Friday 4 September 2020

Sürah Al-Qāriʻah - The Striking Calamity: Exegesis 101st Chapter of Quran

Sürah 101 Al-Qāriʻah " القارعة  " is a short Meccan sürah with 11 ayahs, part of the 30th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an. The Sürah takes its name from its first word al- qari`ah القارعة  ". This is not only a name but also the title of its subject matter, for the Sürah is devoted to Resurrection.

Eminent Muslim scholar and linguist Nouman Ali Khan notes that this Sürah is part of a cluster of  four sürahs;  Zilzal, 'Aadiyat, now - al Qāriʻah, and Takathur. These sürahs have a pattern of;  Akhirah (Judgment Day), worldly life,  Akhirah (Judgment Day) again, and worldly life. This Sürah is about the Akhirah (the next life - Judgment Day). What makes the Sürahs bunch together? Surah Zilzal spoke about the last Day. Sürah 'Aadiyat talks about the reality right now - of man being ungrateful. Sürah al Qāriʻah focuses on Judgment Day again, and its cited more towards warning. So Allah talks more about Hell than Paradise. Sürah al Takathur again talks about this world, and peoples competing for this world.

As already mentioned in the summary of this sürah, rhetorically Al-Qariah has similarities with Al-Haaqqa(69). Firstly, the opening of the surah resembles Al-Haaqqa (69) which opens with the wordings. Secondly, word Al-Qāriʻah appears as a total of 5 times in Quran and out of which thrice it is mentioned in this Sürah while once it appears in Al-Haaqqa as well.

Let us now read the verse by verse translation and exegesis / tafseer in English. You may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles at the end of the post:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

اَلۡقَارِعَةُ ۙ‏ 
(101:1) The Striking Calamity

Qariah literally means the striking one. Qar is to strike one thing upon another so severely as to produce a noise. In view of this literal meaning, the word qariah is used for a dreadful disaster and a great calamity. At another place in the Quran this word has been used for a great affliction befalling a nation. In (Surah Ar-Raad, Ayat 31), it has been said: As for the disbelievers, because of their misdeeds, one affliction or the other does not cease to visit them every now and then.

But, here the word al-Qariah has been for the Resurrection and in Surah Al-Haaqqah too the Resurrection has been described by this very epithet (verse 4). One should remember that here the whole Hereafter, from the first stage of Resurrection to the last stage of judgment and meting out of rewards and punishments is being depicted together.

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi Explanation:
Among other names, this is one of the names of the Day of Judgement. It means 'the pounding one' or the 'the rapping one'. The Arabic phrase qar`a al-bab, means 'he pounded or rapped at the door'. This name indicates a special feature of the Day of Judgement: it will come as abruptly and as suddenly as an unexpected bang at the front door of a house at night which strikes panic among the dwellers inside. Like a bolt from the blue it will alight and catch everyone unaware. It will create a tremendous cataclysm in this universe and everything will be annihilated. Hidden in this name also is a warning that since no one has any foreknowledge about the time of its arrival and since it will be the biggest upheaval in the universe, it is in the well being of everyone to always remain fearful of it. The particular style adopted here has a ring of an alarm about it in order to caution everyone to be on their vigil and anticipate the arrival of this disaster. It can be said that the immense turbulence which will be created at the advent of that Day is somewhat being created before its arrival by the very clamour of its name.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual word is: اَلۡقَارِعَۃ. It is one of the names of the Day of Judgement. It will come as suddenly as a person who comes suddenly at night and just as his rap on the door wakes up every one and catches them unaware, in a similar manner, this event will cause a great commotion in the whole of the universe.
The particular style adopted here has a ring of alarm about it in order to caution everyone to be on a vigil and anticipate the arrival of this disaster. It can be said that the immense turbulence which will be created at the advent of that Day is somewhat being created before its arrival by the very clamour of its name. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 512)
This style is meant to express sorrow and yearning. The implied meaning is: “Would that you knew! Alas, a pity; what will you know.”

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The Day of Noise and Clamour is the Day of Judgment, when the whole of the present order of things will be overthrown with a tremendous convulsion. All our present landmarks will be lost. It will be a stunning experience to begin with, but it will inaugurate a new world of true and permanent values, in which every human deed will have its true and just consequences, as if weighed in the balance. See verses 6-11 below.

مَا الۡقَارِعَةُ​ ۚ‏ 
(101:2) What is the Calamity?

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi Explanation:
This question serves to magnify the severity of the alarm, warning those who regard the Day of Judgement as an ordinary affair and have become indifferent to its implications. It cautions and urges them to seriously think about something which is bound to happen and to prepare themselves to negotiate its aftermath.

