Monday, August 6, 2018

The Holy Qur'an (Summary): Chapter 91 Sūrat ash-Shams (The Sun)

Sūrat ash-Shams, the 91st chapter of the Holy Qur'an is one of those sūrahs have been named using incipits (i.e. the first few words of the sūrah). Sūrat ash-Shams, which means the Sun open with a vow of the Almighty Allah taking name of the brightest of its visible celestial objects. However besides the sun, in this surah, Allah also takes vows of the Moon, that follows the Sun, and the Day followed by the Night, the Firmament and its (wonderful) structure, the Earth and the Soul of the man.

Please read English translation of Sūrat ash-Shams to understand its plain meaning / translation, followed be a summary of its purpose of revelation and the Divine message intended:
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"
  • By the Sun and its (glorious) splendour;
  • By the Moon as it follows it (the sun);
  • By the Day as it shows up (the Sun's) glory;
  • By the Night as it enshrouds it;
  • By the Firmament and its (wonderful) structure;
  • By the Earth and its (wide) expanse:
  • By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it;
  • And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right;-
  • Truly he succeeds that purifies it,
  • And he fails that corrupts it!
  • The Thamūd (people) rejected (their prophet) through their inordinate wrong-doing,
  • Behold, the most wicked man among them was deputed (for impiety).
  • But the Messenger of Allah said to them: "It is a She-camel of Allah. And (bar her not from) having her drink!"
  • Then they rejected him (as a false prophet), and they hamstrung her (She-camel). So their Lord, on account of their crime, obliterated their traces and made them equal (in destruction, high and low)!
  • And He does not fear the consequence thereof.
According to the scholars, this surah has two parts: Part One (verses 1-10) are the Divine Oaths that man’s happiness and misery depends on the purity or corruption he hath wrought in it", and Part 2 (verses 11-15) explain the destruction of people of "Thamūd  for rejecting their prophet." 

In the first part, a pairing of objects, sun/moon, day/night, Firmament/earth which are completely opposite to one and other is used to show the two states that reside inside a man: The good and the Evil. Thus it has been indicated that a man has two choices in his life which are instilled into his unconscious; either to do good and seek eternal reward or do otherwise and draw the wrath of Allah as did the people of Thamūd. 

The second part that relates to the Prophet Saleh (peace be upon him), a pious man selected by Allah to show the righteous path to the wicked and evil minded people of Thamūd. But they instead mocked the prophet and labelled him as a false prophet. And when Allah sent down a she-camel to the people of Thamūd, Prophet Saleh (peace be upon him) urged them not to harm the animal, one of the most wicked of all of the community at the behest of their collective will hamstrung the heavenly she-camel. Thus the wrath of all fell on them and the entire tribe became a history.

And be warned (the last verse) that Allah does not fear the consequence thereof. Allah being the sole creator of the entire universe has His own way to run the universe. Those who understand the divine will and obey Allah's commandments will cherish forever, but those who do not fear of the consequences of their evil doings, tangent to the divine commandments, then Allah does not fear the consequence thereof. A similar reminder is also given in Sūrah Al Anbiya 21:23: ‘He is not questioned about what He does, but they will be questioned. [2]’

Here are two views of the prominent Muslims scholars about the interpretation of this chapter [3]:
Abul A'la Maududi on summing up the success and failure of man: "Success depends on keeping the soul pure and failure depends on corrupting it, people of Thamūd were leveled to the ground for that very reason. 
Professor Javed Ahmad Ghamidi: "While narrating this story of the Thamūd nowhere in the Surah has it been said "O people of Quraish, if you rejected your Prophet, Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings), as the Thamūd had rejected theirs, you too would meet with the same fate as they met." The conditions at that time in Makkah were similar to those that had been created by the wicked among the people of Thamūd against the Prophet Saleh (peace be upon him). Therefore, the narration of this story in those conditions was by itself enough to suggest to the people of Makkah how precisely this historical precedent applied to them."
You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrat ash-Shams 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)

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