Surah Al Zalzalah is the 99th Surah of the Qur’an and is composed of 8 ayat. It is a Medinan Surah meaning it’s revelation was after the Prophet (ﷺ) migrated from Mecca to Medina.
This Surah begins with a description of the Day of Judgment, the Earth will give off a terrible earthquake and “throw up her burdens” and people will be “separated [into categories] to be shown [the result of] their deeds.” The surah tells us, the complete track record will be shown, and it will be so detailed that not an atom’s weight of any good or evil act will be left unnoticed.
Read Surah Al Zalzalah – The 99th Surah of The Qur’an
Bismillah Hir Rahman Nir Raheem
In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious and The Most Merciful
Izaa zul zilatil ardu zil zaalaha
1. When the earth is shaken with its [final] earthquake
Wa akh rajatil ardu athqaalaha
2. And the earth discharges its burdens
Wa qaalal insaanu ma laha
3. And man says, “What is [wrong] with it?” –
Yawmaa izin tuhad dithu akhbaaraha
4. That Day, it will report its news
Bi-anna rabbaka awhaa laha
5. Because your Lord has commanded it.
Yawma iziny yas durun naasu ash tatal liyuraw a’maalahum
6. That Day, the people will depart separated [into categories] to be shown [the result of] their deeds.
Famaiy ya’mal mithqala zarratin khai raiy-yarah
7. So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it,
Waman y’amal mithqala zarratin sharraiy-yarah
8. And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.
Tafsir of Surah Al Zalzalah
It is recommended that we should not only read the Qur’an but we should also seek to understand it’s teachings and lessons. Since many people are not native Arabic speakers we should read the various Tafsir which breakdown Surah Zalzalah into it’s core concepts, lessons, historical context, and significance. Below you can read from four various tafseer works and Inshallah learn something new that will benefit you.
Surah Zalzalah Tafsir by Ibn Kathir
Imam Ahmad recorded from `Abdullah bin `Amr that he said, “A man came to the Messenger of Allah and said, `Teach me what to recite, O Messenger of Allah!’ The Prophet said,
(Recite three from those ﴿which begin﴾ with the letters Alif, Lam, Ra’) The man then said to him, `I have become old in age, my heart has hardened and my tongue has become harsh.’ The Prophet said,
(Then recite from those ﴿which begin﴾ with the letters Ha-Mim.) The man said the same thing as he had said before, so the Prophet said,
(Recite three from the Musabbihat.) The man again said the same thing as he had said before. Then the man said, `Rather give me something to recite that is comprehensive (of all of these), O Messenger of Allah.’ So the Prophet told him to recite
(When the earth quakes with its Zilzal.) Then when he (the Prophet ) finished reciting the Surah to him the man said, `By He Who has sent you you with the truth as a Prophet, I will never add anything else to it.’ Then the man turned away and left, and the Prophet said,
(The little man has been successful, the little man has been successful.) Then the Prophet said,
(Bring him back to me.) So the man came to him and the Prophet said to him,
(I have also been commanded to celebrate `Id Al-Adha, which Allah has made a celebration for this Ummah.) The man said `What do you think if I am only able to acquire a borrowed milking she-camel — should I slaughter it’ The Prophet said,
(No. But you should cut your hair, clip your nails, trim your mustache, shave your pubic area and that will be the completion of your sacrifice with Allah, the Mighty and Majestic.)” Abu Dawud and An-Nasa’i recorded this (Hadith.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
Ibn `Abbas said,
(When the earth quakes with its Zilzal.) “This means that it will move from beneath it.”
