By the Mount (of Revelation); 5037
By a Decree Inscribed 5038
In a Scroll unfolded;
By the much-frequented House; 5039
By the Canopy Raised High; 5040
And by the Ocean filled with Swell 5041 5042
Verily the Doom of thy Lord will indeed come to pass
There is none can avert it
On the day when the firmament will be in dreadful commotion. 5043
And the mountain will fly hither and thither. 5044
Then woe that Day to those that treat (truth) as Falsehood 5045
That play (and paddle) in shallow trifles.
That Day shall they be thrust down to the Fire of Hell irresistibly.
"This" it will be said "is the Fire which ye were wont to deny! 5046
"Is this then a fake or is it ye that do not see? 5047
"Burn ye therein: the same is it to you whether ye bear it with patience or not: Ye but receive the recompense of your (own) deeds." 5048
As to the Righteous they will be in Gardens and in Happiness 5049
Enjoying the (Bliss) which their Lord hath bestowed on them and their Lord shall deliver them from the Penalty of the Fire.
(To them will be said:) "Eat and drink ye with profit and health because of your (good) deeds." 5050 5051
They will recline (with ease) on Thrones (of dignity) arranged in ranks; and We shall join them to Companions with beautiful big and lustrous eyes. 5052 5053
And those who believe and whose families follow them in Faith to them shall We join their families: nor shall We deprive them (of the fruit) of aught of their works: (Yet) is each individual in pledge for his deeds. 5054 5055
And We shall bestow on them of fruit and meat anything they shall desire. 5056
They shall there exchange one with another a (loving) cup free of frivolity free of all taint of ill. 5057
Round about them will serve (devoted) to them youths (handsome) as Pearls well-guarded. 5058
They will advance to each other engaging in mutual enquiry. 5059
They will say: "Aforetime We were not without fear for the sake of our people. 5060
"But Allah has been good to us and has delivered us from the Penalty of the Scorching Wind. 5061
"Truly we did call unto Him from of old: truly it is He the Beneficent the Merciful" 5062
Therefore proclaim thou the praises (of thy Lord): For by the Grace of thy Lord thou art no (vulgar) soothsayer nor art thou one possessed. 5063
Or do they say "A Poet! we await for him some calamity (hatched) by Time!" 5064
Say thou: "Await ye! I too will wait along with you!" 5065
Is it that their faculties of understanding urge them to this or are they but a people transgressing beyond bounds? 5066 5067
Or do they say "He fabricated the (Message)"? Nay they have no faith! 5068
Let them then produce a recital like unto it if (it be) they speak the Truth!
Were they created of nothing or were they themselves the creators? 5069
Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Nay they have no firm belief. 5070
Or are the Treasures of thy Lord with them or are they the managers (of affairs)? 5071
Or have they a ladder by which they can (climb up to heaven and) listen (to its secrets)? Then let (such a) listener of theirs produce a manifest proof. 5072
Or has He only daughters and ye have sons? 5073
Or is it that thou dost ask for a reward so that they are burdened with a load of debt? 5074
Or that the Unseen is in their hands and they write it down? 5075
Or do they intend a plot (against thee)? But those who defy Allah are themselves involved in a Plot! 5076
Or have they a god other then Allah? exalted is Allah far above the things they associate with Him! 5077
Were they to see a piece of the sky falling (on them) they would (only) say: "clouds gathered in heaps!" 5078
So leave them alone until they encounter that Day of theirs wherein they shall (perforce) swoon (with terror) 5079
The Day when their plotting will avail them nothing and no help shall be Given them.
And verily for those who do wrong there is another punishment besides this: but most of them understand not. 5080
Now await in patience the command of thy Lord: for verily thou art in our eyes: and celebrate the praises of thy Lord the while thou standest forth. 5081 5082
And for part of the night also praise thou Him and at the retreat of the stars! 5083 5084
The adjuration is by five things which we shall presently explain. An appeal is made to these five Signs in verses 1 to 6, and the certainty of future events is asserted in the most emphatic terms in verses 7 to 28, in three parts, viz., the coming of judgment and the passing away of this phenomenal world (verses 7-10); the future ill consequences of ill-deeds done (verses 11-16); and future attainment of bliss and complete realisation of Allah's love and mercy (verses 17-28).
