Surah An-Naziat (Arabic: سورة النازعات) is the 79th Surah of the Quran and is classified as a Meccan Surah. It is composed of 46 ayat and the English title is “Those who pull out”.
This surah describes how the Angels take souls from the body of people at the time of their death. The surah goes on to give an account of Prophet Musa (as) story and how arrogance and pride of the Firawn (Pharaoh) sealed his fate.
Below you can read the full Surah Naziat with transliteration and Sahih International English translation. For those looking to learn about this Surah in more detail you will find four different sources Tafseer at the end of the Surah.
“You are only a warner for those who fear it. It will be, on the Day they see it, as though they had not remained [in the world] except for an afternoon or a morning thereof.”
Surah Naziat Ayat 39-40
Read Surah Naziat with Translation and Transliteration
Bismillah Hir Rahman Nir Raheem
In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious and The Most Merciful
Wan naazi ‘aati gharqa
1. By those [angels] who extract with violence
Wan naa shi taati nashta
2. And [by] those who remove with ease
Wass saabi-haati sabha
3. And [by] those who glide [as if] swimming
Fass saabi qaati sabqa
4. And those who race each other in a race
Fal mu dab-bi raati amra
5. And those who arrange [each] matter,
يَوْمَ تَرْجُفُ الرَّاجِفَةُ
Yawma tarjufur raajifa
6. On the Day the blast [of the Horn] will convulse [creation],
Tatba’u har raadifa
7. There will follow it the subsequent [one].
قُلُوبٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ وَاجِفَةٌ
8. Hearts, that Day, will tremble,
Absaa ruhaa khashi’ah
9. Their eyes humbled.
يَقُولُونَ أَإِنَّا لَمَرْدُودُونَ فِي الْحَافِرَةِ
Ya qoo loona a-inna lamar doo doona fil haafirah
10. They are [presently] saying, “Will we indeed be returned to [our] former state [of life]?
أَإِذَا كُنَّا عِظَامًا نَّخِرَةً
Aizaa kunna ‘izaa man-nakhirah
11. Even if we should be decayed bones?
قَالُوا تِلْكَ إِذًا كَرَّةٌ خَاسِرَةٌ
Qaalu tilka izan karratun khaasirah.
12. They say, “That, then, would be a losing return.”
فَإِنَّمَا هِيَ زَجْرَةٌ وَاحِدَةٌ
Fa inna ma hiya zajratuw-waahida
13. Indeed, it will be but one shout,
فَإِذَا هُم بِالسَّاهِرَةِ
Faizaa hum biss saahirah
14. And suddenly they will be [alert] upon the earth’s surface.
هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ مُوسَىٰ
Hal ataaka hadeethu Musaa
15. Has there reached you the story of Moses? –
إِذْ نَادَاهُ رَبُّهُ بِالْوَادِ الْمُقَدَّسِ طُوًى
Iz nadaahu rabbuhu bil waadil-muqad dasi tuwa
16. When his Lord called to him in the sacred valley of Tuwa,
اذْهَبْ إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّهُ طَغَىٰ
Izhab ilaa fir’auna innahu taghaa.
17. “Go to Pharaoh. Indeed, he has transgressed.
فَقُلْ هَل لَّكَ إِلَىٰ أَن تَزَكَّىٰ
Faqul hal laka ilaa-an tazakka.
18. And say to him, ‘Would you [be willing to] purify yourself
وَأَهْدِيَكَ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ فَتَخْشَىٰ
Wa ahdi yaka ila rabbika fatakh sha
19. And let me guide you to your Lord so you would fear [Him]?'”
فَأَرَاهُ الْآيَةَ الْكُبْرَىٰ
Fa araahul-aayatal kubra.
20. And he showed him the greatest sign,
Fa kazzaba wa asaa.
21. But Pharaoh denied and disobeyed.
ثُمَّ أَدْبَرَ يَسْعَىٰ
Thumma adbara yas’aa.
22. Then he turned his back, striving.
Fa hashara fanada.
23. And he gathered [his people] and called out
فَقَالَ أَنَا رَبُّكُمُ الْأَعْلَىٰ
Faqala ana rabbu kumul-a’laa.
24. And said, “I am your most exalted lord.”
فَأَخَذَهُ اللَّهُ نَكَالَ الْآخِرَةِ وَالْأُولَىٰ
Fa-akha zahul laahu nakalal aakhirati wal-oola.
25. So Allah seized him in exemplary punishment for the last and the first [transgression].
إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَعِبْرَةً لِّمَن يَخْشَىٰ
Inna fee zaalika la’ibratal limaiy-yaksha
26. Indeed in that is a warning for whoever would fear [Allah].
أَأَنتُمْ أَشَدُّ خَلْقًا أَمِ السَّمَاءُ ۚ بَنَاهَا
A-antum a shaddu khalqan amis samaa-u banaaha.
27. Are you a more difficult creation or is the heaven? Allah constructed it.
رَفَعَ سَمْكَهَا فَسَوَّاهَا
Raf’a sam kaha fasaw waaha
28. He raised its ceiling and proportioned it.
وَأَغْطَشَ لَيْلَهَا وَأَخْرَجَ ضُحَاهَا
Wa aghtasha lailaha wa akhraja duhaaha.
29. And He darkened its night and extracted its brightness.
وَالْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ دَحَاهَا
Wal arda b’ada zaalika dahaaha.
30. And after that He spread the earth.
أَخْرَجَ مِنْهَا مَاءَهَا وَمَرْعَاهَا
Akhraja minha maa-aha wa mar ‘aaha.
31. He extracted from it its water and its pasture,
Wal jibala arsaaha.
32. And the mountains He set firmly
مَتَاعًا لَّكُمْ وَلِأَنْعَامِكُمْ
Mataa’al lakum wali an ‘aamikum.
33. As provision for you and your grazing livestock.
فَإِذَا جَاءَتِ الطَّامَّةُ الْكُبْرَىٰ
Fa-izaa jaaa’atit taaam matul kubraa.
34. But when there comes the greatest Overwhelming Calamity –
يَوْمَ يَتَذَكَّرُ الْإِنسَانُ مَا سَعَىٰ
Yauma Yata zakkarul insaanu ma sa’aa.
35. The Day when man will remember that for which he strove,
وَبُرِّزَتِ الْجَحِيمُ لِمَن يَرَىٰ
Wa burrizatil-jaheemu limany-yaraa.
36. And Hellfire will be exposed for [all] those who see –
فَأَمَّا مَن طَغَىٰ
Fa ammaa man taghaa.
37. So as for he who transgressed
وَآثَرَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا
Wa aasaral hayaatad dunyaa
38. And preferred the life of the world,
فَإِنَّ الْجَحِيمَ هِيَ الْمَأْوَىٰ
Fa innal jaheema hiyal maawaa.
39. Then indeed, Hellfire will be [his] refuge.
وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ وَنَهَى النَّفْسَ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ
Wa ammaa man khaafa maqaama Rabbihee wa nahan nafsa ‘anil hawaa
40. But as for he who feared the position of his Lord and prevented the soul from [unlawful] inclination,
فَإِنَّ الْجَنَّةَ هِيَ الْمَأْوَىٰ
Fa innal jannata hiyal maawaa
41. Then indeed, Paradise will be [his] refuge.
يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ السَّاعَةِ أَيَّانَ مُرْسَاهَا
Yas’aloonaka ‘anis saa’ati ayyaana mursaahaa
42. They ask you, [O Muhammad], about the Hour: when is its arrival?
فِيمَ أَنتَ مِن ذِكْرَاهَا
Feema anta min zikraahaa
43. In what [position] are you that you should mention it?
إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ مُنتَهَاهَا
Ilaa Rabbika muntahaa haa
44. To your Lord is its finality.
إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مُنذِرُ مَن يَخْشَاهَا
Innamaaa anta munziru maiy yakshaahaa
45. You are only a warner for those who fear it.
كَأَنَّهُمْ يَوْمَ يَرَوْنَهَا لَمْ يَلْبَثُوا إِلَّا عَشِيَّةً أَوْ ضُحَاهَا
Ka annahum Yawma yarawnahaa lam yalbasooo illaa ‘ashiyyatan aw duhaahaa
46. It will be, on the Day they see it, as though they had not remained [in the world] except for an afternoon or a morning thereof.
Tafseer of Surah Naziat
Below you can read the tafseer on Surah Naziat including one by Ibn Kathir. In the hadith it tells us those who struggle to read the Qur’an or find it difficult will gain twice the rewards for their efforts (Sunan Ibn Majah 3779).
Let’s continue reading the Qur’an daily but let’s not forget the purpose the Qur’an was revealed. It was sent down as a guidance for the people with a clear message.
“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” (2:185)
Let’s seek to understand the meaning and interpretations of the Qur’an. We can do this by listening to lectures as well as reading the various tafseers and forming our own understanding of the book of Allah.
Surah Naziat Tafsir by Ibn Kathir
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Masruq, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu Salih, Abu Ad-Duha and As-Suddi all said,
(By those who pull out, drowning.) “These are the angels who remove the souls from the Children of Adam.” Among them are those whose souls are removed by the angels with difficulty, as if he is being drowned during its removal. There are those people whose souls the angels remove with ease, as if they were unraveling him (i.e., his soul from him) due to their briskness. This is the meaning of Allah’s statement,
(By those who free briskly.) This has been mentioned by Ibn `Abbas. In reference to Allah’s statement,
(And by the swimmers, swimming.) Ibn Mas`ud said, “They are the angels.” Similar statements have been reported from `Ali, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, and Abu Salih. Concerning Allah’s statement,
(And by the racers, racing.) It has been narrated from `Ali, Masruq, Mujahid, Abu Salih, and Al-Hasan Al-Basri that this means the angels. Then Allah says,
(And by those who arrange affairs.) `Ali, Mujahid, `Ata’, Abu Salih, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, and As-Suddi all said, “They are the angels.” Al-Hasan added, “They control the affairs from the heaven to the earth, meaning by the command of their Lord, the Mighty and Majestic.”
Then Allah says,
(On the Day the Rajifah shakes, followed by the Radifah.) Ibn `Abbas said, “These are the two blasts (of the Trumpet) — the first and the second.” Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak and others have made similar statements. It has been reported from Mujahid that he said, “In reference to the first, it is the statement of Allah,
(On the Day the Rajifah shakes,) This is similar to Allah’s statement,
(On the Day the earth and the mountains shake.) (73:14) The second is Ar-Radifah, and it is like the Allah’s statement,
(And the earth and mountains shall be removed from their places, and crushed with a single crushing.) (69:14)” Concerning Allah’s statement,
(Hearts that Day will tremble.) Ibn `Abbas said, “This means afraid.” Mujahid and Qatadah also said this.
