(Translated from Tadabbur-i-Qur'ān by Shehzad Saleem)
َأَنَّهُ جِمَالَةٌ صُفْرٌ(33)وَيْلٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِلْمُكَذِّبِينَ(34)
The antecedent of the pronoun in the word كَأَنَّهُ is شَرَر (flames) mentioned in the previous verse and the words used are very apt. The word شَرَر isan adjectiveand can be used as singular or plural, masculine or feminine. Here it is in the plural and for this reason, it is compared to a plural entity جِمَالَةٌ صُفْرٌ (yellow camels). The word جِمَالَةٌ is used for a herd of camels. This comparison reflects both the colour and size of the flames. It is qualified by the word صُفْر because in the wake of smoke, the colour of the flames is faded yellow.
This verse is followed by the recurrent verse. Its occasion is very evident: The day people will witness this horrific scene, on that day devastation shall be on these people who deny that very day.
هَذَا يَوْمُ لَا يَنطِقُونَ(35)وَلَا يُؤْذَنُ لَهُمْ فَيَعْتَذِرُونَ(36)وَيْلٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِلْمُكَذِّبِينَ(37)
After a portrayal of the dreadfulness of the Day of Judgement, the helplessness of the criminals is depicted. Today, all these people are trying to be very eloquent and persuasive in their denial of the Day of Judgement; however, on that Day they will not even be able to open their mouths; no one will be able to speak. In Sūrah Nabā, the counterpart of this sūrah, the words are: لَا يَمْلِكُونَ مِنْهُ خِطَابًا (78: 37) (on Whose behalf there is no one who has the authority to speak, (78:37)).
It is specifically mentioned in the Qur'ān that on the Day of Judgement, the mouths of the criminals will be sealed and the Almighty will give power of speech to their limbs which will then bear witness to all their crimes. They will neither dare open their mouths nor will they be allowed to present any excuse.
The recurrent verse then follows and its placement and occasion are very obvious: when they would neither even be able to take the initiative in speaking nor would they be granted permission to present any excuse they may have, then what is in store for them except death and devastation.
هَذَا يَوْمُ الْفَصْلِ جَمَعْنَاكُمْ وَالْأَوَّلِينَ(38)فَإِنْ كَانَ لَكُمْ كَيْدٌ فَكِيدُونِ(39)وَيْلٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِلْمُكَذِّبِينَ(40)
These verses directly address the disbelievers. It should be kept in consideration that when they would make fun of the Day of Judgement, they would mockingly ask whether their ancestors too would be raised to life. By this sarcastic question, their intention was to prove that the Day of Judgement was the most impossible of events: how can it be imagined, they would scornfully reckon, that all their ancestors would be brought back to life. It is while keeping this question of theirs in consideration that the Qur'ān has emphasized its claim by saying:
جَمَعْنَاكُمْ وَالْأَوَّلِينَ (We have gathered you and all those before you).
The implication of the verse فَإِنْ كَانَ لَكُمْ كَيْدٌ فَكِيدُونِ is that in the previous world these disbelievers contrived great plots to defeat the Messenger of God and if they now have any scheme left, they should test it too; they have with them all the people of their clan both those before them and those who came later, and if these people are in a position to help them, then they should seek their help too.
Here one needs to keep in mind the fact that all efforts undertaken by the disbelievers to deny their Messenger are called كَيْدٌ (plot) by the Qur'ān. The reason for using this word is that all these efforts on their part were merely aimed at saving their position of leadership, as has been explained at various places in this tafsīr; they were fully convinced of the veracity of the Prophet (sws); however, their egotism and self-centeredness did not let them acknowledge this fact; moreover, they went about inventing various objections and doubts in order to give the impression to the masses that whatever they were doing was based on reasoning and that they wanted to protect their ancestral religion through this. The truth of the matter, as unveiled by the Qur'ān in this verse, is that this was a plot and contrivance on their part.
This verse is followed by the recurrent verse; again its placement and occasion is very clear; their helplessness before the referred to demand of God will become evident to them and they will face the devastation that will come to them as a result of this denial; it will totally rout them.
إِنَّ الْمُتَّقِينَ فِي ظِلَالٍ وَعُيُونٍ(41)وَفَوَاكِهَ مِمَّا يَشْتَهُونَ(42)
The fate which the criminals will encounter on the Day of Judgement is mentioned in the preceding verses: they will be marshalled to a fire whose smoke will engulf them from all sides. Now in these verses, the fate of the righteous is being mentioned. When blessings are mentioned in the manner they are in this verse, the purpose is to bring to light the fact that these blessings will embrace them from all sides. This style can be observed at many places in the Qur'ān, and one can observe several examples of it in classical Arabic poetry.
كُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا هَنِيئًا بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ(43)
This verse mentions the glad tidings which will be given to the righteous. Such eating and drinking will be soothing to them and the food and drinks will be absolutely pure and unadulterated. They will be a reward of their deeds that they did. This is a reference to the fact that whatever the ingrates did in this world will be of no benefit to them in the Hereafter; in fact, it will become a source of their destruction because they did not fulfil the obligation which such favours as eating and drinking entail; on the contrary, what the righteous ate and drank in this world will be of benefit to them because they fulfilled all their obligations and duties.