(And when the earth throws out its burdens.) meaning, it will throw forth that which is in it of the dead. More than one of the Salaf have said this and it is similar to Allah’s statement,
(O mankind! Have Taqwa of your Lord! Verily, the earthquake (Zalzalah) of the Hour is a terrible thing.) (22:1) This is also similar to His saying,
(And when the earth is stretched forth, and has cast out all that was in it and became empty.) (84:3-4) Muslim recorded in his Sahih from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said,
(The earth will throw out the pieces of its liver (its contents). Gold and silver will come out like columns. A murderer will come and say, `I killed for this’ The one who broke the ties of kinship will say, `For this I severed the ties of kinship’ The thief will say, `For this I got my hands amputated’ Then they will leave it there and no one will take anything from it.)” Then Allah says,
(And man will say: “What is the matter with it”) meaning, he will be baffled by its situation after it used to be stable, settled and firm, and he used to be settled upon its surface. This refers to the alteration of the state of things and the earth moving and shaking. There will come to it inescapable quaking that Allah prepared for it. Then it will throw out its dead people — from the first to the last generations. At that time the people will be baffled by the events and the earth changing into other than the earth, and the heavens as well. Then they will be presented before Allah, the One, the Irresistible. Concerning Allah’s statement,
(That Day it will declare its information.) meaning, it will speak of what the people did upon its surface. Imam Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi and Abu `Abdur-Rahman An-Nasa’i all recorded a Hadith from Abu Hurayrah — and in the wording of An-Nasa’i’s version it states — that he said, “The Messenger of Allah recited this Ayah,
(That Day it will declare its information.) Then he said,
(Do you know what is its information) They said, `Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said,
(Verily, its information is that it will testify against every male and female servant, about what they did upon its surface. It will say that he did such and such on such and such day. So this is its information.)” Then At-Tirmidhi said, “This Hadith is Sahih Gharib.” Concerning Allah’s statement,
(Because your Lord will inspire it.) It is apparent that the implied meaning here is that He will permit it (the earth). Shabib bin Bishr narrated from `Ikrimah that Ibn `Abbas said,
(That Day it will declare its information.) “Its Lord will say to it, `Speak.’ So it will speak.” Mujahid commented (on “inspire it”), ” He commands it (i.e., to speak). ” Al-Qurazi said, “He will command it to separate from them.” Then Allah says,
(That Day mankind will proceed in scattered groups (Ashtat)) meaning, they will return from the station of the Judgement in separate groups. This means that they will be divided into types and categories: between those who are miserable and those who are happy, and those who are commanded to go to Paradise and those who are commanded to go to the Hellfire. As-Suddi said, “Ashtat means sects.” Allah said,
(that they may be shown their deeds.) meaning, so that they may act and be rewarded for what they did in this life of good and evil.
Allah goes on to say,
(So whosoever does good equal to the weight of a speck of dust shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of speck of dust shall see it.) Al-Bukhari recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said,
(The horses are for three. For one man they are a reward, for another man they are a shield, and for another man they are a burden. In reference to the man for whom they are a reward, he is the man who keeps them to be used in the way of Allah. Thus, they spend their entire life grazing in the pasture or garden (waiting in preparation for Jihad). So whatever afflicts them during that lengthy period in the pasture or garden, it will be counted as good deeds for him. Then, if their lengthy period is ended and they are used for a noble battle or two, their hoof prints and their dung are counted as good deeds for him.
When they passed through a stream from which they did drink, though he (their owner) does not intend to quench their thirst, yet, it would be counted as good deeds, Therefore, they are a reward for that man. A man who keeps them to maintain himself and to be independent of others (i.e., begging, etc.), and he does not forget the right of Allah upon their necks and their backs (i.e., their Zakah), then they are a shield for him (from the Hellfire). A man who keeps them in order to boast, brag and show off, then they are a burden for him (on Judgement Day).) So the Messenger of Allah was then asked about the donkeys and he said,
(Allah has not revealed anything concerning them except this single, comprehensive Ayah: (So whosoever does good equal to the weight of a speck of dust shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of speck of dust shall see it.)) Muslim also recorded this Hadith. In Sahih Al-Bukhari, it is recorded from `Adi that the Prophet said,
(Fear (ward off) the Fire, even if by giving half a date in charity, and even by saying a single word of good.) In the Sahih as well, he (`Adi) narrated (from the Prophet ):
(Do not under rate any good act, even if it is offering drinking water from your bucket to one who is seeking a drink, or meeting your brother with a cheerful face.) It is also recorded in the Sahih that the Prophet said,
(O party of believing women! None of you should belittle a gift sent by your neighbor, even if it is a Firsan of a sheep.) The word Firsan in this Hadith means its hoof. In another Hadith he said,
(Give something to the beggar, even if it is a burnt hoof.) It has been reported from `A’ishah that she gave a single grape in charity and then she said, “To how much dust is it equivelent” Imam Ahmad recorded from `Awf bin Al-Harith bin At-Tufayl that `A’ishah told him that the Prophet used to say,
(O `A’ishah! Beware of the sins that are belittled, for indeed they will be taken account of by Allah.) This Hadith was recorded by An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah.Imam Ahmad recorded from `Abdullah bin Mas`ud that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Beware of the sins that are belittled. For verily, they are gathered in a man until they destroy him.) And indeed the Messenger of Allah made an example of them (sins that are taken lightly) by saying that they are like a people who settle in barren land. Then their leader comes and orders the men to go out one at a time and each bring back a stick until they have gathered a large number of sticks. Then they kindled a fire and burned everything that they threw into it.