(Their vision humiliated.) meaning, the eyes of the people. It means that the eyes will be lowly and disgraced from what they will witness of terrors. Allah then says,
(They say: “Shall we indeed be brought back from Al-Hafirah”) meaning, the idolators of the Quraysh and whoever rejects the Hereafter as they did. They consider the occurrence of the resurrection after being placed in Al-Hafirah — which are the graves — as something farfetched. This has been said by Mujahid. They feel that this is something impossible after the destruction of their physical bodies and the disintegration of their bones and their decaying. Thus, Allah says,
(Even after we are bones Nakhirah) It has also been recited: (نَاخِرَةً) (Nakhirah) Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and Qatadah, all said, “This means decayed.” Ibn `Abbas said, “It is the bone when it has decayed and air enters into it.” Concerning their saying,
(It would in that case be a return with loss.) (79:12) Muhammad bin Ka`b said that the Quraysh said, “If Allah brings us back to life after we die, then surely we will be losers.” Allah then says,
(But it will be only a single Zajrah. When behold, they are at As-Sahirah.) meaning, this is a matter that is from Allah that will not occur twice, nor will there be any opportunity to affirm it or verify it. The people will be standing and looking. This will be when Allah commands the angel Israfil to blow into the Sur, which will be the blowing of the resurrection. At that time the first people and the last people will all be standing before their Lord looking. This is as Allah says,
(On the Day when He will call you, and you will answer with His praise and obedience, and you will think that you have stayed but a little while!) (17:52) Allah has also said,
(And our commandment is but one as the twinkling of an eye.) (54:50) Allah also says,
(And the matter of the Hour is not but as a twinkling of the eye, or even nearer.) (16:77) Allah then says,
(When behold, they are at As-Sahirah.) Ibn `Abbas said, “As-Sahirah means the entire earth.” Sa`id bin Jubayr, Qatadah and Abu Salih have all said this as well. `Ikrimah, Al-Hasan, Ad-Dahhak, and Ibn Zayd have all said, “As-Sahirah means the face of the earth.” Mujahid said, “They will be at its (the earth’s) lowest part, and they will be brought out to highest part.” Then he said, “As-Sahirah is a level place.” Ar-Rabi` bin Anas said,
(When behold, they are at As-Sahirah.) “Allah says,
(On the Day when the earth will be changed to another earth and so will be the heavens, and they will appear before Allah, the One, the Irresistible.) (14:48) and He says,
(And they ask you concerning the mountains: say, “My Lord will blast them and scatter them as particles of dust. Then He shall leave them as a level smooth plain.You will see therein nothing crooked or curved.) (20:105-107) and Allah says,
(And the Day We shall cause the mountains to pass away, and you will see the earth as a leveled plain.) (18:47) and the earth will be brought forth which will have mountains upon it, and it will not be considered from this earth (of this life). It will be an earth that no sin will be performed on it, nor will any blood be shed upon it.”
Allah informs His Messenger Muhammad about His Messenger Musa. He mentions that he sent Musa to Fir`awn and He aided him with miracles. Yet, even after this, Fir`awn continued in his disbelief and transgression until Allah seized him with a mighty and powerful punishment. Thus is the punishment of whoever opposes you (Muhammad ) and rejects that which you have been sent with. This is why Allah says at the end of the story,
(In this is a Lesson for whoever fears.) Allah begins by saying,
(Has there come to you the story of Musa) meaning, have you heard of his story
(When his Lord called him) meaning, He called out speaking to him.
(in the holy valley) meaning purified
(Tuwa) According to what is correct, it is the name of a valley, as preceded in Surah Ta Ha. So, He said to him:
(Go to Fir`awn; verily, he has transgressed all bounds.) meaning, he has become haughty, rebellious and arrogant.
(And say to him: “Would you purify yourself”) meaning, say to him, “Will you respond to the path and way that will purify you” This means, `will you submit (accept Islam) and be obedient’
(And that I guide to your Lord,) meaning, `I will guide you to the worship of your Lord.’
(so that you fear) meaning, `so that your heart will become humble, obedient, and submissive to Him after it was hard, evil, and far away from goodness.’
(Then he showed him the great sign.) This means that Musa showed him — along with this truthful call — a strong evidence and a clear proof of the truthfulness of what he had come up with from Allah.
(But he denied and disobeyed.) meaning, he (Fir`awn) rejected the truth and opposed what Musa commanded him with of obedience. So what happened with him was that his heart disbelieved, and Musa (i.e., his call) could not internally or externally affect it. Along with this, his knowledge that what Musa had come to him with was the truth, did not necessitate his being a believer in it. This is because recognition is the knowledge of the heart, and faith is its action. And it (faith) is to comply with the truth and submit to it. Concerning Allah’s statement,
(Then he turned back, striving.) meaning, in responding to the truth with falsehood. This was by his gathering the group of magicians in order to confront that which Musa had come up with of spectacular miracles.
(So he gathered (his people) and called out) meaning, among his people.
(Saying; I am your lord, most high.”) Ibn `Abbas and Mujahid both said, “This is the word which Fir`awn said after he said,
(`I have not known of any other god for you all other than me) for the past forty years.”’ Allah then says,
(So Allah seized him with a punishing example for the Hereafter and the first (life). ) meaning, Allah avenged Himself against him with a severe vengeance, and He made an example and admonition of him for those rebellious people in the world who are like him.
(And on the Day of Resurrection, evil indeed is the gift gifted ﴿i.e., the curse (in this world) pursued by another curse (in this world) pursued by another curse (in the Hereafter)﴾.) (11:99) This is as Allah says,
(And We made them leaders inviting to the Fire: and on the Day of Resurrection, they will not be helped.) (28:41) Allah said;
(In this is a lesson for whoever fears.)
in refutation of the claim rejecting resurrection due to the renewal of creation after its original state, Allah says;
(Are you) `O people’
(more difficult to create or is the heaven…) meaning, `rather the heaven is more difficult to create than you.’ As Allah said;
(the creation of the heavens and the earth is greater than the creation of mankind;) (40:57) And His saying;
(Is not the One Who created the heavens and the earth, capable of creating the similar to them. Yes, indeed! He is the Supreme Creator, the All-Knowing.) (36:81) Then Allah says,
(He constructed) He explains this by His statement,
(He raised its height, and has perfected it.) meaning, He made it a lofty structure, vast in its space, with equal sides, and adorned with stars at night and in the darkness. Then Allah says,
(Its night He covers and He brings out its forenoon.) meaning, He made its night dark and extremely black, and its day bright, luminous, shining and clear. Ibn `Abbas said, “He did Aghtasha of its night means that He made it dark.” Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr and a large group have said this as well. In reference to Allah’s statement,
(And He brings out its forenoon.) meaning, He illuminated its day. Then Allah says,
(And after that He spread the earth,) He explains this statement by the statement that follows it,
(And brought forth therefrom its water and its pasture.) It already has been mentioned previously in Surat Ha Mim As-Sajdah that the earth was created before the heaven was created, but it was only spread out after the creation of the heaven. This means that He brought out what was in it with a forceful action. This is the meaning of what was said by Ibn `Abbas and others, and it was the explanation preferred by Ibn Jarir. In reference to the statement of Allah,
(And the mountains He has fixed firmly,) meaning, He settled them, made them firm, and established them in their places. And He is the Most Wise, the All-Knowing. He is Most Kind to His creation, Most Merciful. Allah then says,
(As provision and benefit for you and your cattle.) meaning, He spread out the earth, caused its springs to gush forth, brought forth its hidden benefits, caused its rivers to flow, and caused its vegetation, trees, and fruits to grow. He also made its mountains firm so that it (the earth) would be calmly settled with its dwellers, and He stabilized its dwelling places. All of this is a means of beneficial enjoyment for His creatures (mankind) providing them of what cattle they need, which they eat and ride upon. He has granted them these beneficial things for the period that they need them, in this worldly abode, until the end of time and the expiration of this life.
(But when there comes the Great Catastrophe) This refers to the Day of Judgement. This has been said by Ibn `Abbas. It has been called this because it will overcome every matter. It will be frightful and horrifying. As Allah says,
(And the Hour will be more grievous and more bitter.) (54:46) Then Allah says,
(The Day when man shall remember what he strove for.) meaning, at that time the Son of Adam will reflect upon all of his deeds, both the good and the evil. This is as Allah says,
(On the Day will man remember, but how will that remembrance avail him) (89:23) Then Allah says,
(And Hell shall be made apparent for whoever sees.) meaning, it will become apparent for the onlookers, so the people will see it with their own eyes.
(Then for him who transgressed) meaning, who rebels and behaves arrogantly.
(And preferred the life of this world,) meaning, he gives it precedence over the matters of his religion and his Hereafter.
(Verily his abode will be the Hell;) meaning, his final destination will be Hell, his food will be from the tree of Zaqqum, and his drink will be from Hamim.
(But as for him who feared standing before his Lord and forbade himself from desire.) meaning, he fears the standing before Allah, he fears Allah’s judgement of him, he prevents his soul from following its desires, and he compels it to obey its Master.
(Verily Paradise will be his abode.) meaning, his final abode, his destination, and his place of return will be the spacious Paradise. Then Allah says,
(They ask you about the Hour — when will be its appointed time What do you have to mention of it. To your Lord it is limited.) meaning, its knowledge is not with you, nor with any creature. Rather the knowledge of it is with Allah. He is the One Who knows the exact time of its occurrence.
(Heavy is its burden through the heavens and the earth. It shall not come upon you except all of a sudden. They ask you as if you have a good knowledge of it. Say: “The knowledge thereof is with Allah.”) (7:187) Allah says here,
(To your Lord it is limited.) Thus, when Jibril asked the Messenger of Allah about the time of the last Hour he said,
(The one questioned about it knows no more than the questioner.) Allah said,
(You are only a warner for those who fear it,) meaning, `I sent you to warn mankind and caution them to beware of the torment and punishment of Allah. So whoever fears Allah, fears standing before Him, and His threat, then he will follow you, and thus be successful and victorious. However, whoever denies you and opposes you, then he will only suffer loss and failure.’ Allah then says,
(The Day they see it (it will be) as if they had not tarried (in this world) except an (`Ashiyyah) afternoon or its (Duha) morning.) meaning, when they stand up from their graves to go to the place of Gathering, they will feel that the period of the worldy life was short, it will seem to them that it was only the afternoon of one day. Juwaybir reported from Ad-Dahhak from Ibn `Abbas:
(The Day they see it (it will be) as if they had not tarried (in this world) except an (`Ashiyyah) afternoon or its (Duha) morning.) “As for `Ashiyyah, it is the time between noon until the setting of the sun.
