Both these surahs form a pair with regard to their subject matter. In the first surah, the basis of the argument is the awareness of good and evil found in human nature and in the second, the manifest signs in the world around man form this basis. Both surahs are directed at the leadership of the Quraysh, and it is evident from their content that like the previous surahs they were revealed in Makkah in the phase of Indhar-i 'am of the Prophet's (sws) mission.
The central theme of both surahs is to warn the Quraysh of any misconception they may have about the Day of Judgement. Most surely, they are going to be raised up on that day to appear before their Lord and shall definitely meet different fates according to their deeds.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
وَيْلٌ لِّلْمُطَفِّفِينَ. الَّذِينَ إِذَا اكْتَالُواْ عَلَى النَّاسِ يَسْتَوْفُونَ. وَإِذَا كَالُوهُمْ أَو وَّزَنُوهُمْ يُخْسِرُونَ. أَلَا يَظُنُّ أُولَئِكَ أَنَّهُم مَّبْعُوثُونَ. لِيَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ. يَوْمَ يَقُومُ النَّاسُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (1-6)
كَلَّا إِنَّ كِتَابَ الفُجَّارِ لَفِي سِجِّينٍ. وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا سِجِّينٌ. كِتَابٌ مَّرْقُومٌ. وَيْلٌ
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.
Devastation for those who exact full measure when they take from others, but when they measure or weigh for others give less than what is due. Do they not think that they will be raised up one day? for [presence] on a great day. The day when men will stand up before the Lord of the worlds. (1-6)
[In spite of this, they say that everyone will meet the same fate.] Certainly not! The record of the disobedient shall certainly
يَوْمَئِذٍ لِّلْمُكَذِّبِينَ. الَّذِينَ يُكَذِّبُونَ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ. وَمَا يُكَذِّبُ بِهِ إِلَّا كُلُّ مُعْتَدٍ أَثِيمٍ. إِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِ آيَاتُنَا قَالَ أَسَاطِيرُ الْأَوَّلِينَ. كَلَّا بَلْ رَانَ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِم مَّا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ. كَلَّا إِنَّهُمْ عَن رَّبِّهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ لَّمَحْجُوبُونَ. ثُمَّ إِنَّهُمْ لَصَالُوا الْجَحِيمِ. ثُمَّ يُقَالُ هَذَا الَّذِي كُنتُم بِهِ تُكَذِّبُونَ (7-17)
be in Sijjin.And what do you know what Sijjin is? A written register. Devastation shall be on that Day upon those who deny. These who are denying the Day of reward and punishment. And, [in reality] only he denies it who exceeds the limits and usurps rights. When Our revelations are recited to him, he says: "Tales of the ancients." Certainly not! In fact, the rust of their deeds has settled on their hearts. [They think that if ever the Day of Judgement will come, they alone will be God's favoured ones]. Certainly not! On that day, they shall certainly be held away from their Lord. Then they shall enter Hell. Then it shall be said to them: This is what you used to deny. (7-17)
كَلَّا إِنَّ كِتَابَ الْأَبْرَارِ لَفِي عِلِّيِّينَ. وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا عِلِّيُّونَ. كِتَابٌ مَّرْقُومٌ. يَشْهَدُهُ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ. إِنَّ الْأَبْرَارَ لَفِي نَعِيمٍ. عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ يَنظُرُونَ. تَعْرِفُ فِي وُجُوهِهِمْ نَضْرَةَ النَّعِيمِ. يُسْقَوْنَ مِن رَّحِيقٍ مَّخْتُومٍ. خِتَامُهُ مِسْكٌ وَفِي ذَلِكَ فَلْيَتَنَافَسِ الْمُتَنَافِسُونَ. وَمِزَاجُهُ مِن تَسْنِيمٍ. عَيْنًا يَشْرَبُ بِهَا الْمُقَرَّبُونَ (18-28)
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ أَجْرَمُوا كَانُواْ مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يَضْحَكُونَ. وَإِذَا مَرُّواْ بِهِمْ يَتَغَامَزُونَ.