This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat Idha Zulzilat (Az-Zalzalah) and all praise and thanks are due to Allah.
Sayyidna Anas and Ibn ` Abbas ؓ report that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said that Surah Al-Zilzal equals half the Qur’an, Surah Al-Ikhlas equals a third of the Qur’an and Surah Al-Kafirun equals a quarter of the Qur’an. [Transmitted by al-Tirmidhi, al-Baghawi and a1-Mazhari].
The Scene of the Day of Resurrection
Verse  إِذَا زُلْزِلَتِ الْأَرْضُ زِلْزَالَهَا (When the earth will be trembled with its quake.) It is not clear whether this earthquake refers to the convulsion that will take place in the world before the ‘first blowing of the trumpet’, as is mentioned in connection with the portents of the Doomsday, or it refers to the quake that will occur after the ‘second blowing’ when the dead bodies will be resurrected and thrown out of their graves. Narratives and views of the commentators differ on this issue. It is not inconceivable that many quakes and convulsions would occur: first, before the ‘first blowing’; and second, after the ‘second blowing’ at the time of raising the dead. Here it probably refers to the second quake, and the context supports it, because the Surah later on describes the scenes of the Day of Resurrection, such as reckoning, weighing and evaluating of deeds, and recompense. Allah knows best. [Mazhari]
Verse [99:2] وَأَخْرَجَتِ الْأَرْضُ أَثْقَالَهَا (and the earth will bring forth its burdens.) Muslim has recorded in his Sahih from Abu Hurairah ؓ that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
“The earth will throw out the pieces of its liver [contents]. Gold and silver will come out like columns. A murderer will come and say: ‘I killed for this?’ The one who broke the ties of kinship will say: ‘For this I severed the ties of kinship?’ The thief will say: ‘For this I got my hand amputated?’ Then they will leave it there, and no one will take anything from it.”
Verse [99:3] and man will say, “What has happened to it?”
Verse [99:4] That day it will describe all its happenings,
Verse [99:5] because its Lord will have so commanded it.
Verse [99:6] That day the people will come back (from the place of reckoning) in different groups, so that they may be shown (the fruits of) their deeds.
Verse [99:7] فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَهُ (So, whoever does good [even] to the weight of a particle shall see it.) The word ‘good’ here refers to what is good in terms of Shari` ah, that is, only a good deed done in the wake of faith is recognized by Allah. Any good deed done in the state of disbelief is not recognized, and consequently it will not be rewarded in the Hereafter, though it might have been rewarded in this world. It is argued on the basis of this verse that anyone who has an atom’s weight of faith will eventually be taken out of Hell. The reason being that, according to the promise made in this verse, man must reap the fruit of his righteousness in the Hereafter. If he has not done any righteous deeds, faith itself is a great righteousness. Thus no matter how sinful a believer may be, he will not be condemned to Hell for good. On the other hand, if a non-believer has done tons of good deeds, they will be rendered vain in the Hereafter on account of lack of faith. He will, however, receive reward for them here in this world.
Verse [99:8] وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَهُ (And Whoever does evil [even] to the weight of a particle shall see it.) By ‘evil’ here is meant the evil for which the evil-doer has not repented. The Qur’an and the Sunnah bear ample testimony to the fact that any sinner who sincerely repents for his sins Allah will most certainly accept his repentance. However, the sins for which the sinners have not repented in this world shall certainly bring their results, no matter how trivial or petty they might have been in their appearance. That is why the Messenger of Allah ﷺ warned Sayyidah ` A’ishah ؓ to beware of the sins that are belittled, for indeed they will be taken account of by Allah.” [Transmitted by Nasa’i and Ibn Majah].
Sayyidna Abdullah Ibn Masud ؓ says that this verse is most robust and comprehensive verse of the Holy Qur’an. Sayyidna Anas ؓ in a lengthy narration reports that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ referred to this verse as الفاذۃ الجامعہ “the unique, most comprehensive verse”.
