Surah Muddaththir >> Currently viewing Surah Muddaththir Ayat 31 (74:31)

Surah Muddaththir Ayat 31 in Arabic Text

وَمَا جَعَلْنَآ أَصْحَـٰبَ ٱلنَّارِ إِلَّا مَلَـٰٓئِكَةًۭ ۙ وَمَا جَعَلْنَا عِدَّتَهُمْ إِلَّا فِتْنَةًۭ لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ لِيَسْتَيْقِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُوا۟ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ وَيَزْدَادَ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ إِيمَـٰنًۭا ۙ وَلَا يَرْتَابَ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُوا۟ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ وَٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ ۙ وَلِيَقُولَ ٱلَّذِينَ فِى قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌۭ وَٱلْكَـٰفِرُونَ مَاذَآ أَرَادَ ٱللَّهُ بِهَـٰذَا مَثَلًۭا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يُضِلُّ ٱللَّهُ مَن يَشَآءُ وَيَهْدِى مَن يَشَآءُ ۚ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ جُنُودَ رَبِّكَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ وَمَا هِىَ إِلَّا ذِكْرَىٰ لِلْبَشَرِ
Wa maaja’alnaaa As-haaban naari illaa malaaa ‘ikatanw wa maa ja’alnaa ‘iddatahum illaa fitnatal lillazeena kafaroo liyastaiqinal lazeena ootul kitaaba wa yazdaadal lazeena aamanooo eemaananw wa laa yartaabal lazeena ootul kitaaba walmu’minoona wa liyaqoolal lazeena fee quloo bihim maradunw walkaafiroona maazaaa araadal laahu bihaazaa masalaa; kazaalika yudillul laahu mai yashaaa’u wa yahdee mai yashaaa’; wa maa ya’lamu junooda rabbika illaa hoo; wa maa hiya illaa zikraa lil bashar

English Translation

Here you can read various translations of verse 31

Sahih International
And We have not made the keepers of the Fire except angels. And We have not made their number except as a trial for those who disbelieve – that those who were given the Scripture will be convinced and those who have believed will increase in faith and those who were given the Scripture and the believers will not doubt and that those in whose hearts is hypocrisy and the disbelievers will say, “What does Allah intend by this as an example?” Thus does Allah leave astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And none knows the soldiers of your Lord except Him. And mention of the Fire is not but a reminder to humanity.

Yusuf Ali
And We have set none but angels as Guardians of the Fire; and We have fixed their number only as a trial for Unbelievers,- in order that the People of the Book may arrive at certainty, and the Believers may increase in Faith,- and that no doubts may be left for the People of the Book and the Believers, and that those in whose hearts is a disease and the Unbelievers may say, “What symbol doth Allah intend by this?” Thus doth Allah leave to stray whom He pleaseth, and guide whom He pleaseth: and none can know the forces of thy Lord, except He and this is no other than a warning to mankind.

Abul Ala Maududi
We have appointed none but angels as the keepers of the Fire, and We have not made their number but as a trial for the unbelievers so that those who have been endowed with the Book will be convinced and the believers’ faith will increase, and neither those who have been endowed with the Book nor the believers will fall into any doubt. As for those in whose hearts there is a sickness as well as the unbelievers, they will say: “What did Allah aim at by this strange parable?” Thus does Allah let whomsoever He pleases to go astray, and directs whomsoever He pleases to the Right Way. And none knows the hosts of your Lord but He. (And Hell has only been mentioned here) that people may take heed.

Muhsin Khan
And We have set none but angels as guardians of the Fire, and We have fixed their number (19) only as a trial for the disbelievers, in order that the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) may arrive at a certainty [that this Quran is the truth as it agrees with their Books i.e. their number (19) is written in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] and the believers may increase in Faith (as this Quran is the truth) and that no doubts may be left for the people of the Scripture and the believers, and that those in whose hearts is a disease (of hypocrisy) and the disbelievers may say: “What Allah intends by this (curious) example?” Thus Allah leads astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And none can know the hosts of your Lord but He. And this (Hell) is nothing else than a (warning) reminder to mankind.

Pickthall
We have appointed only angels to be wardens of the Fire, and their number have We made to be a stumbling-block for those who disbelieve; that those to whom the Scripture hath been given may have certainty, and that believers may increase in faith; and that those to whom the Scripture hath been given and believers may not doubt; and that those in whose hearts there is disease, and disbelievers, may say: What meaneth Allah by this similitude? Thus Allah sendeth astray whom He will, and whom He will He guideth. None knoweth the hosts of thy Lord save Him. This is naught else than a Reminder unto mortals.