See last note. The five Signs to which appeal is made are: (1) the Mount (of Revelation), verse 1; (2) the Book Inscribed, verses 2-3; (3) The Much-frequented House, verse 4; (4) the Canopy Raised High, verse 5; and (5) the Ocean filled with Swell, verse 6. Let us examine these in detail. Each of them has a figurative meaning. (1) The Mount is the sublime world of Revelation. In the case of Moses it is typified by Mount Sinai: Cf. xcv. 2, where it is mentioned in juxtaposition to the sacred territory of Makkah, xcv. 3. In the case of Jesus it is the Mount of Olives: Cf. xcv. 1, and also Matt. xxiv. 3-51, where Jesus made his striking pronouncement about the Judgment to come. In the case of Muhammad it is the Mountain of Light, where he first received the revelation: Cf. n. 11 (2). The Book Inscribed is Allah's Eternal word. When it becomes Revelation to man, it is figured forth as something "inscribed", reduced to writing; and as it is made clear to the intelligence of man, it is further described as "in a parchment unfolded", that is, spread out so that everyone who has the will can seek its guidance.
See the last two notes. (3) "The much-frequented House is usually understood to mean the Ka'ba, which the holy Prophet purified and re-dedicated to true worship.
(4) "The Canopy Raised High" is the canopy of heaven, to whose height or sublimity no limit can be assigned by the mind of man.
(5) The Ocean-the vast, limitless, all encircling Ocean. It is expressed to be masjur, full of a mighty swell, boiling over, poured forth all over the earth, as if overwhelming all landmarks; Cf. lxxxi. 6: a fitting description of the final disappearance of our temporal world in the supreme establishment of the judgment.
This completes the five Signs by which man may know for certain of the Judgment to come. Note that they are in a descending order: the highest, or most remote from man's consciousness, being mentioned first, and that nearest to man's consciousness being mentioned last. The truth of Revelation; its embodiment in a Prophet's Message given in human language; the universal appeal of divine worship; the starry world above; and the encircling Ocean, full of life and motion below,-all are evidences that the Day of Allah will finally come, and nothing can avert it.
The Day of Judgment is typified by two figures. (1) "The firmament will be in dreadful commotion." The heavens as we see them suggest to us peace and tranquillity, and the power of fixed laws which all the heavenly bodies obey. This will all be shaken in the rise of the new world. Cf. Matt. xxiv. 29: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days...the powers of the heavens shall be shaken." For (2) see next note.
(2) The mountains are a type of firmness and stability. But things that we think of as firm and stable in this material life will be shaken to pieces, and will be no more substantial than a mirage in a desert. Cf. lxxviii. 20.
That Day will be a Day of Woe to the wrong doers described in two aspects, the rebels against Allah and Allah's Truth, just as it will be a Day of Joy and Thanksgiving to the Righteous, who are described in three aspects in verses 17 to 28. The rebels are here described as being those who openly defied Truth and plunged into wrong-doing, or who trifled with truth, who jested with serious matters, who had not the courage to plunge openly into wrong-doing but who secretly took profit out of it, who wasted their life in doubts and petty quibbles. It is difficult to say which attitude did more harm to themselves and to others. Both are aspects of deep-seated rebellion. But the mercy of Allah was open to all if they had repented and amended their lives.
In face of the Realities, it will be borne in on them how wrong it was for them in this life to deny or forget that every wicked thought or deed had its own retributive chain of consequences.
Perhaps they had said that the Hereafter was a fake, mere old wives' tales! If they had given serious thought to the Signs of Allah, they would have been saved from that serious spiritual blindness: then they will see that the fault was their own, and that the warnings of the messengers of Truth were nothing but pure Truth.
At that stage they will have no justification for anger or impatience; for their whole position will have been due to their own conduct and their rejection of Allah's Grace. Nor will there be time then for patience or repentance, for their period of probation will then have been over.
The Righteous will be in Bliss far beyond their merits: their sins and faults will be forgiven by the grace of Allah, which will save them from the penalties which they may have incurred from human frailty. It will be their own effort or striving which will win them Allah's grace: see verse 19 below. But the fruits will be greater than they could strictly have carned.
The bliss of the Righteous is described in three aspects: (1) their individual bliss, verses 17-20: (2) their social bliss, verses 21-24; and (3) their satisfaction in the dissipation of past shadows, and their full understanding of the goodness of Allah, verses 25-28.
