Monday 30 July 2018

Sūrat az-Zalzalah ( The End day Earthquake ) - Summary 99th Chapter of Quran

The ending chapters of the Holy Qur'an carry almost the same message: Warnings and cautions from Allah for those who did bad deeds and disobeyed commandants of Allah and reward for those who followed the path shown in various chapters of the Holy Qur'an. And this chapter is no exception.

Whether or not it was revealed, at Makkah or Madinah, is disputed. Ibn Masud, Ata, Jabir, and Mjahid say that it is a Makki Surah and a statement of Ibn Abbas also supports this view. On the contrary, Qatadah and Muqatil say that it is Madani and another statement of Ibn Abbas also has been cited in support of this view. That it is a Madani Surah is reasoned from a tradition from Hadrat Abu Said Khudri, which Ibn Abi Hatim has related from him. He says: "When the verse Fa-man ya mal mithqala dharratin khairan yarah, wa man ya mal mithqala dharratin sharran yarah, was revealed, I said: "O Messenger of Allah, shall I really see my deeds? The Holy Messenger replied in the affirmative. I submitted: And every major sin? He replied yes. I said: And the minor sins too? He replied yes. Thereupon I exclaimed that I would then be ruined. The Holy Prophet said: Rejoice, O Abu Sa'id, for each good act will be equal to ten good acts like it." The basis of the argument for this Surah's being Madani is that Hadrat Abu Sa'ld Khudri was an inhabitant of Madinah and reached maturity after the Battle of Uhud. Therefore, if this Surah was revealed in his presence, as is apparent from his statement, it must be a Madani Surah. However, the practice that the Companions and their immediate successors followed in respect of the occasion of the revelation of the verses and Surahs, has already been explained in the Introduction to Surah Ad-Dahr above. Therefore, a Companion's saying that a verse was sent down on this or that particular occasion is no proof that it was sent down on that very occasion. It may well be that after coming of age when Hadrat Abu Sa'id heard this Surah for the first time from the Holy Prophet, terrified by its last portion he might have asked the Holy Prophet the questions which we have cited above, and he might have narrated the incident saying that when this verse was revealed he put this and this question to the Holy Prophet. In the absence of this tradition every reader who reads the Qur'an with understandings will feel that it is a Makki Surah. More than that: from its theme and style he would feel that it must have been sent down in the earliest stage at Makkah when the fundamental principles and beliefs of Islam were being presented before the people in a concise but highly effective way.

This chapter warns the wrongdoers of a huge earthquake that would bring the world to an end, destroying everything over it and throwing out what is contained under the earth, even the dead long since.

The surah begins by describing how on the Day of Judgment, the Earth will give off a terrible earthquake and "throw up her burdens". Through the inspiration of God, the Earth will bear witness to the actions of men it has witnessed. According to Michael Sells, the earth opening up and bearing forth her secrets in this sura is indicative of a birth metaphor. The earth al-'Ard in the feminine gender bears forth of how her lord revealed the final secret to her. Human beings will then realize that the moment of accountability has arrived. This meticulous accountability will reflect good and evil deeds that might have seemed insignificant at the time.

