Thursday 4 October 2018

Surah Al Qamar: The Moon (Summary of 54th Chapter of Holy Quran)

Sūrat al-Qamar is the 54th chapter of the Qur'an with 55 ayat and three rukuh. The naming of this chapter with one of the most visible landmark of the celestial world after the sun explains the importance the moon carries in Islam. In the Holy Qur'an, at 28 different places the mention of moon has been made.

In fact moon has always been important to the Arabs, who evading the scorching sun and extremely hot days preferred to travel at night - a time when the cool light of the moon and starts allowed them to travel with ease and also making use of the navigational properties that night afforded to them.

The most important aspect of moon is that it helps to keep a track of time. Unlike the sun which remains round bright and fiery throughout the day, the moon from its first day shape of a crescent and then its varying increasing shapes that changes each day to full moon, the 14th day, and then decreasing till it became as thin as a date stalk. Allah says in 38th chapter (Surah Al Ya-Sin):
"And the moon, We have measured for it mansions (to traverse) till it returns like the old dried curved date stalk."
There is lot more that is to be talked about the importance of moon and some contraventions by the Christians, which we shall discuss in a separate post as mention of issues would digress us from the subject at hand: The meaning and explanation of  Sūrat al-Qamar.

Being one of the early revelations, this chapter was revealed entirely in Makkah and contains warnings to those who disbelieve in the word of Allah, brought to them through Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), followed by tales of some of the earlier people and prophets as reference and forewarning to those not listening to the Prophet of Allah and telling them how wrath of Allah fell on those who mocked the prophets and chose to remain on the path other than of Allah. In the last part, Allah once again concentrate on His message similar to the one in first part of the surah.

Now lets us read the translation and brief explanation of each part for better understand:
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"
Part - I
1. The Hour has drawn near, and the moon has been cleft asunder (the people of Makkah requested Prophet Muhammad  to show them a miracle, so he showed them the splitting of the moon). 2. And if they see a sign, they turn away, and say: "This is continuous magic."
The opening two verses of this chapter clearly explain the splitting of the moon, when they pagans of Makkah insisted of the Prophet of Allah to show them some sign his prophet hood. A doubt here arises in minds of some that going by the literal meaning of the first first verse, it is in fact indication of the Day of Resurrection when the moon will split and not related to actual splitting of the moon as was seen by many nonbelievers. If this verse was indicating towards the Day of Resurrection, then how come the second verse justifies the first verse. It was in fact after the moon was slit into two and then united again that the nonbelievers mocked the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and called the moon split just an act of magic. Read the detailed discussion at [4].
3. They belied (the Verses of Allah, this Qur'an), and followed their own lusts. And every matter will be settled [according to the kind of deeds (for the doer of good deeds, his deeds will take him to Paradise, and similarly evil deeds will take their doers to Hell)]. 4. And indeed there has come to them news (in this Qur'an) wherein there is (enough warning) to check (them from evil), 5. Perfect wisdom (this Qur'an), but (the preaching of) warners benefit them not, 6. So (O Muhammad ) withdraw from them. The Day that the caller will call (them) to a terrible thing. 7. They will come forth, with humbled eyes from (their) graves as if they were locusts spread abroad, 8. Hastening towards the caller, the disbelievers will say: "This is a hard Day."
The verses 3-8 are repetition of many such verses wherein the behavior of the nonbelievers is shown to be that of arrogance and heedlessness to the commandments of Allah brought to them by the Prophet of Allah. And they continue to deny the coming of a day when even the dead will be raised from the graves and made answerable to their bad or otherwise deeds. And here is a message for the Prophet of Allah too that if the nonbelievers do not pay an heed to the message brought to them, then they should be left at their own for Allah alone is powerful to deal with them not only in this world but in the hereafter too.