The word هَنِيئًا means "to be beneficial and advantageous". It is an accusative of state from the object evident from the previous verb. In Sūrah Nisā, the words are: فَكُلُوهُ هَنِيئًا مَّرِيئًا (4:4) in which the dhu al-hālis evident; it is very common for an accusative of state to occur from a dhu al-hāl. For example it is said of a traveller: راشدا مهديا.
إِنَّا كَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنينَ(44)
This verse points to verse eighteen above whose words are: كَذَلِكَ نَفْعَلُ بِالْمُجْرِمِينَ (Thus do We deal with criminals.) Here, in contrast, the dealing of God with the well-doers is referred to.
وَيْلٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِلْمُكَذِّبِينَ(45)
The placement and occasion of this recurrent verse is quite obvious: on the one hand, the righteous shall be in eternal bliss and, on the other, the disbelievers shall be subject to severe punishment, as is alluded to earlier. One should imagine the wide gulf between the two. When the two groups will witness one another's fates, at that time those people will realize their wretched fate who were lured by the pleasures of this world and did not care for the Hereafter
كُلُوا وَتَمَتَّعُوا قَلِيلًا إِنَّكُمْ مُجْرِمُونَ(46)وَيْلٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِلْمُكَذِّبِينَ(47)
Here at the end, the leaders of the Quraysh are addressed. What is said in the preceding verses was also addressed to them; however, that address was couched in the form of principle statements. Here they are directly addressed and told that they should not be misconceived by the luxuries of life they possess in this world and construe that in the Hereafter too they will be blessed with them; on the contrary, these luxuries are transient. If they want to be its recipients in the Hereafter too, they should adopt righteousness; they are wrong-doers and they will get what has been detailed out in the previous verses.
The placement and occasion of the recurrent verse is clear: such devastation as cannot be imagined in this world shall be upon the disbelievers on that day.
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ ارْكَعُوا لَا يَرْكَعُونَ(48)وَيْلٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِلْمُكَذِّبِينَ(49)
After the disbelievers are addressed in the previous verses, here, in this verse, the address has become indirect. They are reprimanded on their belief that they will be blessed with the luxuries and comforts in the Hereafter too since they have been blessed with them in this world: when they are told to kneel before the Almighty in order to express gratitude to His favours, they do not comply; on the contrary, they express arrogance. Kneeling down here actually refers to the prayer which is the greatest manifestation of showing gratitude to the Almighty and the greatest destroyer of arrogance and pride.
The placement and occasion of the recurrent verse is evident: the megalomaniacs and the haughty who are not ready to carry out their obligations and yet want their rights to be fulfilled should remember that their desires shall never be fulfilled; they will one day witness what is going to happen to them.
Here, one should keep in mind what is said in Sūrah Qalam: when on the Day of Judgement these disbelievers will be called to prostrate before the Almighty, they will not be able to do so because they never prostrated before Him in this world. This will prove that they too are among the arrogant and for this reason they too will deserve the punishment which is specifically reserved for the arrogant.
فَبِأَيِّ حَدِيثٍ بَعْدَهُ يُؤْمِنُونَ(50)
This verse reprimands the disbelievers on their stubbornness and expresses hopelessness about they embracing faith: when they are not professing faith in what the Qur'ān is warning them about, then what else will they profess faith in. In other words, nothing can be more persuasive, more eloquent and more potent than the Qur'ān. When it was not able to influence their hearts and minds, then what more can convince them. In other words, this verse actually assures the Prophet (sws) that the ailment of the disbelievers is incurable. They cannot be convinced through reasons and arguments; they will only believe when they see everything from their very eyes but at that time this belief will be of no use to them.
Some people have interpreted the word بَعْدَهُto mean that after the advent of this day in which thing will they profess faith. To them, the verse means that if professing faith by paying heed to these warnings is beneficial, it is today; whether they profess faith or not when that day comes would become immaterial; on that day, everyone will profess faith but this will not be of benefit to anyone of them. Although this interpretation is possible, yet if the parallels of the Qur'ān are kept in consideration, the interpretation I have done seems more convincing. In Sūrah Jāthiyah the words are: فَبِأَيِّ حَدِيثٍ بَعْدَ اللَّهِ وَآيَاتِهِ يُؤْمِنُونَ (6:45) (andwhat can be greater than the revelations of God in which they will profess belief in? (45:6)). Although both these interpretations are correct and the purport of the verses is not much different in either, however, my interpretation seems more comprehensive. God knows best and His knowledge is all-embracing and sound.
With the grace of God, I come to the end of the tafsīr of this sūrah. فَالْحَمْدُ لِلّه أَوَّلاً وَ آخِراً (gratitude be to God from the beginning to the end)
8th March, 1979 AD
8th Rabī' al-Thānī, 1399 AH