds, whereas in reality they have really become slaves to their desires.

This ayah is the response to the oaths taken. Allah (swt) is telling us that the story of Ibrahim (built the Ka’bah and is associated in verse three), Nuh, Esa, Musa and Muhammad is evidence that man was created above animals and in the best fashion. The response to the allegation that man has no honour is countered by the lives of these prophets. Allah (saw) says in this ayah that ‘We’ created as opposed to ‘He’ created. The function of this is to show that Allah (swt) is close and not far. Using ‘We’ also indicates power and complete control and illustrates His majesty in how He created the human being.

 

95:5

5) Then We reduced him into the lowest of the low

This surah has a very deep connection with surah Al Balad. After Al Balad there are four surahs that talk about the internal spiritual state of the human being. These series of surahs ends with the spiritual state of the prophet (saw). Before them however came Al Balad which is a surah that talks about the struggle of the human being. On one hand in Al Balad we learn that man is created in toil and on the other hand in this surah we learn that he is created in the best possible fashion meaning he is capable of dealing with that toil. In Al Balad man did not respond to the call of climbing the tougher path to salvation, which in this surah renders him as the lowest of the low.

When Allah (swt) mentions the weakness of man He (swt) does not generally mention Himself alongside, as weakness cannot be attributed to him. The weakness of man is due to his own fault and not Allah’s. So, why did Allah (swt) mention Himself next to this negative point? Allah (swt) tells us that He created man in the best fashion and then due to the evil of his actions – We (still showing Allah’s Majesty) – lowered him to the lowest of the low. So this is not a flaw in Allah’s creation that this human slave went to the lowest of the low. Allah (swt) purposely mentioned Himself lowering this human because if He did not then people might think that Allah’s creation was not really perfect. There are a number of opinions regarding what being the lowest of the low really is. One opinion is that reaching the lowest of the low is reaching old age. Animals can still carry out certain jobs for their owners and even take care of themselves when they are old but men cannot and so they’re lower than even animals in old age. Another opinion is that it refers to the weakness of those who used to be strong in body and mind. However, others say that in the context of this surah one cannot really say that it is the physical creation of the human being referred to. Rather it is his moral and ethical makeup which made him high in the first place. The soul is what made him high and so it does not make sense to mention the weakness of the body.

There are many words in the Arabic language for turning away but radad specifically is used here because it means to reject something on the basis that it is unacceptable. Allah (swt) rejected man because he did something unacceptable after being created in the best possible fashion. Asfal as-Safileen is the Lowest of the Low and the word asfal means the lowest and is the antonym of the word a’la, which means the highest. Allah (swt) used both words in the following ayah, ‘..and made the word of those who disbelieved the lowest, while the word of Allah – that is the highest. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise’ (Tawba 9:40). Sifla is used for low or nasty people that you don’t want to associate with. It does not refer to low in terms of class or wealth but rather in terms of morals and behaviour. Allah (swt) created man above everything else so much so that the angels had to do sajda to Adam (as), ‘And We have certainly honoured the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference’ (Israa’ 17:70).

So, the human is higher on the earth and everything else is beneath us and at our service. Now Allah (swt) says that because of man’s unacceptable behaviour he was made the lowest of the low and even lower than the things he was designed to be higher than. Humans were supposed to worship Allah (swt) yet they end up worshipping things that are lower than humans when they reject Allah (swt). Therefore, they bring themselves to be lower than things which are inherently low. Modern thought has said that humans are like animals, yet mankind has consistently shown through the ages that he can often be lower than even animals. Animals will usually only attack other animals when they are hungry or in danger. If they have full stomachs they are not likely to attack. However, the human being is such a creation that he will continue to attack, steal, rob and cheat despite having wealth simply because of his greed. Mankind can engage in horrific and degrading deeds that animals would never do such as war, rape, genocide and oppression and so man becomes lower than animals. Other mufassiroon say that this verse is talking about hellfire where people will be when they sin. If Allah (swt) has honoured the human being and he has lowered himself to the lowest of the low in morals and behaviour, then Allah (swt) will throw him into the lowest parts of the hellfire.

The word thumma is used to put a gap between things and its use here illustrates that there was a long gap between the time that man was created in the best fashion and when he was reduced to being the lowest of the low. So some scholars have said that when Allah (swt) first created man and they took the covenant from Him they were high but then when they came to the earth they were lowered. Another opinion is that when humans come out of the womb they are decent and on the fitrah but then when they became older they became lowered and diverted from the fitrah due to their sins. Others say that when the message first came to the Muslims they were upright but then when they were tested they lowered themselves. The thumma also indicates that Allah (swt) will give people time to redeem themselves when they sin before punishing them. How do we reconcile this ayah of mankind being created in the best form with other ayaat in the Quran which mention that man is weak and flawed. The answer is that Allah (swt) man in a balance of body and spirit. When there is an imbalance in this then the flaws of mankind manifest themselves. This imbalance can occur through people engrossing themselves in worldly affairs too much, which can cause their spiritual connection to Allah (swt) to suffer. But when there is a balance of spiritual worship to Allah and permissible worldly matters, man gets strong and in the most upright position. When these two components are balanced, man is made the highest of the high but when imbalanced he is lowered.

 

95:6

6) Except for those who believe and do righteous deeds, for they will have a reward never ending

In verse four we described the modern view that man has no inherent internal good and only does good due to external pressure. The internal problem is solved with ‘except for those who believe’ as this is an issue of imaan. The external remedy is solved with ‘and do righteous deeds’. When people perform certain actions in this life it is often because they want something in return. For example, we go to work with the expectation that we will get paid and we study so that we can pass our exams and excel. Our wants and desires are on the inside and our behaviour manifests on the outside. Our wants and desires will be cleansed if we have imaan in our hearts and our behaviour on the outside as a consequence will also be cleansed. The word mamnoon comes from mann which means cut and ghayru mamnoon means that which will not be cut off. In Arabic al Maneen is used to refer to the cloud of dust in the desert which becomes so thick that you cannot see through it and your view is cut off. The implication is that those who stay firm in belief and do good deeds for Allah’s pleasure will get a reward that does not get cut off. Deeds are temporary but the rewards for performing actions for Allah’s pleasure are endless. In surah al Balad a parallel was drawn between the struggles of this world and climbing up a mountain. Either you will climb the mountain in this life, which requires effort and sacrifice but brings Allah’s rewards, or the next like Waleed ibn al Mughirah who will be forced to climb a mountain in hellfire continuously, ‘I shall oblige him to (climb a slippery mountain in the Hell-fire called As-Sa’ud, or to) face a severe torment!’ (Mudathir 74:17).

 

95:7

7) So, what can make you, after all this, deny the Judgement?

So far the discussion has been on what the human being is capable of. If after all this one is able to appreciate that the human being is above all other species and is an intellectual being not designed to be merely concerned with the needs of the body, then that should lead you to understand that man has a higher purpose. What could possibly cause one to deny Islam after this realisation? The fa in this ayah essentially means ‘so, after all that has been mentioned’. The maa in this ayah has been interpreted in two ways; it could either be referring to what or what kind of person. If it is the former then the question is what will make you lie against the deen, criticise it and make allegations against it. Takdheeb is when you know something is true but you deny it and call it a lie anyway. Some people recognise that the religion is true and it makes sense but despite this they don’t want to submit to Allah (swt) and so to help them live with themselves they criticise the religion and strive to prove that Islam is illogical by ridiculing aayaat and ahadith. This is done not out of intellectual curiosity but rather out of their desire to make themselves feel better and to belittle Muslims. The other meaning of the maa could be to ask who and what kind of person would lie against the prophet (saw) in regards to the deen. It can only be the lowest of the low and this is a direct humiliation to those who reject the prophet (saw) such as Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab who are being humiliated by these verses. The word deen complements the beginning of this surah which began with a reference to the messengers who brought the deen of Allah (swt). The word deen also means precise judgement and has two Implications, in this world and the next. The prophet (saw) brought the deen, which contains principles and teachings that instruct one on how to live their life. If applied in this life it will be the keys to saving yourself in the next.

 

95:8
 8) Is Allah not the Greatest Ruler of all the rulers?

This ayah is a rhetorical question. When the messenger (saw) used to hear it, even in his salaah, he would respond by saying ‘subhanakAllah wa bal-laa ana ‘ala dhalik min ash-shahideen’ (Glory be to Allah and no doubt I am on that from the witnesses). The question is posed in such a way as to scold someone for even having to be reminded of something so obvious. Almost as if to ask how someone could be so ungrateful to the One who created him in the best possible form and took care of him. The Ultimate Ruler of All who will either reward or punish you. The words ahkam and hakeem comes from hikma which means wisdom and also from hukm which means judgement. So ahkam could mean the wisest (from hakeem) and also the most appropriate Judge or Ruler (from hukm). Haakimeen could mean rulers or wise people. The marvel of this ayah is that four statements can be derived from this one statement. It could either imply the wisest of the wise, the most appropriate judge from those who claim wisdom, the most appropriate judge of all judges and the wisest of all judges. This teaches us something very powerful about the beginning of this surah which made reference to the legacies of the prophets. Allah (swt) gave them two things – revealed wisdom and instructions and this ayah contains two things, Allah’s wisdom and judgement. So the beginning and the end of the surah complement each other. In the middle of the surah Allah (swt) referred to Himself in the first person (We created) when talking about creating mankind. However in this ayah Allah (swt) switches from the first to the third person. The third person is used because Allah (swt) cannot show closeness to the one being passed judgement on because a judge has to be impartial and distant from those being judged.

Allah (swt) began this surah by mentioning five of the noblest messengers (‘Uluw al ‘Azam – the most perseverant from all the Messengers’). He continued by saying that mankind is made in the most intricate design and those who reject the best of the best from amongst mankind are the worst of the worst. Those who follow the example of the best people from amongst humanity, the Messengers, are those who believe and do good deeds. The Messengers’ were taught wisdom and judgment by Allah (swt) as examples for humanity. Yet, in this ayah the final judgment and wisdom will be Allah’s in relation to what commands He gave His Messengers’ and what the Messengers taught us. With this understood what could cause someone to continue on the path of rejection and prevent someone from following the guidance. Isn’t Allah the Best of Judges to give the commands which mankind should be following? This surah is telling us that we have a higher purpose which makes us more than just animals. We should elevate our thoughts and behaviour above just our base desires and needs and fulfil our higher purpose. Once we understand this we should cleanse our imaan, which is exhibited through our actions by following the example of the messengers. If we don’t then Allah (swt) will reject us and make us the lowest of the low.

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82: Al-Infitaar

Tafseer Surah Al-Infitaar

Allah (swt) concludes Surah Takwir with a challenge asking ‘So where are you headed?’(At-Takweer 81:26). The beginning of this surah rhetorically answers that by saying we are all headed towards Judgment Day, a day in which certain catastrophic events will take place. Allah (swt) begins by swearing by the sky and recall in the previous surah He (swt) began by swearing by the sun. There is a change in imagery here even though it may appear that Allah (swt) is talking about the same subject. In the previous surah the two dominant themes that overshadowed all of the words were of darkness and the loss of light. For example, the sun being wrapped up, the stars losing their light and the girl being buried alive as burial is also an image of darkness. The words used all relate to darkness or flames. In this surah we see the themes of ripping, tearing and rattling.

 

82:1

1) When the sky/heaven is split open

Idha is a means of calling attention to a future event by meaning ‘when’ in the future tense and it can also mean all of a sudden. Fatara literally means to tear something wide open or if something is long to tear it across its length. This alludes to the sky being severely damaged across the horizon with a long tear. In classical Arabic this word is used for sheets of cloth and there is a parallel in imagery between sheets of cloth and the sky which is like a tent over us. It is worth remembering that the Quran is not speaking to us in scientific explanations, but through human experience and what the eye sees. So if we stay true to the language and how the Arabs would communicate to each other then we may be closer to the intended meaning of the Quran. The image depicted here is that of a canopy over us that has a tear in it. Furthermore, imagine a tent with numerous lamps hung up in it. If the tent rips the lights will fall and collapse.

 

82:2
2) And when the stars have fallen and scattered

Stars are mentioned in this surah just like it was mentioned in the previous surah. The surahs are different but they complement each other. Intathara is when something falls due to a sudden jerk, for example, if you place marbles on a sheet and then give the sheet a jerk, the marbles will fall off. Najm literally means that which shines and twinkles meaning something that moves between shining brightly and then less brightly. The theme of the previous surah was light and darkness thus najm was more appropriate there. The word kawkab is a large star; a brilliant star firmly fixed that the Arabs use for navigation and the word is also used for planets. So where, najm highlights the brilliance, kawkab highlights the magnitude and the fact that they are firm fixtures of the night sky. The last thing you expect from a firmly fixed fixture is that it should fall, however, on this day even the kawakib will fall. The stars were hugely important and significant in navigation at sea and at night travel in the desert, thus, these means of guidance and navigation for the people will be lost.

 

82:3
3) When the oceans are made to explode

The previous surah talks about how the seas will boil over with heat and falls into the theme of that surah of heat and darkness. The theme of this surah is of movement. The word fajara means to rip and from this word comes the word tafjeer which means to rip up the earth to make waterways for irrigation. The fajr prayer is called thus because it rips through the darkness. And the Faajir is someone who violates the commandment of Allah (swt) openly and in the worst and most obscene way. Here the oceans explode which means they do not stay where they are supposed to within their boundaries and rips out of place like a tsunami. It goes further than its boundaries in a violent way, just like the evil oppressive violent sinner transgresses the boundaries set for man.

 

82:4

4) And when the graves are turned upside down (to bring out their contents)

The qabr is again something that we expect to remain in its place. There are a number of words used in the Quran for the grave. One such word is marqad which comes from ruqood and means an uncomfortable type of sleep, when you’re not in deep sleep and you’re annoyed. The ulema comment that when people are raised on the Day of Judgement, the things that they will see will be so vicious that the punishment of the grave will be compared to uncomfortable sleep. The hadeeths which mention punishment of the grave are very graphic and intense but even so this will be regarded as just an uncomfortable sleep compared to that day. Another word for grave is ajdaath and is a kind of grave where the signs of it are gone, for example, people that are cremated or mass graves that are not known to be graves or places where homes and buildings are built on graves that are not known to be there.

Qabr used here is literally that which is dug with the intent of burying someone and again notice the theme of ripping up the ground. The ulema comment that the word bu’thirat comes from both ba’atha and means to dig into something and turn it upside down to pull out what you want from a collection of other things for example, emptying out a suitcase to look for a key. Allah (swt) gives this image for graves and informs that they will be manipulated to bring out its contents which will be man who is yanked out. Recall in the previous surah that all people will be paired, the good with the good and the bad with the bad but not before they are dragged out of the grave so this verse is almost a verse behind this pairing in the previous surah.

 

82:5

5) A soul will (then) know what it has sent forward and (what he has) left behind (of good or bad deeds)

In the previous surah we heard that every person knows full well what they have to present in terms of their deeds. This verse can be considered a tafseer of that verse. The word qadama refers to the good or the bad deeds that you do which are sent forward. Imagine the email you sent or the words you utter, once you hit send or utter your words, they’re gone and you can’t bring them back. Thus, every time we do or say anything, good or bad it is sent and delivered for processing. The word akharat refers to the opportunities you left behind, for example, the charity you could have given and the prayer in the mosque you could have offered etc. When these opportunities to do good came along and were not taken they were left behind. Likewise there were opportunities to sin which were also not taken and left behind. Thus, every person will know very well what they have to show for themselves and what they left behind. Some of the things we will be upset to have left behind and others we will be happy to have left behind.

Another way this verse has been interpreted is in connection with the previous surah where it is a reminder of the sins committed such as the killing of the infant. Allah (swt) informs that these actions have been sent forward. Another interpretation is that this refers to an entire biographical account of your life from the first things you did to the last. Maybe the individual was good to begin with but his commitment to deen faltered towards the end or maybe he turned to righteousness only in old age after a life of excess. Another interpretation is that although you and your actions will be gone after death, the consequences of what you did will continue in terms of the legacy you left behind i.e. ongoing charity or passing on a haram business to family. This will all be acknowledged on that day when all the events mentioned start happening, for example, the stars falling and the oceans exploding.

Towards the conclusion of the previous surah we are reminded of the akhira:

It is only a reminder for the ‘Alamin (mankind and jinns).” (At-Takwir 81:27)

This is an oxymoron. When you remind someone it’s usually of something in the past. Here we are reminded of something we have not seen yet. We are being reminded of the future as though it is a memory for which we should prepare, hoping that this preparation will save us from the harms of that Day (its almost like getting the clues to an exam paper, you now just need to prepare for it).

Verses 1-4 are all connected to verse 5 as it is the jawab ash-shart (a reply to the thing mentioned earlier), thus, every time such an event occurs man will remember what he did in this life. For example:

When the sky/heaven is split open (Infitaar 82:1)

A soul will (then) know what it has sent forward and (what he has) left behind (of good or bad deeds). (82:5)

And when the stars have fallen and scattered (82:2)

A soul will (then) know what it has sent forward and (what he has) left behind (of good or bad deeds) (82:5)

Each of these signs on that Day will make man question what he sent forward and what he left behind.

 

82:6
 

6) O man! What has made you careless concerning your Lord, the Most Generous?

In the previous surah there was a question – ‘So where are you headed?’ (At-Takwir 81:26). This surah also has a question which is more graphic, stunning and embarrassing and makes the human, if he has any decency, question himself. The phrase ‘ya ayuhal insanu’ is very difficult to translate into English. It contains much emotion, pain and warning in it, for example, when you feel sorry for someone who ignores your advice and heads down the wrong path. Allah (swt) turns to each and every human with sorrow and sympathy and tries to guide them. The word insan comes from multiple roots one of which is nasiya which means to forget and man is the creature that forgets. The sun, the ant, the rock and the animal all do not forget to be obedient to Allah (swt). Yet man is continuously forgetful of his role of being an obedient slave of Allah (swt). So we have forgotten the purpose for which we were put on this earth and Allah (swt) calls us by this name to remind us of our forgetfulness. Insan also comes from the word ins which is to have affection and so we develop affection for things other than Allah (swt) which makes us forget our real purpose in life.

