Surah Tariq

Surah Tariq


Qur'anic Exegesis

Introduction

This surah forms a pair with the preceding surah – Surah Buruj. Both have a striking similarity as both have a similar preamble and end on a similar end note.

Central Theme

The central theme of both the surahs is the same. Celestial panoramas and corporal phenomena and the attributes of the Almighty are offered to substantiate the warning of the Qur'an regarding the Day of Judgment. This inevitable event must be taken seriously because, though, there seems to be a little delay, it is, in fact, a respite given to the wicked so that they can play to their heart's content. The Almighty does not rush to punish the wrong doers because His scheme is firm and no one can ever escape once seized by His wrath.

Analysis of the Contents

The contents of the Surah can be analyzed thus:

In the first four verses, it is asserted that nothing in the heavens escape the watch of the omni-present God. He has indeed appointed a guardian over each soul and can punish a culprit as and when desired according to His own ordained scheme.

In the next four verses, an invitation has been extended to all disbelievers to meditate over the mysteries of creation. Man has not been created by some rare material which is beyond the reach of Allah but by a drop of water which gushes forth from within himself. Thus, when Allah is able to make a whole person from just a drop of water, He can surely resurrect the whole mankind on the Last Day and take account from everyone.

The next two verses allude to the fact that Allah has full knowledge of what is in the hearts. All acts, however secretly conducted, shall be judged openly on the Last Day and no might or a helper will a person find at his disposal to escape the judgment pronounced.

In verses eleven to fourteen, a combination of the celestial and the terrestrial phenomena is again mentioned to reinforce the warning of the Qur'an regarding the Day of Resurrection lest man should take it a pleasantry when it is inevitably going to take place.

In the last three verses, the Prophet Muhammad (sws) is consoled that whatever the disbelievers are planning will be turned against them. The Almighty has laid down a firm plan which shall soon be executed to seize them and to bring them to justice.

سورة الطارق

وَالسَّمَاءِ وَالطَّارِقِ وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الطَّارِقُ النَّجْمُ الثَّاقِبُ إِنْ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ لَمَّا عَلَيْهَا حَافِظٌ فَلْيَنظُرْ الْإِنسَانُ مِمَّ خُلِقَ خُلِقَ مِنْ مَاءٍ دَافِقٍ يَخْرُجُ مِنْ بَيْنِ الصُّلْبِ وَالتَّرَائِبِ إِنَّهُ عَلَى رَجْعِهِ لَقَادِرٌ يَوْمَ تُبْلَى السَّرَائِرُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ قُوَّةٍ وَلَا نَاصِرٍ وَالسَّمَاءِ ذَاتِ الرَّجْعِ وَالْأَرْضِ ذَاتِ الصَّدْعِ إِنَّهُ لَقَوْلٌ فَصْلٌ وَمَا هُوَ بِالْهَزْلِ إِنَّهُمْ يَكِيدُونَ كَيْدًا وَأَكِيدُ كَيْدًا فَمَهِّلْ الْكَافِرِينَ أَمْهِلْهُمْ رُوَيْدًا (1-17)

Meaning of the Surah

The sky and those which appear in the night—and what do you understand what those which appear in the night are? Shinning stars—bear witness that indeed there is no soul over which there is no guardian. (1-4)

So, let man ponder on what he has been created from. He has been created from a spurting fluid that comes from between the bones of the back and the chest. Indeed He [– the Almighty –] is able to resurrect him. (5-8)

On that day, when all secrets will be probed, then, neither will he have any might nor will he find any helper. (9-10)

This sky brimful of rain and the earth with splitsbear witness that this is a decisive word and it is no jest. (11-14)

They are devising a plan and I am also scheming a plan. So, leave the disbelievers; leave them for a while. (15-17)

Explanation of the Surah

وَالسَّمَاءِ وَالطَّارِقِ وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الطَّارِقُ النَّجْمُ الثَّاقِبُ إِنْ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ لَمَّا عَلَيْهَا حَافِظٌ(1-4)

The sky and those which appear in the night—and what do you understand what those which appear in the night are? Shinning stars—bear witness that indeed there is no soul over which there is no guardian. (1-4)

Heaven with its forts is offered as an evidence for the impending Day of Judgment in the preceding Surah Buruj, likewise, shinning stars and the all encompassing sky find mention in this surah to substantiate the claim of the Qur'an that immediately follows the explanation of the word 'Tariq'.The literal meaning of this word is that which comes in the night but, in this surah, it alludes to a shinning star which appears in the night as endorsed by the following phrase 'النَّجْمُ الثَّاقَبُ' (shining star). The question 'َو مَا اَدْرَاك مَا الطَّارِقُ' (what do you understand what those which appear in the night are?)is posed to augment the significance of the evidence that has just been presented. The implication being that this evidence is of such importance that the Almighty has offered it to substantiate His warning lest one should take it lightly.

