Sunday 12 June 2022

Surah Al Muzzammil (The Enshrouded One): Tafsir / exegesis 73rd Chapter of Qur'an

Sūrah Al-Muzzammil " المزمل " ("The Enshrouded One”, “Bundled Up”, “Enfolded”) is the seventy-third chapter of the Qur'an, containing 20 verses (āyāt) and two Ruku, part of the 29th Juz'. The Sūrah has been so designated after the word al-muzzammil occurring in the very first verse. This is only a name and not a title of its subject matter.

The importance of this surah is related to the Mid night prayer called "Tahajjud" is one of the most liked form of worship by Allah the Almighty and that is why in this Sūrah al-Muzzammil, the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) has been exclusively instructed to observe the mid night prayer regularly. Its importance is due to the fact that one has to break one's sleep at night, preferably after midnight, and offer Tahajjud prayer before the time for pre-dawn prayer commences.

The Sūrah has been divided into two Ruku were revealed in two separate periods as under:
  • Ruku One:  Verses 1-19: The first section (vv. 1-19) is unanimously a Makki Revelation, and this is supported both by its subject matter and by the traditions of the Hadith. As for the question, in which specific period of the life at Makkah it was revealed, it is not answered by the tradition, but the internal evidence of the subject matter of this section helps to determine the period of its revelation. 
  • First, in it the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) has been instructed to the effect: "Arise during the night and worship Allah so that you may develop the capability to shoulder the heavy burden of Prophethood and to discharge its responsibilities." This shows that this Command must have been given in the earliest period of the Prophethood when training was being imparted to the Holy prophet by Allah for this office.
  • Secondly, a Command has been given in it that the Qur'an be recited in, the Tahajjud Prayer for half the night, or thereabout. This Command by itself points out that by that time at least so much of the Qur'an had been revealed as could be recited for that long.
  • Thirdly, in this section the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) has been exhorted to have patience at the excesses being committed by his opponents, and the disbelievers of Makkah have been threatened with the torment. This shows that this section was revealed at a time when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) had openly started preaching Islam and the opposition to him at Makkah had grown active and strong.
  • Ruku Two: Verse 20: About the second section (v. 20) although many of the commentators have expressed the opinion that this too was sent down at Makkah, yet some other commentators regard it as a Madani Revelation, and this same opinion is confirmed by the subject matter of this section. For it mentions fighting in the way of Allah, and obviously, there could be no question of it at Makkah; it also contains the Command to pay the obligatory zakat, and it is fully confirmed that the zakat at a specific rate and with an exemption limit (nisab) was enjoined at Madinah.
We have already presented the overview / summary of the Sūrah, which also includes its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles. Let us now read the verse by verse translation and exegesis / tafsir in English. You may also listen to eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan explaining the Surah in English at the end of this post.

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

يٰۤاَيُّهَا الۡمُزَّمِّلُۙ‏ 
(73:1) O you who wraps himself [in clothing]!
To address the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) with these words and then to command him to rise and keep standing in the Prayer at night, shows that at the tune he either lay asleep, or had wrapped himself up in a sheet in order to go to sleep. Here, to address him with "O you who sleeps covered up" instead of with "O Prophet, or O Messenger", is a fine way of address, which by itself gives the meaning: "Gone is the time when you used to enjoy peaceful sleep at will; now you lie under the burden of a great mission, whose demands and duties are different as well as onerous. 

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
The expression muzzammil has a meaning similar to that of Muddaththir (Surah 74), which occurs at the beginning of the next surah: namely, "one who is covered [with anything]", "enwrapped" or "enfolded [in anything]"; and, like that other expression, it may be understood in a concrete, literal sense - i.e., "wrapped up in a cloak" or "blanket" - as well as metaphorically, i.e., "wrapped up in sleep" or even "wrapped up in oneself". Hence, the commentators differ widely in their interpretations of the above apostrophe, some of them preferring the literal connotation, others the metaphorical; but there is no doubt that irrespective of the linguistic sense in which the address "O thou enwrapped one" is understood, it implies a call to heightened consciousness and deeper spiritual awareness on the part of the Prophet.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation
Muzzammil: Some Commentators understand by this, "properly dressed for prayer", or "folded in a sheet, as one renouncing the vanities of this world. Muzzammil is one of the titles of our holy Prophet. But there is a deeper meaning in this and the address "Thou wrapped up" of the next Sura. Human nature requires warm garments and wrappings to protect the body from cold or heat or rain. But in the spiritual world these wrappings are useless: the soul must stand bare and open before Allah, in the silence of the night, but not too austerely, as the following verses show.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual word is: مُزَّمِّل. It is in fact مُتَزَمِّل and the letterت  has been assimilated into ز. Similar is the case with the word مُدَّثِّر of the next sūrah. This picture of the Prophet (sws) vividly portrays his state after he received a cold response from his people. In such a situation, a person quite naturally relishes seclusion and in this state of solitude, his shawl is his greatest refuge to which he retreats to detach himself from the rest of the world. 

Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:
… Such generally is the situation of a person who is worried because of the circumstances he is facing and is also disgruntled with the people around him. The Prophet (sws) was warning people of the punishment which was looming over them; however, these people were so indifferent and averse to this message that they would pounce on the Prophet (sws) and regard his sympathy and anxiety to be mere madness, what to speak of listening to this message. In such circumstances, it was but natural for the Prophet (sws) to remain worried and thoughtful, and in this state of anxiety, a person’s greatest sympathizer is his shawl, as indicated earlier. He can just wrap himself in it whenever he wants and dissociate from his fellow brethren and associate more closely with his Creator. It also needs to be kept in consideration that a shawl was an essential part of the Arabian dress of those times, and the Prophet (sws) would also keep a shawl with him. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 9, 22)
قُمِ الَّيۡلَ اِلَّا قَلِيۡلًا ۙ‏ 
(73:2) Arise [to pray] the night, except for a little;
This can have two meanings:
  • (1) "Pass the night standing up in the Prayer and spend only a little of it in sleep"; and
  • (2)"there is no demand from you to pass the whole night in the Prayer, but have rest as well and spend a little part of the night in worship too."
But in view of the theme that follows the first meaning seems to be more relevant, and the same is supported by Surah Ad-Dahr: 26, in which it has been said: "Prostrate yourself before Him in the night and glorify Him during the long hours of night." 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation
The Prophet was prone to austerities in the cave of Hiraa, both before and after he received his mission, spending days and nights in prayer and contemplation. Midnight and after-midnight prayers have technically received the name of Tahajjud. See also verse 20 below; also xvii. 79.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Night here refers to its last half in which a person gets up after sleeping for sometime. The Qur’ān has explained this in the succeeding verses. Getting up at that time is a difficult proposition. One can also be late in this; for this reason the time for this has been extended. However, it is evident that standing for the whole of the last half is the most rewarding of all.

نِّصۡفَهٗۤ اَوِ انْقُصۡ مِنۡهُ قَلِيۡلًا ۙ‏ 
(73:3) Half of it - or subtract from it a little;

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir
(نِّصْفَهُ Half of it) means, instead of the whole night. (أَوِ انقُصْ مِنْهُ قَلِيلاًأَوْ زِدْ عَلَيْهِ A little less than that, or a little more.) meaning, `We have commanded you to stand in prayer for half of the night, either a little more than it or a little less. There is no hardship on you concerning that (slight increase or decrease).

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Thus Zamakhshari, relating the phrase illa qalilan ("all but a small part" to the subsequent word nisfahu ("one-half thereof", i.e., of the night).

اَوۡ زِدۡ عَلَيۡهِ وَرَتِّلِ الۡقُرۡاٰنَ تَرۡتِيۡلًا ؕ‏ 
(73:4) Or add to it, and recite the Qur'an with measured recitation.
( or add to it a little ) This is an explanation of the duration of time commanded to be spent in worship. In it the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was given the option to spend half of the night in the Prayer, or a little less than that, or a little more than that. But the style shows that half the night has been regarded as preferable, for the measure is the same, which may be decreased or increased, as the people may like and choose. 

"Recite the Qur'an ......": Do not recite it quickly and in haste, but slowly and distinctly: pause at every verse so that the mind understands the meaning and purport of Divine Revelation well and takes effect from it. if it contains the mention of Allah's Being and Attributes, it may awe-inspire the heart with His glory and majesty; if it expresses His mercy, the heart may be filled with feelings of gratitude to Him; if it mentions His wrath and His punishment, the heart may be overwhelmed by fear of Him; if it enjoins something or forbids something, one may understand what has been enjoined and what has been forbidden. In short, the recital does not only consist in uttering the words with the tongue, but it should involve thoughtful consideration of the meaning. 
When Hadrat Anas was asked about the Holy Prophet's method of reciting the Qur'an, he replied: The Holy Messenger stretched the words when reciting them. For example, when he recited Bismillah ir-Rahman it-Rahim he would stretch and prolong the sound of Allah, Rahman and Rahim (Bukhari). When Hadrat Umm Salamah was asked the same question, she replied that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) recited every verse separately and distinctly and observed a pause at the end of every verse. For instance, he recited AI-hamdu-lillah-i Rabb-il'alamin, and paused, then recited ar-Rahman ir-Rahim, and paused, and then recited Malik-i yaum id-di'n. "(Musnad Ahmad, Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi). In another tradition, Hadrat Umm Salamah has stated that the Holy Prophet recited each word distinctly and clearly. (Tirmidhi, Nasa'i). Hadrat Hudhaifah bin Yaman says: "Once I stood beside the Holy Prophet in the Night Prayer to see how he recited the Qur'an. I noticed that he glorified Allah where He should be glorified, invoked and supplicated Allah where He should be invoked and supplicated, and sought refuge of Allah where His refuge should be sought." (Muslim, Nasa'i). Hadrat Abu Dharr has stated that once during the Night Prayer when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) came to the sentence: In to adhdhib-hmn ... (If You punish them, then they are Your servants; and if You forgive them, then You are Almighty, All-Wise), he went on repeating it over and over again until it became dawn." (Musnad Ahmad, Bukhari). 
Muhammad Asad Explanation:
This, I believe, is the closest possible rendering of the phrase rattil al-qur'ana tartilan. The term tarts primarily denotes "the putting [of something] together distinctly, in a well-arranged manner, and without any haste" (Jawhari, Baydawi; also Lisan al-'Arab, Qamus). When applied to the recitation of a text, it signifies a calm, measured utterance with thoughtful consideration of the meaning to be brought out. A somewhat different significance attaches to a variant of this phrase in 25:32 , applying to the manner in which the Qur'an was revealed.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation
At this time there was only S. xcvi., S. lxviii, and possibly S. lxxiv, and the opening Sura (Al-Hamd). For us, now, with the whole of the Qur'an before us, the injunction is specially necessary. The words of the Qur'an must not be read hastily, merely to get through so much reading. They must be studied, and their deep meaning pondered over. They are themselves so beautiful that they must be lovingly pronounced in rhythmic tones.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The details of this recital mentioned in various narratives show that the Prophet (sws) used to recite the Qur’ān slowly and distinctly in a melodic voice. He would pause at the end of the verses to respond to their message: at verses which expressed the wrath of God, he would seek his refuge and at verses which expressed God’s mercy and providence, he would express his gratitude. At verses which directed him to bow down before the Almighty, he would prostrate himself before Him.

