These surahs form a pair with regard to their subject matter.
In the first surah, the bases of the argument are the signs and manifestations in the world around man and in established historical facts, while in the second one, besides the signs and manifestations in the world around man, the signs of the Almighty's Power and wisdom in man's creation form these bases. Both surahs are directed at the leadership of the Quraysh, and it is evident from their content that like the previous surahs they were also revealed in Makkah in the phase of indhar-i 'am of the Prophet's (sws) mission.
The central theme of both surahs is to refute the scepticism of theQuraysh regarding the Day of Judgement and to warn them that their oppression of the Muslims and their evil schemes against the Prophet (sws) are about to meet their fate. They have been ensnared by the respite given to them. They do not have any more time.
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
وَالسَّمَآءِ ذَاتِ الْبُرُوْجِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْمَوْعُوْدِ وَشَاهِدٍ وَّ مَشْهُوْدٍ قُتِلَ أَصْحَابُ الْأُخْدُوْدِ النَّارِ ذَاتِ الْوَقُوْدِ إِذْ هُمْ عَلَيْهَا قُعُوْدٌ وَّهُمْ عَلَى مَا يَفْعَلُوْنَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.
This sky with forts and the day also which [you are] being promised, and everyone [in this world] who sees [if he has insight], and whatever he is seeing– all of these bear witness [that the Day of Judgement is bound to come. So,] doomed are the companions of the fuel-filled ditch of fire when they sat on
وَمَا نَقَمُوْا مِنْهُمْ إِلاَّ أَنْ يُّؤْمِنُوْا بِاللهِ الْعَزِيْزِ الْحَمِيْدِ الَّذِيْ لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وِالْأَرْضِ،وَاللهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيْدٌ(9-8)
it [in Hell] and are seeing [the consequences of] what they had been doing to the believers [in this world]. (1-7)
Theybecame their enemies merely because they believed in God, the Mighty, the Praiseworthy, to whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and [in reality] God is watching every thing. (8-9)
إِنَّ الَّذِيْنَ فَتَنُوْا الْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَتُوْبُوْا فَلَهُمْ عَذَابُ جَهَنَّمَ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابُ الْحَرِيْقِ إِنَّ الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا وَعَمِلُوْا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِيْ مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَار، ذَالِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْكَبِيْرُ (11-10)
إِنَّ بَطْشَ رَبِّكَ لَشَدِيْدٌ إِنَّهُ هُوَ يُبْدِئُ وَيُعِيْدُ وَهُوَ الْغَفُوْرُ الْوَدُوْدُ ذُوْ الْعَرْشِ الْمَجِيْدٌ فَعَّالٌ لِّمَا يُرِيْدُ (16-12)
هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيْثُ الْجُنُوْدِ فِرْعَوْنَ وَثَمُوْدَ بَلِ الَّذِيْنَ كَفَرُوْا فِيْ تَكْذِيْبٍ وَّاللهُ
Those who oppressed believing men and women and never repented, for them is the punishment of Hell, and the torment of burning. [On the other hand], those people who remained steadfast in their faith and did righteous deeds, for them are the gardens of Paradise beneath which rivers flow. This [in fact] is supreme success. (10-11)
Severe indeed is the grip of your Lord. [They must not be in any misconception.] He alone begins and He alone will bring back. He is Forgiving [if they repent], All-Loving, Lord of the throne, the Exalted, the [absolute] Doer of what He intends. (12-16)
Has the story of those forces reached you [who became rebellious in a similar manner]? Of the forces of Pharaoh and the
مِنْ وَّرَائِهِمْ مُّحِيْطٌ بَلْ هُوَ قُرْآنٌ مَّجِيْدٌ فِيْ لَوْحٍ مَّحْفُوْظٍ (22-17)
Thamud? [Then, is this something to be denied. No! Certainly not!] In fact, these disbelievers have decided that they will continue to deny, and [in reality] God is surrounding them from the front and rear. [This is not something to be denied]. In fact, this is the exalted Qur'an [secure from the tampering of every devil]. It is in the preserved tablet. (17-22)
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
وَالسَّمَآءِ وَالطَّارِقِ وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَاالطَّارِقُ النَّجْمُ الثَّاقِبُ إِنْ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ لَّمَّا عَلَيْهَا حَافِظٌ (4-1)
فَلْيَنْظُرِ الْإِنْسَانُ مِمَّا خُلِقَ خُلِقَ مِنْ مَّآءٍ دَافِقٍ يَّخْرُجُ مِنْ م بَيْنِ الصُّلْبِ وِالتَّرَائِبِ إِنَّهُ عَلَى رَجْعِهِ لَقَادِرٌ (8-5)
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.
