Surah Inshiqaq (Arabic: سورة الانشقاق‎) is the 84th Surah of the Quran and the meaning of the title is “The Sundering” or “Splitting Open”. It is classified as a Meccan Surah meaning it’s revelation was before Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and his followers migrated from Mecca to Medina. It is composed of 25th ayats (verses).

The Surah sheds some light into what will happen on the day of judgement. The first five ayat mention what events will take place like the flattening of the earth and the splitting of the sky. 

Ayat 6 to 15 mentions disparity between those who have been “given [their] book in [their] right hand” and have a joyful reckoning, and those who will not.

Ayat 16-18 contains few oaths. This is followed by another contrast between the fate of the believers and the non-believers.

Below you can read Surah Inshiqaq in its entirety with transliteration, Sahih International English translation. At the end of the Surah we’ve included four different Tafseers including the work of Ibn Kathir for those looking to study this Surah and it’s message in detail.

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Read Surah Inshiqaq Transliteration and Translation

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

إِذَا السَّمَاءُ انْشَقَّتْ

Itha assamao inshaqqat
1. When the sky has split [open]

وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا وَحُقَّتْ

Wa azinat li Rabbihaa wa huqqat
2. And has responded to its Lord and was obligated [to do so]

وَإِذَا الْأَرْضُ مُدَّتْ

Wa-itha al-ardu muddat
3. And when the earth has been extended

وَأَلْقَتْ مَا فِيهَا وَتَخَلَّتْ

Waalqat ma feeha watakhallat
4. And has cast out that within it and relinquished [it]

وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا وَحُقَّتْ

Waathinat lirabbiha wahuqqat
5. And has responded to its Lord and was obligated [to do so] –

يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنْسَانُ إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ كَدْحًا فَمُلَاقِيهِ

Yaaa ayyuhal insaanu innaka kaadihun ilaa Rabbika kad han famulaaqeeh
6. O mankind, indeed you are laboring toward your Lord with [great] exertion and will meet it.

فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ

Fa ammaa man ootiya kitaabahoo biyameenih
7. Then as for he who is given his record in his right hand,

فَسَوْفَ يُحَاسَبُ حِسَابًا يَسِيرً

Fasawfa yuhasabu hisabanyaseera
8. He will be judged with an easy account

وَيَنْقَلِبُ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُورًا

Wayanqalibu ila ahlihi masroora
9. And return to his people in happiness.

وَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ وَرَاءَ ظَهْرِهِ

Wa ammaa man ootiya kitaabahoo waraaa’a zahrih
10. But as for he who is given his record behind his back,

فَسَوْفَ يَدْعُو ثُبُورًا

Fasawfa yad’oo subooraa
11. In an elevated garden,

وَيَصْلَىٰ سَعِيرًا

Wa yaslaa sa’eeraa
12. And [enter to] burn in a Blaze.

إِنَّهُ كَانَ فِي أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُورًا

Innahu kana fee ahlihi masroora
13. Indeed, he had [once] been among his people in happiness;

إِنَّهُ ظَنَّ أَنْ لَنْ يَحُورَ

Innahoo zanna al lai yahoor
14. Indeed, he had thought he would never return [to Allah].

بَلَىٰ إِنَّ رَبَّهُ كَانَ بِهِ بَصِيرًا

Balaaa inna Rabbahoo kaana bihee baseeraa
15. But yes! Indeed, his Lord was ever of him, Seeing.

فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالشَّفَقِ

Falaaa uqsimu bishshafaq
16. So I swear by the twilight glow

وَاللَّيْلِ وَمَا وَسَقَ

Wallaili wa maa wasaq
17. And [by] the night and what it envelops

وَالْقَمَرِ إِذَا اتَّسَقَ

Walqamari izat tasaq
18. And [by] the moon when it becomes full

لَتَرْكَبُنَّ طَبَقًا عَنْ طَبَقٍ

Latarkabunna tabaqan ‘an tabaq
19. [That] you will surely experience state after state.

فَمَا لَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ

Famaa lahum laa yu’minoon
20. So what is [the matter] with them [that] they do not believe,

وَإِذَا قُرِئَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقُرْآنُ لَا يَسْجُدُونَ ۩

Wa izaa quri’a ‘alaihimul Quraanu laa yasjudoon (make sajda)
21. And when the Qur’an is recited to them, they do not prostrate [to Allah]?

بَلِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يُكَذِّبُونَ

Bali allatheena kafaroo yukaththiboon
22. But those who have disbelieved deny,

وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يُوعُونَ

Wallaahu a’lamu bimaa yoo’oon
23. And Allah is most knowing of what they keep within themselves.

فَبَشِّرْهُمْ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ

Fabashshirhum bi’azaabin aleem
24. So give them tidings of a painful punishment,

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَهُمْ أَجْرٌ غَيْرُ مَمْنُونٍ

Illal lazeena aamanoo wa ‘amilus saalihaati lahum ajrun ghairu mamnoon
25. Except for those who believe and do righteous deeds. For them is a reward uninterrupted.

tafseer surah inshiqaq

Below you can read from four different Tafseers of Surah Inshiqaq including Tafsir by Ibn Kathir. It is one thing to read the Qur’an and it’s a completely different experience to make it a study.

There are some reports that you should read Surah Inshiqaq during pregnancy, however, these claims have no basis from Quran or Sunnah. Granted it will always be beneficial to read the Qur’an if you are pregnant but there is no specific chapter of the Quran which should be recited. There’s is du’a Prophet Zakariya made asking for good offspring in Surah Imran ayah 38 which you should learn.

Surah Inshiqaq Tafseer by Ibn Kathir

Which was revealed in Makkah
The Prostration of Recitation in Surat Al-Inshiqaq

It is reported from Abu Salamah that while leading them in prayer, Abu Hurayrah recited,

﴿إِذَا السَّمَآءُ انشَقَّتْ ﴾


(When the heaven is split asunder.) and he prostrated during its recitation. Then when he completed the prayer, he informed them that the Messenger of Allah prostrated during its recitation. This was recorded by Muslim and An-Nasa’i on the authority of Malik. Al-Bukhari recorded from Abu Rafi` that he prayed the Night prayer with Abu Hurayrah) recited,

﴿إِذَا السَّمَآءُ انشَقَّتْ ﴾


(When the heaven is split asunder.) then he prostrated. So Abu Rafi` said something to him about it (questioning it). Abu Hurayrah replied, “I prostrated behind Abul-Qasim (the Prophet ), and I will never cease prostrating during its recitation until I meet him.”

﴿بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ﴾


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


Splitting the Heavens asunder and stretching the Earth forth on the Day of Resurrection

Allah says,

﴿إِذَا السَّمَآءُ انشَقَّتْ ﴾


(When the heaven is split asunder,) This refers to the Day of Judgement.

﴿وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا﴾


(And listens to and obeys its Lord) meaning, it listens to its Lord and obeys His command to split apart. This will occur on the Day of Judgement.



(and it must do so.) meaning, it is right for it to obey the command of its Lord, because it is great and cannot be rejected, nor overcome. Rather it overpowers everything and everything is submissive to it. Then Allah says,

﴿وَإِذَا الاٌّرْضُ مُدَّتْ ﴾


(And when the earth is stretched forth,) meaning, when the earth is expanded, spread out and extended. Then He says,

﴿وَأَلْقَتْ مَا فِيهَا وَتَخَلَّتْ ﴾


(And has cast out all that was in it and became empty.) meaning, it throws out the dead inside of it, and it empties itself of them. This was said by Mujahid, Sa`id, and Qatadah.

﴿وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا وَحُقَّتْ ﴾


(And listens to and obeys its Lord, and it must do so.) The explanation of this is the same as what has preceded.

The Recompense for Deeds is True

Allah says,

﴿يأَيُّهَا الإِنسَـنُ إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَى رَبِّكَ كَدْحاً﴾


(O man! Verily, you are returning towards your Lord with your deeds and actions, a sure returning,) meaning, `verily you are hastening to your Lord and working deeds.’