اِنَّا سَنُلۡقِىۡ عَلَيۡكَ قَوۡلًا ثَقِيۡلًا‏ 
(73:5) Indeed, We will cast upon you a heavy word.
That is, "You are being commanded to stand up in the Night Prayer because We are going to send down on you a weighty word, to bear the burden of which you must develop necessary power in yourself, and you can develop this power only by abandoning your ease and comfort of the night and by standing up in the Prayer and passing half the night or thereabout in the worship of your Lord. "The Qur'an has been called a weighty Word also for the reason that acting on its commands, demonstrating its teaching practically, extending its invitation in the face of the whole world, and bringing about a revolution in the entire system of belief and thought, morals and manners, civilization and social life, according to it, is indeed the weightiest task any human being ever has been charged with: It has been called a weighty Word also because bearing the burden of its revelation was a difficult and heavy duty. Hadrat Zaid bin Thabit says: "Once Revelation came down upon the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) in a state when he was resting his head upon my knee. I felt such a pressure of the weight on my knee that I thought it would break." Hadrat `A`ishah says: "I have seen the state of the Holy Prophet's receiving Revelation during intense cold, drops of perspiration started falling from his forehead." (Bukhari, Muslim, Malik, Tirmidhi, Nasa'i): In another tradition Hadrat `A`ishah has stated: "Whenever Revelation came down on the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) while he was riding on his she-camel, the she-camel would be forced to rest her chest on the ground and could not move until the Revelation was over." (Musnad Ahmad. Hakim, Ibn Jarir). 

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The burden refers to the second phase of his mission (indhār-i ‘ām: the phase of open warning) in Makkah. It is called a heavy word because from this open warning sprouted the later phases of migration and acquittal as well as armed conflict of this mission. The intensity of these phases is known to every student of the Prophet’s (sws) history and of those of his companions.

اِنَّ نَاشِئَةَ الَّيۡلِ هِىَ اَشَدُّ وَطۡـاً وَّاَقۡوَمُ قِيۡلًا ؕ‏ 
(73:6) Indeed, the hours of the night are more effective for concurrence [of heart and tongue] and more suitable for words.
( Surely getting up at night ) About the meaning of the word nashi'at al-lail, as used in the original, the commentators and lexicographers have expressed four different viewpoints:
  • (1) That nashi'at implies the person himself who rises at night;
  • (2) that it implies the hours of night;
  • (3) that it means the rising by night; and
  • (4) that it does not only apply to the rising in the night but rising after having had some sleep,
  • Hadrat `A`ishah and Mujahid have adopted this fourth viewpoint. 
( the best means of subduing the self ) The word ashaddu wat'an as used in the Text is so vast in meaning that it cannot be explained in any one sentence. Its one meaning is: As the rising for worship by night and standing up for a long tithe in the Prayer is against human nature and the self of man seeks ease and comfort at that time. this act is an exercise which is most effective in controlling and disciplining the self. The person who governs himself by this method and gains dominance over his body and mind becomes able to use his power in the way of God, can work more efficiently and firmly to make the message of true Faith prevail in the world. The second meaning is: This is a very effective means of producing harmony and concord between the heart and the tongue, for during these hours of the night none else intervenes between the servant and his God, and whatever man utters with his tongue in this state, is the very voice of his heart. The third meaning is: This is a very efficacious means of bringing about conformity between the exterior and the interior of man, , for the person who in the solitude of the night would abandon his comfort and ease and arise for worship, would do so only out of sincerity: there can be no tinge of display and hypocrisy in this. The fourth meaning is: As this worship is harder on man than the worship of the daytime, it develops steadfastness in him: he is enabled to walk in the path of God more firmly and can face and endure the hardships of that way with greater constancy and determination. 

( and is more suitable for uprightness in speech ) Literally: "Makes the speech most upright and sound." But the purport is to say that at that time man can read the Qur'an with greater peace of mind, attention and understanding. lbn `Abbas has explained it thus: "That it is the most suitable time for man to ponder over the Qur'an well.” (Abu Da'ud). 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation
For contemplation, prayer, and praise, what time can be so suitable as the night, when calm and silence prevail, the voices of the market-place are still, and the silent stars pour forth their eloquence to the discerning soul.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual words اَشَدُّ وَطْاً mean strongly grounding the feet. However, it is evident that they refer to the inner state of a person, and have been translated while keeping this in consideration. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:
… It is indeed very difficult to get up at this time since one’s sleep is dearest to one at this time; however, if a person is able to overcome this trial, then no time is more favourable for him to remember God and to understand His Book. A person who is blessed by the Almighty with the urge to get up at this blessed time is indeed very fortunate: firstly, he finds in himself the power and strength to overcome his base desires which become instrumental in making him capable of reforming and rehabilitating his soul; secondly, the Almighty Who is the Creator of night and day has reserved this time for sending down His blessings and favours and the doors to these blessings are opened for those who value it and come to the presence of God to ask for His mercy and blessings. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 9, 25)
(Correctness of speech) Ie., its correctness in being most effective in understanding something and in making others understand it. It is evident from this that where this recital of the Qur’ān in the tahajjud prayer can be immensely beneficial to discipline one’s own soul, it can also be very useful in vitalizing all those who may happen to listen to it at this time of the night.

