Assalamualaikum.

Surah At Tariq is the 86th chapter of the Quran and the meaning of this Surah is “The Piercing Star”, “The Nightcomer”, or literally “The Knocker”. It is a classified as Meccan Surah composed of 17 ayat (verses).

This Surah teaches us on two important subjects, 1. Resurrection and 2. The Holy Qur’an and its importance/value. 

One of the goals of the My Islam site is to make it easy to read and understand the Qur’an. Below every ayat in Arabic we’ve provided transliteration to help those who are not the strongest readers. Also, included is the Sahih international English translation to understand the meaning. At the end of the Surah we’ve included four different tafseer to learn the details and nuances of this Surah.

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Read Surah Tariq Transliteration and Translation

Bismillah Hir Rahman Nir Raheem
In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious and The Most Merciful

Wassama-i wattariq
1. By the sky and the night comer –

Wa maaa adraaka mattaariq
2. And what can make you know what is the night comer?

Annajmu aththaqib
3. It is the piercing star –

In kullu nafsil lammaa ‘alaihaa haafiz
4. There is no soul but that it has over it a protector.

Falyanthuri al-insanumimma khuliq
5. So let man observe from what he was created.

Khuliqa mim maaa’in daafiq
6. He was created from a fluid, ejected,

Yakhruju min bayni assulbi wattara-ib
7. Emerging from between the backbone and the ribs.

Innahoo ‘alaa raj’ihee laqaadir
8. Indeed, Allah, to return him [to life], is Able.

Yawma tubla assara-ir
9. The Day when secrets will be put on trial,

Famaa lahoo min quwwatinw wa laa naasir
10. Then man will have no power or any helper.

Wassama-i thati arrajAA
11. By the sky which returns [rain]

Wal ardi zaatis sad’
12. And [by] the earth which cracks open,

Innahu laqawlun fasl
13. Indeed, the Qur’an is a decisive statement,

Wa maa huwa bil hazl
14. And it is not amusement.

Innahum yakeedoona kayda
15. Indeed, they are planning a plan,

Wa akeedu kaidaa
16. But I am planning a plan.

Famahhilil kaafireena amhilhum ruwaidaa
17. So allow time for the disbelievers. Leave them awhile.

Hadith Mentioning Surah Tariq

It was narrated from Jabir bin Samurah that: The Prophet (ﷺ) used to recite “By the heaven holding the big stars” and: “By the heaven, and At-Tariq (the night-comer, i.e. the bright star)” and similar surahs in Zuhr and Asr.‏

Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)
Reference: Sunan an-Nasa’i 979
In-book reference : Book 11, Hadith 104

Tafseer of Surah Tariq

For those looking to make reading the Qur’an a study we’ve included four different sources to learn more about this Surah. This includes the tafsir by Ibn Kathir. We recommend reading from various scholars to see the different viewpoints and interpretations so that you may gain a more comprehensive understanding.

Tafsir by Ibn Kathir

Which was revealed in Makkah

The Virtues of Surat At-Tariq

An-Nasa’i recorded that Jabir said, “Mu`adh lead the Maghrib prayer and he recited Al-Baqarah and An-Nisa’. So the Prophet said,

«أَفَتَّانٌ أَنْتَ يَا مُعَاذُ، مَا كَانَ يَكْفِيكَ أَنْ تَقْرَأَ بِالسَّمَاءِ وَالطَّارِقِ وَالشَّمْسِ وَضُحَاهَا وَنَحْوِهَا؟»

 

(Are you putting the people to trial O Mu`adh! Was it not sufficient for you to recite As-Sama’i wat-Tariq, and Ash-Shamsi wa Duhaha, and something like them)

﴿بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

 

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Swearing by the Existence of Humanity surrounded by the Organized System of Allah

Allah swears by the heaven and what He has placed in it of radiant stars. Thus, He says,

﴿وَالسَّمَآءِ وَالطَّارِقِ ﴾

 

(By the heaven, and At-Tariq;) Then He says,

﴿وَمَآ أَدْرَاكَ مَا الطَّارِقُ ﴾

 

(And what will make you to know what At-Tariq is) Then He explains it by His saying,

﴿النَّجْمُ الثَّاقِبُ ﴾

 

(The star of Ath-Thaqib.) Qatadah and others have said, “The star has been named Tariq because it is only seen at night and it is hidden during the day.” His view is supported by what has been mentioned in the authentic Hadith that prohibits a man to come to his family Taruq. This means that he comes to them unexpectedly at nighttime. Concerning Allah’s statement,

﴿الثَّاقِبُ﴾

 

(Ath-Thaqib.) Ibn `Abbas said, “The illuminating.” `Ikrimah said, “It is illuminating and it burns the Shaytan” Then Allah says,

﴿إِن كُلُّ نَفْسٍ لَّمَّا عَلَيْهَا حَافِظٌ ﴾

 

(There is no human being but has a protector over him.) meaning, every soul has a guardian over it from Allah that protects it from the calamities. This is as Allah says,