The Commentary on
According to some reports, this surah is a Madinan revelation, but other reports suggest that it was revealed in Makkah. The latter reports seem to be more valid, because the surah’s mode of expression and subject matter are more in line with the style and subjects of Makkan surahs.
The surah makes a violent wake-up call to drowsy hearts; the subject matter, scene drawn and rhythm all contributing to the effect of this jolt. It is a powerful blast that makes the earth and all that is on it quake and tremble. Men hardly recover their senses when they find themselves confronted with the reckoning, weighing and evaluating of actions and deeds. They immediately receive their recompense. All this is expressed in just a few short phrases, which is characteristic of this part of the Qur’an as a whole and forcefully portrayed in this particular surah.
The Results of a Life’s Work
When the earth is rocked by her [final] earthquake, when the earth shakes off her burdens, and man asks: ‘What is the matter with her?’ On that day she will tell her news, for your Lord will have inspired her. (Verses 1-5)
It is the Day of Judgement when the firm earth trembles and quakes violently and yields up her long-carried loads of bodies and metals and other matters which have weighed heavily on her. It is a scene that makes every firm and solid object under the feet of the listeners shake and totter. They think themselves to be staggering and toddling along and the earth beneath them shuddering and quaking. It is a scene which separates one’s heart from everything on earth it clings to, assuming it to be firm and everlasting. The Qur’an imparts to these scenes a kind of movement which is transmitted almost to the very sinews of the listener. Such immediate impact is all the more forceful because man is portrayed as confronting and reacting to it all: “And man asks: ‘What is the matter with her?’” (Verse 3)
It is the question advanced by one who is bewildered, astonished, surprised and puzzled, who sees something unfamiliar, encounters what is imperceptible, and beholds what makes him impatient and agitated. o he blurts out: What is the matter with her? What is quaking and shaking her so violently? He cries as he reels and staggers, trying to hold on to anything which may support or keep him upright. But all around him waver and totter violently.
Man has experienced earthquakes and volcanoes which have filled him with awe and ,terror, and have brought to him ruin and destruction. But when man witnesses the quake of the Day of Resurrection he will see no similarity between it and the earthquakes and volcanoes of this world. He neither knows its secrets, nor does he remember anything similar to it. It is something dreadful, taking place for the very first time.
“On that day”, when this quake occurs, leaving man entirely shaken, “she will tell her news, for your Lord will have inspired her.” (Verses 4-5) This earth will then tell her news, describe her condition and what has happened to her. It will all have been brought about simply because ‘your Lord has inspired her,’ ordered her to shake and quake so fiercely and shake off her burdens. She obeys only the Lord’s orders ‘in true submission!’ (84: 5) She will relate her news because what will take place is a simple and clear account of what lies behind it of God’s orders and inspiration to the earth.
At this point when man is astonished, puzzled and crying out, and as the rhythm gasps with dread and terror, surprise and wonder, tottering and shuddering, crying out: What is the matter with her? What has happened to her? — at this point he encounters the scene of resurrection, reckoning, weighing and recompense. “On that day people will come forward, separated from one another, to be shown their deeds. Whoever does an atom’s weight of good shall see it then, and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil shall see it then also.” (Verses 6-8)
In the twinkling of an eye we behold people rising from their graves. “On that day people will come forward, separated from one another.” (Verse 6) We behold them issuing forth from all over the globe: “as if they were swarming locusts.” (54: 7) This scene is also unknown to man, it is something unprecedented, unique in nature. “On that day, the Earth will split asunder and they will come out in haste.” (50: 44) Wherever you look you behold a ghost hurrying away, caring for nothing and never looking back or turning his head left or right. They all are “rushing to the summoner,” (54: 8), with their heads down and their eyes staring forward, “for each one of them will on that day have enough preoccupations of his own.” (80: 37) It is a scene indescribable in human language. It is both ghastly and astonishing. All these adjectives and all their synonymous and analogous terms cannot describe it. It would be better conceived with a stretch of imagination and contemplation within the limits and capacity of our minds.
“On that day people will come forward, separated from one another, to be shown their deeds.” (Verse 6) This is far more terrible and dreadful. People go to where they will be shown their deeds. They have to face their deeds and their rewards or punishments.
Encountering one’s own deeds may, sometimes, be far more severe than any other punishment. Man sometimes does things which he avoids even thinking about when he is alone.