Part II

In the middle part of the chapter, incidents from the bygone days have been narrated as a caution for  the nonbelievers that there have been people like them before too on whom prophets were sent but they did not listen to them and teased them. And then the faced the wrath of Allah for not believing in the guidance on truth sent to them.
9. The people of Nuh (Noah) denied (their Messenger) before them, they rejected Our slave, and said: "A madman!" and he was insolently rebuked and threatened. 10. Then he invoked his Lord (saying): "I have been overcome, so help (me)!" 11. So We opened the gates of heaven with water pouring forth.  12. And We caused the earth to gush forth with springs. So the waters (of the heaven and the earth) met for a matter predestined. 13. And We carried him on a (ship) made of planks and nails, 14. Floating under Our Eyes, a reward for him who had been rejected! 15. And indeed, We have left this as a sign, then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)? 16. Then how (terrible) was My Torment and My Warnings? 17. And We have indeed made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember, then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)?
In the verses 9-17, the mention of Prophet Nuh (Noah, peace be upon him) and his people has been narrated. His people too condemned him for not being a prophet and refused to listen to him. When the Prophet was finally tired of trying, he prayed to Allah for their condemnation. And then Allah asked him to build a big boat, enough to house pairs of all living animals and birds of the time. And then the wrath of Allah struck in the form of the greatest flood ever, which drowned everything and everyone except those on board, those who believed in the Prophet and the Divine commandments. Renowned Hadith comiler Imam Bukhari, Ibn Abi Hatim, Abdur Razzaq and Ibn Jarir have related traditions on the authority of Qatadah saying that at the time the Muslims conquered Iraq and al-Jazirah, this Ark still existed on Mount Judi (and according to a tradition, near the settlement of Baqirda), and the early Muslims had seen it.
18. 'Ad (people) belied (their Prophet, Hud), then how (terrible) was My Torment and My Warnings? 19. Verily, We sent against them a furious wind of harsh voice on a day of evil omen and continuous calamity. 20. Plucking out men as if they were uprooted stems of date-palms. 21. Then, how (terrible) was My Torment and My Warnings? 22. And We have indeed made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember, then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)? 
The second incident quoted is that of Prophet Hud (peace be upon him) and his people of Ād, an ancient tribe in Southern Arabia, in a location referred to as "al-ʾAḥq̈āf" or "the Sandy Plains," or "the Wind-curved Sand-hills"). ʿĀd is regarded as one of the original Arab tribes, the "lost Arabs". Their capital may have been what is known as "Iram of the Pillars."

Like the nonbelievers of the past, they too rejected the teachings of a monotheism as preached by Hud (peace be upon him), the Prophet of Allah. They were caught by strong winds that swept away their dwellings and Plucking out men as if they were uprooted stems of date-palms. Some say the winds continued for seven days and eight nights. "It is said that the day on which the storm started was Wednesday. From this the idea spread that Wednesday was a day of ill-luck, and no work should be started on this day. But there is no authenticity in this supposition. [1]
23. Thamud (people also) belied the warnings. 24. For they said: "A man! Alone from among us, that we are to follow? Truly, then we should be in error and distress or madness!" 25. "Is it that the Reminder is sent to him [Prophet Salih (Saleh)] alone from among us? Nay, he is an insolent liar!" 26. Tomorrow they will come to know, who is the liar, the insolent one! 27. Verily, We are sending the she-camel as a test for them. So watch them [O Salih (Saleh)], and be patient! 28. And inform them that the water is to be shared between (her and) them. Each one's right to drink being established (by turns). 29. But they called their comrade and he took (a sword) and killed (her). 30. Then, how (terrible) was My Torment and My Warnings? 31. Verily, We sent against them a single Saihah (torment - awful cry, etc.), and they became like the dry stubble of a fold-builder. 32. And indeed, We have made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember, then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)? 
Verses 23-32 narrate how people of Thamud belied warnings brought to them by Allah's Prophet Salih (Saleh, peace be upon him). When the Prophet brought them Allah's message, they refuted him for 1) He was a human being and not a super-human person so that we may regard him as superior to ourselves, 2) He was a member of their own nation, and in no way superior to the rest and 3) He was a single man, being not a prominent chief with a large following, or an army of soldiers.

Then Allah sent a she-camel as a trial for them. The she-camel appeared suddenly froma mountain, gave birth to a calf and died. Now to riase the calf, the Prophet told his people that one day she would drink the water all by herself and the next day they would be allowed to have water for themselves and their cattle. On the day of her turn neither would come to any of the springs and wells to take water nor bring his cattle for watering. The she-camel roamed at will in their settlements for a long period of time. But one day a pampered chief by the rest killed the she-camel. To this evil deed, Allah sent a single blast against them, and they became like the trampled twigs of a sheep pen-builder. [4]
33. The people of Lout (Lot) belied the warnings. 34. Verily, We sent against them a violent storm of stones (which destroyed them all), except the family of Lout (Lot), whom We saved in last hour of the night, 35. As a Favour from Us, thus do We reward him who gives thanks (by obeying Us). 36. And he [Lout (Lot)] indeed had warned them of Our Grasp, but they did doubt the warnings! 37. And they indeed sought to shame his guest (by asking to commit sodomy with them). So We blinded their eyes, "Then taste you My Torment and My Warnings." 38. And verily, an abiding torment seized them early in the morning. 39. "Then taste you My Torment and My Warnings." 40. And indeed, We have made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember, then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)?
Then there is mention of Prophet Lut (Lot, peace be upon him) and his people who were involved in the heinous crime of same sex relations among men. Prophet Lut tried his best to convince them of leaving this bad habit and go  to their women instead. But he was mocked too. Then as a test, Allah sent two of his angels as guests to the Prophet. But the Prophet's wife, who was more loyal to her tribe than her husband, leaked the news of the prescience of tow adorable young men in her house. So the people of the town flocked Prophet Lut's house with lustful desires and demanded the two men be handed over to them. When all efforts of the Prophet failed to stop them and they almost stormed his house, their eyes were blinded by the Divine decree and the angels asked the Prophet to leave the city along with his family. He was told not to look back for the wrath of Allah would befell on his people. While they all reached to safety, his unfaithful wife turned back to have a last look at her tribe, but was immediately turned to ashes and died like all other evil minded people of  her tribe.