(and you will meet.) `Then you will meet that which you did of good or evil.’ A proof for this is what Abu Dawud At-Tayalisi recorded from Jabir, that the Messenger of Allah said,

«قَالَ جِبْرِيلُ: يَا مُحَمَّدُ، عِشْ مَا شِئْتَ فَإِنَّكَ مَيِّتٌ، وَأَحْبِبْ (مَنْ) شِئْتَ فَإِنَّكَ مُفَارِقُهُ، وَاعْمَلْ مَا شِئْتَ فَإِنَّكَ مُلَاقِيه»


(Jibril said, “O Muhammad! Live how you wish, for verily you will die; love what you wish, for verily you will part with it; and do what you wish, for verily you will meet it (your deed).) There are some people who refer the pronoun back to the statement “your Lord.” Thus, they hold the Ayah to mean, “and you will meet your Lord.” This means that He will reward you for your work, and pay you for your efforts. Therefore, both of these two views are connected. Al-`Awfi recorded from Ibn `Abbas that he said explaining,

﴿يأَيُّهَا الإِنسَـنُ إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَى رَبِّكَ كَدْحاً﴾


(O man! Verily, you are returning towards your Lord with your deeds and actions, a sure returning,) “Whatever deed you do, you will meet Allah with it, whether it is good or bad.”


The Presentation and the Discussion that will take place during the Reckoning

Then Allah says,

﴿فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِىَ كِتَـبَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ – فَسَوْفَ يُحَاسَبُ حِسَاباً يَسِيراً ﴾


(Then as for him who will be given his Record in his right hand, he surely, will receive an easy reckoning,) (84:7-8) meaning, easy without any difficulty. This means that he will not be investigated for all the minute details of his deeds. For verily, whoever is reckoned like that, he will certainly be destroyed. Imam Ahmad recorded from `A’ishah that the Messenger of Allah said,

«مَنْ نُوقِشَ الْحِسَابَ عُذِّب»


(Whoever is interrogated during the reckoning, then he will be punished.) `A’ishah then said, “But didn’t Allah say,

﴿فَسَوْفَ يُحَاسَبُ حِسَاباً يَسِيراً ﴾


(He surely will receive an easy reckoning,)” The Prophet replied,

«لَيْسَ ذَاكِ بِالْحِسَابِ، وَلَــكِنْ ذلِكِ الْعَرْضُ، مَنْ نُوقِشَ الْحِسَابَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ عُذِّب»


(That is not during to the Reckoning, rather it is referring to the presentation. Whoever is interrogated during the Reckoning on the Day of Judgement, then he will be punished.) This Hadith has also been recorded by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Jarir. In reference to Allah’s statement,

﴿وَيَنقَلِبُ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُوراً ﴾


(And will return to his family Masrur!) This means that he will return to his family in Paradise. This was said by Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak. They also said, “Masrur means happy and delighted by what Allah has given him.” Allah said;

﴿وَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِىَ كِتَـبَهُ وَرَآءَ ظَهْرِهِ ﴾


(But whosoever is given his Record behind his back,) meaning, he will be given his Book in his left hand, behind his back, while his hand is bent behind him.

﴿فَسَوْفَ يَدْعُو ثُبُوراً ﴾


(He will invoke destruction,) meaning, loss and destruction.

﴿وَيَصْلَى سَعِيراً – إِنَّهُ كَانَ فِى أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُوراً ﴾


(And he shall enter a blazing Fire, and made to taste its burning. Verily, he was among his people in joy!) meaning, happy. He did not think about the consequences, nor feared what (future) was in front of him. His light happiness will be followed by long grief.

﴿إِنَّهُ ظَنَّ أَن لَّن يَحُورَ ﴾


(Verily, he thought that he would never return!) meaning, he used to believe that he would not return to Allah, nor would Allah bring him back (to life) after his death. This was said by Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah and others. Allah then says,

﴿بَلَى إِنَّ رَبَّهُ كَانَ بِهِ بَصِيراً ﴾


(Yes! Verily, his Lord has been ever beholding him!) meaning, certainly Allah will repeat his creation just as he began his creation, and He will reward him based upon his deeds, whether they were good or bad. He was ever watchful of him, meaning All-Knowing and All-Aware.

Swearing by the Various Stages of Man’s Journey

It has been reported from `Ali, Ibn `Abbas, `Ubadah bin As-Samit, Abu Hurayrah, Shaddad bin Aws, Ibn `Umar, Muhammad bin `Ali bin Al-Husayn, Makhul, Bakr bin `Abdullah Al-Muzani, Bukayr bin Al-Ashaj, Malik, Ibn Abi Dhi’b, and `Abdul-`Aziz bin Abi Salamah Al-Majishun, they all said, “Ash-Shafaq is the redness (in the sky).`Abdur-Razzaq recorded from Abu Hurayrah that he said, “Ash-Shafaq is the whiteness.” So Ash-Shafaq is the redness of the horizon, either before sunset, as Mujahid said or after sunset, as is well known with the scholars of the Arabic Language. Al-Khalil bin Ahmad said, “Ash-Shafaq is the redness that appears from the setting of sun until the time of the last `Isha’ (when it is completely dark). When that redness goes away, it is said, `Ash-Shafaq has disappeared.”’ Al-Jawhari said, “Ash-Shafaq is the remaining light of the sun and its redness at the beginning of the night until it is close to actual nighttime (darkness).” `Ikrimah made a similar statement when he said, “Ash-Shafaq is that what is between Al-Maghrib and Al-`Isha’.” In the Sahih of Muslim, it is recorded from `Abdullah bin `Amr that the Messenger of Allah said,

«وَقْتُ الْمَغْرِبِ مَا لَمْ يَغِبِ الشَّفَق»


(The time of Al-Maghrib is as long as Ash-Shafaq has not disappeared.)” In all of this, there is a proof that Ash-Shafaq is as Al-Jawhari and Al-Khalil have said. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Al-Hasan and Qatadah, all said that,

﴿وَمَا وَسَقَ﴾


(and what it Wasaqa) means “What it gathers.” Qatadah said, “The stars and animals it gathers.” `Ikrimah said,

﴿وَالَّيْلِ وَمَا وَسَقَ ﴾


(And by the night and what it Wasaqa,) “What it drives into due to its darkness, because when it is nighttime everything goes to its home.” Concerning Allah’s statement,

﴿وَالْقَمَرِ إِذَا اتَّسَقَ ﴾


(And by the moon when it Ittasaqa.) Ibn `Abbas said, “When it comes together and becomes complete.” Al-Hasan said, “When it comes together and becomes full.” Qatadah said, “When it completes its cycle.” These statements refer to its light when it is completed and becomes full, as the idea was initiated with “The night and what it gathers.” Allah said,

﴿لَتَرْكَبُنَّ طَبَقاً عَن طَبقٍ ﴾


(You shall certainly travel from stage to stage.) Al-Bukhari recorded from Mujahid that Ibn `Abbas said,

﴿لَتَرْكَبُنَّ طَبَقاً عَن طَبقٍ ﴾


(You shall certainly travel from stage to stage.) “Stage after stage. Your Prophet has said this.” Al-Bukhari recorded this statement with this wording. `Ikrimah said,

﴿طَبَقاً عَن طَبقٍ﴾


(From stage to stage.) “Stage after stage. Weaned after he was breast feeding, and an old man after he was a young man.” Al-Hasan Al-Basri said,

﴿طَبَقاً عَن طَبقٍ﴾


(From stage to stage.) “Stage after stage. Ease after difficulty, difficulty after ease, wealth after poverty, poverty after wealth, health after sickness, and sickness after health.”