(Or its (Duha) morning) what is between sunrise and midday (noon).” Qatadah said, “This refers to the time period of the worldly life in the eyes of the people when they see the Hereafter.”
This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat An-Nazi`at. And to Allah belongs all praise and thanks.
[79:1] I swear by those (angels) who pull out (the souls of the infidels) vigorously
وَالنَّازِعَاتِ غَرْقًا (I swear by those [ angels ] who pull out [ the souls of the infidels ] vigorously …79:1). The word naziat is derived from naz’ and it means ‘to draw vigorously’. The word gharqan is its corroborative because the word gharq is used here in the sense of ighraq and means ‘to exert oneself much or to the utmost extent in the thing’. The Arabic idiom has it اغرق النّازع فی القوس ‘He drew the bow with great vigour’. The Surah begins with an oath by certain characteristics of the angels to affirm that the Resurrection is a certainty. The subject of the oath, however, has been contextually deleted. The oath of the angels is probably apt on this occasion because they are all the time involved in the administration and running of the world. They are executing their duties loyally. On the Day of Judgment, all material causes will be severed. Unusual events will occur and the angels will be involved in them.
Five characteristics of the angels are mentioned which are concerned with or related to the extraction of the soul at the time of death. The purport of the verses is to affirm that Resurrection is a certainty. It starts with human death. Every man’s death is his partial Day of Doom, and this has an important impact on his belief in Resurrection. The five qualities are as follows:
The first quality of the angels:
وَالنَّازِعَاتِ غَرْقًا I swear by those (angels) who pull out (the souls of the infidels) vigorously.
This refers to the angels of punishment who draw the souls of the infidels vigorously and harshly. The words ‘vigorously’ refer to spiritual pain. The humans around the dying person may not be sensitive to the pain. Often it is noticed that the soul of an infidel apparently slips out easily, but this ease is perceived by humans around the dying man. The pain is felt by the soul of the dying person. Who can perceive it? We are aware of it only because Allah has informed us about it in this verse.
[79:2] and by those (angels) who untie the knot (of the souls of the believers) smoothly,
The second quality of the angels:
وَالنَّاشِطَاتِ نَشْطًا (and by those [ angels ] who untie the knot [ of the souls of the believers ] smoothly, [ 2] ‘ The word nashitat is derived from nasht and it means ‘to untie the knot’. This signifies ‘to untie the knot of something which contains water or air, so that it may be released easily’. This is metaphor for drawing out the souls of the believers gently, unlike the souls of the infidels which are plucked out harshly. In this case too, the adverb ‘smoothly’ refers to the spiritual smoothness, and not to the physical experience. Sometimes, it happens that there is a delay at the time of death of a righteous believer. This may not be suspected to mean that he is undergoing some sort of suffering, although physically it may seem so. When the soul of an infidel is extracted, the entire scene of the punishment of barzakh comes in front of him. It is frightened by it, disperses throughout the body and tries to hide or escape. The angels forcefully extract the soul just as wet wool wrapped around a skewer is forcefully removed. When the soul of a believer is extracted, on the other hand, the reward, the blessings and the welcome news of the barzakh come in front of him.
[79:3] and by those who float (in the atmosphere) swiftly,
The third quality of the angels:
وَالسَّابِحَاتِ سَبْحًا (and by those who float [ in the atmosphere ] swiftly… 79:3). The word sabh literally means to ‘swim’ or ‘float’. Here it signifies ‘to glide along swiftly as in the sea where there is no mountain barrier’. The one who swims fast and goes far in swimming or a boatman who moves directly towards his final destination. The ‘angels who float swiftly’ refer to the quality of the angels of death who extract human souls and take them quickly towards the sky.
[79:4] then proceed forward quickly,
The fourth quality of the angels:
فَالسَّابِقَاتِ سَبْقًا (then proceed forward quickly…79:4). According to Divine instruction, the angels do not delay in transporting the souls of people to their good or their bad abodes. The soul of a believer is transported to the atmosphere and blessings of Paradise, and that of an unbeliever to the atmosphere and torment of Hell.
[79:5] then manage (to do) everything (they are ordered to do,)
The fifth quality of the angels:
فَالْمُدَبِّرَاتِ أَمْرًا (then manage [ to do ] everything [ they are ordered to do,]…79:5). In other words, the last task of these angels of death will be as follows: Those who are commanded to reward and comfort the deserving souls, will gather means of reward and comfort for them; and those who are commanded to punish and cause pain to [ the evil souls ] will organize means for that.
Reward and Punishment in the Grave
The Surah thus far confirms that at the time of death, the angels will arrive and extract human souls. Then they will take them to the sky and swiftly transport them to their abodes, the good souls to the good abode and the bad souls to the bad one. There they will organise means of reward or punishment and pain or comfort for them. The verses show that the reward and punishment will take place in the grave or barzakh. Thereafter the reward and punishment will be meted out on the Day of Judgment. Authentic Traditions give elaborate details of this. There is a lengthy Tradition of Sayyidna Bard’ Ibn Azib cited in Mishkat-ul-Masabih with reference to Musnad of Ahmad.
Nafs [ Self ] Ruh [ Spirit – Soul ]: Qadi Thana’ullah’s Research and Analysis
The readers are referred to a special research and analysis by the Baihaqi of his time, Qadi Thana’ullah Panipati, that was presented in this book under verse [ 29] of Surah Hijr. Here the learned commentator has added some more details which dispose of many doubts which arise from the above Tradition: The human soul is a refined body which permeates the dense material body. The [ ancient ] doctors and philosophers called it as ruh or soul. But the real spirit is an abstract substance and a subtle divine creature connected in a special way with this physical soul or nafs, the life of which is dependent on the Divine Spirit. The pure, abstract and non-material spirit is the life of the first soul on which depends the life of the body, and therefore it is called the ‘soul of soul’. The real nature of the connection between these two kinds of soul is not known to anyone. It is known to Allah alone. Perhaps an illustration would clarify the matter. If we were to hold a mirror against the sun, then, despite that the sun is 149.6 million kilometers away from the earth, its reflection comes into the mirror. And because of the light, that too starts glowing like the sun. The same thing applies to the human soul. If it exerts itself in spiritual struggle and ascetic discipline in keeping with the teachings of [ Divine ] revelation, he will be enlightened. Otherwise he would be polluted with the bad effects of the physical body. This is the refined bodily soul that the angels transport to the heaven and transport him back with honours if he is enlightened. Otherwise the doors of the heaven are not opened for him and is thrown down from top. This is the refined bodily soul, the Tradition notes, which Allah created from dust and to it He will return him and from it. He resurrect him. It is this refined bodily soul that gets enlightened and becomes fragrant. But the same body can stink because of [ the filth on disbelief and idolatrous practices. The ‘abstract spirit’ is connected with the dense body through the refined bodily soul. The abstract spirit never dies. The reward or punishment of grave is experienced by the refined bodily soul which keeps connected with the grave whereas the abstract spirit remains in ` illiyyun, and it feels the effects of reward and punishment indirectly. Thus the statement that ‘the soul is in the grave’ is true in the sense that ‘soul’ in this context refers to the bodily soul. The statement that ‘the soul is in ` Alam-ul-arwah or ` illiyyun’ is also true, because the ‘soul’ in this context refers to ruh mujarrad or ‘abstract spirit’. Thus it is possible to reconcile the apparently conflicting statements.
فَإِذَا هُم بِالسَّاهِرَةِ (and in no time they will be [ brought ] in the plain [ of hashr ]…79:14). The word sahirah refers to ‘the surface of the earth’. When the earth will be re-created at Resurrection, it will be a completely level surface. There will be no mountain barriers, no buildings or caves. This is referred to as ‘sahirah’.
The Holy Prophet ﷺ used to be hurt by the stubbornness of the obdurate rejecters of Resurrection. The next verses recount the story of Musa (علیہ السلام) and Fir’aun to console him, and to show that the adverse attitude of the pagans is not confined to him. The previous prophets have also faced similar situations, but they endured them with patience. The Holy Prophet ﷺ too should exercise patience and fortitude.
[79:6] (you will be resurrected) on the Day when the shocking event (i.e. the first blowing of the trumpet) will shock (everything),
[79:7] followed by the next one (i.e. the second blowing of the trumpet.)
[79:8] Hearts, on that Day, will be throbbing,
[79:9] (and) their eyes will be downcast.
[79:10] They say, “Are we going to be brought back to our former state (of Life)?
[79:11] Is it when we will have turned into decayed bones?”
[79:12] They say, “If so, that will be a harmful return.”
[79:13] So, it will be only a single harsh voice,
[79:14] and in no time they will be (brought) in the plain (of hashr).
[79:15] Has there come to you the narrative of Musa?
[79:16] (Recall) when his Lord called to him in the blessed valley of Tuwa:
[79:17] “Go to Fir’aun (the Pharaoh). Indeed, he has crossed all bounds (in making mischief).
[79:18] And say (to him,) “Would you like to purify yourself,
[79:19] and that I guide you to your Lord, so that you fear (Him)?”
[79:20] So he showed him the biggest sign.
[79:21] But he rejected and disobeyed,
[79:22] then he turned back, and tried hard (to refute the Messenger),
[79:23] then he gathered (his people) and shouted
[79:24] and said, “I am the supreme lord of yours.”
[79:25] So, Allah seized him for the deterrent punishment in the Hereafter and the present world.
فَأَخَذَهُ اللَّـهُ نَكَالَ الْآخِرَةِ وَالْأُولَىٰ (So, Allah seized him for the deterrent punishment in the Hereafter and the present world….79:25). The word nakal means an ‘exemplary punishment’ or ‘an extremely severe punishment given to an offender to deter others against committing a similar offence or sin’. The phrase ‘punishment of the ‘akhirah’ refers to the punishment of the Hereafter that will be meted out to Fir’aun (the Pharaoh). The phrase ‘punishment of the ‘al a’ refers to the punishment meted out to Fir’aun (the Pharaoh) and his army in this world whereby they were destroyed by drowning.
Further, the Qur’an again disposes of the doubt of the rejecters of resurrection who pose the question: “Are we going to be brought back to our former state (of life)? Is it when we will have turned into decayed bones?” [ 10-11] In other words, this is a negative rhetorical question. They purport to say that it is not possible for them to be restored to life after death when they have become perished and worm-eaten bones. Allah responds that the Supreme Creator, Who drew out this universe without any pre-existing matter and without any instrument, certainly has the Supreme power to give existence to things after destroying them. Why should it be a surprise?