اِنَّ لَـكَ فِى النَّهَارِ سَبۡحًا طَوِيۡلًا ؕ‏ 
(73:7) Indeed, for you by day is prolonged occupation.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir
(Verily, for you in the day is lengthy Sabh.) Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah and "Ata' bin Abi Muslim, all said, "Leisure time and sleep.'' Abu Al-`Aliyah, Mujahid, Abu Malik, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and Sufyan Ath-Thawri, all said, "A long amount of leisure time.'' Qatadah said, "Leisure, aspirations and activities.'' 

`Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said concerning the statement, (Verily, for you in the day is lengthy Sabh.) "This means for your needs. Therefore, leave the night open for your religious devotion. Allah said this when the (voluntary) night prayer was obligatory. Then, Allah blessed His servants, lightened the matter and removed its obligation.''

Then he recited, (Stand (to pray) all night, except a little.) to the end of the Ayah, then he recited, (Verily, your Lord knows that you do stand less than two- thirds of the night, or half of it.) (73:20) until he reached, (So recite of it what is easy.) (73:20) 

and Allah says, (And Tahajjud in some parts of the night (also offer the Salah with it), as an additional prayer for you. It may be that your Lord will raise you to Maqam Mahmud.) (17:79) 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation
A prophet of Allah, as a man, a member of a family, or a citizen, has many ordinary duties to perform; and his work may be made difficult and irksome in protecting those who listen to his preaching and are therefore molested and persecuted by the world. But while discharging all his ordinary duties, he should work as in the presence of Allah, and in all matters and at all times retain the sense of Allah's nearness. His work may be on earth, but his heart is in Heaven.

وَاذۡكُرِ اسۡمَ رَبِّكَ وَتَبَتَّلۡ اِلَيۡهِ تَبۡتِيۡلًا ؕ‏ 
(73:8) And remember the name of your Lord and devote yourself to Him with [complete] devotion.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir
(And remember the Name of your Lord and (Tabattal) devote yourself to Him with complete devotion.) meaning, make much remembrance (Dhikr) of Him, devote yourself to Him and spend your time worshipping Him when you have completed your occupations and what you need from the affairs of your worldly matters. 
This is as Allah says, (So when you have finished (your occupation), devote yourself for Allah's worship.) (94:7) meaning, when you have completed your tasks and occupations, then busy yourself in His obedience and His worship so that you will have free time for leisure. 
The meaning of this was said by Ibn Zayd, or close to its meaning. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Abu Salih, `Atiyah, Ad-Dahhak and As-Suddi, all said, (And (Tabattal) devote yourself to Him with complete devotion.) "This means, make your worship solely for Him alone.'' Al-Hasan said, "Strive and devote yourself to Him.'' Ibn Jarir said, "A devout worshipper is called Mutabattil. An example of this is the reported Hadith that he (the Prophet ) forbade At-Tabattul, which means total devotion to worship while avoiding getting married.''

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Ie., the Prophet (sws) must always bear in mind God’s attributes while remembering Him in abundance in his heart and submerging his tongue in celebrating His praises and extolling Him. This is because all the names of God actually signify His attributes. These attributes are the basis of our faith and religion. It is this remembrance of God by him which will protect his faith and determination to meet the demands of his exacting mission. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:
… Just as for the material life of man, breathing is essential, for his spiritual life, remembering God is essential. The body dies if breathing stops. Similarly, if a person becomes indifferent to God, his soul becomes lifeless. It is God’s remembrance that keeps it fresh and alive, and the life of the heart is real life. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 9, 27)
(and devote yourself to Him with exclusive devotion) Ie., he should disassociate himself from everything and devote all his attention to God alone and spend his time in remembering Him. Evident from this is the importance of the tahajjud prayer, the recital of the Qur’ān in it and remembering God in order to acquire steadfastness and perseverance in the effort to preach the religion of God.

رَبُّ الۡمَشۡرِقِ وَالۡمَغۡرِبِ لَاۤ اِلٰهَ اِلَّا هُوَ فَاتَّخِذۡهُ وَكِيۡلًا‏  
(73:9)[He is] the Lord of the East and the West; there is no deity except Him, so take Him as Disposer of [your] affairs,
" Wakil is a person in whom one has complete faith; so much so that one can entrust all one's affairs to him with full satisfaction of the heart. Thus, the verse means: "Do not feel distressed at the hardships that you are experiencing at the storm of opposition that has been provoked by your invitation to we Faith. Your Lord is He Who is the Owner of the East and the West, (i.e. of the whole universe) besides Whom no one else possesses the powers of Godhead. Entrust your affair to Him and be satisfied that He will fight your case, He will deal with your opponents, and He will look after all your interests well. " 

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
For this rendering of the term wakil, see surah {17:3} reproduced as under:
Ar-rizq ("provision of sustenance") applies to all that may be of benefit to man, whether it be concrete (like food, property, offspring, etc.) or abstract (like knowledge, piety, etc.). The "spending on others" is mentioned here in one breath with God-consciousness and prayer because it is precisely in such selfless acts that true piety comes to its full fruition. It should be borne in mind that the verb anfaqa (lit., "he spent") is always used in the Qur'an to denote spending freely on, or as a gift to, others, whatever the motive may be.
Yusuf Ali  Explanation
Allah is Lord of all places. He rules the world. Therefore be not discouraged by the plots or enmity of wicked men. Leave all things to Allah; trust Him; He is just and will do justice. Only turn away from the unjust, but in a worthy and noble way; i.e., to show them clearly that you do not fear them, but that you leave all affairs in Allah's hands. If we divide the world into hemispheres from north to south, "East and West" will cover all directions.