There are a number of words used for deception in the Quran. The specific one used here is gharra which means to take someone who is careless, like the unsuspecting tourist, and then con them in order to get something out of them and take advantage of them. When the human being is careless, shaytaan is the one who takes advantage of them. In the previous surah the deception that the people succumbed to was being fooled that the Messenger (pbuh) was possessed or that the Quran was the devil’s speech. Here Allah (swt) asks what conned and deceived the people from their gracious lord. Allah (swt) does not ask what deluded you from Allah (swt); rather he asks what deluded you from your lord. The word rabb establishes a relationship. For example, when you hear the word teacher you think of the student on the other side. When you think of master on one hand you think of servant and slave on the other. Allah (swt) asks what deluded you from your lord and the answer is that it is the desires of this world that keeps man away from his Generous Lord. This should bring guilt to the slave and make him question his loyalty.

In the previous surah they were turning away from the messenger (pbuh) and in the surah before that they were turning away from the Quran and the revelation itself. Here they are turning away from their Rabb and Master. Why are they turning away from the revelation and messenger (pbuh)? Its because they have no concern for the fact that they have a Master and they are distracted by other things. Allah (swt) does not just say your lord, he says your gracious noble lord. When a student has a nice, friendly and noble teacher, the student can often disobey and take advantage and delude himself into thinking he can get away with all kinds of indiscretions. But at the end of the year, when the student fails, the teacher says; ‘Listen, I was nice to you all along. Why did you do this? Why did you make yourself fail?’ The student will feel far worse over this than if it was a teacher who was mean to him. Allah (swt) who out of his grace has given man so much is failing these people and asking them in a loving way of what it was that distanced man from his Gracious Lord? Was it the love of money, family or pathetic desires?

 

82:7

7) Who created you, fashioned you perfectly, and gave you due proportion (in balance)

The word taswiyah has multiple meanings in Arabic one of which is to tweak and to care of the finest details. Allah (swt) talks about tweaking the human being, He (swt) did not just create man but in fact fine tuned him. The phrase fa ‘adalak comes from the word ‘adl which means that man was balanced; observe that man is balanced as he walks on two feet, the fluid in his ears balances him but also in the figurative sense. Man is balanced in his motives between running towards paradise and running away from the hellfire, balanced between his personal obligations and his responsibilities to family i.e. personal obligations and collective responsibility. Thus, man is balanced physically and spiritually.

There is also balance in justice. Take for example, the murder of a hundred people, the death penalty would not be sufficient in this case as the murderer will only be killed once thus justice is not given. If you think that this world has been created by someone who is fair and just you have to expect from him that he will give justice to the other ninety-nine victims. Similarly, if a person saved a hundred people, he can’t get the full reward in this life. Imagine the man who kills only one person. The victim here was someone’s father, a son, a provider, maybe a community was hurt. So how can justice be given to all these victims? Is it possible for the one who created the world in such balance to leave this imbalance? Judgment is required for balance and this is why Allah (swt) has made Judgment Day, in order to keep that balance, and to give reward and punishment.

The central theme of the previous surah was the preservation of how the message comes to the messenger (pbuh). The central theme here is that the humans own sense of balance will make him convinced if he has any decency that he has a lord and there is judgement coming. The Quran presents evidence and relies on human decency for people to be guided to the truth. No matter how much evidence is provided, in the absence of any human decency the message will not be accepted. Fir’aun had enough evidences but still did not accept the message as he had no decency within him. Thus, human decency naturally makes a person incline towards belief in a Creator.

 

82:8
8) In whatever form He willed, He put you together

The word soorah is used for all objects that can be distinguished from one another by the visual eye. Raqaba comes from the word tarqeeb which literally means to put something on top of something else. The word raaqib is the rider that gets on top of a camel or horse. Tarqeeb is also used in grammar to connect one word into another. Allah (swt) is saying he did tarqeeb in us in whatever way he wanted with one cell, one vein, one limb, one vessel and connected it to one another like Lego.

Many people, including some Muslims, question the existence of a Creator in light of the fact that there is so much killing and suffering and natural disasters and disease and starvation. Even on a personal level we find people questioning how they could lose their job, develop a disease or lose their parent when they’ve done nothing wrong and lived a good life. Understand that in the opening surah of the Quran, Allah (swt) declares himself Rabb which means owner and master. If you truly accept that Allah (swt) is not just the creator but also your rabb and your lord, you will understand that you have no rights before Him as a slave does not have any rights over his master. For example, your computer cannot tell you what to do, you instruct it. If your computer stops working, you have the right to break it and throw it away and it cannot bring any complaint against you as you own it and it’s your property.

Allah (swt) not only created us but He owns us in our entirety. Did man pay for his eyes and sight, hands and feet, the kind of face he has or decide what gender he will be, what age he will live to, what ethnicity he will be or who his mother and father would be? None of this is in man’s control. Is man entitled to any of it? No, Allah (swt) gave this all to us out of his infinite generosity and we did not pay him for it. Thus, the idea that Allah (swt) owes man something is false. During times of ease and calamity Allah (swt) is still our Lord and Master. It’s just like questioning why we were given 5 fingers and not six; we have no control over it. When you accept this, you accept your status as a slave and servant. The slave will not open his mouth without thinking about whether his master can hear him. Employees do this too; they won’t check their personal mail or browse the web and take personal calls without checking if their manager is around first. If we are that afraid of other forms of mastery imagine how afraid we would be if we truly accepted Allah (swt) as Rabb.

 

82:9
 9) No! But you deny the Recompense

When Allah (swt) created us he gave us these faculties and balanced us and then He necessarily demands from us a purpose. After this profound, fine tuned and balanced creation of the human being, created so that he could be the best of people through his worship of Allah (swt) by choice, man lies deliberately against the deen. Allah (swt) here says man committed takdheeb against the deen. When you call someone a liar falsely you are doing takdheeb meaning you are lying yourself and your attempt is to discredit someone. So, they make lies against the deen and say to the people that this deen is a lie. The second thing is to lie against someone’s claims so that when the deen of Allah (swt) says it is the truth to then lie against it and say it is satanic and falsehood and the word of a magician.

Deen comes from the word dayn and means a loan and daana is a verb which means to give someone what you owe them completely and is also to take from someone a specified specific portion that is due back. This is the essence of Islam where everything that we bring forward and everything that we left behind is being precisely calculated. If it is good we are owed precise amounts of good in return and if it is evil we are owed precise amounts of evil in return. If you contemplate on this you will begin to think carefully about everyone of your actions and statements. Deen is commonly translated as a way of life but what is really means is your life in specific portions because a portion of your life is given here and there, some to family, some in worship, some to your spouse etc. and the exact amount you give in this life with your shortcomings will be precisely given back to you on the Day of Judgement. Those who don’t accept the Deen and lie against it and come up with other weak arguments against it do so because they can’t handle the reality of bearing the burden of their own deeds.

 

82:10

10) And indeed, (appointed) over you are guardians

The word hafidheen comes from the word hafidha and is used when you try to guard something so that it does not go to waste, for example, when you guard a fence so that whatever is inside is protected. This is why memorizing the Quran is called hifdh al Quran, since a person guards the Quran within their mind.

In every surah thus far in Juzz Amma there has been mention of angels:

Naba’ – the day on which the angels will be standing in rows (Naba 78:38)

Nazi’at – the ones who pull out (i.e. the souls) (Nazi’at 79:1-5)

Abasa – the angels that record the revelation (Abasa 80:15-16)

Takwir – Ar-Rooh [Jibreel] who reveals the revelation (Takwir 81:19)

Angels are again mentioned in this surah but a different kind of angel, angels that record your deeds. They do not let any of your deeds go to waste without it being recorded.

 

82:11

11) Noble recorders

These angels are noble and their nobility is part of the job especially when you protect something as corruption can be a big issue just like in the delivery of the message in the previous surah that comes with an entourage to keep it safe. Our deeds are being recorded and we will not be able to complain on the Day of Judgement by saying that the one recording does not like me or has a grudge against me. This is because the one recording has noble character and this is a requirement for the job. The guard that we are familiar with often takes a lunch break or has a moment when he is off guard. These guards however are on a different level. They are consistently writing and there is not a moment that they stop.

 

82:12

12) They know all that you do

They know what you’re doing. A person can get past a guardian if he is corrupt; another way to get past a guard is to slip past him without his knowledge. However, you cannot get past this security guard as they know everything. The word f’il means carrying out any act even without thinking about it such as breathing, seeing, hearing, blinking etc whereas ‘aml is used for a more specific act, an act committed with intention and conscience such as eating, reading and listening with intent. These angels know every f’il that we do. Note however that Allah (swt) did not mention that they know our intentions. So, although the angels know of all our actions they know not of our intentions behind them. So, Allah (swt) may take our good deeds on the Day of Judgement as the intention behind them was not good. So Allah (swt) is an even better recorder of our deeds as He (swt) knows more about the deed than the angel has access to.

 

82:13

13) Surely the righteous will be in bliss 

The word inna is used in Arabic for emphasis to eliminate doubt. Thus, there is no doubt about it that those who are righteous and have good things written about them will be in bliss. The word used for righteous here is abraar and note that the word used for the righteous angel was barara. The difference between them is that barara is the super multitude plural and this is because all of the angels are righteous but not all humans are righteous.

The word ni’mah refers to the favour of Allah (swt) such as softness, ease and blessings and the word na’eem means continuous blessings and in this verse this is implicated in the present tense which indicates that the righteous are already in bliss through Allah’s (swt) guidance. Furthermore, this bliss will only be multiplied in the future in the akhira. So right now this blessing is in the form of guidance and in the hereafter it will be in the form of being under Allah’s (swt) shade and through having all that they desire and through the gifts and drinks that will be offered. This is important as the kaffir who insults and abuses the Muslims is informed that the Muslims are already in bliss. This is amazing because the righteous may be going through hardship by the disbelievers but they are in fact in ease because Allah has expanded their hearts. Every moment of pain the companions went through elevated their status and even these pains are called bliss.

Abraar comes from the word barr which means righteousness or goodness. Barr literally means land and the word which comes close to it is bahr which means ocean and of these two, land is stable and the ocean unstable. The one who has not obtained righteousness is unstable like he is out on the sea and in danger of drowning whilst the one who has obtained righteousness is like is he is on stable ground, knowing where he is going, travelling in ease and not in danger.

 

82:14
 14) And indeed the wicked shall be in the blazing fire

The fujaar are those who explode with sin and do not care of the consequences in their rebellion of Allah (swt) and notice that this is the same word which appears towards the beginning of this surah where the seas erupt. The fujaar here are mentioned as a noun as opposed to a verb and there is a reason for this. For example, in the Quran there is the word mu’minoon and the phrase aladheena aamanoo. Al Mu’minoon means believers and aladheena aamanoo means those who believe but note this is verbal whilst mu’minoon is in a noun form. When Allah (swt) uses the noun form he is talking about someone matured and someone that has become permanently stable in a certain state whereas the verb is used for someone who engages in something but is not firm on it. Thus, the mu’minoon have a higher status than aladheena aamanoo and you’ll find in the Quran that Allah (swt) is sometimes harsh to aladheena aamanoo but not to mu’minoon. When Allah (swt) talks of mu’minoon it’s always in the positive whilst aladheena aamanoo could be in the negative as they include the weaker rank of Muslims who commit sins and not the top brass.

Similarly, there is a difference between kaffir and aladheena kafaroo. Aladheena kafaroo means those who engage in kufr but they have not made up their mind and there is still hope for them and al kafiroon are those that are firm upon their disbelief even after they have seen the clear proof and evidences. Thus, al fujaar are those who are bent upon rebellion and have decided and made a commitment that this is their life. Thus, Allah (swt) has made a commitment to place them in Jaheem which is the blazing fire and recall Jaheem is the stare of the hungry lion about to attack its prey.

Another example of the verb versus noun speech in the Quran occurs in Surah Zukhruf 43:79: …fa innaa mubrimoon. In the olden days construction was not through cement and bricks but through wooden beams connected perpendicularly but there were no hammer and nails either so the beams were tied with rope. The rope would be doubled so it is stronger and then wrapped round multiple times. This is a kind of knot tied with the intention that it is permanent. Ibram is tying a knot with the intention that you will undo this knot like a shoelace. This is the image in the Quran of those bent upon kuffar; it is like they have tied their knot and made their decision but the knot is a knot that nonetheless they will ultimately want to undo. However, Allah (swt) too has tied his knot and in doing so sealed their fate. When those that disbelieve tie their knot Allah (swt) used a verb to describe it and when Allah (swt) spoke of himself he used a noun and this indicates that even though they have tied their knot and are intent on kufr there will still be a day when they wish they were Muslims and want to undo this knot because they will not last upon that commitment when they come before Allah (swt). However, no matter how much they regret it, their fate is sealed.

 

82:15

15) They will enter to burn therein on the Day of Recompense

This verse is another response to the verse in the previous surah which queries where man is headed. The word yaslaw means they will stumble and trip upon the Day of Judgement. It comes from the word salyun which is used when you trip into something or you go somewhere where you don’t want to go but you go anyway reluctantly. So, literally this can be taken to mean that man will cast himself into the fire. Of all the different words used in Arabic for the word entrance, salyun is the only one specifically used for fire. Also note that the word deen has appeared before in this surah where man has denied and lied against the deen, however, the day of deen is coming and on that day they will not be able to lie against it and will pay for it. Thus, man should take care of his deen (portion of Islam) now otherwise the portion of that Day will take him.

 

82:16

16) Nor shall they ever be absent from it

The word maa at the beginning of this verse is a stronger form of negation that laysa. The word ba in this verse also emphasises negation and together with maa this verse therefore represents one of the strongest forms of negation. The word gha’ib means to be unseen from a stare. Imagine a pupil who selects a seat out of the clear vision of his teacher. Hence the fujaar will not be away from the stare of jaheem for a single moment ever. When something frightening stares at you, your first instinct is to avoid eye contact, yet, on that day there will be nowhere man can turn to avoid it petrifying glare. Allah (swt) says that man will never be able to escape the stare of jaheem and the implication here is that even in the grave that stare cannot be avoided as their is a window to hellfire in the grave. So, this will be terrifying for the fujaar and disbelievers who have died but not yet entered the hellfire. They are petrified of it yet staring straight at the eyes of the hellfire unable to look away from it or close their eyes.

 

82:17

17) Would that you knew what the Day of Judgement is!

What will make you know what the Day of Recompense is?

 

82:18

18) Again, would that you knew what the Day of Judgement is!

Again, what will make you know what the Day of Recompense is?

The repetition of the question intensifies the horror of the one asking. In human experience, when someone tells you to do something, if they have to ask twice or thrice, the second or third time is normally tougher and more threatening in tone e.g. When are you going to do it, When are you going to do it! Imagine if your mother asks you to do something and has to ask you more than once, would it not be considered wrong for you to ignore her? The child would also feel fear of her rising anger and the fact that he has not obeyed her. This is Allah (swt) who is asking the question and this is a manifestation of the anger and horror to be injected into the one who denies. The way Allah (swt) asks this is terrifying, asking twice, ‘Do you have any clue about the Day of Recompense?’

The word adraaka means to figure something out by looking at evidence and investigating. Allah (swt) is asking what man will look around for to give him even a clue of how horrifying that day will be when what you did in this life and what you left behind will be shown to you and when you will get your portion of justice. The word thumma (again) exacerbates Allah’s anger. It is commented that the function of repetition in Arabic is to instil horror, to magnify the warning and to elevate the persons sense of loss and deprivation (i.e. you should have gone, really you should have gone, you missed out. In this case, you should have prepared, really you should have prepared) and to give weight to something.

 

82:19

19) It is the day when no soul can be of any help to any other soul; for on that day all sovereignty is God’s alone

It is the Day when no person shall have power to do anything for another and the Decision that day will be entirely with Allah

Allah (swt) here gives us some clue of what will happen on that day. Allah (swt) concludes the previous surah with the powerlessness of the human being in making intentions as opposed to Allah (swt). What concrete plans can man make compared to the plans of Allah (swt), thus, the powerlessness of man is shown in even having intent. The will be the day when man will not have any authority or dominion over any other person. Not even his own family. Even if you wanted to have authority, you wouldn’t be able to. Even if you felt you had enough good deeds and wanted to look out for someone else on that day, you would have no authority to. On that Day the decision and command will belong to Allah (swt) alone and no one will be able to rely on anyone else.

The idea of shirk is very simple. Man would rather not face Allah (swt) himself and would rather put someone else before himself and Allah (swt). The reason people commit shirk is due to their fear of punishment and so they would rather someone else face the heat and save them. People do this all the time when they ask someone to speak to their manager for example on their behalf. This is not rooted in aqeedah but rather in the refusal to become a better human being, it’s a copout. Allah (swt) begins this surah with a description of what is going to happen on the Day of Judgement. And He (swt) concludes that when all the chaos has subsided the human being will be left powerless.


81: At-Takwir Combined

Tafseer Surah At-Takwir

The two words that describe the events of the last day in the previous two surahs were At-Taama and As-Saakhkhah. At-Taama was the overwhelming, engulfing, surrounding calamity. As-Saakhkhah was a word used for the second blowing of the trumpet that initiates the resurrection. This surah begins almost with a tafseer of those two things and depicts how the day of resurrection is so overwhelming. The previous surah ended with a depiction of what happens to a person after As-Saakhkhah and was a personal image. Now, it is almost as if the camera has shifted focus to the sky and then the stars and the mountains. It is almost as if the previous surah ended by depicting the chaos amongst the people on that day and the imagery has now changed to depict the environment, the chaos amongst the sky and all else on the same day. The word takwir is interpreted as meaning shrouded in darkness and the surah is Makki by agreement.