وَمَاۤ اَدۡرٰٮكَ مَا الۡقَارِعَةُ ؕ‏ 
(101:3) And what do you know what the Calamity is?

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi Explanation:
This special Qur'anic style, often used elsewhere, is meant to lament and deplore the foolishness of the addressees about such a significant event. It is in the form of an inquiry about their estimation of the severity of a calamity which will suddenly waylay them. It urges them to reflect on the dreadful fate of those who are ridiculing it, even after being warned about it time and again.

يَوۡمَ يَكُوۡنُ النَّاسُ كَالۡفَرَاشِ الۡمَبۡثُوۡثِۙ‏ 
(101:4) On that Day human beings shall be like scattered moths,

Ibn Kathir Explanation:
meaning, in their scattering, their dividing, their coming and their going, all due to being bewildered at what is happening to them, they will be like scattered moths. This is like Allah's statement, " كَأَنَّهُمْ جَرَادٌ مُّنتَشِرٌ " (As if they were locusts spread abroad.) (54:7)

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi Explanation:
This is a graphic description of the situation which will arise on that day, when people will emerge from their graves like scattered moths. Everyone will stand alone to reckon with the results of his deeds. No one will have his family or clan about him nor any of his tribesmen or comrades to defend him. Even other deities he associated with God and other intercessors on whom he was depending upon will not be present to lessen his burdens. The Qur'an explicitly says:

On that day, men will emerge from their graves alone so that their deeds can be shown to them. (99:6)

So when the trumpet is sounded, the blood relations between them will be no more on that day, nor will they be able to ask for each other's help. And only those whose scales of good deeds are heavy shall attain salvation and whose scales are light shall be the ones who have incurred a loss and shall forever abide in Hell. (23:101-103)

On that day no friend will inquire about his friend though they will be shown to each other. The sinner will wish to give away his children, his wife, his brother and his kinsfolk who gave him shelter, and all the people of the earth, as ransom if this could deliver him. (70:10-14)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Moths are frail light things. To see them scattered about in a violent storm gives some idea of the confusion, distress, and helplessness in which men will be at first overwhelmed on the Day of Account. Old memories will be like a book almost blotted out. New hopes will be vague in a new world just rising on the horizon. But it will be a perfectly just world, and no good action will be lost and no evil one but will have its compensating value estimated.

وَتَكُوۡنُ الۡجِبَالُ كَالۡعِهۡنِ الۡمَنۡفُوۡشِؕ‏ 
(101:5) and the mountains shall be like fluffs of carded wool in varying colours.

This will be the first stage of Resurrection, when in consequence of the great disaster the whole of the present order of the world will be overthrown; the people will then be running about in confusion and bewilderment like so many scattered moths around a light; and the mountains will be flying about like carded wool of different colors. The mountains have been compared to wool of different colors because of the existence of a variety of colors in them.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The mountains are solid things, which seem as if nothing could move them. But in that tremendous cataclysm they will be scattered about like flakes of leased or carded wool. This is a metaphor to show that what we consider very substantial in this life will be as an airy nothing in the next world.

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi Explanation:
This verse means that on that day like tribal and family support and backing, the refuge and shelter provided by buildings, forts, citadels and other similar structures will be no more. Mountains will be rendered into tufts of carded wool. This simile vividly portrays the fact that just as in the case of carded wool each fibre is completely set asunder, so shall be each particle of a mountain. The Arabic word `ihn is used for that wool which after having being carded and given colour has become ready for weaving.

Mountains are specially mentioned here because at that time those who were denying the Day of Reckoning regarded them as eternally indestructible. They used to mockingly ask the Prophet (sws) whether such huge structures would be destroyed on that day. This question has been quoted elsewhere in the Qur'an and has been answered here in this verse.

Ibn Kathir Explanation:
meaning, they will become like carded wool that has began to wear out (fade away) and be torn apart. Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, `Ata' Al-Khurasani, Ad-Dahhak and As-Suddi have all said, " كَالْعِهْنِ " (like wool (`Ihn). ) "Woolen.'' Then Allah informs about the results received by those who performed the deeds, and the honor and disgrace they will experience based upon their deeds. He says:

فَاَمَّا مَنۡ ثَقُلَتۡ مَوَازِيۡنُهٗ ۙ‏ 
(101:6) Then he whose scales weigh heavier

From here begins description of the second stage of Resurrection when after having been resurrected men will appear in the court of God.