﴿لَهُ مُعَقِّبَـتٌ مِّن بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ يَحْفَظُونَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ﴾

 

(For Him, there are angels in succession, before and behind him. They guard him by the command of Allah.) (13:11)

How Man is created is a Proof of Allah’s Ability to Return Him to Him

Allah says,

﴿فَلْيَنظُرِ الإِنسَـنُ مِمَّ خُلِقَ ﴾

 

(So, let man see from what he is created!) This is alerting man to the weakness of his origin from which he was created. The intent of it is to guide man to accept (the reality of) the Hereafter, because whoever is able to begin the creation then he is also able to repeat it in the same way. This is as Allah says,

﴿وَهُوَ الَّذِى يَبْدَأُ الْخَلْقَ ثُمَّ يُعِيدُهُ وَهُوَ أَهْوَنُ عَلَيْهِ﴾

 

(And He it is Who originates the creation, then He will repeat it; and this is easier for Him.) (30:27) Then Allah says,

﴿خُلِقَ مِن مَّآءٍ دَافِقٍ ﴾

 

(He is created from a water gushing forth.) meaning, the sexual fluid that comes out bursting forth from the man and the woman. Thus, the child is produced from both of them by the permission of Allah. Due to this Allah says,

﴿يَخْرُجُ مِن بَيْنِ الصُّلْبِ وَالتَّرَآئِبِ ﴾

 

(Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs.) meaning, the backbone (or loins) of the man and the ribs of the woman, which is referring to her chest. Shabib bin Bishr reported from `Ikrimah who narrated from Ibn `Abbas that he said,

﴿يَخْرُجُ مِن بَيْنِ الصُّلْبِ وَالتَّرَآئِبِ ﴾

 

(Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs.) “The backbone of the man and the ribs of the woman. It (the fluid) is yellow and fine in texture. The child will not be born except from both of them (i.e., their sexual fluids).” Concerning Allah’s statement,

﴿إِنَّهُ عَلَى رَجْعِهِ لَقَادِرٌ ﴾

 

(Verily, He is Able to bring him back (to life)!) This means that He is able to return this man that is created from fluid gushed forth. In other words, He is able to repeat his creation and resurrect him to the final abode. This is clearly possible, because whoever is able to begin the creation then he surely is able to repeat it. Indeed Allah has mentioned this proof in more than one place in the Qur’an.

On the Day of Judgement, Man will have no Power or Assistance

In this regard Allah says,

﴿يَوْمَ تُبْلَى السَّرَآئِرُ ﴾

 

(The Day when all the secrets will be examined.) meaning, on the Day of Judgement the secrets will be tested. This means that they will be exposed and made manifest. Thus, the secret will be made open and that which is concealed will be well known. It is confirmed in the Two Sahihs on the authority of Ibn `Umar that the Messenger of Allah said,

«يُرْفَعُ لِكُلِّ غَادِرٍ لِوَاءٌ عِنْدَ اسْتِهِ يُقَالُ: هذِهِ غَدْرَةُ فُلَانِ بْنِ فُلَان»

 

(Every betrayer will have a flag raised for him behind his back, and it will be said, `This is the betrayal of so-and-so, the son of so-and-so.’) Concerning Allah’s statement,

﴿فَمَا لَهُ﴾

 

(Then he will have no) meaning, man on the Day of Judgement.

﴿مِن قُوَّةٍ﴾

 

(any power) meaning, within himself.

﴿وَلاَ نَاصِرٍ﴾

 

(nor any helper.) meaning, from other than himself. This statement means that he will not be able to save himself from the torment of Allah, and nor will anyone else be able to save him.

 

Swearing to the Truthfulness of the Qur’an and the Failure of Those Who oppose it

Ibn `Abbas said, “Ar-raj` means rain.” It has also been narrated from him that he said, “It means the clouds that contain rain.” He also said,

﴿وَالسَّمَآءِ ذَاتِ الرَّجْعِ ﴾

 

(By the sky (having rain clouds) which gives rain, again and again.) “This means that it rains and then it rains (again).” Qatadah said, “It returns the sustenance of the servants (creatures) every year. Were it not for this, they would all be destroyed and so would their cattle.”

﴿وَالاّرْضِ ذَاتِ الصَّدْعِ ﴾

 

(And the earth which splits.) Ibn `Abbas said, “Splitting to bring forth plant growths.” This was also said by Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Ikrimah, Abu Malik, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, As-Suddi and others. Concerning Allah’s statement,

﴿إِنَّهُ لَقَوْلٌ فَصْلٌ ﴾

 

(Verily, this is the Word that separates.) Ibn `Abbas said (Fasl is), “True.” Qatadah also said the same. Someone else said, “A just ruling.”