In the verses that follow, the horrors of the Day of Judgment are depicted. It is mentioned that on that Day, every person will be presented with his deeds. Described also are the abodes of the inmates of Paradise and Hell. Towards the end, special traits of the people of Paradise and those of Hell are portrayed by which a man can decide in this very world whether, according to the rules, his abode would be Paradise or Hell. The expression ‘according to the rules’ has been used because many verses and narratives indicate that there could be ‘exceptions to the rules’. For example, a person might attain freedom from Hell and enter Paradise by virtue of intercession or directly through the grace of Allah. This is an exception to the rule. The general rule is the same as has been mentioned in these verses.
[79:26] Indeed, there is a lesson for him who fears (Allah).
[79:27] Are you more difficult to be created or the sky? He has built it,
[79:28] He has raised its height, then made it proper,
[79:29] and darkened its night, and brought forth its daylight,
[79:30] and, after that, He spread out the earth.
[79:31] From it, He brought out its water and its meadows,
[79:33] (all this) as a benefit to you and your cattle.
[79:34] So when the Biggest Havoc will come
[79:35] on the day when man will recall what he did,
[79:36] and the Hell will be exposed for all who see,
[79:37] then for the one who had rebelled,
First, the special marks of the inmates of Hell are described. They have two characteristics:
فَأَمَّا مَن طَغَىٰ وَآثَرَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا (then for the one who had rebelled, and preferred the worldly life [ to the Hereafter ]…79:38). In other words, [ 1] instead of remaining loyal to Allah and His Messenger and following their commands, they adopt the line of rejection and rebellion; and [ 2] prefer the life of this world to that of the Hereafter. In other words, if he were to do a deed that gives comfort and pleasure in this world but punishment in the Hereafter, he would prefer the comforts and pleasure of this life to the pleasure of the next life. Those who are characterised by these two qualities the Blazing Fire, that is Hell, will be their abode, thus: فَإِنَّ الْجَحِيمَ هِيَ الْمَأْوَىٰ (the Hell will be the abode… 79:39).
[79:38] and preferred the worldly life (to the Hereafter),
[79:39] the Hell will be the abode,
[79:40] whereas for the one who feared to stand before his Lord, and restrained his self from the (evil) desire,
Thereafter, the special marks of the inmates of Paradise are described. They too have two characteristics:
وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ وَنَهَى النَّفْسَ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ (whereas for the one who feared to stand before his Lord, and restrained his self from the [ evil ] desire, 79:40). In other words, [ 1] the first characteristic of a God-fearing person is that, in this life, he shudders at the thought of appearing before Allah to account for his deeds on the Day of Reckoning; and [ 2] forbids the baser self from its evil desires. Those who are characterised by these two qualities have the good news that the Paradise will be their abode, thus: فَإِنَّ الْجَنَّةَ هِيَ الْمَأْوَىٰ (the Paradise will be the abode….79:41)
Three Levels of Suppressing [ the Base ] Self
The verse under comment lays down two conditions of attaining the abode in Paradise, but carefully considered, the two conditions, in terms of consequence, are one. The first condition is the fear of accountability in the presence of Allah. The second condition is to restrain oneself from the evil desires. As a matter of fact, fear of Allah causes one to restrain oneself from evil desires. Qadi Thana’ullah Panipati has written in his Tafsir Mazhari that there are three levels of suppressing evil desires, as follows:
The first level is that one avoids false beliefs which are in conflict or incompatible with express texts [ of the Holy Qur’an and established Sunnah ] and consensus of [ the righteous ] predecessors. In this level, a person deserves to be called ‘Sunni Muslim’.
The second level is the middle one. A person, in this stage, may think of committing sin. Then he may remember that he has to account for his deeds before Allah [ on the Day of Reckoning ]. As a result, he abandons the thought of committing sin. The complement to this level is that one abstains from doubtful things and those acts that are permissible in themselves, but there is apprehension that if committed, they may lead one to slip into impermissible acts. Sayyidna Nu` man Ibn Bashir ؓ narrates that the Holy Prophet ﷺ said: “He who abstained from doubtful things has protected his honour and religion. He who indulged in doubtful things will eventually indulge in forbidden things.” The expression ‘doubtful things’ signifies those acts about which one is not certain whether they are permissible or not, both possibilities being equal. Let us consider a few examples: if a person is ill and can take [ wet ] ablution, but he is not sure whether taking [ wet ] ablution in this state would be harmful. Thus the permissibility of dry ablution (tayammum) becomes doubtful. Likewise a person is able to perform prayers in a standing position, but feels great difficulty. He is now in doubt whether or not it is permissible for him to perform prayers in a sitting position. On such occasions, one should abandon the doubtful thing or act, and prefer what is definitely certain. This is taqwa and the middle course of suppressing the selfish desires.
Tricks of the Base Self
There are acts whose sinful nature is obvious to everyone. The selfish desires prompting to such sinful acts may be suppressed by one’s deliberate efforts and firm resolution. However, there are evils prompted by one’s base self even during his acts of worship and other good deeds, such as self-conceit, (` Ujb) vanity, (Kibr), and show off (Riya’ ). These are such sins whose sinful nature is often not discoverable to a common person, still they are very severe and firmly ingrained evil desires of one’s base self. One is at times deceived by them, because he continues to think that his actions are right. It is extremely necessary that first and foremost this lower self must be suppressed. But this cannot be achieved by one on his own. It is necessary for one to search for a perfect spiritual master (Ash-shaikhul-kamil), and hand himself over to him for guidance. He acts as the authentic guide and the only one to whom a seeker of Truth should turn in his quest and follow his advice. In turning to the spiritual master, the seeker is turning to Allah Almighty. The shaikh engages him in the spiritual struggle and endeavour [ mujahadah ] against the passions and tendencies of the lower self [` uyub-un-nafs ].
Shaikh Imam Ya` qub Karkhi (رح) says that in his young age he was a carpenter. He found laziness, and felt darkness in his inner self. So, he intended to keep fasts for a few days so that he may get rid of the laziness and darkness. Co-incidentally, one day, while he was fasting, he went up to Shaikh Imam Baha’uddin Naqshbandi. The Shaikh called for meals for his guests. He was also invited to partake of the meal, and the Shaikh said: “He is a very bad slave who is the slave of his base self that misleads him. It is better to partake of meal than to keep fast with evil desires of the base self.” Shaikh Karkhi says that at that moment he realised that (by fasting) he was falling prey to self-complacence, self-conceit and pride, which the Shaikh Naqshbandi perceived. On that occasion, Shaikh Karkhi realised that a spiritual master’s permission and guidance is needed to take up an optional act of worship, because the spiritual master is aware of the hidden tricks of the evil desires of the base self. If an optional act of worship will be accompanied by such motives, the will put a stop to it [ for remedial purposes ]. He asked Shaikh Naqshbandi: “If I cannot find a Shaikh who is called in Sufi terms as fani fillah and baqi billah, (the explanation is coming in the next paragraph.) what must I do?” He replied: “Recite istighfar abundantly and recite istighfar [ seek Allah’s pardon ] twenty times regularly after every prayer, so that it works out to a hundred times reciting it five times a day.” The Holy Prophet ﷺ is reported to have said: “Sometimes I feel my heart disturbed, and I recite istighfar [ seek Allah’s pardon ] a hundred times a day.”
The third and the highest level of suppression of the base self is that by abundant dhikrullah [ remembrance of Allah ] and constant mujahadah [ spiritual struggle and endeavour against the evil passions ] and riyadah [ ascetic discipline ], one’s self (nafs) is so much cleansed and purified that the desires that tempts him to evil are totally eliminated. This is the special stage of wilayah [ Divine friendship ], which in Sufi Terminology is called rani fillah and baqi billah. The Qur’an says regarding such people [ addressing the Shaitan ]:
إِنَّ عِبَادِي لَيْسَ لَكَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَانٌ
‘My servants are such that you have no power over them [ 15:42] ‘
The following Tradition applies to the same category of wali :
لَا یُؤمِن احَدُکُم حَتّٰی یَکُونَ ھَوَاہُ تَبعاً لِمَا جِٔتُ بِہٖ
‘None of you can be a [ perfect ] believer unless his [ base ] desires of self follow my teachings.’
Towards the end of the Surah, the Holy Qur’an responds to the mala fide demand of the infidels that the Holy Prophet ﷺ should let them know the exact date and time of the Day of Judgment. They are told that knowledge of the time and date is within Allah’s own special prerogative. Allah’s consummate wisdom did not pass the information to any angel or Prophet ﷺ . Therefore, the demand is futile.
[79:41] the Paradise will be the abode.
[79:42] They ask you about the Hour (the Day of Judgment) as to when it will take place.
[79:43] In which capacity are you to tell this?
[79:44] With your Lord is the final word about it.
[79:45] You are only a warner for anyone who fears it.
[79:46] The day they will see it, it will seem to them as if they did not live (in the world), but only for one afternoon or for the morning thereof.
The Commentary on
This surah is just one example of many in this part of the Qur’an which shares a common objective; namely, to drive home to man the reality of the hereafter, its inevitability and its awesome nature, and to stress its importance to the divine planning of man’s life in this world. Such planning culminates in man’s death and subsequent resurrection in a new life. As it sets out to drive this idea home to man, the surah touches upon our emotions in a variety of ways that are directly relevant to its central theme.
First we have an ambiguous opening which creates an air of fear and worried expectation. The rhythm here is quick and throbbing; it helps evoke feelings of fear, surprise and wonder: “By those that pluck out vehemently, and those that move forward rapidly; by those that float along at ease, and those that outstrip swiftly, and those that conduct matters.” (Verses 1-5)
This equivocal, shaking opening is followed by the first of those scenes which deal with the hereafter. The style and tempo of the opening is here maintained and thus serves as a framework for the overall scene: “On the day when a violent convulsion will [be overwhelming], to be soon followed by a further [convulsion], all hearts shall be filled with terror, and all eyes shall be downcast. They say, “What! Are we being restored to our former state, even though we have become [no more than] hollow bones?’ They say, ‘That will be a return with loss.’ But with just one blast they shall be alive on earth.” (Verses 6-14)
Having cast an air of awe, the surah then provides an account of the end met by some of the unbelievers during the time of Moses and Pharaoh. Here the rhythm is quieter and more relaxed to suit the narrative style: “Have you heard the story of Moses? His Lord called out to him in the sacred valley of Tuwa, saying: ‘Go to Pharaoh: he has transgressed all bounds, and say to him: “Would you like to reform yourself? I will guide you to your Lord, so that you may be in awe of Him.”‘ He showed Pharaoh the mightiest miracle, but Pharaoh cried lies and rebelled. He then turned away hastily. He summoned all his men and made a proclamation to them: I am your supreme Lord’, he said. God smote him with the scourge of both the life to come and this life. Surely in this there is a lesson for the God-fearing.” (Verses 1526) This account serves as an introduction to the great principle the surah aims to establish.