Abu Bakr (ra) once came to the messenger (saw) and saw grey hair on his head and asked him what had caused his hair to grey. The messenger (saw) answered that it was Surah Hud, Al Mursilaat, Al Waaqiah, An-Naba and At-Takwir that had caused his hair to grey. It is also reported that the messenger (saw) used to recite this surah and encourage others to recite it in qiyaam-u-layl. The messenger (saw) also said that whoever would like to look at the Day of Judgement as if he were looking at it with his naked eye should read At-Takwir.

Idha is a word that gives a connotation of a condition and every conditional phrase requires a response. For example, if I say ‘If Muhammad comes’ and then stay silent my sentence lacks a response. Here Allah (swt) is delaying the response until later in the surah and this serves to stimulate one’s listening. Idha also means ‘when’ and in English when can be used to refer to the past and also to the future. For example, ‘when I went to the office’ and ‘when I go to the office’. In Arabic, when use ‘when’ to refer to the past you do not say idha you say idh. So when Allah refers to an event in the past He (swt) uses idh and when an event is mentioned that refers to the future idha is used. In this verse idha is followed by a word in the past tense yet idha establishes the verse in the future. The function of the past tense here in classical Arabic is to speak of something with certainty. Something so certain it is as certain as the past itself. So when Allah (swt) speaks of something in the future but it is guaranteed and is inevitable it is mentioned in the past.

Normally, in Arabic sentences are constructed with the verb appearing before the subject. In this verse the subject appears before the verb, which indicates an abnormality in the speech. This serves to increases the rhythmic nature of the verses and illustrates that a lot of detail has been put into the arrangement of the verses and the sound of them. Another reason for this is to make the statement more believable as here is someone who does not believe what you are saying and so you almost raise your voice in order to make your statement more believable. This illustrates the frustration of the speaker, the anger of the speaker and even the volume of the speaker. So here, Allah (swt) is speaking to those in denial of these facts and those who disbelieve and by putting as-shams first the translation is not just when the sun is wrapped up but when in fact the sun does get wrapped up.

These considerations in the Quran are important because it tells us who is being addressed. The language, the style, tone and language illustrates who Allah (swt) is talking to. The Quran is guidance to all of humanity and within humanity there are lots of different types of people and sometimes Allah (swt) is talking to the good, and sometimes those who are adamant in their disbelief and sometimes those who have not heard anything before etc. So, in this case the primary audience is the worst of the kaffir, of the sceptic, or the cynical who spoke about the akhira in very casual terms. So a very threatening tone is set from the beginning of this surah.

Furthermore, when Allah (swt) mentions these events He (swt) does not talk about himself and say for example, ‘when Allah wraps up the sun’. The passive is used. This is because when those sceptical of Islam hear the Quran before they even get to the part about the akhira they lose interest as the speaker is Allah (swt) who they disbelieve in. The first thing they disbelieve in is the Quran being a message from Allah (swt). Once a judgment has been passed on a speaker you will not want to hear their message if you view the speaker negatively. To overcome this, Allah (swt) speaks in the passive and says don’t think about the speaker, think about the speech. The passive form thus highlights the speech but not the speaker.

81:1

When the sun is darkened

Kuwwirat comes from the word takwir and literally means to wrap something up and is used specifically for turbans. The idea is that the light of the sun is stretched out and is compared to the long stretched cloth of the turban that gets folded up just like Allah (swt) will fold up the light on the day of judgement. When a turban wraps the head, the head gradually becomes invisible. So, the day will lose its light gradually and it will darken. Others have interpreted this more literally and understood that the sun itself will look like it has been folded up and covered up. Takwir also means to throw something in one instant and thus some scholars were of the view that the sun would be thrown into the oceans. The sun is significantly larger than the earth and but if it is folded up then this would be quite possible.

81:2

And when the stars fall

Inkidaar means to lose colour or brilliance. Thus, the stars will become dull. The essence of inkidaar means to fall and so two things have happened here. The most brilliant portion of the day has collapsed in verse one and the most stellar feature of the night, the stars that are scattered across the sky, has also lost its light and brilliance and is falling apart. Almost like the earth has an incredible gravitational pull and is beginning to pull the sun and stars towards it.

81:3

When the mountains are made to move away

And when even the mountains are made to move casually. Here again the subject precedes the verb adding emphasis and indicating that a tougher and more adamant Kaffir is being spoken to. In Surah An-Naziat Allah (swt) mentions the mountains that are pegged into the ground and now he is saying they are going to be uprooted and then move casually. The word sayaarat in Arabic originally meant the caravan of old with camels and horses and luggage which travels slowly. Saara means to casually take a walk in a garden. So the mountains here will almost float away.

81:4

And when the pregnant she-camels are left untended

So first you don’t believe your eyes when you see what’s happening to the sun followed by the stars falling and then it seems like the mountains are moving. I’Shaar in Arabic is the plural of o’shara which are the she-camels that are ten months pregnant and this comes from a’shara which is the number ten. This was very important to the Arabs as it was the most coveted, precious and honoured of wealth with them and a source of great pride. Allah (swt) says that these will be o’ttilat. A’tala means to become useless or to be neglected and Arabs would even use this word to refer to a woman that was not decked out in jewellery or beautified and thus she is useless in society, as if a woman is not beautified what use would she be. Mu’attal is a person who loses his job and is put to waste.

So Allah says of this precious asset that normally has security surrounding it, a rope on it, branded with it’s owners name, being taken care of and a precious asset not to be left alone on that day will be rendered useless to him when he sees what is happening around him and it will be let go of. Imagine you are in a burning building. You would leave all your wealth in there to get outside as only your survival is important to you.

81:5

When the wild beasts are gathered together

The word wahsh is a wild animal or beast that does not have affection for other creatures and cannot be domesticated. Animals that cannot intermingle with humans or other animals and do not form societies, spending most of their time on their own like polar bears for example. It is the opposite of the word ins which is a human being which can show affection to others. Another meaning of this word is a person who walked in the earth with wahsh which means that he walked on the earth by himself and indicates that he was difficult to get along with and thus walked without company. Allah (swt) says that these wild animals will be gathered together.

Hashara means to herd animals specifically and when you gather animals you do not do so on their own accord, you force them. This is also one of the names of the Day of Resurrection – the day of herding as humans against their will, will be herded towards that one field to be questioned.

Allah (swt) does not mention domesticated animals being herded but specifically wild animals, animals that would never be next to each other. The closest thing to this in this dunya is for example a flood where two animals that would otherwise be at each others throats are together on a little patch of land with no regard to the fact that the animals killer or food is standing next to him as there is a greater fear. Many mufassiroon say that the animals will be so scared that they will be gathering with humans as well as other animals yet neither will notice the other. So, when all these calamities occur on that day these animals will lose their natural instinct of attack or fear of each other and instead will have a greater thing to worry about and so stand next to each other, herded together. Contrast this with the previous surah where Allah (swt) describes human beings running away from one another when normally they would go towards one another and in this surah animals are running towards one another whereas normally they would not. By nature these animals would not be herded together and humans would be together. Everything we have been use to is reversed.

It is considered that the first six verses are before the hour and the next six are after the hour. If we go for the interpretation that this verse occurs before the hour then it describes everyone being gathered together to die. Animals will be gathered together because there will be so many floods causing them to seek higher ground. Another opinion is that this verse is alluding to animals being raised on the Day of Judgement in addition to men.

 81:6

When the seas are set alight (or overflow)

There is a gradual descent in this surah from the sun and the stars, to the mountains and the animals and now with this verse, the sea. Abhur means a few bodies of water and bihaar means all bodies of water or oceans. So, bihaar is a plural of multitude or a super plural. Sajar has three meanings, firstly, to be filled. Second is to be ignited with fire and thirdly, to dry out. The mufassiroon have explained this verse in light of all these meanings. In light of the first meaning the interpretation is that the seas will all be overflowed and filled to the point that there will only be one sea. Alternately, the seas will dry out or be set alight whilst others say that the seas will go through all these stages. It will firstly overflow and then dry out leaving huge pits or canyons full of fire.

Tasjeer is when you have a large pot into which you throw coal and fuel and then set it alight, so a pot which is full of not just fuel but things used to excite flames. The implication of this is that the water of the ocean will actually turn into fuel for a fire. An amazing transformation as water is used to put out flames and is the opposite of something considered to excite flames. The fire will be so powerful it will seem as if the oceans are just drops in it. Another interpretation is that the hellfire is located under the oceans and due to the flames the oceans bubble and boil over and flooding takes place. So the oceans being set alight could be figuratively or literally.

81:7
When people’s souls are paired [like with like],

All of the themes revealed earlier were not about humans but either animals or huge things like oceans or mountains or the sun. The things that Allah (swt) has mentioned have gradually been getting worse and continue with the worst of all so far. This verse commences the second stage. There are two plurals of nafs, anfus and nufoos. Anfus is the weaker plural and nufoos is the multitude plural. So, every single individual will be paired together. Tazweej in Arabic means to pair something, for example, when a father marries his daughter off. Here it is being used in a larger sense. Umar ibn Khattab in tafseer of this verse says that this means that the people who did good in this world will be paired with the people who did good in this world in Jannah and the people who did evil in this world will be paired with those who did evil in this world in hellfire. Some also say it is when the believers will be paired up with the hoor al-ayn and the disbelievers will be paired up with the shayateen. Two other opinions are that firstly every person will be paired with their own i.e. the souls that had departed the body will be reunited and secondly that people will be reunited with their deeds. The strongest opinion is that of Umar and this is supported elsewhere in the Quran.

The word nafs is commonly translated as soul and has many derivatives in it’s root form. Anfaas in Arabic means breaths. Tanaffas also means to take a breath. Tannaafus means to compete in the spirit of healthy and friendly competition. All these things have back and forth in common. What this has in common with nafs is that an-nafs is something that is always going back and forth between the states that Allah (swt) describes either moving towards desire and humiliation and then towards another desire, thus, it is always in motion.

81:8

When the infant girl, buried alive, is asked

It is commented that the one who buried the child and the one who bore her meaning the father who commanded to bury her will both be in the hellfire. Mow’uda is the woman or female who is buried alive and she will be asked. This is an attack on the Quraysh. When a girl was born it was a very ugly event. The mother would go to a ditch when she was about to give birth and bury her child if it was a girl. One of the reasons for this is because it was a question of an Arab’s manhood if he was unable to produce a male. Secondly, when a daughter grows up she could marry into a different tribe, which would be a source of humiliation for the father and his tribe. Arabs would also worry about not being able to financially provide for them and fearing they would be a burden. The Arabs were often at war with other tribes and sometimes their daughters and women would be captured. The father would not want to risk the shame of his daughter growing up and preferring her captors to her family. Muhammad (saw) guaranteed Jannah for the one who could raise three daughters properly but not three sons so why do even today Muslims who should know better hanker after boys. Islam came to replace the hardness in the hearts of man with mercy.

Why is the killer here not being questioned? This is because when the father decided to kill his daughter no one was there to question his decision. The daughter could not complain to anyone, she had no means to defend herself and no one was there to hear her voice. So now, Allah (swt) gives a voice to the person who did not have a voice and could not speak for themselves – the oppressed. On the Day of Judgement, the oppressed, those whose cries were not heard in this life, will be the first to be judged, the first to be empowered, as these were the ones that desperately waited for justice. The fact that the killer is not even questioned illustrates the extent to which Allah (swt) is angry with the killer that he does not even deserve to be spoken to. Allah (swt) will talk to the victim and not even turn to him. This is a style used in the Quran against who Allah (swt) is extremely angry with. For example, on the Day of Judgement Allah (swt) does not scold the Christians for associating partners with him (swt). Instead you find a dialogue between Allah (swt) and Esa (saw) but that’s not because he is angry with Esa (saw) it’s because the Christians who altered Esa’s (saw) teachings do not deserve to be addressed as they did such a big crime. This is an illustration at how angry Allah (swt) is with these people.

Furthermore, criminals cannot tolerate the voice of the oppressed being heard as they can expose all the crimes that were committed against them. The oppressor will not be able to deny the evidence and this is the worst source of humiliation for them. They do not even deserve to be spoken to and the key has literally been thrown away.

In the previous surah Allah (swt) talks about how man will run away from his wife and baniihi. In classical usage baniihi refers specifically to sons and not daughters. The audience here is the kaffir and he loves his sons and this love of his sons is illustrated in his embarrassment over the daughters that appear in this surah. Also, notice there are two pregnancies mentioned in this surah, the ten month old pregnant she-camel and the baby girl that is born and buried alive. Out of these two things it is the child that would have been valued more by a decent human being. Allah (swt) first talks about the things that will scare the kaffir and then He (swt) talks about the things they love the most that they will then lose and the first of these things he mentions are his camels, not even his own flesh and blood. His child he is willing to bury but the camel is a source of pride. Also, note the daughters were sometimes buried up to the age of six.

81:9

For what sin was she killed

The word dhanb is used for the smallest infraction, for example a parking ticket could be seen as a small infraction. Allah (swt) is saying there is no chance of finding a big sin she might have committed so can you even find a small crime that she committed for which she deserved to die.

 81:10

When the records are laid open

The scrolls are flat and laid open in the life of this world for the angels to record your deeds and when you die the scrolls are rolled up and then on the Day of Judgement they will be laid open again. Anshara means to spread out and also means to bring to life. Thus, it will be as if the scrolls (which are the scrolls of deeds that have been recorded) are spread out and brought to life and the contents within brought to life. The word suhoof appears in the previous surah also where it refers to revelation. In this surah it refers to the scrolls enclosing all of man’s deeds. Thus, if you did not care about the former suhoof you will be in trouble with the latter suhoof. Those scriptures came so that we could fix these scriptures so the two are now complementing each other subhanallah. Allah (swt) could question man about his deeds and no one could complain but this recording is to provide supplementary evidence. It will further add to the humiliation of those who did bad and give security to those who did good and when the criminal sees his wrong deeds on paper, written down, it will only add to his guilt and shame. Likewise those who did well and see it written on their scrolls will feel tranquillity and peace.

81:11

When the sky is stripped off

Allah (swt) now mentions the sky which you would have thought would have been included in the passage where Allah was talking about the sun, stars and the mountains. However, after a break Allah (swt) now mentions the sky as it serves a literary function connected with the next verse. Samaa literally means that which is above but commonly means sky. The word kushitat comes from the verb kashata. To skin the camel once it is slaughtered is kasht, kashaat is a butcher and kishaat is the peeled skin itself. This verse could be taken literally by understanding that the sky has a skin that is peeled. However, it is more appropriate to understand the imagery here. Allah (swt) in another place in the Quran mentions the sky on the day of judgement will be red. When you peel the skin of an animal the red flesh is exposed so this illustrates how red the sky will look, so red it is as if the skin of the sky has been peeled. The sky will look red as it will reflect the vicious occurrences on earth that day.

81:12

When the hellfire is set ablaze

The word sa’ara is to cause a fire that towers high. So the jaheem, this vicious glaring hellfire, is given towering flame. This fire towers so high that its redness even affects the texture of the sky making the sky look as if has been peeled. In the last surah we found some faces, faces that have black dust on them and overwhelmed with black smoke. They will be overwhelmed with the smoke from this towering blazing fire that will overcome them with smoke to the extent they are blackened. So, the fire in these verses is connected to the faces in the previous surah.

81:13

When paradise is brought near

In the previous surah we also learn of the faces that are lit bright and look like they can’t stop smiling and this is due to the sight of Jannah which has been brought close. Zulf in Arabic means a portion or a great portion of something. Zulfa means status. When Allah (swt) talks about Sulayman (saw) he uses the word zulfa and says he has high status. The word muzdallifa is the field or the region that you stop at close to Mina which is why it’s called the ‘close by’ place. It is also an honoured place when someone is brought close in order to honour him. In other words this verse talks about paradise being brought close in order to honour the believer. So paradise has been depicted as an honorary gift to the believers. It is brought close to the believers but hellfire is not brought close to the disbelievers and this reinforces the idea mentioned in the previous verse that hellfire may be beneath us under the sea. This verse proves that jannah is already created and that it is far from us. Another implication of jannah being brought close is that no hardship will need to be undertaken to enjoy it to the extent that trees will lower their branches to give you its fruit.

Notice in this verse also the noun precedes the verb as Allah (swt) talks to the disbeliever who thinks that the only thing close to the believer is destruction and poverty, however, Allah (swt) makes clear emphatically and in strong terms that the thing being brought close to the believers and the honour coming their way is Jannah itself.  When Allah (swt) talks about Jannah we often think he is talking to the believer but here He (swt) is reprimanding the disbeliever and making clear that in fact the honour is coming to the believer.

81:14

Every person shall know what it has put forward (of good and evil)

At the end of all this there is a sentence that begins with a verb whereas all those before began with a noun. Also, the verses that came before begin with a ‘when’, and when this happens there needs to be a concluding remark. Allah (swt) does not being this verse with a noun as this verse does not need to be emphasised. This is because everyone knows full well what actions they need to present. This is not a difficult to imagine concept as everyone already knows this deep inside. So, there is a transition in the language. The sun being wrapped up and the stars collapsing seems unnatural to us and so a stronger form of language is used to drive the point home whereas deep in our psyche we already know what our conclusion is. These qualities were all mentioned and the response delayed so that stirring our imagination could drive this point home.

This verse is a response to every verse that came before it. After witnessing every calamity man is concerned and preoccupied with what he has to present of his deeds as he realises ‘I know what’s coming’ and all he can think of is himself. This follows on from the previous surah where Allah (swt) gives man the opportunity to fix himself but he does not and so in this surah Allah (swt) is essentially saying ‘You know what’s coming now’. The word hadara means to present itself or to be present. Ahdara means to take something and bring it for presentation and it includes the implication of forcing i.e. a reluctant presentation. It is normally used to refer to something tangible for example bringing forward a book. This could therefore be referring to the scrolls of our deeds that will be turned into physical entities and put on the scales. Even the believer will be nervous on the day until the scales have been counted. We do not know the consequences of our actions, the small and great of them. The messenger (saw) said that one of us could say a word that could plunge us into hellfire by seventy years and that person would not even know. However, one may speak a word that will please Allah (swt) and as a result Allah (swt) will enter him into jannah. This should put us in a state of worry and concern regarding our actions.