The Disapproval of Their Lack of Faith, giving Them Tidings of the Torment, that the Ultimate Pleasl


Allah said,

﴿فَمَا لَهُمْ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ – وَإِذَا قُرِىءَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقُرْءَانُ لاَ يَسْجُدُونَ ﴾


(What is the matter with them, that they believe not And when the Qur’an is recited to them, they fall not prostrate.) meaning, what prevents them from believing in Allah, His Messenger and the Last Day, and what is wrong with them that when Allah’s Ayat and His Words are recited to them they do not prostrate due to awe, respect and reverence Concerning Allah’s statement,

﴿بَلِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ يُكَذِّبُونَ ﴾


(Nay, those who disbelieve deny.) meaning, from their mannerism is rejection, obstinacy, and opposition to the truth.

﴿وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يُوعُونَ ﴾


(And Allah knows best what they gather,) Mujahid and Qatadah both said, “What they conceal in their chests.”

﴿فَبَشِّرْهُمْ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ ﴾


(So, announce to them a painful torment.) meaning, `inform them, O Muhammad, that Allah has prepared for them a painful torment.’ Then Allah says,

﴿إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّـلِحَـتِ﴾


(Save those who believe and do righteous good deeds,) This is a clear exception meaning, `but those who believe.’ This refers to those who believe in their hearts. Then the statement, “and do righteous good deeds,” is referring to that which they do with their limbs.

﴿لَهُمْ أَجْرٌ﴾


(for them is a reward) meaning, in the abode of the Hereafter.

﴿غَيْرُ مَمْنُونٍ﴾


(that will never come to an end.) Ibn `Abbas said, “Without being decreased.” Mujahid and Ad-Dahhak both said, “Without measure.” The result of their statements is that it (the reward) is without end. This is as Allah says,

﴿عَطَآءً غَيْرَ مَجْذُوذٍ﴾


(A gift without an end.) (11:108) As-Suddi said, “Some of them have said that this means without end and without decrease.”


This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat Al-Inshiqaq. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and He is the giver of success and freedom from error.


[84:1] When the sky will split apart,

The present Surah depicts the conditions that will prevail on the Day of Judgment, such as reckoning and accountability, reward of good and torment of evil. The heedless man is asked to look into himself and his environs, which will lead him to believe in Allah and the Qur’an. [ The powerful opening of the Surah sketches some of the scenes of universal upheaval ]. First, it speaks about the sky that will split apart. Then it goes on to speak about the earth that will be stretched and will throw up whatever it contains – whether natural treasures, or buried treasures, or dead human bodies, and then it will become empty. A new earth will be prepared for Hashr (Gathering of the Day of Requital). It will have neither caves nor mountains, neither buildings nor trees. It will be flat and smooth. It will be stretched so that there is ample room for the former as well as the latter generations to gather on the plain. This description has been given in other Surahs with different styles, but in the present verses, there is an addition. About what Allah will demonstrate about the heaven and earth on the Day of Judgment, the following comment is made:

وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا وَحُقَّتْ (and will listen to (the command of) its Lord, and it ought to,…84:5) The verbَأَذِنَتْ adhinat means ‘it will listen’. Here listening includes obedience. The verb huqqat may be interpreted as ‘It had an obligation to listen and obey Allah’s command’.

Two Categories of Divine Commands
The obedience of the heaven and the earth, referred to here, may have two meanings, because the Divine commands are of two kinds: [ 1] the Divinely legislated [ taqdirii ] injunctions; and [ 2] the cosmic and destined [ takwini taqdiri ] commands. In the former case, the command appears as a law the violation of which is punishable. However, men are not practically coerced in the sense that they become practically unable to violate it. Instead, they have their free will to choose whether to abide by the law or to violate it. Such laws are imposed upon those who are endowed with intellect like humans and Jinn. This divides them into believers and non-believers, obedient and disobedient. In the former case, the commands are implemented by force. No one can deviate from them in the least. The entire universe, including humans and Jinn, follow them by force. The cosmic commands [ which Allah has decreed ] are applied forcefully and all the creatures, whether believers or unbelievers, pious or impious, have no choice or will but to do according to that command.

ذرَّہ ذرَّہ دہر کا پابستہ تقدیر ہے زندگی کے خواب کی جَامی یہی تعبیر ہے
‘Every particle in this world is bound by the Divine Decree.
Jami, this is the interpretation of the dream of life.’

It is possible that Allah will, on that day, endow the sky and the earth with special sense and perception like humans and Jinn. When they receive a command from Allah, they, of their own volition choose to act upon it. Alternatively, the command may refer to the second kind, that is, the cosmic command that no one can violate. But the words, وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا وَحُقَّتْ “and will listen to [ the command on its Lord, and it ought to,” are closer to the first meaning of command, while the second one is possible, if these words are taken in their figurative sense.

[84:2] and will listen to (the command of) its Lord, and it ought to,

[84:3] and when the earth will be stretched (to give room to more people),

وَإِذَا الْأَرْضُ مُدَّتْ (and when the earth will be stretched [ to give room to more people ]…84:3) The word madda means ‘to stretch, spread, expand out’. Sayyidna Jabir ibn ` Abdullah ؓ narrates that the Holy Prophet said that on the Day of Judgment the earth will be stretched out like leather (or rubber) and expanded into a smooth plain, and there will be just enough space on it for all individuals of human race to keep their feet. To understand this tradition, it is necessary to keep in mind that on the Day of Resurrection all individuals who will have been born from the inception of creation till resurrection will be brought back to life simultaneously. Thus each individual will have just enough space on the earth where he could place his feet. [ Transmitted by Hakim with a good chain of authorities – Mazhari ].

[84:4] and it will throw up whatever it contains, and will become empty,

وَأَلْقَتْ مَا فِيهَا وَتَخَلَّتْ (and it will throw up whatever it contains, and will become empty…84:4) The earth will, with one convulsion, throw up whatever it contains in its belly, whether natural treasures or buried treasures, or mines, or dead human bodies and their remains and particles.

[84:5] and will listen to (the command of) its Lord, and it ought to, (then man will see the consequences of his deeds.)

[84:6] 0 man, you have to work hard constantly to reach your Lord, then you have to meet Him.

يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنسَانُ إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ كَدْحًا فَمُلَاقِيهِ (0 man, you have to work hard constantly to reach your Lord, then you have to meet Him…84:6) The word kadh means to ‘exert one’s efforts fully’, and ‘to your Lord’ means ‘to meet your Lord’. In other words, every effort of man would end at his Lord.

Return to Allah
Mankind is addressed in this verse and shown a road that if he were to think about it carefully, and use his sense and intelligence, he could exert his efforts in the right direction that will ensure for him welfare, well-being and safety in this world, as well as in the Hereafter. First, it has been pointed out that man, whether he is good or bad, believer or non-believer, has the natural tendency to exert himself in order to achieve his goal. A good-natured person will work hard and adopt lawful means to acquire his livelihood and necessities of life. A bad person cannot obtain his needs and objective without working hard. Thieves, robbers, rouges, cheats and looters apply their minds and exert their physical strength in order to achieve their objective. Secondly, it has been pointed out that if the intelligent man were to think carefully, all his movements and pauses are stations of a long journey he is going through, though unconsciously. This journey will end at his presence before Allah, that is, at death. This is stated in the phrase ila rabbika to your Lord’. This is a statement of reality which none can deny. All efforts, [ good or bad ], must end with death. The third point is that after death, in the presence of his Lord, he will have to give an account of his movements and deeds, and of his efforts. This is rationally necessary and justified, so that the consequences of good and bad may be separately known, because such distinction is not known in this life. A good person may work hard for a month or so in order to obtain his livelihood and necessities of life, but thieves and looters may obtain them overnight. If there is no time of reckoning or punishment, both of them [ the good and the bad ] will be equal, which is contrary to reason and justice. At the end, the verse says: فَمُلَاقِيهِ (then you have to meet Him.) The translation given above is based on the assumption that the attached pronoun (hi) refers to Allah. The sense is that every person has to meet his Lord and to present himself before him to give the account of his deeds. Another possible interpretation is that the attached pronoun (hi) refers to ‘kadh’ (working hard). Given this interpretation, the translation of the verse would be: “0 man, you have to work hard constantly to reach your Lord, then you have to meet it.” And the sense would be: ‘you have to meet the good or bad consequences of your working hard.’