In a spell of repentance and remorse, man may even turn his face from some of his deeds because they are so ghastly. o, in what condition will he be on that day when he faces his deeds in front of all mankind and in the presence of God Almighty? It is a terrible and frightful punishment, although it is only that they are shown their deeds and have to confront their labours. However, following this confrontation comes the accurate reckoning which does not leave out an atom’s weight of good or evil. “Whoever does an atom’s weight of good shall see it then, and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil shall see it then also.” (Verses 7-8)
“An atom’s weight!” Early commentators on the Qur’an explain this phrase as “a mosquito” or “a particle of dust” which can only be seen when exposed to sunlight. These were the smallest things they could think of, and which may be referred to as an atom. But now we know that the word ‘atom’ refers to a definite thing which is much smaller than a particle of dust seen in sunlight. For the particle of dust can be seen by the human eye while it is impossible to see the atom, even with the help of the most powerful microscopes in modern laboratories. It is only conceived by scientists. None of them has seen it either with his own eyes or with his microscope. All that they have seen is its effects.
This atom, or what is similar to it in weight, whether good or bad, will be brought forth and shown to its doer, who will then receive its reward. At that time man does not undervalue any of his actions and deeds, whether good or bad. He does not say, “Oh, this is a trivial thing which has no weight or consideration.” On the contrary, his conscience will be as sensitive to everything he has done as an accurate scale registering even the weight of an atom favourably or unfavourably. There is nothing parallel or similar to this measure in this world, except the heart of a believer. Such a heart is sensitive to even an atom’s weight of either good or evil.
But there are some hearts in this world which are unmoved even by mountains of sin and crime. They remain unaffected while suppressing fountains of goodness which are far firmer than mountains. These hearts are conceited on this earth but on the Day of Judgement they are crushed under their own burdens.
Zalzalah means to shake violently over and over again. Thus, zulzilat-il ardu means that the earth will be shaken violently by convulsion after convulsion, and since shaking of the earth has been mentioned, it automatically gives the meaning that the entire earth will be shaken and not a limited territory of it. Then, in order to express the great intensity of the earthquake the word zilzalaha has been added, which literally means: its being shaken. It means: It will be so shaken as a huge sphere like it ought to be shaken, or shaken to its utmost intensity. Some commentators have taken it to imply the first earthquake with which the first stage of Resurrection will begin, i.e. when all living beings will perish and the present order of the world will be upset. But, according to a large section of them, it implies the earthquake with which the second stage of Resurrection will begin, i.e. when all the former and the latter generations of mankind will rise back to life. This second commentary seems to be more correct, for the whole subsequent theme supports it.
This same has been expressed in Surah Al-Inshiqaq, Ayat 4, thus: And throws out whatever is within it, and becomes empty. It has several meanings:
(1) It will cast out bodies of the dead in whatever form and state and wherever they may be lying in the earth; and the following sentence indicates that at that time all the scattered parts of the bodies will reassemble and be resurrected once again in the same form and shape as they had been in their first life, for if it were not so, how will they say: What has happened to the earth? It will not only cast out the dead bodies of men but also all traces and evidences of the words, deeds and activities of their former life lying buried in it; the following sentence points out that the earth will narrate all that had happened on its back.
(2) A third meaning has also been given by some commentators, saying that it will cast out the treasures of gold, silver, jewels and every kind of wealth lying hidden in the earth’s belly and man will see it and realize how he thirsted for these things in the world, how he committed murders, thefts, robberies and piracies in the land and sea, usurped the rights of others, waged wars and devastated vast populations. On that Day all that will lie heaped up before him, yet of no avail, but will rather become a means of punishment for him.
Man here may as well imply every man, for after resurrection and coming to senses the first impression of every man will be as to what was happening around him; afterwards he will realize that it was the Resurrection Day. Man may also imply the man who denies the Hereafter, for what he regarded as impossible would be happening in front of him and causing him confusion and bewilderment. As for the believers, they will not be bewildered and confused, for everything would be taking place according to their belief and conviction. To an extent, this second meaning is supported by verse 52 of Surah YaSeen, in which it has been said that the deniers of the Hereafter at that time will exclaim: Ah, who has roused us from our sleeping place? And the reply given would be: This is the same which the Merciful God had promised and the Messengers sent by God had spoken the truth. This verse does not expressly say that this answer to the disbelievers would actually be given by the believers, for there is no indication of it in the verse. The probability, however, is that the believers will give them this answer.