وَاصۡبِرۡ عَلٰى مَا يَقُوۡلُوۡنَ وَاهۡجُرۡهُمۡ هَجۡرًا جَمِيۡلًا‏ 
(73:10) And be patient over what they say and avoid them with gracious avoidance.
"Depart from them" does not mean "Break off all ties with them and stop preaching to them", but it means; "Do not have intimate and friendly relations with them: disregard their foolish behavior and their nonsense." However, you should do so without showing any grief, anger or temper but gracefully like a noble person, who would disregard the abusive remarks of a mean person without minding them at all. This should not create the misunderstanding that the Holy Prophet's conduct was any different from it; therefore, Allah gave him this instruction. As a matter of fact, the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was already following this very mode of conduct; this instruction was given in the Qur'an so as to tell the disbelievers: "It is not due to any weakness on the part of the Prophet that he is not responding to what you are saying against him, but Allah Himself has taught His Messenger to adopt this noble way of conduct in response to your foolish behavior. "  

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Ie., he should ignore their excesses. It may well be that his ignoring them with grace become a source of change in them.

وَذَرۡنِىۡ وَالۡمُكَذِّبِيۡنَ اُولِى النَّعۡمَةِ وَمَهِّلۡهُمۡ قَلِيۡلًا‏  
(73:11) And leave Me with [the matter of] the deniers, those of ease [in life], and allow them respite a little.
These words clearly contain the sense that the people who were actually denying the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) in Makkah and were inciting the common people to oppose and resist him by stirring up prejudices and by deceit and fraud were the well-to-do, prosperous and affluent people, for it was their interests, which were being hit by Islam's message of reform. The Qur'an tells us that this was not peculiar only to the Holy Prophet's case but in every age this very class of the people have been the main obstacle to every movement of reform. For example, see Al-A`raf; 60, 6b, 75, 88; Al-Mu'minun: 33; Saba; 34 35; Az-Zukhruf: 23. 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation
Men who enjoy the good things of life have special cause for gratitude to Allah, Who bestowed them. When they are in the ranks of Allah's enemies, none but Allah can adequately deal with them.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This attribute of the people who were denying the Prophet (sws) actually sheds light on the reason of this denial: opulence and riches which are in fact favours of the Almighty have made them arrogant and haughty. Instead of thanking God, they have become His opponents.

The implication is that the Prophet (sws) should dissociate himself from them and let God deal with these rebellious people by Himself; he will then see the dreadful fate they meet. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:
Concealed in this verse is also the message that if there is a delay in the destruction of these disbelievers, it is because the Prophet (sws) is still among them. As per a divine practice, as long as a prophet is among his people, they are not punished. If the prophet leaves them, they will be immediately annihilated. It is the misfortune of these oppressive people that they want to harm him, for it is he who is actually shielding them from the wrath of God. If they deprive themselves of this shield, who will save them from torment and affliction? (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 9, 29)
اِنَّ لَدَيۡنَاۤ اَنۡـكَالًا وَّجَحِيۡمًا ۙ‏ 
(73:12) Indeed, with Us [for them] are shackles and burning fire;
Heavy fetters in Hell will not be put on the criminals' feet to stop them from escape but in order that they are not able to stand up and move; these will not be used to prevent their escape but as an instrument of their torment. 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: 
Cf. xiii. 5; xxxiv. 33; xi. 71 and lxix. 30-32 and xliv. 47 and lvi. 94.

وَّطَعَامًا ذَا غُصَّةٍ وَّعَذَابًا اَلِيۡمًا
(73:13) And food that chokes and a painful punishment.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Explaining this symbolism of torment in the hereafter, Razi says: "These four conditions may well be understood as denoting the spiritual consequences [of one's doings in life]. As regards the 'heavy fetters', they are a symbol of the soul's remaining shackled to its [erstwhile] physical attachments and bodily pleasures...: and now that their realization has become impossible, those fetters and shackles prevent the [resurrected] human personality (an-nafs) from attaining to the realm of the spirit and of purity. Subsequently, those spiritual shackles generate spiritual 'fires', inasmuch as one's strong inclination towards bodily concerns, together with the impossibility of attaining to them, give rise, spiritually, to [a sensation of] severe burning...: and this is [the meaning of] 'the blazing fire' (al-jahim). Thereupon [the sinner] tries to swallow the choking agony of deprivation and the pain of separation [from the objects of his desire]: and this is the meaning of the words, 'and food that chokes'. And finally, because of these circumstances, he remains deprived of all illumination by the light of God, and of all communion with the blessed ones: and this is the meaning of the words 'and grievous suffering'....But [withal,] know that I do not claim to have exhausted the meaning of these [Qur'an-] verses by what I have stated [above]...."