﴿وَمَا هوَ بِالْهَزْلِ ﴾

 

(And it is not a thing for amusement.) meaning, rather it is serious and true. Then Allah informs about the disbelievers saying that they reject Him and hinder others from His path. Allah says,

﴿إِنَّهُمْ يَكِيدُونَ كَيْداً ﴾

 

(Verily, they are but plotting a plot.) meaning, they plot against the people in their calling them to oppose the Qur’an. Then Allah says,

﴿وَ اَكِيْدُ كَيْدًا﴾

 

(and I, too, am plotting a scheme) meaning, I am plotting such that all disbelievers plots will fail and success will be attained by believers.

﴿فَمَهِّلِ الْكَـفِرِينَ﴾

 

(So, give a respite to the disbelievers;) meaning, wait for them and do not be in haste concerning them.

﴿أَمْهِلْهُمْ رُوَيْداً﴾

 

(deal gently with them for a while.) meaning, a little while. This means that you will see what befalls them of torment, punishment and destruction. This is as Allah says,

﴿نُمَتِّعُهُمْ قَلِيلاً ثُمَّ نَضْطَرُّهُمْ إِلَى عَذَابٍ غَلِيظٍ ﴾

 

(We let them enjoy for a little while, then in the end We shall oblige them to (enter) a great torment.) (31:24)

***

This is the end of the Tafsir Surat At-Tariq, and unto Allah is all praise and thanks.

Commentary

[86:1] I swear by the sky and the Night-Comer,After swearing an oath by the sky and stars, in this Surah, Allah asserts that He has assigned a guardian angel to every human being who watches over his deeds and actions, and accurate and immediate record is kept on the basis of which the reckoning will be made, and on the Day of Reckoning, all secrets will be revealed. The rational conclusion is that man must ponder over the consequences of the deeds he is doing in this life. Therefore, he should not, at any moment of his life, lose sight of what is to happen on the Day of Reckoning. Thereafter, the verse disposes of a doubt that the Satan perennially casts into the people’s hearts. When they are dead and have become dust and decomposed particles, how will they be recomposed and life be brought back? This seems to be an imaginary thought, rather, in the view of the general public, it is impossible. In answer to this doubt, man is invited to reflect on his origin. At the inception, he was created from various elements collected from throughout the world, and Allah’s Power transformed them into a human being who is able to listen and see. Allah Who has created him and looked after him is well able to bring him back to life after death. Then some events of the Day of Judgment are mentioned. Then, after swearing an oath by the earth and the sky, the negligent man is told that the Hereafter he is urged to care about is no joke or amusement, but it is a reality that has to come to pass. Towards the end of the Surah, the unbelievers pose the question: If Allah abhors disbelief, idolatry and sins, why then does He not punish us in this life? The Surah ends with a rebuttal to this question. Let us now explain some expressions used in the Surah:

The first oath, in the beginning of the Surah, is by the sky and tariq. The word tariq means the ‘Night-Corner’. Stars normally disappear during the day and only appear at night, therefore they are called tariq. The Qur’an itself raises the question:

وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الطَّارِقُ (and what may let you know what the Night-Comer is?…86:2) and then answers the question thus: النَّجْمُ الثَّاقِبُ (The star of piercing brightness!…86:3). The word najm means ‘star’. The Qur’an does not specify any particular ‘star’. Therefore, it may be applied to any star. Some of the commentators say that najm refers to the Pleiades or Saturn, and they quote specimens of Arabic speech to confirm their argument. The word thaqib means ‘piercing brightness’.


[86:2] and what may let you know what the Night-Comer is?

[86:3] The star of piercing brightness!

[86:4] there is no human being, but there is a watcher over him.
إِن كُلُّ نَفْسٍ لَّمَّا عَلَيْهَا حَافِظٌ (there is no human being, but there is a watcher over him….86:4). This is the subject of the oath. The particle in at the beginning of the statement is used in the sense of ‘no’, that is, a negative particle; and the particle lamma is used in the sense of ‘but/except’, that is, it is an exceptive particle in the dialect of Banu Hudhail. The verse purports to say that there is not a single person over whom there is not a watcher [hafiz]. The word hafiz may mean ‘guardian’ who may watch over someone’s actions and deeds, so that the reckoning is made on that basis. The word hafiz may also be used in the sense of ‘one who protects from calamities’. In the first sense, the word hafiz refers to the angels who record the deeds. Here the word hafiz , although appears in the singular form, it is used in the generic sense, because there is not just a single recording angel, but there is a host of them as another verse testifies to this fact:

وَإِنَّ عَلَيْكُمْ لَحَافِظِينَ ﴿10﴾ كِرَامًا كَاتِبِينَ
‘While [appointed] over you there are watchers, who are noble, the writers [of the deeds],[82: 10-11] ‘

According to the second sense of the word, hafiz refers to the angels who have been appointed to protect man from all kinds of calamities that befall him day and night, except the calamities that Allah has decreed for him, as the following verse explicitly states:

لَهُ مُعَقِّبَاتٌ مِّن بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ يَحْفَظُونَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللَّـهِ
‘For him there are angels replacing each other, before him and
behind him, who guard him under the command of Allah [13:11]

A tradition has reported the Messenger of Allah saying that Allah has appointed three hundred and sixty angels for every believer. They protect every limb of his. Of the three hundred and sixty, seven angels alone protect man’s eye. These angels defend man from every calamity that is not decreed, like a fan chases away the flies coming to a vessel containing honey. If there are no security guards for man, the devils will snatch them away. [Qurtubi].