[They can never be equal]. By no means! Indeed, the record of the obedient shall certainly be in the 'Illiyyin. And what do you know what the 'Illiyyin is? A written register, in the custody of the exalted angels. Indeed, these obedient shall be surrounded [there] with bliss, reclining on thrones gazing around. You will see the glow of this bliss on their faces. Their thirst will be quenched with pure wine, sealed; the seal will be of musk. And to this [end] let those who wish to strive, strive with fervour – the wine will be tempered with Tasnim,a special spring on whose banks these favoured ones of Allah shall sit and drink. (18-28)
[And there were days when] these sinners used to laugh at the believers. They used to make gestures with their eyes when they
وَإِذَا انقَلَبُواْ إِلَى أَهْلِهِمُ انقَلَبُواْ فَكِهِينَ. وَإِذَا رَأَوْهُمْ قَالُوا إِنَّ هَؤُلَاء لَضَالُّونَ. وَمَا أُرْسِلُوا عَلَيْهِمْ حَافِظِينَ. فَالْيَوْمَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مِنَ الْكُفَّارِ يَضْحَكُونَ. عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ يَنظُرُونَ. هَلْ ثُوِّبَ الْكُفَّارُ مَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ (29-36)
passed them by. When they return to their people, they would return jesting. And when they would see them, they would say: "These are indeed the strayed ones." [They claim to be reformers], whereas, they were not sent to be their guardians, But today the believers are laughing at these disbelievers, reclining on thrones witnessing their fate – Why! Have not the disbelievers been duly rewarded for what they did? (29-36)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
إِذَا السَّمَاء انشَقَّتْ. وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا وَحُقَّتْ. وَإِذَا الْأَرْضُ مُدَّتْ. وَأَلْقَتْ مَا فِيهَا وَتَخَلَّتْ. وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا وَحُقَّتْ (1-5)
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.
When the sky is rent asunder, and obeys its Lord's command as is befitting for it. And when the earth is stretched out and casts out all that is within her and becomes empty and obeys its Lord and this is what it should do. [That will be the day when you shall meet your Lord]. (1-5)
يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنسَانُ إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَى رَبِّكَ كَدْحًا فَمُلَاقِيهِ. فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ. فَسَوْفَ يُحَاسَبُ حِسَابًا يَسِيرًا. وَيَنقَلِبُ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُورًا. وَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ وَرَاء ظَهْرِهِ. فَسَوْفَ يَدْعُو ثُبُورًا. وَيَصْلَى سَعِيرًا. إِنَّهُ كَانَ فِي أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُورًا. إِنَّهُ ظَنَّ أَن لَّن يَحُورَ. بَلَى إِنَّ رَبَّهُ كَانَ بِهِ بَصِيرًا (15-6)
[For that very day] O man! You also are toiling on towards your Lord and are going to meet Him. Then he whose record is given to him [there] in his right hand will receive an easy reckoning, and he will go back rejoicing to his people. And he whose record is handed out to him from behind his back [into his tied up hands] will call for death and shall enter Hell. He remained engrossed among his kinfolk. He thought that he would never have to return anywhere. Yes, why not! [why should he be left with his misdeeds and not called to account]? His Lord was ever watching over him. (6-15)
فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالشَّفَقِ.وَاللَّيْلِ وَمَا وَسَقَ.وَالْقَمَرِ إِذَا اتَّسَقَ.لَتَرْكَبُنَّ طَبَقًا عَن طَبَقٍ (16-19)
فَمَا لَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ (20) وَإِذَا قُرِئَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقُرْآنُ لَا يَسْجُدُونَ (21) بَلِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ يُكَذِّبُونَ (22) وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يُوعُونَ (23) فَبَشِّرْهُم بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ (24) إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ لَهُمْ أَجْرٌ غَيْرُ مَمْنُونٍ (25)
Therefore, this is not so. I present as witness the glow of the sunset, and night and the way it gathers, and the moon when it grows full that you also shall [in a similar way] necessarily ascend gradually [to appear before your Lord]. (16-19)
What has come over them that they are not believing, and when the Qur'an is recited before them they do not bow down [acknowledging its greatness]! In fact [strangely enough] these disbelievers, on the contrary, are denying; yet God knows full well what they are accumulating. So, [ Prophet!] Give them glad tidings of a painful doom. For those, however, there is eternal reward [there] who accepted faith and did righteous deeds. (20-25)
(Translated from Al-Bayan by Dr Shehzad Saleem)
. This is not merely a statement of fact. Hidden beneath it is a severe curse for the addressees.
. The words "who exact full measure when they take from others," point to the fact that these verses actually depict an unworthy character who is unfair to others when he weighs for them but is very sensitive for himself and does not want in any way that others should weigh less for him the slightest; warning people against measuring wrongly is not what is under discussion here. By depicting this character, the Qur'an wants to substantiate that every person has an awareness of good and evil, and does not regard them to be equal. The distinction between justice and injustice and the liking for justice and the disliking for injustice are found in his nature. Hence he will never like that the just and the unjust be dealt with in the same manner; on the contrary, he vehemently thinks that they should be dealt with differently. The Qur'an prods him and by expressing wonder asks him how in spite of this evidence found in his nature does he think that both the just and the unjust will die and become dust, and their Lord will not reward or punish them in accordance with their deeds?
. Ie., they are not going to be presented before any ordinary being; they will be brought before the "Lord of the Worlds." Hence they can well judge the exaltedness, importance, need of this day and how God's verdicts will be imposed on them.
. Ie., in spite of the fact that they know that good and evil can never be equal. Their behaviour in weighing bears evidence that the awareness of good and evil is found in their nature; however, in spite of this they say that good people and evil people reach the same fate.
. The word sijjin here has not been used literally. It is actually a proper noun as the subsequent words indicate.