Leaving history aside, the surah then takes up the open book of the universe. It paints great scenes of the universe which testify to the limitless power and careful planning of God, the Creator of the universe who controls its destiny both in this life and in the life to come. These scenes are drawn in a powerful style and contain a strong rhythm in harmony with the opening of the surah and its general cadence. “Which is stronger in constitution: you or the heaven He has built? He raised it high and gave it its perfect shape, and gave darkness to its night, and brought out its daylight. After that He spread out the earth. He brought out water from it, and brought forth its pastures; and the mountains He set firm, for you and your cattle to delight in.” (Verses 27-33)
Then comes a statement about the great and overwhelming event, which will be accompanied by the distribution of rewards for actions done in this life. The rewards are portrayed in such a way as to fit in harmoniously with the event itself: “Then, when the great, overwhelming event comes to pass — on that day man will clearly remember what he has done, when hell is brought in sight of all who are looking on; then, he who transgressed the bounds of what is right, and chose this present life will have hell for his dwelling place. But he who feared that he will stand before his Lord and forbade his soul its base desire will dwell in paradise.” (Verses 34-41)
At this point, when we are overwhelmed by the respective fates of the transgressors who prefer this life to the next, and the God-fearing who restrain themselves, the surah turns to those who deny resurrection, yet ask the Prophet to fix its time. The rhythm here is superb. It further contributes to the awe produced by the account of the Last Hour. “They question you about the Last Hour, when will it come to pass? But why should you be concerned with its exact timing? The final word concerning it belongs to your Lord. Your mission is merely to warn those who fear it. On the day when they see that hour, it will seem to them that their life on earth had spanned only one evening, or one morning.” (Verses 42-46) Perhaps we should note that these verses end with the sound ‘aha’, which adds length to the metre, intensifying the effect of majesty and awe.
The Pluckers and the Event
By those that pluck out vehemently, and those that move forward rapidly; by those that float along at ease, and those that outstrip swiftly, and those that conduct matters. (Verses 1-5)
Some commentators say of these verses that they refer to the angels who pluck out souls vehemently, move along with ease and speed, float along as they move in the outer world, outstrip other creatures to embrace the faith and carry out God’s commands and conduct whatever affairs they are charged with. Other commentators maintain that they refer to the stars which come on as they traverse their orbits, move rapidly in phases, float in space, outstrip others as they run fast and bring about certain phenomena and results which are entrusted to them by God and which affect life on earth. A third group of commentators are of the view that the pluckers, runners, floaters and outstrippers refer to the stars while the conductors of affairs are the angels. Another group believe that the first three are the stars while the outstrippers and conductors of affairs are the angels.
Whatever the referents of these terms are, their mention in this particular way produces a shock and a feeling of expectation of something fearful. Thus, they contribute, right at the outset, to preparing our minds for the frightening account of the first and second quakes and of the overwhelming event mentioned later in the surah.
Perhaps it is better not to go into great detail in trying to explain and discuss these verses. It is perhaps more fruitful to let these verses produce their effect naturally. The Qur’an seeks to achieve its objective of awakening people’s hearts in different ways. If we do this we simply follow the example of `Umar ibn al-Khattab. He once read Surah 80, The Frowning. When he reached the verse which reads ‘wa fakihatan wa abba’, he wondered, “we know the fruit trees, fakihatan, but what is abba?” But then he reproached himself, saying: “You, Ibn al-Khattab, are being really fussy today! What harm is there in your not knowing the meaning of a word used in God’s book?” He then said to the people around: “Follow what you understand of this book; what you do not understand you may leave alone.” His statement, aimed at discouraging people from trying to explain what may be equivocal to them, without the backing of perfectly sound authority, represents an attitude of veneration towards God’s words. Indeed, some words and phrases may deliberately have been left equivocal so as to fulfil a certain objective.
The opening of the surah takes the form of an oath, to confirm the event related in verses that immediately follow: “On the day when a violent convulsion will [be overwhelming, to be soon followed by a further [convulsion], all hearts shall be filled with terror, and all eyes shall be downcast. They say, “What! Are we being restored to our former state, even though we have become [no more than] hollow bones?’ They say, ‘That will be a return with loss.” But with just one blast they shall be alive on earth.” (Verses 6-14) It has been suggested that the convulsion refers to the earth being overwhelmed by a violent quake. This is based on what the Qur’an says in another surah: “On the day when the earth and the mountains will be convulsed.” (73: 14) It has also been suggested that the convulsion that follows affects the sky, as it follows the earth in witnessing its own upheaval causing it to split and the stars to scatter. An alternative suggestion claims that the first convulsion refers to the first blast on the Trumpet which causes the earth, the mountains and all creation to quake and tremble, and makes all who are in heaven and on earth fall down fainting, except those who are spared by God. The follower, it is claimed, refers to the second blast on the Trumpet which brings all creation back to life as stated in verse 68 of Surah 39.
Whichever suggestion is correct, these verses make men’s hearts feel the convulsion and shake with fear and worry. They prepare us for the terror that will fill people’s hearts on the Day of Judgement: “All hearts shall be filled with terror and all eyes shall be downcast.” (Verses 8-9) Thus, it is a combination of worry, fear, humiliation and breakdown. This is what happens on that day, and it is this fact which the oath at the opening of the surah seeks to establish. In both sense and rhythm, the scene portrayed by these verses fits in perfectly with the opening.
The surah goes on to speak of people’s surprise and wonder when they are resurrected: “They say: ‘What! Are we being restored to our former state, even though we have become [no more than] hollow bones?’” (Verses 10-11) They wonder whether they are being returned to life again. Amazed, they ask how this can be done after they have been dead for so long that their bones are hollow. Then they realize that their awakening does not take them back to their life on earth, but to their second life. At this point they feel their great loss and cry: “That will be a return with loss.” (Verse 12) They have not banked on such a return, and have not prepared for it, so they have everything to lose by it. The Qur’anic comment is to state what will actually happen: “But with just one blast they shall be alive on earth.” (Verses 13-14)
The ‘blast’ is a shout, but it is described here as a blast to emphasize its force, and to strike a note of perfect harmony between this scene and others drawn in the surah. The term used for ‘the earth’ here refers to a bright white earth which is the land of resurrection. We do not know its exact location. All we know of it is that which the Qur’an or the authentic traditions of the Prophet relate. We have no intention of adding anything unauthoritative to their account. Other Qur’anic statements lead us to the conclusion that this one blast is most probably the second blow on the Trumpet, i.e. the blow of resurrection. The expression used here gives a sense of speed. The blast itself is associated with speed, and the general rhythm of the surah is a rapid one. Terrified hearts also beat fast. Hence the perfect harmony between the sense, the rhythm, the scenes and the surah as a whole.
Instructions Given to Moses
The rhythm then slows down a little in order to suit the style of narration. For next we have an account of what took place between Moses and Pharaoh, and the end which Pharaoh met after he had tyrannized and transgressed all bounds: “Have you heard the story of Moses? His Lord called out to him in the sacred valley of Tuwa, saying: ‘Go to Pharaoh: he has transgressed all bounds, and say to him: “Would you like to reform yourself? I will guide you to your Lord, so that you may be in awe of Him.”‘ He showed Pharaoh the mightiest miracle, but Pharaoh cried lies and rebelled. He then turned away hastily. He summoned all his men and made a proclamation to them: “I am your supreme Lord’, he said. God smote him with the scourge of both the life to come and this life. Surely in this there is a lesson for the God-fearing.” (Verses 15-26)
The story of Moses is the most frequent and detailed of Qur’anic historical accounts. It is mentioned in many other surahs, in different ways and with varying emphasis. At times, certain episodes are given greater prominence than others. This variation of style and emphasis aims at striking harmony between the historical account and the surah in which it occurs. Thus, the story helps to make the message of the surah clearer. This method is characteristic of the Qur’an. Here the historical account is given in quick successive scenes which open with the call Moses receives in the sacred valley and end with the destruction of Pharaoh in this life and perdition in the life to come. Thus, it fits very well with the main theme of the surah, namely the hereafter. The part given here of Moses’s history spans a long period, yet it is conveyed by only a few short verses that fit in well with the rhythm and message of the surah as whole.
They start with an introductory question addressed to the Prophet: “Have you heard the story of Moses?” (Verse 15) The question serves to prepare us to listen to the history and contemplate its lessons. Moses’s story is described here as history to emphasize that it actually happened. It starts with Moses being called by God: “His Lord called out to him in the sacred valley of Tuwa.” (Verse 16) Tuwa is probably the name of the valley which lies to the right of Mount Tur in Sinai, as one comes up from Madyan in North Hijaz.
The moment this call was made was an awesome one. The call from God to one of His servants is beyond description, yet it embodies a secret of divinity, and a secret of how God has made man susceptible to His call. No one can comprehend what is involved here without inspiration from God Himself.
The communication between God and Moses is discussed in more detail elsewhere in the Qur’an. However, with the brevity and rapid rhythm that characterize this surah, it is touched upon here only very briefly, before God’s command to Moses is stated: “Go to Pharaoh: he has transgressed all bounds, and say to him: ‘Would you like to reform yourself I will guide you to your Lord, so that you may be in awe of Him.” (Verses 17-19)
“Go to Pharaoh: he has transgressed all bounds.” (Verse 17) The Arabic term for ‘transgress’, which is tagha, also suggests tyranny. Neither tyranny nor transgression should be allowed to take place or be left unchecked. They lead to corruption and to what displeases God. So God [limitless is He in His glory] selects one of His noble servants and charges him with the task of trying to put an end to them. The instructions given to this noble servant require him to go to a tyrant in an attempt to turn him away from his erring ways, so that he has no excuse should God decide to exact His retribution.
“Go to Pharaoh: he has transgressed all bounds.” God teaches Moses how to address this tyrant in the most persuasive manner: “Say to him: ‘Would you like to reform yourself?” (Verse 18) The first question then is whether or not the tyrant would like to purify himself of the stains of tyranny and abominable disobedience to God. Would he like to know the path of the pious, the blessed? “I will guide you to your Lord, so that you may be in awe of Him.” (Verse 19) The offer here is for Pharaoh to be shown the way acceptable to God. Once he knows it, he will feel the fear of God in his heart. Man does not transgress and tyrannize unless he loses his way and finds himself taking a road which does not lead to God. His heart hardens as a result, and he rebels and resorts to tyranny.