[86:5] So, let man consider of which stuff he is created.

[86:6] He is created of a spouting water

خُلِقَ مِن مَّاءٍ دَافِقٍ ﴿6﴾ يَخْرُجُ مِن بَيْنِ الصُّلْبِ وَالتَّرَائِبِ (He is created of a spouting water
that comes out from between the loins and the chest-bones…86:6, 7). The general body of commentators have explained that the spouting water (sperm) comes out from the loins of men and the chest-bones of women. However, the research of embryological science on the subject shows that the seminal fluid comes out from every part of human body, and every part of the foetus is made of the seminal fluid that has come out from that part of the man’s and woman’s body. The brain, of course, plays the greatest role in this matter. Thus experience shows that people who indulge in excessive cohabitation mostly suffer from weakness of mental weakness. The embryologists have at the same time discovered that the seminal fluid separates from all parts of the body, and through the spinal cord, collects in the testes and from there it spouts.

If these findings have any value, it is not far-fetched to reconcile them with the explanation of some of the commentators. Embryologists agree that the brain plays the most important role in the preparation of seminal fluid. The representative of the brain is the spinal cord that has come into the backbone from the brain, up to the loins and the testes. Some of its branches have come into the chest-bones. It is likely that the seminal fluid coming from the chest-bones into the woman’s seminal fluid and the seminal fluid coming from the loins into a man’s seminal fluid have a greater role to play. (Baidawi)

If we analyse the verse of the Qur’an carefully, we notice that it does not specify ‘man or woman’. It merely says ‘He is created of spouting water that comes out from between the loins and the chest-bones.’ This may simply signify that the seminal fluid comes out from the entire body of both men and women. The expression ‘the entire body’ is understood from the mention of the principal organs of front and back. The front part of the body is chest and the back part of the body is the loin. These are the principal parts of the body. The expression, ‘the spouting water that comes out from between the loins and the chest-bones’ may mean ‘comes out from the entire body’.


[86:7] that comes out from between the loins and the chest-bones.

[86:8] that comes out from between the loins and the chest-bones.

إِنَّهُ عَلَىٰ رَجْعِهِ لَقَادِرٌ (Surely He is Powerful to bring him back…86:8) The word raj means ‘to bring back’. The verse signifies that Allah Who has created him from a drop of seminal fluid is well able to bring him back to life after death a fortiori.

يَوْمَ تُبْلَى السَّرَائِرُ (on a day when all the secrets will be searched out.. 86:9). The word tubla literally means ‘to test/examine’ and sara’ir means ‘secrets’. On the Day of Reckoning, the secrets will be tested and examined and laid bare. Man’s beliefs, his thoughts, and his motives and intentions that were hidden in this life, and no one knew about them, will be revealed in the Hereafter.

Likewise, his deeds and actions that he had done secretly, and no one was aware of them in this world, all of them will be tested and scrutinised on the Plain of Gathering and will be laid bare. Said ‘Abdullah Ibn ` Umar ؓ has said that on the Day of Judgment Allah will disclose the secrets of all human beings. The sign of every good or bad belief and action will be displayed on man’s face, in the form of beauty or darkness or gloom [depending on each individual’s situation]. [Qurtubi].

[86:9] on a day when all the secrets will be searched out,

[86:10] and he will have no strength (to defend), nor a supporter.

[86:11] I swear by the sky that rains,

وَالسَّمَاءِ ذَاتِ الرَّجْعِ (I swear by the sky that rains…86:11) The word raj refers to ‘the rain that comes down repeatedly’. In other words, the rain that comes down and stops and then returns.

[86:12] and the earth that cracks open (for plants),

[86:13] this is a decisive word,

إِنَّهُ لَقَوْلٌ فَصْلٌ (this is a decisive word..86:13) In other words, the Qur’an is truly a Decisive Word that decides between truth and falsehood, and there is no room for any doubt in it.

Sayyidna ` Ali ؓ says that he heard the Holy Prophet ﷺ as saying about the Holy Qur’an:

کتاب فیہ خبرما قبلکم و حکم مابعدکم وھو الفصل لیس بلھزل
‘[It is] a book which describes the stories of past communities and [it contains] injunctions for future generations. It is truly a Decisive Word. It is no joke.’


[86:14] and it is not a joke.

[86:15] They are devising plans,

[86:61] and I Am devising plans.

[86:17] So leave the disbelievers at the moment; give them respite for a while.