. This style is meant to bring out the dreadful nature of sijjin.
. The implication is that no one can deny the Day of Judgement on the basis of reason and rationality. Only those who are arrogant and unjust and have thereby distorted their nature can dare to deny it.
. Ie., they have become such slaves to their base desires that the rust of their evil deeds has sullied their hearts. Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… If a person honours and values the arguments the Almighty has ingrained in human nature and uses the faculty of intellect He has given him, these things will be of benefit to him. However, if he does not use these things and instead starts following his base desires, then gradually the rust of his misdeeds begins to settle on these faculties and slowly engulfs them to the extent that nothing is able to make its way into them. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 9, 259)
. Ie., they will not be able to behold Him in the refulgent splendour which surrounds Him nor be able to benefit from His favours.
. The repetition of the particle ثُمَّ (then) shows that these words will be said to them emphatically to humiliate them further.
. While describing the Sijjin, this style was adopted to refer to its horror; here this style is adopted to refer to the exaltedness of the 'Illiyyin.
. Ie., if there is an area of competition and striving to outdo one another, it is this. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi:
… This is not only an exhortation for the believers, it is also a sarcastic remark on people who are slaves to this world: all their efforts are expended to earn the transient pleasures of this world and there is no one to desire things that should really be desired. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 9, 261)
. The Arabic word مِزَاج is usedfor all those things that are used to enhance or moderate the flavour and crispness of wine.
. The word عَيْنًا is declined in the accusative on account of ikhtisas(specification).
. The actual words are: عَيْنًا يَشْرَبُ بِهَا الْمُقَرَّبُونَ. The particle بin بِهَاis an adverb of place. Drinking and the banks of a spring are deeply connected. Hence it is specially said that this drinking assembly shall take place on the banks of the foundation of Tasnim.
. Ie., they were so mean that when they went to their homes instead of feeling ashamed of their misdeeds, they would mention them very proudly before their families.
. These words are part of the statement of the disbelievers. Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… .ie., the complete discourse will be something like this: "When they see the Muslims, they would remark that the Muslims are deviants from the straight path; they regard their deeds [ie., of the disbelievers] to be polytheistic and mere disbelief although these Muslims have not been deputed as guardians over them that they object to every deed of theirs and take upon themselves to reform them [ie the disbelievers]." (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 9, 263)
. Ie., a human being can let himself be overcome with whatever pride and vanity he wants to but the truth is that it is only befitting for even a great thing as the sky to obey the directive of its Lord. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
This sentence is meant to admonish and instruct the conceited elements who were ready to engage in a heated discussion on every point. They are warned instantaneously that the sky will be shattered to pieces at the behest of its Lord and this is truly befitting of it; the naïve who are only a trivial speck below this sky should contemplate how the attitude they have adopted can be regarded as correct: they have the false notion that no one will be able to displace them from their places when they get up to fight God. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 9, 271)
. The implication is that cusps, troughs, seas, mountains and valleys all will be flattened and shall be stretched out like a cloth.
. The address though is general, yet it is directed at the arrogant people of Quraysh who are the addressees of this surah.
. This is a portrayal of the situation in which all of us are enchained in the law of God and helplessly going to the presence of God. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… It very subtly conveys the fact that from the very day a person is born he starts his journey to his final destination set by God: death. This journey continues without any break. Whether the climate is harsh or easy, whether a person is sick or healthy and whether the circumstances are tough or smooth, this journey continues inexorably. Various phases from birth to death like childhood, youth, middle age and old age are encountered but this cycle never stops for a second. So tightly is man in the grip of the law of providence that even if he does not want to traverse this terrain he cannot resist it. The rich and the poor, the noble and the lowly, the ruler and the ruled and the pious and the impious are equally helpless before it. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 9, 273)
. The implication is that giving an account will be easy going for him and virtues will have tilted his balance, his vices will be forgiven.
. Ie., he will return to the family for whom he always remained worried in the previous world with regard to their Hereafter.
. It is obvious from this that the hands of the criminals will be tied behind their backs. Other verses (for example 69:25) add that they will be given their account in the left hand. Here it is further clarified that instead of being from the front, it will be handed over to them behind their backs.
. Though the words "he will call for death" should have apparently come after the next verse since they will be uttered after the sinner enters Hell, yet literary eloquence demands that these words should be placed earlier to bring them exactly parallel to the details of the fate of the righteous.
. Ie., it is not that if they are being given the chance to do whatever they want to in this world, they will stay here forever.
. The actual words are: مَا وَسَقَ. The particle مَا is of the nature of a verbal noun.
. Just as the glow of sunset gradually fades and disappears in the night which slowly spreads to engulf everything and just as the moon after gradually passing through various phases each month culminates into its full splendour, this world shall also gradually culminate into the Day of Judgement and people shall be brought to the presence of their Lord.
. Ie., whatever they are gathering in the form of their deeds and the results of these deeds.