Moses was told all this when God called to him. He of course puts these questions to Pharaoh when he encounters him. The surah, however, does not repeat them when it describes the encounter. It skips over what happens after God’s call to Moses and deletes what Moses says when he conveys his message. It is as if the curtain falls after the call to repentance. When it is lifted again, we are presented with the end of the encounter: “He showed Pharaoh the mightiest miracle, but Pharaoh cried lies and rebelled.” (Verses 20-21)
Thus, Moses conveys the message with which he has been entrusted in the manner God has taught him. This warm, friendly attitude, however, cannot win over a heart that has been hardened by tyranny and ignorance of the Lord of the universe. So Moses shows him the great miracles of the stick turning into a snake and Moses’s own hand becoming a brilliant white, as they are described in other surahs, “but he cried lies and rebelled.” (Verse 21) The scene ends with Pharaoh’s rejection and rebellion against God.
Pharaoh then turns away to mobilize his forces and bring forward his sorcerers for an encounter between magic and the truth. Essentially, Pharaoh was determined not to accept the truth or submit to right. “He then turned away hastily. He summoned all his men and made a proclamation to them: I am your supreme Lord’, he said.” (Verses 2224) The surah does not give any details of Pharaoh’s efforts to muster his magicians, sorcerers and men. It simply says that he went away to do so, and then uttered his impertinent proclamation: “I am your supreme Lord”. (Verse 24)
Pharaoh’s declaration betrays the fact that he was deceived by his people’s ignorance and their submission to his authority. Nothing deceives tyrants more than the ignorance and abject submission of the masses. A tyrant is in fact an individual who has no real power or authority. The ignorant and the submissive simply bend their backs for him to ride, stretch out their necks for him to harness with reins, hang down their heads to give him a chance to show his conceit, and forego their rights to be respected and honoured. In this way they allow themselves to be tyrannized. The masses do all this because they are deceived and afraid at the same time. Their fear has no real basis except in their imagination. The tyrant, an individual, can never be stronger than thousands or millions, should they attach proper value to their humanity, dignity, self-respect and freedom. Every individual in the nation is a match for the tyrant in terms of power. No one can tyrannize a nation which is sane, or knows its true Lord, believes in Him and refuses to submit to any creature who has no power over its destiny.
Pharaoh, however, found his people so ignorant, submissive and devoid of faith that he was able to make his insolent, blasphemous declaration, “I am your supreme Lord!” (Verse 24) He would never have dared to make it had his nation possessed the qualities of general awareness, self-respect and faith in God.
Against such intolerable insolence, the Supreme Power moved in: “God smote him with the scourge of both the life to come and this life.” (Verse 25) The scourge of the life to come is mentioned first because it is much more severe and perpetual. It is indeed the real punishment for tyrants and transgressors. It is also appropriate to give it prominence since the life to come is the main theme of the surah. Besides, it fits in perfectly with the general rhythm of the surah.
Nevertheless, the scourge that engulfed Pharaoh in this life was fearful and severe, but that of the life to come will be much more so. Pharaoh had power, authority and glory, yet none of this will be of any use to him. One can only imagine what the fate that will be faced by unbelievers who do not have similar power, authority or glory but who still resist God’s message and try to suppress it.
“Surely in this there is a lesson for the God-fearing.” (Verse 26) Only those who know their true Lord and fear Him will benefit from the lessons of Pharaoh’s history. Those who do not fear God will continue in their erring ways until they reach their appointed end, when they shall suffer the scourge of both this life and the life to come.
Having mentioned the end met by tyrants who thought themselves very powerful, the surah turns to the present unbelievers who also depend on their own power. It directs their attention to some manifestations of the work of the Supreme Power in the universe. Their power holds no sway against God’s: “Which is stronger in constitution: you or the heaven He has built? He raised it high and gave it its perfect shape, and gave darkness to its night, and brought out its daylight. After that He spread out the earth. He brought out water from it, and brought forth its pastures; and the mountains He set firm, for you and your cattle to delight in.” (Verses 27-33)
The question these verses start with, “Which is stronger in constitution: you or the heaven He has built?” admits of one answer only: heaven. So the question seems to infer another: ‘Why should you think so highly of your own power when heaven is much stronger in constitution than you and the Lord who created it is much stronger than it?’ The question may also be carried forward in a different direction: ‘Why do you think resurrection is impossible, when God has created heaven, the creation of which requires more power than your own creation?’ Resurrection is merely a repetition of creation. It follows that He who has built heaven will find your resurrection an easier proposition.
It is He who has ‘built’ heaven. The term ‘build’ suggests strength and firm constitution. Heaven is indeed so. Its planets are held together in perfect harmony. They neither scatter, nor fall out of their orbits.
Conducive to Life
“He raised it high and gave it its perfect shape.” (Verse 28) We need no more than a glance in order to recognize the perfect coherence and harmony in the building of heaven. Knowledge of the laws which govern the existence of the creatures in the sky above us and provide a perfect balance between their actions, movements and mutual effects helps us to understand the full meaning of this verse. It intensifies our feeling of the limitlessness of their very real world, of which human knowledge has uncovered only a tiny part. It overwhelms us with wonder and astonishment. We stand speechless at the infinite beauty of the universe. We can give no explanation for it except that a superhuman power has planned and governs it. This explanation is now accepted even by most of those who profess not to believe in any religion.
“And gave darkness to its night, and brought out its daylight.” (Verse 29) The Arabic words used in this verse add to the strength of the general tone. They also have stronger connotations than the translation suggests. They are used here because they are more fitting with the general context. The succession of darkness and light, at night and in the morning, is a phenomenon recognized by all, but it may be overlooked because we are so familiar with it. Here, the Qur’an reminds us of its permanent novelty. For it is repeated anew every day, producing the same effects and reactions. The natural laws governing this phenomenon are so precise and miraculous that they continue to impress and astonish man as his knowledge increases.
“After that He spread out the earth. He brought out water from it, and brought forth its pastures; and the mountains He set firm.” (Verses 30-32) Spreading out the earth is a reference to the levelling of its surface so that it becomes easy to walk on, and to the formation of a layer of soil suitable for cultivation. Setting the mountains firm is a result of the final shaping of the surface of the earth and its cooling down to a level suitable for the emergence of living organisms. God also brought out water from the earth. This applies to springs that allow deep waters to flow out onto the surface of the earth. It also applies to rain water, since it comes originally from the earth. He also brought forth the pastures, which is, in this context, a reference to all plants upon which man and animals feed, and which directly and indirectly sustain life.
All this happened after heaven was built, the night darkened and the earth spread. Recent astronomical theories support this Qur’anic statement, for they assume that the earth was moving in its orbit, with day and night succeeding each other for hundreds of millions of years before it was levelled and spread out, becoming suitable for vegetation, and before its surface took its final, present shape of plains, valleys, mountains and oceans.
The Qur’an declares that all this is “for you and your cattle to delight in.” (Verse 33) This is a reminder to man of what God has made for him, and of His perfect and elaborate planning. It is not by chance that heaven was built in this fashion and the earth spread out to take its present shape. Man’s existence, as God’s vicegerent, was taken into account. Indeed, human life and progress depend on so many factors which operate in the universe generally, and in the solar system in particular, and even more particularly on the earth itself. All these factors must be made to function in absolute harmony.
Following the Qur’anic method of delivering a short statement which embodies the basic fact, yet is rich with hints and inferences, the surah names just a few of these harmonized factors — the building of heaven, the darkening of the night, the bringing forth of daylight, the spreading of the earth, the manipulation of its waters and pastures and the setting firm of mountains — for man and his cattle to delight in. This statement ensures the elaborate planning of the universe is understood by everybody, regardless of education standard. It addresses all mankind, throughout all ages and societies, whether primitive or advanced. The reality of such meticulous and elaborate planning, however, goes far beyond the level mentioned here. The very nature of this universe rules out any possibility of its formation by chance, for no chance construct could result in such perfect and absolute harmony on such an immeasurable scale. The harmony starts with the fact that our solar system is unique among millions and millions of planetary systems, and our earth is also a unique planet with regard to its location in the solar system. It is this uniqueness that makes life on earth possible.
Life may appear on a certain planet if certain conditions are met: the planet must be of suitable size, at a medium distance from the sun, and it has to be of a composition which mixes the elements in the right proportion to permit the emergence of life. The suitable size is necessary because the atmosphere of the planet is conditioned by the force of its gravity. The medium distance is also a necessary condition because the planets which are near to the sun are so hot that nothing can solidify on them, and those that are far from the sun are so cold that nothing on them can have any measure of elasticity. The right composition of elements is necessary because such a composition in the right proportion is a must for the growth of vegetation which is, in turn, essential for the sustenance of life. The Earth has the ideal location to satisfy all these conditions which are conducive to the emergence of life in the only form which we now know.
Establishing the fact of elaborate planning of the grand universe, and giving man a special place in it prepares man’s heart and mind to receive and accept the statement about the reality of the hereafter and its final judgement. If the origins of the universe and of man are such, then the cycle must be completed, and everyone must have their reward. It is inconceivable that the final end comes with the end of man’s short life in this world, or that evil and tyranny can get away without retribution, or that good, justice and right can be left to suffer whatever hardship is visited on them in this life, without there being a chance to put matters right. Such an assumption is, in its very essence, contrary to the fact of elaborate planning so apparent everywhere in the universe. Hence the reality touched upon in this part of the surah serves as an introduction to the reality of the hereafter, which is the main theme of the whole surah.
Then, when the great, overwhelming event comes to pass — on that day man will clearly remember what he has done, when hell is brought in sight of all who are looking on; then, he who transgressed the bounds of what is right, and chose this present life will have hell for his dwelling place. But he who feared that he will stand before his Lord and forbade his soul its base desire will dwell in paradise. (Verses 34- 41)
This present life is a period of comfort and enjoyment which are given in precise and accurate measure. Its duration is determined according to the overall planning of the universe and human life. Its comfort and enjoyment will end at the time appointed for their expiry. When the great event takes place, it ravages all and overwhelms all. The fleeting comfort of this life is extinguished. The whole universe, its built heaven, spread out earth and firm mountains are overturned and all living creatures are overwhelmed. At that moment “man will clearly remember what he has done.” (Verse 35) He might have been distracted by the events and comforts of this life and he might have overlooked what he has done. But he will recall it all then, when remembrance brings him nothing but sadness and grief as he realizes what a miserable end he faces. “When hell is brought in sight of all who are looking on.” (Verse 36) The term ‘bringing in sight’ is particularly powerful. It is rich in connotations and further strengthens the rhythm. The result is an image so vivid we almost see it in front of us now.