The verses that follow depict separately the consequences of the good and the bad people, of the believers and the non-believers. First, the ledger of deeds must be received in the right or the left hand. Those who receive the ledgers in their right hands will be the inmates of Paradise with its eternal blessings. Those who receive the ledgers in their left hands will be the inmates of Hell. The point for careful consideration is that necessities of life, as well as unnecessary desires are fulfilled by both righteous and wicked people in this world, and thus both spend their lives in some way or the other, but the consequences of the two [ for the Hereafter ] are diametrically opposite to each other. One results in eternal and unending comfort, and the other results in eternal perdition, torture and torment. Man still has the chance [ while he is living ] to redirect his attention to working hard towards switching the situation in a direction that not only fulfils his legitimate needs and desires in this world, but also attains the eternal pleasures of the Hereafter.

[84:7] So, as for him whose book (of deeds) will be given to him in his right hand,

فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ ﴿7﴾ فَسَوْفَ يُحَاسَبُ حِسَابًا يَسِيرًا ﴿8﴾ وَيَنقَلِبُ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُورًا ﴿9﴾
(So, as for him whose book [ of deeds ] will be given to him in his right hand, he will be called to account in an easy manner, and he will go back to his people joyfully….7-9)

This verse describes the condition of the believers. Their books of deeds will be given to them in their right hands. An easy reckoning will be taken from them and the welcome news of Paradise will be given to them. They will return to their families joyfully.

It is reported in the Sahih of Bukhari from Sayyidah ` A’shah ؓ that the Holy Prophet has said:
من حوسب یوم القیامۃ عزّب
“He who is required to account for [ or questioned about ] his deeds will have to be punished.”

At this Sayyidah ` A’ishah ؓ asked, “What is the meaning of the [ following ] verse?” يُحَاسَبُ حِسَابًا يَسِيرًا (he will be called to account in an easy manner,..84:8). The Holy Prophet explained that the verse signifies ‘the deeds will merely be presented before Allah without being questioned. As for the person whose deeds are scrutinised, he will never be able to escape torment’.

This explanation of the Holy Prophet ﷺ clarifies that the deeds of the believers will also be presented before Allah, but by virtue of their faith, not all of their actions will be scrutinised. This is referred to as ‘account in an easy manner’. The words ‘he will go back to his people joyfully’ may be interpreted in one of two ways. This may refer to the Houris who will be his family members in Paradise, or it may refer to his family members in the world who will be present in the Plain of Gathering, and he, after knowing about his success, will impart to them, according to the custom of this life, the welcome news of his achievement. The commentators have mentioned both possibilities in interpreting this sentence. [ Qurtubi ].

[84:8] he will be called to account in an easy manner,

[84:9] and he will go back to his people joyfully.

[84:10] As for the one whose book (of deeds) will be given to him from his back side,

[84:11] he will pray for death,

[84:12] and will enter the blazing fire.

[84:13] He had been joyful among his people.

إِنَّهُ كَانَ فِي أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُورًا (He had been joyful among his people…84:13). This verse tells us that those who will be given their Record in their left hands from behind their backs, they will desire death and destruction under the impression that this might end their misery. But it will not be possible for them to die. One of the reasons given here for his misery is that he used to live joyfully among his people in the world, and he was completely oblivious of the Hereafter. The believers, on the other hand, never for a moment were oblivious of the Hereafter in the life of this world. At every moment of pleasure and comfort, they were anxious and worried about the Hereafter. The Qur’an quotes the believers on another occasion as saying:
إِنَّا كُنَّا قَبْلُ فِي أَهْلِنَا مُشْفِقِينَ
‘Indeed we were afraid (of Allah’s punishment) when we were amidst of our family, [ At-Tur 26]

In other words, they lived among their families and yet were fearful and conscious of the Hereafter. The consequences of the two groups will be appropriate to their respective positions. Those who led a life of luxury and pleasure in this world with their families oblivious of the Hereafter, their portion will be punishment of Hell in the next world. Those who were aware of reckoning and feared punishment in the next world will live with their families in eternal luxury, pleasure and happiness. This indicates that a believer should not be immersed in the comforts of this life. At no time and in no circumstance should he be oblivious to the reckoning of the Hereafter.

[84:14] He thought he would never revert (to Allah).

[84:15] Why not? Indeed his Lord was watchful over him.

[84:16] So, I swear by the twilight (after sunset),

فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالشَّفَقِ وَاللَّيْلِ وَمَا وَسَقَ وَالْقَمَرِ إِذَا اتَّسَقَ (So, I swear by the twilight [ after sunset ], and by the night and what it envelops, and by the moon when it develops at the full…84:16-18) In these verses Allah takes oath by four phenomena and reinforces what was asserted in:
إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ
‘you have to work hard constantly to reach your Lord’

If we consider the four phenomena by which oath is taken, it bears evidence to the subject which is forthcoming in the complement of the oath, that is, the condition of man never remains the same at all times. He undergoes changes and unexpected phases all the time. The first phenomenon that brings about a change in his life is the twilight after the sunset, or the red glow that remains on the west side of the sky after the sunset in the evening. This is the beginning of the night. This is the harbinger of a massive change in human conditions, that is, the light is disappearing and a flood of darkness is setting in. The second phenomenon by which oath is taken is night itself which completes the change in his life. The third phenomenon by which oath is taken includes all things that night envelops or shrouds. The primitive sense of the word wasaqa means to ‘pile, gather, heap up the thing’. If it is taken in general sense, it embraces every member of the entire universe which the darkness of night covers, such as animals, vegetation, minerals and inorganic matter, mountains and oceans. By extension, the word would comprehend all things that normally disperse in the light of day and retreat to their own places at night. Human beings return to their homes, animals to their habitats and birds to their nests. Business goods and merchandise are or piled up in one place. This massive change is related to man himself. The fourth phenomenon by which oath is taken is in the following verse: وَالْقَمَرِ إِذَا اتَّسَقَ (and by the moon when it develops at the full…84:18). The word ittisaq is also derived from wasaqa and it means ‘to gather’. The ‘gathering of moon’ signifies that it gathered its light, and it became complete and full [ badr ] the moon of the 14th night. The phrase إِذَا اتَّسَقَ , idhat-tasaqa in relation to moon points to the phenomenon that it goes through various phases. First, it appears as a very fine semicircle. Then its light grows progressively night after night, until it becomes badr kamil [ full moon of the 14th night ]. Having taken oath by the vicissitudes of the four phenomena, the Surah asserts the subject: لَتَرْكَبُنَّ طَبَقًا عَن طَبَقٍ (you shall certainly ascend from stage to stage….84:19) The word tabaq or tabqah refers to a ‘stage’. Its plural is tabaqat. The verb لَتَرْكَبُنَّ latarkabunna is derived from rukub which means ‘to mount or mount up’. The verse purports to say that mankind from the inception to the end of his life will continue to mount up stage by stage, or will pass through all the conditions, gradually and in stages referred to in the preceding verses, that is, periods of light and darkness and other phenomena. He never remains in one condition all the time. He gradually goes through the vicissitudes of life.