81:15

I swear by the stars that appear and disappear

This verse marks a shift which is illustrated by the letter faa which connects the statements that are coming to whatever statement that came before. The previous verse concludes the entire first passage. Allah (swt) ties the discussion on the hellfire to the truthfulness of the messenger (swt) and the angel Gabriel. Allah (swt) has softened and humbled the heart of the believer or disbeliever and then takes this opportunity to affirm the prophethood of Muhammad (saw). There is a transition from the world of actions (ahdara) to the world of belief and actions are rooted in beliefs. The kuffar thought certain things were bad omens and superstitions for example having a daughter. One of these superstitions was to do with the stars. The twinkling nature of stars led the pre-Islamic Arab to think the stars were trying to tell him something, for example meteors or shooting stars were considered a sign of something. For many people then as today astrology was big business. They would say that they would get information about the future from shayateen that would go up to the heavens and stars and find out things. One of the accusations levelled at the messenger (saw) was that he also was a mind reader and gets information from the stars.

Allah (swt) here goes to their apparent source of knowledge, the stars, and swears by them. The word khunnas is the plural of khaanis and is someone who is going on a path when all of a sudden he takes a turn or hides behind a bush and disappears, thus they go from seen to unseen. It can also refer to stars or planets that appear in the night but disappear in the day. The mushrik would say that when a star has appeared it is a sign for him but by calling it khunnas Allah (swt) is saying that it appears but also disappears and Allah controls their appearance and disappearance.

81:16

Which move swiftly and hide themselves

This verse is a continuation from the previous verse as there is no waa or faa. The word jawaar means to veer off its path and in this context can be considered a shooting star or a star that goes off course. The word kunnas comes from the word kinnas which is the hiding place of a deer when it suddenly disappears into a bush for example and is used to refer to the coming and going of animals at the blink of an eye. This illustrates that the star that is shooting disappears after brief movement. Allah (swt) begins by swearing by them illustrating his control over them. The Arab believes that the Jinn get information from the stars but we learn that when the Jinn or shayateen try to steal information from the angels they are shot down with stars. So what the Arab or astrologer today thinks is the Jinn getting information is actually the Jinn getting a beating.

81:17

And by the night as it starts to darken (and dwindle your vision)

The word ‘as’asa is used for the night when the evening is starting and also when it is ending because these are times when the vision is blurry. At these hours you cannot see the sky.

81:18

And by the dawn as it starts to breathe

So the night is choking on the day and the day then gets to breath at dawn. When the day breathes the stars are no longer visible. Thus, Allah (swt) controls what you can see and what you cannot. When it is day you have no idea whether the stars are shooting or not so from where do you get your information.

81:19

This is truly the word of a noble messenger

The word kareem comes from the word kiramah which refers to nobility and honour and refers to the angel Gabriel. Note here that the word kalaam which means speech is not used. The word qawl is used which is another word for speech. This is because the word kalaam is used with Allah (swt) and means literally that which is said from the source and qawl is that which is uttered by the tongue. When you have a qawl it could be from someone else’s kalaam and source i.e. you are just saying it but when you have a kalaam it is your own. So when we say the messenger said in hadiths we are saying that it is the messenger’s (saw) kalaam but it is the narrator’s qawl. In other words these are not the words of Gabriel they are the word of Allah (swt) which is why the word kalaam is not used. This Quran with its description of the Day of Judgement is the word of a noble and mighty messenger, i.e. Gabriel, the angel who carried and delivered it to Muhammad (saw).

Note also that we are told that this is the speech of a noble messenger and it is part of his nobility that he will deliver the message in all honesty not like the devil that the astrologer relies on with no associated nobility. In the previous surah Allah (swt) talks about the integrity of revelation but that is only one part of the message. The three parts are the message, the delivery and the messenger. The revelation has been defended in the previous surah and now in this surah He (swt) is defending the means by which the revelation comes (via Gabriel – a noble and mighty messenger) and later in this surah He (swt) will also defend the messenger (saw). The word rusool means someone who delivers something and is a professional at this and delivers well.

Furthermore, the two previous oaths are answered with this verse. The difference in clarity between the night when it is blurry and when the morning is clear is a parallel to the difference in the clarity and obscurity between what the messenger Gabriel says and what the fortune tellers and mind readers say and thus it is so clear that it should be abundantly clear to you that it is the word of a noble messenger and not a devil. These verses seek to confirm the credibility of the isnad of the Quran. Originally the Arabs would use the word kurma which is very similar to kareem and is a tree that grows grapes. The significance of grapes it that it grows on low hanging branches and thus is easy to pick and grows in multitudes. Thus, kareem refers to something noble but also to someone very generous, someone who when he gives a lot he gives the best. Gabriel is therefore kareem as he gives a lot of guidance to mankind and the very best form of guidance – the Quran. This quality necessitates that he preserves the qualities of the Quran without any distortion and when someone is noble they do not lie or hold back vital information.

The majority say that the ‘hu’ refers to the Quran even though the Quran has not been mentioned at all in this surah but it is implied from the context. In order to reinforce everything that has been mentioned about the Day of Judgement Allah (swt) declares that this is indeed the message of a noble messenger and therefore you should believe everything that it states within it. Typically in today’s age any debate with a non-Muslim invariably always ends up being a discussion on matters of Shariah. The disbeliever will believe in all that this surah has outlined with regards to the resurrection if they believe that the Quran is the word of Allah (swt). Most of the discussions with the Quraysh were on aqeedah and not shariah and this is what Muslims should concentrate on when talking to non-Muslims. You may be able to convince someone about some matters of shariah such as the merits of the hijab but you would not be able to convince them about everything.

81:20

Owner of power (and high rank) with (Allah), the Lord of the Throne

The weakness of the shayateen was illustrated when the stars are shot against them and they have no defence and have to run and find hiding places to try and hear something. However, this messenger himself (Gabriel) is extremely mighty and no one is going to try and steal anything from him. Quwwa means strength and refers to the ability to do great tasks that not many can do. This strength refers to the Gabriel’s great task of passing on the message and also of his ability to repel shayateen and so surely the message he passes onto Muhammad (saw) cannot be tampered with. Furthermore, if he is this strong and supports Muhammad (saw) then how dare anyone challenge Muhammad (saw). Furthermore, his strength indicates his ability to implement the commands of Allah (swt) reiterating his ability to pass on this message to mankind.

Allah (swt) also mentions that he is getting this stuff right from the source. Inda can mean that in the metaphorical sense Gabriel is in close proximity with Allah (swt) and we know that Gabriel can go further than any other angel and that he heard the Quran directly from Allah (swt). The word ‘arsh means to build a wooden roof which is a very expensive commodity in the desert society. It is the highest physical creation of Allah (swt) and nothing is above it except Allah (swt). Makeen comes from the word makana which means to live somewhere and makaan is a house. A makeen is someone who lives somewhere permanently but also means to give someone high status. From ancient times to now ownership of a home is a symbol of status and the higher the profile of your neighbourhood the higher your status. We also know that Yusuf (as) was given the title of Makeen because he had a very high status with the king after he interpreted his dream. Allah (swt) says of Gabriel that he is situated right by the possessor of the throne, thus Gabriel has high status due to where he is situated.

81:21
Obeyed and trustworthy

The word taa’a means to celebrate and also to volunteer for something. Allah (swt) mentions this attribute mutaa’a for Gabriel illustrating that he is followed but followed lovingly, a tight knit following of angels that follow his every command with pleasure. The person who follows with pleasure is called mutaa’a. We are told this to inform us that when he delivers his message there is also a security team with him. Imagine when a highly classified document or technology is being delivered. High ranking officials who have access to this will deliver it and they will have a team of security who have had background checks carried out on them around it and escorting it. This is what we are being told here. This revelation is coming from the highest source and the one delivering it is the highest ranked official who has an army of security.

Thamma is a noun used to describe a place ‘over there’ so even right by the throne Gabriel has a huge following. It is because he has strength and a high position with Allah (swt) that no one can order him except for Allah (swt) and this he is given the description of being obeyed meaning that the other angels obey him. Furthermore, by saying he is obeyed ‘over there’ it is implying that there is another messenger (Muhammad) that should be obeyed by those who believe in Allah (swt). Allah (swt) commanded the inhabitants of heaven – the angels to obey Gabriel just as he has commanded the people of the earth obey Muhammad (saw). Thamma is also mentioned right before an adjective to empower the adjective or to highlight it above all other adjectives. So thamma has two purposes, the first is to represent the station of Gabriel and second is to highlight that of all the adjectives used to describe Gabriel the one highlighted the most is ameen which means especially especially trustworthy. The mere fact that Gabriel is to be obeyed indicates that he is someone to be trusted. The context of all of this is to reinforce the credibility of Gabriel and that he is indeed conveying what Allah (swt) spoke. This is important as the deliverer of the revelation must be trustworthy and so the message is delivered using only the most trustworthy means.

81:22

And your companion is not insane

There is a shift now and Allah (swt) is talking to the kuffar who on the day of judgement He (swt) will not be talking to. Everything in the surah thus far has been in the third person with no direct speech being made to anyone but now Allah (swt) addresses the Quraysh directly and the speech is becoming more intense. So after Allah (swt) gives credibility to his ambassador in another realm he now gives credibility to the messenger Muhammad in our realm. Allah (swt) does not say Muhammad is insane. He (swt) says your companion. Saahib in Arabic means the one who accompanies you in space and time and illustrates that he has lived among your midst, you know him, where he lives and have been physically close to him and he has been among you for a long time. And this is how you get to know someone, when you live close to someone or you spend a lot of time with them. In the masjid we may meet someone regularly but do we really know that person as we do not live with them as they may be a completely different person when they get home. But if you are their neighbour and you spend a lot of time with them then you really know them. Allah (swt) is saying that as the messenger has been amongst your midst a very long time you know very well he is not insane, or a mind reader and of the very best attributes you prescribe to him.

Muhammad (saw) was no stranger to the Quraysh. He lived amongst them for forty years and was of noble lineage. It is narrated that before Muhammad (saw) made Hijra he instructed Ali (ra) to return the belongings the Quraysh had entrusted him with. In other words the very same people that had labelled him as insane, possessed or a magician still trusted him enough to let him keep hold of their belongings. Furthermore, through studying the seerah alone you can tell that there are no signs of insanity. The fact that he had so many wives and companions shows that he was not insane as the signs of insanity are most apparent to those people closest to you. Additionally, how can someone insane provide a book which is still amazing people to this very day?

The word Jannah in Arabic literally means to cover something up and to climb over it. Thus paradise in Arabic is Jannah as it covers up dirt with lush greenery and it is a lush garden where one thing covers another i.e. overflowing garden. Trees that are so dense that when someone enters they will be hidden from view such is its lush density. Jinn because our eyes are covered from seeing them. Mujnoon has two implications, the first is the one whose intellect has been overshadowed or covered and he cannot make sense of anything and thus he is called insane. The second implication is someone who is possessed by a jinn. So, Allah (swt) is saying he is not possessed by a Jinn and also implies he is not getting his information from a Jinn or is inspired by them. Rather he gets them from the angel Gabriel who delivers them from Allah (swt).

81:23

And indeed he saw him in the clear horizon

The word o’fuq literally means a corner, so the far horizon where the earth and the sky meet. The horizon is where the sun comes out and is extremely vast and it was from there, the clearest part – where the eyesight cannot possibly be false in declaring something, that he saw Gabriel. Note, that the sight and hearing of someone who is mujnoon cannot be trusted, as they will see things that do not exist. So Allah (swt) establishes that he is not insane and that he did indeed see Gabriel. Bear in mind this is being told to people who take information from fortune tellers and mind readers who say that they can see things that other people cannot for a fee. Allah (swt) makes another contrast between these mind readers and mujnoon people and the messenger (saw) who actually can see the unseen. So, the credibility of the messenger (saw) has been established from a physical perspective in his sight and hearing and the next verse establishes the credibility in his character.

81:24

And he does not withhold knowledge of the Unseen

The word daneen is someone who is cheap in information like a chef who does not want to share his recipe or someone who hides information until they get what they want. Allah (swt) says that in terms of the unseen even though it is seen for the messenger (saw) he is not being cheap by restricting this information. He is giving this stuff all away so how can you compare him to people who restrict apparent information form the unseen for a price. Muhammad (saw) was not asking for wages or wealth so surely this indicates his credibility. Whatever he received in revelation he would pass it on and when someone has received the sweetness of faith they will always want to pass it on and not withhold it.

81:25

And it is not the word of an accursed devil

After establishing and defending the credibility of Gabriel and Muhammad and their ability to pass on this message, Allah (swt) negates and refutes the idea that it came from shaytaan. How can the Quraysh possibly claim that it comes from shaytaan when the Quran itself condemns the devil? Allah (swt) is saying that this is the furthest thing from being the word of an accursed devil. Therefore the Quran surely is the word of Allah (swt) and the only possible source.

The word rajam means pelting and rajeem means someone that is so cursed and generates such anger from people that they throw things at him when they see him. The word shaytaan has two origins in classical Arabic. Shatana means to be far away from the truth and shaata which means to be engulfed in flames of rage literally and so the one who is extremely angry and frustrated. This could mean either that shaytaan is calling to something that is farthest from the truth or alternatively that his humiliation before Adam (saw) has wound him up so much that all the things he does until now is a result of him feeling affronted.

81:26
Then where are you headed?

This verse can be considered the heart of this surah. After awakening them from their misguidance Allah (swt) establishes the reality of this Quran. When you chase someone and corner them and block off all their means of escapes you ask them where they can go now. Allah (swt) has destroyed all their arguments and cornered them. What other arguments can they come up with now? In the previous two surahs it was the kuffar asking questions and posing causal questions about the hereafter. Now Allah (swt) has a question. Sometimes questions are a rebuke or rhetorical but this question is posed because they cannot come up with any other answer. You have this world of corrupt knowledge on one hand and on the other this source of priceless pure authentic knowledge. After knowing all this where are you headed and going? Another interpretation of this verse is that if this Quran is false like the Quraysh say it is, then what guidance do they have, what scripture do they have that they can take guidance from – they have nothing.

81:27

This is nothing but a reminder for the worlds

This illustrates that the Quraysh can go away. The message does not need them; there are other people out there. This is a message for the whole world. The word a’alameen refers to the creatures of intellect i.e. mankind and Jinn. Thus, in the Quran whenever this word is used it is referring to nations.

81:28

To those of you whose intent is to be upright

The word istiqaama (from siraat-ul mustaqeem) originates the word qaama which means to stand vertically and yustaqeem is the one that wants to stand up straight. Allah (swt) says that this is a reminder for the one who wants to stand up straight and recall that we recite this when we are standing up straight in salah. Thus, the imagery in faatiha is of the one praying being elevated from the dunya to akhira. The word shaa’a comes from shay’un which means a thing or object. Thus, shaa’a means to have a concrete intention, when your plans are so solid that it is as concrete as a shay’un itself, an object in physical form thus it is a strong intent. Araada in Arabic means to intend in your head but it’s never manifest and you don’t even plan to execute it (i.e. I plan to start studying tomorrow but he never does – a half-hearted intention). So Allah (swt) talks here of a person who has made a concrete intention.

This verse is a refutation for those who reject the concept of free will. Man has his own free will although it is governed by the will of Allah (swt). When disbelievers remain upon their misguidance it is not due to the Quran being inadequate in its proofs but because of their own state and contentment with their way of life and the fact that through their arrogance they do not feel like they need to be guided. It is their own fault they are not guided. If someone deserves to be guided Allah (swt) will not lead them astray. Abu Jahl when he heard this verse said that therefore the matter lies in our own hands, that if we want, we will be steadfast but if we want we will not be guided. This is him being sarcastic and arrogant almost as if to say ‘don’t stress Muhammad – if we want to be guided we will be and why would I want to be misguided?’ However, Allah (swt) refutes this in the last verse.

81:29

Yet, you cannot will except by the will of Allah, Lord of all the worlds.

Ultimately man’s concrete intention is dependent, no matter how strong it is on what Allah (swt) wills and what he has planned for you. In the Quran, Allah (swt) illustrates a balance between divine will and human effort. In this surah man is encouraged to make the first step, put your trust in Allah (swt) and then Allah (swt) will make the next steps easy. If you do not appreciate this balance you’ll find the person who thinks he can do everything on his own and on the other hand the person who does not do anything because he thinks Allah (swt) will do it for him and make him good whenever Allah (swt) wants. Whereas in fact you did not want it so Allah (swt) did not want it for you either.

This surah establishes the credibility and truthfulness of this book. Many people reject Islam not because they think it is false but because they reject the teachings and shariah of Islam. Thus we have to convince them of the truthfulness of Muhammad (saw) and that the Quran is the word of Allah (swt). This surah begins with some of the most enormous manifestations of divine will such as the sun being wrapped up and the stars collapsing, thus, what is our will and the will of the kaffir compared to the will of Allah (swt). This should instil in us caution and fear. In this world we do not know the reality and consequences of our actions. The true outcome of our actions will only be manifest on the Day of Judgement. We do not know how much Allah (swt) will love us for our good deeds on that day or how much our words and bad deeds will harm us and thus we should always reflect over our actions. After telling us what will happen on this world the surah ends with a simple question – where are you headed after hearing all this and what is your conclusion? Islam demands change in us and expects us to implement things and move from thought to action.


81: At-Takwir

Tafseer Surah At-Takwir

The two words that describe the events of the last day in the previous two surahs were At-Taama and As-Saakhkhah. At-Taama was the overwhelming, engulfing, surrounding calamity. As-Saakhkhah was a word used for the second blowing of the trumpet that initiates the resurrection. This surah begins almost with a tafseer of those two things and depicts how the day of resurrection is so overwhelming. The previous surah ended with a depiction of what happens to a person after As-Saakhkhah and was a personal image. Now, it is almost as if the camera has shifted focus to the sky and then the stars and the mountains. It is almost as if the previous surah ended by depicting the chaos amongst the people on that day and the imagery has now changed to depict the chaos amongst the sky and all else on the same day.