The sky bears witness and those also which come in the night and what do you understand what those which come in the night are? Shining stars – all of them bear witness that indeed every soul has a guardian over it. (1-4)
[If even this is not sufficient evidence,] then let man see from what he has been created. From a spurting fluid that comes out from between the bones of the back and the chest. [If His Lord can create him in such a manner, then] surely, He can create him again. (5-8)
يَوْمَ تُبْلَى السَّرَآئِرُ فَمَالَهُ مِنْ قُوَّةٍ وَّلاَ نَاصِرٍ (10-9)
وَالسَّمَآءِ ذَاتِ الرَّجْعِ وِالْأَرْضِ ذَاتِ الصَّدْعِ إِنَّهُ لَقَوْلٌ فَصْلٌ وَّمَا هُوَ بِالْهَزْلِ(14-11)
On the day, when secrets of the hearts are scrutinized, at that time, neither will man have any power nor any helper. (9-10)
إِنَّهُمْ يَكِيْدُوْنَ كَيْدًا وَّأَكِيْدُ كَيْدًا فَمَهِّلِ الْكَافِرِيْنَ أَمْهِلْهُمْ رُوَيْدًا(17-15)
2nd March 2010
(Translated from Al-Bayan by Dr Shehzad Saleem)
. The word بُرْج means forts and castles. Here, it refers to the forts and observation posts in which angels of God are always stationed to protect the universe. Their evidence is presented to warn the arrogant leaders of Makkah and Ta'if that soon they will be held accountable for the wave of oppression they have let loose on the Muslims. The forts of the heavens bear witness that everything is in God's sight and His angels sitting in them guard every part of this universe. This arrangement has been made because the purpose is to make this world culminate in a Day of Judgement.
. Ie., the Day of Judgement which is evidence on itself. No sane person can refute it because a person is intuitively aware of it. No external evidence is required to validate it.
. This refers to the signs of power, mercy, wisdom and providence of the Almighty as well as the incidents of His worldly retribution in the time of the messengers of God – which man has always been observing.
. This is the complement of all the oaths mentioned earlier. It is not mentioned in words by the Qur'an because it is so very obvious from the context. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… This style is adopted at places where the complement of oath is so obvious that a person's mind comprehends it even if it is not mentioned. This creates brevity in the discourse as the whole complement of oath can be regarded to have been suppressed since the context strongly occasions it.(Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 9, 289)
. This is a note of severe reprimand sounded to the arrogant leadership of the Quraysh who were oppressing and persecuting the Muslims in order to make them give up their faith. They are warned that if they do not abstain from their harassing and hostile behaviour they shall be flung into the raging pit of Hell whose fire will not extinguish or lessen in intensity.
. These are the details of the fate of the cruel who will sit beside the ditch of Hell and observe their ultimate abode before being cast into it. The past tense used is to convey the certainty of the event. The Qur'an has adopted this style at other places as well. The word شُهُوْدٌ signifies the consequence of the verb. Examples of this usage can also be found at several instances in the Qur'an.
. Ie., they are being punished merely because they have professed belief in God. For this, the two attributes of the Almighty – الْعَزِيزِ and الْحَمِيدِ need our attention. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… The former depicts His power, honour and majesty while the latter His mercy, providence and being worthy of praise and gratitude. The purpose of mentioning them is that only the being Who has such attributes is worthy of being professed faith in. Those who have professed faith in Him have relied on the support of someone whose support is the real support and it is only they who will succeed. The glad tidings for oppressed Muslims and the threat for those disbelievers who were harassing them found in between the lines of these verses do not require any explanation. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 9, 291)
. Ie., He is ever watching the storm of persecution the Quraysh have unleashed on the believers and He is also observing the steadfastness of the believers.Hence, not far is the time when He will take revenge and strong revenge from the cruel people for oppressing His innocent people.