Alhamdulillah
The Commentary on
Surah At-Tariq
Ends here

Overview

It is stated in the introduction to the first surah in this volume, which forms the thirtieth part of the Qur’an, that its surahs are “like a persistent and strong knocking on a door, or a series of loud shouts seeking to awaken those who are fast asleep, or those who are drunk and have lost consciousness, or are in a night club, completely absorbed in their dancing or entertainment. The knocks and the shouts come one after the other: Wake up! Look around you! Think! Reflect! There is a God! There is planning, trial, liability, reckoning, reward, severe punishment and lasting bliss.”

The present surah is a typical example of these qualities. Its tone is sharp. The scenes portrayed, the rhythm chosen, the sounds of the individual words and their meanings — all contribute to this sharpness of tone. The scenes include the night visitor, the star piercing with brightness, the gushing water, the returning rain, and the splitting earth. The meanings include watching over souls: “For every soul there is a guardian who watches over it”; the lack of strength and help: “On the day when consciences are tried, man shall be helpless, with no supporter”; the complete seriousness:

“This is surely a decisive word; it is no idle talk.” The same characteristics apply to the warnings given in this surah: “They devise many an artful scheme, but I too have My schemes. So, give respite to the unbelievers; leave them alone for a while.”

There is complete harmony between the scenes of the universe portrayed in the surah and the facts it states. This harmony becomes abundantly clear when the surah is carefully considered.

A Special Type of Visitor

“By the heaven and by the night visitor. Would that you knew what the night visitor is! It is the star that pierces through darkness. For every soul there is a guardian who watches over it.” (Verses 1-4) This oath includes a scene of the universe and a fact of faith. It opens by mentioning heaven and the night visitor and follows with a form of exclamation made familiar in the Qur’an; “Would that you knew what the night visitor is!’ (Verse 2) This exclamation gives the impression that it is mysterious, beyond explanation.

The Qur’an then states its nature and form: “It is the star that pierces through darkness.” (Verse 3) Its powerful, penetrating rays travel at speed through the surrounding darkness. The description applies to all stars. There is no need to attach it to a particular one. Generality is more useful in this kind of context. Thus, the meaning sounds as follows: By heaven and its stars which pierce darkness and penetrate through that veil covering all things. Thus, this reference sheds its own light on the facts outlined in this surah and the scenes it portrays.

God swears by heaven and its piercing stars that every soul has an observer appointed by Him to watch over it: “For every soul there is a guardian who watches over it.” (Verse 4) This implies a strong assertion that there is an agent appointed by God to watch over every soul and keep a record of its actions and thoughts. The watch is over the soul because it is there that thoughts and secrets which are responsible for action and reward lie. Thus, people are not left to roam about the earth as they wish. On the contrary, an accurate and immediate record is kept, on the basis of which reckoning is made.

This awesome inference becomes clear as the soul feels that it is never alone even when without company. There is always the watcher who remains nearby even when one hides from all and is secure against any visitor or intruder. There is still the watcher who penetrates all covers and has access to all things concealed, in the same way as the piercing star tears through the night cover. For God’s method of creation is the same with regard to human souls and the wide horizons.

Man’s Humble Origin  

This opening touch, which unites the human soul with the universe, is followed by another which emphasizes the truth of organized creation and deliberate planning to which God has sworn by the heaven and the night visitor. The early stages of man’s creation constitute a proof of this fact and suggest that man is not forgotten as something insignificant: “Let man then reflect: of what he is created. He is created of gushing water; he issues from between the loins and the chest bones.” (Verses 5-7)

Let man consider his origins and what has become of him. It is a very wide gulf which divides the origins from the final product, the gushing water from man the intelligent, rational being with his highly sophisticated organic, neurological, mental and psychological systems. The reference to this great gulf which the gushing water crosses in order to be made into a communicating being suggests that there is a power beyond the province of man which moves that shapeless and powerless fluid along its remarkable and impressive journey until it is shaped into its magnificent ultimate form. It implies that there is a guardian appointed by God to look after that moist germ, and to guide it through its remarkable journey.

This one fertilizing cell, of which there are millions in every gush, is hardly visible under the microscope. It is a creature without support, reason or will. But as soon as it settles in the womb it proceeds to search for food. The guarding hand of God equips it with a quality which enables it to convert the lining of the womb around it into a pool of blood, thus supplying it with fresh nourishment. Once it is sure of the availability of food it starts another process of continuous division to produce new cells. This shapeless and powerless creature which has no reason or will, knows exactly what it is doing and what it wants. The guarding hand watching over it provides it with guidance, knowledge, power and will to enable it to know its way. It is charged with the task of making every group of newly produced cells specialize in building a part of the magnificent structure of the human body. One group proceeds to produce the skeleton; another group forms the muscles; a third the nervous system; a fourth the lymphatic system. The same applies to every major part of the human structure. But the matter is not as simple as that: it involves a higher degree of specialization; for every bone, every muscle and every nerve is unique and dissimilar to every other. The structure is accurately planned, and has a wide range of functions. Hence, as every group of cells proceeds to fulfil its appointed task in building this structure, it learns to break up into specialized subdivisions, each having its particular function in the general set up. Every little cell proceeds knowing its way, destination, and function. Those cells entrusted with the task of forming the eye know that the eye must be in the face, and that it cannot be situated in the abdomen or the foot or the arm, despite the fact that any of these localities is a suitable place for forming an eye. If the first cell charged with making the eye was taken off course and planted in any of these localities, it would have fulfilled its mission and made an eye there. But when it sets out on its mission it simply goes to the exact spot specified for the eye. Who then has told this cell that this structure needs its eye to be in that particular spot? It is God the watching Guardian who guides it, looks after it and shows it its way.