The phrase 'النَّجْمُ الثَّاقَبُ' (shining star) does not imply any particular star. Rather, it has been used to allude merely to the genre all stars belong to in the same way it is referred to in Surah Nahal by the words 'وبِالنَّجْمِ هُمْ يَهْتَدُوْنَ' (By the stars they guide themselves. (16:16)). It is, however, to be noted that the adjective 'الثَّاقِبُ' here has a special connotation that must be appreciated: if the Powerful and Wise Creator can cause the light of stars to reach every corner of this earth without any medium, He can surely catch any transgressor whenever He wants to although there seems to be no apparent means. This has been expressed more clearly in the verse 'اِنْ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ لَّمَّا عَلَيْهَا حَافِظٌ' (Indeed no soul is there over which there is no guardian) and is indeed the claim for which all the previous oaths have been taken. In a nutshell, the Almighty has offered something visible to our eyes to substantiate the existence of that which is hidden—the guardian that He has appointed over each soul.

Another aspect that springs to mind when one ponders on the combination of the evidence—the sky and the shinning star—that the Qur'an has put forth is that the Creator has made a special arrangement for the management of the affairs of this world. The Qur'an at various instances has mentioned that forts are erected in these stars, where angels are stationed so that no intruder, without the permission of the Master, could ever reach the prohibited area. But, in case, he tries to, he will be attacked with meteorites as a punishment. This is a reference to Satan and his accomplices who try to creep up in the skies to overhear divine commandments. This bombardment is indeed a manifestation of Allah's wisdom and authority with which He administers the affairs of this world and leaves nothing to others – taking control of each and every thing in His hand. In addition, it implies that the creation of this well-organized and well-managed world has a special purpose which shall be achieved when some, who lived their lives according to the values set by their Master, are rewarded and the remaining, who are quite averse to the scheme of the Almighty, are punished.

The usage of 'لَّمَّا' in verse 4 is somewhat rare and that is why it has been an issue of debate among the grammarians. This writer has documented his research findings under the explanation of verse 111 of Surah Hud and verse 35 of Surah Zukhruf.

فَلْيَنظُرْ الْإِنسَانُ مِمَّ خُلِقَ خُلِقَ مِنْ مَاءٍ دَافِقٍ يَخْرُجُ مِنْ بَيْنِ الصُّلْبِ وَالتَّرَائِبِ إِنَّهُ عَلَى رَجْعِهِ لَقَادِرٌ (5-8)

So, let man ponder on what he has been created from. He has been created from a spurting fluid that comes from between the bones of the back and the chest. Indeed He [– the Almighty –] is able to resurrect him.(5-8)

These verses urge a person to accept his true position and appreciate the sagacity and wisdom of his Creator with which He has set meticulously the details of each phenomenon that takes place within himself and outside in the world. Besides, these phenomena are not now beyond His authority since it is He who initially put them into process. So, He can easily override a plan initially devised by Him and resurrect man on the Last Day to account.

It is, perhaps, the strongest opposition that the Qur'an faced from the disbelievers that how Allah would be able to bring a person back to life once he is soil at best. The Qur'an did not refute their claim by far-fetched philosophical theories. On the contrary, it invited them to consider as simple an evidence as the creation of man for the first time. Surah 'Abas also presents this evidence in the following words:

قُتِلَ الْإِنْسَانُ مَا أَكْفَرَهُ مِنْ أَيِّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقَهُ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ خَلَقَهُ فَقَدَّرَهُ ثُمَّ السَّبِيلَ يَسَّرَهُ ثُمَّ أَمَاتَهُ فَأَقْبَرَهُ ثُمَّ إِذَا شَاءَ أَنْشَرَهُ(80: 17-22)

Woe to man! How ungrateful he is. From what he has been created? From a sperm-drop: He [the Almighty] created him and then set for him a time frame [to be a complete human being], then made his way easy for him and then caused death to him and had him put in his grave. Then, when He wishes to, He will raise him again [to account]. (80:17-22)

Another important point which must be deliberated upon is about the nature of the material from which man has been created and is described by the words 'خُلِقَ مِنْ مَّآءٍ دَافِقٍ' (he has been created from a spurting fluid).The Qur'an explains that it is just a drop of water that comes from between the bones of the back and the chest and that it is not some rare material beyond the reach of the Almighty. It is indeed His set scheme by which this drop is made to gush forth and then to transform gradually into a complete human being. This great demonstration that takes place within a person evidently shows that the Almighty is surely able to restore all mankind to life on the Last Day. Surah Infitar delineates this process in the following words:

يَاأَيُّهَا الْإِنسَانُ مَا غَرَّكَ بِرَبِّكَ الْكَرِيمِ الَّذِي خَلَقَكَ فَسَوَّاكَ فَعَدَلَكَ فِي أَيِّ صُورَةٍ مَا شَاءَ رَكَّبَكَ كَلَّا بَلْ تُكَذِّبُونَ بِالدِّينِ (82: 6-9)

O man, what made you to be indifferent to your Lord the Most Beneficent, Who made a sketch of you, then fashioned, then completed you in every aspect and gave you whatever features He wished to. Nay, you [actually want to] deny the Judgment. (82:6-9)

Finally, from a linguistic perspective: it is mentioned here that though the invitation expressed in 'فَلْيَنْظُرِ الْاِنْسَانُ مِمَّا خُلِقَ' (So let man ponder on what he has been created from) is extended to all human kind, the immediate addressees are no doubt the Quraysh who would raise suchabsurdobjections to make a mockery ofthewarnings ofthe Qur'an.