Verses 1-3  Terror on the Day of Judgment
This is the beginning of the end; the Final Day.  God is telling us quite clearly how the Day of Judgment will begin.  There will be a violent earthquake the like of which has not been seen before.   The whole earth will shake; one huge convulsion after the other.  It will shake, pause and then shake again, over and over until mountains fall and buildings crumble.   The earth will then be reduced to a flat surface. 
The violent shaking and convulsing will cause the earth to expel its burdens.  Islamic scholars have given this verse more than one meaning.  The first is that the bodies of the dead will be thrown out of their graves, resurrected.  Secondly the treasures of this world will be laid out exposing their insignificance.  What use are expensive cars and jewellery, for instance, when the earth and all that is in it has been shaken and flattened.  Thirdly the earth will cast out, as if it were a video recording, a record of all the deeds and actions that have taken place throughout its history.
All of humankind will look around afraid and transfixed.  Each person will be amazed and terrified at the same time and each person will ask himself or nobody in particular, what is happening!? What is wrong with this earth!? Slowly the fear will be replaced by the realization that this is the Day of Judgment and the terror will take on a new dimension.  This is the day that was promised, the Day of Resurrection, the Day of Judgement.
Verses 4 and 5  The earth bears witness:
The earth itself will bear witness as to what has happened on it.  Every single thing and every single person’s deeds and actions will be laid bare.  Humankind individually and as a whole will be bewildered.   Nothing has been hidden; the earth has recorded and remembered each and every action and reaction and now at the command of God it will reveal its long kept confidences.  And the forgetful will be reminded of the deeds and actions they have somehow dispelled from their consciousness.
God will cause the earth to speak or in some way reveal the events that have taken place; long kept secrets, true version of events lost in the midst of time, great deeds, and seemingly insignificant ones that were never acknowledged will now be clearly identifiable.  The earth will report its news; describe its condition and what has happened on it.  The earth obeys the orders of God in true and complete submission.  
Verses 6-8  The Results:
Many scholars believe that this is describing the people separated into categories depending on what their position will be in the Hereafter.  It is a scene indescribable in any human language.  The people are both terrified and amazed as they go to where they will be confronted with their deeds, both the good and the bad.  For many this will be more distressing than any earthly punishment because humankind is very good at hiding their crimes even from themselves.
In the seventh verse the use of the word ‘so’ denotes a conclusion.  So now you will see all the bad deeds and all of the good deeds you have ever done.  Nothing will be left out, even things as small as you could imagine; a speck of dust, or even an atom.  Having a good deed as small as an atom could mean a favorable outcome, likewise a bad deed, as tiny as an atom, may cast you into the abyss.
Before commenting on the text of Sūrat az-Zalzalah, please read the English translation of the Sūrat az-Zalzalah to understand its plain meaning / translation :
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"
  • When the earth is shaken with its (final) earthquake (Az Zalzalah).
  • And when the earth throws out its burdens,
  • And man will say: “What is the matter with it?”
  • That Day it will declare its information (about all what happened over it of good or evil).
  • Because your Lord has inspired it.
  • That Day mankind will proceed in scattered groups that they may be shown their deeds.
  • So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it.
  • And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it.
This chapter in fact paints the doomsday scenario when massive and violent earthquakes will jolt and shake the entire earth, though it is known whether this would include the entire universe or our earth alone, which is certainly the case. All mighty structures that architects and countries boast today will fall like a pack of cards and there will be fires all over.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has been quoted as informing: "The closer we get to the end of time, the more frequent earthquakes will become." And this is indeed reflected by the reality; just checking their increased occurrence over the past 2 decades bears this out. [3]

The mention of such massive life ending quakes have been mentioned in many parts of the Holy Qur'an:
“When the sky splits, the stars fall, the oceans boil, when graves are overturned.” (Quran 82: 1-4)
“Do not forget the End Day when the sun is folded and will lose its light. When the stars fall down and cease to exist. When the mountains are made to fly about. When the pregnant camels are abandoned by their owners (people will have no interest in their valuables). When even the wild beasts are gathered. When the oceans are set alight to boil. When souls are joined.” (Quran 81:1-7)
And then the graves would be split open and the dead would come to life and would ask what has happened and why they had been waken up from their slumber. This would include all dead, whether they were buried or drowned or frozen on the mountains.

According to Michael Sells, the earth opening up and bearing forth her secrets in this surah is indicative of a birth metaphor. The earth al-'Ard in the feminine gender bears forth of how her lord revealed the final secret to her. Human beings will then realize that the moment of accountability has arrived. This meticulous accountability will reflect good and evil deeds that might have seemed insignificant at the time. [2]

In an other explanation of the verse 2, it is opined that the word ‘akhraja’ used here is a strong word – it often refers to something being pushed or forced out. The burdens being thrown off are all the deeds, corruption and pollution of humans over the millennium of time.  The image created here is one of the Earth unable to digest the corruption of humanity, and finally in a state of sickness vomiting the unnatural, unwanted deeds of its inhabitants. [3]

This chapter started with something big and ends with the smallest of things.  Even a very ordinary small good has its own value and likewise even the most ordinary evil will also be considered and taken into account.  Thus, no good act, however small, should be left undone.   It may be that many such good deeds can collect and add up to be heavy on the Scale.  Likewise, even the most commonplace evil should also not be committed, because tiny sins done repeatedly can harden the heart and make it blind to the seriousness of greater offences.

The last two verses spell out very clearly who will be pardoned and who will be thrown into the burning hell forever. Such are the ways Allah forewarns the wrongdoers to still repent and come back to the path of truth, lest that day that will be anytime catches them unguarded and unprepared. That day there would be no going back, no forgiveness and no pardons, though Alla is all forgiving and merciful. And He may pardon someone with mountain loads of sins but one small act of kindness or good deed, or He may punish someone with mountain loads of good deed but one small act of bad deed. So before counting on Allah's mercy, do good now for Allah's wrath is unbearable.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrat az-Zalzalah with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Part backwards for chapters in 30th Part are shorter and easier to understand)

Photo | References: | 1 |  2 | 3 | 4 |
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