Then, people will have different destinies and the aim of earlier planning in the first life is revealed: “Then, he who transgressed the bounds of what is right, and chose this present life will have hell for his dwelling place.” (Verses 37-39) The Arabic term, tagha, rendered here as ‘transgress the bounds of what is right’ means literally ‘tyrannize’, but this term is used here, as elsewhere in the Qur’an, in a much wider sense than the strict despotism of rulers and dictators. ‘Tyranny’ is used here as being synonymous with exceeding the limits of right and truth. Hence these three verses refer to all those who transgress the boundaries of right, prefer this life to the future life, taking no heed of the latter. Since consciousness of the hereafter defines the values and standards to be applied, he who prefers this present life suffers a breakdown of values and standards resulting in his adoption of faulty standards of behaviour. This puts him in the category of despots and transgressors. Thus, hell which is brought in sight of everybody on that great day will be his dwelling place. “But he who feared that he will stand before his Lord and forbade his soul its base desire will dwell in paradise.” (Verses 40-41) The one who fears to stand in front of God does not indulge in sin. If he slips and commits a sin, in a moment of weakness, his fear of God will lead him to repent and pray for forgiveness. Thus, he remains within the area of obedience, the central point of which is the control of one’s caprice and desires. Indulgence of desire and caprice is essentially the cause of all forms of tyranny and transgression. It is the spring of evil. Man hardly ever falls for any reason other than succumbing to caprice and desire. Ignorance is easy to cure. Desire, once ignorance has been cured, is a plague which requires a long and hard struggle to overcome. Yet fear of God is the only solid defence against violent attacks of desire. Indeed, there is hardly any other defence which can withstand such attacks. Hence, the surah mentions fear of God and control of desire together in one verse. This fact is here stressed by God, the Creator of man and the only One who knows the human soul, its weaknesses and their effective cure.
God does not ask man to suppress his desires, because He knows that it is not possible for him to do so. He simply asks man to control his desires and not to let them control him. He tells him that fear of standing before his Lord, the Almighty, should be of great assistance. He has fixed his reward for this hard struggle: paradise as a dwelling place. For God knows perfectly well the hardships involved in this struggle and the high standards to which man is elevated by the same. This struggle, self-control and elevation help man fulfil his humanity. Such fulfilment cannot be achieved by giving way to all desires, and following caprice wherever it leads, on the pretext that desire and caprice are part of human nature. God, who made man sensitive to certain urges, also gave him self discipline. He also gives him paradise as a reward when he elevates himself to a high standard of humanity.
There are two types of freedom. The first is achieved through scoring a victory over one’s desires and releasing oneself from the chains of caprice. When man achieves such a victory he finds himself able to fulfil these desires and caprices in a controlled and balanced way which emphasizes his freedom of choice. This type of freedom is human, one which suits the honour God has bestowed on man. The other type is animal freedom, represented in man’s defeat, his enslavement by his desires, and his loss of control over himself. This type of freedom is advocated only by those who have lost their humanity, so they try to cover their slavery with a dress of deceptive freedom.
The Timing of the Last Hour
The last part of the surah is expressed in a rhythm which evokes awe. “They question you about the Last Hour, when will it come to pass? But why should you be concerned with its exact timing? The final word concerning it belongs to your Lord. Your mission is merely to warn those who fear it. On the day when they see that hour, it will seem to them that their life on earth had spanned only one evening, or one morning.” (Verses 42- 46)
Every time the diehards among the pagan Arabs heard a description of the fearful events of the Day of Judgement, and the reckoning which then takes place, they used to ask the Prophet (peace be upon him) to specify its time: “When will it come to pass?” The answer given here to such questions takes the form of a rhetorical question, “But why should you be concerned with its exact timing?” (Verse 43) It is an answer which suggests that the Last Hour, or the Day of Judgement, is so great and majestic that the questions put by the unbelievers concerning it sound stupid and pitiful. Moreover, such questions are only put forward by the impudent. The great Prophet himself is asked, “Why should you be concerned with its exact timing?” It is so great that neither you nor anyone else should ask to be informed of its exact time. This knowledge belongs to God alone, not to anybody else. “The final word concerning it belongs to your Lord.” (Verse 44) He is the Master of everything which relates to it. The Prophet’s own duties, and the limits he should not, and need not exceed are well defined: “Your mission is merely to warn those who fear it.” (Verse 45) He is to warn those who will benefit by such warnings. Such people will then live according to their firm belief that it will arrive at the time appointed by God.
The majesty and awe of the Last Hour is explained through the description of its effects on men’s feelings and the comparison that is drawn between its duration and the length of this present life.
“On the day when they see that hour, it will seem to them that their life on earth had spanned only one evening, or one morning.” (Verse 46) It so grips the soul that our present life with all its epics, events and luxuries will seem to those who lived them shorter than a single day, just one evening or one morning. So, the whole world, its centuries and generations will shrink to nothing longer than a morning or an evening in the sight of the very people who quarrel and fight for it, preferring it to their share in the life to come. Yet for such passing enjoyment they abandon the hereafter and forego the certain prospect of dwelling in paradise. This is definitely the greatest stupidity of all, which no man who has ears to hear and eyes to see can ever perpetrate.
- A.M. Al-Aqqad, `Aqa’id al-Mufakkirīn fī al-Qarn al-`Ishrīn, Beliefs of Twentieth Century Thinkers, Maktabat al-Anglo—al-Maşriyyah, Cairo, n.d., p. 36.
It is derived from the word wan-nazi`at with which the Surah opens.
Period of Revelation
According to Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas, this Surah was sent down after Surah An-Naba. Its subject matter also testifies that it belongs to the earliest period at Makkah.
Theme and Subject Matter
Its theme is affirmation of Resurrection and the life hereafter; It also warns of the consequences of belying the Messenger of God.
The Surah opens with oaths sworn by the angels who take the soul at deaths and those who hasten to carryout Allah’s Commands, and those who conduct the affairs of the universe according to Divine Will, to assure that the Resurrection will certainly come to pass and the second life after death will certainly take place. For the angels who are employed to pluck out the soul today can also be employed to restore the soul tomorrow, and the angels who promptly execute Allah’s Commands and conduct the affairs of the universe today can also upset the order of the universe tomorrow by orders of the same God and can also bring about a new order.
After this the people have been told, so as to say: “This work which you regard as absolutely impossible, is not any difficult for Allah, for which He may have to make lengthy preparations. Just a single jolt will upset this system of the world and a second jolt will be enough to cause you to appear as living beings in the new world. At that time the same people who were wont to deny it, would be trembling with fear and seeing with awe struck eyes all that they thought was impossible.
Then, relating the story of the Prophet Moses and Pharaoh briefly, the people have been warned to the effect: “You know full well what fate the Pharaoh met in consequence of belying the Messenger and rejecting the guidance brought by him and endeavoring to defeat his mission by trickery and deceit. If you do not learn any lesson from it and do not change your ways and attitude accordingly, you also will have to meet the same fate.
Then, in vv. 27-13, arguments have been given for the Hereafter and life after death. In this regard, the deniers have been asked the question:”Is your resurrection a more difficult task or the creation of the huge Universe which spreads around you to infinite distances with myriads of its stars and planets? Your recreation cannot be difficult for the God for Whom this was an easy task. Thus, after presenting in a single sentence, a decisive argument for the possibility of the Hereafter, attention has been drawn to the earth and its provisions that have been arranged in it for the sustenance of man and animal and of which everything testifies that it has been created with great wisdom for fulfilling some special purpose. Pointing to this the question has been left for the intellect of man to ponder for itself and form the opinion whether calling man to account after having delegated authority and responsibilities to a creature like him in this wise system would be more in keeping with the demands of wisdom, or that he should die after committing all sorts of misdeeds in the world and should perish and mix in the dust for ever and should never be called to account as to how he employed the authority and fulfilled the responsibilities entrusted to him. Instead of discussing this question, in vv. 34-41, it has been said: “When the Hereafter is established, men’s eternal future will be determined on the criterion as to which of them rebelled against his God transgressing the bounds of service and made the material benefits and pleasures his objective of life and which of them feared standing before his Lord and refrained from fulfilling the unlawful desires of the self.” This by itself provides the right answer to the above question to every such person who considers it honestly, free from stubbornness. For the only rational, logical and moral demand of giving authority and entrusting responsibilities to man in the world is that he should be called to account on this very basis ultimately and rewarded or punished accordingly.
In conclusion, the question of the disbelievers of Makkah as to when Resurrection will take place, has been answered. They asked the Holy Prophet this question over and over again. In reply it has been said that the knowledge of the time of its occurrence rests with Allah alone. The Messenger is there only to give the warning that it will certainly come. Now whoever wishes may mend his ways, fearing its coming, and whoever wishes may behave and conduct himself as he likes, fearless of its coming. When the appointed time comes, those very people who loved the life of this world and regarded its pleasures as the only object of life, would feel that they had stayed in the world only for an hour or so. Then they will realize how utterly they had ruined their future for ever for the sake of the short lived pleasures of the world.
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
(79:1) By those (angels) that pluck out the soul from depths, (79:2) and gently take it away; (79:3) and by those that speedily glide along (the cosmos), (79:4) and vie with the others(in carrying out their Lord’s behests); (79:5) and then manage the affairs of the Universe(according to their Lord’s commands). (79:6) The Day when the quaking will cause a violent convulsion, (79:7) and will be followed by another quaking. (79:8) On that Day some hearts shall tremble (with fright), (79:9) and their eyes shall be downcast with dread. (79:10) They say: “Shall we indeed be restored to life, (79:11) even after we have been reduced to bones, hollow and rotten?” (79:12) They say: “That will then be a return with a great loss!” (79:13) Surely they will need no more than a single stern blast, (79:14) and lo, they will all be in the open plain.
1. Here, the object for which an oath has been sworn by beings having five qualities has not been mentioned; but the theme that follows by itself leads to the conclusion that the oath has been sworn to affirm that the Resurrection is a certainty, which must come to pass, when all dead men shall be resurrected. Nor is there any mention as to what are the beings possessed of the qualities. However, a large number of the companions and their immediate successors and most of the commentators have expressed the opinion that they are the angels. Abdullah bin Masud, Abdullah bin Abbas, Masruq, Saeed bin Jubair, Abu salih Abud-Duha and Suddi say that “those who pull out with violence and those who draw out gently” imply the angels, who wrench out the soul of man at death from the very depths of his body, from its every fiber. “Those who glide about swiftly”, according to Ibn Masud, Mujahid, Saeed bin Jubair and Abu Salih, also imply the angels, who hurry about swiftly in execution of divine commands as though they were gliding through space. The same meaning of “those who hasten out as in a race” has been taken by Ali, Mujahid, Masruq, Abu Salih and Hasan Bari, and hastening out implies that each one of them hurries on his errand as soon as he receives the first indication of divine will. “Those who conduct the affairs” also imply the angels as has been reported from Ali, Mujahid, Ata Abu Salih, Hasan Bari, Qatadah, Rabi bin Anas and Suddi. In other words, these are the workers of the kingdom of the universe, who are conducting all the affairs of the world in accordance with Allah’s command and will. Though this meaning of these verses has not been reported in any authentic Hadith from the Prophet (peace be upon him), while this meaning has been given by some major companions and their immediate successors and pupils, one is led to form the view that they must have obtained this knowledge from the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself.