Vicissitudes of Human Life, His Eternal Journey and His Final Destination
In the first instance the male sperm is united with the female egg to form a new human organism. This is turned into a blood-clot which transforms into a lump of flesh, and the lump is formed into bones, and the bones are clothed in flesh. The limbs of the human body thus were completed. Then the soul was breathed into him, and he became a living human being. His first food in the womb of his mother was the unclean blood of the mother’s womb. Nine months later, Allah made his way easy to come into the world. Now instead of the unclean blood, he got the [ pure ] milk of his mother’s [ breast ]. When he saw the wide atmosphere and air of the world, he began to grow and develop. Within the first two years of his life, he started moving and walking about, and was able to talk. He weaned and began to eat more delicious and different types of food. As he grew a little older, he made play and amusement his daily preoccupation. When his intelligence developed [ sufficiently ], he was tied up in educational and training activities. When he grew into a youth, he abandoned all previous activities and replaced them with youth activities and ushered himself in a new era where marriage, children and house-keeping became his day-to-day preoccupation. Eventually, this era too neared its end. His physical and other prowess began to give up, and every day he fell prey to new ailments. Old age set in. The final stage of this life, that is, death, began to mount. All this happens in full view of everyone. No one dare deny this. But the ignoramus assumes that death or grave is his final stage, and there is nothing beyond. Allah, the Creator of the universe, the Omniscient, made it known, through the various Prophets [ through the ages ], to the heedless man that grave is not the final stage of his life, but it is merely a waiting-room to enter an enormously large and gigantic world that is yet to come, where the final examination will be conducted and the final stage of his life will be determined. In this world, he will celebrate the Divine remembrance and enjoy eternal comfort and pleasure or he will suffer eternal perdition and damnation [ depending on the final assessment ]. This is where the vicissitudes of his life will end. Thus the Qur’an says:
إِنَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ الرُّجْعَىٰ
‘Surely, to your Lord is the return [ 96:8] ‘

أَنَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ الْمُنتَهَىٰ
‘and that to your Lord is the end (of every one), [ 42] ‘

إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ كَدْحًا
‘you have to work hard constantly to reach your Lord [ 84:6] ‘

The ignoramus and unmindful man is made aware of the fact that the vicissitudes of life are stages in the journey to his final destination. Man ought to realise that walking, moving about, sleeping, waking, and standing and sitting are conditions, in the process of which he is covering the stages of his journey. Eventually, he will reach his Lord and, accounting for his life-long deeds, he will find his final abode that will be a place of never-ending comfort, luxury and pleasure, or [ God forbid!] a place of never-ending retribution, torture and torment. A wise person should treat himself in this world as a traveller and prepare himself for the next world. His main goal in this life should be to cultivate for the next life as the Prophet ﷺ said:

کُن فِی الدُّنیا کَاَنَّکَ غرِیبٌ اَو عِابِرُ سَبِیلٍ
“Be in this world as though you are a stranger or a wayfarer.”

Under the phrase above طَبَقًا عَن طَبَقٍ tabaqan ` an tabaq ‘from stage to stage’, a similar narration is cited by Abu Nu’aim from Sayyidna Jabir Ibn ` Abdullah that the Holy Prophet ﷺ stated that these verses remind the unmindful of his creation, the vicissitudes of his life and instructs him to reconsider his position and the consequences [ of his attitude in this life as there is still time ] and to prepare for next life. However, despite these clear guidelines, there are people who never desist from their heedlessness.

[84:17] and by the night and what it envelops,

[84:18] and by the moon when it develops at the full,

[84:19] you shall certainly ascend from stage to stage.

[84:20] So, what has happened to them that they do not believe

[84:21] and when the Qur’an is recited to them, they do not offer sajdah (prostration)?

Therefore, the verse concludes:
فَمَا لَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ ﴿20﴾ وَإِذَا قُرِئَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقُرْآنُ لَا يَسْجُدُونَ ۩
So, what has happened to them that they do not believe, and when the Qur’an is recited to them, they do not offer sajdah [ prostration ] ۩? (84:20-21)

It means that when the Qur’an, replete with clear guidelines, is recited to them, they do not bow in submission.

The word sajdah /sujud literally denotes ‘to bow’ and it connotes ‘obedience’. Obviously, the word here is not used in its technical sense. It is used in the sense of bowing in submission with respect, humbleness and humility. The reason [ for this interpretation ] is quite clear. This verse does not command to prostrate at the time of recitation of a particular verse. It is related to the entire Qur’an. If the word sajdah had referred to the technical prostration, it would necessarily entail that prostration be offered at every verse of the entire Qur’an, which by unanimous agreement of the Ummah is not the case. Neither salaf nor khalaf subscribe to this view. Now remains the question whether or not a sajdah is obligatory when this verse is recited. (There is a disagreement among the jurists on this point) By a long stretch of imagination, it is possible to use this verse in evidence or support of arguing in favour of prostration being obligatory on recitation of this verse, as some of the Hanafi jurists have done. According to them, the definite article ال al- ‘the’ in the word al-Qur’an stands for the article that is used to indicate previous knowledge, and thus the word al-Qur’an here refers to this particular verse under comment, not to the entire al-Qur’an or the Holy Book. However, this interpretation is after all merely a possibility, but the clear context of the verse indicates that it seems to be far-fetched to take the verse in this sense. And Allah knows best! The true interpretation can be determined by prophetic narratives, the practice of the Holy Prophet ﷺ ” and that of the noble Companions ؓ . The narratives pertaining to sajdah of tilawah differ. Some indicate that it is an obligatory duty to make sajdah on this verse, and others indicate that it is not. As a result, there is a difference of opinion among jurists. Imam Abu Hanifah رحمۃ علیہ holds the view that prostration at this verse is an obligatory duty as is obligatory at other verses of mufassal. Imam A` zam رحمۃ علیہ adduces the following Ahadith in favour of his opinion:

Bukhari recorded from Abu Rafi` ؓ that he prayed the ` Isha’ [ Night ] prayer behind Sayyidna Abu Hurairah ؓ ، and the latter recited: إِذَا السَّمَاءُ انشَقَّتْ (When the sky will split apart) and at the relevant verse, he prostrated. So, Sayyidna Abu Rafi` ؓ asked him what type of prostration it was. Sayyidna Abu Hurairah ؓ replied: “I prostrated at this verse behind Abul Qasim in a salah, and I will never cease prostrating during its recitation until I meet him on the Plain of Gathering.” Muslim transmitted a narrative from Sayyidna Abu Hurairah ؓ that they prostrated with the Holy Prophet ﷺ at relevant verses of this Surah, and of اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ.

Qurtubi reports from Ibn-ul-` Arabi that the veritable view is that this verse is one of the verses at which it is an obligatory duty to prostrate when read or recited or heard being recited. However, the people among whom Ibn-ul-` Arabi lived’ it was not customary among them to prostrate at this verse. They probably followed an Imam, according to whom the prostration was not obligatory. As a result, Ibn-ul-` Arabi says that whenever he led the congregational prayer, he would avoid reciting Surah Al-Inshiqaq, because in his view prostration at the relevant verse is obligatory. If he does not perform the prostration, he would be sinning. If he does perform the prostration, the entire congregation would regard it an unnecessary act. Therefore, he felt he should not unnecessarily split the community. And Allah knows best!

[84:22] Rather, those who disbelieve deny (the truth).

[84:23] And Allah is most aware of what they store.

[84:24] So give him the ‘good news’ of a painful punishment,

[84:25] but those who believed and did righteous deeds, for them there is a reward that will never be interrupted.