Dr. Ghali
And in no way have We made the Wardens (Literally: companions) of the Fire except Angels, and in no way have We made their (right) number except as a temptation for the ones who have disbelieved, (and) that the ones to whom the Book has been brought may have certitude, and that the ones who have believed may increase in belief, and that the ones to whom the Book has been brought and the believers may not be suspicious, and that the ones in whose hearts there is sickness and the disbelievers may say, “What would Allah intend by this as a similitude?” Thus does Allah lead into error whomever He decides, and He guides whomever He decides, and in no way does anyone know the hosts of your Lord except He. And in no way is it anything except a Reminding to the mortals.

Abdel Haleem
none other than angels appointed by Us to guard Hellfire- and We have made their number a test for the disbelievers. So those who have been given the Scripture will be certain and those who believe will have their faith increased: neither those who have been given the Scripture nor the believers will have any doubts, but the sick at heart and the disbelievers will say, ‘What could God mean by this description?’ God leaves whoever He will to stray and guides whoever He will- no one knows your Lord’s forces except Him- this [description] is a warning to mortals.

Quran 74 Verse 31 Explanation

For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Muddaththir ayat 31, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.

Ala-Maududi

(74:31) We[17] have appointed none but angels as the keepers of the Fire,[18] and We have not made their number but as a trial for the unbelievers[19] so that those who have been endowed with the Book will be convinced[20] and the believers’ faith will increase, 21 and neither those who have been endowed with the Book nor the believers will fall into any doubt. As for those in whose hearts there is a sickness[22] as well as the unbelievers, they will say: “What did Allah aim at by this strange parable?”[23] Thus does Allah let whomsoever He pleases to go astray, and directs whomsoever He pleases[24] to the Right Way. And none knows the hosts of your Lord but He.[25] (And Hell has only been mentioned here) that people may take heed.[26]


17. The whole passage from here to “none knows the hosts of your Lord but He Himself”, is a parenthetical sentence, which has been inserted here to answer an objection of the disbelievers, who had started mocking it when they heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) say that 19 keepers had been appointed over Hell.

Their objection was: How strange that, on the one hand, we are told that all human beings, from the time of the Prophet Adam till Resurrection, who disbelieved and committed evil, will be cast into Hell, and, on the other hand, that there will be only 19 keepers, who will administer punishment to the countless numbers of men in such a huge Hell.

This caused a huge laughter among the chiefs of Quraish. Abu Jahl said: Brothers, are you so powerless that even as many as ten of you at a time will not be able to overpower a single policeman of Hell. At this a wrestler of the Bani Jumha said: Well I will deal with and overpower at least 17 of them by myself; as for the remaining two, you all together can tackle them. In response these sentences have been inserted as a parenthetical clause.

18. That is, it is foolish on your part to compare the angelic powers to human powers. They will be angels, not men, and you cannot imagine what tremendous powers Allah has granted to the angels He has created.

19. That is, although apparently there was no need to mention the number of the keepers of Hell, yet We have mentioned it so that it becomes a trial for every such person who may be concealing any kind of unbelief in his heart. Such a man may be making a great display of his faith but if he conceals even a tinge of the doubt about the Godhead and supreme powers of God, or about revelation and Prophethood, anywhere in his heart, his disbelief would immediately be exposed as soon as he would hear that only 19 policemen would control countless numbers of the culprits from among the jinn and men in such a huge jail and would also administer punishment to each of them individually.

20. Some commentators have explained it thus: As in the scriptures of the Jews and Christians, the same number of the angels has also been mentioned as keepers of Hell, they would be convinced of this thing’s being truly from Allah as soon as they heard it. But in our opinion this commentary is not correct for two reasons. First, we have not been able to see anywhere in the existing scriptures of the Jews and Christians in spite of search that the number of the angels appointed over Hell is 19. Second, there are many things in the Quran, which have also been mentioned in the scriptures of the Jews and Christians, yet they explain them away, saying that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has plagiarized these from their books. For these reasons the correct meaning of this statement in our opinion is: The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) knew that he would be ridiculed as soon as the disbelievers heard that 19 angels had been appointed over Hell, but in spite of this, he presented without the least hesitation and fear publicly before the people what had been revealed to him from Allah, and did not at all mind the jesting and mocking by the people. The pagans of Arabia were unaware of the unique distinction of the Prophets, but the followers of the earlier scriptures were fully aware that the Prophets in every age used to convey to their people intact whatever they received from God, whether it pleased them or displeased them. On this very basis it was to be expected of the Jews and the Christians that they would be convinced of the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) truth for only a Prophet could present an apparently strange thing without any hesitation before the people in an environment charged with antagonism and hostility. This is also evident that such a thing was shown by the Prophet (peace be upon him) on many other occasions. Its most prominent example is the event of the miraj (ascension) which he related openly before a general assembly of the disbelievers and did not at all care how his opponents would behave and react after they had heard the story of the wonderful event.