Individual satisfaction is expressed in three types or figures of speech. (1) eating and drinking (2) couches of dignity, and (3) the joy of individual companionship. But the eating and drinking will be free of all drawbacks, such as excess, aftereffects and satiety: here there will be pure health, profit, and enjoyment. So about the other two: see the notes following. Cf. with this the description of heaven in xxxvii 40-49: while the general account is the same, special phases are brought out in the two passages to correspond with the context.
Every one will have a couch of dignity, but it does not follow that the dignity will be the same. Every one's Personality will be purified but it will not be merged into one general sameness.
Cf. xliv. 54, and notes 4728 and 4729, where the meaning of Hur is fully explained. This is the special sharing of individual Bliss one with another. The next verse refers to the general social satisfaction shared with all whom we loved in this earthly life.
Zurriyat: literally, progeny, offspring, family; applied by extension to mean all near and dear ones. Love is unselfish, and works not merely, or chiefly, for Self, but for others; provided the others have Faith and respond according to their capacities or degrees, they will be joined together. Even though on individual merits their rank might be less.
As already explained in the last note, though the love poured out by Prophets, ancestors, descendants, friends, or good men and women, will secure for their loved ones the enjoyment of their society, it is an indispensable condition that the loved ones should also, according to their lights, have shown their faith and their goodness in deeds. Each individual is responsible for his conduct. In the kingdom of heaven there is no boasting of ancestors or friends. But it is part of the satisfaction of the good ones who poured out their love that those who were in any way worthy to receive their love should also be admitted to their society, and this satisfaction shall in no way be diminished to them.
That is, their eternal Punishment in the Hereafter, as well as any punishment that may come to them in this life.
Drinking or loving cups, in our life on this earth, are apt to be misused in two ways: (1) they may be occasions for mere frivolity or the wasting of time; (2) they may lead to evil thoughts, evil suggestions, evil talk, or evil deeds.
Maknun: well-guarded, kept close, concealed from exposure: the beautiful nacreous lustre of Pearls is disfigured by exposure to gases, vapours, or acids; when not actually in use they are best kept in closed caskets, guarded from deteriorating agencies.
The third-and the highest-stage of Bliss, after individual Bliss and social Bliss, is the satisfaction of looking to the Past without its shadows and realising to the full in the Present the goodness of Allah. See n. 5050. This, again, is shared in mutual converse and confidence.
A man may be good, and may with limits have found goodness in his own spiritual life, but may have anxieties about his family or friends whom he loves. All such shadows are removed in heaven by the Grace of Allah, and he is free to dwell on it in his confidential converse with other men similarly circumstanced.
"Us" includes the good man or woman and all whom he or she cared for. This would be an ever-expanding circle, until it includes all mankind through Teachers like the Chosen One.
'Before this, we called upon Him, in faith that He is good: now we know in our inmost souls that He is indeed good-the Beneficent, the Merciful.' This is the climax of the description of Heaven.
The greatest of the Prophets was called a soothsayer, i.e., one who tells fortunes by divination, or a madman possessed of some evil spirit, or a poet singing spiteful satires. Much more may lesser men be called by such names because they proclaim the Truth. They should go on in spite of it all.
If a spiteful poet foretells evil calamities for men, men can afford to laugh at him, hoping that time will bring about its revenge, and spite will come to an evil end. For the various meanings of Raib, see n. 1884 to xiv. 9. Some Commentators suggest Death as the Calamity hatched by Time.
Cf. ix. 52. If the wicked wait or look for some calamity to befall the Prophet, the Prophet can with far more justice await the decision of the issue between him and his persecutors. For he stands for right, and Allah will support the right.
It may be that the persecutors of Truth are ignorant, and their deficient faculties of understanding mislead them, but it is more often the case that they are perverse rebels against the law of Allah, defending their own selfish interests, and preventing those whom they oppress, from getting justice.
Cf. li. 53.
As an alternative to the charges of being a soothsayer or a madman or a disgruntled poet, there is the charge of a forger or fabricator applied to the prophet of Allah when he produces his Message. This implies that there can be no revelation or inspiration from Allah. Such an attitude negatives Faith altogether. But if this is so, can they produce a work of man that can compare with the inspired Word of Allah? They cannot. Cf. n. 37-39, and xvii. 88.