The Commentary on
Surah Al-Inshiqaq
Ends here


The surah opens by sketching a few images of the universal upheaval portrayed in greater detail in Surahs 81, 82 and earlier in Surah 78, The Darkening, Cleaving Asunder and The Tiding, respectively. These scenes, however, are now given a special tone by means of the emphasis placed on the complete submission to God by both heaven and earth: “When the sky is rent asunder, obeying her Lord in true submission; when the earth is stretched out and casts forth all that is within her and becomes empty, obeying her Lord in true submission.” (Verses 1-5)

This powerful opening, with its emphasis on submission to God, is a foreword to the subsequent address encouraging man towards humbleness before his Lord. Man is reminded of his position and his ultimate destiny when he returns to God: “O man! You have been toiling towards your Lord, and you shall meet Him. He who is given his record in his right hand will in time have a lenient reckoning and return rejoicing to his people. But he who is given his record behind his back will in time call down destruction upon himself and will enter the fire of hell. He lived joyfully among his people. He surely thought he would never return. Yes, indeed; his Lord was watching over him.” (Verses 6-15)

The third part of the surah paints a picture of life on earth which is well known to man. Such images point to God’s planning, which is both elaborate and faultless. An oath is made to assert that men must live through deliberately planned stages which they cannot escape from: “I swear by the twilight, and by the night and what it envelops, and by the moon in her full perfection, that you shall certainly move onward, stage after stage.” (Verses 16-19)

The last part of the surah wonders at those who deny the faith when their position is as described in the previous two parts, and the end of their world is as described at the beginning of the surah: “Why then do they not accept the faith? Or, when the Qur’an is read to them, they do not fall down in prostration? But the unbelievers persist in rejecting [the truth], yet God knows very well what they are hiding. So, give them the tidings of a grievous suffering, except for those who believe and do good deeds; for theirs is an unfailing reward.” (Verses 20-25)

Two main qualities are evident in this surah: its quiet rhythm and its earnest message. Both are clearly felt, even in the images of universal upheaval the surah sketches. Scenes of this upheaval are portrayed with much more violence elsewhere, as in Surah 81, The Darkening. Here an attitude of sympathetic and compassionate cautioning is adopted. The cautioning is gradual, presented in a quiet, inspiring statement beginning with the words “O man”. This awakens people’s consciences.

The various parts of the surah are ordered according to a special plan. This carries the reader through a variety of scenes, some relating to the universe, others to man himself. The scenes are sketched one after the other in a thoughtful order starting with universal submission to God, which leaves a gentle but real impression on the reader’s heart. Then we are given an image of the reckoning, reward and retribution, followed by a contemporary scene of life on earth and its phenomena. Then follows a statement of wonder at those who, after all this, still refuse to accept the faith. This statement combines with a warning of severe punishment, and a promise of unfailing reward to the believers.

All this is embodied in the few lines which compose this short surah. Such succinctness is just one aspect of the unique nature of the Qur’an. The ideas the surah sets out to explain could not normally be tackled with such power and to such effect, even if entire books were devoted to the task. But the Qur’an achieves its purpose because it addresses our hearts directly. No wonder! It is the word of God.

Complete Universal Submission

“When the sky is rent asunder, obeying her Lord in true submission; when the earth is stretched out and casts forth all that is within her and becomes empty, obeying her Lord in true submission.” (Verses 1-5) The splitting of the sky has been dwelt upon in the commentary on other surahs. One new element here is the submission and complete obedience of the sky to her Lord: “obeying her Lord in true submission.” (Verse 2) Another new element is the stretching of the earth: “When the earth is stretched out.” (Verse 3) This means perhaps an expansion of her size or shape as a result of a disruption of the laws of nature which govern her and preserve her in her present shape. The statement, made in the passive, suggests that this will be carried out through the intervention of an outside force. “And casts forth all that is within her and becomes empty.” (Verse 4) This image portrays the earth as a living entity casting out what is within her and getting rid of it.  There are indeed a great many things within the earth, countless types of creation that have lived, died and been buried over a long period of time, the span of which is known to no one but God. It also includes an abundant resource of metals, water and other secrets unknown except to the Creator. The earth carries all this load one generation after another until that final day when it casts forth all that is within her. “Obeying her Lord in true submission,” she follows the sky’s suit and declares total obedience and complete submission to God.

These short verses vividly demonstrate how both the living sky and earth receive their orders and instantly comply with them. Their obedience is a manifestation of their conscious and dutiful submission. The image drawn here has shades of humility, solemnity and tranquillity that are brought out in full relief. The impression it leaves is one of humble and obedient submission to God.

Man’s Hard Labour

In such an atmosphere of conscious obedience, man is addressed from on high: “O man! You have been toiling towards your Lord, and you shall meet Him.” (Verse 6) “O man!” your Lord has made you in a perfect way. He has given you your humanity which distinguishes you from the rest of creation. Your humanity endows you with certain characteristics which should have made you more conscious of your Lord, and more obedient and submissive to Him than both the sky and the earth. He has given man of His own spirit and endowed him with the ability to communicate with Him, receive His light, ennoble himself with God’s grace in order to achieve the highest degree of perfection attainable by man. This is no little distinction.

“O man! You have been toiling towards your Lord and you shall meet Him.” (Verse 6) Man certainly labours hard in this life, shouldering his responsibilities and exerting himself. All this he does in order to return, in the end, like all the rest of creation, to God. Man labours even for what he enjoys! Nothing in this life comes easily or without effort: if sometimes no physical labour is needed, then surely some mental and emotional effort is required. In this the rich and poor are alike, although the labour exerted may differ in kind and form. This address reminds man that labouring hard is the lot of all in this life on earth. But when we meet our Lord, we will fall into two groups: one will suffer hardship incomparable to that suffered on earth; and the other, consisting of those who have demonstrated their obedience and true submission, will enjoy a rest in which the suffering of this life will be forgotten.

“He who is given his record in his right hand will in time have a lenient reckoning and return rejoicing to his people.” (Verses 7-9) He who is given his book in his right hand is the happy one who was true to his faith. God is pleased with him and rewards him well. He will have a lenient reckoning, that is to say that he will not be called to account for what he did in this life. This is abundantly clear in the traditions of the Prophet. `A’ishah, the Prophet’s wife, quotes him as saying: “He who is called to account will suffer affliction.” Continuing her report, she pointed out that God says, ‘He… shall have a lenient reckoning.’ God’s Messenger answered: ‘That is not what is meant by reckoning and accountability. Lenient reckoning signifies no more than showing him his record. He who is called to account on the Day of Judgement will suffer affliction.’“ [Related by al-Bukhari, Muslim, al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasa’i.]

`A’ishah also related: “I heard God’s Messenger (peace be upon him) saying in his prayers ‘My Lord, make my reckoning a lenient one’. When he had finished his prayers I asked him, ‘What is the lenient reckoning?’ He answered: ‘He who receives lenient reckoning will have his record looked into and will be forgiven, but he who is called to account on that day will perish.” [Related by Ahmad.]

This is, then, the lenient reckoning accorded to him who receives his record in his right hand. He shall win “and return rejoicing to his people,” who will also have won and arrived in heaven ahead of him. We deduce from this statement that those who accept the faith in this life and adhere to the right path will gather together in heaven. Everyone ends up with those whom he loves. We also have an image of the winner’s all-important test: he returns with his face overflowing with happiness.

This image is the opposite of what happens to the afflicted one who has to account for his evil deeds and receives his record with reluctance. “But he who is given his record behind his back will in time call down destruction upon himself and will enter the fire of hell.” (Verses 10-12)

The Qur’an usually makes a distinction between receiving one’s record with one’s right or left hand. Here we have a new image: the record is given from behind one’s back. There is no reason to prevent anyone being given his record in his left hand and from behind his back at the same time. It is an image of one who feels great shame and hates to be confronted with what he has done. We have no real knowledge of the nature of this record or how it is given in one’s right or left hand or behind one’s back. But we can comprehend from the first expression the reality of being a winner, and from the second the reality of doom. This is indeed what we are meant to appreciate. These various forms of expression are used mainly to drive the point home to us and to enhance its effects. For exact knowledge of what will happen and how it will happen belongs only to God.

So, the unfortunate one who lived his life on earth labouring hard but disobeying God and indulging in what is forbidden will know his destiny. He realizes that what lies in front of him is more suffering and hard labour with the only difference being that this time the suffering is greater, uninterrupted and endless. So, he calls destruction upon himself, for he sees his own destruction as the only means of  salvation from what will befall him. When man seeks refuge in his own destruction, then he is certainly in a helpless position. His own non-existence becomes his strongest desire. His hopelessness is beyond description. This is the meaning implied by the Arab poet al-Mutanabbi in his poem which starts with what may be rendered in English as: “Suffice it a malady that you should think death a cure. It says much that doom should be eagerly desired.” It is certainly a case of indescribable distress and misery. “And [he] will enter the fire of hell.” (Verse 12) This is the end from which he wishes to escape by means of his own destruction; but there is no way out.