According to Abu Hurairah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) recited this verse and asked: Do you know what annals it will relate? The people said: Allah and His Messenger have the best knowledge. Thereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The annals are that the earth will testify to the deeds which every man and woman has done on its back. It will say: He or she had done such and such a thing on such and such a day. These will be the annals the earth will narrate. (Musnad Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Ibn Jarir, Abd bin Humaid, Ibn al-Mundhir, Hakim, Ibn Marduyah, Baihaqi in Ash-Shuab). According to Rabiah Kharashi, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Beware of the earth, for it is your root and basis, and there is nothing which a person does on it, and it will not report, whether it is good or bad. (Mujam at-Tabarani). Anas reports that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The earth on the Day of Resurrection will bring out every act that would have been done on its back. Then he recited these verses. (Ibn Marduyah, Baihaqi). About Ali it is related that when he distributed the money of the Bait al- Mal (public treasury) among the needy ones and thus emptied it, he would perform two rakahs of the Prayer in it and say: You will have to bear witness that I filled you with justice and emptied you with justice.
It might have been difficult for a man of ancient times to understand how the earth will speak and narrate the annals and events happening on it on the Resurrection Day, but in the present age of scientific discoveries and the inventions of cinema, loudspeaker, radio, television, tape-recorder, electronic equipment, etc., it is no longer difficult to understand how the earth will narrate its annals. The impression of whatever man speaks is preserved in the air, in the radio waves, on the particles of the walls and floors and ceilings of the houses, and on the environments of the road, plain or field if he spoke outside the house. If Allah so wills He can make these things repeat all these voices precisely in the way these were uttered in the first instance by man. Man at that time will hear with his ears and know that it was his own voice, and all his acquaintances will also testify that whatever they were hearing was the person’s own voice and his own accent. Then whatever man has done anywhere on the earth, and in whatever state, has had its impression on everything of the environment and its image inscribed on it. Even if he did something in pitch dark, there are such rays in the Kingdom of God for which darkness and light make no difference; they can preserve his image in any case. All these images will pass before man on the Resurrection Day like a motion picture, and will show him when and where he had done something during his life on the earth.
The fact is that although Allah directly knows whatever a man does, yet in the Hereafter when He will establish His court, He will punish every culprit only after fulfilling all the demands of justice. Any case which is brought before His court against a criminal will be proved with such perfect evidence that no room will be left to doubt his being a criminal. The first and foremost evidence against him is the record in which the two recording angels are recording his each word and deed. (Surah Qaaf, Ayats 17-18; Surah Al-Infitar, Ayats 10-12). This record will be handed over to him and he will be asked to read it, for “you yourself suffice as reckoner against yourself.” (Surah Bani Israil, Ayat 14). Reading it man will be bewildered, for “it has left nothing un-recorded of our deeds, small or great.” (Surah Al-Kahf, Ayat 49). Then there is man’s own body which he had used in the world. In Allah’s court his own tongue will bear witness as to what he had been speaking through it in the world, his own hands and feet will bear witness as to what deeds he had committed through them (Surah An-Noor, Ayat 24). His eyes and his ears will bear witness as to what he saw and heard by their means. Even the skin of his body will bear witness to his deeds. Bewildered, he will ask his limbs: Why have you borne witness against me? They will reply: The same God Who has given speech to everything has given us speech. (Surah HaMim As-Sajdah, Ayats 20- 22). On top of these, there will be the witnesses which will be presented from the earth and all its environments, in which man will hear his own voice by his own ears and see the exact pictures of his own deeds by his eyes. Furthermore, the ideas, motives and aims hidden in the heart of man and the intentions with which he had performed every deed will be brought out and placed before him as is stated in Surah Al-Adiyat. That is why with the production of such absolute, clear and undeniable proofs, man will be confounded and he will be left with no chance to say anything in self-defense to excuse himself. (Surah Al-Mursalat, Ayats 35-36).
This can have two meanings:
(1) That each man will present himself in his own individual capacity. Families, groups, parties, nations, all will scatter away. This thing has also been said at other places in the Quran, for e.g. according to Surah Al-Anaam, Ayat 94, Allah on that Day will say to the people: So, you have come before Us all alone, as We created you the first time, and in Surah Maryam: He will appear before Us all alone (verse 80); and Everyone of them will be presented before Him individually on the Resurrection Day. (verse 95).
(2) That the people who during thousands and thousands of years had died at different places; will be rising from different corners of the earth and proceeding in groups, as has been said in Surah An-Naba: The day the Trumpet is blown, you will come out in crowds. (verse 18).