"Were they created of nothing?" Three possible alternative meanings are suggested by the Commentators, according to the meaning we give to the Arabic preposition min=of, by, with, for. (1) 'Were they created by nothing? Did they come into existence of themselves? Was it a mere chance that they came into being? (2) Were they created as men out of nothing? Was there not a wonderful seed, from which their material growth can be traced, as the handiwork of a wise and wonderful Creator? Must they not then seek His Will? (3) Were they created for nothing, to no purpose? If they were created for a purpose, must they not try to learn that purpose by understanding Allah's Revelation?
They obviously did not create the wonders of the starry heavens and the fruitful globe of the earth. But they can assign no definite cause to explain it, as they have no firm belief on the subject themselves.
Cf. vi. 50, and n. 867. The Treasures of Allah's Knowledge are infinite. But the doubters and unbelievers have no access to them, much less can the doubters and unbelievers manage the wonders of this world. Must they not therefore seek grace and revelation from Allah?
Cf. vi. 35: a reference to the Pagan belief that by means of a material ladder a man might climb up to heaven and learn its secrets!
Cf. xvi. 57-59, and n. 2082. To the gospel of Unity it is repugnant to assign begotten sons or daughters to Allah. But the Arab superstition about angels being the daughters of Allah was particularly blasphemous as the Pagan Arabs hated to have daughters themselves and considered it a mark of humiliation!
The prophets of Allah ask for no reward to preach the Message of Allah and direct men to the right Path. Why then do men shun them and persecute those who seek to bring blessings to them?
The Unseen is a subject of Revelation, though it works through the common everyday life of man. The men who reject Revelation simply because it is outside their own experience ought on the contrary to try to learn about it and seek to understand it.
Shallow men who plot against Good are themselves the willing victims of insidious plots laid by Evil.
This is the final and decisive question: Is there really any god other than Allah the One True God? Every argument points to the negative. A series of questions has been asked above pointing to the negative of the superstitions of the godless. The gospel of Unity, Revelation, and the Hereafter has thus been preached by a searching examination of the position of the Unbelievers. And the Sura ends with an exhortation to leave alone those who will not believe because they wish not to believe, and to let Time work out the web and pattern of Allah's Plan.
In xxvi. 187, Shu'aib, the Prophet of Allah, is challenged by the Companions of the Wood "to cause a piece of the sky to fall on us, if thou art truthful." Such a challenge, in some form or other, is addressed to all prophets of Allah. It is mere defiance. It has no meaning. If a piece of the sky were to fall on them, it would not convince them, for they would only say: "These are only clouds gathered in heaps." They do not wish to believe. Otherwise there are ample Signs and Evidences of Allah's Plan in Creation and in man's own heart.
That is, the Day of Judgment. Cf. xxxix. 68, and n. 4343.
The final Judgment is for all. But in addition, wrong-doers have to fear a retribution or punishment in this very life, an open punishment through external events, or at least the bitter pangs of conscience within.
The messenger of Allah must strive his utmost to proclaim the Message of Allah: as for results, it is not for him to command them. He must wait patiently, in the knowledge that he is not forgotten by Allah, but is constantly under Allah's eyes,-under His loving care and protection. And he must glorify Allah's name, as he is a standard-bearer of Allah's Truth.
The translators and Commentators nearly all understand taqumu in the sense of rising up from sleep. But the rendering I have given is consistent with Quranic usage. In xxvi. 218, we have the same two words hina taqumu, meaning "standing forth (in prayer)". In lvii. 25, we have "li-yaqum an-nasu bil-qisti", which obviously means "that men may stand forth in justice," i.e., do all their business in justice. In lxxviii. 38, we have yaqumu used for the angels standing forth in ranks. On my rendering the meaning will be: 'celebrate Allah's praises when you stand forth in prayer, or at all times when you go about your business; but also for part of the night and at early dawn when worldly life is at a standstill.'
It is not necessary to understand this for any particular canonical prayers. It is good to spend a part of the night in prayer and praise: Cf. lxxiii. 6. And the Dawn is a daily recurring miracle, full of spiritual influences and "testimony": Cf. xvii. 78-79.
Idbar-un-nujum: the setting of the stars: the glorious hour of early dawn. In cxiii. 1, we seek Allah's protection as "Lord of the Dawn".