Having portrayed this miserable scene, the surah gives us a glimpse of the sufferer’s past which led him to this endless misery: “He lived joyfully among his people. He surely thought he would never return.” (Verses 13-14) The past tense is used here because we feel that the Day of Judgement has arrived, after this life has ended. The indulgence and the joy had taken place in this life. “He lived joyfully among his people.” He cared for nothing beyond the moment he was in, and made no preparation for the hereafter. “He surely thought he would never return,” to his Lord. Had he thought about the return at the end of his journey through life, he would have carried provisions to sustain him. “Yes, indeed; his Lord was watching over him.” (Verse 15) Indeed God has always been aware of man’s thoughts, actions and feelings. God knows that, contrary to what man may think, there will be a return to Him to receive the reward merited by actions on earth. This is indeed what happens when all return to God to meet their appointed destiny, when what God has ordained will take place.

“He lived joyfully among his people. He surely thought he would never return. Yes, indeed; his Lord was watching over him.” (Verses 13-15) This image of the misery of the one who was joyful among his people during his short life on earth has a counterpart in the image of the happy one who returns rejoicing to his people to live with them an eternal happy life, free from hardship: “He who is given his record in his right hand will in time have a lenient reckoning and return rejoicing to his people.” (Verses 7-9)

Suffering Through Life

The surah then refers briefly to some worldly scenes. People, however, continue to overlook the evidence such scenes provide of the deliberate planning that has gone into the making of this world. Indeed, this planning includes the creation of man himself, and his phases and transitions through life: “I swear by the twilight, and by the night and what it envelops, and by the moon in her full perfection, that you shall certainly move onward, stage after stage.” (Verses 16-19) The oath, which is indirect in the Arabic text, serves to draw man’s attention to these universal scenes. The connotations here are in perfect harmony with those of the opening of the surah and the scenes portrayed there. The twilight refers to that period of stillness after sunset when the  soul is overwhelmed by a deep feeling of awe. The heart feels, at such a time, the significance of parting with a beloved companion, and the quiet sadness and deep melancholy this involves. It also experiences fear of the approaching darkness.

“And by the night and what it envelops.” (Verse 17) What the night envelops is left unspecified to enhance the effect. Imagination can travel far and wide as one thinks of what the night may conceal of events and feelings. But the travels of the imagination cannot capture all the images generated by the short Qur’anic verse, “And by the night and what it envelops.” We are left with an overwhelming feeling of reverence which is in perfect harmony with the stillness and awe associated with the twilight.

“And by the moon in her full perfection.” (Verse 18) This is another quiet and splendid scene, describing the full moon as her light descends over the earth. The full moon is always associated with tranquillity. The general impression formed here is closely associated with twilight, and the dark night as it conceals everything. The feeling is one of a complementary stillness and reverence.

“That you shall certainly move onward, stage after stage.” (Verse 19) This means, you will pass from one stage of suffering to another, as has been charted for you. The Qur’an uses the term ‘ride’, although we use the expression ‘move onward’, to denote the undergoing of various stages of suffering. ‘Ride’ is frequently used in Arabic to signify the passage through risk and difficulty. This usage suggests that difficulties and risks are like horses or mules to be ridden. Each one will take the rider to the stage determined for them. Thus each one will deliver the rider to a new, predetermined stage, in the same way as twilight, the night and perfect moon are predetermined. They eventually end with their meeting with God, which was mentioned in the preceding part. This coherent ordering of the parts of the surah and the smooth movement from one point to another is characteristic of the superb Qur’anic style.

Unfailing Reward

There then follows an expression of wonder at those who persist in their denial of the faith when they have all these signs and all this abundant evidence within themselves and in the world at large which indicates the truth: “Why then do they not accept the faith?” Or, “when the Qur’an is read to them, they do not fall down in prostration?” (Verses 20-21) Indeed, why do they not accept the faith? There are numerous indications in the universe and within the soul which point out that the path of faith is the right path. They are at once numerous, profound and powerful, so they besiege the heart if it tries to run away from them. But if someone listens to them, then they address him in a friendly and affectionate way.  

The Qur’an addresses them in the language of pure human nature. It opens the heart to the truth and points out its evidence both within themselves and over the horizon. It kindles in people’s hearts God-consciousness, humbleness, obedience and submission to the Creator of the universe. The expression, “fall down in prostration,” refers to these feelings. The universe is splendid and inspiring: it offers a multitude of signs, mental stimuli and moments of purity which combine to arouse in us a ready response and a willing submission. The Qur’an is also superb and inspiring; it links the human heart with the splendid universe and, consequently, with the Creator who made it. It gives us a feeling of truth about the universe which also demonstrates the truth of creation and the Creator. Hence the wonder: “Why then do they not accept the faith? Or, when the Qur’an is read to them, they do not fall down in prostration?” (Verses 20-21)

It is indeed amazing, but the Qur’an does not dwell on this for long. It proceeds to describe the behaviour of the unbelievers and the end which awaits them. “But the unbelievers persist in rejecting [the truth], yet God knows very well what they are hiding. So give them the tidings of a grievous suffering.” (Verses 22-24) The unbelievers shout, ‘lies’, but the object of their denunciation as lies is unspecified. In Arabic, omission of the object serves to widen the scope of reference for the verb. Thus, here we understand that the denunciation as lies is an entrenched habit and a characteristic of unbelievers. But God is fully aware of the evil they conceal in their hearts and He knows perfectly well their motives for denouncing the truth.

The surah then halts its discussion of their state and addresses God’s Messenger: “So give them the tidings of a grievous suffering,” an unpleasant tiding for anyone who is awaiting news of his future.

At the same time the surah describes what awaits the believers who prepare for their future by good deeds. This description is made in the form of an exception from what awaits the unbelievers: “except for those who believe and do good deeds; for theirs is an unfailing reward.” (Verse 25) This type of exception is known in Arabic linguistics as “unrelated exception”. The believers, not originally among the recipients of the gloomy news, are then excepted from it. This form of expression serves to draw attention to what follows. The unfailing recompense is one which is continuous and unceasing, and will be given in the hereafter, when people will be immortal.

On this decisive note the surah ends. It is a surah of short yet immensely powerful verses.

Tafseer Abul A’la Maududi

84. Surah Inshiqaq (The Splitting)

It is derived from the word inshaqqat in the first verse. Inshaqqat is infinitive which means to split asunder, thereby implying that it is the Surah in which mention has been made of the splitting asunder of the heavens.

Period of Revelation
This too is one of the earliest Surahs to be revealed at Makkah. The internal evidence of its subject matter indicates that persecution of the Muslims had not yet started; however, the message of the Qur’an was being openly repudiated at Makkah and the people were refusing to acknowledge that Resurrection would ever take place when they would have to appear before their God to render an account of their deeds.

Theme and Subject Matter
Its theme is the Resurrection and Hereafter.

In the first five verses not only have the state of Resurrection been described vividly but an argument of its being true and certain also have been given. It has been stated that the heavens on that Day will split asunder, the earth will be spread out plain and smooth, and it will throw out whatever lies inside it of the dead bodies of men and evidences of their deeds so as to become completely empty from within. The argument given for it is that such will be the Command of their Lord for the heavens and the earth; since both are His creation. they cannot dare disobey His Command. For them the only right and proper course is that they should obey the Command of their Lord.

Then, in vv 6-19 it has been said that whether man Is conscious of this fact or not, he in any case is moving willy nilly to the destination when he will appear and stand before his Lord. At that time all human beings will divide into two parts: first those whose records will be given in their right hands: they will be forgiven without any severe reckoning; second those whose records will be given them behind their back. They will wish that they should die somehow, but they will not die; instead they will be cast into Hell. They will meet with this fate because in the world they remained lost in the misunderstanding that they would never have to appear before God to render an account of their deeds, whereas their Lord was watching whatever they were doing, and there was no reason why they should escape the accountability for their deeds. Their moving gradual]y from the life of the world to the meting out of rewards and punishments in the Hereafter was as certain as the appearance of twilight after sunset, the coming of the night after the day, the returning of men and animals to their respective abodes at night, and the growing of the crescent into full moon.