Apart from these, there is no room in the word ashtatan for the meanings, which different commentators have given, and are, therefore, outside the literal bounds of this word, although they are correct by themselves and in accordance with the conditions depicted of the Resurrection Day in Quran and the Hadith.
This can have two meanings:
(1) That they are shown their deeds, i.e. each one will be told what he did in the world.
(2) That they are shown the rewards of their deeds.
Although this second meaning can also be taken of the words li yurau jazaa a malahum (so as to be shown the rewards of their deeds) but li yurau a malahum (so as to be shown their deeds). Therefore, the first meaning is preferable, especially when at several places in the Quran it has been stated clearly that the disbeliever and the believer, the righteous and the wicked, the obedient and the disobedient, all will be given their records. (see Surah Al- Haqqah, Ayats 19, 25; Surah Al-Inshiqaq, Ayats 7, 10). Evidently, there is no difference between showing somebody his deeds and handing over to him his record. Furthermore, when the earth will narrate whatever had happened on it, the whole picture of the conflict between the truth and the falsehood that has been raging since the beginning of time and will continue to rage till the end, will also appear before the people and they will see what part the truth loving people played in it and what vile deeds did the supporters of falsehood commit against them. It may well be that the people will hear with their own ears all the speeches and dialogues of the callers to right guidance and of the publicists of error and evil; the whole record of the writings and literature produced by the two sides will be placed intact before them, and the people gathered together in the Plain of Assembly will see with their own eyes the persecution of the lovers of truth by the worshippers of falsehood and all the scenes of the bitter conflict that raged between the two parties.
A simple and straightforward meaning of this statement, and it is right and correct, is that not an atom’s weight of good or evil done by a person, will have been left unrecorded in his conduct book, and he will see it in any case. But if seeing is taken to imply seeing its reward and punishment, it will be wrong to take it in the meaning that in the Hereafter every person will be rewarded for his most minor offence, and no one will be left un-rewarded for a good and unpunished for an evil done by him. For in the first place, it would mean that each evil act will be punished and each good act rewarded separately; secondly, it also means that no believer, however righteous and virtuous, will remain safe from being punished for a most ordinary error, and no disbeliever, however wicked and iniquitous, will be left unrewarded for a most ordinary good act. Both these meanings are opposed not only to the explanations given in the Quran and the Hadith, but also to reason. From the point of view of reason, it is not understandable that a master would refuse to pardon a most loyal and dutiful servant for a minor error, and along with rewarding for each act of service and obedience, would also punish him for each and every error. Likewise, this also is not understandable from the viewpoint of reason that a person brought up and favored by you should prove disloyal and treacherous and ungrateful in spite of your favors, and you, over-looking his collective attitude, should punish him for each act of treachery separately and reward him for each, even if most insignificant, act of service separately. As for the Quran and the Hadith, they have laid down a detailed law of rewards and punishments for the different categories of the people, be they believers, hypocrites, disbelievers, righteous believers, erring believers, wicked and sinful believers, common disbelievers, or wicked and mischievous disbelievers, and these rewards and punishments pervade the entire life of man, from here to the Hereafter.
In this connection, the Quran has stated, in principle, certain things explicitly:
First, that the deeds of the disbelievers, idolaters and hypocrites (i.e. the deeds regarded as virtuous) have been rendered vain; they will receive no reward for them in the Hereafter. If at all they deserve a reward for them, they will receive it here in the world. For this, see Surah Al-Aaraf, Ayat 147; Surah At-Taubah, Ayat 17, 67-69; Surah Houd, Ayats 15-16; Surah Ibrahim, Ayat 18; Surah Al-Kahf, Ayat 104, 105; Surah An-Noor, Ayat 39; Surah Al-Furqan, Ayat 23; Surah Al-Ahzab, Ayat 19; Surah Az-Zumar, Ayat 65; Surah Al-Ahqaf, Ayat 20.
Second, that evil will be punished to the extent that evil has been committed, but the good deeds will be rewarded much more generously than what they will actually deserve. At some places it has been explicitly stated that a good act will have a ten-fold reward for it, and at others that Allah will increase the reward of the good act as much as He will please. For this, see Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayat 261; Surah Al- Anaam, Ayat 160; Surah Younus, Ayats 26-27; Surah An- Noor, Ayat 38, Surah Al-Qasas, Ayat 84; Surah Saba, Ayat 37, Surah Al-Mumin, Ayat 40.
