Thursday, November 8, 2018

Surat al-Qiyamah "The Resurrection": Summary of 75th Chapter of the Holy Quran

Sūrat al-Qiyāmah is the 75th surah / chapter of the Holy Qur'an part of the 29th part / juz. It has 40 verses and two rukuh. Since the subject matter of the surah is 'The Resurrection", it has been so named with Al-Qiyamah also appearing in the first verse.

Owing to the subject matter, Sūrat al-Qiyāmah is one of the earliest Surahs which were revealed in Makkah. Although the subject matter mainly hinges on the Resurrection, there is a parenthetical passage between verse 15 and 20, when the discourse is suddenly interrupted and the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) told: "Do not move your tongue to remember this Revelation hastily. It is Our responsibility to have it remembered and read. Therefore, when We are reciting it, listen to its recital carefully. Again, it is Our responsibility to explain its meaning."  This interruption has been made here for the reason that when the Angel Jibraeel (Gabriel) was reciting this Surah to the Holy Prophet, the Holy Prophet, lest he should forget its words later, was repeating them at the same moment. This in fact happened at the time when the coming down and receipt of Revelation was yet a new experience for him and he was not yet fully used to receiving it calmly. There are two other instances also of this in the Qur'an. First, in Surah Ta Ha (v. 114) the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) has been told: "And see that you do not hasten to recite the Qur'an before its revelation is completed to you.". Then, in Surah Al-A'la (v. 6) it has been said: "We shall enable you to recite:, then you shall never forget." Later, when the Holy Prophet became fully used to receiving the Revelation well, there remained no need to give him any such instruction. That is why except for these, three, there is no other instance of this in the Qur'an.

Scholars and interpreters of the Holy Qur'an are of the view that most of the Surahs, from here till the end of the Qur'an, in view of their content and style, seem to have been sent down in the period when after the first seven verses of Surah Al-Muddaththir, the 74th Chapter / surah, revelation of the Qur'an began like a shower of rain:Thus, in the successively revealed Surahs Islam and its fundamental concepts and moral teachings were presented so forcefully and effectively in pithy, brief sentences and the people of Makkah warned so vehemently on their errors and deviations that the Quraish chiefs were utterly confounded. 

Although just 40 verses long, it took me quite a while to understand this surah from various tafsirs /exegeses its theme and the message. That is why the readers would find explanations rather longish fro I could not shorten these from the source exegeses  lest the meaning were lost and not understood. So do take a time out to understand this surah. Also be mindful of the fact that the main theme revolves around the Resurrection - but there is a a "time out" between verses 15 and 20 a portion which is addressed to the Prophet of Allah alone. Why that is so, read the explanation given below.

Let us now read explanation of the Surah segmented into portions as per the subject matter. Surah segmented into portions as per the subject matter.
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

To begin the discourse with "Nay" by itself indicates that the Surah was sent down to refute some argument which was already in progress. The theme that follows shows that the argument was about Resurrection and life after death, which the people of Makkah were denying and also mocking at it at the same time. This can be understood by an example. If a person only wants to affirm the truth of the Messenger, he will say: "By God, the Messenger has come with the truth." But if some people might be denying the truth of the Messenger, he in response would rejoin, thus: “Nay, by God, the Messenger has come with the truth." It would mean: "That which you say is not true. I swear that the truth is this and this."
1. Nay, I swear by the Day of Resurrection; 2. And nay I swear by the self-reproaching person (a believer). 
The Qur'an has mentioned three kinds of human self: (1) Ammarah: the self that urges man to evil; (2) Lawwamah: the self that feels repentant at doing wrong, thinking wrong and willing wrong and reproaches man for this; and the same is called Conscience in modern terminology; and (3) Mumta'innah: the self that feels full satisfaction at following the right path and abandoning the wrong path.