Ibn Kathir Explanation:
meaning, his good deeds are more than his bad deeds.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The Good Deeds will be weighed and appraised. This appraisement will be of the nicest and justest kind: for it will take into account motives, temptations, provocations, surrounding conditions, antecedents, subsequent amends, and all possible connected circumstances. Against them, presumably, will be deeds of the opposite kind, appraised in the same way. If the good predominates, the judgment will be in the man's favour, and he will be ushered into a life of good pleasure and satisfaction. This will of course be on another plane.

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi Explanation (Verses 6-7):
The only things considered worthwhile on that day will be a man's good deeds. Only those whose good deeds out number their evil ones will attain salvation and all others will be doomed forever. A special Balance of Justice meant only to weigh the deeds of men, will be erected on that day, as mentioned in the Qur'an:

And for the Day of Judgement, We will set up a special Balance of Justice (21:47)

A special characteristic of this Balance as mentioned in Surah `Araf is that only truth (good deeds) will be able to tilt it. Evil (bad deeds) will have no weight in its scales:

On that day, the truth only will have weight. So, those whose scales are heavy shall attain salvation, and those whose scales are light shall be the ones who have incurred a loss because they wronged their souls by denying Our revelations. (7:8-9)

The relative singular pronoun (man) as used in the verse above denotes plurality. By saying that such people shall dwell in bliss is meant that not only will they be granted whatever they wish for but also what they cannot even imagine.

فَهُوَ فِىۡ عِيۡشَةٍ رَّاضِيَةٍ ؕ‏ 
(101:7) shall have a blissful life;

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
But perhaps the Bliss is not of the same grade for all men. In every case it is bliss, but bliss suited to the particular nature of the individual concerned.

وَاَمَّا مَنۡ خَفَّتۡ مَوَازِيۡنُهٗ ۙ‏ 
(101:8) but he whose scales weigh lighter,

The word mawazin in the original can be plural of mauzun as well as, of mizan. In the first case, mawazin would imply the deeds which might have some weight in the sight of Allah and be, thus, worthy of appreciation. In the second case, mawazin would imply scales of a balance. In the first case, the meaning of the mawazin’s being heavier or lighter is that the good deeds will be heavy or light as against the evil deeds, for in the sight of Allah only good deeds have any weight and worth. In the second case. the meaning of the mawazin’s being heavy is that the scale of the good deeds will be heavier than the scale of evil deeds, in Allah Almighty’s Balance of Justice, and their being light means that the scale of good deeds will be lighter than the scale of evil deeds. Besides, in Arabic idiom the word mizan is also used for weight (wazan); accordingly, the weight's being heavy or light implies the good deeds being heavy or light. In any case, whether mawazin is taken in the meaning of mauzun or of mizan, or of wazan, the intention remains the same, which is that the basis of judgment in the divine court will be whether the provision of the deeds that a man has brought is weighty or weightless, or whether his good deeds are heavier than his evil deeds or lighter. This theme has occurred at several places in the Quran which explains the full meaning.

In Surah Al-Aaraf it has been said: On that Day the weight will be identical with the truth: accordingly, those whose scales, will be heavy will alone come out successful; and those whose scales are light will be the ones who will have incurred loss upon themselves. (verses 8-9).

In Surah Al-Kahf, it was said: O Prophet, say to them: Should we tell you who are the most un-successful people and miserable failures in regard to their deeds? They are those whose all endeavors in the worldly life had gone astray from the right way, but they were under the delusion that everything they were doing, was rightly directed. These are the people who rejected the revelations of their Lord and did not believe that they would ever go before Him. Therefore, all their deeds were lost, for We will assign no weight to them on the Day of Resurrection. (verses 103-105).

In Surah Al-Anbiya: On the Day of Resurrection, We will set up just and accurate balances so that no one will be wronged in the least in any way; even if it be an act equal in weight to a grain of mustard seed, We will bring it forth (to be weighed) and We suffice for reckoning. (verse 47). These verses show that kufr and denial of the truth is in itself such a stupendous evil that it will certainly lower the scale of evils, and there will be no good act of the disbelievers, which may have any weight in the scale of good deeds so that its scale of goodness may become heavy. However, in the scales of the believer there will be the weight of faith as well as the weight of the good deeds which he performed in the world. On the other hand, every evil done by him will be placed in the scale of evil deeds and then it will be seen whether his scale of the good deeds is heavier or his scale of the evil deeds.