All the cells work individually and collectively within a framework set for them by certain elements functioning inside the cells. These elements are known as the genes which preserve the general characteristics of the species and the distinctive traits of the parents and forefathers. When the eye cell divides and proliferates in order to form the eye, it endeavours at the same time to preserve its shape and particular features so that it turns out to be a human eye and not the eye of an animal. Furthermore, it endeavours to make it an eye of a human whose forefathers had certain features and characteristics distinguishing their eyes. The slightest error in designing that eye, whether in shape or qualities, forces the forming cell out of its set course. So, who has endowed power, ability and knowledge to this insignificant cell which has no reason, will or power of its own? It is God who taught it to design and produce what all mankind can never design or produce. For man cannot design an eye or a part of it, even if charged with this task, while an insignificant cell or group of cells in the body can accomplish this great mission.

This is merely a quick glance at parts of the remarkable journey which transforms the gushing water into the communicative human being. But there is indeed a great multitude of wonders in the physiological functions of the various organs and systems. It is beyond the scope of this work to trace these wonders, but they all constitute evidence of elaborate planning and organization and bear the stamp of God’s guarding, helping and guiding hand. They emphasize the first fact in the surah sworn to by the heaven and the night visitor, and prepare for the next fact, namely, the resurrection, which was denied by the idolaters who were among the first to be addressed by the Qur’an.

“God is well able to bring him back [to life]. On the day when consciences are tried, man shall be helpless, with no supporter.” (Verses 8-10) God, who has created him and looked after him, is well able to bring him back to life after death. The first creation is evidence of His ability as well as His elaborate planning and organization. Unless there is a return in order to accord everyone his or her fair reward then this highly sophisticated and wise creation would be in vain. “On the day when consciences are tried.” (Verse 9). The Arabic terms, tubla and sara’ir used by the Qur’an have much wider connotations than conscience and trial. They suggest that that part of the human soul where secrets are safely deposited will be thrown open, searched and exposed in the same way as the night visitor penetrates the covering darkness of the night. As the guarding watcher penetrates through the soul hidden under multiple covers, secrets are examined and man finds himself powerless and without support: “Man shall be helpless, with no supporter.” (Verse 10) Standing bare without cover and strength adds to the strains and hardships of the situation. This has a deep effect on the reader’s perception, as it moves from talking of the universe and the human soul to man’s creation and his remarkable journey, until he reaches the end when his secrets are exposed and he stands alone, powerless, without support.

A Powerful Discourse

There may be some lingering doubts within some people’s minds that this could happen. Therefore, the surah gives an oath to its seriousness. It adds a link between this assertion and the universe at large, as we saw at the opening of the surah: “By the heaven with its returning rain, by the earth ever splitting with verdure, this is surely a decisive word; it is no idle talk.” (Verses 11-14)

The rain which comes from the sky again and again and the vegetation which splits the earth and springs forth are two images describing one of the many manifestations of life, the life of plants and their origins. Water which pours down from heaven and verdure which springs out from the earth, are akin to the infant coming into the world, passing between the loins springing out from the darkness of the womb. It is the same life, the same scene, the same movement. It is one system pointing to the Maker who has no competitors.

The image of rain and verdure is not dissimilar to that of the night visitor, the piercing star as it splits covers and curtains. It is also similar to the scene depicting consciences being searched and all that is concealed being thrown open. It is again the same sort of structure which tells of the Maker. God swears by these two creations and their two events, the heaven of returning rains and the earth splitting with verdure. The impact of the scene portrayed combines with the rhythm to strike a strong note of finality and decisiveness. The oath is that this word, or the Qur’an generally, which states that people will return to life so as to face a trial, is the decisive word which admits of no frivolity. It puts an end to all argument, doubts and uncertainties. It is a true and final word, to which both the heaven of the returning rain and the earth splitting with verdure are witnesses.

When this final statement of return and trial is made, there follows an address to God’s Messenger. At the time of revelation he had only a few believers who supported him in Makkah. They were suffering the brunt of the idolaters’ hostility and their plots against the Islamic message. The idolaters were tirelessly trying to smother the call. The address is made to the Prophet to encourage and reassure him, and to disparage what the schemers devise. It states that their scheming is only temporary; the battle is in God’s hands and under His command. So, let the Prophet persevere and be patient, and let him and the believers be reassured: “They devise many an artful scheme, but I too have My schemes. So, give respite to the unbelievers; leave them alone for a while.” (Verses 15-17)

Those who were created from gushing water, then issued between the loins, brought forth without any strength, ability or will of their own, guided along their long journey by divine power and destined to that return when secrets are searched and tried and where they have no strength or support — are devising a scheme against the Prophet and the Muslims! I, the Creator who guides, preserves, directs, brings back to life and puts to trial; the Almighty; the Victor who has made the sky, the night visitor, the gushing water and man; the Maker of the heaven with its returning rain and the earth splitting with verdure; I, God, am devising a scheme of My own. So, there are the two schemes and the battle. It is, in truth, a one-sided battle but described as being between two sides for the sake of sarcasm.