In the verses 1 and 2 above. the thing for which. Allah has sworn an oath by the Resurrection (al- Qiyamah) and the self-reproaching Self, has not been mentioned, for the following sentence (verse 3) itself points it out. The oath has been sworn to stress the truth that Allah will certainly resurrect man after death and He has full power to do so. Now, the question arises: What is the relevance of swearing an oath by these two truths to this thing?

As for the Day of Resurrection, the reason of swearing by it is certainty. The whole system of the universe testifies that it is neither eternal nor everlasting. Its own nature tells that it has neither existed since eternity nor can last till eternity. Human intellect has never had any strong argument to support the baseless view that this ever changing world could have existed since ever and would last for ever. But as the knowledge of man about this world increases, it becomes more clearer for man that this workhouse of life had a beginning in time before which it was not, and necessarily it has also an end in time. For this reason, Allah has sworn an oath by Resurrection itself on the occurrence of Resurrection.
3. Does man (a disbeliever) think that We shall not assemble his bones? 4. Yes, We are Able to put together in perfect order the tips of his fingers.
Third argument has been given to prove that life after death is possible. The people of Makkah who denied it, often said: "How can it be that the people who died hundreds of thousands of years ago, whose bodies have disintegrated into particles and mixed in the dust, whose bones decayed and were scattered away by the winds, some of whom were burnt to ashes, others devoured by the beasts of prey, still others drowned in the seas and swallowed by fish, the material constituents of their bodies should re-assemble and every man should rise up as the same person that he once was ten or twenty thousand years before? Allah has given its very rational and highly forceful reply in the form of this brief question: "Does man think that We shall not be able to put his bones together?" That is, "If you had been told that the scattered particles of your body would reunite of their own accord some time in the future, and you would come back to life by yourself with this very body, you would no doubt have been justified in regarding it as impossible. But what you have actually been told is that such a thing will not happen by itself, but Allah Almighty will do this. Now, do you really think that the Creator of the universe, Whom you yourself also regard as the Creator, would be powerless to do so?" This was such a question in answer to which nobody who believed in God to be the Creator of the universe; could say, neither then nor today, that even God Himself could not do this even if He so willed. And if a disbeliever says such a thing, he can be asked: How did God in the first instance make the body in which you at present exist, by gathering its countless particles together from the air, water and earth and many other places you know not what, and how can you say that the same God cannot gather its constituent parts together once again?
5. Nay! (Man denies Resurrection and Reckoning. So) he desires to continue committing sins. 6. He asks: “When will be this Day of Resurrection?” 7. So, when the sight shall be dazed, 8. And the moon will be eclipsed,  9. And the sun and moon will be joined together (by going one into the other or folded up or deprived of their light, etc.) 10. On that Day man will say: “Where (is the refuge) to flee?” 11. No! There is no refuge! 12. Unto your Lord (Alone) will be the place of rest that Day. 13. On that Day man will be informed of what he sent forward (of his evil or good deeds), and what he left behind (of his good or evil traditions). 14. Nay! Man will be a witness against himself [as his body parts (skin, hands, legs, etc.) will speak about his deeds]. 15. Though he may put forth his excuses (to cover his evil deeds).
The painting of the picture of the Day of Resurrection in verses 5-15 above explains it all - answering all baseless questions of the pagans of Makkah who denied the end day merely to continue enjoying their leisures and pleasures, for if they believed what the Prophet of Allah was conveying to them, then they would have had o choice but to give in and brace for their dreadful ending - a day when their own body parts would bear witness to their wrong doings which would finally lead them to the blazing fires of hell.

Now here is the interruption from the subject matter, verses 16-19 below, wherein Allah takes upon Himself to make His commandments clear to His Prophet:
16. (O Prophet),11 do not stir your tongue hastily (to commit the Revelation to memory). 17. Surely it is for Us to have you commit it to memory and to recite it. 18. And so when We recite it, follow its recitation attentively; 19. then it will be for Us to explain it.
This exclusive passage here is for a reason: In the initial stage of the Prophet-hood when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) receiving the Revelations, he was afraid whether he would be able to remember exactly what the Angel Gabriel recited to him or not. Therefore, he would try to commit to memory rapidly what he heard from the Angel simultaneously. Therefore, interrupting what was being revealed, the holy Prophet was instructed to the effect: "Do not try to memorize the words of the revelation, but listen to it attentively and carefully. It is Our responsibility to enable you to remember it by heart and then to recite it accurately. Rest assured that you will not forget even a word of this Revelation, nor ever commit a mistake in reciting it!