يَوْمَ تُبْلَى السَّرَائِرُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ قُوَّةٍ وَلَا نَاصِرٍ (9-10)

On that day, when all secrets will be probed, then, neither will he have any might nor will he find any helper. (9-10)

The nature of the court that will be established on the Last Day is mentioned in 'يَوْمَ تُبْلَى السَّرَائِر' (On the day, all secrets will be probed).Unlike the courts of this world, all secret acts shall be investigated in the court of the Hereafter. So much so, even ill intentions will be scrutinized and brought to judgment. The Almighty has made an arrangement to record all acts no matter how secretly conducted or thought of. He will ensure that sincerity is separated from insincerity and good is separated from evil and that ultimate justice is done. Another characteristic of that court will be that every part of our body shall be called to be a witness against us. They will speak the truth unraveling all of our secrets which remained hidden from the eyes of the world.

Perhaps, the main reason that justice continues to elude us in this world is that people of power and good connections always manage to get away with the crimes they commit. On the Last Day, a person shall neither have any power nor shall he find any helper to turn towards in order to have the game turned into his favor. Thus, an environment perfectly suitable for sheer justice will be established and each person will be judged on individual basis.

وَالسَّمَاءِ ذَاتِ الرَّجْعِ وَالْأَرْضِ ذَاتِ الصَّدْعِ إِنَّهُ لَقَوْلٌ فَصْلٌ وَمَا هُوَ بِالْهَزْلِ (11-14)

This sky brimful of rain and the earth with splitsbear witness that this is a decisive word and it is no jest. (11-14)

Another thought provoking evidence is put forth to rebut the doubts raised by the disbelievers about resurrection. The implication being that how creating life from death for the second time can be a hard task for the Master when He is able to turn the dead soil around them into lush green fields time and again. These phenomena that they observe daily should serve as an eye-opener warning for their un-called for attitude that they have adopted toward the word of their Creator.

The Qur'an, at various other instances, has also reinforced its claim using different expressions that bringing mankind to life again is not improbable whatsoever. For example, in Surah Anbiya, such doubters are reprimanded in the following words in order to wake them from their deep slumber:

أَوَلَمْ يَرَى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ كَانَتَا رَتْقًا فَفَتَقْنَاهُمَا وَجَعَلْنَا مِنْ الْمَاءِ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ حَيٍّ أَفَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ (30:21)

Is it that those who reject the Day of Judgment have not seen that the sky and the earth are closed. We create from its water every kind of plant. Still, will they not believe. (21:30)

The disbelievers are cautioned that the warnings of the Qur' an must not be ridiculed. They must pay heed to the calls of sense and reason or they will have to face grievous consequences of their unbecoming behavior because they are making a mockery of a holy message from their Creator, which is conclusive and decisive.

إِنَّهُمْ يَكِيدُونَ كَيْدًا وَأَكِيدُ كَيْدًا فَمَهِّلْ الْكَافِرِينَ أَمْهِلْهُمْ رُوَيْدًا (15-17)

They are devising a plan and I am also scheming a plan. So, leave the disbelievers; leave them for a while. (15-17)

The Prophet Muhammad (sws) is consoled that the questions raised by his addressees are not for the sake of understanding the truth itself. They are in fact scheming to make fun of the word of Allah. The Prophet (sws) need not worry that his addressees are challenging him to do some miracle to authenticate his status which he is not given permission to do by the Almighty because such doubts are not genuine but a means to evade the message. Their obvious objective is to keep the general public away from the Prophet (sws) so that they could be able to retain their political authority. Their sin is, therefore, twofold and their punishment shall also be twofold. The Almighty has just laid down a firm scheme and will soon execute it to seize them such that no transgressor will be able to escape. Thus, this Surah conveys a similar idea as has been suggested by the previous Surah Buruj in the words 'وَالله ُمِنْ وَّرَآإِهِمْ مُحِيْطٌ' (Allah is surrounding them from behind). Since the Almighty is surrounding them from all sides with a firm scheme, it is not to be feared that they will escape His grip. The Prophet (sws) is, therefore, instructed to give them a little respite so that they can play to their hearts' content. The implication being that this additional period of reprieve awarded to them will leave them with no plea and then the Almighty will cause them to enter the raging, ever hungry hellfire. The last verse is indeed a warning sounded to the disbelievers that their time is due to end very soon and this period of respite is not going to be too long.

The point that must be appreciated here is that the Prophet (sws) is being asked to give them a little more time, which ultimately means that the Almighty has finally given their fate in the hands of the Prophet (sws). Allah, however, wants him to allow them a further period of respite before finally they meet their own-chosen destiny.

(Translated from 'Tadabbur i Qur'an' by Jhangeer Hanif)




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