Monday 3 June 2024

Why the raising of the dead from graves in Qur'an is equated with swarms of Locust on the Day of Resurrection

Qur'an commences the life form of all creatures including the humans from the embryonic stage to the time of death. It mentions of a day when all dead will be risen from their graves like swarms of locust and will be paraded in for the Divine Court. This would be the Day of the Resurrection, when the fate of each individual will be decided based on one's deeds in the earthly world and directed as a reward to the Paradise or thrown into hell as punishment for not adhering to the Divine Commandments which have been conveyed to  them by the messengers and prophets of Allah and contained in the four Divine Scriptures, that is Psalms, Torah, Gospel and Qur'an.

Here a question arises why the raising of the dead from the graves is equated with the locust and not any other species? It must be understood that in Qur'an, the mention of various insects like fly or mosquito and other animals have been given for a specific reason. We will talk with reference to these insects and animals and birds in some other post. But now let us talk of the raising of the dead with the locust.

It is mentioned in the 6-8 verses of Surah 54 Al-Qamar - The Moon:

"So, O Prophet, turn away from them.5 The Day the Caller shall call them to a most terrifying event, the people shall rise out of their graves with awestruck looks as though they were scattered locusts. They will be rushing towards the Caller and the same disbelievers (who denied it in the world) shall say, "This indeed is a hard day!"

These verses paint a scene of that day which is fierce and grim, consistent with the ambience of the surah. They also warn of the closeness of the Last Hour, highlighted by the splitting of the moon in two. All of this fits perfectly with the rhythm maintained throughout the surah.

It is a scene full of quick movement, yet it is also prominent, with clear lines and features: multitudes of people are rising from their graves, like swarming locusts, yet their eyes are downcast, humble, fearful. They rush towards the one who calls them forward, but they do not know what they are called to, and they cannot be reassured. As this gathering continues to take place, and amidst all this humility, the unbelievers say in a tone of distress that reflects their dawning awareness of the hardship ahead of them: "Hard indeed is this day." (Verse 8) 

The dead so arisen will be reflecting disgrace and humiliation, for as soon as they arise out of their graves they would realize that it was indeed the same second life which they had been denying, for which they had made no preparation, and in which they would have to present themselves before their God as culprits.

The metaphor of locusts is used here to describe the chaotic and overwhelming nature of resurrection. Locusts often move in swarms, which can be both awe-inspiring and fearsome, symbolizing the mass resurrection where individuals rise from their graves in a hurried and spread-out manner, similar to a swarm of locusts.

The comparison to locusts serves to convey the visual impact and scale of resurrection, emphasizing the multitude and the rapid, uncontrollable nature of this event. The imagery evokes a scene of countless individuals rising simultaneously, underscoring the magnitude and the inescapability of the Day of Judgment.

Let us understand the magnitude of locust when they swarm in billions and destroy everything that come their way. The raising of the dead is equated with locust to tell those who say how would we and our ancestors who had been in billions could gather in a short time and get assembled at one place?
A massive swarm of locust (Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Author: CSIRO , Source

Recent research benefiting from micro cameras conducted by a systematic observation of insects have given us an idea about the reason for the selection of locusts as an example. A large swarm can consist of billions of locusts spread out over an area of thousands of square kilometres, with a population of up to 80 million per square kilometre (200 million per square mile). When desert locusts meet, their nervous systems release serotonin, which causes them to become mutually attracted, a prerequisite for swarming. 

The enormity of locust swarm is indicative of rising of the billions of dead who lived since Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) and Eve. This in fact is the reply to the infidels of the times of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ who when listening to such parables raised eyebrows and said:

"When we die and become dust and bones, are we indeed to be resurrected?' and 'Our forefathers as well?' Say, 'Indeed, the former and the later [peoples] are to be gathered together for the appointment of a known Day.'" Surah Al-Waqi'ah (56:47-50) 

"Does man think that We will not assemble his bones? Yes. We are Able even to proportion his fingertips." Surah Al-Qiyamah (75:3-4) - This verse emphasizes the completeness of resurrection, indicating that even the smallest parts of the human body will be reassembled. 

And for those who question the raising alive of the dead, it is clarified to them that in Surah Ya-Sin (36:78-79) - verses that highlight the power of Allah in resurrecting the dead, as He is the one who created life initially.:

"And he presents for us an example and forgets his own creation. He says, 'Who will give life to bones while they are disintegrated?' Say, 'He will give them life who produced them the first time; and He is, of all creation, Knowing.'" 

As can be seen each the above referred references highlights different aspects of the concept of resurrection, from the physical reassembly of the body to the power of Allah in bringing the dead back to life, to the chaotic and overwhelming nature of the event, depicted through the metaphor of locusts.

Readers would now be able to correlate the raising of the dead and the comparison with the swarms of locust. The Resurrection will thus be a day of utter confusion as billions and billions of bodies will be rising from their graves and heading to wards the parade ground of the Divine Justice. None would know what is in store for them and they will stand perplexed, confused and vey uncertain of their fate. May Allah help us to live a live in this earthly life as commanded by Him, so that we do not have to be ashamed of standing in front of our Lord on that fateful day.
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān 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. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

Please refer to our reference page: Understanding Islam - Frequently asked Q and A for more questions and answers. 

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages  and Understanding Al Qur'an for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Resource References: | 12  | 34 | 5

Disclaimer: The material for this post has been collected from the references given above. If anyone differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

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