This interruption is the same when a teacher seeing the inattentiveness of a student in the course of the lesson might interrupt the lesson to tell him, "Listen to me carefully", and then resume his speech. It may also be noted here that though it was Angel Gabriel who recited the Qur'an to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace), he recited it on behalf of Allah and not on his own behalf. That is what it means when Allah says: "When We are reciting it."

The verse 19 above "then it will be for Us to explain itis a very important verse, which proves certain fundamental concepts which, if understood well, can protect one against the errors which some people have been spreading before as they are spreading them today. The explanation is rather lengthy, but it could not have been made any shorter for every word of it has to be clearly understood:
  1. It clearly proves that the Prophet ((peace be upon him) did not receive only the revelation recorded in the Quran but he was also given such knowledge by revelation as is not recorded in it. For, if the meaning and intention of the commandments of the Quran, its allusions, its words and its specific terms, which the Prophet (peace be upon him) was made to understand had been recorded in the Quran, there was no need to say that it was also Allah’s own responsibility to explain its meaning, for it should then be there in the Quran itself. Hence, one will have to admit that the explanations which were given by Allah of the meanings of the contents of the Qur'an, were in any case in addition to the words of the Quran. 
  2. The explanation of the meaning and intention of the Quran and of its commandments that was given by Allah to the Prophet (peace be upon him), was given for the purpose that he should make the people understand the Quran by his word and deed according to it and teach them to act on its commands.  
  3. Even if a person has read the Quran only cursorily, he cannot help feeling that there are many things in it whose actual meaning and intention cannot be understood by a reader of Arabic only from the words of the Quran, nor can he know how to act on the commands enjoined in them. Take the word salat for instance. The act which has been most stressed by the Quran after the affirmation of faith is the act of salat. But no man only with the help of the dictionary can determine its actual meaning. At the most what one can understand from the way it has been repeatedly mentioned in the Quran is that this Arabic word which probably implies some special act which the believers are required to perform. But merely by reading the Quran no reader of Arabic can determine what particular act it is, and how it is to be performed. The question: If the Sender of the Quran had not appointed a teacher from Himself and explained to him the precise and exact meaning of this term and taught him the method in full detail of implementing the command of salat, could there be even two Muslims in the world who would have agreed on one method of acting on the command of salat just by reading the Quran. The reason why Muslims have been performing salat in one and the same way, generation after generation, for more than 1500 years, is that Allah had not only revealed the words of the Quran to His Messenger (peace be upon him) but had also explained to him fully the meaning of those words and the same meaning he taught to the people who accepted the Quran as the Book of Allah and him as the Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah.
  4. The means of knowing the explanation of the words of the Quran that Allah taught His Messenger (peace be upon him) and the Messenger (peace be upon him) his ummah by word and deed, is none but the Hadith and the sunnah, The Hadith implies the traditions which the earliest followers passed on to the later generations about the sayings and acts of the Messenger (peace be upon him) on sound authority, and the sunnah implies the way of life which became prevalent in the individual and collective life of the Muslims by the Messenger’s (peace be upon him) oral and practical teaching, the details of which have been bequeathed by the former to the latter generations by reliable traditions as well as seen by them practically in the life of the earliest followers. The person who refuses to acknowledge this means of knowledge, in fact, says that Allah after taking the responsibility of explaining the meaning of the Quran to His Messenger (peace be upon him) had, God forbid, failed to fulfill His promise. For this responsibility had not been taken to explain the meaning only to the Messenger in his personal capacity but for the purpose that the ummah also be made to understand the meaning of the divine Book through the agency of the Messenger (peace be upon him). And as soon as the Hadith and the sunnah are denied to be a source of law, it virtually amounts to saying that Allah has failed to carry out His responsibility. May Allah protect us froth such blasphemy. 
From verses 20-40, the main theme of the surah again takes over after a brief interruption by the parenthesis, that is verses 16-19 above.