21. It has been explained at several places in the Quran that on the occasion of every trial when a believer remains steadfast to his faith, and forsaking the way of doubt and denial, disobedience or disloyalty to the faith, adopts the way of faith, obedience and loyalty to it, it increases and strengthens him all the more in faith and resignation (For explanation, see(Surah Aal-Imran, Ayat 173);( Surah Al- Anfal, Ayat 2); (Surah At-Taubah, Ayats 124-125); (Surah Al- Ahzab, Ayat 22); (Surah Al-Fath, Ayat 4 and the corresponding E.Ns).

22. As sickness of the heart in the Quran is generally understood to imply hypocrisy, seeing this word here some commentators have expressed the view that this verse was revealed at Al-Madinah, for the hypocrites appeared at Al- Madinah. But this view is not correct for several reasons. In the first place, the assertion itself that there were no hypocrites at Makkah is false, and its falsehood has been exposed in the Introduction to the (Surah Al-Ankabut and in its verses 10-11).

Secondly, in our opinion it is not a correct way of writing commentary that in respect of a certain sentence occurring in a particular discourse which was revealed on a particular occasion, under particular circumstances, one should declare that it had been sent down on another occasion but has been inserted here without any relevance. The historical background of this part of Surah Al-Muddaththir is well known to us from authentic traditions. This was revealed in connection with a particular event of the early period of the life at Makkah. The whole context bears full relevance to the event. What could, therefore, be the occasion in this context that this one sentence, if it was revealed many years later at Al- Madinah, should have been inserted here?

As for the question what is implied by the disease of the heart here, its answer is that it implies the disease of doubt. Not only in Makkah but in the entire world there have been, and are, very few such people, who might deny God, Hereafter, Revelation, Prophethood, Heaven, Hell, etc. absolutely. In every age the greater majority by far has been of those people, who have been involved in the doubt whether there is God, or no God, Hereafter or no Hereafter, whether Heaven and Hell really exist, or are mere figments of the imagination, and whether the Messengers did really come and receive revelation or not. This same doubt has led most people to unbelief, otherwise the number of such people in the world who denied these truths absolutely has never been great. For a person who has any common sense knows that there is no rational ground whatever for denying the possibility of the existence of these things, or of declaring them absolutely impossible.

23. This does not mean that they accepted it as divine word but wondered why Allah had said such a thing. But what they actually meant was: A discourse which contained such an irrational and impossible thing could not be a revelation from Allah.

24. That is, Allah in this very way sometimes sends down in the course of His revelations and commandments such things as become a means of test and trial for the people. It is one and the same thing which a truth-loving, goodnatured and right-minded person hears and understanding its right meaning in the right way and adopts the straight path. But when heard by an obstinate, perverse and willful wrongdoer, makes him to misconstrue it and make it a new excuse for fleeing from the truth. Since the first man is himself a lover of the truth, Allah grants him guidance, for it is not the way of Allah to lead the seekers after truth forcibly astray. And since the second man himself does not want guidance, but chooses only error for himself, Allah also pushes him on to the way of error and deviation, for it is also not the way of Allah to forcibly pull to the way of the truth him who has an aversion to the truth. (The question of Allah’s granting guidance

Ibn-Kathir

31. And We have set none but angels as guardians of the Fire. And We have fixed their number only as a trial for the disbelievers, in order that the People of the Scripture may arrive at a certainty and that the believers may increase in faith, and that no doubt may be left for the People of the Scripture and the believers, and that those in whose hearts is a disease and the disbelievers may say: “What does Allah intend by this example” Thus Allah leads astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And none can know the hosts of your Lord but He. And this is nothing but a reminder to mankind. 32. Nay! And by the moon. 33. And by the night when it withdraws. 34. And by the dawn when it brightens. 35. Verily, it is but one of the greatest (signs). 36. A warning to mankind 37. To any of you that chooses to go forward, or to remain behind.


The Number of Guardians of Hell and what the Disbelievers said about that

Allah says,

﴿وَمَا جَعَلْنَآ أَصْحَـبَ النَّارِ﴾

(And We have set none as (Ashab) guardians of the Fire) meaning, its guardians.