In conclusion, the disbelievers who repudiate the Qur’an instead of bowing down to God when they hear it, have been forewarned of a grievous punishment and the good news of limitless rewards has been given to the believers and the righteous.

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

(84:1) When the sky is rent asunder (84:2) and hearkens to the command [1] of its Lord, doing what it should; (84:3) and when the earth is stretched out [2] (84:4) and casts out what is within it and is emptied, [3] (84:5) and hearkens to the command of its Lord, doing what it should.[4] (84:6) O man, you are striving unto your Lord [5] and you will meet Him. (84:7) Whoever is given the Record in his right hand (84:8) shall be called to an easy accounting, [6] (84:9) and shall return to his people joyfully.[7] (84:10) But he who is given the Record behind his back,[8] (84:11) shall cry for “perdition,” (84:12) and will enter the Blazing Fire. (84:13) He used to live joyfully among his people,[9] (84:14) thinking he would never revert (to Us). (84:15) But no; (how would he not revert)? His Lord was ever watching him.[10] (84:16) Nay; I swear by the twilight; (84:17) and by the night and what it enfolds, (84:18) and by the moon, when it reaches its fullness: (84:19) you shall proceed onwards from stage to stage.[11]

1. Literally: And listens its Lord’s command. However, according to Arabic usage adhina lahu does not only mean: He heard the command but it means: Hearing the command he carried it out promptly like an obedient servant.

2. When the earth is stretched out: when the oceans and rivers are filled up, the mountains are crushed to pieces and scattered away, and the earth is leveled and turned into a smooth plain. In Surah TaHa, the same thing has been expressed, thus: He will turn the earth into an empty level plain, wherein you will neither see any curve nor crease. (verses 106-107). Hakim in Mustadrak has related through authentic channels on the authority of Jabir bin Abdullah a saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to the effect: On the Resurrection Day the earth will be flattened out and spread out like the table-cloth; then there will hardly be room on it for men to place their feet. To understand this saying one should keep in mind the fact that on that Day all men who will have been born from the first day of creation till Resurrection, will be resurrected simultaneously and produced in the divine court. For gathering together such a great multitude of the people it is inevitable that the oceans, rivers, mountains, jungles, ravines and all high and low areas be leveled and the entire globe of the earth be turned into a vast plain so that all individuals of human race may have room on it to stand on their feet.

3. That is, it will throw out all dead bodies of men and also the traces and evidences of their deeds lying within it, so that nothing remains hidden and buried in it.

4. Here, it has not been expressly told what will happen when such and such an event takes place, for the subsequent theme by itself explains this, as if to say: O man, you are moving towards your Lord and are about to meet Him; you will be given your conduct book; and rewarded or punished according to your deeds.”

5. That is, “You may if you so like think that all your efforts and endeavors in the world are confined to worldly life and motivated by worldly desires, yet the truth is that you are moving, consciously or unconsciously, towards your Lord and you have ultimately to appear before Him in any case.

6. That is, his reckoning will be less severe. He will not be asked why he had done such and such a thing and what excuses he had to offer for it. Though his evil deeds will also be there along with his good deeds in his records, his errors will be overlooked and pardoned in view of his outweighing good deeds. In the Quran, for the severe reckoning of the wicked people the words su-al-hisab (heavy reckoning) have been used (Surah Ar-Raad, Ayat 181), and concerning the righteous it has been said: From such people, We accept the best of their deeds and overlook their evils. (Surah Al- Ahqaf, Ayat 16). The explanation of it given by the Prophet (peace be upon him) has been related in different words by lmam Ahmad Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Abu Daud, Hakim, Ibn Jarir, Abd bin Humaid, and Ibn Marduyah on the authority of Aishah. According to one of these traditions the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Doomed will be he who is called to account for his deeds. Aishah said: O Messenger of Allah, has not Allah said: He whose record is given in his right hand shall have an easy reckoning? The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: That is only about the presentation of the deeds, but the one who is questioned would be doomed. In another tradition Aishah has related: I once heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) supplicate during the prayer, thus: O God, call me to a light reckoning. When he brought his Prayer to conclusion, I asked what he meant by that supplication. He replied: Light reckoning means that one’s conduct book will be seen and one’s errors will be overlooked. O Aishah, the one who is called to account for his deeds on that Day, would be doomed.

7. His kinsfolk: his family and relatives and companions who will have been pardoned even like himself.

8. In( Surah Al-Haaqqah, Ayat 25), it was said that his record will be given to him in his left hand but here behind his back. This will probably be for the reason that he would already have lost all hopes that he would be given his record in his right hand, for he would be well aware of his misdeeds and sure to receive his record in his left hand. However, in order to avoid the humiliation of receiving it in the left hand, in front of all mankind, he will withdraw his hand behind and so would receive it behind his back.

9. That is, his way of life was different from that of God’s righteous men, about whom in(Surah At-Toor, Ayat 26), it has been said that they lived among their kinsfolk in fear and dread of God, i.e. they fear lest they should ruin their own Hereafter on account of their absorption in the love of children and endeavors for the sake of their well-being and prosperity in the world. On the contrary, this man lived a life free from every care and worry and also helped his children and kinsfolk to enjoy life fully, no matter what wicked and immoral methods he had to use to procure the means of enjoyment, how he had to usurp the rights of others and transgress the bounds set by Allah for the sake of the worldly pleasures.

10. That is, it was against God’s justice and His wisdom that He should overlook the misdeeds that he was committing and should not summon him before Himself to render his account of the deeds.

11. That is, you will not remain in one and the same state, but will have to pass through countless stages gradually, from youth to old age, from old age to death, from death to barzakh (the intermediary state between death and Resurrection), from barzakh to Resurrection, from Resurrection to the Plain of Assembly, then to the Reckoning, and then to the meting out of rewards and punishments. An oath has been sworn by three things to confine this:

(1) By the twilight.

(2) By the darkness of night and the gathering together in it of all those human beings and animals who remain scattered in the day time.

(3) By the moon’s passing through different phases to become full. These are some of those things which testify that rest and stillness is unknown in the universe in which man lives. There is a continuous and gradual change taking place everywhere. Therefore, the disbelievers are wrong in thinking that life comes to an end after man has breathed his last.

(84:20) So, what is the matter with them that they do not believe, (84:21) and when the Qur’an is recited to them, they do not prostrate [12] themselves? (84:22) Instead, the unbelievers reject it, calling it a lie. (84:23) Allah knows best what they are accumulating (in their Record).[13] (84:24) So give them the good news of a painful chastisement, (84:25) except for those who believe and do good deeds. Theirs shall be an unending reward.

12. They do not fall prostrate: they do not bow down to God out of fear of Him. To perform a sajdah (prostration) here is confirmed by the practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him). lmam Malik, Muslim and Nasai have related a tradition concerning Abu Huraira saying that he recited this Surah in the Prayer and performing a sajdah here and said: The Prophet (peace be upon him) performed a sajdah at this point. Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud and Nasai have cited this statement of Abu Rafi: Abu Huraira recited this Surah in the Isha Prayer and performed a sajdah. When I asked why he had done so, he replied: I prayed under the leadership of Abul Qasim (peace be upon him) and he performed a sajdah here. Therefore, I will continue to perform this sajdah likewise as long as I live. Muslim, Abu Daud, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Ibn Majah and others have related another tradition saying that Abu Huraira said: We performed sajdah behind the Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah in this Surah and in Iqra bi-ismi Rabbikalladhi khalaq.

13 Another meaning can also be: Allah knows best what disbelief, malice, hostility to the truth and evil intentions and designs they keep in their breasts.