20. Nay; the truth is that you love ardently (the good of this world) that can be obtained hastily, 21. and are oblivious of the Hereafter.
Verse 21 explains the second reason for denying the Hereafter, the first being the one mentioned in verse 5 above, (5. Nay! (Man denies Resurrection and Reckoning. So) he desires to continue committing sins.) In verse 21, it is contended that the deniers of the Hereafter are only conceder about what appears in this world. They think that they should spend all their labor and effort in attaining whatever benefits, pleasures or joys they can attain here, for if one attained this, one attained everything, no matter what evil end this might lead to in the Hereafter. Likewise, they think that the loss or trouble or grief that can afflict one here is a thing that one must avoid, no matter how great a reward it might earn one in the Hereafter if one endured it here. They are only interested in the cash bargain. For the sake of as remote a thing as the Hereafter they can neither abandon a profit nor suffer a loss today. With this mode of thought when they discuss the question of the Hereafter rationally, it is not true rationalism but a mode of thinking because of which they are resolved not to acknowledge the Hereafter in any case even if their conscience might be crying froth within that the arguments for the possible occurrence and necessity of the Hereafter given in the Quran are highly rational and their own reasoning against it is very weak.
22. Some faces on that Day will be fresh and resplendent, 23. and will be looking towards their Lord;  24. and some faces on that Day will be gloomy, 25. believing that a crushing calamity is about to strike them.
In Verse 26 below, The word Nay relates to the context, and means: You are wrong in thinking that you will be annihilated after death and you will not return to your Lord.
26. Nay; when a man's soul reaches up to the throat,
In the verse 27, the end word in Arabic is  "raqin" which may have been derived from "ruqayyah", which means resort to charming, enchanting and exercising, and also from "raqi", which means ascending. In the first case, the meaning would be: At last, when the attendants of the patient are disappointed with every remedy and cure, they will say: Let us at least call in an enchanter, who may save him. In the second case, the meaning would be: At that time the angels will say: which angels are to take his soul: the angels of punishment or the angels of mercy? In other words, at that very time the question will be decided in what capacity the dying one is entering the Hereafter; if he is a righteous person, the angels of mercy will take him, and if he is wicked, the angels of mercy will keep away and the angels of punishment will seize him and take him away.
27. and it is said: “Is there any enchanter who can step forward and help (by his chanting)?”
In the verse 29, the word "Saq" is used twice. Some commentators have taken the word saq (leg, shank) in its literal meaning, thereby implying that at death one lean leg will join the other lean leg; some others have taken it metaphorically in the sense of difficulty, vehemence and hardship so as to mean: At that time one affliction will be joined with another affliction, one of being separated from the world and all its enjoyments, and the other of being seized and taken to the Hereafter as a culprit, and this will be experienced by every disbeliever, hypocrite and sinner.
28. and he realizes that the hour of parting is come, 29. and calf is inter-twined with calf.
From verse 30-32, the text is shows its meaning openly. It is aimed at those who did not verify the truth of the message sent to them through the Messenger of Allah, nor did the pray to be forgiven.
30. On that Day you will be driven to your Lord. 31. But he did not verify the Truth, nor did he observe Prayer; 32. on the contrary, he gave the lie to the Truth and turned his back upon it, 33. then he went back to his kinsfolk, elated with pride.
And the verse 33 is elaborated by commentators as: It means that the one who was not prepared to believe in the Hereafter, heard all that has been described in the above verses; yet he persisted in his denial, and hearing these verses went back to his household, arrogantly. Mujahid, Qatadah and Ibn Zaid say that this person was Abu Jahl. The words of the verse also indicate that it was some particular person, who adopted such a conduct after having heard the above-mentioned verse of Surah Al- Qiyamah. The words, He neither affirmed the truth nor offered the Prayer, are particularly noteworthy. They clearly show that the first and necessary demand of acknowledging the truth about Allah and His Messenger and Book is that one should perform the Prayer, The occasion and time to carry out the other injunctions of the divine Shariah come later but the Prayer time approaches soon after one has affirmed the faith, and then it becomes known whether what one has affirmed with the tongue was really the voice of his heart, or it was only a puff of the wind which one sent out from his mouth in the form of words.
34. This (attitude) is worthy of you, altogether worthy; 35. again, it is worthy of you, altogether worthy.
In the verses 34 and 34, the Arabic word "aula laka" has been used which means: shame on you, may you perish, woe to you, may you hasten to your doom. However, it could also be interpretted in following words: When you have had the boldness to disown your Creator, then it only behooves a person like you to persist in the sort of conduct you display. This is the same sort of sarcastic remark as occurred in(Surah Ad-Dukhan, Ayat 49). While meting out punishment to the culprit in Hell, it will be said: Taste this, a mighty and honorable man that you are.
36. Does man think that he will be left alone, unquestioned? 37. Was he not a drop of ejaculated semen, 38. then he became a clot, and then Allah made it into a living body and proportioned its parts, 39. and then He made of him a pair, male and female? 40. Does He, then, not have the power to bring back the dead to life?
Verses 38-40 are the concluding verses of the surah. In the verse 36, the last word in Arabic is "Suda" - which often used in Arabic with regard to a camel which is wandering aimlessly, grazing at will, without there being anybody to look after him. Thus, the verse means: Does man think that he has been left to himself to wander at will as if his Creator had laid no responsibility on him, had imposed no duty on him, had forbidden nothing to him, that at no time in future he would be required to account for his deeds. This same theme has been expressed in (Surah Al-Mominoon, Chapter 24, Ayat 115) thus: On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will ask the disbelievers: Did you think that We had created you without any purpose, and that you would never be brought back to Us. At both these places the argument for the necessity of the life hereafter has been presented as a question. The question means: Do you really think that you are no more than mere animals? Don’t you see the manifest difference between yourself and the animal. The animal has been created without the power of choice and authority, but you have been blessed with the power of choice and authority; there is no question of morality about what the animal does, but your acts are necessarily characterized by good and evil. 

