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Surah 39. Az-Zumar, Ayah 42



اللَّهُ يَتَوَفَّى الْأَنْفُسَ حِينَ مَوْتِهَا وَالَّتِي لَمْ تَمُتْ فِي مَنَامِهَا ۖ فَيُمْسِكُ الَّتِي قَضَىٰ عَلَيْهَا الْمَوْتَ وَيُرْسِلُ الْأُخْرَىٰ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ


Asad : It is God [alone that has this power- He] who causes all human beings to die at the time of their [bodily] death, and [causes to be as dead], during their sleep, those that have not yet died:44 thus, He withholds [from life] those upon whom He has decreed death, and lets the others go free for a term set [by Him]. In [all] this, behold, there are messages indeed for people who think!
Malik : It is Allah Who recalls the souls of men upon their death, and of the living during their sleep. He withholds the souls of those on whom He has passed the decree of death, and restores the rest till an appointed term. Surely there are signs in this for those who think.
Pickthall : Allah receiveth (men's) souls at the time of their death, and that (soul) which dieth not (yet) in its sleep. He keepeth that (soul) for which He hath ordained death and dismisseth the rest till an appointed term. Lo herein verily are portents for people who take thought.
Yusuf Ali : It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death: and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death He keeps back (from returning to life) but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed. Verily in this are Signs for those who reflect. 4306 4307 4308 4309
Transliteration : Allahu yatawaffa alanfusa heena mawtiha waallatee lam tamut fee manamiha fayumsiku allatee qada AAalayha almawta wayursilu alokhra ila ajalin musamman inna fee thalika laayatin liqawmin yatafakkaroona
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Asad   
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Asad 44 According to Razi, this passage connects allegorically with the preceding - the light of guidance being likened to life, and man's going astray, to death or, if it is not permanent, to death-like sleep followed by awakening. Beyond this, however, we have here a reminder - in tune with the subsequent passages - of God's almightiness, and especially of His exclusive power to create and to withdraw life. As to the operative verb yatawaffa, it primarily denotes "He takes [something] away in full"; and because death is characterized by a disappearance of all vital impulses (the "soul") from the once-living body - their being "taken away in full", as it were - this form of the verb has been used tropically, since time immemorial, in the sense of "causing to die", and (in its intransitive form) "dying" or (as a noun) "death": a usage invariably adhered to in the Qur'an. The traditional likening of sleep to death is due to the fact that in both cases the body appears to be devoid of consciousness, partially and temporarily in the former case, and completely and permanently in the latter. (The popular translation of anfus-pl. of nafs - as "souls" is certainly inappropriate in the above context, since, according to the fundamental teaching of the Qur'an, man's soul does not "die" at the time of his bodily death but, on the contrary, lives on indefinitely. Hence, the term anfus must be rendered here as "human beings".)

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Yusuf Ali   
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Yusuf Ali 4306 The mystery of life and death, sleep and dreams, is a fascinating enigma, of which the solution is perhaps beyond the ken of man. A vast mass of superstition as well as imaginative and psychological literature has grown up about it. But the simplest and truest religious doctrine is laid down here in a few words. In death we surrender our physical life, but our soul does not die; it goes back to a plane of existence in which it is more conscious of the realities of the spiritual world: "Allah takes the soul".
Yusuf Ali   
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Yusuf Ali 4307 Cf. vi. 60. What is sleep? As far as animal life is concerned, it is the cessation of the working of the nervous system, though other animal functions, such as digestion, growth, and the circulation of the blood, continue, possibly at a different pace. It is the repose of the nervous system, and in this respect it is common to man and animals, and perhaps even to plants, if, as is probable, plants have a nervous system. The mental processes (and certainly volition) are also suspended in sleep, except that in ordinary dreams there is a medley of recollections, which often present vividly to our consciousness things that do not or cannot happen in nature as we know it in our coordinated minds. But there is another kind of dream which is rarer-one in which the dreamer sees things as they actually happen, backwards or forwards in time, or in which gifted individuals see spiritual truths otherwise imperceptible to them. How can we explain this? It is suggested that our soul or personality,-that something which is above our animal life-is then in a plane of spiritual existence akin to physical death (see last note), when we are nearer to Allah. In poetic imagery, Sleep is "twin-brother to Death".
Yusuf Ali   
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Yusuf Ali 4308 Sleep being twin-brother to Death, our souls are for the time being released from the bondage of the flesh. Allah takes them for the time being. If, as some do, we are to die peacefully in sleep, our soul does not come back to the physical body, and the latter decays and die. If we have still some period of life to fulfil according to Allah's decree, our soul comes back to the body, and we resume our functions in this life.
Yusuf Ali   
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Yusuf Ali 4309 If we contemplate these things, we can see more clearly many spiritual truths: e.g. (1) that our bodily life and death are not the whole story of our existence; (2) that in our bodily life we may be dead to the spiritual world, and in our bodily death, may be our awakening to the spiritual world; (3) that our nightly Sleep, besides performing the function of rest to our physical life, gives us a foretaste of what we call death, which does not end our personality; and (4) that the Resurrection is not more wonderful than our daily rising from Sleep, "twin-brother to Death".
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