Third, that if the believers abstained from major sins, their ordinary offences will be forgiven. (Surah An-Nisa, Ayat 31; Surah Ash-Shura, Ayat 37; Surah An-Najm, Ayat 32).
Fourth, that the righteous believer shall have an easy reckoning, his evils will be overlooked and he will be rewarded according to his best deeds. (Surah Al-Ankabut, Ayat 7; Surah Az-Zumar, Ayat 35; Surah Al-Ahqaf, Ayat 16; Surah Al-Inshiqaq, Ayat 8).
The Hadith is also very explicit in this regard. In the commentary of Surah Al-Inshiqaq above, we have cited the Ahadith which have been reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) in connection with the explanation of easy reckoning and severe accountability. (See E.N. 6 of Surah Al-lnshiqaq). Anas says that once Abu Bakr Siddiq was having his meals with the Prophet (peace be upon him). In the meantime this verse was revealed. Abu Bakr withdrew his hand from food and said: O Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah, shall I see the result of every little evil that I have happened to commit? The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: O Abu Bakr, whatever unpleasant and troublesome things you experience in the world, will compensate for the little evils that you happened to commit, and Allah is reserving every little good that you do for your Hereafter, (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Tabarani in Al-Ausat, Baihaqi in Ash-Shuab. Ibn al-Mundhir, Hakim, Ibn Marduyah, Abd bin Humaid). The Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah had also explained this verse to Abu Ayyub Ansari, saying: Whoever from among you does good will have his reward in the Hereafter, and whoever commits an evil will suffer punishment for it in this very world in the form of misery and disease. (Ibn Marduyah). Qatadah has related this saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him) on the authority of Anas: Allah does not wrong a believer in the world. He provides him sustenance in lieu of his good deeds, in the Hereafter He will reward him for these. As for the disbeliever, he is recompensed for his good deeds in the world itself; then when Resurrection takes place, he, will have no good work left to his credit. (lbn Jarir). Masruq has related from Aishah that she asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): In the pre-Islamic days of ignorance Abdullah bin Judan treated his kindred kindly, fed the poor, received his guests well, earned freedom for the captives. Will this be of any use to him in the Hereafter? The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: No, he never said until death: Rabbighfir-li khatiati yaum ad-din. My Lord, forgive me my errors on the Judgement Day. (lbn Jarir). The Prophet (peace be upon him) also gave similar replies in respect of the other people, who did good deeds in the pre-Islamic days, but died as pagans. But there are certain other sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which show that although the good done by a disbeliever cannot save him from the fire of Hell, yet in Hell he will not be subjected to the severe punishment which will be the lot of the wicked, sinful and villainous disbelievers, e.g. according to a Hadith, Hatim Tai in view of his generosity will be subjected to a light punishment in Hell (Ruh al-Maani).
However, this verse warns man of a truth of vital importance which is this: Even a most ordinary good has its own weight and its own value, and the same is also true of evil: even a most ordinary evil will also be considered and taken into account; it will not just be overlooked. Therefore, no good act, however small and insignificant, should be left, undone, for many such good acts can collect and be regarded as a major good act in the reckoning with Allah. Likewise, even a most ordinary evil also should not be committed, for a large number of such ordinary errors can become serious sins. The same thing has been described by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in several Ahadith. According to a tradition related in Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Adi bin Hatim, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Save yourselves from the fire of Hell even if it be by giving away a pit of a date, or by uttering a good word. Again from Adi, in an authentic tradition, the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) saying has been reported: Do not look upon any good work as insignificant, even if it be emptying a bucket into the vessel of one asking for water, or receiving a brother of yours with a pleasant face. According to a tradition reported in Bukhari from Abu Hurairah, the Prophet (peace be upon him), addressing the women, said: O Muslim women, no woman should look upon sending a gift to her neighbor as mean, even if it be the hoof of a goat. A tradition has been related in Musnad Ahmad, Nasai and Ibn Majah from Hadrat Aishah, saying that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: O Aishah, abstain from the sins which are looked upon as trivial, for they too will be enquired about by Allah. Musnad Ahmad contains a tradition from Abdullah bin Masud, saying that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Beware of minor sins, for they will gather together on man so much so that they will kill him. (For the distinction between the grave and the trivial offences, see E.N. 53 of Surah An-Nisa and E.N. 32 of Surah An-Najm).