Yusuf Ali  Explanation
Cf. xliv. 43; lvi. 52; lxix. 36-37, and lxxxviii. 6.
In general terms, the Penalty of sin may be described as a Penalty Grievous, an Agony. It may come in this very fife, but that in the Hereafter is certain! See next verse. We can also consider punishments from another aspect. The first object of punishment is to protect the innocent from the depredations of the criminal: we have to bind him. The next object is to produce in his heart the fire of repentance, to consume his evil proclivities and to light his conscience. Where that is not enough, a more drastic punishment for the callous is something which causes him pain in things which ordinarily cause him pleasure, such as food, drink, and the satisfaction of physical needs. People in whom the higher spiritual faculties are dead may perchance be awakened through the lower physical features of their life, which appeal to them. Where this also fails, there is finally the complete agony, a type too terrible to contemplate.

يَوۡمَ تَرۡجُفُ الۡاَرۡضُ وَالۡجِبَالُ وَكَانَتِ الۡجِبَالُ كَثِيۡبًا مَّهِيۡلًا‏ 
(73:14) On the Day the earth and the mountains will convulse and the mountains will become a heap of sand pouring down.
Since at that time the cohesive force to bind the parts of the mountains together will cease to work, first they will become like crumbling dunes of fine sand, then because of the earthquake which will be shaking the earth; the sand will scatter and shift and the whole earth will turn into an empty level plain. This last state has been described in Ta Ha: 105-107, thus: "They ask you: where will the mountains go on that Day? Say: My Lord will reduce them to fine dust and scatter it away. He will turn the earth into an empty level plain, wherein you will neither see any curve no crease."

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
See the first part of 14:48 , as well explanation of {20:105-107}.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: 
The Judgment is described as a violent commotion which will change the whole face of nature as we know it. Even the hard rock of mountains will be like loose sand running without any cohesion.

اِنَّاۤ اَرۡسَلۡنَاۤ اِلَيۡكُمۡ رَسُوۡلًا ۙ شَاهِدًا عَلَيۡكُمۡ كَمَاۤ اَرۡسَلۡنَاۤ اِلٰى فِرۡعَوۡنَ رَسُوۡلًا ؕ‏ 
(73:15) Indeed, We have sent to you a Messenger as a witness upon you just as We sent to Pharaoh a messenger.
The address now turns to the disbelievers of Makkah, who were denying the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) and persecuting him relentlessly. 

Sending the Holy Prophet to be a witness over the people also means that he should testify to the Truth by his word and deed before them in the world and also that in the Hereafter when Allah's Court is established, he will testify that he had presented the whole Truth before the people in the world. (For further explanation, see E.N. 144 of Al-Baqarah, E.N. 64 of An-Nisa', An-Nahl: 84, 89, E.N. 82 of Al-Azab, E.N. 14 of Al-Fath). 

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
This is probably the oldest Qur'anic reference to the earlier prophets, to the historic continuity in mankind's religious experience, and, by implication, to the fact that the Qur'an does not institute a "new" faith but represents only the final, most comprehensive statement of a religious principle as old as mankind itself: namely, that "in the sight of God, the only [true] religion is [man's] self-surrender unto Him" 3:19 , and that "if one goes in search of a religion other than self-surrender unto God, it will never be accepted from him" 3:85 .

Yusuf Ali  Explanation
Our holy Prophet has to warn his age, i.e., the present age, reclaim it from sin, and be a witness for the righteous and against evil, as Moses did his office in his age. For Pharaoh, his arrogance, and his punishment, see x. 75-92.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Ie., he was sent to bear witness to the truth before them. This is a special term of the Qur’ān and refers to conclusive communication of the truth. The purpose is to show that a messenger of God is like the court of God who, once the evidence is established, will issue a verdict between good and evil, just as it did so in the case of Moses (sws) and the Pharaoh.

فَعَصٰى فِرۡعَوۡنُ الرَّسُوۡلَ فَاَخَذۡنٰهُ اَخۡذًا وَّبِيۡلًا‏ 
(73:16) But Pharaoh disobeyed the messenger, so We seized him with a ruinous seizure.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation
Pharaoh the earthly king faces Moses the prophet of Allah. In earthly eyes it was Moses who disobeyed Pharaoh. In spiritual relations, it was Pharaoh who disobeyed Moses. Pharaoh represented an ancient and mighty kingdom, with a long history behind it, and a pride in its learning and science, art, organization, and power. Moses led a depressed people, hewers of wood and drawers of water. But the might of Allah was behind him. What became of the wisdom, power, and armies of Pharaoh? They were rent asunder when the day came, and the terror and surprise must have been the same as if the heavens had been rent asunder, and children's hair had turned grey! But formidable revolutions turn children grey-haired in another way. Nations that were as children became wise before they in their turn decayed, and from similar disobedience to the laws of Allah. For Allah's law must stand and be fulfilled when all else is swept away.

فَكَيۡفَ تَتَّقُوۡنَ اِنۡ كَفَرۡتُمۡ يَوۡمًا يَّجۡعَلُ الۡوِلۡدَانَ شِيۡبَا  ۖ‏ 
(73:17) Then how can you fear, if you disbelieve, a Day that will make the children white- haired?
That is, "In the first place, you should be afraid that if you do not accept the invitation of the Messenger sent by Us, you will have to meet the same evil end in this world, which the Pharaoh has already met in consequence of this very crime. But even if no torment is sent on you in the world, how will you save yourselves from the punishment of the Day of Resurrection?" 