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi Explanation (verses 8-11):
This is a description of the fate of those whose evil deeds have no weight in the Balance of Justice. Whatever good deeds they may have brought with them will be rendered useless due to their ill-intentions and heretical beliefs. The scorching pit of Hell will be their eternal abode.

The Arabic word umm means 'mother' but here it very aptly denotes a resort or a dwelling.

The hay at the end of the word (mahiyah) is to maintain the rhyme of the verses by taking into consideration the conventional pause at the end of a verse.

فَاُمُّهٗ هَاوِيَةٌ ؕ‏ 
(101:9) His refuge will be an abyss.

The words in the original are: ummu hu hawiyah: his mother will be hawiyah. Hawiyah is from hawa, which means to fall from a height to a depth, and hawiyah is the deep pit into which something falls. Hell has been called Hawiyah because it will be very deep and the culprits will be thrown into it from the height. As for the words, his mother will be Hawiyah, they mean: Just as the mother’s lap is the child’s abode, so Hell will be the culprits’ only abode in the Hereafter.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Just as grades of bliss are indicated for the righteous, so apparently we are to understand grades of punishment suited to the sins of the individual sinners concerned.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Lit., "his mother [i.e., goal] will be an abyss", sc., of suffering and despair. The term "mother" (umm) is used idiomatically to denote something that embraces or enfolds.

Ibn Kathir Explanation:
It has been said that this means he will be falling and tumbling headfirst into the fire of Hell, and the expression `his mother' has been used to refer to his brain (as it is the mother of his head). A statement similar to this has been reported from Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah, Abu Salih and Qatadah. Qatadah said, "He will fall into the Hellfire on his head.'' Abu Salih made a similar statement when he said, "They will fall into the Fire on their heads.'' It has also been said that it means his mother that he will return to and end up with in the Hereafter will be Hawiyah, which is one of the names of the Hellfire. Ibn Jarir said, "Al-Hawiyah is only called his mother because he will have no other abode except for it.'' Ibn Zayd said, "Al-Hawiyah is the Fire, and it will be his mother and his abode to which he will return, and where he will be settled.'' Then he recited the Ayah, "وَمَأْوَاهُمُ النَّارُ " (Their abode will be the Fire.) (3:151) Ibn Abi Hatim said that it has been narrated from Qatadah that he said, "It is the Fire, and it is their abode.'' 

Thus, Allah says in explaining the meaning of Al-Hawiyah " هَاوِيَةٌ ",

وَمَاۤ اَدۡرٰٮكَ مَا هِيَهۡ ؕ‏ 
(101:10) And what do you know what that is?

نَارٌ حَامِيَةٌ
(101:11) A Blazing Fire!

That is, it will not merely be a deep pit but will also be full of raging fire.

Ibn Kathir Explanation:
meaning, extreme heat. It is a heat that is accompanied by a strong flame and fire. It is narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said,
"نَارُ بَنِي آدَمَ الَّتِي تُوقِدُونَ، جُزْءٌ مِنْ سَبْعِينَ جُزْءًا مِنْ نَارِ جَهَنَّم"
(The fire of the Children of Adam that you all kindle is one part of the seventy parts of the fire of Hell.) 

They (the Companions) said, "O Messenger of Allah! Isn't it sufficient'' He replied,
"إِنَّهَا فُضِّلَتْ عَلَيْهَا بِتِسْعَةٍ وَسِتِّينَ جُزْءًا"
(It is more than it by sixty-nine times.) This has been recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim. In some of the wordings he stated,
"إِنَّهَا فُضِّلَتْ عَلَيْهَا بِتِسْعَةٍ وَسِتِّينَ جُزْءًا، كُلُّهُنَّ مِثْلُ حَرِّهَا"
(It is more than it by sixty-nine times, each of them is like the heat of it.) It has been narrated in a Hadith that Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said,
"إِنَّ أَهْوَنَ أَهْلِ النَّارِ عَذَابًا مَنْ لَهُ نَعْلَانِ، يَغْلِي مِنْهُمَا دِمَاغُه"
(Verily, the person who will receive the lightest torment of the people of the Hellfire will be a man who will have two sandals that will cause his brain to boil. )'' 

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Lit., "hot fire", the adjective meant to stress the essential quality of fire. It should be borne in mind that all Qur'anic descriptions of the sinner's suffering in the hereafter are metaphors or allegories relating to situations and conditions which can be understood only by means of comparisons with physical phenomena lying within the range of human experience.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sürah Al-Qāriʻah with English subtitles:

You may refer to our Reference Page "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, explanation and exegesis of other chapters of the Qur'an.

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 1112 | 13 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  [2]
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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