Idha means when and in English when can be used to refer to the past and also to the future. For example, ‘when I went to the office’ and ‘when I go to the office’. In Arabic, when use ‘when’ to refer to the past you do not say idha you say idh. So when Allah refers to an event in the past He (swt) uses idh and when an event is mentioned that refers to the future idha is used. In this verse idha is followed by a word in the past tense yet idha establishes the verse in the future. The function of the past tense here in classical Arabic is to speak of something with certainty. Something so certain it is as certain as the past itself. So when Allah (swt) speaks of something in the future but it is guaranteed and is inevitable it is mentioned in the past.

Normally, in Arabic sentences are constructed with the verb appearing before the subject. In this verse the subject appears before the verb which indicates an abnormality in the speech. One of the reasons for this is to make the statement more believable as someone does not believe what you are saying and so you almost raise your voice in order to make your statement more believable. This illustrates the frustration of the speaker, the anger of the speaker and even the volume of the speaker. So here, Allah (swt) is speaking to those in denial of these facts and those who disbelieve and by putting as-shams first the translation is not just when the sun is wrapped up but when in fact the sun does get wrapped up.

These considerations in the Quran are important because it tells us who is being addressed. The language, the style, tone and language illustrates who Allah (swt) is talking to. The Quran is guidance to all of humanity and within humanity there are lots of different types of people and sometimes Allah (swt) is talking to the good, and sometimes those who are adamant in their disbelief and sometimes those who have not heard anything before etc. So, in this case the primary audience is the worst of the kaffir, of the sceptic, or the cynical who spoke about the akhira in very casual terms. So a very threatening tone is set from the beginning of this surah. When Allah (swt) mentions these events he does not talk about himself and say for example, ‘when Allah wraps up the sun’. The passive is used. This is because when those sceptical of Islam hear the Quran before they even get to the part about the akhira they lose interest as the speaker is Allah (swt) who they disbelieve in. The first thing they disbelieve in is the Quran being a message from Allah (swt). Once a judgment has been passed on a speaker you will not want to hear their message if you view the speaker negatively. To overcome this, Allah (swt) speaks in the passive and says don’t think about the speaker, think about the speech. The passive form thus highlights the speech but not the speaker.

81:1
When the sun is darkened

Kuwwirat comes from the word takwir and literally means to wrap something up and is used specifically for turbans. The idea is that the light of the sun is stretched out and is compared to the long stretched cloth of the turban that gets folded up just like Allah (swt) will fold up the light on the day of judgement. When a turban wraps the head, the head gradually becomes invisible. So, the day will lose its light gradually and it will darken. Others have interpreted this more literally and understood that the sun itself will look like it has been folded up and covered up.

81:2

And when the stars fall

Inkidaar means to lose colour or brilliance. So, the stars will become dull. The essence of inkidaar means to fall. Two things have happened, the most brilliant portion of the day has collapsed in verse one and the most stellar feature of the night, the stars that are scattered across the sky, has also lost its light and brilliance and is falling apart.

81:3

When the mountains are made to move away

And when even the mountains are made to move casually. Here again the subject precedes the verb adding emphasis and indicating that a tougher and more adamant Kaffir is being spoken to. In Surah An-Naziat Allah (swt) mentions the mountains that are pegged into the ground and now he is saying they are going to be uprooted and then move casually. The word sayaarat in Arabic originally meant the caravan of old with camels and horses and luggage which travels slowly. Saara means to casually take a walk in a garden. So the mountains here will almost float away.

81:4

And when the pregnant she-camels are left untended

So first you don’t believe your eyes when you see what’s happening to the sun followed by the stars falling and then it seems like the mountains are moving. I’Shaar in Arabic is the plural of o’shara which are the she-camels that are ten months pregnant and this comes from a’shara which is the number ten. This was very important to the Arabs as it was the most coveted, precious and honoured of wealth with them and a source of great pride. Allah (swt) says that these will be o’ttilat. A’tala means to become useless or to be neglected and Arabs would even use this word to refer to a woman that was not decked out in jewellery or beautified and thus she is useless in society, as if a woman is not beautified what use would she be. Mu’attal is a person who loses his job and is put to waste.

So Allah says of this precious asset that normally has security surrounding it, a rope on it, branded with it’s owners name, being taken care of and a precious asset not to be left alone on that day will be rendered useless to him when he sees what is happening around him and it will be let go of. Imagine you are in a burning building. You would leave all your wealth in there to get outside as only your survival is important to you.

81:5

When the wild beasts are gathered together

The word wahsh is a wild animal or beast that does not have affection for other creatures and cannot be domesticated. It is the opposite of the word ins which is a human being which can show affection to others. Another meaning of this word is a person who walked in the earth with wahsh which means that he walked on the earth by himself and indicates that he was difficult to get along with and thus walked without company. Allah (swt) says that these wild animals will be gathered together.

Hashara means to herd animals specifically and when you gather animals you do not do so on their own accord, you force them. This is also one of the names of the Day of Resurrection – the day of herding as humans against their will, will be herded towards that one field to be questioned.

Allah (swt) does not mention domesticated animals being herded but specifically wild animals, animals that would never be next to each other. The closest thing to this in this dunya is for example a flood where two animals that would otherwise be at each others throats are together on a little patch of land with no regard to the fact that the animals killer or food is standing next to him as there is a greater fear. So when all these calamities occur on that day these animals will lose their natural instinct of attack or fear of each other and instead will have a greater thing to worry about and so stand next to each other, herded together. Contrast this with the previous surah where Allah (swt) describes human beings running away from one another when normally they would go towards one another and in this surah animals are running towards one another whereas normally they would not. By nature these animals would not be herded together and humans would be together. Everything we have been use to is reversed.

 81:6

When the seas are set alight (or overflow)

Abhur means a few bodies of water and bihaar means all bodies of water or oceans. So, bihaar is a plural of multitude or a super plural. Tasjeer is when you have a large pot into which you throw coal and fuel and then set it alight, so a pot which is full of not just fuel but things used to excite flames. The implication of this is that the water of the ocean will actually turn into fuel for a fire. An amazing transformation as water is used to put out flames and is the opposite of something considered to excite flames. The fire will be so powerful it will seem as if the oceans are just drops in it. Another interpretation is that the hellfire is located under the oceans and due to the flames the oceans bubble and boil over and flooding takes place. So the oceans being set alight could be figuratively or literally.

81:7

When people’s souls are paired [like with like],

All of the themes revealed earlier were not about humans but either animals or huge things like oceans or mountains or the sun. The things that Allah (swt) has mentioned have gradually been getting worse and continues with the worst of all so far. There are two plurals of nafs, anfus and nufoos. Anfus is the weaker plural and nufoos is the multitude plural. So, every single individual will be paired together. Tazweej in Arabic means to pair something, for example, when a father marries his daughter off. Here it is being used in a larger sense. Umar ibn Khattab in tafseer of this verse says that this means that the people who did good in this world will be paired with the people who did good in this world in Jannah and the people who did evil in this world will be paired with those who did evil in this world in hellfire. Two other opinions are that firstly every person will be paired with their own i.e. the souls that had departed the body will be reunited and secondly that people will be reunited with their deeds. The strongest opinion is that of Umar and this is supported elsewhere in the Quran.

The word nafs is commonly translated as soul and has many derivatives in it’s root form. Anfaas in Arabic means breaths. Tanaffas also means to take a breath. Tannaafus means to compete in the spirit of healthy and friendly competition. All these things have back and forth in common. What this has in common with nafs is that an-nafs is something that is always going back and forth between the states that Allah (swt) describes either moving towards desire and humiliation and then towards another desire, thus, it is always in motion.

81:8

When the infant girl, buried alive, is asked

It is commented that the one who buried the child and the one who bore her meaning the father who commanded to bury her will both be in the hellfire. Mow’uda is the woman or female who is buried alive and she will be asked. This is an attack on the Quraysh. When a girl was born it was a very ugly event. The mother would go to a ditch when she was about to give birth and bury her child if it was a girl. One of the reasons for this is because it was a question of an Arab’s manhood if he was unable to produce a male. Secondly, when a daughter grows up she could marry into a different tribe which would be a source of humiliation for the father and his tribe. Muhammad (saw) guaranteed Jannah for the one who could raise three daughters properly but not three sons so why do even today Muslims who should know better hanker after boys.

Why is the killer here not being questioned? This is because when the father decided to kill his daughter no one was there to question his decision. The daughter could not complain to anyone, she had no means to defend herself and no one was there to hear her voice. So now, Allah (swt) gives a voice to the person who did not have a voice and could not speak for themselves – the oppressed. On the Day of Judgement, the oppressed, those whose cries were not heard in this life, will be the first to be judged, the first to be empowered as these were the ones that desperately waited for justice. The fact that the killer is not even questioned illustrates the extent to which Allah (swt) is angry with the killer that he does not even deserve to be spoken to. Allah (swt) will talk to the victim and not even turn to him. This is a style used in the Quran against who Allah (swt) is extremely angry with. For example, on the Day of Judgement Allah (swt) does not scold the Christians for associating partners with him (swt). Instead you find a dialogue between Allah (swt) and Esa (as) but that’s not because he is angry with Esa (as) it’s because the Christians who altered Esa’s (as) teachings do not deserve to be addressed as they did such a big crime. This is an illustration at how angry Allah (swt) is with these people.

In the previous surah Allah (swt) talks about how man will run away from his wife and baniihi. In classical usage baniihi refers specifically to sons and not daughters. The audience here is the kaffir and he loves his sons and this love of his sons is illustrated in his embarrassment over the daughters that appear in this surah. Also, notice there are two pregnancies mentioned in this surah, the ten month old pregnant she-camel and the baby girl that is born and buried alive. Out of these two things it is the child that would have been valued more by a decent human being. Allah (swt) first talks about the things that will scare the kaffir and then He (swt) talks about the things they love the most that they will then lose and the first of these things he mentions are his camels, not even his own flesh and blood. His child he is willing to bury but the camel is a source of pride. Also, note the daughters were sometimes buried up to the age of six.

81:9

For what sin was she killed

The word dhanb is used for the smallest infraction, for example a parking ticket could be seen as a small infraction. Allah (swt) is saying there is no chance of finding a big sin she might have committed so can you even find a small crime that she committed for which she deserved to die.

 81:10

When the records are laid open

Anshara means to spread out and also means to bring to life. Thus, it will be as if the scrolls (which are the scrolls of deeds that have been recorded) are spread out and brought to life and the contents within brought to life. The word suhoof appears in the previous surah also where it refers to revelation. In this surah it refers to the scrolls enclosing all of man’s deeds. Thus, if you did not care about the former suhoof you will be in trouble with the latter suhoof. Those scriptures came so that we could fix these scriptures so the two are now complementing each other subhanallah.

81:11

When the sky is stripped off

Allah (swt) now mentions the sky which you would have thought would have been included in the passage where Allah was talking about the sun, stars and the mountains. However, after a break Allah (swt) now mentions the sky as it serves a literary function connected with the next verse. Samaa literally means that which is above but commonly means sky. The word kushitat comes from the verb kashata. To skin the camel once it is slaughtered is kasht, kashaat is a butcher and kishaat is the peeled skin itself. This verse could be taken literally by understanding that the sky has a skin that is peeled. However, it is more appropriate to understand the imagery here. Allah (swt) in another place in the Quran mentions the sky on the day of judgement will be red. When you peel the skin of an animal the red flesh is exposed so this illustrates how red the sky will look, so red it is as if the skin of the sky has been peeled. The sky will look red as it will reflect the vicious occurrences on earth that day.

81:12

When the hellfire is set ablaze

The word sa’ara is to cause a fire that towers high. So the jaheem, this vicious glaring hellfire, is given towering flame. This fire towers so high that its redness even affects the texture of the sky making the sky look as if has been peeled. In the last surah we found some faces, faces that have black dust on them and overwhelmed with black smoke. They will be overwhelmed with the smoke from this towering blazing fire that will overcome them with smoke to the extent they are blackened. So, the fire in these verses is connected to the faces in the previous surah.

81:13
When paradise is brought near

In the previous surah we also learn of the faces that are lit bright and look like they can’t stop smiling and this is due to the sight of Jannah which has been brought close. Zulf in Arabic means a portion or a great portion of something. Zulfa means status. When Allah (swt) talks about Sulayman (as) he uses the word zulfa and says he has high status. The word muzdallifa is the field or the region that you stop at close to Mina which is why it’s called the ‘close by’ place. It is also an honoured place when someone is brought close in order to honour him. In other words this verse talks about paradise being brought close in order to honour the believer. So paradise has been depicted as an honorary gift to the believers.

Notice in this verse also the noun precedes the verb as Allah (swt) talks to the disbeliever who thinks that the only thing close to the believer is destruction and poverty, however, Allah (swt) makes clear emphatically and in strong terms that the thing being brought close to the believers and the honour coming their way is Jannah itself.  When Allah (swt) talks about Jannah we often think he is talking to the believer but here He (swt) is reprimanding the disbeliever and making clear that in fact the honour is coming to the believer.

81:14
Every person shall know what it has put forward (of good and evil)

At the end of all this there is a sentence that begins with a verb whereas all those before began with a noun. Also, the verses that came before begin with a ‘when’, and when this happens there needs to be a concluding remark. Allah (swt) does not being this verse with a noun as this verse does not need to be emphasised. This is because everyone knows full well what actions they need to present. This is not a difficult to imagine concept as everyone already knows this deep inside. So, there is a transition in the language. The sun being wrapped up and the stars collapsing seems unnatural to us and so a stronger form of language is used to drive the point home whereas deep in our psyche we already know what our conclusion is.

This verse is a response to every verse that came before it. After witnessing every calamity man is concerned and preoccupied with what he has to present of his deeds as he realises ‘I know what’s coming’ and all he can think of is himself. This follows on from the previous surah where Allah (swt) gives man the opportunity to fix himself but he does not and so in this surah Allah (swt) is essentially saying ‘You know what’s coming now’. The word hadara means to present itself or to be present. Ahdara means to take something and bring it for presentation and it includes the implication of forcing i.e. a reluctant presentation. Even the believer will be nervous on the day until the scales have been counted.

81:15

I swear by the stars that appear and disappear

This verse marks a shift which is illustrated by the letter faa which connects the statements that are coming to whatever statement that came before. The previous verse concludes the entire first passage. There is a transition from the world of actions (ahdara) to the world of belief and actions are rooted in beliefs. The kuffar thought certain things were bad omens and superstitions for example having a daughter. One of these superstitions was to do with the stars. The twinkling nature of stars led the pre-Islamic Arab to think the stars were trying to tell him something, for example meteors or shooting stars were considered a sign of something. For many people then as today astrology was big business. They would say that they would get information about the future from shayateen that would go up to the heavens and stars and find out things. One of the accusations levelled at the messenger (saw) was that he also was a mind reader and gets information from the stars.

Allah (swt) here goes to their apparent source of knowledge, the stars, and swears by them. The word khunnas is the plural of khaanis and is someone who is going on a path when all of a sudden he takes a turn or hides behind a bush and disappears, thus they go from seen to unseen. The mushrik would say that when a star has appeared it is a sign for him but by calling it khunnas Allah (swt) is saying that it appears but also disappears and Allah controls their appearance and disappearance.

81:16

Which move swiftly and hide themselves

This verse is a continuation from the previous verse as there is no waa or faa. The word jawaar means to veer off its path and in this context can be considered a shooting star or a star that goes off course. The word kunnas comes from the word kinnas which is the hiding place of a deer when it suddenly disappears into a bush for example. This illustrates that the star that is shooting disappears after brief movement. Allah (swt) begins by swearing by them illustrating his control over them. The Arab believes that the Jinn get information from the stars but we learn that when the Jinn or shayateen try to steal information from the angels they are shot down with stars. So what the Arab or astrologer today thinks is the Jinn getting information is actually the Jinn getting a beating.

81:17

And by the night as it starts to darken (and dwindle your vision)

The word ‘as’asa is used for the night when the evening is starting and also when it is ending because these are times when the vision is blurry. At these hours you cannot see the sky.

81:18

And by the dawn as it starts to breathe

So the night is choking on the day and the day then gets to breath at dawn. When the day breathes the stars are no longer visible. Thus, Allah (swt) controls what you can see and what you cannot. When it is day you have no idea whether the stars are shooting or not so from where do you get your information.

81:19

This is truly the word of a noble messenger

The word kareem comes from the word kiramah which refers to nobility and honour and refers to the angel Gabriel. Note here that the word kalaam which means speech is not used. The word qawl is used which is another word for speech. This is because the word kalaam is used with Allah (swt) and means literally that which is said from the source and qawl is that which is uttered by the tongue. When you have a qawl it could be from someone else’s kalaam and source i.e. you are just saying it but when you have a kalaam it is your own. So when we say the messenger said in hadiths we are saying that it is the messenger’s (saw) kalaam but it is the narrator’s qawl. In other words these are not the words of Gabriel they are the word of Allah (swt) which is why the word kalaam is not used. This Quran with its description of the Day of Judgement is the word of a noble and mighty messenger, i.e. Gabriel, the angel who carried and delivered it to Muhammad (saw).

Note also that we are told that this is the speech of a noble messenger and it is part of his nobility that he will deliver the message in all honesty not like the devil that the astrologer relies on with no associated nobility. In the previous surah Allah (swt) talks about the integrity of revelation but that is only one part of the message. The three parts are the message, the delivery and the messenger. The revelation has been defended in the previous surah and now in this surah He (swt) is defending the means by which the revelation comes (via Gabriel – a noble and mighty messenger) and later in this surah He (swt) will also defend the messenger (saw). The word rusool means someone who delivers something and is a professional at this and delivers well.