The details of this story have been given in (Surah Houd, Ayats 77-83) and (Surah Al-Hijr, Ayats 61-74), and one of our earlier posts: Prophet Lut and Allah's wrath on his people.
41. And indeed, warnings came to the people of Fir'aun (Pharaoh) [through Musa (Moses) and Harun (Aaron)].  42. (They) belied all Our Signs, so We seized them with a Seizure of the All-Mighty, All-Capable to carry out what he Will (Omnipotent).
Verses 42-43 very briefly touch upon Prophet Musa (Moses, peace be upon him) and the Pharaoh for there are many detailed account od Prophet Musa and Pharaoh in the Holy Qur'an. In fact Prophet Musa is the most talked about prophet in the Holy Qur'an. Suffice to say here that when the Pharaoh did not believe in teaching of Prophet Musa based on the Divine commandment and he along with his mighty army chased Prophet Musa and the Israelites, he was drowned for not believing the truth Prophet Musa had brought to him.

Part III

In all incidents quoted above, the same message has been quoted above has been repeated: “We have made it easy to learn lessons from the Qur’an: will anyone take heed?” The intention has been only one: Listen to what Allah's prophet tells them and act upon the Divine commandments brought to them. But if the remain heedless, then there is wrath in waiting as was brought to people before them.
43. Are your disbelievers (O Quraish!) better than these [nations of Nuh (Noah), Lout (Lot), Salih (Saleh), and the people of Fir'aun (Pharaoh), etc., who were destroyed)? Or have you an immunity (against Our Torment) in the Divine Scriptures? 44. Or do they say: "We are a great multitude, and we shall be victorious.?" 45. Their multitude will be put to flight, and they will show their backs.
Please concentrate on verses 44-45 above. The boasting tone as that of Pharaoh as been repeated taking the words from the mouths of the formidable Quraish chieftains. This verse was revealed some five years before Hijrah and soon after Hijrah and the first Muslim-Nonbelievers encounter at Badr, the strong pagan army turned its back and fled the battle ground, making the Divine forewarning coming true:

It has been narrated Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi Hatim that Umar bin Khattab used to say: "When this verse (verse 45) of Surah Al-Qamar was sent down, I wondered what hosts it is that would be routed. But when in the Battle of Badr the pagan Quraish were routed and they were fleeing from the battlefield, I saw the Messenger of Allah in his armor rushing forward and reciting this verse:  Their multitude will be put to flight, and they will show their backs Then only did I realize that this was the defeat that had been foretold." [4]
46. Nay, but the Hour is their appointed time (for their full recompense), and the Hour will be more grievous and more bitter. 47. Verily, the Mujrimun (polytheists, disbelievers, sinners, criminals, etc.) are in error (in this world) and will burn (in the Hell-fire in the Hereafter). 48. The Day they will be dragged in the Fire on their faces (it will be said to them): "Taste you the touch of Hell!" 49.  Verily, We have created all things with Qadar (Divine Preordainment of all things before their creation, as written in the Book of Decrees Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz). 50. And Our Commandment is but one, as the twinkling of an eye. 51. And indeed, We have destroyed your likes, then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)? 52. And each and everything they have done is noted in (their) Records (of deeds). 53. And everything, small and big is written (in Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz already beforehand i.e. before it befalls, or is done by its doer) (See the Qur'an V.57:22). 54. Verily, The Muttaqun (pious), will be in the midst of Gardens and Rivers (Paradise). 55. In a seat of truth (i.e. Paradise), near the Omnipotent King (Allah, the All-Blessed, the Most High, the Owner of Majesty and Honour).
The verses 46 to 55 are mostly directed to the Quraish, the predominant tribe of pagans of Makkah, have been the audience and warning them once again of their fate when the End Day come. That day the sinners, criminals and disbelievers will taste the reward of their crimes by Tasting the touch of Hell. Here they are once again warned that  Allah shall not have to make any lengthy preparations for bringing about Resurrection, nor will it take long to come. For no sooner will a command be issued forth from Allah, it will take place in the twinkling of an eye. So heed to my commandments and those who do so will certainly be rewarded the Paradise, where they would live forever in gardens abound in fruits and rivers of milk and honey. What  else could be a better rewards for being on the path of truth !!

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrat al-Qamar 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 by Jalal HB (also shared at Flickr) | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
An effort has been made to gather explanation of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic souses and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. However, those wanting detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to sites the references of which are given above.

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