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
In ancient Arabian usage, a day full of terrifying events was described metaphorically as "a day on which the locks of children turn grey"; hence the use of this phrase in the Qur'an. Its purely metaphorical character is obvious since, according to the teachings of the Qur'an, children are considered sinless - i.e., not accountable for their doings - and will, therefore, remain untouched by the ordeals and terrors of the Day of Judgment (Razi).

Yusuf Ali  Explanation
If already you deny and disobey Allah in this life of probation, how can you stand up to the Day of Judgment, the Day of the terrible Reality? That Day is described in two metaphors: (1) It will be a time of such stress that even children will become like hoary-headed men; (2) What we look upon as the eternal sky, ever the same, will be cleft asunder; cf. lxxxii. 1. In other words, the shape of things will be completely altered, both within man and in outer nature, and all true values will be restored. For the Promise of Allah, in this as in all other respects, cannot but be fulfilled.

اۨلسَّمَآءُ مُنۡفَطِرٌ ۢ بِهٖ​ؕ كَانَ وَعۡدُهٗ مَفۡعُوۡلًا‏ 
(73:18) The heaven will break apart therefrom; ever is His promise fulfilled. 

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The implication is that the evidence for the Day of Judgement in the world around us is as apparent as the final days of pregnancy of a pregnant woman. Though the time she will give birth is not certain yet the fact that she will give birth is a certain reality to everyone who sees her.

اِنَّ هٰذِهٖ تَذۡكِرَةٌ ​ ۚ فَمَنۡ شَآءَ اتَّخَذَ اِلٰى رَبِّهٖ سَبِيۡلًا
(73:19) Indeed, this is a reminder, so whoever wills may take to his Lord a way.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation
This is no empty threat. It is an admonition for your good. If you have the will, you can at once come for the Grace and Mercy of Allah, and obtain it. For Repentance and Amendment are the straight Way to the nearness of Allah.

Ruku 2:

اِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَعۡلَمُ اَنَّكَ تَقُوۡمُ اَدۡنىٰ مِنۡ ثُلُثَىِ الَّيۡلِ وَ نِصۡفَهٗ وَثُلُثَهٗ وَطَآئِفَةٌ مِّنَ الَّذِيۡنَ مَعَكَ​ؕ وَاللّٰهُ يُقَدِّرُ الَّيۡلَ وَالنَّهَارَ​ؕ عَلِمَ اَنۡ لَّنۡ تُحۡصُوۡهُ فَتَابَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ​ فَاقۡرَءُوۡا مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنَ الۡقُرۡاٰنِ​ؕ عَلِمَ اَنۡ سَيَكُوۡنُ مِنۡكُمۡ مَّرۡضٰى​ۙ وَاٰخَرُوۡنَ يَضۡرِبُوۡنَ فِى الۡاَرۡضِ يَبۡتَغُوۡنَ مِنۡ فَضۡلِ اللّٰهِ​ۙ وَاٰخَرُوۡنَ يُقَاتِلُوۡنَ فِىۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ ۖ فَاقۡرَءُوۡا مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنۡهُ​ ۙ وَاَقِيۡمُوا الصَّلٰوةَ وَاٰتُوا الزَّكٰوةَ وَاَقۡرِضُوا اللّٰهَ قَرۡضًا حَسَنًا​ ؕ وَمَا تُقَدِّمُوۡا لِاَنۡفُسِكُمۡ مِّنۡ خَيۡرٍ تَجِدُوۡهُ عِنۡدَ اللّٰهِ هُوَ خَيۡرًا وَّاَعۡظَمَ اَجۡرًا​ ؕ وَاسۡتَغۡفِرُوا اللّٰهَ ​ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِيۡمٌ
(73:20)Indeed, your Lord knows, [O Muhammad], that you stand [in prayer] almost two thirds of the night or half of it or a third of it, and [so do] a group of those with you. And Allah determines [the extent of] the night and the day. He has known that you [Muslims] will not be able to do it and has turned to you in forgiveness, so recite what is easy [for you] of the Qur'an. He has known that there will be among you those who are ill and others traveling throughout the land seeking [something] of the bounty of Allah and others fighting for the cause of Allah. So recite what is easy from it and establish prayer and give zakah and loan Allah a goodly loan. And whatever good you put forward for yourselves - you will find it with Allah. It is better and greater in reward. And seek forgiveness of Allah. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
About this verse in which reduction has been made in the injunction concerning the Tahajjud Prayer, there are different traditions. Musnad Ahmad, Muslim and Abu Da'ud have related a tradition, on the authority of Hadrat `A'ishah, saying that this second command was sent down one year after the first command, and the standing up in the Prayer at night was made voluntary instead of obligatory. Another tradition which Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abi Hatim have related, again on the authority of Hadrat `A'ishah, says that this command came down 8 months after the first command, and a third tradition which Ibn Abi Hatim has related again from her, says that it came down 16 months later. Abu Da'ud, Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abi Hatim have cited the period of one year from Hadrat `Abdullah bin 'Abbas. But Hadrat Sa'id bin Jubair has stated that it was sent down ten years later. (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi Hatim). In our opinion this last view is most sound, for the subject-matter of the first section clearly shows that it was sent down in Makkah and that too in the earliest stage when at the most four years might have passed since the advent of Prophethood. Contrary to this, this second section, .in view of the express evidence of its subject matter, seems to have been revealed at Madinah when fighting had started with the disbelievers and the zakat also had been enjoined as an obligatory duty. On this basis inevitably the two sections should have been sent down at an interval of at least ten years between them.