“So, give respite to the unbelievers; leave them alone for a while.” (Verse 17) Do not be impatient. Do not precipitate the end of the battle when you have seen its true nature. There is wisdom behind this respite and delay which is short even though it may take up the whole length of this first life; for how short this life appears when compared with a life of limitless duration.

God’s benevolent and compassionate attitude to His Messenger is noticeable in the final verse: “So give respite to the unbelievers; leave them alone for a while.” He is addressed here as if he were the final authority, or as if he were the one who decides or approves that they may take a short respite. But the Prophet has no such authority; it is merely an expression of kind and benevolent tenderness which bestows compassion on his heart. It is divine kindness which suggests that God’s Messenger has a say in the whole matter as if he had a share or interest in it. It lifts all barriers between the Prophet and the divine domain, where all matters are judged and settled.

Tafsir by Abul A’la Maududi

86. Surah Al Tariq (The Morning Star)

Name

The Surah taken its name from the word at-tariq in its first verse.

Period of Revelation

The style of its subject matter resembles that of the earliest Surahs revealed at Makkah, but this surah was sent down at a stage when the disbelievers of Makkah were employing all sorts of devices and plans to defeat and frustrate the message of the Qur’an and Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings).

Theme and Subject Matter
It discuses two themes: first that man has to appear before God after death; second, that the Qur’an is a decisive Word which no plan or device of the disbelievers can defeat or frustrate.

First of all, the stars of the heavens have been cited as an evidence that there is nothing in the universe which may continue to exist and survive without guardian over it. Then man has been asked to consider his own self as to how he has been brought into existence from a mere sperm drop and shaped into a living human being. Then it has been said that the God, Who has so brought him into existence, has certainly the power to create him once again, and this resurrection will be for the purpose to subject to scrutiny all the secrets of man which remained hidden in the world. At that time, man will neither be able to escape the consequences of his deeds by his own power, nor will anyone else come to his rescue.

In conclusion, it has been pointed out that just as the falling of rain from the sky and the sprouting of plants and crops from the earth is no child’s play but a serious task, so also the truths expressed in the Qur’an are no jest but a firm and unchangeable reality. The disbelievers are involved in the misunderstanding that their plans and devices will defeat the invitation of the Qur’an, but they do not know that Allah too is devising a plan which will bring to naught all their scheming and planning. Than in one sentence the discourse has been summed up, with a word of consolation to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) and a tacit warning to the disbelievers, saying: “Have patience for a while: let the disbelievers do their worst. Before long they will themselves realize whether they have been able to defeat the Qur’an by their scheming or the Qur’an has dominated them in the very place where they are exerting their utmost to defeat it.”


(86:1) By the heaven, and the night-visitor, (86:2) what do you know what the night-visitor is? (86:3) It is the piercing star. (86:4) There is no living being but there is a protector over it.[1] (86:5) So let man consider of what he was created.[2] (86:6) He was created of a gushing fluid, (86:7) emanating from between the loins and the ribs.[3] (86:8) Surely He (the Creator) has the power to bring him back (to life).[4] (86:9) On the Day when man’s deepest secrets shall be put to the test [5] (86:10) he shall have no power, and no helper. (86:11) By the heaven with its recurring cycle of rain, [6] (86:12) and by the earth ever bursting with verdure, (86:13) this (Qur’an) is surely a decisive Word, (86:14) not a flippant jest. [7] (86:15) They are devising a guile, [8] (86:16) and I too am devising a guile. [9] (86:17) So leave the unbelievers to themselves; respite them awhile. [10]


[1]. A Guardian: Allah Almighty Himself, who is looking after and watching over every creature, big or small, in the earth and heavens. He it is who has brought everything into existence, who is maintaining and sustaining everything in its place and position, and who has taken the responsibility to provide for every creature and to protect it from calamities till an appointed time. On this, an oath has been sworn by the heaven and by every star and planet which appears in the darkness of the night. (Although lexically, an-najm ath-thaqib is singular, it does not imply any one star but the star in the generic sense). The oath signifies that the existence of each star (among the countless stars and planets that shine in the sky at night) testifies to the fact that there is a Being who has created it, illuminated it, suspended it in space, and thus is watching over it in a manner that neither it falls from its place nor collides with any other of the countless stars in their movements, nor does any other star collide with it.