Furthermore, the two previous oaths are answered with this verse. The difference in clarity between the night when it is blurry and when the morning is clear is a parallel to the difference in the clarity and obscurity between what the messenger Gabriel says and what the fortune tellers and mind readers say and thus it is so clear that it should be abundantly clear to you that it is the word of a noble messenger and not a devil.

81:20

Owner of power (and high rank) with (Allah), the Lord of the Throne

The weakness of the shayateen was illustrated when the stars are shot against them and they have no defence and have to run and find hiding places to try and hear something. However, this messenger himself (Gabriel) is extremely mighty and no one is going to try and steal anything from him. Allah (swt) also mentions that he is getting this stuff right from. The word ‘arsh means to build a wooden roof which is a very expensive commodity in the desert society. Makeen comes from the word makana which means to live somewhere and makaan is a house. A makeen is someone who lives somewhere permanently but also means to give someone high status. From ancient times to now ownership of a home is a symbol of status and the higher the profile of your neighbourhood the higher your status. Allah (swt) says of Gabriel that he is situated right by the possessor of the throne, thus Gabriel has high status due to where he is situated.

81:21

Obeyed and trustworthy

The word taa’a means to celebrate and also to volunteer for something. Allah (swt) mentions this attribute mutaa’a for Gabriel illustrating that he is followed but followed lovingly, a tight knit following of angels that follow his every command with pleasure. The person who follows with pleasure is called mutaa’a. We are told this to inform us that when he delivers his message there is also a security team with him. Imagine when a highly classified document or technology is being delivered. High ranking officials who have access to this will deliver it and they will have a team of security who have had background checks carried out on them around it and escorting it. This is what we are being told here. This revelation is coming from the highest source and the one delivering it is the highest ranked official who has an army of security.

Thamma is a noun used to describe a place so even right by the throne Gabriel has a huge following. It is also mentioned right before an adjective to empower the adjective or highlight it above all other adjectives. So thamma has two purposes, the first is to represent the station of Gabriel and second is to highlight that of all the adjectives used to describe Gabriel the one highlighted the most is ameen which means especially especially trustworthy. This is important as the deliverer of the revelation must be trustworthy and so the message is delivered using only the most trustworthy means.

81:22

And your companion is not insane

There is a shift now and Allah (swt) is talking to the kuffar who on the day of judgement He (swt) will not be talking to. Allah (swt) does not say Muhammad is insane. He (swt) says your companion. Saahib in Arabic means the one who accompanies you in space and time and illustrates that he has lived among your midst, you know him, where he lives and have been physically close to him and he has been among you for a long time. And this is how you get to know someone, when you live close to someone or you spend a lot of time with them. In the masjid we may meet someone regularly but do we really know that person as we do not live with them as they may be a completely different person when they get home. But if you are their neighbour and you spend a lot of time with them then you really know them. Allah (swt) is saying that as the messenger has been amongst your midst a very long time you know very well he is not insane, or a mind reader and of the very best attributes you prescribe to him.

The word Jannah in Arabic literally means to cover something up and to climb over it. Thus paradise in Arabic is Jannah as it covers up dirt with lush greenery and it is a lush garden where one thing covers another i.e. overflowing garden. Jinn because our eyes are covered from seeing them. Mujnoon has two implications, the first is the one whose intellect has been overshadowed or covered and he cannot make sense of anything and thus he is called insane. The second implication is someone who is possessed by a jinn. So, Allah (swt) is saying he is not possessed by a Jinn and also implies he is not getting his information from a Jinn or is inspired by them. Rather he gets them from the angel Gabriel who delivers them from Allah (swt).

81:23

And indeed he saw him in the clear horizon

The word o’fuq literally means a corner, so the far horizon where the earth and the sky meet. From there the clearest part was where he saw Gabriel. So he is not insane he actually saw this happen. Bear in mind this is being told to people who take information from fortune tellers and mind readers who say that they can see things that other people cannot for a fee. Allah (swt) makes another contrast between these mind readers and mujnoon people and the messenger (saw) who actually can see the unseen.

81:24

And he does not withhold knowledge of the Unseen

The word daneen is someone who is cheap in information like a chef who does not want to share his recipe or someone who hides information until they get what they want. Allah (swt) says that in terms of the unseen even though it is seen for the messenger (saw) he is not being cheap by restricting this information. He is giving this stuff all away so how can you compare him to people who restrict apparent information form the unseen for a price.

81:25

And it is not the word of an accursed devil

Allah (swt) is saying that this is the furthest thing from being the word of an accursed devil. The word rajam means pelting and rajeem means someone that is so cursed and generates such anger from people that they throw things at him when they see him. The word shaytaan has two origins in classical Arabic. Shatana means to be far away from the truth and shaata which means to be engulfed in flames of rage literally and so the one who is extremely angry and frustrated. This could mean either that shaytaan is calling to something that is farthest from the truth or alternatively that his humiliation before Adam (as) has wound him up so much that all the things he does until now is a result of him feeling affronted.

81:26

Then where are you headed

This verse can be considered the heart of this surah. In the previous two surahs it was the kuffar asking questions and posing causal questions about the hereafter. Now Allah (swt) has a question, after knowing all this where are you headed and going. You have this world of corrupt knowledge and on the other hand this source of priceless pure authentic knowledge but where are you headed.

81:27

This is nothing but a reminder for the worlds

This illustrates that the Quraysh can go away. The message does not need them; there are other people out there. This is a message for the whole world. The word a’alameen refers to the creatures of intellect i.e. mankind and Jinn. Thus, in the Quran whenever this word is used it is referring to nations.

81:28

To those of you whose intent is to be upright

The word istiqaama (from siraat-ul mustaqeem) originates the word qaama which means to stand vertically and yustaqeem is the one that wants to stand up straight. Allah (swt) says that this is a reminder for the one who wants to stand up straight and recall that we recite this when we are standing up straight in salah. Thus, the imagery in faatiha is of the one praying being elevated from the dunya to akhira. The word shaa’a comes from shay’un which means a thing or object. Thus, shaa’a means to have a concrete intention, when your plans are so solid that it is as concrete as a shay’un itself, an object in physical form thus it is a strong intent. Araada in Arabic means to intend in your head but it’s never manifest and you don’t even plan to execute it (i.e. I plan to start studying tomorrow but he never does – a half-hearted intention). So Allah (swt) talks here of a person who has made a concrete intention.

81:29

Yet, you cannot will except by the will of Allah, Lord of all the worlds.

Ultimately man’s concrete intention is dependent, no matter how strong it is on what Allah (swt) wills and what he has planned for you. In the Quran, Allah (swt) illustrates a balance between divine will and human effort. In this surah man is encouraged to make the first step, put your trust in Allah (swt) and then Allah (swt) will make the next steps easy. If you do not appreciate this balance you’ll find the person who thinks he can do everything on his own and on the other hand the person who does not do anything because he thinks Allah (swt) will do it for him and make him good whenever Allah (swt) wants. Whereas in fact you did not want it so Allah (swt) did not want it for you either.

This surah begins with some of the most enormous manifestations of divine will such as the sun being wrapped up and the stars collapsing, thus, what is our will and the will of the kaffir compared to the will of Allah (swt). The surah begins by telling us what will happen on this world and ends with a simple question – where are you headed after hearing all this and what is your conclusion? Islam demands change in us and expects us to implement things and move from thought to action.


79: An-Naziat Combined

Tafseer Surah An-Naziat

The name Naziat can be translated as the extractors or the soul pluckers who pluck out the souls of the believers and disbelievers. It is also sometimes translated as the forceful chargers, horses that race run another in war. One of the themes of this surah is to affirm the resurrection, discussed in An-Naba and to refute the claims of the mushrikeen that this day will not occur. Additionally a case study is provided indicating the cause of their rejection. The surah also touches on the terrors of that day.

79:1

By those (angels) who pull out (the souls of the disbelievers and wicked) with great violence having dived in

An-Naziat comes from the word naza‘a which means to yank out with great force. Here, Allah (swt) swears by the ones who yank out. Gharrqa means having dove in. The word Gharqan is used to emphasize the act of pulling out without using the same root i.e. wa’nazia’ti naza’a. Gharqa means to go deep (into the body) and comes from the verb aghraqa which means to make something drown or to force something to go deep down. The verse describes creatures that Allah (swt) swears by and that dive deep in and pull out whatever is inside. The majority of the mufasiroon agree that this verse is referring to angels that pluck out the souls of the disbelievers and wicked from the depths of the body. The mufasiroon comment that there will be nowhere for the soul to hide in the body and that it does not come out easily. It is like it will almost be ripped out from underneath every strand of hair and from under every nail.

The second opinion is that these are stars that Allah (swt) is speaking of as in stars that the Bedouin would see yanked out of the sky i.e. comets. The third opinion is that the verse refers to winds. It is important to note here that the Quran is sometimes ambiguous and that Allah (swt) did not make clear that the verses refer to Angels here. Furthermore, when there are a variety of opinions especially amongst the first generation that in itself is an indication that the verses are ambiguous and not something absolute. Another opinion amongst some scholars is that the pulling is equivalent to the archer who pulls his arrow back. The further the archer wants his arrow to travel the further back it is pulled in his bow. Perhaps these scholars mentioned archers to highlight the way the angels pull out the soul. In war archers would pull back their arrows quickly and sharply in succession which provides imagery of the angels pulling out the souls forcefully.

The opinion that the verse refers to angels is held to be the majority and most popular opinion. Nonetheless, later scholars have tried to critique previous opinions using existing evidence and other supporting evidence to determine which opinion is the strongest. One such opinion is that An-Naziat refers to winds. The alif and ta at the end have been used in other places in the Quran with strong linguistic evidence to suggest it refer to winds e.g. Al-Mursilaat. The first criticism of the view that this verse refers to angels is that An-Naziat is the feminine plural (alif ta at the end) and Allah in the Quran speaks against attributing femininity to angels. The second issue is that when Allah (swt) does speak of angels in the Quran the words are all masculine in nature when the plurality of angels is mentioned. So, the literary criticism here is when the Quran consistently refers to angels in the masculine why would the feminine plural be used here.

Furthermore, if you study the ahadith of the soul leaving the body it leaves from the toe and the depiction in the ahadith is such that the angels are not entering the body but pulling the soul out of the body. Additionally, it is not explicitly mentioned anywhere else that angels enter the body to pull out the soul. The final evidence that this An-Naziat refers to winds is that this same word has been used elsewhere in the Quran to refer to winds. So, we have the majority opinion that the verse refers to angels and also a strong position that it is not and refers to something else.

This has to do with the versatility of the Quran. First and foremost, Makkan Quran is talking in the vast majority to non-believers. It is important to question how the mushrik Arab might have understood these verses as they are likely to have understood them in a different way and on a different level to the believer. The believer may have interpreted the verses of this surah to be referring to angels whilst the disbeliever may understand it to be referring to winds. Furthermore, the disbeliever is not going to ask for the meaning of these verses as he rejects the message. For example, in another surah, Allah (swt) says that he knows what enters into the earth and what comes out of it. When the mushrik hears this he may think of the rain going into the earth and plants coming out of the earth as this is as far as his imagination goes. However, the believer may interpret this on a deeper level and views it as man going into the earth when he dies and then coming out on the day of resurrection. So the verse is the same but viewed differently and at different depths by different people. These are not contradictory statements just the different levels that different audiences are at. So, in summary when we say that An-Naziat refers to the winds we are saying this is maybe how the mushrik processed it in light of the rest of the surah.

It is important to appreciate that the Quran seeks to achieve its objective of awakening people’s hearts in different ways. If we aim to do this we should simply follow the example of `Umar ibn al-Khaţţāb. He once read Sūrah 80 Abasa, The Frowning. When he reached the verse which reads ‘wa fākihatan wa abba’, he wondered, “we know the fruit trees, fākihatan, but what is abba?” But then he reproached himself, saying: “You, Ibn al-Khaţţāb, are being really fussy today! What harm is there in your not knowing the meaning of a word used in God’s book?” He then said to the people around: “Follow what you understand of this book; what you do not understand you may leave alone.” His statement, aimed at discouraging people from trying to explain what may be equivocal to them, without the backing of perfectly sound authority, represents an attitude of veneration towards God’s words. Indeed, some words and phrases may deliberately have been left equivocal or ambiguous so as to fulfil a certain objective.

Furthermore, the benefit of not specifically mentioning what is being pulled out is that so that it could refer to everything that is possible so that people will reflect on it and it’s possible meanings causing the person to ponder deeply. Omitting words from the Quran is one way to achieve this. The mushrikeen were heedless of what came after death and one of the causes of this was their attachment to the dunya. Thus, one of the functions of this verse was to wake up the heart of this person by describing how the soul will be violently ripped out. In the last part of the previous surah Allah (swt) warns the disbelievers of a punishment that is close and that man will see what his hands have sent forth and this happens when a person is about to die and reflects upon his life. The first verse of this surah ties in with the previous surah as after contemplating ones deeds before death the next stage is death itself when the soul is taken out.

If this surah does indeed refer to winds then the understanding is that it refers to the winds that pull trees out from their roots out of the ground or buildings from their foundations. Contrarily, if it refers to angels it means the angels that dive deep into the body and pull and rip out the soul that wants to stay in the body.

79:2

By those (angels) who gently take out (the souls of the believers)

Nasht in the Arabic language refers to undoing a knot without making an effort or to free something from its shackles. Another usage of this word is when you have an animal tethered up and it frees itself with very little effort. If understood to be referring to angels the verses refers to angels that seamlessly enter the body and take out the soul in a very smooth process like the undoing of a knot with no force necessary. Almost like angels withdrawing the souls of the believers like water is poured from a vessel. If the water level in a well is high then the water can be withdrawn easily as opposed to a low level of water from which it is taken out with difficulty. Nasheet is someone who is energetic and has high spirits and does something quickly and we can see this connotation in this verse as the angels are able to withdraw the believing souls smoothly and quickly.

Another opinion is that nashitaat refers not to the angels but the believers as during the time of death, the soul of the believer is energetic as it wants to leave eagerly as it can see what Allah (swt) has prepared for him and we see this in accounts of the death of the righteous who were in a state of peace and serenity at the time of death. It is narrated that the messenger (saw) said that the one who loves to meet Allah, Allah will love to meet him and whoever dislikes to meet him Allah will dislike to meet him. When a person is about to die he is given the glad tidings of Allah’s pleasure over him and that is when the believer yearns to go forward as he realises he has a good ending. Contrarily, if this verse is referring to winds it is a reference to a smooth breeze which is a source of relief and comfort to the person experiencing it. So, these first two verses talk of a violent destructive wind and also a gentle wind which is a source of comfort especially in desert life.

79:3

And by those that swim along (i.e. angels or planets in their orbit)

Sabh means to swim quickly or in a rapid smooth fashion. If referring to angels it refers to the angel that swims seamlessly, gliding into the body. Swimming in Arabic does not only mean something that swims in water but can also refer to celestial bodies in orbit. The speed of the angels is emphasised here instilling fear in the hearts of both believers and disbelievers in the knowledge that the angels will not be delayed in fulfilling this task. Others have commentated that if these verses refer to winds then this verse is a reference to the clouds that swim in the air floating as a result of the winds that are pushing them.

79:4

And by those that press forward as in a race (i.e. angels or stars or winds)

The sabq is a reference to a race when one thing takes a lead over another. The fa here means that is connected to the previous verse. The first two verses are separate to each other both in meaning and with the letter waw. So, the angels here are racing back with the souls for their judgement. The ‘fa’ is used to indicate immediate succession. Thus, as a result of the gliding in the previous verse we can see that the angels are immediately now competing with one another to fulfil the commandments of Allah (swt). Another opinion is that these are referring to the believers that compete with the angels, as they are so eager to meet their lord, they try to race ahead. From the view of the Arab he would see the clouds as in a race with each other, some faster than others.

79:5

And by those (angels or winds) who arrange to do the Commands of their Lord

Mudabiraat comes from the word tadbeer which means thorough planning, thorough organisation or executing a matter diligently. So, Allah (swt) is swearing here by those that execute His command – amra in an organised and diligent manner. If this is referring to angels it is a reference to the angels that are assigned different tasks by Allah and they do a diligent organised job of executing those commands. If it is a reference to winds it means the winds that distribute clouds and pollen. Clouds bring rain by means of the winds which distribute it and plant life cannot be sustained without winds which deliver pollen and rain. So, Allah has an organised plan whereby some places get clouds and other don’t i.e. some places are lush and green, others experience flooding whilst other places are dry and experience drought and famine.

Allah (swt) uses other words for planning in the Quran. Kayd is one such word which means a secret plan, one which you don’t want anyone else to find out about as it would spoil the plan if it came out in the open. Makr is another word for plan which has to do with retaliation against an enemy. When Allah (swt) uses this in the Quran it is only used in the retaliatory sense. When Allah (swt) mentions he is planning against an opposing force it is always mentioned that they took the first step. Heela is a clever plan which maximises one’s benefit and minimize one’s harm without breaking the law but by bending the law. For example, accountants are really good at heela during tax season. Some scholars have spoken of heela in times of Islamic rule when a person would give all of his wealth to his wife before zakat season as a gift and then the wealth would be gifted back to the husband after tax season. Tadbeer means planning, execution, organisation, diligence and also means taking a step back before you make a decision as it comes from the word dubar which means the back of something and is to turn back from the affair, think about it and then come back and execute it.

Now that Allah (swt) has taken oaths, He (swt) moves onto another subject. When an oath is taken a statement is made i.e. I swear by ’x’ I am going to do ‘y’. That part is not explicitly mentioned here as due to the context of the surah the response is already known and as this is a part of a series of surahs where it has been mentioned. The oaths themselves confirm the resurrection by discussing how angels will remove the souls. All of the oaths that were taken were taken for the conclusion that whatever you were promised is bound to occur. The next thing to expect after these oaths is resurrection which the oaths sought to establish but Allah (swt) does not spell it out here. One benefit of this is that it forces you to look at other parts of the Quran. Also, the person who reads this wants to know what the oaths is about and is in anticipation of what is to come. Allah (swt) does not give them this so they keep reading to find out.