. The actual word is فَتَنُوْا. In the Qur'an, this word is used for the oppression and coercion done to a person in order to force him to abandon his faith. The verse mentions women also besides men. They have been particularly mentioned because they were being specially oppressed because of their weakness.
. Ie., besides other forms of torment, they shall also specially face the torment of fire.
. The actual word is آمَنُوْا. It is evident from its context and occasion that it is used in its ultimate sense. I have translated it while giving due consideration to this aspect.
. This is a mention of the reason for the reward and punishment mentioned in the previous verses: when God has created man, He can also raise him up after death. When creating him the first time posed no difficulty to Him, why would it be difficult to create man a second time?
. Ie., neither does He need anyone nor can anyone stop Him from doing what He intends.
. Cited here are some examples from history to substantiate the facts mentioned above.
. The actual words are: إِنْ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ لَّمَّا عَلَيْهَا حَافِظٌ. Here the letter لَمَّا occurs in instead of لmerely to maintain the beat and rhythm of the verse. The guardians mentioned in the verse are appointed because a Day of Judgement is to come wherein the beliefs and deeds of each person will be presented for accountability. Thus it is said that to understand this, people must look at the sky whose strong network embraces them from all sides. Similarly, the stars should be observed whose eyes are always watching them. Who can dare escape from their protection? They are sentinels of God who never sleep. If man reflects, he will come to see that this great system bears witness that it is not difficult at all for God to appoint a guardian over each soul who observes everything he does. Hence, everyone should understand that this world is not an un-minded lot norwill its inhabitants go scot-free without being held accountable. Hence, a day of accountability is bound to come and no one will be able to escape this accountability.
. Though a general word (man) is used, yet the direction of address is the leaders of the Quraysh who are the addressees of this surah.
. Ie., if He can create man with such an ordinary drop of fluid, then surely He can create Him again as well. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… This fluid is not a rarity nor does it originate from a place which is beyond the jurisdiction of God; it bursts forth from between the spine and chest and later providence fashions it into whatever form and structure it wants to and then brings it from the womb of the mother.(Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 9, 303)
. In other words, when behind their deeds, the good and evil intentions found in a person's heart will be brought to judgement.
. The actual words are: وِالْأَرْضِ ذَاتِ الصَّدْعِ. The word صَدْعٌ means "to split asunder." It refers to the situation when rain opens the pores of the earth and by absorbing water it becomes lush and verdant.
. Earlier, the Day of Judgement was substantiated through man's creation; now a universal argument is cited in its support: just as a dead piece of land is brought to life by rain when new plants and vegetation sprout from it, so shall the dead remains of each person be brought to life at the behest of the Almighty on the Day of Judgement. This phenomenon of life after death is observed everyday. This is evidence to theQur'anic claim about the Day of Judgement being a decisive word that is certainly no joke. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
Just as in the previous surah, the rejecters of the Day of Judgement are warned not to make fun of the admonition sounded to them by the Qur'an and that the Qur'an is an exalted discourse revealed from the guarded tablet, similarly, at the end of this surah also a new style is adopted to inform its addressees of the fact that the day of accountability which the Qur'an is informing them of is an indubitable reality; one day, they shall have to face it come what may; hence they should not make fun of it; prudence demands that they should listen to it carefully and understand it and prepare for the advent of that day. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 9, 305)
. This is a reference to the doubts that were being fabricated to confuse people and to fool them about the Day of Judgement. The fact was that even those who were fabricating them knew that they were being made up to escape reality.
. Ie., the plan whereby the Almighty will seize them when they are left with no excuse.
. The implication is that though God has consigned their reins in the Prophet's hands, He wants that he give them a little more respite so that they go on with their sinister schemes and are left with no plea.