﴿إِلاَّ مَلَـئِكَةً﴾

(but angels.) Guardian angels, stern and severe. This is a refutation of the idolators of the Quraysh when they mentioned the number of guardian angels. Abu Jahl said, “O people of Quraysh! Are not every ten among you able to defeat one of them” So Allah said,

﴿وَمَا جَعَلْنَآ أَصْحَـبَ النَّارِ إِلاَّ مَلَـئِكَةً﴾

(And We have set none but angels as guardians of the Fire.) meaning, extremely strong in their creation. They cannot be stood against nor defeated. It has been said that Abu Al-Ashaddayn, and his name was Kaladah bin Usayd bin Khalaf, said, “O people of Quraysh! You defend me against two of them and I will defend you against seventeen of them.” He said this thinking himself to be very great. For they claimed that he achieved such strength that he would stand on a skin of cow hide and ten people would try to pull it out from under his feet, but the skin would be torn to pieces and still not be removed from under him. Concerning Allah’s statement,

﴿وَمَا جَعَلْنَا عِدَّتَهُمْ إِلاَّ فِتْنَةً لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ﴾

(And We have fixed their number only as a trial for the disbelievers,) meaning, `We only have mentioned their number as being nineteen as a test from Us for mankind.’

﴿لِيَسْتَيْقِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ﴾

(In order that the People of the Scripture may arrive at a certainty) meaning, so that they may know that this Messenger is true. For he speaks according to the same thing that they have with them of heavenly revealed Scriptures that came to the Prophets before him. Concerning Allah’s statement,

﴿وَيَزْدَادَ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ إِيمَـناً﴾

(and that the believers may increase in faith.) meaning, to their faith. This is due to what they witness from the truthfulness of the information of their Prophet, Muhammad .

﴿وَلاَ يَرْتَابَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَلِيَقُولَ الَّذِينَ فِى قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ﴾

(and that no doubt may be left for the People of the Scripture and the believers, and that those in whose hearts is a disease) meaning, among the hypocrites.

﴿وَالْكَـفِرُونَ مَاذَآ أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِهَـذَا مَثَلاً﴾

(and the disbelievers may say: “What does Allah intend by this example”) meaning, they say, “What is the wisdom in mentioning this here” Allah says,

﴿كَذَلِكَ يُضِلُّ اللَّهُ مَن يَشَآءُ وَيَهْدِى مَن يَشَآءُ﴾

(Thus Allah leads astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills.) meaning, by way of examples like this, faith becomes firm in the hearts of some people and it is shaken with others. This has a profound wisdom and it is an irrefutable proof. None knows the Soldiers of Allah except Him Allah says,

﴿وَمَا يَعْلَمُ جُنُودَ رَبِّكَ إِلاَّ هُوَ﴾

(And none can know the hosts of your Lord but He.) meaning, none knows their number and their count except Allah. This is so that one does not make the mistake of thinking that they are only nineteen in all. It has been confirmed in the Hadith concerning Al-Isra’ that is reported in the Two Sahihs and other collections, that the Messenger of Allah said in describing the Frequented House (Al-Bayt Al-Ma`mur), which is in the seventh heaven,

«فَإِذَا هُوَ يَدْخُلُهُ فِي كُلِّ يَوْمٍ سَبْعُونَ أَلْفَ مَلَكٍ لَا يَعُودُونَ إِلَيْهِ آخِرَ مَا عَلَيْهِم»

(Seventy thousand angels enter into it every day and they do not return to it as it is all that is due upon them (one visit in their lifetime).) Concerning Allah’s statement,

﴿وَمَا هِىَ إِلاَّ ذِكْرَى لِلْبَشَرِ﴾

(And this is nothing but a reminder to mankind.) Mujahid and others said,

﴿وَمَا هِىَ﴾

(And this is not.) “This means the Hellfire which has been described.”

﴿إِلاَّ ذِكْرَى لِلْبَشَرِ﴾

(but a reminder to mankind. ) Then Allah says,

﴿كَلاَّ وَالْقَمَرِ – وَالَّيْلِ إِذْ أَدْبَرَ ﴾

(Nay! And by the moon. And by the night when it withdraws.) meaning, when it withdraws.

﴿وَالصُّبْحِ إِذَآ أَسْفَرَ ﴾

(And by the dawn when it brightens.) meaning, when it shines.

﴿إِنَّهَا لإِحْدَى الْكُبَرِ ﴾

(Verily, it is but one of the greatest (signs).) meaning, the great things. This refers to the Hellfire. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak and others of the Salaf, all said this.

﴿نَذِيراً لِّلْبَشَرِ – لِمَن شَآءَ مِنكُمْ أَن يَتَقَدَّمَ أَوْ يَتَأَخَّرَ ﴾

(A warning to mankind — to any of you that chooses to go forward, or to remain behind.) meaning, for whoever wishes to accept the warning and be guided to the truth, or hold back from accepting it, turn away from it and reject it.

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