Now the question arises: On what basis has the oath been sworn by these angels for the occurrence of the Resurrection and life after death when they themselves are as imperceptible as the thing for the occurrence of which they have been presented as an evidence and as an argument. In our opinion the reason is (and Allah has the best knowledge) that the Arabs were not deniers of the existence of the angels. They themselves admitted that at the death the soul was taken out by the angels; they also believed that the angels moved at tremendous speeds; they could reach any place between the earth and the heavens instantly and promptly execute any errand that was entrusted to them. They also acknowledged that the angels are subordinate to divine will and they conduct the affairs of the universe strictly and precisely in accordance with divine will; they are not independent and masters of their will. They regarded them as daughters of Allah out of ignorance and worshipped them as deities, but they did not believe that they possessed the real authority as well. Therefore, the basis of the reasoning from the above mentioned attributes for the occurrence of the Resurrection and life after death is that the angels who took the soul by the order of God, could also restore the soul by the order of the same God; and the angels who conducted the affairs of the universe by the order of God could also upset this universe by the order of the same God whenever He so ordered them and could also bring about a new world order. They would not show any negligence or delay in the execution of His command.
2. The first jolt implies the jolt which will destroy the earth and everything on it, and the second jolt at which all dead men will rise up from death and from their graves. This same state has been described in Surah Az-Zumar, thus: And when the Trumpet shall be blown on that Day, all those who are in the heavens and the earth shall fall down dead except those whom Allah may allow (to live). Then the Trumpet shall be blown again and they will all stand up, looking around. (verse 68).
3. Hearts shall tremble: because, according to the Quran, only the disbelievers, the wicked people and the hypocrites will be terror-stricken on the Resurrection Day, the righteous believers will remain secure from this terror. About them in Surah Al-Anbiya (verse 103) it has been said: The time of great fright will not trouble them at all; the angels will rush forth to receive them, saying: This is the very day which you were promised.
4. That is, when they were told that they would surely be raised back to life after death, they started mocking it, saying to one another: Well, if we have really to be restored to our former state of life, then we would certainly be doomed.
5 That is, they are mocking it as an impossibility, whereas it is not at all a difficult task for Allah for the performance of which He may have to make lengthy preparations. For it only a single shout or cry is enough at which your dust of ash will gather together from wherever it lay, and you will suddenly find yourself alive on the back of the earth. Thinking this return to be a return to loss, you may try to escape from it however hard you may, but it will inevitably take place; it cannot be averted by your denial, escape or mockery.
(79:15) Has  Moses’ story reached you? (79:16) When his Lord called him in the sacred valley of Tuwa, (79:17) and directed him: “Go to Pharaoh, he has rebelled, (79:18) and say to him: ‘Are you willing to be purified, (79:19) that I may direct you to your Lord and then you hold Him in awe?’ ” (79:20) Then Moses (went to Pharaoh and) showed him the Great Sign; (79:21) but he denied it as false and disobeyed, (79:22) and then he turned back to have recourse to his craftiness, (79:23) and gathered his people and declared: (79:24) “I am the supreme lord of you all.” (79:25) Thereupon Allah seized him for the chastisement of the World to Come as well as of the present. (79:26) Surely there is a great lesson in it for whoever would fear (Allah).
6. As the denial of the Resurrection and Hereafter by the disbelievers of Makkah and their mockery of it was not, in fact, rejection of a philosophy but belying Allah’s Messengers, and the tricks that they were employing against the Prophet (peace be upon him) were not against an ordinary man but were meant to frustrate the mission of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him), the story of the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) and the Pharaoh is being related before giving additional arguments for the occurrence of the Hereafter so that they are warned of the consequences of fighting with the Messenger and resisting the God Who sent him.
7. According to general opinion among the commentators the sacred valley of Tuwa means the sacred valley which was named Tuwa. But, besides this, two other meanings of it also have been given:
(1) The valley that was blessed and made sacred twice, for it was first made sacred when Allah spoke to Moses (peace be upon him) in it for the first time, and it was blessed and made sacred for the second time when the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) led the children of Israel out of Egypt and brought them into it.
(2) Called out to him in the sacred valley in the night, and this is according to the meaning of tuwa in the Arabic idiom.
8. Here, one should understand a few things well:
(1) The dialogue that took place between the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) and Allah Almighty at the time of appointing him to the office of Prophethood has been related at some places briefly and at others in full detail in the Quran as the occasion demanded. Here, brevity was the need, therefore, only a resume has been given. Full details are found in(Surah TaHa, Ayats 9-48); (Surah Ash-Shuara, Ayats 10-17); (Surah An-Naml Ayats 7-12), (Surah Al-Qasas, Ayats: 29-35).
(2) The rebellion of the Pharaoh referred to here relates to his transgressing the bounds of service and rebelling both against the Creator and against His creatures. As for his rebellion against the Creator, it is being mentioned a little below when he gathered his people together and proclaimed: I am your lord, the supreme. As against the creatures his rebellion was that he had divided his subjects into classes; he treated the weak classes tyrannically and had reduced his entire nation to slavery as has been mentioned in(Surah Al-Qasas, Ayat 4) and ( Surah Az- Zukhruf, Ayat 54).
(3) The instruction given to Moses (peace be upon him) was: Go, you and your brother Aaron, to Pharaoh for he has transgressed all bounds. Talk to him gently; maybe that he is convinced by admonition or is imbued with fear. (Surah TaHa, Ayat 44). One model of the gentle speech has been given in these verses, which shows what right method a preacher should adopt when preaching to a perverted man. Other models are given in (Surah TaHa, Ayats 49-52); (Surah Ash-Shuara, Ayats 23-28) and (Surah Al-Qasas, Ayat 37). These verses are of those in which Allah has taught the correct methods of preaching Islam in the Quran.
(4) The Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) had not been sent to Pharaoh only for the deliverance of the children of Israel as some people seem to think but the primary object of his appointment was to show Pharaoh and his people the right way, and the second object was that if he did not accept the right way, the children of Israel (who in fact were a Muslim people) should be taken out of his slavery and from Egypt. This thing becomes plain from these verses too, for there is no mention whatsoever in these of the deliverance of the children of Israel, but the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) has been commanded to present the message of the truth before Pharaoh, and this is confirmed by those verses also in which the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) has preached Islam as well as demanded freedom of the children of Israel, e.g. see (Surah Al-A’raf Ayats 104-105), (Surah TaHa Ayats 47-52 ); (, Ayats 16-17, 23-28). (For further explanation, see (E.N. 74 of Yunus).
(5) Here, to adopt purity means to adopt purity of belief, morals and deeds, or, in other words, to accept Islam. Ibn Zaid says: Wherever in the Quran the word tazakka (purity) has been use, it implies acceptance of Islam. As an example of this he has cited the following three verses: And this is the reward of him who adopts purity, i.e. accepts Islam; and what would make you know that he might adopt purity, i.e. becomes a Muslim (Surah Abasa Ayat 3); And you would not be responsible if he did not adapt purity, i.e. did not become a Muslim (Surah Abasa, Ayat 7). (Ibn Jarir).
(6) That I may guide you to your Lord so that you may have fear (of Him) means: When you recognize your Lord and come to know that you are His slave, and not a free man, you will inevitably have fear of Him in your heart, for fear of God is the thing on which depends the right attitude of man in the world. Without the knowledge and fear of God no purity of the self can be possible.
9. The great sign: The turning of the staff into a serpent, as has been mentioned at several places in the Quran. Obviously there could be no greater sign than that a lifeless staff should turn into a living serpent right in front of the eyes of the people, that it should devour the artificial serpents produced by the magicians out of their staffs and cords, and when the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) should pick it up, it should become a walking stick again. This was proof that it was Allah, Lord of the worlds, Who had sent Moses (peace be upon him) as a Prophet.
10. According to the details given at other places in the Quran, he summoned skilful magicians from all over Egypt and made them produce serpents out of sticks and cords in front of the assembled people so that they were convinced that Moses (peace be upon him) was not a Prophet but a magician, and that the miracle worked by him of turning a staff into a serpent, could also be worked by other magicians. But this device of his recoiled upon himself and the defeated magicians themselves admitted that what Moses (peace be upon him) had displayed was no magic but a miracle.
11. This proclamation of Pharaoh has been mentioned at several places in the Quran. On one occasion he said to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him): If you took another one as a deity beside me, I would cast you in the prison. (Surah Ash-Shuara, Ayat 29). On another occasion he had addressed his courtiers, saying: O chiefs, I do not know of any god of yours other than myself. (Surah Al-Qasas, Ayat 38). By this Pharaoh did not mean, nor could he ever mean, that he himself was the creator of the universe and he had made the world, nor that he denied the existence of Allah and claimed to be lord of the universe, nor that he regarded only himself as a deity of the people in the religious sense. In the Quran itself there is a clear testimony that as regards to religion he himself worshipped other gods. Once his courtiers said to him: Will you leave Moses (peace be upon him) and his people free to spread chaos in the land, and let them discard you and your deities? (Surah Al-Aaraf, Ayat 127). And in the Quran itself this saying of the Pharaoh has also been cited: Had Moses (peace be upon him) been sent by Allah, why were not bracelets of gold sent down to him, or a company of angels as attendants? (Surah Az-Zukhruf, Ayat 53). Thus, in fact, he called himself a god and supreme deity not in the religious but in the political sense. What he meant was that he possessed the sovereign rights: no one beside him had the right to rule in his kingdom and there was no superior power whose orders could be enforced in the land. (For further explanation. see (E.N. 85 of Surah Al- Aaraf); (E.N. 21 of Surah TaHa); ( E.Ns 24, 26 of Surah Ash- Shuara); ( E-Ns 52, 53 of Surah Al-Qasas); ( E.N. 49 of Surah Az-Zukhruf).
12. Who fears: who fears the consequences of denying God’s Messenger, which the Pharaoh experienced in the past.