If we accept that these verses refer to archers and horses in battle then some scholars say that these verses warn of war and that Allah (swt) is swearing by these soldiers and horses that will rage war against the disbelievers. This surah was revealed in Makkah where the Muslims were small in number and so this was revealed to give them glad tidings of a time when they will have a great army. Muhammad (saw) would bear the oppression of the Quraysh with patience but sometimes the circumstance dictated that he needed to respond differently. On one occasion when he was performing tawaf and people were mocking him he said in a very powerful way ‘I have come to you with slaughter’ which silenced them and put fear into their hearts. This indicates that the messenger (saw) knew that Allah (swt) would one day give the Muslims an army that would eradicate the disbelievers. If these verses are to be accepted in this context of war then we need to appreciate that Muhammad (saw) was not only a giver of glad tidings but also as a warner and this is something which is lacking in our dawah today. We try to entice people in Islam by showing them the beautiful aspects of Islam but seldom give them the ultimatum of accepting the truth or suffering eternal punishment. Allah (swt) now speaks of the depiction of the Day of Resurrection.

79:6
When that which is meant to rattle will eventually rattle

Rajaf means to rattle or to shake and is one of many words used in the Quran for this. When you come across a word which is synonymous to other words used in the Quran it is important to understand the differences between them as it gives clarity to one particular piece of text over another. Zalzala is used in the Quran and comes from the word zalla and means one someone’s feet slip. The repetition of the phonetics in the sounds alludes to feet which keep on slipping which happens during an earthquake. Ragg is an initial jerk where something which was originally stationery suddenly gets put into motion. The ulema have commentated that this is the first moment of the experience of an earthquake. Maara is used when you are riding a horse or a large animal runs past you, or you are running and it simulates the feeling of an earthquake as everything is shaking.

Allah (swt) in this verse does not mention the earth. Al-Raajifah means that which is meant to shake. This illustrates that the final destination and purpose of the heavens and the earth is the point where it is going to be shaken. Rajaf is a highly uncomfortable motion and depicts the motion and also the state of the person affected by the motion which is one of discomfort and disarray. In this context rajaf refers to the first blowing of the trumpet which will shake all of creation.

79:7
It will be followed by another violent vibration

It will be followed by Ar-Raadifah. Radaf literally implies the person (Raadif) who sits behind you when you are riding a camel, horse or car for example. Wherever you go they will follow as they are on the same ride. Allah (swt) mentions that there will be another violent vibration and movement one successfully following another i.e. one meant to follow the other. The majority of ulema are in agreement that this verse refers to the second blowing of the trumpet and the previous verse refers to the first blowing of the trumpet.

79:8

Some hearts on that day will be beating with fear and anxiety

One of the words used for fear in the Quran is khawf which is used for a perceived danger. Khashiya (with a ‘yaa’) is used when you are afraid of the magnitude of something i.e. the magnitude of losing ones job or the day of judgement whereas khawf is more of a physical danger. Khashi’ah (with an ‘ayn) is a fear which is manifest in your heart but also shows in your face and limbs and is the type of fear which we should show in our salaah. In our salaah we stand, with humility, in fear and awe, in front of our Lord whom we have disobeyed. When we pray, we pray as if our sins are on our shoulders hoping that they will be forgiven. The eyes of these hearts should be in a state of humility just like the child that has misbehaved hangs his head in front of his parents in shame. Taqwa is to fear the consequences of one’s actions. Hadhr means to try to avoid or escape something out of fear. Ra’a is to startle someone and is a fear which subsides quickly. Awjasa is a fear when you hear something that scares you and also means to hide your fear within you and not let people see your fear. Wajal is to have a fear which penetrates deep into your heart and is mixed with love i.e. when you are afraid of disappointing the one you love. Ra’ab is to be overwhelmed with intense fear which makes you lose your reason. Ashfaka is to be afraid that some harm will come to someone you take care of. This illustrates that it is very difficult to translate the Quran as there is so much depth to the language. These words which describe different types of fear are used in the Quran where it is best situated in the Quran.

Wajaf used in this verse is a fear mixed with discomfort. One who feels wajaf is the one whose heart is pounding so hard they can feel it out of fear. It is also used when you strike your horse and its heart starts pounding and it races forward. This is the kind of fear that Allah depicts here when the second shaking occurs. Some hearts on that day will be beating out of their chest is the message here. The sentence structure illustrate that these hearts right now are at peace with no discomfort but these are the very same hearts especially on that day that will experience waajifah. The choice of this word illustrates that the heart will not come to rest on that day and will continue to beat.

79:9
Their (the hearts) eyes will be overcome

Sometimes Allah (swt) depicts the terror of the Day of Resurrection in the Quran by describing things that are going to happen for example the collision of the Sun and the Moon. Sometimes He (swt) depicts it by looking at the person and how scared they are by looking at their reaction to the events. This is a surah which highlights more so the reaction to the events of that day. The word absaaruha refers to the sight and the interpretation is that the vision will be directly connected to the hearts. What you see and how you perceive what you see is directly connected to what you have in your hearts. The eyes that are connected to the hearts that are petrified from the previous verse will be khashiya – overcome, overpowered, humbled. The hearts will be overwhelmed by the fear which will be presented to them.

79:10

They say ‘Is it really the case that we are going to be returned to our former state?’

With this verse there is a transition which illustrates sarcasm. The word radd in mardood refers to a kind of return where you went somewhere and you were not accepted and returned. For example, you tried to cross a border and your paperwork was not accepted hence you returned. Here the disbelievers are saying ‘What! Our death was not acceptable and now we have to be brought back to life?’ This is a means of sarcasm from the disbeliever. Al-Hafirah literally means a ditch in the ground that you dig. They are saying ‘Look our ditch is already dug; we’re not going to come out of this now. Resurrection after death does not seem like it is a very possible prospect.

79:11

‘Even after we have become (no more than) hollow bones?’

Nakhira means the bone will be empty on the inside from decay and all that is left is a shell and air passes through it. ‘Maybe it might be possible if I had just died and in a couple of hours someone is able to revive me’. ‘But you are saying we will be raised again from this state?’

79:12
They say ‘It would in that case be a return with loss!’

In classical Arabic the past and present tense had more than one function. In addition to being used with regards to timeline it is also used to describe an event which is a single occurrence and something which is a continual occurrence. If it a one-time thing the past tense is used and if it is a continuous thing the present tense is used.

In the Quran when Allah (swt) speaks of murder there is the person who kills someone by accident – manslaughter and the person who kills deliberately – homicide. When Allah (swt) talks of manslaughter, He (swt) says ‘Whoever killed (past tense) a believer by mistake’ and when He (swt) talks of killing on purpose He (swt) says whoever kills (present tense) a believer on purpose’. The diff is the one who kills on purpose may do it again and so there will be continuity and the one who did it my mistake is unlikely to do it again hence the past tense is used.

Before in verse 10 we see the word yuqooloona – they say and they will say. Yuqooloona is the present tense and qaaloo is the past tense. This illustrates that this statement in this verse was only made once or twice and was not frequent.

The qaaloo in this verse illustrates that some of them actually gave this some thought. Even though they said this in a sarcastic tone some of them did reach the conclusion that if resurrection is the truth the qarra (return) will be full of khasira (loss). Qarra literally does not only mean to return but is also used for attack. The Arabs said that this would be an attack on them that will cause a lot of damage. They said this in a sarcastic tone but it illustrates that at least once someone entertained the idea that it if this happens they will be in big trouble hence the past tense is used.

79:13

But with only a single scolding (i.e. the second blowing of the trumpet)

Allah (swt) now ends this discourse. Zajrah means that Allah will scold them and this scolding will be all it takes (to achieve verse 14). Some scholars have commented that this zajrah is the blowing of the second trumpet.

79:14

They shall be alive on earth after their death

This verse is connected to the previous due to the letter fa which indicates that this verse is a consequence of the previous verse. Sahirah means that your sleep has disappeared and that you cannot sleep anymore. It is used in reference to an open field as far as the eye can see and where the travelling Arab has nowhere to rest. He will be worried that someone will be able to see him from a distance and try to rob him. As a result, he loses his sleep since he feels too exposed in the open. So now Allah (swt) says they will be in a place where they will lose their sleep. Some ulema have commentated that this word is used to illustrate a mirage. For example when you are in a desert and you think you see water which is a mirage you lose sleep as you now have a goal in sight. Sahr literally is a kind of ground that is pale and flat as far as the eye can see and some have commentated that this is the land where all will be gathered for resurrection with nothing to obstruct one’s view and with nothing to hide one from plain sight.. Another opinion is that this is like losing your sleep when coming out of the grave as once out you will lose your sleep forever.

79:15

Has the story of Musa come to you (O Muhammad)?

The beginning of this surah contains oaths which talk about winds. The Arabs talk about the unseen and are sceptical of it. The closest thing to the unseen in the seen world is the wind i.e. the closest thing that we can experience but cannot see is the wind. Allah (swt) illustrates His (swt) power of destruction and mercy by the wind. Some destroy entire towns and others sustain life on Earth. So the idea here is that Allah (swt) does not need to make any special arrangements for the kaffir to bring them their punishment. All Allah (swt) needs to do is unleash his wind – so who’s power are you questioning. That is the idea of the winds being used as an oath. Then Allah (swt) starts to talk about the day itself.

With this verse, there is now a complete shift in subject. Allah is saying that you are not the first ones to revolt, the first ones to be sceptical and poke fun at the truth and Allah (swt) now shifts his attention to the Messenger (saw). Even though the disbelievers are still listening they are no longer being addressed. The word hadith is used for something that is so old that when you are reminded of it, it sounds like it is new. We are being reminded here of Musa’s (saw) legacy and we will feel like we are hearing it for the first time. That is how relevant this story is to this discussion.

Scholars mention that Musa’s story is mentioned for two major reasons. Firstly, it was mentioned so that the disbelievers could take heed. Fir’aun was the main disbeliever at the time of Musa (as) and this is almost a threat to the Quraysh by saying that Fir’aun also disbelieved and look what happened to him. Fir’aun was far more powerful than the Quraysh and if Allah (swt) destroyed him for his rejection then surely Allah (swt) can destroy the Quraysh. Note that Fir’aun was not a person but a title so there were many Fir’auns. This is also mentioned to provide comfort to the messenger (saw) in saying that the Quraysh are not the first to disbeliever and ultimately Musa (as) was successful.

79:16

When his Lord called him in the sacred valley of Tuwa

Nida in Arabic means to call someone loudly. So when his Lord (swt) forcefully called him with a tremendous voice. Taqdees is to speak of Allah in a way which is appropriate and to remove any attribute from him which is not appropriate. Muqadis could be a place that is specially designed to exalt Allah i.e. a holy or sanctified place. There is a parallel here as the Messenger (saw) himself was called to the cave in Mount Hira and given revelation. Here the Messenger (saw) is reminded that Musa (saw) was called to the valley of Tuwa for revelation. The valley of Tuwa is currently in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. This was a sacred place where Allah (swt) spoke directly to Musa (as) whereas all other prophets were addressed through an intermediary in the dunya.

79:17

Go to Fir’aun (Pharaoh); he has transgressed all bounds (he has engaged in an act of rebellion)

The word ila means to go, head in that direction, meaning get started on your mission. The messenger is to go to the Quraysh, the disbelievers, just like Musa had to go to Fir’aun. Tugyaan is used when a pot is filled with water to the extent that the water spills over the top. It’s also used for oceans when they start boiling over as in a flood. So, in this context there are limits set on a human on what they can do and say and when they cross this limit they have engaged in tugyaan. Fir’aun exceeded his limits and did tugyaan in two ways that we learn of in the Quran by declaring himself Rabb (lord) and by enslaving Banu Israel.

The message here is that Fir’aun rebelled just like you (the Quraysh) have. What this illustrates is the problem of the Quraysh is not that they do not believe in the hereafter or that they are sceptical of it but their love of rebellion and having limits imposed on their freedom. This is your crime (the Quraysh) and the crime of Fir’aun before you.

79:18
And say to him: “Would you like to reform yourself? i.e. do you have any inclination inside you at all that makes you want to cleanse yourself of the filth that you are infested with? A voice of reason inside you that wants to make you a better person?

The mission of the messengers was tazkiya (purification) to take the elements of a person’s personality that are flawed and evil and cleanse oneself of them. The question that Musa asks Fir’aun is the same question that is asked of the people who do not fear the hereafter. Do you find any voice of reason inside you that tells you that you should become a better person? i.e. Is there anything clicking inside you with the message I am giving. If so there is hope. There is softness in Musa’s approach as Musa does not order Fir’aun to repent but asks if he would like to repent. The correct method in dawah is to start softly and then become harsh in your reminder.

The hal laka ila illustrates not just the presence of goodness but one’s desire to bring out that goodness. Musa is not questioning whether there is goodness inside Fir’aun as Allah (swt) put goodness in everyone. Musa is asking if there is any desire left in him to bring out the goodness or to let it flourish. This is the last resort as I have given all the dawah I could and you have rebelled beyond all reason but there is still hope if you let your own conscience be the better judge of the truth. The condition to being guided is to first become purified.

79:19

I will guide you towards your Lord and as a result you will be overwhelmed in fear”

One thing to note here is that in other places in the Quran you will find a lot more detail on what happened at Tuwa but not here. The reason is that in the Quran the purpose is not telling the story. Only the part of the story that fits in with the discourse that precedes and follows is cited. Musa is mentioned in over 70 different places in the Quran but only the part of his legacy that is relevant to the discourse is mentioned. None of the details of Musa’s trip to Tuwa that are irrelevant is mentioned here. This is to do with the brevity of the Quran and the meticulous organisation of the Quran.

The word hidayah is used in multiple ways in the Quran. In Surah Fatiha we find ihdinasiratal mustaqeem and not ihdina-ila-siratal mustaqeem. In this verse we find the preposition ila used which is not used in Al-Fatiha. In Al-Fatiha the absence of ila means, according to literary interpretation, guide us to and along the straight path. With ila it would mean guide us to the straight path. For example, if you were to ask someone to guide you to the airport you are essentially asking for knowledge and instructions. In contrast, saying guide me to and along to the airport is a request not just for instructions but also for support, for example requesting someone sit in the car with you.

In this verse Musa (saw) is saying I will guide you to your Lord meaning let me at least tell you and teach you which illustrates that Fir’aun does not even want to hear it. Also it is only appropriate for Musa (saw) to guide someone to or give knowledge of the path as ultimately guiding someone along the path is exclusively for Allah (swt) so it is appropriate in this case to use ila. The word rabbik is used here and not for example ila Allah (swt) or ila Ar-Rahman as we will see further on in this Surah that Fir’aun declares himself Rabb and this serves to bring the reality closer to Fir’aun.

Furthermore, it is the concept of Rabb which is at the heart of the belief in the akhira as belief and understanding of a Creator leads to fear of the last day. The word khashiya is used to describe a fear of something magnanimous, awe-inspiring and huge and appreciation of the knowledge of the existence of a Creator will put you in a state of khashiya. The specific word used here to describe a fear of something greater than yourself is perfectly relevant for Fir’aun as he does not think there is something grander than himself. Musa (saw) is saying here let me guide you to your lord and give you knowledge of Him (swt) so that as a result you will be overwhelmed by the fear of something greater than yourself. This indicates that true knowledge leads to fear and is why the people mature in knowledge are called ‘uloo al-baab’ (the people of pure intellect) by Allah (swt) in Surah Al-Imran where you find towards the end of the Surah these people are terrified.

It is important to bear that this story is being narrated in order to draw a parallel with Muhammad (saw) and the Quraysh.

79:20

Then he (Musa (as)) showed him (Fir’aun) the ultimate sign

The message here is that in order to help Fir’aun find that goodness inside him Allah (swt) showed him the ultimate sign (ayat ul-kubra). Kubra is the feminine equivalent of Akhbar (as in Allahu Akhbar) and is a superlative adjective in Arabic. Every prophet came with a miracle and that miracle was suited to that time. Musa’s miracle was related to what the people of that time excelled in which was magic. In the time of Eesa (as), Banu Israel excelled in medicine and so Eesa (as) was able to cure the leper and the blind and bring back the dead back to life with the permission of Allah (swt). We know that Musa (saw) was given many miracles but of all the miracles given to him, Fir’aun was most afraid of the staff turning into a snake. We know this because Fir’aun hired magicians to try to replicate only this act and not the other miracles of Musa (saw). The parallel drawn here between Muhammad (saw) and the Quraysh is that the Messenger (saw) also gave the people the ultimate sign – the miraculous eloquence of the Quran which the Quraysh held many discussions over as to what to brand it as i.e. magic, poetry, speech of soothsayer. The Quran is a miracle from the perspective of its language and the Arabs excelled in eloquence in their language, speech and poetry.

79:21

But (Fir’aun) denied and disobeyed

After seeing this miracle, as there was nothing inside of Fir’aun that wanted to return to good, he did kadzheeb as a result. In Arabic when kadzhaba is said it is usually followed by bii and an object i.e. the sign or Musa or his own conscience was lied against. In this verse kadzhaba is mentioned without being followed by bii which is a tool in Arabic to imply that everything was lied against.

Thus, in this verse ‘fa kadzhaba’ indicates that Fir’aun lied against Musa (saw), propagated against Musa (saw) and lied against the miracle that Musa (saw) showed him calling it a lie, magic and trickery and he also lied against or denied his own conscience which deep inside was telling him Musa’s (saw) message was the truth. This also relates back to the Quraysh who are doing the exact same thing with the ultimate sign of the Messenger Muhammad (saw) by lying against themselves and the Messenger (saw). Put another way they denied the message of the Messenger (saw) against their own better judgement even though deep inside they knew it to be true.