Verses 37-39 show the evolution of man from just a drop of semen, he became a clot, nourished in mother's womb for a specified period and then was born, raised and made pairs of male and female to continue the life process. Here the last question is then asked from those not believing in the resurrection: If Allah could make a man from a drop of sperm, do the disbelievers still think that Allah does not have the power to bring back the dead to life and question them what they did in their worldly life and why they preferred pleasures of life and ignored the truth that one day they will be raised from dead and made accountable for their deeds? 

Whenever the Prophet of Allah recited the 40th verse of this surah, it is quoted that he often said: Bala (an Arabic word meaning why not!), sometimes with Subhanaka Allahumma fa-bala (Glorified are You, O Allah, why not!) and sometimes with Subhanaka fa-bala or Subhanaka wa-bala. It has been attributed to Hadrat Abu Hurairah that Holy Prophet said: "When in Surah At-Tin, you read the verse; Alais-Allahu bi-ahkam-il-Hakimin ("Is not Allah the greatest Ruler of all?"), you should respond to it, saying: Bala wa ana `ala dhalika min-ash-shahidin (Why not? I am of those who bear witness to this"). And when you read verse: Fa-bi ayyi ,hadith-in ba `da hu yu minun ("Now, what message is there after this (Qur'an) in which they will believe?" of Surah Al-Mursalat, say: Amanna billah (We believed in Allah), Traditions on this subject have been related also by Imam Ahmad Tirmidhi, lbn al-Mundhir, lbn Marduyah, Baihaqi and Hakim. 

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrat al-Qiyāmah 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: | Main Reference Source: Tafhim al-Qur'an | 1 | 2 |
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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