[2]. After inviting man to ponder over the heavens, he is now being invited to consider his own self and see how he has been created, who is it who selects one spermatozoon from among billions of spermatozoa emitted by the father and combines it at some time with one ovum out of a large number of the ova produced by the mother, and thus causes a particular human being to be conceived? Then, who is it who after conception develops it gradually in the mother’s womb until it is delivered in the form of a living child? Then, who is it who in the mother’s womb itself brings about a certain proportion and harmony between its bodily structure and its physical and mental capabilities? Then, who is it who watches over it continuously from birth till death, protects it from disease, accidents and calamities and provides him with countless means of life and opportunities for survival in the world of which he is not even conscious, not to speak of having the power to provide these for himself. Is all this happening without the planning and supervision of One God?

[3]. “A fluid gushing forth” means ejaculation of semen (maain) carrying the sperm (nutfa), one of the minute, usually actively motile gametes-a mature male reproductive cell in semen, which serves to fertilize the female ovum. Sperms are produced by testes. Each testes has 800 small tubules and each tube about 2 feet long, semeniferous tubules which produce sperms about 200-300 million every day. There are 2 valves around urethra. Both are tightly closed to hold and store semen before its expulsion. The inner valve stays tightly closed to prevent backward ejaculation into the urinary bladder and the outer valve intermittently contracts and relaxes 3-7 times along with surrounding muscles contraction to generate force for propelling the semen out (dafiqin). (Ref. Spinal Cord Medicine, Demos Medical Publishing Inc. New York USA, Chapter 26, Page 354).

[4]. Sulb is the backbone (vertebral column) and taraib the ribs. There are 12 pairs of ribs. Of them, 7 pairs are called true ribs as each of them is attached between the vertebra (backbone) and the sternum (breast bone), and the remaining 5 are called false ribs as they are also attached to the vertebral column but not to sternum. Ejaculation is a highly complex process which requires smooth coordination of multiple sections of the nervous system. Mechanism of emission and propulsions is caused by 2 spinal cord centers. The spinal cord is 43-45 cm long and is continuation of brain tissue and occupies its place in the center of upper spinal bony vertebral column. It is the proper functioning, integrity and continuity of these 2 spinal cord centers located between vertebrae (sulb) and ribs (taraib) connecting spinal cord and sex organs along with the valves around urethra by the nerves which are responsible for ejaculation. (Ref. Spinal Cord Medicine, Demos Medical Publishing Inc. New York USA, Chapter 2, Page 16).

[5]. That is, His bringing man into existence and watching over him from the time conception takes place until death, is a clear proof that He can create him once again after death. If He had the power to create him in the first instance and man stays alive in the world by His power alone, what rational arguments can be presented for the conjecture that He does not have the power to do the same thing a second time? To deny this power man will even have to deny that God has brought him into existence, and the one who denies this may well come out one day with the claim that all books in the world have been printed accidentally, all cities of the world have been built accidentally, and there has occurred on the earth an explosion by chance which made all the factories start functioning automatically. The fact is that the creation of man, the structure of his body, the existence of the powers and capabilities working within him, and his survival as a living being all this is a much more complex process than all those works that have come to be accomplished through man, or are still in the process of being accomplished. If such a complex work with such wisdom, proportion and order could be accomplished just through a chance accident, what else could not be regarded as accidental by a mentally deranged person?

[6]. The hidden secrets: the acts of every person which remained a secret to the world as well as those affairs which came before the world only in their apparent form, but the intentions, aims and secret motives working behind them remained hidden from the people. On the Resurrection Day all this will be laid bare and not only will the acts and deeds of every person be examined but it will also be seen what was his motive and intention and object of so acting. Likewise, it also remained hidden from the world, even from the doer of the act himself, what effects and influences of his act appeared in the world, to what extent they spread and for how long they continued to work. This secret will also be revealed on the Resurrection Day and it will be fully examined as to what were the consequences of the seed that a person sowed in the world, what fruit it bore and for how long it affected the later generations for better or for worse.

[7]. The words dhat ar-raje have been used for the sky. Literally raje means to return, but metaphorically this word is used for the rain in Arabic, for rain does not fall just once, but returns over and over again in the season and sometimes out of season as well. Another reason for calling the rain raje is that water rises as vapor from the oceans of the earth and then falls back as rain on the same earth.

[8]. That is, just as the falling of rain from the sky and the splitting of the earth to put out shoots is no jest but a serious reality, so also the news which the Quran gives that man has to return to his God is no jest but a definite and decisive reality and an unchangeable truth which has to be fulfilled.

[9]. That is, these disbelievers are devising every kind of plan to defeat the invitation of the Quran; they wish to blow out this candle; they are creating all sorts of doubts In the people’s minds; they are inventing false accusations against the Prophet (peace be upon him) who has brought it, so as to frustrate his mission in the world and perpetuate the darkness of ignorance and unbelief which he is struggling so hard to remove.

[10]. That is, I am planning that none of their devices should succeed so that they are utterly defeated in their designs, and the light which they are trying their utmost to put out, spreads far and wide.