The second part of this verse ‘wa ‘asaa’ tells us that in addition to lying Fir’aun did ‘asaa which means to disobey. There are three types of disobedience mentioned in the Quran. The word ‘asaa is to deliberately refuse to do something that you know to be good and its use is perfectly appropriate in this verse for that reason. Fisq is another word used for disobedience and commonly translates as corruption. Literally it means to abandon a path that was good to begin with. So someone who has fisq is someone who was good but subsequently went down the wrong path. Also, in fiqh the person who keeps abandoning the right way and disobeying Allah despite knowing the right way is called a Fasiq. Fujoor which comes from the verb fajara literally means to tear something wide open. This is the kind of Fasiq who not only disobeys Allah (swt) but is open and proud of his disobedience and disobeys in the worst kind of ways.

In the context of this surah the kadzheeb of the Quraysh manifested itself earlier in the surah in verse 10, 11 and 12 when they were being sarcastic about the subject of resurrection.

79:22
Then he turned away hastily

What this means is that Fir’aun is pacing back and forth. Sa’i does not mean to run; it is a state faster than working but slower than running. The image here is that Fir’aun is up in his castle somewhere restless and pacing up and down thinking of what to do next. Musa’s (saw) dawah has awed even his ministers and is spreading far and wide. The more he tries to suppress it the worse the situation becomes for Fir’aun as Tadbeer as discussed is diligent planning. Here we have idbaar which is lesser than tadbeer and is when you try to put a plan together too quickly to that point that you have not been able to give it enough thought. An example of this is that Fir’aun first calls Musa possessed then he calls him a magician and when that did not work he tried to get people to believe that Musa was a threat to them. Fa indicates immediately after whereas thumma indicates there was a time gap. When something happens that you cannot comprehend and are unable to deal with, you do not walk away from it slowly you rush away.

79:23

Then he gathered (his people) and called out to them

Allah (swt) now illustrates Fir’aun’s desperation. Jama’a in Arabic means to gather and so does hashara in translation at least. The difference is that hashara means to herd and is used when referring to animals. It does not specifically mention who Fir’aun gathered. By missing out the object it implies that every type of person in Egypt was gathered from the slave to the noble. Gathered forcefully like animals so that he can re-iterate to them the belief they are supposed to have i.e. the official religion of the state. He called out to them and made a proclamation.

79:24

‘I am your supreme Lord’, he said

This claim was already know to his people but Fir’aun felt the desperate need to remind his people of this. The word supremacy illustrates that there is someone else claiming to be a Lord and Fir’aun realises he is in competition with that Lord and felt the need to tell his people that he was the higher Lord as the other Lord was beginning to be believed in by his people. This was Fir’aun’s shirk. The shirk of the Quraysh was allegiance to their traditions with the same net result. The Quraysh came out to remind people of their traditions.

If someone claims to be a god you would think he was crazy and prophets are not sent to crazy people. Therefore, some argue that Fir’aun did not truly believe he was the lord most high but rather that there was no god or creator and therefore he had the highest authority in the land and so was lord. However, Fir’aun saw the signs and knew it was the truth but did not accept it due to his pride and arrogance. In times of emergency people come out with absurd statements and when they know their end is about to come they take extreme measures. Fir’aun killed all the babies of Banu Israel in such desperation. Other scholars say that he did think he was in fact Rabb. When you are in such a high position with authority shaytaan can delude you into thinking that you have divine qualities.

79:25

Then Allah (swt) seized him and made a deterrent out of him for the first and last people

Then Allah (swt) seized him and made nakaal out of him. Nakaal in Arabic is used for an anklet or a bracelet which in ancient prisons was tied to a wall so that you cannot move. It is also the same chain today which binds prisoners so that when a guard moves them they are all forced to move. So a nakaal is an anklet or bracelet which either restricts your movement or forces your movement. This was used as a visible deterrent and to inject fear as people would see this and subsequently avoid crime to avoid ending up in chains. Allah (swt) took Fir’aun and made a nakaal out of him thereby using him as a deterrent i.e. don’t be like Fir’aun because he is the worst kind of example for the last of people to walk this earth and the first people to walk it.

Also, Fir’aun said to people that he would make an example out of them so Allah took him and make an example of him. So, Allah is delivering a message to the Quraysh that they should heed this warning as people more powerful than them have been dealt with. And by this the Messenger (saw) is being told don’t worry about it if they disbelieve as Allah has dealt with worse folk than this. Two messages are delivered at the same time – issuing a threat to the kaffir and issuing support to the Messenger (saw).

According to one interpretation, akhira refers to Fir’aun’s punishment in the hereafter and al ‘oola is his punishment in the dunya where he was drowned in the sea. Others say that akhira refers to his second statement where he declared himself lord most high and that his earlier statement refers to when he declared himself Rabb. The word akhadha is in the past tense which implies that the punishment of the hereafter has already begun. Surah Ghafir mentions that Fir’aun is exposed to fire day and night and as this never happened in this life it is a strong indication in the Quran of punishment of the grave and that this occurs before the punishment of the day of judgement.

79:26

Surely in this there is a lesson for whosoever fears Allah

Here, Allah (swt) says that in all of that there is ‘ibra. ‘Ibra is commonly translated as a lesson and a warning. It comes from ‘oboor which means to cross water for example a river. ‘Abra-tal-ayn is used when you shed a tear meaning the tear has crossed the lines of your eye and come out which indicates how the word is used. When you use it about a person it means he is so sad he is brought to a point of tears. Especially in the account of Fir’aun and Musa (saw) there is enough reason to shed tears out of sadness if you understand the story.

The analogy of crossing the water is used here to indicate that there is enough of a clue in these verses for you to cross the waters from falsehood into truth. But there is a condition, the only people who can cross this are the ones who feel sadness that they have been in the wrong and have some fear of consequence.

79:27

Are you more difficult to create or the sky that He constructed?

The previous verse ends the discourse on Fir’aun and Musa (saw). There are multiple paragraphs in the surah we need to be aware of. The first passage is Naziat, the second is when Allah (swt) starts speaking about the day of judgement and then there is the discourse of Musa (saw). The fourth paragraph now begins and you can see the style is different. Allah (swt) issues a rebuttal to refute the doubt of the disbelievers. Ordinarily when Allah (swt) addresses the doubts of the mushrikeen it is done in the third person (for example ‘they say’ or ‘they said’) but it when it comes to refutation of their claims here Allah (swt) addresses them directly as it is more powerful. Thus, the mushrikeen now know they are not being spoken about but being spoken to.

The question posed is rhetorical and to censure what the disbelievers have stated with regards to being resurrected. They do not believe that they can be resurrected so Allah (swt) is asking what is tougher to create the stars and universe or the creation of man. Undoubtedly the answer is known and that the heavens are harder to create than man but that does not mean it is difficult for Allah (swt). However, the question is posed in a manner for man to be able to comprehend this. If Allah (swt) can create the universe with solar systems and planets then of course it is very easy for Him (swt) to resurrect man from his decayed bones. Bina is to build something where one piece of it is connected to another. A building is called a Bina because one brick meshes into another. Allah (swt) illustrates that the sky is a seamless construction where one piece falls into the next. Furthermore, the nature of construction is to build based on pillars and a solid foundation but the heaven is unique as it is built without pillars and the earth is in orbit without any pillars holding it up. In Arabic sama not only means the sky but also everything that is above it which includes the planets and stars etc.

79:28

He elevated its roof and perfected it

Samk is to raise something in an open area like a canopy or the top of something for example the highest part of a camel’s hump is called a saamik. Allah (swt) says here that He (swt) elevated the highest part of the sky to the point that we cannot even see it and then he moulded it to perfection. These descriptions are given to convey to man how difficult it is to build the sky or build anything without a foundation.

79:29

And gave darkness to its night, and brought out its daylight

Allah (swt) speaks of the night and it’s darkness in many different ways each of which has its own connotation many of which are found in Juzz Amma. Allah (swt) here talks of darkness of the night highlighting the difficulty with which one can see and things become blurry where the night is made so dark that it becomes hard for you to see. And then out of this darkness He (swt) brought out the time of the morning that is the brightest and easiest in which to see (duha). Allah (swt) here contrasts two things. First, He (swt) made the night so dark you could not distinguish falsehood from truth, figuratively speaking, and then He (swt) brought a day so bright that there is absolute clarity of one thing over another. In between the lines, this is a reference to revelation in that there were nights so bad that the Quraysh were pitting idols against each other, discussing whether there is life after death and whether there is a heaven and hell i.e. the dark night where nothing is clear out of which Allah (swt) brought this clear day and revelation.

79:30

And after that He spread out the earth

Dahwa in Arabic can mean the egg of an ostrich. Some supporters of science in the Quran suggest that as the word dahwa indicates something oval or round that Allah (swt) is indicating that the earth is round. In the classical sense daha means to smoothen and to spread out and Allah (swt) is illustrating the powerful creation of the earth and how widely it is spread. And perhaps this is also a reminder to the kaffir of the verse (14) in which Allah (swt) said you are going to end up in that flat clear land.

The predominant view in the Quran is that the earth was created first and then the heavens however in the order given in these verses the sky is created first. Ibn Abbas interpreted that Allah (swt) created the earth in two days but the earth was in its primary stages and not spread out. Allah (swt) then turned to creating the heavens and after this then fashioned the earth more perfectly and spread it out and this is the preferred view.

79:31

He brought out water from it and its pasture

Mar’a is a noun used to allude a place and ra’ is used for pasturing where you grow produce for your cattle and for yourself. So Allah (swt) firstly says he made the earth flat, smooth and expanded and then he drew from it water and these pasture lands i.e. land covered with grass that your animals can graze and that grow plants that you and your animals can eat etc. Allah (swt) has moved on from creation to the benefits of creation. Sometimes when you really want to remind someone of your status to them you go beyond mentioning your formal relationship to them. For example, when parents reinforce their relationship to their child, they will mention their favours to them and they do this to awaken the child’s spirit and to make him realise his responsibility to his parents. So Allah (swt) reminds us of not only his creation but also what he has done and facilitated for us without any input from man.

79:32

And the mountains He has fixed firmly

Irsa means to put an anchor down on a large ship and marsa is a port where a ship docks. So Allah (swt) has created mountains like they are anchored into the ground. The idea being that they are not like other buildings that you can just remove. They are fixed and are very tough in their construction. Irsa is also used for pegging i.e. to peg something into the ground. Mentioning the mountains here is like putting a seal in the benefits that Allah (swt) has given man. Without the mountains the earth would not stay in place. It is mentioned in some hadiths is that when Allah (swt) created the earth it started to convulse until the mountains were created to prevent them from shaking.

79:33

(To be) a provision and benefit for you and your cattle

After speaking about the earth and the sky, Allah (swt) says that all of this is a provision for us to use. Tamatu’ means to use and to enjoy but Mata’ on its own means to use and in ancient Arabic was used for the scrub that you use to wash your dishes with. So, not something you enjoy but definitely something you use. Thus, dunya has been described here as something for us to use but not necessarily for us to indulge in its enjoyment. The word is appropriate here as the real problem of the person who denies akhira is that they are too addicted to enjoying dunya. This verse ends this section. Even when you recite this verse it comes to an almost immediate stop in the recitation, a pause, making heavy the impact on one that the enjoyment of this life will come to a sudden end before the overwhelming calamity comes.

79:34

Then when the greatest calamity comes

Jaa’ah means to come and is used for a grand arrival. Idha here means all of a sudden. Tam is used for something which is completely full. For example is someone fills a well full or dirt till it is full it is said to be tam. Taama is a calamity that is so complete and overwhelming from every direction there is no escape from it and where this is trouble every direction you turn to. So taamatul kubra is the ultimate calamity that all of a sudden arrives and makes its grand entrance. Scholars mention this is the second blowing of the trumpet which will overwhelm man as he may have seen people die before but never brought back to life. When the word idha is used it needs a jawaab – a response and this is given in the next verse.

79:35

On that day man will clearly remember what he strove for

Yatadhukurul insaan means that man will thoroughly remember everything he did. This word means that every last memory will be recollected and man will remember every last thing he did and rushed towards. In verse 22 you will recollect that we found Fir’aun rushing and pacing. Allah (swt) connects the two verses. Fir’aun was rushing towards keeping his rule while other humans were rushing towards keeping their wealth and were walking away from religion to pursue a life of pleasure. The crime of the kuffar mentioned in this surah is their speech and their scepticism of the hereafter. However, Allah (swt) has seen through their speech and highlighted that it is a result of the things they rushed towards and on the day of resurrection they will remember not only their speech but the efforts and motives behind their speech.

79:36

And the hellfire will be brought forward in full view for all who see

Burriza is used to pull something out and place in front of someone. Jahama is a word used when a lion is staring at you with hungry eyes. It is one of the names of the hellfire and is also used in a blaze that is so intense that it almost looks like it is staring at you. So, this enraged hellfire will be brought forward for anyone to look at meaning they will have to look at the rage of it. In this verse it will be brought out in front of the one who wishes to see. If you look at the statements of the sceptics in this surah they said they could not visualise bones being resurrected and brought back to life and their original state. So, Allah is now saying you will see eventually when the fire is brought out in front of you.

79:37

Then, he who transgressed all bounds

The message of Musa (saw) to Fir’aun in verse 17 was because – innahu tagha, he had rebelled. Now a parallel is brought to light that the message applies not just to Fir’aun but anyone who engages in rebellion

79:38

And preferred the life of this world (by following his desires)

Aathara means to give preference. And so the source of rebellion is mentioned here. It’s the preference of worldly life and of following one’s desires which can lead one to forget Allah (swt) and his hereafter. Ibn Qayyim says that the soul calls to transgression and calls to giving preference to this life whereas Allah (swt) calls to his servant to fear him and to prevent his nafs from following its desire. The heart therefore is called in two directions, by his nafs and by Allah (swt). Our nafs tells us to overeat and to oversleep and if we cannot resist our desires when it comes to eating nice food then how can we struggle to fulfil our acts of ibadah properly. This life is like jihad and we need to program ourselves into understanding that our life is to strive against our nafs. We can enjoy parts of this life as long as it does not distract us from our major purpose in life.

79:39

Will have hell for his refuge

Ma’wa comes from iywa in Arabic which means to find some place to hide and seek refuge from danger. But, we just said that jaheem is a blazing fire like a roaring lion staring at you and Allah (swt) is now saying that this jaheem will be a place to find refuge. This is Allah’s (swt) sarcasm. The surah begins with the Quraysh being sarcastic and now Allah (swt) is being sarcastic saying that this blazing fire will be their refuge.

79:40

But as for him who feared standing before his Lord and restrained himself from his desires

Musa (saw) was giving an offer to Fir’aun in this surah – Let me guide you to your Lord and you will gain some fear. The believer, however, not only fears his Lord but fears even standing in front of his Lord (maqaam means place and time). As a result of this fear of consequence the believer prevented the nafs inside of him from vain, pathetic and empty desires. Allah (swt) here does not talk of the soul in the possessive sense i.e. your soul or his soul or one’s soul. If it was in the possessive it would indicate that you are struggling with yourself but it is almost as if He (swt) wants you to consider your soul as a separate entity and an enemy within you that is calling you to the hellfire and evil and is a challenge that you have to defeat.

Ibn Qayyim says that maqaam rabbihi can be interpreted in two ways, one is the slave standing in front of Allah (swt) and the second is the status of Allah (swt) over his servant. The understanding that Allah (swt) is constantly looking over us and taking care of us. Whosoever fears that position of Allah (swt) will lead his heart to a state of awe and humility in front of his lord. Or whoever fears standing in front of his lord, fights against his nafs as a consequence. Empty hearts devoid of the remembrance of Allah (swt) and without an attachment to the hereafter will lead to man following his desires. Our hearts need to be full of the love of Allah (swt) and we need to make sure our free time does not cause us to fall into sin as we were not created to follow our desires and to enjoy ourselves.

79:41

Will have paradise for his refuge

Paradise will be the believer’s place of finding safety from danger. Bear in mind that this surah is not about belief and disbelief in the hereafter. This surah is about preference of the hereafter versus preference of this life which is one of the root causes of someone who disbelieves. This can also be a disease for the Muslim too who falls into dunya and forgets ahkira, talking about it casually.

79:42

They ask you (O Muhammad) about the Hour, when will it come to pass?

The same word is used here that was used in verse 32 to refer to the mountains being pegged. So, the Quraysh are asking when the Day is going to come to pass. The Quraysh are now being sarcastic asking when the Hour will be upon them as they are unable to respond to all that Allah (swt) has said. They are saying we can see the mountains and that they are pegged but this idea of the Hour coming when is this really going to come and situate and peg itself in. Allah (swt) quotes this to the messenger (saw) and then turns to him and asks a question in the next verse.

79:43

But why should you be concerned with its exact timing?

Allah (swt) asks the messenger (saw) in what capacity are you to make mention of the hour. The messenger (saw) does not have the capacity to mention when the Hour will come to pass only to mention that it is coming and get ready for it. Allah (swt) answers this question with a question. Once a man came up to the messenger (saw) and asked him when the hour would come to pass. The messenger (saw) responded by asking what he had done to prepare for it and this is a beautiful style of teaching.

79:44

To your Lord belongs the final and complete knowledge of it

So after posing the question to the messenger (saw), Allah (swt) says only to your Lord will the final and complete knowledge of it be returned. Muntaha comes from intiha which is the conclusion of something which also implies that the possession of the beginning of the events of akhira to the very end of the events of akhira belongs to your Lord.

79:45

You (O Muhammad) are only a warner for those who fear it

Allah (swt) now answers the question put in the previous verse and makes mention of his capacity only as a warner for those who will actually gain some fear out of his message.

79:46

The day they see it, it will seem too them that their life on earth had spanned only one morning or one afternoon

A’sheeya signifies the time when the sun starts setting i.e. from its peak at noon to Maghrib. Duha is the early morning i.e. from Fajr time to noon. Allah (swt) here is saying that their life will seem like one morning or afternoon in comparison to that hour.

The beginning of this surah after the oaths and at the end of this surah Allah (swt) talks about the hour. Thereby both starting and finishing with this subject making the surah a complete discussion.