( and so does a party of those with you;) your Lord knows that you sometimes stand up in Prayer nearly two-thirds of the night, and sometimes half or one-third of it ) Although the initial command to the Holy Prophet was to keep standing up in the Prayer for half the. night, or thereabout, it was difficult to compute the time precisely in the absorption of the Prayer, especially when there were no watches either to measure time accurately; therefore, sometimes two thirds of the night passed in the prayer and sometimes only one-third of it. 
(In the initial command only the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was addressed and only he was instructed to stand up in the Prayer by night. But since the Muslims at that time were ardently desirous of following him in everything he did and of earning more and more good and virtues, many of the Companions also performed this Night Prayer regularly.
( Allah measures the night and the day. He knows that you cannot keep an accurate count of it, so He has shown mercy to you. So now recite as much of the Qur'an as you can ) As the Prayer is prolonged due mainly to a lengthy recital of the Qur'an, it is said: "You may recite as much of the Qur'an as you easily can in the Tahajjud Prayer This would automatically cause the Prayer to be shortened" . Although the words here are apparently in the imperative mood, it is agreed by all that Tahajjud is not an obligatory but a voluntary Prayer. In the Hadith also it has been explained that on an inquiry by a person the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) replied: "Five times Prayer in the day and night is obligatory on you. He asked: Is anything besides this also binding on me? The Holy Prophet said: No, unless you may like to offer something of your own accord. " (Bukhari, Muslim).

This verse also shows another thing. Just as the bowing (ruku ) and prostration (sajdah.) are obligatory in the Prayer, so is the recital of the Qur'an. For just as Allah at other places has used the words ruku' and sajdah for the prayer, so here He has mentioned recital of the Qur'an, which implies its recital in the Prayer. If somebody objects to this conclusion, saying: When the Tahajjud Prayer itself is voluntary, how can recital of the Qur'an in it be obligatory? The answer is: Even in case of the voluntary Prayer it is incumbent on one to fulfil all the pre-requisites of the Prayer and to perform all its basic elements and obligatory parts. No one can say that in case of the voluntary Prayer, purity of the garments and body, ablutions and concealment of the satar (minimal part of the body to be covered) are not obligatory, and the standing up and sitting and performance of ruku`and sajdah also in it are only voluntary. 

(He knows that there are among you those who are sick and others who are journeying in the land in quest of Allah's bounty) Traveling to earn one's living by lawful and permissible methods has been described in many places in the Qur'an as the seeking of Allah's bounty. 

(and still others who are fighting in the cause of Allah. ) Here, the way Allah has made mention of seeking pure livelihood and fighting in the Way of Allah together and declared these two, besides the compulsion on account of illness, as reasons for exemption from the Tahajjud Prayer, or concession in it, shows how meritorious it is in Islam-to earn one's livelihood by lawful methods. In the Hadith, Hadrat `Abdullah bin Mas`ud has reported that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) said: "The person who came to a city of the Muslims with food grains and sold it at the rate of the day, will attain to a place nearest to Allah, and then the Holy Prophet recited this very verse." (lbn Marduyah), Hadrat 'Umar once said: "Except for fighting in the way of Allah, the state in which I would love to be overtaken by death, is the state when I am overtaken by it while passing through a mountain pass in search of livelihood and then he recited this very verse." (Baihaqi, Shu ab al-Iman). 

( So recite as much of the Qur'an as you easily can, and establish Prayer, and pay Zakah) Commentators are agreed that this implies observance of the obligatory Prayer five times a day and giving away of the obligatory zakat.

(and give Allah a goodly loan ) Ibn Zaid says this implies spending one's wealth in the cause of Allah besides the zakat, whether it is in the cause of fighting in the way of Allah, or for helping the needy, or for public utilities, or other good works. The meaning of giving to Allah a good loan has been explained at several places above. See E.N 267 of AI-Baqarah, E.N. 33 of Al-Ma'idah, E.N. 16 of Al-Hadid). 

(Whatever good you send forth for yourselves, you shall find it with Allah. That is better and its reward is greater ) It means: "Whatever you have sent forward for the good of your Hereafter is more beneficial for you than that you withheld in the world and did not spend in any good cause for the pleasure of Allah. According to a Hadith reported by Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Mas`ud the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) once asked: "Which of you has a greater love for his own wealth than for the wealth of his heir? The people said: There is none among us, O Messenger of Allah, who would not have greater love for his own wealth than for the wealth of his heir. He said: Consider well what you are saying. The people submitted: This indeed is our considered opinion, O Messenger of Allah. Thereupon the Holy Prophet said: Your own property is only that which you have sent forward (for the good f your Hereafter), and whatever you held back indeed belongs to the heir." (Bukhari. Nasa'i, Musnad Abu Ya`la).

You may now like to listen to explanation of the sürah by eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan, sub divided into two parts:

Part I (Verses 1-10):
Part II (Verses 11-20):

Please refer to our Reference Page "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, explanation and exegesis of all other chapters of the Qur'an. You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
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 and explanation 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 (links to Reference Pages given below):  
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Qur'an Wiki
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Tafsir Nouman Ali Khan
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given below. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites:

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 67 | 8 | 9 | 10 |

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